Intercultural Understanding #241

How can we promote understanding between cultural groups in Maine? Whether our family has been here for generations, or whether we have just arrived, it is incumbent upon us to learn how to get along—and celebrate—people of all backgrounds. Today we speak with Pious Ali, founder of the Maine Interfaith Youth Alliance, and Gerard & Annie Kiladjian, founders of the Armenian Cultural Association of Maine.


Pious Ali

Pious Ali is a youth and community engagement specialist in the Muskie School of Public Service working on a project called Portland Empowered. He has spent the better part of his career focused on engaging youth and creating dialogue across cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic, and faith-based groups. He is the founder and executive director of the Maine Interfaith Youth Alliance. He is the current co-director and co-founder of the King Fellows, a Portland-based youth group dedicated to creating meaningful opportunities for youth leadership and civic engagement based on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Pious is a member of the Portland’s Board of Education, and he is the first African-born American and Muslim to be elected to a public office in Maine.

Gerard Kiladjian

Gerard Kiladjian is the general manager of the Portland Harbor Hotel, Diamond’s Edge Restaurant and Marina, and the newly opened Inn at Diamond Cove on Great Diamond Island. His passion for hospitality   began with a Hotel Management degree from Boston University. Gerard is first generation immigrant from Syria. Shortly after settling to Maine in 2000, Gerard and Annie established the Armenian Cultural Association of Maine to promote and preserve his Armenian culture. Among events they brought to Portland are lectures by notable authors, accomplished speakers, and Armenian folk dance and music performances.

Annie Kiladjian

Annie Kiladjian is a passionate interior designer who creates spaces that are elegant, sophisticated, and functional. She grew up in the culturally rich city of Montreal, with its spectacular diversity of the latest fashions, wide-range of home interior styles and exciting mix of modern and historical design. After 20 years in the fashion industry, Annie moved into interior design. She creates timeless spaces for her clients that are both fresh and traditional. Her respect for the design traditions of Maine, New Jersey and Montreal coupled with the personal needs of clients, allows Annie to create interiors that are always engaging and well loved. Living in Maine with her family for 12 years, Portland has become Annie’s true home. She loves the people, the surroundings and the the small city life with the big city punch! Annie has developed close relationships with local architects, contractors, suppliers, and other designers, which has allowed her to provide the full spectrum of resources for her clients.