Posted: Friday, August 22, 2003 at 11:26 AM CT
Jacklin Bejan: A Portrait of an Assyrian Leader
Jackie, as she is known by, was born on April 20, 1961 to parents Johnny and Janet Elieh in Kuwait. Her father worked for Halliburton, the American oil company. Johnny and Janet Elieh had two younger sons as well: Franklin and Fredrick. When Jackie was three years young, the family relocated to Tehran, Iran, where she completed her schooling thru the tenth grade.
After the unfortunate death of her father in a shipping accident, the family immigrated to Modesto, California, in 1979, where she graduated from Beyer High School and attended Modesto Junior College. In 1981, she was engaged to Lincoln Bejan, they married in June 1983. The couple moved to San Jose, California, where she continued her higher education in San Jose State University. Jackie and Lincoln were blessed with two sons: Christopher Demeil and Michael Beneil.
The first five years of her marriage, Jackie worked at Comerica commercial bank, where she advanced to the rank of assistant vice president of operations. In 1989, Jackie and her husband Lincoln established Chemical Safety Technology, Inc. At this point, she retired from the banking industry and jointly with her husband began to run the business.
In 1995, Jackie became involved in the Assyrian American Association of San Jose (simply known as Shotapoota), an affiliate of the Assyrian American National Federation (AANF). Her outstanding organizational skills in setting up and running the Assyrian Olympic games in San Jose in 1995 earned her much respect and admiration. Soon after, she became the president of the said Shotapoota. During her presidency, the membership in the Shotapoota increased noticeably. Moreover, while the Shotapoota building in the Almaden Valley had witnessed some financial difficulties in the past, she was able to control the situation, turn it around, and save the property. Recently, the building was sold for a 100% profit and a new income-generating building at a very good location is in the process of being purchased.
As president of the Shotapoota, Jackie ran the California State Convention in San Jose in 1996 and managed the Assyrian National Convention in San Jose in 2001. The latter was the most profitable ever in the history of the AANF and best organized since she initiated a very complex online registration process to control the four-day event using the resources of Assyrian Information Management (AIM).
One of the most memorable events that the Shotapoota was involved in while under Jackie's leadership was organizing the first Assyrian Genocide Conference in the United States. The Assyrian Genocide Conference of 2000 was dedicated to the memory of the forgotten Assyrian victims of World War I, the First Genocide of the Twentieth Century. Among the speakers were, Dr. Gabriele Yonan (Germany), and Thea Helo (USA). Jackie returned the day after the conference, on August 7th, and successfully organized a sobering evening commemorating the Assyrian Martyr's Day, an event that is remembered annually. In this latter event, the half-Assyrian author, Thea Halo, read from her wonderful book, "Not Even My Name."
In 2001, Jackie and the Shotapoota, organized the second Assyrian Genocide Conference. The speakers attending the conference were Dr. Racho Donef (Australia), professor Richard Hovannisian (UCLA, USA), and Dr. Gabriele Yonan (Germany).
The Shotapoota during her tenure also organized citizenship classes for Assyrian elders, initiated computer, and Syriac language classes, among other important programs.
Jackie and her family have been one of the most dedicated and supportive for the Assyrians in Iraq in general and those in north of Iraq in particular. She, only for example, donated the entire funds necessary to open two Assyrian Day Care Centers in Ainkawa and Dohuk in northern Iraq. Jackie did not stop there; through her contributions, she makes sure that both centers are maintained and operational, thus assures that Assyrian mothers are able to work and support their families.
In September 2002, she organized the first ever auction to benefit the Nisibin Scholarship Fund, where $14,000 were raised in few hours. A portion of this fund was used as scholarship for three different Assyrian students, as the remaining balance will be disbursed to other qualified Assyrian candidates in the upcoming year. The attendees bid over rare books, photos, and antiques relating to Assyrians.
Mrs. Bejan has a great love for Assyrian arts. She spends great time surfing the net and acquiring Assyrian related art pieces. Her support for Assyrian painters, singers, and poets is remarkable. Lately, she and her husband have reproduced the entire collection of the legendary Assyrian singer Ashur Bet Sargis in a beautiful four CD set. Additionally, she has organized numerous poetry evenings. Last of such memorable evenings took place in November 2002 where Raabi Yosip Bet Yosip and Raabi Ninos Aho were the guests of the event. During the event, the poets own CD, which she assisted to produce, was introduced to the public. Lastly but not least, Jackie has made sure that the memory of Raabi William Daniel remains alive. To accomplish this, the Shotapoota under her leadership has celebrated his birthday annually.
Finally, Jackie never misses the chance to make sure that Assyrians of Iraq are not forgotten in these crucial times. On March 17, 2003, Jackie steered and organized a peaceful demonstration at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez, in downtown San Jose. This was planned for two purposes. The first was to support the American troops in Iraq and the second reason was to convey the message of concern the Diaspora Assyrians have for those Assyrians in Iraq. Local TV station and the San Jose Mercury Newspaper covered the demonstration. Such demonstration, a first of such level, was attended by 600 Assyrians who stressed through their slogans and banners the mistreatment of Assyrian Christians in Iraq and demanded equal representation for Assyrians in the future Iraqi government.
Mrs. Jacklin Bejan's accomplishments are endless. What is well known about her are the exceptional organizational skills and attention to details that she possesses. Hence, she gets things done professionally and as perfect as possible. Most importantly, she is a symbol of courage, dedication, pride, and hope. With such qualities, Jackie earns the vote of many Assyrians as an exceptional Assyrian leader.