AUA Open Centers of Excellence: Chairs Appointed to Build Strategic Plans for the Development of Armenia


The American University of Armenia (AUA) proudly announces the appointment of new Chairs to lead the University’s Open Centers of Excellence (OCE), established and forging ahead with the support of the 200 ChangeMakers campaign. Along with existing chairs, Alen Amirkhanian of the Acopian Center for the Environment, and Satenik Mnatsakanyan of the Open Center for Artificial Intelligence Solutions, the new OCE chairs are developing their respective strategic plans aimed at drawing up interdisciplinary collaborations that will lead to realizing the AUA vision of having a sustainable transformative impact on the development of local communities in Armenia. 


Nyree Abrahamian, Chair of the Open Center for Systems Thinking

Originally from Toronto, Canada, Nyree came to Armenia through Birthright Armenia in 2007. Inspired by her experience, she decided to repatriate. Subsequently, she worked at the National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia (NCFA), developing private-public partnerships in key sectors of the Armenian economy. In that position, Nyree realized that many of the issues the country faces – and their solutions – are rooted in education.

Nyree holds a Master’s degree in International Education Policy from Harvard University and has been teaching at AUA since 2013. Recently appointed Chair of the Open Center for Systems Thinking, she aspires to strategically design the Center’s future activities. While her work is still in its initial stage, Nyree is guided by her belief that systems thinking provides the framework that can and should be applied in a variety of fields. In that constructive frame of mind, she is working on developing the Center’s strategy. 

“My immediate mission is to understand how everything is interconnected. I want to find those areas within the University and across Armenia where we can focus our efforts, as well as connect different units to work collaboratively on different opportunities. I love the vision behind AUA’s Open Centers of Excellence, and I love the challenge of taking that vision and molding it into tangible solutions that make a real impact on Armenia and beyond.”


Chant Aljian, Chair of the Open Center for Innovation Advancement

Chant Aljian is from Lebanon. Upon graduating from Notre Dame University with a degree in Electrical Engineering, Chant started his career in the oil and gas industry. After nearly a decade of career advancement working in various organizations across the world, Chant returned to Lebanon. But, the dire economic crisis in the country soon brought him to Armenia, where he started working for the government as a Strategy Consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister. 

Chant also holds a Master’s degree in Business administration from the University of Warwick, UK, and a Certificate in Global Business from Harvard University.

Recently, Chant was appointed Chair of the Open Center for Innovation Advancement at AUA. He finds the position to be intriguing and looks forward to advancing innovation building upon the reputation and strengths of the University. Being acquainted with AUA alumni, he has found that critical thinking, among other qualities, sets them apart from other professionals. 

“I wanted to be a part of AUA and try my best to make a difference. Working in the government made it that much clearer that education is the key to everything. At this time, I am interacting with the different colleges and programs of the University to design a clear strategy for our Center. Once we have accumulated the necessary information, we can move our attention to entities outside the University to develop collaboration across institutions and sectors.”


Laura Prokić, Chair of the Open Center for Leadership and Governance

With a bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and a master’s in Public Administration with a focus in Global Leadership and Management, Laura’s research activities have focused primarily on public leadership, youth political participation, as well as democratization and civil society. 

She has been a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Gambia training teachers to support local youth. She also has worked with the US State Department’s leadership exchange programs to teach youth and adults about leadership in different areas, including environment, civil society, gender equality, and others. 

Her personal research delves into the question of what makes a good leader and how it can be applied in different fields. “I firmly believe in adopting a transdisciplinary approach. Hence, my first goal is to get acquainted with all the different units of the University. I am also reaching out to various organizations within the private sector and the government to formulate the vision of the Center. These interactions will help create new opportunities for collaboration. Most importantly, I want the center to be student-focused, creating more leadership opportunities for students and making research endeavors more meaningful for them. Through grants and conferences, we can collaborate with students, faculty members, and other local and international organizations to make a difference in various spheres, including gender equality, agriculture, technology, and more.”


Lusine Musheghyan, Chair of the Open Center for Transformative Health Solutions

Lusine Musheghyan has been a part of the AUA community since 2011, when she enrolled in the Master of Public Health degree program. After graduation, she worked as the student recruitment coordinator for the Master of Public Health Program at Turpanjian College of Health Sciences and was involved in various research projects at the Avedisian-Onanian Center for Health Services Research and Development over the years. She is also an instructor for the Global Health course.

When she learned about the Open Centers of Excellence, Lusine was inspired by the collaboration possibilities it would offer. She applied and was successful in assuming the position of Chair of the Open Center for Transformative Health Solutions. She is currently working on drawing the Center’s strategic plan for future projects, collaboration with different experts, and continuation of various research projects involving stakeholders. 

“Working at AUA, I am able to see the multilevel benefits of the transdisciplinary approach. The College of Health Sciences provides a firm foundation to build new collaborations and tackle the complex problems of our reality. Currently, we are working with our partners from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) to apply for an NIH grant and scale up one of our current projects. We also plan to continue our regular initiative seminars featuring people in research, education, innovation, business and society. We aim to continue our efforts in improving AUA’s visibility through high-profile research, local and international conference presentations and peer-reviewed publications. We will also continue supporting the Government of Armenia and local communities through capacity development.”


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