American Hellenic Institute


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AHI Hosts 25th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement And National Public Service Awards Dinner
March 9, 2000 No. 16/2000 (202) 785-8430

AHI Hosts 25th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement And National Public Service Awards Dinner

The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) honored five distinguished Greek Americans and two Members of Congress at a glittering ceremony held on March 4, 2000 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. on the occasion of AHI's 25th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage and National Public Service Awards Dinner.

The dinner was attended by over 350 family, friends and supporters of the AHI from across the country. Special guests included Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera, Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), Greek Ambassador Alexander Philon, and Cypriot Chargé d'Affaires Andreas Kakouris. Mr. James Marketos, AHI Chairman, introduced Mr. John C. Metaxas, Anchor and correspondent of CNN Financial News, who served as Master of Ceremonies.

The recipients of the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for their outstanding careers in public service were Senator William V. Roth (R-DE) and Congressman Donald M. Payne (D-NJ).

Hellenic Heritage Achievement Awards were presented to Dr. Theodore Lyras, former Chief of General Surgery in the West Jersey Health System, Professor Elias P. Gyftopoulos, Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ms. Thalia Assuras, Co-Anchor of CBS' Evening News, Saturday Edition, Mr. Nickolas Davatzes, President and CEO of A & E Television Networks, and Mr. Ted Leonsis, President, American On Line Interactive Properties Group and Owner of the Washington Capitals NHL Hockey Club.

In their acceptance speeches, Senator Roth and Congressman Payne stressed that their advocacy of issues regarding Greece and Cyprus was based on the fact that these issues "transcended parochial questions" and "reflected the fundamental American values of the rule of law, justice, human rights and resistance to aggression."

The Honorees of Greek heritage placed great emphasis on the values of education, hard work, entrepreneurial vision and family support. They spoke of their Greek heritage and their faith. They accepted their awards with gratitude and humility, expressing the hope that they would be an inspiration to others. In the words of one Honoree: "it is marvelous to be Greek."

Highlights of their remarks were:

  • Dr. Gyftopoulos: "I would like to thank the AHI for their efforts over the past decades to convince the government of our adopted country to apply the democratic and just laws of this country with justice and equity to the sovereign countries of Greece and Cyprus."
  • Ms. Assuras: "My heritage is my blood. My parents' values, their beliefs, their passions are mine. This tribute is not a tribute to me but to my Mom and Dad to all they instilled in me."
  • Mr. Davatzas: "When I think of what it means to be Greek American, what enables us to have such high educational standards, it is that philosophy of hard work, respect and caring that we have inherited from our parents."
  • Mr. Leonsis: "We have to do what Greeks have done before, that is to conquer. And the way we can do that is to use the internet to free Cyprus."
  • Dr Lyras: "The AHI is not just an Institute. It is the Institute. I can assure you that AHI is one of the few institutes that really cares about Greece, Cyprus, Macedonia, the Aegean and other Hellenic issues."

The program was opened by Mr. Nick Larigakis, AHI Executive Director. Following presentation of the colors by the Headquarters Battalion, US Marine Corps, students from the Greek School of St Katherine's Greek Orthodox Church, Falls Church, Virginia performed the American and Greek national anthems under the direction of Ms. Aglaia Koras.

Mr. Eugene Rossides, President, AHI Foundation, welcomed the dinner guests with a brief review of AHI achievements in 1999 and a preview of AHI's 2000 agenda. The invocation and benediction were said by Father Athanasios Demos, Saint George Greek Orthodox Church, Bethesda, Maryland. Dinner music was provided by Zephyros.

The Honorees were introduced by friends and associates with distinguished records in their own professional fields: Mr. Panos D. Spiliakos, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Anatolia College, Boston (Dr. Gyftopoulos); Ms Christine Warnke, Government Affairs Adviser, Hogan and Hartson and Mr. Dean Lomis, Distinguished Educator (Senator Roth); Ms Anthi Poulos, Founder and President, the committee on the Parthenon, and Mr. Savas Tsivicos, President Cyprus Federation of America and former AHIPAC Chairman,(Congressman Payne); Mr. George P. Stamas, Vice-Chairman Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown (Mr. Leonsis); Mr. Demetrios A. Boutris, Secretary of Legal Affairs and Counsel to California Governor Gray Davis (Ms. Assuras); Mr. John Rigas, Chairman and CEO Adelphi (Mr. Davatzes); Ms. Georgia Athanasopoulos, Consul General for Panama, Philadelphia (Dr. Lyras).

In their remarks, the introducers praised the Honorees both for their outstanding personal accomplishments and for the service they had rendered to their communities and the cause of Hellenism.

Prominent guests included:

  • Presidents and Executives of Greek American organizations: Professor Van Coufoudakis, Chairman, Foundation for Hellenic Studies; Mr. Andreas Pericli, President Pan Cyprian Association the Greater Metropolitan Washington area; Mr. Ted Spyropoulos, President, Hellenic American National Council; and Mr. John Sitilides, Executive Director, Western Policy Center.
  • Former Honorees: Mr. George Bissell, Chairman of the Board of Anatolia College; Ms. Dora Hancock, President Hellenic American Women's Council (HAWC); Dr. Stamatios Krimigis; and Dr. Constantine Papadakis, President Drexel University.
  • Others: Mr. Kimon Bakos, Senior Vice President, Atlantic Bank of New York; Ms. Lana Corbi, CEO of Operations, Odyssey TV; Mr. Alan Fleischman, Chief of Staff to Maryland Lt. Governor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend; Mr. Constantinos Grigoriadis, President and CEO, Alpha Finance U.S. Corporations; Ms Dorie Klissas, a Producer at the NBC "Today Show"; Mr. Jim Lagos, Lagos and Lagos LLP, Springfield, Ohio; Mr. Alki Panagoulias, former national team coach for Greece and Team America; Mr. Manny Rouvelas, partner Preston, Gates, Ellis and Rouvelas, Meeds, Washington DC; Maryland State Senator Perry Sfikas; Mr. Mike Taylor, Democratic Candidate for Congress for the 8th District of North Carolina; and Ambassador and Mrs. Patrick Theros, former U.S. Ambassador to Qatar.