AHI Hosts 41st Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner
WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted its 41st Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and Public Service Awards Dinner, March 5, 2016, 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:
Larry Michael, “Voice of the Redskins,” and senior vice president and executive producer of Media, Washington Redskins; was the evening’s emcee. AHI volunteer legal counsel and Board of Directors Treasurer Nicholas G. Karambelas, Esq., partner in Sfikas & Karambelas LLP, introduced Michael.
The Marines of Headquarters Battalion presented the colors and the American and Greek national anthems were performed by Maria Pearce. Rev. Steven P. Zorzos, Presiding Priest of Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, D.C., offered the invocation and benediction. Apollonia 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. They also reviewed the initiatives and programs that AHI and AHIF provide the community.
Honorees Humbled, Moved by Accolades
Basil N. Mossaidis, who is the executive director of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the largest and oldest association for American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes, accepted the AHI Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for his extraordinary efforts to promote and advocate for Hellenism in the United States.
In acceptance, Mossaidis thanked AHI President Nick Larigakis and AHI for the honor. He also thanked his parents and recalled his upbringing in a Greek household as the beginning of his journey to where he is today.
“This is what Hellenism is about to me, it is about family, and like I said earlier I believe that we are all one Greek family,” Mossaidis said, adding about his current position in the Greek American community with AHEPA, “…we build bridges from the AHEPA to all the other Hellenic American organizations to try and promote what is best about being a Hellene in this country and AHI does a wonderful job there. They present beautiful policy statements and issues, and we support what they do and all the other organizations …. It is an honor to be able to sit here in Washington and to see how all of us preserve Hellenism…So when we go to Greece and we see the people suffering, we suffer with them. And it is our job, Nick [Larigakis] and I do this like we said on a daily basis to promote, to preserve, to protect Hellenism…”
Rena Papapostolou received the AHI Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for her tireless promotion of Hellenic art and culture through music and dance through her work as co-founder of Return to Origins, a Greek cultural and educational program aimed at fostering Greek culture and heritage and strengthening Greek ecclesiastical tradition, especially among the youth.
Papapostou accepted the honor with deep emotion and gratitude toward AHI and on behalf of her late husband, with whom she founded Return to Origins.
“Nearly 50 years ago we started this life of service through music, dance and education through which we have enjoyed and taught to others the best principles and values of our Hellenic heritage,” she said. “I would especially like to extend my most heartfelt thanks to president of AHI, Mr. Nick Larigakis with his generous support, RTO has been continuously successful. I would also like to say that I take a personal pleasure and pride in the fact that he has become one of the most distinguished leaders of our community. He was after all one of my students and one of the best at that.”
In acceptance of the AHI Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for his outstanding achievements fostering strong economic ties with the Hellenic world, Nicolas Bornozis, recalled his beginnings in the capital markets and international finance industry, working for a French bank in the United States, eventually becoming its CEO. Twenty years ago, he started Capital Link, a leader in investor relations for the shipping industry, closed-end funds and companies seeking access to the U.S. and European financial markets. Capital Link organizes 12 large-scale investment conferences annually in Athens, New York, London and Shanghai, attracting as many as 1,000 delegates at some venues and spurring investment and business opportunities in Greece.
“…it has been particularly testing but equally important to put up the right message about Greece,” he said. “We are all proud to be Americans and we are all proud to be Greek and [to have the] opportunity to thrive and contribute back to the American society and we have to contribute back to Greece….we have been grateful to partner with the New York Stock Exchange, with major investment banks, and big organizations and every year we organize an international forum about Greece in New York that focuses on a message of hope and promise. We do that every year regardless of the political or economic conditions of Greece.”
Peter J. Pappas, Sr. received the AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award in recognition of his entrepreneurial spirit, philanthropic endeavors, and fidelity to Hellenic causes. Pappas is the Chairman of the Board of P.J.M. Holdings Group, one of the largest HVAC and mechanical contracting firms in the United States.
In acceptance, Pappas recounted his family story and what it was like to grow up “literally in the streets” of New York City, and how that impacted his path through life, as uncertain as it may have seemed at the time, “I never thought I would have a chance, growing up in New York City being born and coming from humble beginnings; my father was born in Cyprus, he came to this country at 18 years old and he was a butcher…all his life. He married my mother who was a seamstress, born in the U.S. with heritage from Kalamata, and raised two sons… It was through my entire growing up that I had no idea who I was, what I would do or even what I had an interest in doing. And I think what happens is that as times goes on, things do fold out in front of you. Coming from a blue-collar neighborhood where everybody opted just to get out of high school, I ended up going to college at NYU and again not knowing what to do or what profession to even take…”
Pappas also remarked about AHI Founder Gene Rossides and the work at AHI under President Nick Larigakis, stating, “He [Gene] has been an amazing man and now Nick [Larigakis] who is following him is doing a sensational job, with this group and moving this group right along and is to be commended, as everyone else said.”
And Pappas also had a message for the young people in attendance, “I saw a lot of young people walking around this room today, and I think that what the young people have to believe in is that you will have a chance…So I say to the young, you know the great line, ‘I had a dream’…Gene Rossides had a dream, other people have dreams, you young people have dreams and carry those dreams out.”
Saturday evening photos
Friday evening photos
Excerpts from Congratulatory Letters
The honorees’ many accomplishments were celebrated throughout the evening, and highlighted in congratulatory letters submitted to AHI from 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, and Hellenic American National Council President Bill Mataragas.
Archbishop Demetrios wrote: “As in years past, this year’s honorees exemplify Hellenic achievement and a strong commitment to the well-being of our faith community and the best interests of Greece and the United States.”
Ambassador Panagopoulos wrote: “The esteemed American Hellenic Institute (AHI) has proved through the decades its effectiveness and commitment towards enhancing United States relationship with Greece. With initiatives and activities currently assumed under the leadership of Nick Larigakis in a broad range of issues by convening multiple stakeholders, from legislators and diplomats, to academics and members of civil society, AHI accomplishes its mission on informing and contributing to the better and deeper understanding on issues affecting United States’ policy in Southeastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean region in general.”
Ambassador Chacalli wrote: “The American Hellenic Institute has been a staunch and tireless advocate of the interests of Greece and Cyprus in the U.S. and has fervently upheld the values of Hellenism and the rule of law and democracy ever since its establishment. We are truly grateful to the AHI for everything it has been doing in support of the causes of Hellenism.”
HANC President Mataragas wrote: “We would also like to congratulate the founder of AHI, Mr. Eugene Rossides, the president, Mr. Nick Larigakis, their associates and staff for the excellent service to support and promote the Rule of Law for the USA, Greece and worldwide.”
Special thank you to our benefactors: SigmaPharm Laboratories and Drs. Spiro & Emily Spireas; The Families of Jim and Ted Pedas; The Families of Jim and Tom Lagos; and Mr. Gus Andy.
Special guests attending the event included: Ambassador of Greece to the United States Christos Panagopoulos, Consul Konstantinos Polykarpou, who represented Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States George Chacalli; U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee; former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes, Congressman John Sarbanes, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, former American Ambassador to Greece Thomas Miller, and Founder of AHI and the AHI Foundation Eugene Rossides, who is the first recipient of AHI’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Other notable guests attending the dinner were: AHEPA Supreme President John W. Galanis, Art Dimopoulos, executive director, National Hellenic Society; and Mike Manatos, executive director, Washington OXI Day Foundation; AHI-Athens Chapter Members: George Mermelas, Spiros Kladas, Katerina Papathanasiou, and Dennys Plessas; and AHI Foundation Board Member Constantine Galanis, and his wife, and Sophia, from Mexico City, Mexico. AHEPA Past Supreme Presidents Anthony Kouzounis and Phillip T. Frangos, along with Past Canadian President of AHEPA Anthony Mavromaras, also attended. Also, Yannis Sianis represented John Calamos and Calamos Investments and Kimon Bakos and Matilda Economou represented Atlantic Bank.
Former AHI honorees at the dinner included: Dr. Christine Warnke, former Senator Paul Sarbanes, Dr. George Tsetsekos, Dean Emeritus and the Francis Professor of Finance at LeBow's College of Business at Drexel University; Manny & Marilyn Rouvelas, and Larry Michael, Voice of the Redskins.
Notable members of the Press attending the dinner were: Paul Glastris, Editor in Chief, Washington Monthly; Katerina Sokou, correspondent, Skai TV and Kathimerini; Lena Argiri, correspondent, Greek Public TV; Michael Ignatiou, Mega TV and mignatiou.com and Constantine Sirigos, editor, The National Herald.
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 Consul Konstantinos Polykarpou, Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus, on March 5. 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, as part of the weekend’s festivities, major benefactors and supporters attended a buffet dinner graciously hosted at the Embassy of Greece, March 4.
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.
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For additional information, please contact Georgea Polizos 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 and follow us on Twitter @TheAHIinDC.
AHI Hosts 41st Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner