For nearly twenty years, James Tufenkian has been committed to using his business ventures to better the lives of Armenians. His family immigrated to the U.S. from western Armenia following the Hamidean massacre in the 1890s and eventually settled in California and Oregon. James finished law school in 1986 and then began a successful business introducing a modern aesthetic to traditional Tibetan carpets.
A self-described “born-again Armenian,” James visited Armenia toward the end of the Soviet era and was amazed by the beauty of its land and the spirit of its people. He discovered a passion for the country, and has since devoted himself to making it a great nation with a thriving people. Following Armenia’s independence, he began by reviving the ancient Armenian art of carpet-weaving, which had been all but lost during the Soviet years. In 1999 he founded the Tufenkian Foundation to bring about changes in the country that market forces alone could not accomplish. He currently divides his time between the U.S. and Armenia, with significant interests in Asia as well.
John Antranig Kasbarian, Executive Director
Antranig Kasbarian has been active in Armenian affairs for most of his life. Over the past 20 years, he has been a lecturer, activist and community leader in the Eastern US; he has also worked regularly as a journalist, activist and researcher in Nagorno-Karabagh. He is a former editor of The Armenian Weekly, and has held various positions within the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. He holds a PhD in Geography from Rutgers University, where he currently teaches a course on Nagorno-Karabagh.
He joined the Tufenkian Foundation in 2003, launching its program in Nagorno-Karabagh, and now serves as Executive Director.
Mary Matosian, Country Director
A trip to Armenia in 1981 changed Mary Matosian’s life. She rediscovered her ancestral roots and dedicated herself to extensive work in the Armenian communities of New York and Paris before moving to Armenia in 1990. During the 1990s, she put her methodical research and organizational skills to work as director of “Aznavour pour Armenie,” implementing grants from the European Union’s Humanitarian Commission. She joined the Tufenkian Foundation in 2006 and serves as Country Director, splitting her time between New York, Armenia and Karabagh.
Jeffrey Tufenkian, Environmental Program Director
Jeffrey Tufenkian has worked as an activist in Armenia and the U.S. for more than 20 years. His advocacy experience covers a wide range of issues, including environmental protection, human rights, public health, and consumer protection. His work has included organizing students, developing policy, media advocacy and nonprofit management. Jeffrey first came to Armenia in 2002 to initiate the Tufenkian Foundation’s environmental program. Raised in the wooded state of Oregon, Jeffrey has long had a deep affinity for the natural environment and is dedicated to protecting Armenia’s endangered natural resources, especially its forests.