April 10, 2009

10CN: Doukmetzian, Veteran Attorney, is New Adventist General Counsel

Doukmetzian, Veteran Attorney,
is New Adventist General Counsel
Kyte returns to Idaho after four years at world headquarters
capThe Seventh-day Adventist Church's Executive Committee April 5 voted Karnik Doukmetzian, a vice president of Adventist Risk Management who has more than 25 years of legal experience, to lead its Office of General Counsel.
"I'm looking forward to working with each of you and with President Jan Paulsen as we work to protect the interests of the church," he told the Executive Committee during its Spring 2009 business session.
Doukmetzian replaces Robert E. Kyte, who served in the post for four years and has accepted the position of General Counsel for Healthwise, a nonprofit consumer health education company based in Boise, Idaho. Kyte previously served as outside counsel for the company for 15 years while in private practice.
The Office of General Counsel currently employs five attorneys to offer legal advice for entities at the world headquarters. Major areas include tax, pension, religious liberty, employment, immigration law and litigation.


WELCOME ABOARD: Jan Paulsen, Seventh-day Adventist world church president, welcomes Karnik Doukmetzian as the new lead counsel for the Office of General Counsel at world church headquarters. The Adventist Church’s Executive Committee voted Doukmetzian in April 5. [photo: Ansel Oliver/ANN]

Doukmetzian, 54, was born in Greece and raised in Canada. He earned his law degree from the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada in 1982. He subsequently represented insurance companies in private practice and served as general counsel and director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada.

Doukmetzian has served Adventist Risk Management for 12 years, first as claims counsel, and the past eight as vice president, overseeing the church's insurance companies, claims services and captive brokerage. A frequent presenter at ARM meetings, including the annual risk management conferences and Presidents’ Symposiums, Doukmetzian encouraged church leaders to take responsibility for their actions and focus on areas within the scope of management that could result in potential claims against the church.
"His impact within this company has been tremendous over the years," ARM president Robert Sweezy said. "This is a great opportunity for him to further serve the church and do what he likes best, and that is to protect the church in every way possible."
Robert Lemon, treasurer for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church and chairman of ARM’s board, worked with Doukmetzian in Canada: “The thing I appreciated about working with him, even when we first worked together back in Canada, was not just his legal expertise but his understanding of the church and its mission. … I’m sure he will bring that same drive and determination to the Office of General Counsel.”
Kyte, the outgoing General Counsel, said Doukmetzian's experience has prepared him well for the new appointment. "It was a pleasure working with him at ARM and I believe he will bring energy, focus and practicality through Christian principles to the office," Kyte said.
After college, Doukmetzian contemplated attending law school in the United States and sought advice from the most senior of the Canadian Adventist attorneys. "Go to law school and use your talents to serve the church," he was told. There were only four Adventist lawyers in the county at the time. Doukmetzian is licensed to practice law in both Canada and the United States. He said he plans to transition to his new post in May.
He is married to Loida Cortez Doukmetzian, a schoolteacher in the Washington D.C. area, and are members of Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Takoma Park, Maryland. They have one son, Joseph.
-- Reported by Ansel Oliver, Adventist News Network with information from Paula Webber, Adventist Risk Management