AHI Hosts 39th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner
Weekend Events Include Briefing with Greek, Cypriot Envoys; Greek Wine Tasting Reception at U.S. Chamber of Commerce
WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted its 39th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and Public Service Awards Dinner, March 8, 2014, Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C.
AHI honored a distinguished set of awardees based upon their important career or institutional achievements and contributions to the Greek American community or community at-large. They were:
Larry Michael, senior vice president and executive producer of Media, Washington Redskins; was the evening’s emcee. American Hellenic Institute Treasurer of the Board of Directors Nicholas G. Karambelas, Esq. introduced Michael.
The Marines of Headquarters Battalion presented the colors and the American and Greek national anthems were performed by Maria Pierce. Rev. Dimitrios J. Antokas, Saint George Greek Orthodox Church, Bethesda, Md., offered the invocation. REVMA 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 and welcomed a special guest for the evening, His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey. In addition, they reviewed the initiatives and programs that AHI and AHIF provide the community.
Honorees Humbled, Moved by Accolades
U.S. Congresswoman Dina Titus, a champion of the Greek American community, and the only female member of Congress of Greek heritage, accepted the AHI 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. Congresswoman Titus was also recognized for her distinguished career in higher education.
In acceptance, the congresswoman pledged her ongoing support to issues of importance to the Greek American community and stated she is proud of her membership and work in the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues and the Congressional Hellenic Israel Alliance. She commended AHI for its continued presence on Capitol Hill, especially in light of recent developments in the eastern Mediterranean. Congresswoman Titus offered that the community “must stay united” on these issues in order to ensure the community remains effective in its advocacy efforts.
Accepting the AHI Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award on behalf of the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) was IOCC’s Executive Director Constantine M. Triantafilou. AHI recognized IOCC for its extraordinary and generous response to the needs of a suffering world.
In acceptance, Triantafilou stated, “Tonight we are here to recognize the work of the honorees and the hundreds of thousands of lives they have collectively touched. Bringing to them life, bringing to them strength, love and hope…We are especially here to celebrate the life and work of the American Hellenic Institute. We are here to celebrate the millions of Greeks and Cypriots whose lives have been touched by AHI bringing them strength, love and hope. We are here to celebrate the life and hard work of Nick Larigakis and his team.”
He also commended the visionary founders of the IOCC, its current board, and thanked all the partner organizations with which IOCC works to address humanitarian needs worldwide.
In acceptance of the AHI Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for her exemplary service to God and Church and decades of leadership for Hellenism, Paulette Poulos, remarked, “It is with great humility that I join the outstanding recipients of the Hellenic Heritage & National Public Service Award, which carries special meaning for me. The AHI stands as a sentinel for Hellenism in America, Greece, Cyprus and around the world, always having alerted us to the challenges we face and actions to be pursued as good citizens involved in public affairs, true to our Hellenic Heritage, since its founding in a year of crisis with the invasion of Cyprus in 1974. However, that alertness has defined who we are as Hellenes from the dawn of our great civilization.”
The Leadership 100 executive director also paid homage to the late Archbishop Iakovos, whom she said was “…a great American leader as well as a leader of world Hellenism” who “…fought for Greece, Cyprus and all humanitarian causes and never accepted defeat. He was a visionary and a man of great faith and courage.”
Timothy J. Maniatis received the AHI Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for his lifetime of service and leadership to the Hellenic community and for extraordinary achievement in the field of association and special event management. Over his career he has been the executive director of AHEPA and the National Hellenic Society as well as working on behalf of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese to organize special events such as the Clergy-Laity Congress.
He said, “I’d like to thank the American Hellenic Institute for bestowing this prestigious award to me, and through me, to my family, who has supported me throughout the years.”
Maniatis recounted how his outreach as AHEPA executive director to his congressman on Cyprus led to his relationship with AHI Founder Gene Rossides, who provided further encouragement to work on behalf of the Greek American community.
“We have accomplished a great deal; however, we need to respect the goals and objectives of our youth and slowly assimilate them into our community,” he added.
In conclusion, Jerry Couvaras accepted the AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for innovation in the hospitality industry and commitment to the promotion and preservation of Hellenism.
In acceptance, the President and CEO of Atlanta Bread and Bake One said, “It was soon after August of 1974 that I first heard of the American Hellenic Institute and Gene Rossides. We were impressed by the fervor and relentless vigor of this organization and how it managed to reach and engage important politicians. My congratulations and gratitude is extended to Gene Rossides for his founding and lifelong dedication to AHI and to Nick Larigakis for his tireless work and passion. I thank the board of AHI and its members for this fine honor. And I salute American Greeks for all they do to enhance the lives and the well-being of Hellenism and Hellenes throughout the world.”
He likened the 1974 invasion of Cyprus as event one remembers exactly where they were when it occurred:
“Like most Americans remember where they were when John F Kennedy was assassinated or when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, most Hellenes will remember where they were during the 1974 invasion of Cyprus.
“This was a life-changing event for me. I was on a beach in Greece when I learned at first that Makarios was presumed assassinated then in hiding. Within days, came the invasion.
“Greece changed overnight from a summer vacation spot, to a country at war. The sight of my friends and family being conscripted and mobilized from our village is a sight I will never forget. There was a sense of solidarity, patriotism, and bravery.”
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 Christos Panagopoulos, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States George Chacalli, Hellenic American National Council President Paul Kotrotsios, and Ted G. Spyropoulos, Theodore & Erika Spyropoulos Foundation.
Archbishop Demetrios wrote: “This evening you honor individuals and organizations who share a common bond of exemplary service to our Church, to our nation, and to the family of humankind.”
Ambassador Panagopoulos wrote: “It is a widely accepted fact, both here in the United States and in Greece, that the American Hellenic Institute since it was founded almost forty years ago, has been one of the most important pillars of the Greek-American activities in the nation’s capital and beyond…AHI is making its presence felt, in a very professional and effective manner, in Washington’s opinion-making circles.”
Ambassador Chacalli wrote: “Since its establishment, AHI has established itself as one of the most prominent organizations of the Diaspora in North America and has been a dedicated advocate of issues affecting Hellenism, being actively engaged in promoting our national identity and our rich cultural heritage and traditions in the United States.”
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.”
Theodore & Erika Spyropoulos Foundation President Ted Spyropoulos wrote: “We congratulate the President and Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Nick Larigakis, and all the board members on their achievements and tireless efforts to strengthen and improve relationships between the United States , Greece, and Cyprus, as in the best interests of the United States…We take this opportunity to congratulate the founder of AHI, Hon. Gene Rossides, on his book, “Kissinger & Cyprus: A Study in Lawlessness” that highlights the need for the United States to redress the situation in Cyprus.”
Special guests attending the event included: Ambassador of Greece to the United States Christos Panagopoulos, Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States George Chacalli, former U.S. Ambassador to Greece Tom Miller, and former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes.
Other notable guests attending the dinner were: George Tsandikos, President, Leadership 100; Basil Mossaidis, AHEPA executive director; Art Dimopoulos, executive director, National Hellenic Society; Paul Kotrotsios, president, Hellenic American National Council; John Sitilides, board member, IOCC; Mike Manatos, executive director, Washington Oxi Day Foundation; Mariyana Spyropoulos, Elected Commissioner of the Metropolitan Reclamation District of Greater Chicago; Aris Melissaratos, former Secretary of Business and Economic Development of Maryland; and AHI members Constantine and Sophia Galanis from Mexico City, Mexico.
Former AHI honorees at the dinner included: Ambassador Thomas Miller; Dr. Christine Warnke; Reverend John Tavlarides, Dean, Saint Sophia Cathedral, Washington, DC; Manny and Marilyn Rouvelas; Dr. George Tsetsekos; and former Senator Sarbanes.
Notable members of the Press attending the dinner were: Paul Glastris, Editor in Chief, Washington Monthly; Christine Brennan of USA Today.
Briefing with Top Greek, Cypriot Diplomats Comprise Weekend’s Events
As part of the weekend’s festivities AHI hosted a breakfast briefing with Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Christos Panagopoulos and Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S. George Chacalli on March 8. The relevant topics affecting both countries were discussed by the two top diplomats. AHI President Nick Larigakis moderated the discussion. A lively Q&A session followed.
Moreover, AHI hosted a wine-tasting reception featuring Greek wine producers on March 7, at the magnificent Hall of Flags at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Saturday Evening Photos
Saturday Morning Breakfast and Policy Briefing
Friday Evening Greek Wine-tasting
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 Georgea Polizos at (202) 785-8430 or at email@example.com. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at http://www.ahiworld.org and follow us on Twitter @TheAHIinDC.
AHI Hosts 39th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner