WASHINGTON, D.C. – Armenian American politician and Michigan State Representative Mari Manoogian kicked off the Armenian Assembly of America Internship Program Summer Speaker Series on Thursday evening, June 3rd. The event, which was open to all community members, provided participants with insights into Rep. Manoogian’s political career and experience as the youngest woman serving in the 101st Legislature, and as the first Armenian American woman to serve in the Michigan Legislature. She is currently serving her second term, representing the residents of the 40th House District.
Following welcoming remarks by Assembly Western Region Director Mihran Toumajan, who served as moderator, Rep. Manoogian elaborated on her start in politics, which is rooted in her birthplace of Birmingham, Michigan and in the Armenian American community. She noted the importance of providing opportunities to Armenian American college students and young professionals since she herself was inspired by the resiliency and vibrancy of her local Armenian community. Rep. Manoogian stated that she appreciated the work of the Assembly and the internships the organization provides that helps the next generation gain a better understanding of the political process in Washington, D.C.
“Building relationships out early has made our office incredibly successful in the work that we do,” said Rep. Manoogian, who focuses on various kinds of legislation, including strengthening public schools, clean water, healthcare, incentives for first-time home buyers, and foundational infrastructure.
Rep. Manoogian, who currently serves as the Deputy Democratic Caucus Whip and Minority Vice Chair for the House Committee on Energy, in addition to serving on the House Commerce & Tourism Committee, commented on the significance of elected officials working together from different parties.
“During a time of division in our country, it’s important to model good behavior and make as many bipartisan efforts as possible to make the lives of our constituents better,” she said.
A question and answer session followed her remarks, where Toumajan commended Rep. Manoogian for spearheading House Resolution 0319 (2020) in the Legislature that she introduced on October 8, 2020, during the 44-day war in Artsakh. The resolution condemned Azerbaijan for its coordinated offensive against the Armenian people and also denounced Turkish interference in the conflict, while urging the United States Department of State to work with the co-chairs of the Minsk Group and the governments of Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Artsakh to achieve a long-lasting and peaceful resolution.
The swift and unanimous passing of the resolution was a “testament to relationships we built across the aisle,” said Rep. Manoogian, who makes a concerted effort to discuss priority Armenian issues with fellow elected officials.
She also raised and passed a resolution regarding the reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide in the State of Michigan, which she said “has a long history of being on the right side of our issues.” Rep. Manoogian is a third-generation Armenian American whose great-grandparents came to America in the 1920s to escape the Armenian Genocide.
In terms of how being an Armenian American impacts her professional life, Rep. Manoogian, who earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University, said her heritage is “inherently part of what I do.” She works to educate new representatives about issues facing the Armenian people and relies on community relationships “to make sure we have our finger on the pulse of what is happening.”
“The Assembly’s Summer Speaker Series aims to host a unique and exciting slate of presenters that offers students guidance on career paths and opportunities,” said Joseph Piatt, Assembly Programs Director. “Since college students are unable to travel to Washington D.C. and Yerevan, Armenia, this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have transitioned our educational forum into a virtual format for our entire community.”
Register to attend next week’s speaker series on June 10, 2021, at 6:30 p.m., Eastern Time, where Lauren Garry-Boggio, an Assembly Internship Program Alumna who currently serves as an Attorney-Advisor at the Federal Communications Commission, will share her experience in the political field. Previously Garry-Boggio served as Attorney-Advisor at the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Administrative Law Judges, and as an intern for Representative Patrick Kennedy.
The Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Internship Program, which will take place virtually this summer, provides college students of Armenian descent an opportunity to gain exposure to the policy-making process in our nation’s capital for eight weeks each summer.
Since 1977, the Armenian Assembly of America has assisted over 1,200 participants in securing placements in prominent congressional offices, government agencies, media outlets, think tanks, and non-governmental organizations in Washington, D.C.