SOAR - Amsterdam Chapter

Amsterdam joined the SOAR family in December 2013. While the exact number of Armenians in the country is unknown, unofficially estimates suggest that between 15,000 and 20,000 Armenians live in the Netherlands. Armenian and Dutch interactions go back to the 4th century when the first bishop of the Netherlands came from Armenia. In the 13th century, Armenians brought carpets, dyes, cotton, and spices from around the world and from Armenia itself. In 1713, Amsterdam permitted the Armenians to erect a church of their own. After serving its purpose for about a century and a half, this edifice was closed because of the dwindling of its congregation. The largest modern group of Armenians arrived from Turkey in the 1970s, finding employment in textile plants. Currently, most Armenians live in Almelo, Amsterdam, Arnhem, Assen Alkmaar, Dordrecht, Eindhoven, The Hague, Leiden, Maastricht, Nijmegen, and Rotterdam. Armenian Church services are currently held in Amsterdam and Almelo.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

Liana Abovian
President

Liana Abovyan was born and raised in Yerevan, Armenia. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philology from the Yerevan State University. She was the Executive Director of the national translation centre of Armenia for 10 years prior to moving to the Netherlands in 2018. Before that she worked as Capacity Building Expert and Translation Team Leader at an EU-funded project in Armenia. She has over 15 years’ experience in management and leadership, translation and language support services, proven track record in organizational development and change management, optimization of business processes, strategic human resource development, capacity building and communications. By joining the SOAR Team, Liana wishes to contribute to the mission of SOAR and help orphaned and underprivileged children to have a better quality of life and a brighter future.

Elise Aghazarian
Vice President

Elise Aghazarian: was born and raised in Jerusalem and lives in the Netherlands since 2009. She has an M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Amsterdam and is specialized in the Arabic language. She currently teaches at the University of Amsterdam language institute. She was formerly content editor on SRHR at the Radio Netherlands Worldwide and has taught Sociology in Palestinian Universities. She has worked for 10 years in NGOs in the Middle East on projects related to governance, women and children. Elise spends her time writing and translating between English and Arabic, coaching, taking part in cultural activities and raising her child. Elise is also active at the Surp Grigor Naregatsi Armenian School in Amsterdam.

Julieta Balasanyan

Julieta born in Armenia, Yerevan. She was raised in a beautiful city south in Norway. After graduating high school she wanted to be adventurous and started exploring different countries and their cultures by traveling around. From this, Julieta gained so many nice and meaningful experiences which she will take further with her in life. She believes in the good in people and that sharing and caring is so important!

Anna Hovhannisyan

Anna Hovhannisyan was born and raised in Yerevan, Armenia. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Yerevan State University (2013) and Master’s degree in Management from the University of Manchester (2015). Between 2013 and 2019 Anna worked in Armenia and in New York in the spheres of business development, data analysis and project management. She is experienced in professional services (Big 4), consumer goods, insurance and IT industries. In August 2019 Anna moved to the Netherlands to pursue new career opportunities in IT. Anna wholeheartedly supports SOAR’s important mission of making the world a better place for orphaned children.

Karen Khachatryan

Karen was born and raised in a small village in Armenia before moving to the capital for studies. He earned his PhD in Computer Science from State Engineer University of Armenia in 2013, where he was an Assistant Professor, before joining an Amsterdam based financial market making company in 2017. His passion for learning and exploring the world led him to pick up a joint PhD program for a year in the University of Saarland, Germany in 2012.

Karen always signified the practical application of the knowledge, he is a software engineer specialized in the financial markets for over 10 years. Alongside with work and study, Karen was also involved in social activities, he is a founding member of the Bright Armenia party and was volunteering for Leonid Yengibaryan International Mime Festival. He believes that sharing care and knowledge is the key to the bright future and the SOAR project is a big step in that direction.

Melda Yeghiaian

Melda was born in Aleppo, Syria. After completing her studies at AGBU’s Armenian Central High School in Aleppo, she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Informatics Engineering at the University of Aleppo. Then she moved to Ireland and Scotland to complete her double MSc in Computer Science in Maynooth University and in the University of St Andrews. Melda is currently pursuing her PhD in Artificial Intelligence at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. Besides her career, Melda is a veteran member in the AGBU’s Aleppo Branch. She is delighted to join SOAR’s Amsterdam chapter and excited about the prospect of sharing care, knowledge and experiences.