Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Leah Whitson to Emcee 12th Annual ANCA Eastern Region Gala

Premiere Celebration of Armenian American Activism in New York City on October 13th

October 1, 2018

NEW YORK, NY – Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Division of Human Rights Watch will serve as the master of ceremonies at the 12th annual Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region gala on Saturday, October 13 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. This year’s gala will include a cocktail hour and silent auction at 6:00 p.m. followed by a dinner and program at 7:30 p.m.

Community leaders and grassroots advocates throughout the Eastern U.S. will join Whitson in celebrating the year’s accomplishments and honor advocates for their integral role in advancing the Armenian American cause.

Whitson oversees the work of Human Rights Watch’s MENA division in 19 countries. She leads advocacy and investigative missions throughout the region, focusing on issues of armed conflict, accountability, legal reform, migrant workers and political rights. Whitson has published widely on human rights issues in The New York Times, Huffington Post, Foreign Policy, and other publications, and appears regularly on Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN and NPR.

Born and raised in an Armenian household, Whitson attended Alex Pilibos Armenian School for 12 years and was a long time member of the Armenian Youth Federation. She graduated from the University of California, Berkley and Harvard Law School. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Armenian Bar Association and speaks Armenian and Arabic. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, she worked for Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. Whitson helped organize the Centennial Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in Istanbul through Project 2015, a group she cofounded in New York.

“It is an honor to serve as this year’s master of ceremonies at this event to recognize the important work of activists such as Terry George, Dr. Eric Esrailian, and Ken Sarajian, who have done so much to focus our attention to global suffering and injustice. I hope you will join me in celebrating the ANCA’s dedicated efforts, accomplishments and leadership on Armenian American issues,” said Whitson.

This year’s honorees include ANCA Eastern Region Freedom Award recipients Terry George, writer and director of “The Promise” and “Hotel Rwanda”; Dr. Eric Esrailian, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Producer of “The Promise,” the proceeds of which were used to establish The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law; and Vahan Cardashian Award recipient Ken Sarajian, community advocate and educator from New Jersey. The event will also recognize the 2018 Armenian National Committee of America Leo Sarkisian Eastern Region interns:  Antranig Kechejian (MA), Victoria Messikian (NJ), and Adrienne Tazian-Schwartz (IN).

“We are thrilled to have Sarah Leah Whitson emcee our gala this year,” commented Steve Mesrobian, ANCA Eastern Region Chairman. “Her tireless advocacy for the rights of people throughout the Middle East has truly been an inspiration to many and her work has been a huge asset to Armenians throughout the world.”

For more information about this year’s gala and to purchase tickets, please visit or call 201-788-5425.


Photo Caption: Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director, Middle East and North Africa Division, Human Rights Watch to emcee 12th annual Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region Gala on Saturday, October 13 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.

For Immediate Release
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