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AHI Hosts 28th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHRYSOULA ECONOMOPOULOS
March 24, 2003 No. 14 (202) 785-8430

AHI HOSTS 28th ANNIVERSARY HELLENIC HERITAGE ACHIEVEMENT AND NATIONAL PUBLIC SERVICE AWARDS DINNER

WASHINGTON, DC—On March 15, 2003, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) paid tribute to a distinguished set of Greek Americans at its 28th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner, held at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. Linked by their important career achievements and by their contributions to the Greek American community and to the community at-large, this year’s honorees included: Christine M. Warnke, Ph.D., humanitarian and community activist; Charles Moskos, Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL), and preeminent military and Greek American sociologist; Demetrios A. Boutris, California Corporations Commissioner and Special Counsel to the Governor of California; Ambassador Clay Constantinou (Ret.), Dean of the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University; and James N. Gianopulos, Chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment and former president of Twentieth Century Fox International.

Each year, AHI grants two types of awards at this gala event—the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award and the National Public Service Award. Receiving the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award were Professor Moskos, Commissioner Boutris and Mr. Gianopulos. Receiving the National Public Service Award were Dr. Warnke and Ambassador Constantinou. Also a major highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award to Mr. Gianopulos by distinguished Motion Picture Association Chairman and CEO Jack Valenti.

Opening the evening’s program was AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis to announce the entrance of the Marines of Headquarters Battalion for the presentation of the colors. The American and Greek national anthems were then performed by soprano Chrisselene Petropoulos, accompanied on piano by Nick Kyrus. The evening’s invocation and benediction were delivered by Reverend Christopher Constantinides of Saint George Greek Orthodox Church in Bethesda, MD.

Following dinner, which was accompanied by the music of the band Zephyros, AHI founder Gene Rossides briefly reviewed key activities undertaken by AHI in 2002. Regarding AHI’s central mission, Mr. Rossides commented that:

“We are very pleased to see the increasingly close and fruitful relationship between the U.S. and Greece, the important role that Greece is playing in the European Union, of which it is the current president, and the cracking of the November 17 terrorist group. We are of course extremely pleased with the coming accession of Cyprus to the EU. However, the Cyprus problem has not been solved because of the intransigence of the Turkish military and Denktash, as has been stated by U.S. officials and media reports.”

AHI Chairman James Marketos greeted the audience and honorees, and introduced the Return to Origins Dance Troupe, which performed several traditional Greek folk dances. Following the troupe’s performance, Mr. Marketos introduced the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, former CNN reporter and E*TRADE communications executive John C. Metaxas.

Mr. Metaxas presented a proclamation from the Office of the Mayor of the District of Columbia which designates March 22-29, 2003 as Greek American Week. Instrumental in obtaining the proclamation and recognized therein is award recipient Dr. Warnke.

THE EVENING’S HONOREES

The first award recipient for the evening, Dr. Christine M. Warnke, was honored for her humanitarian work and activism in support of the Greek American community and the community at-large. In her acceptance speech, Dr. Warnke remarked that, “Much of my desire to care for humanity is due to my Greek heritage and my late Greek mother…. I’m grateful to have been taught to fight for human rights when I worked with Gene Rossides, the founder and lifeblood of this special organization. Under Gene, I learned about the respect for human dignity and love for ones homeland. I apply these same values to the way I live my life today.”

The second honoree for the evening, Dr. Charles Moskos was honored for his important work documenting the development of the Greek American community and for his outstanding accomplishments in the field of sociology, Dr. Moskos credited his achievements to the Greek immigrants who served as his source of inspiration:

“[W]e should honor our immigrant parents and grandparents…. They came to America without knowing the language and without much formal education. They had their share of infighting, but Zorba’s they were not. I said they worked incredibly hard, they raised solid families in a new country…. I don’t think we’ll ever see their likes again. It is they who deserve the highest honor.”

The next honoree, Commissioner Demetrios A. Boutris, was recognized for his outstanding career in the private and government sectors and his work promoting the interests of the Greek American community. He received his award on behalf of his father and also credited the Greek American community for the solid bonds that it furnishes its members. “It is a community where everybody cares about everyone else. And it is a community that keeps us all firmly accountable for our actions. For my part, I’ve done a few things in private business. I’ve done a few things in public policy. At the very least, I hope I can inspire many other people to do those sorts of things in the future,” stated Commissioner Boutris.

Ambassador Clay Constantinou, the evening’s fourth award recipient, was honored for his exceptional work in the field of international affairs, acedemia and promoting U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. Upon receiving his award, the ambassador credited Senator Sarbanes, Gene Rossides and other leaders in the Greek American community who inspired his own work in public service and in promoting U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. It was these leaders “who led the effort to energize our community and educate us in the political process. They inspired and helped us from being frustrated political outsiders to becoming a sophisticated group, an ethnic community fully engaged in the democratic process.”

The final honoree of the evening was James N. Gianopulos, recognized for his work as a leading executive in the motion picture industry and for his philanthropic contributions to the community. Presenting Mr. Gianopulos his award was Jack Valenti, recently named “Washington’s top lobbyist” by The Washington Post in reference to his six decades as a powerful political broker in the city. During his remarks, Mr. Valenti paid tribute to the long and rich history of the Greek culture, and praised Mr. Gianopulos as “one of the great young stars of the Greek American culture today.” Also of Mr. Gianopulos, Mr. Valenti noted that “he is acknowledged by his peers to be creatively blessed, and that he is equipped with what I think is the great molecular mystery called the gift of vision, which he has in great dimension.”

Upon receiving his award, Mr. Gianopulos stressed the important role that his Hellenic heritage has played for him throughout his lifetime, stating that “it defines our culture, our community, our genetic desire to excel in our life’s work, in our role as citizens, as parents, as spouses, as friends.”

As did the other award recipients, Mr. Gianopulos also gave credit to the Greek immigrant pioneers whose descendants have achieved the tremendous degree of success represented by all the award recipients for the evening and their predecessors. This success “says a lot about what our parents sacrificed, and the immigrants who came here sacrificed, but more—not just because they gave us the means to get that education, but that they instilled the need for it and that we were smart enough to take it…. So we have a great deal to be proud of and to look back on, and I’m very deeply honored to be part of that,” concluded Mr. Gianopulos.

The Honorees were introduced by friends and associates with distinguished records in their own professional fields: Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, IV, a three decade foreign service officer with postings as Ambassador to the Gabonese Republic and to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe (for Dr. Warnke); Marilyn Rouvelas, author of A Guide to Greek Traditions and Customs in America and former Hellenic Heritage Achievement award recipient (for Dr. Moskos); Kyriakos Tsakopoulos, President and CEO of AKT Development Corporation and a Trustee of the California State University system (for Commissioner Boutris); AHI’s Gene Rossides (for Ambassador Constantinou); and Jack Valenti (for Mr. Gianopulos).

In their remarks, the introducers praised the honorees both for their outstanding personal accomplishments and for the service they have rendered to their communities and to the cause of Hellenism.

Dignitaries and government officials attending the event included: Greece’s Ambassador to the U.S. H.E. George Savvaides and his wife, Cyprus Ambassador to the U.S. H.E. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, Senator and Mrs. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), and the Honorable Richard Leon, Federal Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Other notable guests recognized included: Executive Director of the Western Policy Center John Sitilides; John Podesta, Senior Fellow at the National Resources Defense Council and former White House Chief of Staff for President William Clinton; Paul Glastris, Editor of the Washington Monthly and former speech writer for President Clinton; James Lagos, James and Ted Pedas, and Manny Rouvelas, all major AHI benefactors; Leon Stavrou representing the Order of AHEPA; Legal Counsel to the Hellenic American National Council Aki Bayz; Andreas Pericli, President of the Pan-Cyprian Association the Greater Metropolitan Washington area; Theodora Hancock, president of the Hellenic American Women’s Council and former Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award recipient; Kevin Kayes, Minority Staff Director of the Senate Commerce Committee; Vasiliki Christopoulos, Chief of Staff for Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH); James Christopoulos, Legislative Director for Congressman John Sweeney (R-NY); Christy Stefadouros, Communications Director for Congressman Michael Bilirakis (R-FL); and from Greece, AHI member Aris Drivas of Drivas Yachting.

Downloadable photographs from the event are posted on AHI’s website at http://www.ahiworld.org/dinnerphotos/. For additional information regarding the AHI’s 28th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner, please contact Chrysoula Economopoulos at (202) 785-8430 or [email protected]. For general information regarding the mission and activities of AHI, please visit our website at http://www.ahiworld.org.