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AHI Hosts Weekend Activities to Celebrate 31st Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GEORGIA ECONOMOU
April 11, 2006—No. 26 (202) 785-8430

AHI HOSTS WEEKEND ACTIVITIES TO CELEBRATE 31st ANNIVERSARY HELLENIC HERITAGE ACHIEVEMENT AND NATIONAL PUBLIC SERVICE AWARDS DINNER

WASHINGTON, DC—On March 18, 2006, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) honored a distinguished set of Greek Americans and philhellenes at its 31st 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 Daughters of Penelope, Mary B. Filou, PH.D., Grand President;
  • U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen, 8th Congressional District of Maryland;
  • The National Philoptochos Society, Georgia Skeadas, National President;
  • Kyriakos Tsakopoulos, President of KT Communities Corporation; and
  • The Reverend Doctor John Theodore Tavlarides, Dean, Saint Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Washington, DC.

Opening the evening’s program was AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis. The Marines of Headquarters Battalion presented the colors and the American and Greek national anthems were performed by Christina Indianos and Stelios Kontakiotis, chanters for Saint Sophia Cathedral in Washington, DC. The evening’s prayers were offered by Reverend Constantinos A. Pavlakos of Saint Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church, Falls Church, VA.

American Hellenic Institute Public Affairs Committee Chairman Nicholas A. Chimicles, Esq. introduced master of ceremonies Larry Michael.Mr. Michael is Senior Vice President and Executive Producer of Media for the Washington Redskins and the “Voice of Redskins Radio.” AHI President Gene Rossides then greeted the guests and briefly reviewed key activities undertaken by AHI in 2005. Following, AHI ChairmanJames L. Marketos, Esq. welcomed the guests.

Guests were also treated to a musical interlude by Maria Forakis Pearce, lead singer of the Baltimore based Greek band Apollonia, which also played for a festive two hours of dance music.

THE EVENING’S HONOREES

The first award recipient of the evening was the Daughters of Penelope accepted by Grand President Mary B. Filou. The Daughters of Penelope were presented with the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award honored for exceptional and tireless promotion of Hellenism, education, philanthropy, civic responsibility, family, and individual excellence. In her acceptance remarks, Mary B. Filou spoke about the different work of the Daughters of Penelope:

“The Daughters started out as rather voiceless women helping each other become acculturated into this great nation, we’ve since become an organization of proactive dynamic women involved in the communities in which we live and we do espouse Hellenic values and we do promote Hellenism directly…but really the biggest and most important way that we promote Hellenism is to promote Hellenic values. We promote excellence, the good, the ‘filotimo’ and especially involvement in our communities. That is the important work the Daughters do…Our motto this year has been ‘together we rise, by helping others’, we will continue to rise, we will continue to help others and we appreciate so much the honor you have bestowed upon us this evening, it is unforgettable.”

The second honoree, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, was presented the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award and honored for his commitment to public service and his support in strengthening U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. Congressman Chris Van Hollen stated:

“So, I just want to end where I started with the fact that AHI has always stood up for the importance of following the rule of law. And we can’t say one day we are going to follow the rule of law and the other day we won’t because by doing that we undermine our position.

So let me just thank all of you for all you’ve done over many years to support the work of AHI. It’s been a great privilege for me to work with many of you in this room on the fine work that you do. I look forward to continuing to work with you on the days ahead. Thank you very much for this honor.”

(For the full text of Chris Van Hollen’s important comments please see AHI press release number 17.)

Following, the National Philoptochos Society was presented the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award accepted by National President Georgia Skeadas. The National Philoptochos Society was recognized by AHI for its boundless charity and unflagging support of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and all its members.

“The Philoptochos Society aims to make a difference through service—dedicated service that spans over 75 years…As the National Philoptochos society moves forward and explores new endeavors, and forms a philanthropic outreach beyond the boundaries of our Greek Orthodox community, we have been incorporating new programs that have a further global reach, and which will serve human kind in a greater and broader scope…If pressed, the women of Philoptochos might well admit that Sir Francis Baker’s adage ‘In charity there is no access’ is our secret motto. On behalf of all the women who comprise our Philoptochos Society I would like to once again thank AHI for honoring us with this wonderful tribute.”

Receiving the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his outstanding business achievements, dedicated philanthropy, and generous support of Hellenism, education and the Greek American community was Kyriakos Tsakopoulos. In his acceptance speech Mr. Tasakopoulos stated:

“I am particularly honored to stand before AHI, the seminal Hellenic public service organization. The organization whose membership has stood and continues to stand resolutely and firmly for that quintessential Greek and American principle, the rule of law…I am most pleased to accept this award. However, I do not accept it from myself but on behalf of my hero and the person on whom I have modeled my life, my father Angelo Kyriakos Tsakopoulos….I am honored to accept this award in the name of my father Angelo Tsakopoulos and all the parents in this audience who have sacrificed to build an American dream for their children. Thank you very much.”

Concluding the awards presentation, the Reverend Dr. John Theodore Tavlarides was presented with the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for upholding Greek Orthodoxy in the Nation’s Capital with vigor, knowledge, and wisdom for fifty years.

“Whatever award I receive tonight is for this wonderful parish, this group of people that make up Saint Sophia somehow keep growing….we are at the highest rate of membership in our history. We have 1500 members as of this year.. and our other communities in this area are also growing. God has blessed us. And, I’m proud of the congregation because anybody who can take me for fifty years has got to be a hero too and they are all heroes. I can’t say thank you to all of you individually, but I say the thank you collectively and I pray that God will bless each and every one of you with health and longevity, and if God grants me a few more years I hope to continue in my capacity…thank you for your kindness, I love you all.”

The evening’s honorees were introduced by friends and associates with distinguished records in their own professional fields: Vice President of Human Resources of The Inland Real Estate Group Georgia Psichogios (for Dr. Mary B. Filou); Emanuel Rouvelas, Founder and Chairman of Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds L.L.P. (for Congressman Chris Van Hollen); Diane Tseckares, Director of a stock trading desk which she supervises for Deutsche Bank Alex Brown (for Georgia Skeadas); Commissioner Demetrios Boutris, President of Boutris Group, Inc (for Kyriakos Tsakopoulos); and Christopher Tavlarides, Co-founder of Capitol Outdoor Media(for Reverend Doctor John Theodore Tavlarides).

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

Dignitaries and government officials attending the event included: Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandros Mallias and Mrs. Mallias and Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States Euripides Evriviades and Mrs. Evriviades.

Other notable guests recognized included: Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee Aram Hamparian; former honoree and President of the Hellenic American Women’s Council Theodora Hancock; former honoree Christine Warnke of Hogan & Hartson; former honoree Marilyn Rouvelas; Chairman of the Board of Advisors of the Woodrow Wilson Center Southeast Europe Project John Sitilides; President of the AHI Athens Chapter Ilias Malevitis; AHI major benefactor Jim Lagos of the law firm of Lagos & Lagos (Springfield, OH); Editor-in-Chief of Washington Monthly Magazine and former speechwriter to President Clinton Paul Glastris; Dean of the Bennett S. LeBow College of Business at Drexel University Professor George P. Tsetsekos; Publisher of Odyssey Magazine Art Dimopoulos; Foreign Affairs Contributing Editor of Newsweek Michael Hirsch; Executive Editor & Managing Director of The Hellenic Voice John Baglaneas; and Publisher of theHellenic News of America Paul Kotrotsios

Greek Embassy Dinner in Honor of AHI

The weekend’s events were kicked off with an elegant dinner at the Greek Embassy on Friday, March 17, 2006 hosted by Ambassador Alexandros Mallias and Mrs. Mallias in honor of the AHI for its significant contributions to the strengthening of ties between Greece and the U.S. This event was a tremendous success, attended by the maximum possible guests, 100 persons.

Breakfast Briefing by Senator Paul Sarbanes and Congressman Mike Bilirakis

On the morning of March 18, 2006 the breakfast briefing took place at the Capital Hilton with Senator Paul Sarbanes and Congressman Mike Bilirakis. Both Senator Sarbanes and Congressman Bilirakis were presented with the AHI Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for “their extraordinary public service to our Nation spanning decades in the U.S. Congress and their tireless efforts to foster our country’s stronger friendship and understanding with Greece and Cyprus.”

Congressman Mike Bilirakis spoke about the involvement of youth in politics stating:

“I’m retiring…as we both [Senator Sarbanes included] enter into the twilight of our careers, we look to the young people to carry on the torch and discovering that working for your community, your heritage, and your fellow man is truly one of the most fulfilling experience someone can have and it has certainly been that for me. And again, we are in a position to help to mold our future Hellenic generations. We have spent a lot of time at the AHI, under the leadership of Gene Rossides… they devoted an entire seminar to the future of Hellenism and that is a subject we should really take close to our hearts and part of maintaining that future is strengthening it and keeping it alive forever, is getting involved in the public sector.”

Senator Paul Sarbanes stated:

“I’m very pleased to be back with AHI. We’ve worked closely over the years. You do a terrific job, the whole rule of law concept which is extremely important to the positions we advance has been in effect developed and fostered by AHI over the years, through letters, testimony on the Hill, policy statements, the conferences and seminars which you host…they really make a major contribution. They are really well thought…Ever since we had that brutal invasion of Cyprus in the summer of 1974, we are still of course working to achieve a just and peaceful resolution on the island. AHI has been in the forefront of many of our issues… My parents took great pride in their Greek heritage. It was a very deeply felt pride from myself, my brother, my sister. Our Hellenic tradition was very much a part of our lives. And, we really learned to revere and respect the traditions and the culture that Greece first gave to the world, which is at the very root of Western civilization.”

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For additional information, please contact Georgia Economou at (202) 785-8430 or [email protected]. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.