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ACYOA Central Council 2018-2019

Nora Knadjian

Sona Dagley

Vice Chair

Ronnie Malconian


Mallory Maslar


Nicholas Tashjian

Chapter Relations

Arsen Yelegen

Public Relations

Melissa Mardoian

Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries

Jennifer Morris


Kathryn Ashbahian


Nicholas Tashjian, Chapter Relations
St. Leon Armenian Church, Fairlawn, NJ Email Icon

Nicholas Tashjian resides in Dover, NJ as a 25-year-old engineer who wishes to better serve the Armenian Church community by participating on the ACYOA Central Council. Nick served the St. Leon Chapter of the ACYOA Juniors first as a corresponding secretary and then the chairman. In 2016-2017 he served as secretary for both the St. Leon Chapter of the ACYOA Seniors and the General Assembly and Sports Weekend planning committee. He was responsible for taking meeting minutes, planning events, and fabricating the giant jenga at that awesome food truck event the Sports Weekend committee managed to pull off. Some of the events he planned and executed were the first annual 2016 St. Leon ACYOA volleyball tournament, the ACYOA Super Bowl fundraiser where he fabricated the wings, and the St. Leon hiking and fishing outing. In 2017 he served the Central Council on the auditing committee. Nick has attended ACYOA functions such as chapter workshop, leadership conference, Armenian Service Program (ASP), and General Assembly as a delegate. The Armenian community and the ACYOA have provided him with a sense of fulfillment since he was a kid at St. Vartan Camp. He is excited to be serving in a greater manner on the Central Council and will work passionately to contribute to the Armenian Church community.

Arsen Yelegen, Public Relations
St. Gregory the Enlightener, White Plains, NY Email Icon

Since a young age, Arsen Yelegen has been an active member of St. Gregory the Enlightener Armenian Church in White Plains, NY. He is both an Armenian School and Sunday School graduate. After graduating from Sunday School, Arsen began serving on the altar and is currently a sub-deacon. He is an active member of the ACYOA and has served as the ACYOA Juniors Chairperson as well as the vice co-chair of the Seniors. Arsen has served as the public relations coordinator on the Central Council for the past two years. During that time, the Central Council has switched over to a new user-friendly email marketing platform, and has begun featuring chapters and individuals in their monthly newsletters. Arsen is currently in the process of creating a new ACYOA website to replace the current outdated website. During his time away at college, Arsen volunteered as a youth advisor for the St. Peter ACYOA Juniors in Watervliet, NY. He also helped lead altar serving classes with the youth of the parish. Arsen has been actively involved with the national programming that the Eastern Diocese has to offer. He has served as a CIT and as a staff member at St. Vartan Camp. He has also attended several Lenten Retreats, Chapter Workshops, and Leadership Conferences. In the summer of 2016, Arsen had the privilege of participating on the Armenian Service Program (ASP). Lastly, Arsen has attended numerous St. Nersess summer conferences over the past 11 years as a participant as well as a counselor. In 2014, Arsen was a participant in the pilgrimage to Jerusalem with the St. Nersess Deacons' Training Program. Arsen graduated from the University at Albany in 2014 with a double major in Sociology and Criminal Justice. He is currently working as a caseworker for adolescent youth at The Children's Village and is also attending grad school at John Jay School of Criminal Justice.

Nora Knadjian, Chair
St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church, Chicago, IL Email Icon

Nora Knadjian moved to Chicago, IL from Istanbul, Turkey, at six years old. In moving to the states, St. Gregory became her second home. On a parish level, after graduating Sunday school, she joined St. Gregory's ACYOA Juniors chapter. Later she helped rebuild the St. Gregory ACYOA Seniors chapter, in which she became the chair of in 2011. She also regularly sings in the choir at her church. On a diocesan level, Nora attended Hye Camp for many years. There, she began as a camper, then counselor, and finally became the head female counselor and taught the Armenian language class to the campers. Along with camp, she helped chaperone many regional lock-ins and retreats. Nora also attended St. Vartan Camp, as head female counselor, and St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, staffing the high school sessions. In 2012, Nora was a participant in the Armenian Service Program and, in 2014, she was a participant in the pilgrimage to Jerusalem with the Primate. Nora has a degree in Public Health. She is currently a Health Navigator, certified Wellness Coach, and Fitness Instructor. She is specialized in dietetics. She works at Advocate Health Care-- the largest health system in Illinois-- which she helps improve the lives of employees by assessing their health and working with them to better develop their wellbeing as they progress toward their goals. She strives to improve lives by pushing her clients to find success and satisfaction from every element of their lifestyle. She helps her clients find the motivation and tools to get to their physical and emotional health goals, and overall well-being. Nora has a passion for helping people and serving the Christ in the Armenian Church. Nora has served on Central Council for two years; first year as Programming Chair and this past year as Vice Chair.

Sona Dagley, Vice Chair
Armenian Church of the Holy Translators, Framingham MA Email Icon

Sona has been a part of the ACYOA in multiple parishes, beginning in the Juniors chapter in Cleveland, continuing into Detroit where she transitioned to Seniors, and currently in her new home of Holy Translators in Framingham, MA, with Holy Trinity welcoming her when she first moved to Massachusetts. Sona has experienced the Diocesan camps to the fullest, moving through the ranks of Hye Camp as well as Saint Vartan Camp, taking part in the roles including as a Camper, CIT, Counselor, Sports Director, and Female Head Counselor. Sona enjoys participating in the choir at her church and has attended Lenten Retreats, Leadership Conference, and the General Assemblies and Sports Weekend. She completed an internship in Armenia working with COAF and is making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the summer of 2017. The ACYOA has played a large part in Sona's life and she wants the members of the ACYOA to experience all the organization has to offer its youth in the way it has positively affected her.

Sona graduated from Michigan State University in 2016 with a B.S. in Kinesiology. She is currently a personal trainer where she works with people to help them achieve their goal through creating a healthy lifestyle. Sona's passion falls in aiding everyone to live their life to the fullest in all aspects of life including physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

Melissa Mardoian, Programming
Sts. Joachim & Anne Armenian Church, Palos Heights, IL Email Icon

Melissa Mardoian has been a member of Sts. Joachim & Anne Armenian Church in Palos Heights, IL since she was born. Her mother and father are very involved in the church on a parish and diocesan level and they have been great models to her. She has been involved in Sunday School, serving on the altar, singing in the choir, establishing an ACYOA seniors chapter, and being the youth representative for the church. Melissa has represented her parish at Lenten Retreats, Leadership Conferences, Chapter Workshop, General Assembly & Sports Weekend, and as the chair of the 2017 Poon Paregentan Dinner Dance committee. She also had the pleasure to take part in the 2012 Armenian Service Program and the honor of being chosen to walk Jesus' steps on the 2014 Pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Melissa attended Hye Camp as a camper, CIT, counselor, art teacher, and night security. She is also very involved with the St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, participating in high school sessions for 4 years and post-high for 1 year and staffing high school sessions for 3 years and post high sessions for 2 years. Melissa finds great joy in helping others grow spiritually, as it also helps her continue to grow. She wants to share her passion for the church with those around her.

Melissa graduated with her Bachelors in Chemistry and Secondary Education from University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign and Masters in English Language Teaching and Learning from Loyola University. She is currently a high school regular chemistry, English Language Learners chemistry, and regular physics teacher, as well as the girls track and field jumps coach.

Ronnie Malconian, Treasurer
Holy Trinity, Cambridge, MA Email Icon

Ronnie grew up in Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Cambridge, MA. He was an active member in the ACYOA Juniors, and has made it a priority to be in a leadership position within the ACYOA Seniors for the last six years. He values having the church as a part of his life and has always been a part of a thriving ACYOA. Since he was 18 he has attended Leadership conferences, Chapter workshops, Lenten retreats, St. Nersess conferences as well as serving in various counselor roles at St. Vartan Camp.

Ronnie started out by serving on the Executive committee at Holy Trinity when he was 19 years old. In 2014 Holy Trinity won the Chapter A Award while Ronnie served as Vice-Chair, which showed their hard work and dedication they had while rebuilding their chapter, and it was the beginning of their newfound presence in the ACYOA Seniors. He was the chairman of the Holy Trinity ACYOA chapter in 2016. In 2016, Ronnie co-chaired the 2016 General Assembly and Sports Weekend in Boston. At that Assembly, he won the Gregory Arpajian Award for his dedicated leadership in the ACYOA. He has also served as the head of the auditing committee prior to being elected on the Central Council.

Ronnie graduated from Merrimack College in 2013 with a degree in Business Administration. He currently works as a Brokerage account specialist for Empower Retirement in their IRA and a 401(k) department.

Mallory Maslar, Secretary
St. Hagop, Pinellas Park, FL Email Icon

Mallory Maslar has been a member of St. Hagop Armenian Church in Pinellas Park since she was a little girl serving on the altar and attending Sunday School. When Fr. Hovnan Demerjian became the priest at St. Hagop he helped establish an ACYOA chapter. Since then she has served as Chairman and Vice Chairman of St. Hagop's ACYOA. She has also attended leadership conferences, chapter workshops and general assembly. She attended St. Vartan Camp as a counselor and served as head counselor.

For the past 3 years Mallory has worked with Central Council to help coordinate the annual Chapter Workshop at St. Hagop and help organize the service project portion of the weekend. Every year the participants of the weekend make sandwiches for Pinellas Hope, a local homeless shelter. She also currently serves as the Sunday School superintendent and Vice Chair for St. Hagop's Parish Council. This past March she organized St. Hagop's first annual 5K Run to help recognize the Genocide.

Mallory graduated from Florida State University with a degree in business finance and business management and currently works for an insurance company in Tampa. She is also currently treasurer for her sorority's Tampa Alumni chapter.

Jennifer Morris, Diocesan Director, Youth and Young Adult Ministries
Email Icon

Jennifer has her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Elementary Education and a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Teaching. Upon completing her education, she was an elementary school teacher for 7 years. As a third generation Armenian, she was born and raised in the St. John Detroit community and benefitted from the Sunday School and ACYOA programs. Jennifer's involvement in ACYOA began as a junior, and has remained an integral part of her life over the years. She took on leadership positions and was later elected to the ACYOA Central Council where she served as both treasurer and chairman. Jennifer loves to travel! Her first overseas experience was in Paris when she represented Detroit in the 1995 AGBU Armenian Olympics. In college, she participated in overseas studies programs in both Hawaii and Italy. In addition, she has backpacked solo through Europe. She traveled on the Pilgrimage to Jerusalem during the summer of 2000, and then to Armenia in the summer of 2001 during the 1700th Anniversary of Christianity. In 2003 she was one of forty-five educators selected worldwide to travel to Japan and explore the Japanese Educational System. Then in 2004, Jennifer traveled back to Armenia as an assistant leader for the Armenia Service Program (ASP). Jennifer joined the Diocesan staff in July of 2005 as the Coordinator of Youth Outreach for the Department of Education and Youth, where she oversaw the ACYOA Juniors and Diocesan Summer Camp programs, St. Vartan Camp and Hye Camp. In September 2013, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian developed the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries and named Jennifer the director. With the assistance of Lorie Odabashian she is now responsible for both ACYOA Juniors and Seniors programs, both camp programs, and all other youth and young adult related programs. Jennifer is proud to be an Armenian Christian, and she would like to ensure that the Armenian Church continues to grow and strengthen for future generations of young Armenians.

Kathryn Ashbahian, Associate, Youth and Young Adult Ministries
St. Leon Armenian Church (Fair Lawn, NJ) Email Icon

Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Kathryn has called St. Leon Armenian Church in Fair Lawn home her whole life. Growing up, she was an active participant and leader at St. Vartan Camp and St. Nersess Summer Conferences. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in both English and Women & Gender Studies from The College of New Jersey, Kathryn decided to act on her passion for youth and for the church by entering ministry full time. She graduated from St. Nersess Armenian Seminary and St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in 2015, earning a Master of Arts in Theology. Following her seminary studies, she joined the Diocesan staff as an associate of the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. Kathryn wholeheartedly enjoys working with the youth of the Armenian Church and sharing with them everything she has learned about the way Armenians beautifully express their theology.

Central Council Meetings

Click on the links below to view "hyelights" from our Central Council meetings (all files in MS WORD format)