American Hellenic Institute


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April 30, 2005 — Volume 32, Number 231


AHI and HANC Honor Greek Minister of Public Order

Minister Voulgarakis holding both awards presented to him by AHI and HANC. Flanking the Minister are HANC President Ted G. Spyropoulos (l) and AHI President Gene Rossides.

On April 12, 2005, The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) in cooperation with the Hellenic American National Council (HANC) hosted a dinner in honor of Georgios Voulgarakis, Greek Minister of Public Order, at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.

During the course of the evening, Mr. Voulgarakis was presented with the Medal of Hellenism from Theodore G. Spyropoulos, President of HANC. He was also presented with the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award from Gene Rossides, President of AHI, for his outstanding achievements and service to Greece. Mr. Voulgarakis gave a speech and showed video footage of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games preparations and tactics used to combat potential terrorist activities.

Closing the event, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) offered her congratulations to Minister Voulgarakis and thanked him for providing a safe and successful Olympic Games and for his continuing service to Greece.

Greek Minister of Defense Visits AHI

Minister Spiliotopoulos presenting Gene Rossides a plaque from the Ministry of Defense on the occasion of his visit to the Hellenic House.

On April 25, 2005, the Greek Minister of Defense Spilios Spiliotopoulos, accompanied by the Ambassador of Greece George Savvaides and a small delegation of the Minister’s staff and advisers, visited AHI headquarters. While at Hellenic House, the Defense Minister met with members of the AHI leadership, including Legal Counsel Nick Karambelas, President Gene Rossides, Executive Director Nick Larigakis and the AHI staff.

AHI discussed with Minister Spiliotopoulos a number of issues of mutual concern in which the Institute has been very active in bringing to the attention of U.S. policy makers. In addition, the violations of Greece’s territorial integrity by Turkey were a main focus of the discussion. The Defense Minister was informed of impending Congressional legislation that AHI has prepared which calls for the U.S. to recognize publicly the Aegean Sea boundary as established by international law and treaties. There was also a general consensus that Greece seems to be in a much closer relationship with the U.S., in which the U.S. views Greece as an important strategic partner in its immediate and wider region.

At the conclusion of the visit, Minister Spiliotopoulos presented Mr. Rossides with a gift plaque on behalf of the Greek Ministry of National Defense for his tireless efforts in promoting U.S.-Greek relations.

“We were most honored by Minister Spiliotopoulos’ visit to the Hellenic House along with the delegation from his Ministry. We look forward to working together in the future on issues of mutual interest to U.S.-Greece relations, especially those concerning Greece’s territorial integrity in the Aegean,” said AHI President Gene Rossides.

AHI Celebrates 30th Anniversary Awards Dinner

The Honorees: Stylianos S. Zavvos, Judge Stephanie Duncan-Peters, Dr. Helen C. Evans and George Veras (Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen not pictured).

On March 5, 2005, AHI paid tribute to a distinguished set of Greek Americans and philhellenes at its 30th 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 30th Anniversary awards dinner celebrated American community and the community at-large, this year’s honorees included:

The Honorable Stephanie Duncan-Peters, Judge for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia;

Helen C. Evans, Ph.D., Curator for Early Christian and Byzantine Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City;

Stylianos S. Zavvos, businessman and community activist, and Chairman of Continental American Capital;

U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, 18th Congressional District of Florida (R); and

George Veras, President of Veras Communications.

Master of ceremonies for the evening was Larry Michael, Senior Vice President of Westwood One Sports and the official “Voice of the Washington Redskins.”

Guests were also treated to a special fashion show featuring the Winter Collection 2005-2006 of Athens-based haute couture designer Vlassis Holevas, which was organized by Shine International Events Management. Mr. Holevas is considered one of Greece’s most successful representatives in the fashion industry and has been honored as an innovator for his creations. The 19 minute extravaganza impressed dinner guests with elegant evening and winter wear in rich colors and luxurious fabrics.

The Evening’s Honorees

Judge Stephanie Duncan-Peters receiving the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award by long-time friend Paul Clayman.
AHI Public Affairs Committee Chairman Nicholas Chimicles, Esq. presenting the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award to Dr. Helen C. Evans.

The first award recipient of the evening was Judge Stephanie Duncan-Peters, honored for her distinguished career in the justice system. Her service as a judge began in 1992, when she was appointed to the Bench of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and where she now serves as the Presiding Judge of the Civil Division.

The second honoree, Dr. Helen C. Evans, was honored for her exceptional work in the field of art history and for her presentation and promotion of the Hellenic heritage and Byzantine history.

Following Dr. Evans, Stylianos S. Zavvos was granted an award for his outstanding business achievements and activities in support of Hellenism. Mr. Zavvos gave credit for his achievements to his Greek parents and the set of values they instilled in him.

Receiving an award for her distinguished career in public service spanning two decades, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen thanked AHI and its friends, stating “I feel privileged to be recognized by this esteemed institution.”

Concluding the awards presentation, George Veras was honored for his outstanding accomplishments in television production and for his promotion and support of the Greek American community.

AHI 2005 Breakfast Seminar

In addition to the AHI gala dinner, the weekend’s events were kicked off with a breakfast briefing at the Capital Hilton on the topic of “News in a Post-9/11 World.” Special guest speaker was Mike Emanuel, correspondent for Fox News. Mr. Emanuel recounted his recent trip to Iraq as an embedded reporter with U.S. troops at Camp Liberty where he reported on the Iraqi elections. The breakfast briefing was followed by an open house reception at the Hellenic House.

AHI Acts to Prevent Illegal U.S. Business Delegation Trip

In February 2005, AHI played an active and crucial role in increasing awareness on and attempting to prevent an illegal U.S. business delegation trip to occupied northern Cyprus. The delegation trip, scheduled to take place on February 17, 2005, was apparently organized by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara and was accompanied by the Embassy’s Commercial Attaché. The trip came under the auspices of “easing the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriots by expanding business contacts on and off the island,” said U.S. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher.

The international community, including the U.S. and the European Union, recognizes only the Republic of Cyprus as the legitimate government of Cyprus. In the days prior to the trip, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis stated, “This U.S. business delegation trip to occupied Cyprus violates U.S. law, UN resolutions and international law and should be reconsidered by these U.S. companies involved.” AHI took the following actions in order to discourage the trip and to increase awareness of implications of upgrading the status of the breakaway regime:

  • On February 14, 2005, AHI sent a letter to nine U.S. companies who were reportedly participating in the February 17 trip. The letter urged the companies to reconsider their participation, highlighting especially that no treaty currently protects foreign investments in the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”), and noting potential property rights complications. AHI also warned that any business activity of any kind in or involving the “TRNC” violates EU law as well as international law.
  • AHI contacted numerous Congressional officials to seek their support on the issue. As a result, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) sent an effectively-worded letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on February 15 urging her to “reconsider this ill-advised and illegal trip” which “would be breaking the law by entering Cyprus through an ‘unauthorized’ airport in the occupied north.”
  • On February 16, 2005, AHI President Gene Rossides sent a letter to Secretary Rice regarding the participation of a U.S. Commercial Attaché of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara in the delegation trip. According to the letter, “The State Department’s involvement in this visit to northern Cyprus is illegal, misguided, and problematic.” The letter noted a number of considerations that the State Department should be aware of regarding the visit.

Companies initially said to have been involved in the trip included: Shaw/Stone & Webster, El Paso Corporation, FedEx Corporation, Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., Comsat Corporation, Oracle Corporation, GNC Corporation, American Express Bank, and Ramond James and Associates, Inc. However, it was later confirmed by AHI in communications with executives from these companies that American Express Bank, FedEx Corporation, Oracle Corporation, and El Paso Corporation did not participate in the trip.

AHI Hosts Congressional Salute to Greek Independence Day

(L-r) AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, AHI Advisory Committee Member Kostas Alexakis, Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ), Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Manny Rouvelas.

On April 6, 2005, AHI hosted“A Congressional Salute to Greek Independence Day” on Capitol Hill to celebrate the 184th Anniversary of Greek Independence and the common democratic ideals held by Greece and the United States. The event was held in cooperation with the Congressional Hellenic Caucus’s co-sponsors, Representative Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) and Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

The program began with the singing of the Greek national anthem, performed by the students from the Greek School of St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Falls Church, Virginia, and the American national anthem sung by Maria Pearce of Apollonia Band in Baltimore, Maryland. Additionally, there was a presentation of traditional Greek dances performed by the Return to Origins Greek Folk Dance Troupe under the direction of Rena and Elena Papapostolou.

Senator Paul S. Sarbanes and Greek Ambassador George Savvaides with the “Return to Origins” Dance Troupe.

AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, Master of Ceremonies, welcomed the guests and thanked Rep. Bilirakis and Rep. Maloney for their support in organizing the reception, and for their ongoing efforts in promoting Hellenic American issues in the U.S. Congress. In his opening remarks, Mr. Larigakis referred to a proclamation issued by President George W. Bush commemorating Greek Independence Day, in which Mr. Bush stated, “As we address the challenges of the 21st century, the United States and Greece remain committed partners in the vital work of advancing freedom and democracy.”

Greek Ambassador George Savvaides and Cypriot Ambassador Euripides L. Evriviades offered their greetings regarding the impact of Greece’s struggle for independence.

Members of Congress attending the reception and addressing the audience included (in order of appearance): Rep. Maloney, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Senator Sarbanes (D-MD), Rep. Steven Rothman (D-NJ) and Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ).

Excerpts from speakers’ comments are available on the AHI Web site at <>.

AHI Leadership Participates in Hermes Expo

AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis and Advisory Board Members Ted Spyropoulos, Kostas Alexakis and Thanos Basdekis, Esq., participated in the 2005 Hermes Expo International held at the Trump Marina Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on April 16-17, 2005. Founded by AHI member Paul Kotrotsios, the goal of Hermes Expo is to promote trade relations between European (mainly Greece), eastern Mediterranean countries and the U.S.  through the Greek American community.

The weekend’s events kicked off on Saturday morning with a symposium titled “Economic Diplomacy Between the United States and Greece: Prospects in the Post-Olympic Era.” Mr. Spyropoulos served as chair of the symposium and Mr. Basdekis served as moderator, while Mr. Larigakis and Mr. Alexakis served as panelists during the three-hour event.

Mr. Larigakis also served as the Master of Ceremonies for the Annual Awards Dinner held on Saturday night. The honorees that evening included United States Congressman Mike Bilirakis (R-FL), George Bistis from the Voice of America, the Rev. Dr. Demetrios Constantelos, and Jason L. Read, gold medalist for the United States in men’s rowing at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

AHI Expresses Sorrow on the Passing of Archbishop Iakovos

The AHI expresses its deepest sorrow on the passing of Archbishop Iakovos, spiritual leader of Greek Orthodox Christians of North and South America from 1959 to 1996. Archbishop Iakovos died on April 10, 2005. During his 37 years of distinguished service, his leadership strengthened religious unity, revitalized Christian worship and championed human and civil rights.

“Archbishop Iakovos’ legacy is one that left an indelible mark upon the landscape of the Greek Orthodox faithful in America. Through his dynamic leadership, vision and commitment to Orthodox values, he guided our Church through some difficult times. Today, the Greek Orthodox Church in America is well recognized and respected because of his tremendous efforts,” said AHI President Gene Rossides in a statement released by AHI.

AHI Presents Testimony to House Subcommittee

Executive Director Nick Larigakis testifying before the House Subcommittee.

On April 14, 2005, AHI’s Executive Director Nick Larigakis presented testimony on behalf of AHI and the Hellenic American National Council (HANC) before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Financing and Related Programs. The testimony opposed the $10 million aid to Turkey and the $20 million for Cyprus as not in the best interests of the U.S.

In the best interests of the U.S., AHI opposed all military and economic aid to Turkey in the current bill because it is not conditioned on Turkey meeting certain conditions regarding Cyprus, the Halki Patriarchal School of Theology, and Greece’s territorial integrity.

Regarding the current allocation of $20 million for Cyprus, AHI opposes this as not in the best interests of the U.S. Projects and programs funded by the U.S. and administered by the United Nations Office of Project Services in Cyprus do not currently serve the stated U.S. objective for reunification. On the contrary, some of these projects upgrade the illegal regime in the north, thereby further reinforcing the division of the island.

AHI would support the $20 million aid for Cyprus if there were full transparency and accountability in the use of the aid, and if the allocation of the funds were for joint communal projects.

American Owned Property In Occupied Cyprus Claims Act Reintroduced

On February 16, 2005, Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) reintroduced bipartisan legislation—the American Owned Property In Occupied Cyprus Claims Act,H.R. 5071, which was first initiated in September 2004.

Since the 1974 invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus, the property of Greek Cypriots and American nationals in northern occupied Cyprus was illegally taken, occupied and used by Turkish authorities and individuals. The bill will enable U.S. citizens who own property in the occupied territory to seek financial remedies with either the current inhabitants of their land or the Turkish government.

Upon reintroduction of the legislation, Congressman Pallone’s office stated: “[The Congressman] worked with Nick Larigakis, Executive Director of AHI, and Nick Karambelas, volunteer counsel of AHI, for several months to draft the legislation, and he thanks them for their invaluable contribution.”

AHI Executive Director Attends Swearing in Ceremony of New Greek President

During a three-day visit to Athens, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis attended the swearing in ceremony of the new President of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias. The ceremony took place on March 12, 2005 at the House of Parliament.

During his trip, Mr. Larigakis also attended separate meetings with Deputy Foreign Ministers Evripidis Stylianidis and Panagiotis Skandalakis, where detailed discussion focused on advancing mutual cooperation regarding U.S.-Greece relations. Mr. Larigakis also met with the Executive Committee of the AHI Athens Chapter to discuss the AHI leadership’s annual delegation trip to Greece in early June.

White House Celebrates Greek Independence Day

On March 28, 2005, AHI’s President Gene Rossides and Executive Director Nick Larigakis were among the guests invited by the White House to attend its Greek Independence Day commemoration. President Bush spoke extemporaneously, praising Greece’s contribution to history and the modern world. Mr. Bush also congratulated Greece for its exceptional staging of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Mr. Rossides and Mr. Larigakis also attended a White House luncheon prior to the event in commemoration of the holiday.

Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen Calls Annan Plan Unviable

A March 12, 2005 letter to President George W. Bush from Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) asserts that that, “The Annan Plan in its present form is unsuitable for a successful resolution of the Cyprus problem and needs major modifications to be viable.”

The Congresswoman also refers to “the unwarranted criticism and attacks on the Greek-Cypriots for their ‘no’ vote of 76%,” and states that: “The public has been misled by claims that Greek-Cypriots were the ones responsible for the ultimate failure of the unification plan” and urged the President to remain engaged in efforts to resolve the conflict in Cyprus.

The AHI staff worked with Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen’s staff in facilitating this course of action.


The Washington Post

On January 19, 2005, The Washington Post’s diplomatic column by Nora Boustany cited a speech that Greek Parliament Member Eleftheria Bernidaki-Aldous gave at AHI on January 13, 2005. At AHI, Ms. Bernidaki-Aldous pointed out that American law on the treatment of the disabled should be a model for legislation in the European Union and Greece (see “AHI Noon Forums” section).

The Washington Times

The Washington Times published Gene Rossides’ March 10, 2005 letter to the editor which responded to an article titled “Cold Turkey” (March 8, 2005) by Arnaud De Borchgrave. Mr. Rossides’ noted that the article “brings to the forefront a problem that U.S. policymakers have chosen to disregard, namely Turkey’s virulent anti-Americanism,” and that “what is also outrageous is that U.S. policy only rewards this behavior with ‘favors’ to Turkey.”

The National Herald

  • A letter to the editor from Executive Director Nick Larigakis was published in the December 10, 2004 issue of The National Herald. Mr. Larigakis’ letter was titled “Community Must Alter Its Mindset to Become More Politically Mature.” Mr. Larigakis’ letter asserts that, while the Orthodox Church has a monumental role to play in the community’s spiritual leadership, “our Church leaders should not be in the forefront regarding political issues.”
  • A letter to the editor from AHI Advisory Board Member Dr. Van Coufoudakis also appeared in the December 10, 2004 issue of the newspaper. Dr. Coufoudakis’ letter, titled “Some Bitter Truths About the Greek American Leadership,” urged a more proactive role for our community’s leadership.
  • A number of op-ed articles written by Gene Rossides have been published in The National Herald. These op-eds appeared on the below listed dates under the following titles:
  • January 1: “The Next Four Years”
  • January 15: “Turkey-Israel Military Arrangement”
  • January 29, 2005: “Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Bush’s Inaugural Speech”
  • March 23, 2005: “Syria Out of Lebanon—Turkey Out of Cyprus”

**AHI also responded with a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal (unpublished). The letter congratulated the newspaper and its senior editorial page writer, Robert J. Pollock, for his revealing February 16, 2005 column on Turkey titled “The Sick Man of Europe—Again.” (February 16, 2005; Page A14; col. 3).


Current Challenges for the Greek Economy

Dr. Plutarchos Sakellaris.
Dr. Van Coufoudakis.

On April 15, 2005, AHI hosted a noon forum at Hellenic House featuring Dr. Plutarchos Sakellaris, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers at the Greek Ministry of Economy and Finance, and Professor in the Department of Economics at the Athens University of Economics and Business. The discussion was on “Current Challenges for the Greek Economy.”

Dr. Sakellaris said the Greek economy performed well in 2004 with spending for the Olympics relying heavily on government expenditure. He said growth would slow but remain robust. He also pointed out that the economy is now in “the shift from public funds and expenditures to the right business environment for the private sector to step in and pick-up the slack.”

Cyprus: One Year After EU Accession

On April 13, 2005, AHI hosted a noon forum featuring Dr. Van Coufoudakis, Rector of Intercollege in Nicosia, Cyprus. The discussion was on “Cyprus: One Year After EU Accession—Prospects for a Solution.”

Dr. Coufoudakis discussed the April 24, 2004 referendum on the Annan Plan and the ‘no’ vote of the Greek Cypriots, as well as the repercussions that followed. He also covered why Kofi Annan insisted on holding separate and simultaneous referenda on his plan, the current dimensions of American and British policy, what role the EU played in last year’s failed talks, what the EU can do to help a Cyprus solution, and the prospects for a solution and current threats.

“An Exchange of Ideas”

Member of Hellenic Parliament Eleftheria Bernidaki-Aldous was featured as a guest speaker at an AHI noon forum on January 13, 2005. In her discussion, titled “An Exchange of Ideas Between Greece and the United States,” Dr. Bernidaki-Aldous spoke of her close ties to both Greece and the United States, and also focused on attitudes toward the disabled.


AHI Hosts Briefing for Greek Law Students

Executive Director Nick Larigakis with the law students from the University of Athens. (L-r) Michail Pattakos, Anastasios Gourgourinis, Nick Larigakis, Antonis Antonopoulos, and Anastasios Moraitis.

On April 1, 2005, AHI hosted a briefing and luncheon for four students from the School of Law of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. The students, Antonis Antonopoulos, Anastasios Gourgourinis, Michail Pattakos and Anastasios Moraitis visited AHI, where they had the opportunity to be briefed by AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis on the agenda of the Institute and on various issues affecting U.S.-Greece relations. In addition, the students had the chance to engage in a discussion regarding the U.S. legal system with AHI Chairman and attorney, James Marketos and AHI member and attorney, Aki Bayz.

From March 25, 2005 to April 2, 2005, these students were in Washington to participate in the Phillip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition. The students were accompanied to Washington by their Advisor, Dr. Maria Gavouneli, Lecturer in International Law at the University of Athens.


March 10, 2005

AHI’s letter to President Bush highlighted two articles critical of Turkey’s alliance with the U.S. The articles cited included a Wall Street Journal editorial page article on Turkey by Robert L. Pollock titled “The Sick Man of Europe—Again” (February 16, 2005), and a Washington Times article titled “Cold Turkey” (March 8, 2005) by Arnaud de Borchgrave. According to AHI’s letter, “The U.S. media has failed to cover adequately the situation in Turkey for decades.” The letter also noted that “what is also very much needed in the interests of the U.S. is a reassessment by your administration of its policy towards Turkey.”


April 19, 2005

A letter was sent to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by AHI President Gene Rossides regarding Turkey’s violation of section 2373 of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, and its agreement under said law by its recent transfer to Cyprus of 12 U.S.-origin M-48 tanks and other arms on the U.S. Munitions List.


March 25, 2005

Gene Rossides’ statement commemorated the 184th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence of 1821.


Promoting America’s Small Businesses

Michael J. Pappas.

A February 10, 2005 business network luncheon featured Michael J. Pappas, Associate Administrator for Field Operations of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and former U.S. Congressman (R-NJ). Mr. Pappas gave a presentation on “How the SBA Helps America’s Small Businesses.” During his one-hour presentation, Mr. Pappas spoke about the various programs the SBA provides to small businesses, as well as a new service the SBA has developed to help match prospective buyers to vendors. He also touched on how the SBA has successfully created new jobs and growth in the economy by giving out more loans to small businesses.


Leading the Way through Public Service

Maria Pappas.

In the lively scene of Cook County and Chicago politics, Maria Pappas is a force to be reckoned with. She is currently in her second term as Cook County Treasurer, presiding over the second-largest property tax collection and distribution system in the United States. Pappas is singlehandedly responsible for turning around the Treasurer’s Office into a model of efficiency. Key to her success in both this office and throughout her career is a strong family foundation with humble yet exceedingly supportive roots.

Maria Pappas grew up in the impoverished small town of Warwood, West Virginia, near the coal mining city of Wheeling. Her parents owned a restaurant, toy store and flower shop across the street from the town’s hospital, which allowed Pappas to interact with customers in need of an encouraging, positive voice. A granddaughter of Greek immigrants, Pappas has cited her grandfather as her most profound influence. He instilled in her “a tremendous sense of self-confidence.”

When asked about the influence her Hellenic heritage has played in her career, Pappas says, “I think that because of how I grew up in such a tight-knit, extended family, I was a kid who always felt like people cared about me. And I think that an encouraged, loved child is an achieving child, an achieving adult. I had the extended family and the extended community, which were both encouraging and loving and that is a self-confidence builder. You grow up feeling that there’s nothing that you can’t conquer or be challenged by or do.”

And succeed she has. Her education includes a law degree, a Ph.D. in Counseling and Psychology, an M.A. in Guidance and Counseling, and a B.A. in Sociology. Following several years working as an individual and group therapist, and teaching in the U.S., Israel and eight European countries, Pappas began her career in public service in 1990. She was elected Cook County Commissioner, a post which she held for eight years. During her tenure representing Chicago’s North Side and North Shore suburbs, she was an avid proponent of open government and tight budgets. She also sponsored Cook County’s first human rights ordinance and first ethics ordinance.

Then in 1998, Pappas was elected to her current post as Cook County Treasurer. Upon taking office, she discovered $31 million in undeposited checks, losing interest and not going to local communities. To remedy the situation, she introduced lockbox system for same-day processing of payments and deposits into interest-earning accounts. With this process in place, Pappas has turned over more than $335 million in new interest and revenues for Cook County. Her office now has a network of 175 computers, an automated phone system for taxpayer questions, and a system to make tax payments more convenient though bank branches and the Internet.

Then in 2004, Pappas tackled her most recent challenge as a public servant: running for the Democratic nomination in the Illinois race for U.S. Senate. Though she lost her bid in the race, she regrets nothing. Describing her motivation for running, Pappas says, “I’ve always reached for the impossible. I knew that it was going to be a very difficult race, but I also knew that if I didn’t do it, I would never forgive myself. So I’ve always operated from the fact that you win by giving it your best shot and trying. And that’s what I did—I gave it my best shot.”

When asked her thoughts about the Greek American community, Pappas noted, “I think it is important for someone who achieves success outside of the Greek community to remember where they got started. I try and help young people who are in the same position that I was when I came to this city. I was broke and uneducated. I try and help people get educated and employed.” She also stressed the important role women hold in maintaining the continuity of the Hellenic heritage in the diaspora. “It doesn’t have as much to do with the community as it does with the mother in the home. If the mother is insistent upon instilling the values of the grandparents and great-grandparents in the children, then the community naturally survives,” says Pappas.

Always operating from a positive perspective and ready for the next challenge, Maria Pappas commands attention and continues to pave the way forward for the Greek American community and the community at large.

Design Solutions with Mediterranean Flair

Andreas Charalambous.

FORMA Design takes on challenging design projects which bring a taste of the Mediterranean and Europe to its Washington area clients. Established in 1994 by AHI member Andreas Charalambous, the company’s mission is to address architecture, interiors and graphic communications issues by providing integrated design solutions.

According to Charalambous, “[M]y Hellenic and also European background comes across in how we approach the problems and how we try to have simple, powerful, uncluttered solutions. That shows up in the architecture that we do. It’s very modern and a lot of our clients, by default, the people who are attracted to our work either are foreign—European, Asian—or people who have lived overseas or traveled extensively.”

Parallel with his client base, Charalambous was born in London, England of Greek Cypriot parents, and grew up in Cyprus. He studied architecture at Cornell University under a Fulbright Scholarship, and subsequently worked in Washington, New York and London with previous employers before co-founding FORMA Design. These diverse and global influences come through in his design work.

While FORMA Design specializes in interiors—both commercial and residential—Charalambous points out that, “We do furniture design and graphics and basically anything that relates to good design, we’ve taken on. We don’t limit ourselves to just one type of work….as long as there’s a good design challenge, we take it on.”

FORMA Design’s clients have ranged from private residences, to law and medical offices, to apartment buildings, to The World Bank, to name just a few. When asked about favorite projects completed, Charalambous notes, “Our work is very varied and it’s hard to choose a favorite project. But I’d say that probably the residential projects are the ones that are most rewarding because the clients will end up using it on a daily basis. It’s great after a few years to run into them to still hear how they are enjoying their homes.”

Company awards include a Washington Chapter/American Institute of Architects award for achievement in interior architecture, an American Advertising Award (ADDY) for sales promotion, and an award from the Metropolitan Washington and Virginia Chapters of the Associated Builders and Contractors. FORMA Design’s work has also been published extensively in The Washington Post, and various national and international magazines. Two of the company’s most recent projects will be featured on HGTV in a series called “Small Space, Big Style!”, premiering in August 2005.

This wide range of work as well as the many awards and accolades received by FORMA Design attest to the creative power behind the final results. Also adding to the creative strength of the company, Charalambous is an accomplished artist, having hosted several group and solo shows throughout the world that featured his painting and photography. His two series of paintings, titled Mediterranean Still Life and Mediterranean Color Fields, “are all inspired by the colors of the Mediterranean when I was growing up, the color of the earth, the sky,” he notes.

Andreas Charalambous is often able to integrate the results of his career as designer and as artist in the work of FORMA Design. He points out that, “[I]n a lot of our projects, the clients end up purchasing some of my work just because it goes very well with the architecture. It’s the same spirit behind both the architecture and the artwork. I hope to keep producing that and I enjoy doing that.”

Additional information on FORMA Design, including samples of past projects, is available at <>. Charalambous’ artwork and photography can also be seen at <>.


NICHOLAS D. LARDAS’ company, NIKO Contracting, was featured in an article in Metal Roofing magazine’s June/July 2004 edition. The article focused on NIKO’s work in restoring and preserving historic buildings, including a significant two year project with the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City.