With great sorrow, we inform you of the passing of the member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors Heghine Helen Irma Der Stepanian.
Irma was an amazing lady, a philanthropist who gave so much of herself in service to others. She tirelessly gave her heart to the needy, working to benefit others & bring peace and understanding to this world. Her charming personality & spirit embraced everyone she met with love and kindness.
Irma joined the board of the Karagheusian Foundation on October 29, 1986.
A lawyer, educated in the French system, she spent many years as an advisor to the senior management team at BNP Paribas bank in New York. While offered professional opportunities in Europe in the latter stages of her career, Irma opted to retire and remain in the New York area to be with family.
Her focus in charity was to always honor and uphold the commitment of the Karagheusian family to uplift and improve the lives of children in the Armenian community. She especially admired Leila Karagheusian, daughter of the founding family, with whom she collaborated in the late 1990’s as a fellow board member.
When Armenia gained its independence, Irma was part of the Foundation’s planning committee whose responsibility was to determine the most effective and appropriate programs to open in the new region to assist our brethren. Programs in operation today had their beginnings in that committee. She eventually took on the responsibility of board vice president for several years.
Irma visited Armenia often. She made two official trips with the Karagheusian Foundation board of directors in 2002 and 2016.
Irma was very active with the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), an umbrella group for 300 ethnic groups. Several Armenians were nominated and received the Ellis Island award under Irma’s watch. Armenian President Serge Sarkisian was successfully nominated and voted as the first foreign head of state to receive the award in 2011. After refusing for several years, Irma finally agreed to be nominated and elected in 2012 for the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
In 2012, Irma attended the NY city marking the 20th anniversary of Armenia’s UN membership. Along with being a regular participant as an active Armenian community member, Irma spent her spare time with a love for opera and museums.
Rest in peace, dear Irma, a devoted member of our community.
About Karagheusian Foundation – Founded in 1921, The Howard Karagheusian Commemorative Corporation (aka Karagheusian Foundation) has a mission to assist socially and economically vulnerable Armenian children and their families worldwide by providing health, education, and social assistance.