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Women in Humanitarian Action: Leading in Crisis

  • 04/10/2021
  • 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM (EDT)
  • Zoom

Registration is closed

Saturday, 10 APRIL 2021

Women are often the invisible first responders and peace builders at the frontlines of crisis. Hear the discussion on women's leadership in humanitarian and disaster relief efforts with the founder of YES Armenia Sime Amirkhanyan and In-Country Director of Kooyrigs Mariam Avagyan. Sime and Mariam will share their organizational strategy and insights into their successful campaigns during and after the recent war, short and long-term goals as well as current projects on which they're working. 

Join this exclusive event moderated by AIWA’s UN Rep. Ani Karapetyan, Director of Programs at BYLR to gain knowledge of how these women organizations combine community projects and educational initiatives to adapt to critical current situations and provide frontline assistance. 


Hripsime (Sime) Amirkhanyan is the founder and Board member of YES (Youth Empowerment and Sustainability) non-profit in Armenia. She brings over 23 years of working experience with different international and local organizations leading various projects in education, infrastructure rehabilitation, child protection, youth, emergency relief and more. She regularly conducts workshops, training and presenting her experience in different platforms to ensure her skills and knowledge are shared for the benefit of development of individuals and organizations.  

In recent years Sime also consults different non-profits in management and fundraising and has also been one of the judges for the initial phase of the projects submitted for the Global Social Venture Competition in Berkley, CA and since 2012 has been part of Media Lab team during the Social Good Summit in New York, NY. 

Mariam Avagyan is the Director of Kooyrigs Armenia where she oversees humanitarian work of the organization. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Mathematics at the American University of Armenia where she teaches undergraduate students. Due to the war, Mariam took time off from Columbia University, where she has been pursuing her PhD in Electrical Engineering and Data Science to move to Armenia and provide humanitarian relief. Mariam also serves as the Operations Manager for Youth Empowerment and Sustainability (YES) Armenia where she oversees educational projects.


Ani Karapetyan is the Director of Programs at BYLR, an online coaching company, and is a UN representative for the Armenian International Women’s Association.  She earned an MSc in Global Affairs at New York University with a specialization in International Development. She has worked with United Nations Development Program’s Social and Environmental Compliance Unit, Freedom House, the Peace Project Inc and Children of Armenia Fund. Ani has been published on Freedom House and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy blogs as well as the academic journal, Perspectives on Global Issues.

Ani has been awarded the New York University Provost’s Graduate Research Fellowship, New York University’s Wasserman Grant, and Central European University’s Full Merit Scholarship. 

Ani presented her graduate thesis on UN social and environmental accountability at the 2018 Annual Conference on Sustainable Development at Columbia University. She has also presented her research on Turkish-Armenian conflict at the Association for Conflict Resolution Annual Conference in 2016 in Baltimore, participated in the United Nations Association Youth Leadership Conference in 2015 in New York, represented the Council of Europe Youth Sector in 2013 in Strasbourg and Armenia in 73rd International Session of the European Youth Parliament in Zurich. Ani has professional training in negotiation and conflict mediation and is fluent in Armenian, English and Russian and is conversational in German.   

Think differently and make changes. Two women, different backgrounds, turn their entrepreneurial skills into successful businesses. Meet Dr. Irina Ghaplanyan, political scientist, former Deputy Minister of Environment, and published author, who found her 'green' roots in Armenia by establishing ventures such as The Green Bean and Zabel wines.  Meet Arevik Hambartzumyan, a prosperous businesswoman who discovered strength in creating a space for Armenian youth to connect and exchange ideas. Follow their personal journeys in the revival of land and people with AIWA UN representative Ruzanna Tantushyan, communications and public relations professional.

Join this exclusive event to gain insight into their paths to the present and how their experiences bring them to the table as panelists for AIWA’s UN CSW panel.


Dr. Irina Ghaplanyan is Professor and Former Deputy Minister of Environment for the RA. She holds a doctorate degree in political science from the University of Cambridge and currently teaches at the American University of Armenia. Her main areas of expertise are political leadership, states in transition, climate politics, environmental management, gender and gender in conflict as well as security studies. She holds a Master in Diplomatic Studies from the Diplomatic Academy of London and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Relations from the University of Malta. 

Dr. Ghaplanyan has worked in a number of international organizations and think tanks around the world to include UNDP, Georgetown University, Eurasia Foundation, and Chatham House. Irina has been a catalyst for change in the field of sustainable business and social entrepreneurship in Armenia. 

Irina was noted for her work in this field and in 2015 was awarded as one of the top social venture entrepreneurs by the Global Good Fund Leadership program in Washington DC. 

Dr. Ghaplanyan has a number of academic and media publications, among which the most recent is a Routledge published book titled “Post-Soviet Armenia: The New National Elite and the New National Narrative”.

Arevik Hambardzumyan, CEO & Founding member of ‘’The LOFT’’ centers is the co-founder/ Executive Director of the project "My Mentor" in Armenia, and served as Director’s Assistant of Russian companies ‘’Citymobile’’ and ‘’Market’’ coordinating the work of human resources and staff management in the Armenian branches. 

Journalist and public administration specialist Arevik Hambardzumyan is a Professor at the faculty of Journalism at Yerevan State University, a member of Board of Trustees of Vanadzor State University, Lecturer at Armenian PR association, and member of Armenian Young Women's Association among other consulting and training roles in various cultural and educational projects both in Armenia and elsewhere.

As a result of cooperation with various organizations, she has implemented a number of local and international programs directly related to the self-development of youth, alternative methods of education and cultural influences.

Arevik is a professional handball player, and a member of the Armenian National Handball team  from  2008 to 2015.  Arevik has one daughter.


Ruzanna Tantushyan is an award winning communications professional, with leadership experience in marketing and PR roles across multiple industries including technology, financial and professional services. She has held communications roles in top tier companies including Vonage, NewVoiceMedia and Campbell & Company. 

With a background in journalism, Ruzanna’s stories were published in national and international publications and received recognition by the United Nations for cross-cultural cooperation. 

Ruzanna holds an M.A. in Journalism from DePaul University and M.A. in English and Political Science from Yerevan State Linguistic University. She has served as a board member at AIWA’s Chicago inaugural chapter and now as AIWA’s UN representative in NYC. 

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