Armen grew up in Armenia and immigrated to the United States at the age of 19. He considers himself bi-cultural. Spending his childhood through young adulthood in Armenia has given Armen a unique understanding of cultural differences between Armenian and American societies. He hopes to leverage this understanding in bridging the gap between the LGBTQ and Armenian communities.
After graduating with an Accounting degree from CSU, Northridge, Armen has worked in various positions in accounting and law enforcement. He has also volunteered for various causes. Professionally, Armen has volunteered for VITA, an IRS sponsored free tax return preparation service for low-income Americans. Personally, he has been active with the local neighborhood council, the Yosemite Conservancy and other organizations. Recently, Armen was involved in organizing for a candidate running for nationwide public office. The experience has taught him that when people stand together, there is nothing they cannot accomplish.
As GALAS Board President, Armen is honored to be able to combine his experience in accounting with his expertise in organizing to move GALAS forward in achieving its goals. He is an optimist and always sees opportunities and solutions while facing adversity. Armen believes that ignorance is only cured with illumination and love. He is looking forward to serving his term by reaching out to cultural and business leaders, elected officials to create lasting alliances that harbor more inclusive, stronger communities.
Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, Shant has been close to a large yet distant Armenian community. Having attended Armenian schools, he grew up in an environment not always welcoming of LGBTQ individuals. Despite his experiences, Shant has always felt a strong connection to his Armenian heritage and is looking forward to being an impactful advocate for LGBTQ rights in the Armenian community.
Shant has a degree in Health Administration and is currently pursuing a certificate in paralegal studies. Shant has various interests in civic engagement. As a self ascribed relentless organizer who uses the Dewey decimal system in organizing his book collection, Shant intends to use his skills in helping GALAS accomplish its mission.
As the GALAS Board Secretary and Archivist, Shant is honored to be preserving and presenting the organization’s history. To create more inclusive communities, he is looking forward to contributing to educational outreach programs aimed at unifying the Armenian community at large.
As a lover of Armenian art, poetry and music, Erik has been immersed in the Armenian culture and community since his early days in Iran. At the age of 13, he arrived in the United States and has continued to be involved in the community through the Armenian Society of Los Angeles and GALAS. In 2016, he graduated UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Civic Engagement, having completed two honors thesis research projects regarding LGBTQ Armenian Americans.
Previously, Erik has worked at the Los Angeles LGBT Center and Human Rights Watch to help secure social justice for various minorities. Similarly, Erik’s involvement in GALAS is fueled by his passion for vocalizing the issues and concerns of the oppressed. He is proud of the beauty and resilience of the Armenian culture and believes that such heritage must be shared with and be inclusive of queer Armenians.
Currently Erik is the Community Engagement and Program Coordinator at One Archives (largest repository of LGBTQ materials); he manages community involvement and education, e-marketing and communications. As Treasurer, Erik handles the management of financial affairs of GALAS, creates budgets and oversees resource appropriations as well as participates in fundraising and outreach efforts.
Lousine Shamamian Arts and Entertainment Liaison
Armenia-born and Brooklyn-raised, Lousine Shamamian is a 17 year veteran in television editing, with credits including PBS documentaries such as Women Power and Politics and reality staples like Mob Wives and America’s Next Top Model. Getting involved with GALAS while she was in New York, Lousine is now living and working in Los Angeles.
Lousine recently stepped out from behind the scenes to perform standup comedy throughout NYC as well as to create and star in a web series Lousine: Lesbian Matchmaker To The Straights. In a candid episode, Lousine comes out to her mother in Armenian. She hopes the episode will resonate and provide empowerment to others who struggle with their identity. Her most recent project, Shake The Earth premiered at the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival and was named a festival “Best Bet” by Theater is Easy.
Lousine wants to return to her roots as an activist. As a liaison for the queer artist community, Lousine hopes to empower those who want to further GALAS’ mission through the arts. She is encouraged with the speed of positive change in our community and wants GALAS to continue to advance equality here and in Armenia.
Mamikon Hovsepyan Armenia Liaison
Mamikon is a LGBTQ activist and a Human Rights Defender living and working in Armenia. He started his activism in 2002. In 2007 Mamikon and three friends founded PINK Armenia, the leading LGBTQ organization in the country. Currently the Executive Director of PINK Armenia, Mamikon advocates LGBTQ community empowerment, human rights protections on national and international levels.
Mamikon holds a degree in sociology, and a Masters Degree in Human Rights and Democratization. He specializes in health, human rights, and and gender issues. Mamikon has been recognized by Frontline Defenders (Dublin) as a Human Rights Defender. In 2017 he received a Bob Hepple Equality Award for his work in advancing LGBT rights in Armenia.
GALAS’ partnership with PINK Armenia throughout the past few years, the screening of Listen to Me documentary in Los Angeles, and GALAS’ fundraiser for PINK Armenia’s community center encouraged Mamikon to join GALAS’ board. As GALAS’ Armenia Liaison, he hopes to strengthen GALAS’ ties with the LGBTQ community in Armenia and work on joint projects advancing LGBTQ liberation in Armenian communities worldwide.
Maral Karaccusian Government Liaison
Maral is a public servant who is deeply committed to the advancement of progressive policies. She is determined to defend and increase opportunities for historically marginalized people, especially current and former foster youth.
Maral currently serves as Los Angeles District Director for Congresswoman Karen Bass where she directs Congresswoman’s activities and staff. Prior to joining the Congresswoman’s office, Maral taught life skills to transitional-aged foster youth and saw firsthand how policies impact vulnerable children.
Maral holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UCLA as well as a master’s degree in social work from USC where she won a Gladys M. Salit Award which recognizes students who have demonstrated academic excellence, outstanding field work, exceptional leadership and creativity. Growing up in a family entrenched in activism in Armenia, Artsakh, and the Diaspora, Maral’s lifelong passion for social justice lead her to GALAS. Maral believes building meaningful, impactful and lasting partnerships between elected officials, cultural leaders and GALAS will bring the LGBTQ and Armenian communities closer together.
Jushtin Lee Director of Social Media/Marketing
An alumni of California Institute of the Arts, Jushtin has worked in animation for Pixar in San Francisco, for Nickelodeon, Sony, Walt Disney in Glendale and Los Angeles areas. His expertise lies in producing story oriented visual content for different mediums. Jushtin is credited for episodes of Disney’s Star and Forces of Evil, Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other popular TV shows.
Working and living in Glendale has introduced Jushtin to Glendale’s peaceful small town appeal, family oriented atmosphere and the vibrant Armenian community. By joining GALAS Jushtin hopes to bring together his professional skills with the community that he loves.
After volunteering for GALAS, curating the recent 19th anniversary celebration, Jushtin decided to join the board. As Social Media/Marketing Director, Jushtin wants to create a meaningful and inviting atmosphere for GALAS’ members by capturing, distilling and presenting its narrative in social media authentically.