Talar Malakian, a fresh-faced recent college graduate, has taken the helm of the Glendale chapter of the Armenian National Committee, replacing former executive director Elen Asatryan.
Asatryan, who had been with the Glendale advocacy group since 2006, has moved up to lead the nonprofit's regional headquarters, also based in Glendale. As executive director of the Armenian National Committee's western region, Asatryan will oversee 19 states west of the Mississippi for the organization.
Asatryan had taken a leave of absence from the Glendale chapter in January to run Councilman Zareh Sinanyan's election campaign.
The Glendale chapter has been a strong political force in the city. It's been instrumental in registering Armenian voters and supporting an ongoing federal discrimination and harassment lawsuit brought by several Armenian police officers against the city.
At age 20, Malakian has already established herself as a strong advocate for the Armenian National Committee. The Glendale native directed the nonprofit's Orange County chapter as a volunteer while studying English at University of California Irvine and was an intern with the Glendale chapter when she attended Crescenta Valley High School.
"I trust her with the position. She knows all the ins and outs," said Asatryan, adding that she too was fresh out of college when she became the Glendale chapter's executive director.
Malakian, who graduated this year, said she is passionate about amping up the chapter's "Path to College" program, which guides high school seniors through the college application process, and other service-based work.
"I am a product of a service project," Malakian said, noting that her internship at the Glendale chapter turned an introverted high school student into an outspoken activist.
In addition to student programs, Malakian plans to continue the chapter's work educating the Armenian community about immigration laws, Section 8, an affordable housing program and voter registration.
"I'm excited to hear what [local residents] have to say," she said. "There are needs and they need to be met."