SOAR - Montebello Chapter

PO Box 1182
Montebello, CA 90640

The colorful history of Montebello dates back to the days of the Franciscan Missionaries, early 1847. Originally an agricultural community, Montebello boasted having the ideal climate, productive soil, and an abundance of water. From the turn of the century and through the 1920’s, the area was famed for its production of flowers, vegetables, berries, and fruits. On October 19, 1920, the city was incorporated and its name officially changed to “Montebello”. In 1917, oil was discovered in the Montebello hills which dramatically changed the face of city. Montebello became part of the SOAR family in March of 2016. Located in the Southwestern area of the San Gabriel Valley and East of downtown Los Angeles, Montebello is home to the oldest Armenian community in Los Angeles County dating back to the late 1940s. Its unique history and tradition of diversity rank the city among other great pockets of Southern California. Many people that are a part of the Montebello Armenian community are descendants of the displaced peoples from Russia during the aftermath of WWII. An Armenian American soldier called General George Mardikian, can be credited with helping make Montebello the first Armenian enclave in Southern California. They settled in Montebello and started building churches, schools, and Armenian centers; making Montebello’s Armenian community the oldest and one of the most known communities of Armenians in the United States. It has been the home of many notable Armenians in politics, music, art and entertainment including Hagop Sandaldjian, Ken Davitian, Hosharian brothers and Jack Hadjinian.

The Armenian Community of Montebello is involved in the following organizations: Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), Armenian Relief Society (ARS), ARF Badanegan (junior organization of AYF), and Homenetmen. Through the Sister City Program, the City of Montebello has created ties with several cities throughout the world to establish and strengthen partnerships between the communities. In 2005, it officially became the twin City of Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The City of Montebello strives to promote cultural understanding and stimulate economic development.

Montebello is also home to the Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Cathedral and the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument. Unveiled in April 1968, the monument is the oldest and largest memorial in the United States dedicated to the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. As part of the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, thousands of Armenians from the Greater Los Angeles area and American politicians gather in Montebello at the memorial every year on April 24 and lay flowers to the victims of the genocide.


Elya Avalyan

Elya Avalyan graduated from Pepperdine University with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business. She has studied abroad in Argentina for a semester and spent her last semester at Pepperdine in Armenia. She is currently working as a Sales Assistant at Discovery Inc. and is very passionate about helping others. Elya can speak fluently in Armenian and English. She has lived in Montebello for over 10 years and has always been involved with the Armenian Community throughout High School and College. She is very passionate about the Armenian Youth and believes that SOAR has a great mission and being a part of it will allow her to support the youth through them.

Kristina Rush
Vice President

Kristina Rush graduated from UCLA as a Regents Scholar with a B.S. in Neuroscience. She currently works as a COVID Laboratory Technician at LabCorp. She has lived in Montebello her whole life and has always been dedicated to advocating for the Armenian community. She is passionate about the SOAR mission and looks forward to helping the Armenian youth.

Maria Baghdasarian

Maria Baghasarian graduated from California State University of Los Angeles with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, from University of Southern California with her Master’s of Marriage & Family Therapy and is currently a doctoral candidate in the Doctorate of Education program at California State University of Los Angeles.

Maria is currently working as a school based mental health therapist in a school in Montebello while also lecturing part time at California State University of Los Angeles. Maria has lived in Montebello for over 20 years and is currently serving the community she grew up in. Maria went to Armenian Mesrobian school which enriched her with the Armenian culture and spirit. Maria is passionate about reducing the stigma of mental health in the community as well as providing support and uplifting the Armenian community. In winter of 2020, Maria wrote a children’s book in Armenian and English which discusses emotions and helps increase emotional intelligence in children. Being a SOAR member will be a definite way for Maria to make changes in her community.

Kev Mahserejian

Kev Mahserejian graduated from the University of Southern California with his Bachelor’s degree in Law, History, & Culture and is currently working in Sports Media. Kev is fluent in both Armenian and English, has lived in Montebello since birth, and aims to serve his Armenian community in any way. He believes SOAR is the perfect medium to make a change and hopes to help as much as possible!