Raffi Joe Wartanian is a multiplatform storyteller passionate about social justice, creativity, and innovative institutions.
Through writing, music, activism, and other mediums, he pursues stories exploring gravity, levity, and hope. A first generation Armenian-American born in Baltimore to parents displaced by the Lebanese Civil War and grandparents who survived the Armenian Genocide, Raffi has encountered numerous social, economic, and political vantage points that inform his perspectives and output. This has led to working in areas of refugee resettlement, civil society development, education, and beyond.
Raffi’s art and activism have been supported by the Fulbright Program, Eurasia Partnership Foundation, Humanity in Action, and Gulbenkian Foundation. His writing and film work have appeared in venues including The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, and Lincoln Center among others. As a musician, he has performed alongside Grammy Award-winning flutist Mary Youngblood, created music and lyrics for award-winning vocalist Eileen Khatchadourian, and has performed internationally as an oud player and singer-songwriter. Raffi is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University School of the Arts where he has taught and organized creative writing workshops at Rikers Island Jail Complex and the Manhattan VA. He is also developing new musical compositions with support from La Bella Strings, and a feature screenplay about a Texas gun show (which finished in the top 10% of the 2017 Academy Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship).