SOAR - New York Chapter

The New York Chapter became part of the SOAR family in April 2013 and encompasses the five boroughs of New York City. The history of Armenians in New York City dates back to 1834 when Khachadur Osganian arrived from the Ottoman Empire. Osganian, with a Protestant missionary education, came to New York to study at the newly established New York University. In 1841 the first immigrants from Armenia began arriving in New York. Over the course of the next few decades, thousands of others came settling mostly in New York (and Massachusetts). Unlike most other ethnic minorities who settled across the city and relocated fairly frequently, Armenians, and other Eastern Mediterranean people, settled in the southern tip of New York (known today as the Financial District). This area soon became known as the Syrian Quarter dominated by Syrian and Lebanese Christians, as well as Armenians. Today, New York City is home to approximately 40,000 Armenians.


Steve Gokberk

Steve Gokberk was born and raised in New York. He has his bachelor’s degree in legal studies and his law degree from St. John’s University. While in law school, he worked for a non-for-profit organization, assisting victims of domestic violence in family law related matters. Presently, he is in private practice litigating a variety of personal injury and medical malpractice matters throughout New York state. Steve has volunteered as a child mentor through the Nassau County Bar Association.

Celine Zakaryan

Celine’s primary motivation for joining SOAR is to assist one of Armenia’s most vulnerable groups. As a descendant of (at least) five orphaned Genocide survivors, she understands the positive impact of SOAR.

She holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Public Administration. She currently resides in NYC and works for city government.

Christine Papazian

Christine is a first-generation Armenian, living in New York City. Her mother’s incessant compassion exposed her to the plight of Armenian orphans at a young age, through visits to Armenia’s Kharberd Orphanage for children with special needs. Her familiarity with and passion for the cause inspired her to join SOAR’s Board of Directors in 2017.

Christine is an IT Sales Executive, working for a Fortune 100 tech company. She holds an MBA from Bentley University. Prior to moving to Manhattan, she lived in Boston and San Francisco.

Nora Armani

Nora Armani is an award-winning actor/filmmaker with International stage and screen credits. She holds an M.Sc. degree in Sociology from The London School of Economics (LSE) and a BA in Sociology and English (Drama) from AUC.

Armani guest-curates film festivals internationally: AFI in Los Angeles and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., The Pompidou Center in Paris, ICA London, The British Library, to name a few. She has participated in conferences at the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS) at Harvard University, and Harriman Institute at Columbia University, and has taught LSE Media Studies on Cultural Identity in Cinema. Her films have screened in the official selections of the Cannes Film Festival, IFF Rotterdam, Paris, London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Denver, Oregon, Kerala, Monaco, Shanghai, Yerevan and New York. Nora is currently the Founding Artistic Director of SR Socially Relevant Film Festival New York, as well as Special Projects Manager in virtual reality at Cognition LA. Full bio and filmography on her website or on IMDb.

Ruben Stepanian

Ruben Stepanian has bachelor’s degree in accounting and computer information systems and a law degree from the Hofstra University School of Law. He is in private practice in New York, focusing on family law and personal injury law. Ruben is married and has a daughter who was born in 2012. He is very committed to helping underprivileged children.

Social Advisors:

Naira Aslanian
Raffi Azadian
John Harold Murachanian