SOAR - San Francisco Bay Area

The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter became part of the SOAR family in July 2009. The history of Armenians in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area is similar to other California towns: a few Armenians can be traced back to the late 1800s, but steadily increased after the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The first Oriental rug merchant in California was an Armenian who setup shop in Oakland in 1893. Over the years, as the cities in the Bay Area expanded, so did their Armenian populations. Church groups slowly built their own sanctuaries rather than leasing them, businesses expanded and got passed down one generation to the next, and Armenians began increasing in affluent and professional fields. Today, Armenians can be found in nearly every city of the Bay Area, with San Francisco having the highest concentration. Numerous Armenian organizations and establishments in the area bring the widely spread out community together from the many neighboring cities. The city of San Francisco is home to the KZV Armenian School – the only Armenian primary school in Northern California. The Armenian community of the Bay Area may be best known for its annual food festivals and bazaars organized by the churches. There are 3 separate festivals organized by St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church in San Francisco, St. John Armenian Apostolic Church in San Francisco, and St. Vartan Armenian Armenian Apostolic Church in Oakland.


Dr. Zhanna Ghukasyan

Zhanna was born in Vanadzor, Armenia. She graduated from Yerevan State Medical University and left for Saint Petersburg where she studied Obstetrics and Gynecology. Zhanna returned to Armenia after finishing her residency training and worked in Vanadzor as an OB/GYN for 10 years.

In 2010 Zhanna moved to the US with her family and earned her US medical license. Meanwhile, Zhanna volunteered and worked in many clinics and hospitals, including working as a Family doctor in Missouri. Now she is interested in and is holding leadership positions in healthcare.

Zhanna thinks that supporting children is the best investment. She finds the SOAR to be a great opportunity to get involved and support Armenian children all over the world to fulfill their dreams.

In her free time, Zhanna loves being outdoors and traveling with her husband and children. She loves gardening, cooking, and baking for family and friends.

Lernick (Lily) Hovasapian
Vice President

Lernick whom many people call Lily lives in the Bay area of California. She is a diligent multi-channel marketer with a passion and experience in art, interior design, fashion design, real estate, and tech industries. Also, she has many years of experience in client engagement, leadership, and business management. Lernick got her Bachelor of Science in Business Admiration-Management from San Jose State University (SJSU) and Master of Science in Marketing from Santa Clara University (SCU).

She was an active volunteer member at the University’s students’ clubs during her education, and she is an active volunteer member in many non-profit organizations such as the ARS organization (Armenian Relief Society). Silicon Valley Second Harvest Food Bank, San Jude children’s hospital, support for women’s rights, and volunteering in schools and churches everywhere and anything as much as she can. She hopes to help others in their wishes and quest to aspire to the bests. She believes a wide range of volunteering jobs will change the world and people’s points of view positively. In addition, it will increase business revenues and profits.

Lily’s friends and coworkers describe her as a real Virgo zodiac sign lady (born in September). Fun, determined, logical, practical, and systematic approach to life. Her hobbies are spending time with friends and family members, meeting new people from different backgrounds, and trying cultural foods at a restaurant and at a food festival (she is a creative cook). Lily loves shopping, backgammon playing, hiking, and anything related to art, such as visiting museums, coloring, painting, music, dance, interior, and fashion designing.

Lernick is grateful to be a part of the SOAR organization SF chapter board member. And hoping the wonderful people and board members will successfully bring some happiness to the Armenian children and adult’s life who need the SOAR organization’s help and support.

Lauren Kulhanjian Conrow

Bay-Area native Lauren Kulhanjian Conrow holds a degree in Business Administration, with a concentration in Social Impact. She currently serves as an Economic Development Advisor for the Peace Corps, where she collaborates with indigenous-leaders to further entrepreneurial activity, financial knowledge, and project design + management skills within an ecosystem of village communities.

Additionally, Lauren is an experienced brand-strategist, with her expertise being aligning brands with their core brand ‘ethos’. She believes brands have a unique opportunity, and a responsibility, to build community through intentional missions.
She has participated in five, month-long service projects in Armenia that included renovating schools, distributing humanitarian supplies, and mentoring orphan children. In her free time, Lauren also enjoys time spent in nature, writing, live music and cultural explorations.