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ACYOA Central Council 2015-2016

Ani Grigorian

Jonathan Pelaez

Vice Chair

Mallory Maslar


Chelsea Kress


Daniel Zalinov

Chapter Relations

Sarine Atamian

Public Relations

Lauren Piligian

Jennifer Morris

Youth and Young Adult Ministries Director

Jonathan Pelaez, Vice Chair
St. Mary, Livingston, NJ Email Icon

Jonathan Pelaez is currently a Financial Analyst at Universal McCann. Before being elected Vice Chair of the ACYOA Central Council, he served as Chairman from 2013-2014 and Treasurer from 2012-2013. He has been active in the Armenian Church from a young age, currently serving as Sub-Deacon at St. Mary in Livingston, N.J.

After reactivating his parish's ACYOA Seniors chapter after nearly 30 years of inactivity, Jonathan served as Seniors Chairman for four years, and currently holds the position of Vice-Chairman. Jonathan traveled to Armenia in 2009 on the Armenia Service Program (ASP), to Jerusalem in 2012, and takes part in Diocese Leadership Conferences, Regional Conferences and St. Nersess Mission Trips. He is also a counselor at St. Nersess conferences and St. Vartan Camp. In 2009, Jonathan served on the General Assembly and Sports Weekend Committee and was also elected to the Nominating Committee for the 2009 General Assembly.

Jonathan graduated with a BS in Accounting from William Patterson University in Wayne, NJ in 2011.

Ani Grigorian, Chair
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Beginning at age eight, Ani attended Hye Camp and St. Vartan Camp as a camper and later served as a staff member at both camps as well. Over the years Ani has also interned with the Armenian Assembly of America in Washington D.C. as well as worked as Intern Coordinator. She has attended numerous St. Nersess Summer Conferences, and has travelled extensively in the United States representing her church and ACYOA at various retreats, workshops and leadership conferences.

Ani has traveled to Armenia three times over the past eight years; the first, visiting hospitals and orphanages, the second, with the Armenia Service Program in 2008 and most recently, volunteering for 6 months in 2011 with Birthright Armenia and the Armenian Volunteer Corps.

Ani graduated in 2010 from Carthage College with a B.A. and double major in Communication and Public Relations and minored in Business Administration. She currently is living in Chicago, IL, working in Online Marketing. While living there, she has continued to stay closely involved with her home chapter and parish, as well as with the Chicagoland area churches.

She is passionate about her church, her heritage and her people. She hopes to carry out that same passion as she serves the ACYOA on Central Council.

Shant Paklaian, Treasurer
St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church, Chicago, IL Email Icon

Shant Paklaian is an active member of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church of Chicago, Ill., and comes from a long line of family involved in the church. He spent his youth attending Armenian School, Sunday school, Hye Camp as both a camper and counselor and serving at the altar and attending.

In recent years, Shant has been a lively member of the Armenian Church and dedicated young leader. He has attended ACYOA Leadership Conferences and Regional Retreats. He was elected Chairman of both the 2010 and 2013 Midwest Annual Poon Paregentan Dinner Dances, which hosted over 300 people. After attending General Assembly and Sports Weekend for the past several years, Shant made it a priority for Chicago to host the 2012 ACYOA General Assembly and Sports Weekend where he served as Co-Chairman. In 2007 Shant participated in an Eastern Diocese pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He also plans on traveling to Armenia summer 2013 with the FAR Young Professionals.

As a seasoned young professional in the Armenian Church, Shant is privileged to serve on the ACYOA Central Council. He looks forward to sharing the leadership skills he developed as a parishioner of St. Gregory and bringing those skills to national level. Shant graduated with a B.S. in Construction Management from Bradley University. He currently works as an Assistant Project Manager for a Construction/Program Management firm on assignment at O'Hare International Airport's ongoing Capital Improvement Program.

Chelsea Kress, Secretary
St. Leon Armenian Church, Fair Lawn, NJ Email Icon

Chelsea Kress grew up in St. Leon Armenian Church in Fair Lawn, N.J. After graduating from Sunday School she started serving as a teacher for the Nursery Class, which she continues to do to this day. Chelsea has been a longtime member of the ACYOA starting with St. Leon's Juniors group. In her last years as an ACYOA Junior member she served as Vice-Chairman and then Chairman. After making a transition to the ACYOA Seniors group, Chelsea became the Chairman of her chapter in 2010 and again since February 2013. Since joining the Seniors, she has participated in Leadership Conferences, Chapter Workshops, Retreats, General Assemblies and Sports Weekends.

Chelsea has attended St. Vartan Camp since the age of 13. First as a camper, then as a C.I.T., eventually working her way to head lifeguard. St. Nersess Summer Conferences have also played a part in developing her faith.

Chelsea graduated from William Paterson University in New Jersey in May 2013 with her bachelors in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. She is a member of the Communication Honors Society.

Daniel Zalinov, Chapter Relations
St. Sarkis Armenian Church, Charlotte, NC Email Icon

Daniel Zalinov is a member of St. Sarkis Armenian Church in Charlotte, N.C. Born in Moscow, he came to the United States at the age of 2. Since the early 2000s he has been an active participant in his local church, serving on the altar and reaching the level of sub-deacon. Daniel attended multiple St. Nersess Summer Conferences between 2004 and 2008, as well as a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2011. He had an integral part in reactivating the St. Sarkis chapter of the ACYOA and was subsequently elected as its chairperson in January 2012, The following February, St. Sarkis' Parish Assembly elected Daniel to the church's Parish Council.

Daniel graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2011 with a B.S. in Biology.

Sarine Atamian, Public Relations
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Sarine Atamian's involvement in the Armenian Church began at a very young age, as a graduate of the Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School in Bayside, NY. To continue her education in Armenian culture and religion she attended and graduated from Khrimian Lyceum at the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America in New York, NY.

After becoming an active member of the ACYOA Juniors at Holy Martyrs, holding several executive board positions, she now holds the chairperson position in the ACYOA Seniors and had a fundamental role in the revival of the Seniors chapter at Holy Martyrs. Her success and achievements in the Armenian Church led her to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage in 2012. She takes part in Leadership Conferences, Regional Conferences and Chapter Workshops to better serve her home chapter. Sarine was also chairperson of the 2014 General Assembly and Sports Weekend committee, which was hosted by the Holy Martyrs ACYOA Seniors in New York City.

Sarine attended Camp Nubar as a camper and a counselor and recently spent time at St. Nersess Seminary as a counselor. In 2011, she became a teacher's assistant for the New York City Board of Education specifically to work with children with disabilities and special needs. Currently, Sarine is pursuing a degree in International Business at New York Institute of Technology and works in the Real Estate Appraisal business, while also attending New York Real Estate Institute to obtain a salesperson's license.

Serving the Armenian Church has played an important role in Sarine's life and she hopes to continue to spread the same love and joy she received to future generations of Armenian youth.

Adrienne Ashbahian, Programming
St. Leon Armenian Church, Fair Lawn, NJ Email Icon

Adrienne is a graduate of Philadelphia College of Pharmacy with her Doctorate in Pharmacy. She is currently a resident of Philadelphia and a member of the Sts. Sahag and Mesrob ACYOA Seniors chapter. Adrienne grew up at St. Leon Armenian Church in Fair Lawn, NJ and is a graduate of St. Leon's Sunday School.

Adrienne is a very dedicated member of the Armenian community. She spent thirteen summers at St. Vartan Camp, working her way from camper to Girls Head Counselor. Adrienne loves to give back to the home of St. Vartan Camp, the Ararat Center, by participating in Ararat Center Work Weekends. The St. Nersess Summer and Winter Conferences have had a profound impact on her faith, and she has been a proud supporter as a participant and counselor since 2001. Adrienne also helps to organize volunteers for and run both the St. Nersess Evening Under the Stars and the St. Nersess Annual Father's Day Picnic. Adrienne spent many of her spring breaks with the College Ministry's Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge program. She has attended many past ACYOA Leadership Conferences and served as a facilitator for the most recent conference in New York City. Adrienne considers herself very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem not once but twice, as well as travel to her homeland with the Armenia Service Program in 2005.

Inspired by her parent's leadership and commitment to the church, Adrienne is very much looking forward to bringing her devoted, faithful spirit to serving the ACYOA.

Jennifer Morris, Diocesan Director, Youth and Young Adult Ministries
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Jennifer has her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Elementary Education and a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Teaching. Upon completing her education, she was an elementary school teacher for 7 years. As a third generation Armenian, she was born and raised in the St. John Detroit community and benefitted from the Sunday School and ACYOA programs. Jennifer's involvement in ACYOA began as a junior, and has remained an integral part of her life over the years. She took on leadership positions and was later elected to the ACYOA Central Council where she served as both treasurer and chairman. Jennifer loves to travel! Her first overseas experience was in Paris when she represented Detroit in the 1995 AGBU Armenian Olympics. In college, she participated in overseas studies programs in both Hawaii and Italy. In addition, she has backpacked solo through Europe. She traveled on the Pilgrimage to Jerusalem during the summer of 2000, and then to Armenia in the summer of 2001 during the 1700th Anniversary of Christianity. In 2003 she was one of forty-five educators selected worldwide to travel to Japan and explore the Japanese Educational System. Then in 2004, Jennifer traveled back to Armenia as an assistant leader for the Armenia Service Program (ASP). Jennifer joined the Diocesan staff in July of 2005 as the Coordinator of Youth Outreach for the Department of Education and Youth, where she oversaw the ACYOA Juniors and Diocesan Summer Camp programs, St. Vartan Camp and Hye Camp. In September 2013, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian developed the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries and named Jennifer the director. With the assistance of Lorie Odabashian she is now responsible for both ACYOA Juniors and Seniors programs, both camp programs, and all other youth and young adult related programs. Jennifer is proud to be an Armenian Christian, and she would like to ensure that the Armenian Church continues to grow and strengthen for future generations of young Armenians.

Lauren Piligian, Programming
Holy Translators, Framingham, MA Email Icon

Lauren Piligian went to undergraduate, as well as graduate school for teaching. After completing graduate school she worked as a preschool teacher for a year. After realizing her passion was with elementary aged students she took a job as a third grade teacher's assistant at St Stephen's Armenian School in Watertown, MA. Recently Lauren has moved on to a job in the public school system as a reading specialist. Lauren is a member of The Armenian Church of the Holy Translators in Framingham, MA.

After her family joined The Armenian Church of the Holy Translators when she was 13 years old, Lauren became active in her ACYOA juniors chapter. Lauren attended Saint Vartan Camp as a camper, CIT, as well as counselor where she was able to work with children, which became her passion. After finishing working at Saint Vartan Camp, Lauren stayed active in her ACYOA and was chairman for one year. Lauren has enjoyed representing her parish at various leadership conferences, as well as chapter workshops. Last summer Lauren was awarded the opportunity to go on the ACYOA Diocesan pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

After experiencing wonderful times of education, growth, and spiritual guidance in the ACYOA, Lauren would be honored to serve on the central council and give back to the community that has provided her with so much.

Mallory Maslar, Treasurer
St. Hagop, Pinellas Park, FL Email Icon

Mallory Maslar has been a member of St. Hagop Armenian Church in Pinellas Park since she was a little girl serving on the altar and attending Sunday School. When Fr. Hovnan Demerjian became the priest at St. Hagop he helped establish an ACYOA chapter. Since then she has served as Chairman and Vice Chairman of St. Hagop's ACYOA. She has also attended leadership conferences, chapter workshops and general assembly. She attended St. Vartan Camp as a counselor and served as head counselor.

For the past 3 years Mallory has worked with Central Council to help coordinate the annual Chapter Workshop at St. Hagop and help organize the service project portion of the weekend. Every year the participants of the weekend make sandwiches for Pinellas Hope, a local homeless shelter. She also currently serves as the Sunday School superintendent and Vice Chair for St. Hagop's Parish Council. This past March she organized St. Hagop's first annual 5K Run to help recognize the Genocide.

Mallory graduated from Florida State University with a degree in business finance and business management and currently works for an insurance company in Tampa. She is also currently treasurer for her sorority's Tampa Alumni chapter.

Central Council Meetings

Click on the links below to view "hyelights" from our Central Council meetings