May 1, 2008— Volume 35, Number 237
AHI 33rd Annual Dinner Celebrates Greek American Achievements
On March 15, 2008, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) honored a distinguished set of Greek
Americans at its 33rd Anniversary Hellenic Heritage and National Public Service Awards Dinner, held at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC. Linked by their important career achievements and by their contributions to the Greek American community and the community at-large, this year’s honorees were:
The master of ceremonies for the evening was John Metaxas, Attorney at Law for Allegaert Berger & Vogel and Anchor/Reporter at WCBS and WCBS-TV.
AHI President and founder Gene Rossides welcomed the evening’s guests, dedicating the dinner to the late George Paraskevaides, one of AHI’s leading benefactors, with a moment of silence. Mr. Rossides also recognized Congressman John Brademas, who was responsible for successfully leading the rule of law arms embargo legislation against Turkey 33 years ago in the U.S. House of Representatives.
THE EVENING’S HONOREES
The evening’s first honoree was Anna Lea, who was presented with the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for her dedicated support of Hellenism and Hellenic culture and education. In her acceptance remarks, Mrs. Lea outlined the goals of the SPGH:
“Our motto comes from Socrates, who said, ‘A man can be called a Greek who has read the classics, not only a man who is merely born in Greece’…. The theme we hope to spread through our programs is that the thought and achievements of the classical Greeks is continued relevant through life in the 21st century.”
Anthony S. Papadimitriou received the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for his dedicated support of Hellenism and Hellenic culture, education, and the Greek American community.
Upon receiving his award, Mr. Papadimitriou noted that, “This all would not have been made possible despite my 20 years of service in the foundation without the work, the hard work that had been given by the previous generation in the foundation…. I am truly and deeply honored on behalf not of myself, but on behalf of my board of directors to accept this award from the American Hellenic Institute.”
Congressman Zack Space also received the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for his commitment to public service and his support in strengthening U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. AHI member Tom Lagos delivered the following message from Congressman Space, who could not attend the event due to unforeseen circumstances:
“It is in large part because of AHI and Gene Rossides specifically that I am where I am today…. In Congress, members of the Hellenic Caucus and I continue to fight for issues of importance to the Hellenic community…. I am proud to be a part of those efforts.”
Melina Kanakaredes received the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for her unparalleled artistic achievements and excellence in her field. As part of the tribute to this award-winning actress, a short film containing interviews from colleagues and people involved in Ms. Kanakaredes’ life was played. Ms. Kanakaredes detailed and underscored the tremendous influence that her Hellenic heritage and Orthodox faith have played throughout her life, and applauded the work of AHI:
“[I]n 1974, these founding members of the American Hellenic Institute—they used their power as American citizens, assimilating amazing American citizens that we all are, and they guided our government into trying to right a wrong. And although it wasn’t completely turned around, it was a movement that made a difference, a tiny step forward. This feat alone is remarkable to me, and 34 years later, to continue to make monumental efforts, not only to support our Hellenic heritage, but to maintain our voice in our country’s capital is phenomenal.”
As special tribute to His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, who celebrated the fortieth anniversary of his ordination as a bishop last fall, a short video was played to highlight his ministry throughout the years.
Archbishop Demetrios received the First AHI Religious Freedom Award for his lifelong commitment to promoting religious freedom and for his outstanding leadership of the Greek Orthodox faithful for over half a century. Upon receiving the award, His Eminence said, “Achievement and pride. And this is the spirit tonight, because after what we heard, how can we not feel the elation, the thrill of what achievement is, and what it is really to be proud in the Lord for what he has given.”
The Archbishop highlighted the achievements of each of his fellow honorees, and underscored a number of ancient Hellenic values that apply to contemporary life.
Throughout the weekend, AHI also hosted several other events to celebrate the honorees’ accomplishments and to promote Hellenism. These included:
Greek Embassy Dinner in Honor of AHI
The weekend’s events were kicked off with a dinner at the Greek Embassy on March 14, 2007, hosted by Ambassador Alexandros Mallias and Mrs. Mallias in honor of AHI for its significant contributions to strengthening ties between Greece and the U.S.
Briefing by Ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus
On the morning of March 15, 2007, AHI hosted a breakfast briefing at the Capital Hilton featuring Ambassador of Greece Alexandros Mallias and Ambassador of Cyprus Andreas Kakouris. Both ambassadors provided the audience with an update on the most recent events related to and status on U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus.
AHI-New England Chapter launched
The New England Chapter of AHI, along with the AHI Business Network held its inaugural meeting on December 5, 2007 at the Radisson Hotel in Boston with AHI founder and President Gene Rossides as keynote speaker. George Chryssis, a long-time AHI member and past honoree, was master of ceremonies and introduced several prominent attendees including former Governor Michael Dukakis, Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis, Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Alexandros Mallias, and Consul General of Greece Constantine Orphanides. Each delivered remarks regarding the important role of AHI.
During the event, Tina Papadopoulos was introduced as the new chapter president. Ms. Papadopoulos is the Assistant Director for Development of Anatolia College/The American College of Thessaloniki. She underscored the point that actions must be taken with elected officials as well as the business network that is being built around the country with AHI. Inaugural chapter board members include Georgia D. Katsoulomitis (vice president),Jason A. Panos, andApostolos Fertis.
The chapter also hosted a “Grassroots Lobbying 101” seminar, presented by Nick Larigakis on April 17, 2008 at the Radisson Hotel in Boston. The seminar concentrated on how to effectively approach and inform U.S. legislators of issues important to the Greek American constituency. Following the seminar, Mr. Larigakis was invited to speak at the monthly Alpha Omega Council meeting also being held at the Radisson. He explained the mission and goals of AHI and its accomplishments since its founding in 1974. The Alpha Omega Council is a well known and established charitable organization founded by the late Peter Agris in 1976.
AHI Announces 2008 Greek American Policy Statements
AHI issued the 2008 edition of the Greek American Policy Statements on February 26, 2008. The statements outline issues of concern to the Greek American community as they relate to United States relations with Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, and also serve as a guide to the Greek American community in conveying unified points of view to U.S. policy makers and the media. AHI strongly urges everyone to utilize these statements to their fullest potential. The arguments presented for each issue are based on what is in the best interests of the United States.
To date, the statements have been approved by the following organizations: The Hellenic American National Council; Cyprus Federation of America; Pan-Cretan Association of America; Pan Macedonian Association of America; Chios Societies of America; Pan-Pontian Federation of U.S.A. and Canada; United Hellenic Federation of Northern California; Armenian National Committee of America; and AHI. The organizations endorsing these statements represent leading Greek American membership-based organizations with members in all fifty states.
The Argonauts Association Honors Larigakis
On March 1, 2008, the Argonauts Association of Magnesia honored AHI’s Nick Larigakis at their 14th Annual Dinner Dance in New York. Larigakis was born in Volos and his hometown is the town of Glossa on the island of Skopelos, both of which are part of Magnesia in Greece.He was recognized for bringing honor to the Prefecture of Magnesia through his efforts to elevate Hellenism in America and the national issues of Greece.
Congress Honors Greek Independence Day
During the week of March 10, 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate unanimously passed H.Res. 1024 and S.Res. 476, respectively, to honor Greek Independence Day. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) sponsored H.Res. 1024 with 35 original co-sponsors. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) sponsored the Senate version, S.Res. 476. It was co-sponsored by 54 Senators, including Democratic Presidential Candidates Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hilary Clinton (D-NY).
The Senate and the House resolutions acknowledged Greece’s alliance with the U.S. in every major war, and its contributions to its neighbors and the world.
AHI Testimony Submitted to House Subcommittee
On March 20, 2008, Nick Larigakis submitted testimony on behalf of AHI to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Related Programs. In the interests of the United States, AHI’s testimony opposed:
AHI Hosts Annual Congressional Salute to Greek Independence
On April 9, 2008 AHI hosted its annual “Congressional Salute to Greek Independence Day” at the Cannon Building on Capitol Hill to celebrate the 187th Anniversary of Greek Independence and the common democratic ideals held by Greece and the United States. The event was held in cooperation with the Congressional Hellenic Caucus’s co-sponsors Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
The event’s special guest speaker was Konstantinos Kiltidis, Greece’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture. Members of Congress attending the reception and addressing the audience included (in order of appearance): Hilda L. Solis (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Lois Capps (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Ed Royce (R-CA), Diane Watson (D-CA), Zack Space (D-OH), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Chris van Hollen (D-MD), Dale Kildee (D-MI) and Niki Tsongas (D-MA). Also at the event to deliver their remarks were Ambassador of Greece Alexandros Mallias and Yannis Michailidis of the Embassy of Cyprus.
Each of the speakers emphasized their admiration for the Hellenic culture and for the valiant and inspiring struggle for Greek Independence, achieved nearly 200 years ago. They also expressed their wish for a proper settlement of the Cyprus issue, and stressed their support for Greece over the name issue with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
AHI Meets with Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak
On April 19, 2008, a meeting was held with Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak (D) in Media, Pennsylvania in his district office. This meeting was arranged by long-time AHI member and supporter Paul Kotrotsios. Attending the meeting with Mr. Kotrotsios was his daughter Stavroula, a sophomore student at Villanova University, and AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis. The meeting stemmed from an exchange of correspondence between Mr. Kotrotsios and Congressman Sestak on matters regarding U.S. relations with Greece.
The congressman was briefed on a number of issues of concern to the Greek American community. A large focus of the discussion also centered on the recent FYROM name issue, during which time the congressman indicated that he supported AHI’s position regarding the FYROM name issue.
The King of “Easy” Tells His Story to AHI
Greek-Cypriot “serial” entrepreneur Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou was the featured speaker at a business networking event sponsored by AHI in cooperation with the AHI New York Chapter at the Harvard Club in New York on January 7, 2008. Haji-Ioannou is the founder of easyJet PLC, Europe’s largest low cost airline, which he started when he was 28. The company has a fleet of 122 jets and carried over 30 million passengers in 2006.
As the owner of the easyGroup, which owns the “easy” brand that it licenses it to the various companies, Haji-Ioannou’s brand now extends to easyCar, easyBus, and easyHotel. His other ventures include Internet cafés and firms specializing in personal finance, cinema, male toiletries, online recruitment, pizza delivery, music downloads, mobile telephony, and wrist watches. EasyCruise, Stelios’ latest venture, is designed for independent travelers, specializing in year-round holidays in Greece and the Greek Islands. Haji-Ioannou’s entrepreneurial successes led to his knighting by Queen Elizabeth II.
The AHI business network event began with a special reception where Haji-Ioannou and fellow entrepreneurs of Greek and Cypriot descent shared their experiences and ideas, followed by a larger reception that allowed the down-to-earth mega businessman, who likes to be called “Stelios,” to mingle with all the participants. During his remarks to the audience, Haji-Ioannou told the story of his life and his business ventures. A lively question and answer period followed.
In recent months, AHI submitted one letter to the editor to respond to inaccuracies in U.S. media coverage, while Gene Rossides also had six op-eds published in a number of Greek American publications. For complete versions of the referenced items, please visit our Web site at <www.ahiworld.org/press_releases/>.
On February 15, 2008, AHI also joined other Greek American organizations in placing a one-page advertisement in the Washington Times that featured an open letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice regarding FYROM. The letter coincided with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni’s meeting with Secretary Rice in Washington, D.C. The organizations and representatives signing the letter were: Emmanuel Velivasakis (president) and Theodore Spyropoulos (honorary president) for the Hellenic American National Council; Nina Gatzoulis (supreme president) on behalf of the Pan-Macedonian Association; and Gene Rossides and Nick Larigakis for AHI.
Letters to the Editor
April 4, 2008
AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis sent a letter to the editor of The New York Times in response to an online editorial titled “Shame On Greece: Messing With Macedonia” (April 3, 2008), urging The New York Times to support the U.S.’s long-time and loyal ally Greece.
"Annual Report on Executive Branch Actions and
|(l-r) Gene Rossides, Secretary General Dimitrios Katsoudas, Nick Larigakis and Ambassador Alexandros Mallias.|
Greek Secretary General Dimitrios Katsoudas
On January 16, 2008, Dimitrios Katsoudas, secretary general for European Affairs at the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visited AHI’s Hellenic House for a meeting with Gene Rossides and Nick Larigakis. Much of the meeting centered on the name issue regarding FYROM. Mr. Katsoudas was accompanied by Greek Ambassador to the U.S. Alexandros Mallias, Defense Attaché Colonel Ilias Leontaris and Second Secretary of the Greek Embassy Panagiotis Giotopoulos.
|(l-r) Nick Larigakis, Nikolaos Tritaris, Deputy Minister Stavros Kalafatis, Gene Rossides, and James Marketos.|
Greek Deputy Minister Stavros Kalafatis
On March 5, 2008, Greek Deputy Minister of Development Stavros Kalafatis visited AHI, accompanied by Karolos Gadis, deputy chief of mission at the Greek Embassy, and Nikolaos Tritaris, director of the Development Minister’s Office. The minister met with members of AHI’s leadership, including AHI Chairman James Marketos, Gene Rossides, and Nick Larigakis. During the meeting, Deputy Minister Kalafatis emphasized Greece’s interest in pursuing the area of energy and alternative energy resources, and the role that the country can play in the region.
|(l-r) Nick Karambelas, Ambassador Alexandros Mallias, Nick Larigakis, Vasiliki Tsaganos, Minister Christos Folias, Gene Rossides, Maria Papathanassiou, Maria Stamoulas, Spiro Rizopoulos and Aki Bayz.|
Greek Minister Christos Folias
A delegation led by Greek Minister of Development Christos Folias visited Hellenic House on March 24, 2008. The delegation included Gabriel Coptsidis, director of the minister’s diplomatic cabinet, Spiridon Rizopoulos and Nikolaos Lerios, both advisors to the minister, and Sotiris Folias, the minister’s son. Accompanying the delegation was the Ambassador of Greece Alexandros Mallias.
During the meeting with AHI, Minister Folias provided an overview regarding the very important role that Greece is playing in the area of energy in Southeastern Europe, in addition to discussion of areas of mutual concern.
Greek Deputy Minister Konstantinos Kiltidis
OnApril 10, 2008, Greek Deputy Minister of Agriculture Konstantinos Kiltidis, accompanied by the Greek Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Karolos Gadis, visited AHI. During his visit, the minister met with AHI leadership, briefing the group on recent efforts that the Greek government is pursuing to prevent widespread forest fires.
Parliament Member Evangelos Venizelos
Member of Hellenic Parliament Evangelos Venizelos visited Hellenic House on April 21, 2008 to meet with AHI leadership. He was accompanied by Deputy Chief of Mission at the Greek Embassy Karolos Gadis and Christina Simantiraki, political officer at the Greek Embassy. Mr. Venizelos had the opportunity to visit AHI prior to giving a lecture at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Southeast Europe Project. AHI was a co-sponsor of this lecture along with the Onassis Foundation. During the meeting at AHI, Mr. Venizelos briefed the leadership on issues such as the FYROM name issue, western Thrace, Cyprus, the Aegean and the importance of promoting Greek issues to the Greek American community and to the community at-large.
January 4, 2008
AHI sent a letter to President George W. Bush regarding his January 8 meeting with Turkish President Abdullah Gul. The letter aimed to raise President Bush’s awareness of issues affecting U.S. interests in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, underscoring the importance of stability between neighbors in the region such as Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. However, “Turkey’s continuing occupation of Cyprus, its intransigence in solving the Cyprus problem, its refusal to recognize Cyprus as a member of the European Union, its continuing violations of Greece’s territorial airspace integrity, and continuing religious and human rights violations in Turkey threatens and prevents this stability, and damages U.S. interests.”
January 31, 2008
AHI’s letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice focused on the administration’s failure to properly address the name issue regarding FYROM as it relates to U.S. interests and that of the United States’ most important ally in the Balkans—Greece.
March 27, 2008
AHI sent a letter to Dr. Cristian Samper, acting secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, regarding the forthcoming lecture titled “A Glimpse into Macedonia, Past and Present,” by “native Macedonian Aneta Georgievska-Shine.” AHI urged the Smithsonian to cancel the lecture due to the historical inaccuracies that it presents.
Smithsonian Institution’s Response to AHI’s Letter:AHI received a response from the Smithsonian Institution on behalf of Dr. Samper, dated April 9, 2008. The Smithsonian noted that “We take your concerns seriously,” but also pointed out that, “While we recognize that there is an ongoing dispute with regard to the use of the name ‘Macedonia,’ it is the Smithsonian’s policy to use the nomenclature employed by the U.S. State Department…. The description of the lecture was never intended to encompass the identity and immense contributions of the Hellenic empire or Alexander the Great.”
April 2, 2008
AHI’s letter to Mr. Michael Cromartie, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, cited examples within the 2008 International Religious Freedom Report which illustrate that little progress has been made in the area of religious freedom in Turkey.
January 22, 2008
AHI members and friends were urged to contact their Congressional representatives and senators to sponsor H.Res. 356 and S.Res. 300, respectively, regarding FYROM. H.Res. 356, introduced by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), urges FYROM to stop using materials that violate provisions of the UN-brokered Interim Agreement between FYROM and Greece regarding “hostile activities or propaganda.” The resolution also underscores that FYROM should work with the UN and Greece to achieve longstanding U.S. and UN policy goals to find a mutually-acceptable official name for FYROM. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Senate version, S.Res. 300, on August 3, 2007. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) are cosponsors of S.Res. 300.
John Calamos Sr. Speaks at AHI Business Network Event in Philadelphia
John Calamos speaks at AHI event in Philadelphia.
John Calamos, Sr., chairman, chief executive officer and chief investment officer of Calamos Investments, was the featured speaker at the Philadelphia Four Seasons Hotel on April 19, 2008 at a networking event sponsored by the AHI Business Network. Welcoming remarks were provided by Nicholas Chimicles, chairman of the event, and Dr. Constantine Papadakis, the chairman of the event host committee and president of Drexel University.
In his speech, Calamos described the path that his career has taken from the early years and his involvement with the business community. He also shared a few investment observations and tips. Calamos concluded his remarks with a quick market overview, stating that “the volatility will not subside in the market, however volatility does not necessarily have to be a negative thing because with volatility comes opportunity.”In closing, AHI’s Nick Larigakis praised Calamos for his accomplishments as a role model for the Greek American Community.
An Ambassador to Young Greek America
At the young age of 33, AHI member Michael Bapis has already built a career and a reputation based on excellence, and patriarchs of the Greek American community have sat up and taken notice. A senior vice president and wealth advisor at investment banking and financial services corporation Morgan Stanley in New York where he co-heads the eponymous Bapis Group, he is also chairman of Leadership 100’s (L100) Partners Program. L100 is an endowment fund of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The Partners Program, which aims to transfer the philanthropic tradition to the next generation, encourages young Greek American professionals to join at affordable levels as they progress in their careers.
Bapis is indeed well-primed for this role. Bapis has worked for ten years at Morgan Stanley following a professional golf stint and simultaneous work as a school coordinator for the Nicklaus Flick Golf Schools in Arizona. In his role at Morgan Stanley, Bapis oversees and manages around 1,000 client portfolios, worth a total estimated $900 million. He advises clients, including high net worth individuals and small corporations, on a broad range of investment strategies while simultaneously also soliciting new business.
Bapis, who spent his junior year abroad studying at Deree College in Greece, says “I’m very proud of my heritage. I think it’s shaped me as a person, from my friends growing up, to learning the values of hard work. That’s very prevalent among Greeks and Greek Americans.”
Bapis therefore remains very connected both to his heritage and to the community. Alluding to his role in the Partners Program, Bapis asserts, “I love to see successful Greek Americans and Greeks in business and in everything, and there’s some sort of a connection anytime you meet one. There’s an automatic bond, whether is growing up the same way or having similar values, that gravitates you toward each other.”Using this connection, Bapis and L100 aim to promote the involvement of young Greek Americans in philanthropy and broader community life. There is no better ambassador to reach out to this target group than someone like Bapis—a young, successful, financially-minded and well-rounded professional who can easily connect with fellow Greek Americans who are also at this similar juncture in life. In addition to a common heritage, these peers also share an especially benevolent characteristic: They are established and ready to start giving back to the community that helped build their foundation for success. Michael Bapis is leading this effort as a standout both in his profession and in his dedication to this important responsibility.
Building a Solid Foundation in New Jersey
For the past ten years, Ted Golfinopoulos has served as president of the AHI Central New Jersey Chapter. In this role, he focuses primarily on generating awareness and momentum around the key issues that AHI pursues in its agenda.
A dedicated and longtime AHI member in his spare time, Golfinopoulos by day serves as principal of TG & Associates of NJ, LLC. Established in 2003 as a land development and property management company, TG & Associates provides management and development expertise on residential and commercial projects, with a concentration on adding value to distressed properties.
“We bought a bankrupt industrial site and got a CCRC (Senior Housing) approved for 1,200 units of assisted living, skilled nursing, and independent living in Bensalem, PA.,” points out Golfinopoulos as an example. “We have owned and managed labs for the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. These labs’ responsibilities include forensics, testing the quality of our air and drinking water, and testing for anthrax, to name just a few.”
As an equity partner of the operation, Golfinopoulos has developed, owned or managed over 30 different sites during the past twenty years. Though Golfinopoulos worked for two different construction and property management companies when he began his career, his ultimate goal was to be involved in the family real-estate business launched by his father in the 1970s.
“I followed my father around as I was growing up and learned so much from his different experiences,” recalls Golfinopoulos. “The real-estate business today presents many challenges, from the depressed residential market to the tightening credit markets. The values my father instilled in me—hard work, integrity, fairness, and customer service—are the essence of any successful business.”
In addition to his professional endeavors, Golfinopoulos is very active in a number of Greek American organizations, including the Greek American Chamber of Commerce, the Hellenic Link of New Jersey, and as a life-long member of St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Trenton. Golfinopoulos also counts his status as one of the few Greek American delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004 among his claims to fame.
“What a great history we have as a people,” says Golfinopoulos regarding his Hellenic background. “Every aspect of life has been touched by Hellenism, from philosophy to science, sports, and politics. I’m very proud to be a Greek American and I want to pass that feeling on to my children and the generations that will follow.”
Golfinopoulos values the sense of camaraderie he feels with other Greek Americans due to a similar upbringing as one reason for his high degree of involvement in the community. He also points out, “I think most Greeks feel an obligation to give back to the community, be it the Greek American community or the American community at large. It’s something we were brought up to do. It’s in our blood.”
Contributing to AHI activities is one way he gives back. In his role as AHI chapter president, Golfinopoulos urges local members and potential members to get involved with the organization.By setting an example and urging grassroots involvement, Golfinopoulos concludes, “I’m able to attract members of my immediate community to the cause…. I’m honored to be involved with this organization.”
CONSTANTINE PAPADAKIS, Ph.D., who is president of Drexel University, received the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's 2007 William Penn Award on April 18, 2008 at a gala event sponsored by Wachovia.