AHI Hosts 37th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and Public Service Awards Dinner
Weekend’s Events Include U.S. Capitol Tour, Forum on European Debt Crisis
WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted its 37th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and Public Service Awards Dinner, March 10, 2012, Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C.
AHI honored a distinguished set of awardees based upon their important career achievements and contributions to the Greek American community or community at-large. They were:
Alexis Christoforous, news correspondent, CBS News, was the evening’s emcee. In her introductory remarks, she expressed confidence that Greece would emerge from its current financial crisis. American Hellenic Institute Secretary of the Board of Directors Nicholas G. Karambelas, Esq. introduced Christoforous.
The Marines of Headquarters Battalion presented the colors and the American and Greek national anthems were performed by Elena Stavrakas. Rev. Nicholas G. Manousakis, Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, offered the invocation. Apollonia Band provided the musical entertainment.
Opening the evening’s program were AHI President Nick Larigakis and AHI Foundation President Dr. Spiro Spireas, both of who offered greetings. In addition, they reviewed the initiatives and programs that AHI and AHIF provide the community.
Honorees Humbled, Moved by Accolades
Oscar® and Emmy®-Award Winner Kary Antholis received the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his outstanding achievements in the performing arts.
In acceptance of the award, Antholis stated, “And as we sit here tonight wearing our tuxedos, beautiful dresses, eating good food as the people of Greece facing hardship, we are reminded that during previous Greek calamities many of our ancestors made their great voyage here. They started with nothing, they found work at coal mines and factories, cleaning houses or they cut hair or drove cabs, some of them saved the money and started businesses or put themselves through school and learned professions. Most of them focused on providing for their families and educating their children…they taught us to value hard work, education, filoxeneia and opportunity. We Greeks find different ways to honor these values.”
He concluded, “What does it mean to be a Greek American? It means that memory of standing in that tight foustanella with an American flag in one hand and a Greek flag on the other and seeing the pride and the love and the hope in my mother’s eyes. And I know that we all have these memories, and so, our stories are virtually the same. So I share this recognition with all of you, and I accept it with humility and pride. Thank you.”
E.J. “Mike” Elliott received the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his pioneering role in the heavy machinery industry and his passionate advocacy for Hellenic language and culture. He lamented not establishing a business presence in Greece, but expressed optimism that future generations will be able to fulfill this vision.
“In my 56 years in the industry, I developed a track record and a reputation for making things happen. My inability to accomplish anything businesswise in Greece will always haunt me. Notwithstanding my lack of success to create something good and do something for my beloved people of Greece and Crete, I still remain optimistic that within the next decade or two things will change in Greece, and we will have a more receptive government that will work with my grandsons and other Philhellenes to help our beloved Greece, and the people, attain the status that befits the descendants of the greatest nation of Greece.
“I conclude by extending my thanks and appreciation to the American Hellenic Institute…I thank each and every one of you for taking the time to show support to this event and to the Institute. I extend my warmest congratulations to my fellow honorees.”
U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA) received the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for her commitment to public service and her unwavering support in strengthening United States relations with Greece and Cyprus. She spoke fondly about the influence her late husband, U.S. Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Paul Tsongas, had on her public service.
“People used to say to me, and still say to me, ‘Who is your mentor?’ I did not really have a mentor, but I grew up and lived with the most important, significant role model anybody could have and that was Paul Tsongas.”
In addition, Congresswoman Tsongas spoke about working with her colleagues on Greek American issues, “I have been in Washington now four-plus years. It’s been my great privilege to serve with some remarkable Greek Americans […] It is my honor, working through the Hellenic Caucus, to advance the issues that are so important to the Greek American community, to this great organization. I thank you so much for this honor today, and it is one that I share with my husband who introduced me to this most remarkable community, and one that I am most proud to serve. Thank you very much.”
Sotirios J. Vahaviolos, Ph.D. received the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his innovations as an engineer and his leadership in the development of greater business opportunities worldwide. In remarks, he touched on the fulfillment of the American Dream, the sacrifices that come with it, and the love and support provided by his family that helped to fulfill that Dream.
“I am deeply moved. On behalf of myself and my family, I want to thank the American Hellenic Institute, its President Nick Larigakis, and its Board of Directors for this prestigious award. It is indeed a privilege to live in the United States of America and recognize your American Dream. No other country in the world, would accept a young village boy from Mistras, Sparti, Greece and help him attend the best universities, work in such an outstanding research institutions as Bell Telephone Laboratories surrounded by Nobel Prize Winners and other well-known scientists, while training him to advance his ideas and patents and become a future job creator.
“Ladies and gentlemen, success comes with sacrifices and strong families. Without the stay-home mom Aspasia, families and careers suffer. Thank you Aspasia for your love, commitment, dedication and job support. I owe more than half of our success to you….”
Ambassador Tom C. Korologos received the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for his decades of faithful public service in the United States and beyond. In Greek, he thanked and acknowledged dignitaries, including AHI Founder Gene Rossides, AHI President Nick Larigakis for “all the fine work” he performs, Senator Paul Sarbanes, Ambassadors Vassilis Kaskarelis and Pavlos Anastasiades, and his fellow honorees.
“I am proud, proud as can be, to say that us Greeks have come a long way since those immigrant ancestors of ours who crossed over to the United States in so many numbers, so many years ago. Here tonight, many in this room grew up in this first generation. We’ve set the pattern for later success as witnessed by the awardees tonight.”
He continued, “Here tonight, at this wonderful and memorable event, in front of my wife, brother, sister, cousins, daughter, son, grandson, friends all, I extend to you my profound thanks. And I close with a hopeful little thought that somewhere a father says to his young son, ‘Hey son, did you see that Korologos guy? The first generation Greek kid, who worked at his dad’s bar, was an altar boy, got a bunch of scholarships in college, worked on the paper and later in the Senate and the Capitol, chaired the American College of Greece for a number of years, became an Archon, worked in the White House, started a business, became an Ambassador? Did you see where a bunch of Greeks in Washington honored him the other night? I hope he might be an inspiration to you—to study hard, work hard, keep your nose clear, believe in your church, remember your roots, chase your passion and hopefully one day they’ll honor you as well.’”
Excerpts from Congratulatory Letters
The honorees’ many accomplishments were celebrated throughout the evening, and highlighted in congratulatory letters submitted to AHI by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Ambassador of Greece to the United States Vassilis Kaskarelis, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States Pavlos Anastasiades, World Council of Hellenes Abroad USA Region President Ted G. Spyropoulos, International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus President Philip Christopher, Hellenic American National Council President Paul Kotrotsios, Cyprus Federation of America President Panicos Papanicolaou, and Pancretan Association of America President John G. Manos.
Ambassador Anastasiades wrote: Since its establishment, AHI has distinguished itself as one of the foremost and pre-eminent organization of the diaspora in North America. For almost thirty-seven years now, the American Hellenic Institute has been at the forefront of issues affecting Hellenism and has established itself as a preeminent force to be reckoned with in the U.S. capital and beyond.”
HANC President Kotrotsios wrote: “We do consider the American Hellenic Institute the premier organization of the Greek American community, dedicated to the advancement of the ideals of democracy and the Hellenic spirit. AHI is a force not only for the representation of the Greek American community but for the plurality found in American politics through their advocacy of the rule of law and human rights.”
Cyprus Federation of America President Papanicolaou wrote: “We are extremely pleased to pay tribute to the outstanding work of your organization and for continuing the extraordinary work in upholding the rule of law in matters of U.S. foreign policy, particularly in our nation’s dealings with Greece Cyprus, and Turkey. We commend you for your commitment and dedication.”
Special guests attending the event included: Ambassador Kaskarelis, Ambassador Anastasiades, former U.S. Ambassador to Greece Tom Miller, former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), Reverend Steven Zorzos, Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, who represented His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios; Fotini Tomai, director, Service of Diplomatic and Historical Archives, Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who provided one of the evening’s departing gifts, a book she edited Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan;
Other notable guests attending the dinner were: Ted Spyropoulos, president, World Council of Hellenes Abroad-USA; Panicos Papanicolaou, president, Cyprus Federation of America; Paul Kotrotsios, president, Hellenic American National Council; Andy and Mike Manatos, Coordinated Effort of Hellenes; George Horiates, chairman of the board, Federation of Hellenic American Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley; John Sitilides, principal, Trilogy Advisors; Basil Mossaidis, executive director, Order of AHEPA; Endy Zemenides, executive director, Hellenic American Leadership Council; Mariyana Spyropoulos, president, AHI-Chicago and commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District for Chicago; Aris Melissaratos, advisor to the president, Johns Hopkins University; Dr. George Moutsatos, president, AHI-Delaware; Katerina Papathanassiou, board member, AHI-Athens chapter; and AHI members Constantine and Sophia Galanis from Mexico City, Mexico.
Notable members of the Press attending the dinner were: Christine Brennan, USA Today Sports Columnist; Art Dimopoulos, Publisher, Odyssey Magazine; Paul Kotrotsios, Publisher, the Hellenic News of America, in Philadelphia; Constantine Sirigos, The National Herald; and George Bistis, director, Greek Desk, Voice of America.
Former AHI honorees at the dinner included: Dr. George Tsetsekos, dean, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University; Marylin Rouvelas, Dr. Christine Warnke; Reverend John Tavlarides, Dean, Saint Sophia Cathedral, Washington, DC; Former CBS News Anchor Thalia Assuras, Nationally-acclaimed Author George Pelecanos, and former Senator Paul Sarbanes.
U.S. Capitol Tour, European Debt Crisis Forum Comprise Weekend’s Events
As part of the weekend’s festivities AHI hosted a tour of the U.S. Capitol, in cooperation with the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, and held a dinner in the famous Cannon Caucus Room on March 9.
Moreover AHI hosted CBS News Correspondent Alexis Christoforous for a breakfast presentation on the topic “Why Americans Should Care about the European Debt Crisis?” on March 10 at the Capital Hilton. Christoforous shared her insights on this very complex yet relevant topic based upon her decades of experience as an Emmy-nominated reporter specializing in the business world.
The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.
For additional information, please contact Demetra Atsaloglou at (202) 785-8430 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at http://www.ahiworld.org.
AHI Hosts 37th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and Public Service Awards Dinner