Editor’s Note: myBurbank will be highlighting the upcoming election in two areas, first candidate profiles to give you some background on each candidate, and second will be a series of questions on each issue. We will run a new profile each day and the question/answer part will run after the profiles are completed.
Where are you from originally?
Over 13 years ago, my wife and I moved to Burbank from Glendale to raise our family. We love our city and believe in its excellent public education system.
What was the most memorable or character-building part of your upbringing?
At the age of 13, I had to leave my country alone, meaning everything I knew and loved. My home, friends, family, school, and community were left behind. Eventually, I moved to Germany and spent time in refugee camps where I was finally reunited with my mother first and father later. I spent two years in a small village in Germany, leading to my migration to the U.S.
I believe that my personal experience with revolution, war, injustice, and the harsh realities of political and social discrimination, has made me a better and stronger person. Within all the chaos and uncertainty, I have experienced the human spirit’s beauty first-hand. For instance, the unconditional love and friendship I received from three young African brothers I met at the refugee camp in Germany. They saw me crying one Sunday as I waited hours for a phone call from my family (this was before cell phones and emails). They had just lost their parents and were struggling with horrible injuries from the ongoing civil war they had escaped. Despite all the pain and suffering they had been through, they embraced me as one of their own and brought me comfort when I needed it the most.
Today, I continue to receive the same unconditional love and support from my Burbank community. This is what keeps me going every day! Serving our children, families, schools, and community is the least I can do to give back to a country and community that has given me so much.
How long have you been in Burbank?
Over 13 years.
What drew you to the City of Burbank?
- Excellent Schools
- Family Friendly environment-Burbank is a quite family-friendly town with a small-town feeling where everyone takes pride in their city and neighborhood. It is a great place to raise a family and we love the fact that we know most of our neighbors. I am the DJ of The Burbank Social Distance Block Party, which was originated from my block. This event was created by our North Griffith Park Drive neighbors and friends five months ago. This venue has allowed us to show our appreciation for all our front-line heroes and try to make the best of the current situation by bringing much needed positive energy through music.
- Parks and kid-friendly attractions-Our local parks offer everything from swimming pools and sports fields to quiet places for relaxation or family outings. Our home is half a block away from the Chandler Bike pathway, which we love! I proudly served on the Burbank Parks, Recreation & Community Services Board. One of my proudest projects is the Verdugo aquatic family center with kid-friendly pools, slides, and attractions.
- Great City Services-Our city has its own fire, police, and water and power departments with excellent and reliable services. In addition, the city is kept clean and safe.
- Vintage shops and family-owned restaurants and businesses-Whether you are shopping or dining at Magnolia Park or downtown Burbank, the city of Burbank offers unique shopping and dining experiences with locally owned businesses.
What are some of your interests/hobbies?
Listening to and playing music (wind instruments mostly), scuba diving, poetry, philosophy, DJing, and Kendo, which is a Japanese form of fencing with two-handed bamboo swords. I also collect world instruments, mostly traditional wind instruments and bagpipes.
What motivated you to run for office?
I am a proud Burbank resident, parent, and teacher. I have invested interest and time in giving every Burbank Unified School District student the educational opportunities they need to succeed. I live in Burbank with my wife, Dr. Gayane Gasamanyan, a local pharmacist, and our son Arameh, a third grader at Joaquin Miller Elementary School. I am re-running for the Burbank School Board because I want to build on the progress we have made in delivering equal opportunities and first-rate educational programs to our students and stakeholders. Furthermore, I want to guarantee that all of Burbank’s children have access to the best public education and career preparation opportunities. I am the current President of the Burbank Unified School District Board of Education, where I have been serving for the last five years.
Because we are facing challenging and uncertain times, we need leadership with experience.
- Covid-19. California/local public health and educational professionals, not politicians, determine when and how we open schools and keep everyone safe.
- Equity. As the co-founder and Chair of the Burbank School District’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee, I ensure that our District’s workforce will grow in professionalism and diversity.
- Funding. Because the coronavirus pandemic and economic crises will impact our budget, we must expand health safety tactics while securing equitable educational funding.
- Career Readiness. It is necessary to continue programs that ensure the highest academic achievement level and prepare our students for the future, including providing:
- Mental health resources
- Career technical courses
- Technology advancement
- Workforce training
- Community College & Four-year College/University preparation and counseling
- Climate. Transition the district into 100% clean and renewable energy
Is there anything else you would like Burbank residents to know about you?
As the current President of the Burbank Board of Education and a board member for the past five years, I am proud to say that together we have:
- Expanded our mental health partnerships and resources
- Formed a strong relationship with community colleges for dual enrollment classes
- Received competitive grants which have increased career technical education courses
- Increased STEM education opportunities
- Reduced suspension and chronic absenteeism rates
- Earned the California Exemplary Arts Education award for four of Burbank’s elementary schools in 2020
Furthermore, I am the co-founder and the current chair of the Burbank School district’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee, co-founder of the Burbank districtwide multicultural appreciation initiative. I also secured a buddy bench at Joaquin Miller Elementary, where our son attends school.
I earned my bachelor’s degree in Political Science from California State University Northridge, my Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Woodbury University, and my Doctorate from Pepperdine University.
I am a current member of the Burbank Noon Kiwanis Club, former member & chair, Burbank Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission, former member of the Burbank School Bond Oversight Committee, the Burbank and Greater East Valley Boys and Girls Club Board of Directors, City of Burbank’s Community Development Goals Committee, Burbank Civic Pride Committee, YMCA Board, former President of the Armenian American Chamber of Commerce, and many other non-profits boards and commissions.