American Hellenic Institute


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AHI 29th Anniversary Dinner Honors the Olympic Games and Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awardees
March 26, 2004—No.22 (202) 785-8430


WASHINGTON, DC—On March 13, 2004, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) paid tribute to a distinguished group of individuals at its 29th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner, held at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. Linked by their important career achievements and by their contributions to the Greek American community and to the community at-large, this year's honorees included: George C. Chryssis renowned entrepreneur, philanthropist, poet and author; Ambassador Thomas J. Miller, Ambassador of the United States to Greece; Helen Nicozisis, prominent church activist and philanthropist ; George J. Tenet, Director of the CIA.

This year's Annual Dinner was dedicated to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. On this occasion AHI paid tribute to three Olympians for the unselfish commitment they bring to their sport and to acknowledge all the sacrifices they have made to reaching the level of modern-day Olympians: Ms. Irene Andili, winner of the bronze medal in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Mr. Charles Michael Mooney, world-champion boxer and winner of the silver medal in the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada and Ms. Christa Dalakis, a Greek American member of the 2004 Greek Olympic Softball Team, which will compete in the Summer Games in Athens, Greece this August.

Opening the evening's program was AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis who facilitated the half-hour opening ceremony in honor of the 2004 Athens Games. The evening began with the NBC and Athens 2004 Organizing Committee Promotional Videos of the Olympics. Continuing with the Olympic Procession, local children from the Greek American community, followed by the Olympians, marched into the room to the rhythm of the Olympic Hymn. Greek Ambassador to the U.S., H.E. George Savvaides and AHI founder, Gene Rossides, presented the three Olympians with Special Hellenic Heritage Achievement Awards. Mr. Larigakis announced the entrance of the Marines Color Guard for the presentation of the colors. The American and Greek national anthems were then performed by Irene Hrousis, an inspiring actress and singer. The evening’s invocation and benediction were delivered by Reverend Constantinos A. Pavlakos of Saint Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Falls Church, VA.

Following dinner, AHI Public Affairs Committee Chairman, Nicholas E. Chimicles, Esq., introduced the Master of Ceremonies, famous TV Journalist, Andrea Stassou. Mrs. Stassou then called AHI founder, Gene Rossides on stage, where in his greetings he proudly announced that the mortgage of the Hellenic House was paid off in February.

Mrs. Stassou introduced AHI Chairman, James Marketos who presented a unique sponsorship opportunity offered by the AHI, the "Olympic Flashback." These are 17-program radio series on the ancient Olympic Games hosted by premier sportscaster Bob Costas that provides high-impact exposure twice daily during The NBC/Westwood One Radio Network live coverage of the Games from Greece.

" Isthmia, Greece, 410 BC; the 86th Isthmiad, another important series of Ancient Games, these competitions are dedicated to Posidon, God of the Sea, and like the Ancient Olympics, a sacred truce is observed here too. There is a bitter conflict raging between Athens and Sparta; but incredibly all battles here stopped for the 5 official days of competition. On this last day the closing event is wrestling, and the final match pits, an athlete from Sparta named Locrates and one from Athens, called Plato. Locrates has already thrown Plato to the ground twice. Once more, and the Spartan will win. The wrestlers are in a starting position again. Oiled, their nude bodies spotted with sweat and dust; their foreheads touch; bodies leaning against one other; like the rafters of a roof; shoulder to shoulder, arms locked. Here at Isthmia, 2400 years ago, Plato fell for the 3d time, and abandoned athletics for philosophy. It happened long ago in Greece, Home of the Olympics, and the birthplace of sport."

A handful of these radio spots were played during the evening.


The first award recipient for the evening, US Ambassador to Greece, Thomas J. Miller, was honored for his exceptional work in the field of international affairs and promoting U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. Unfortunately, due to the "Hercules Shield" security exercise for the Athens Olympic Games Ambassador Miller had to be in Greece at the night of the Dinner. In a 5-minute video he sent, he thanked the American Hellenic Institute for its leadership on U.S.—Greece, Cyprus relations and deeply appreciated the honor accorded him.

The second honoree Mr. George Chryssis, was honored for exceptional entrepreneurial achievements and philanthropic service to our Nation and community.

The next honoree, Mrs. Helen Nicozisis was honored for her impressive work as a member and since 2001, President of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center and her involvement in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

The last honoree of the evening, CIA Director George Tenet, was honored for his distinguished career in government. In his captivating speech, Mr. Tenet thanked AHI and Gene Rossides and referred to his first job after graduate school when he served as Research Director for the American Hellenic Institute.

All of the honorees thanked their families for their love and support to everything they have succeeded so far and acknowledged their Hellenic Heritage as a driving force in achieving even more accomplishments.

The Honorees were introduced by friends and associates with distinguished records in their own professional fields: AHI Chairman James Marketos (for Ambassador Miller); Stavros Semanderes, President of the Pan-Cretan Association of America (for Mr. Chryssis); Mrs. Kathleen Chimicles, financial specialist for the complex litigation firm of Chimicles and Tikelis (for Mrs. Nicozisis); and AHI's Gene Rossides (for George Tenet).

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

Dignitaries and government officials attending the event included: Greece's Ambassador to the U.S. H.E. George Savvaides and his wife Maria, Cyprus Ambassador to the U.S. H.E. Euripides L. Evriviades, Senator and Mrs. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), and Former U.S. Ambassador to Qatar, Patrick Theros.

Other notable guests recognized included: Dr. Constantine Papadakis, President of Drexel University; Executive Director of the Order of AHEPA, Basil Mossaides; Ted Spyropoulos, President of the Hellenic American National Council; James Lagos, James and Ted Pedas, and Manny Rouvelas, all major AHI benefactors; Theodora Hancock, President of the Hellenic American Women's Council and former Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award recipient; Panos Spiliakos, Vice President of the Pan-Macedonian Association,; Nick Karakas, Chairman of the Hellenic Cultural Foundation in St. Louis; Pete Silis, President of the PanEpirotic Federation of America; Christy Stefadouros, Communications Director for Congressman Michael Bilirakis (R-FL); Dorie Klissas, Producer with the NBC "Today" Show, Donald Neese, Director for Western Europe at Lockheed Martin Corporation, Peter C. Pappas, Executive Vice President for Pappas Telecasting Companies, former Honorees: Dr. Stamatios Krimigis, Head of the Space Department of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; and Executive Director of the Western Policy Center John Sitilides. Also, present was long-time AHI friend and supporter, Alkis Panagoulias who will be responsible for all the soccer venues for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Part of the weekend activities was an Olympic Art Exhibition, featuring artist Euripides "Rip" Kastaris and the "Kyklos Circle of Glory Tribute" along with artist Erika Spyropoulos who introduced her works "Olympic Gods-Olumpic Idea."

This year’s event was covered live by George Bistis, Voice of America Greek Service over affiliates in Greece, Cyprus, Canada, and Australia. The radio program and video from the evening are available at VoA Web site at


Prior to the Annual Dinner, AHI organized a Breakfast Seminar Honoring the Olympic Games. The Seminar featured three distinguished speakers: Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. H.E. George Savvaides, Dr. Alexander Kitroeff, Professor of History at Haverford College and famous artistEuripides "Rip" Kastaris. The panel was chaired by AHI Chairman James Marketos.

Ambassador Savvaides touched on the meaning of the return of the Olympic Games to their birthplace, Greece, namely the marriage of Ancient spirit and Modern Greece. Rip Kastaris presented his Olympic works and introduced a video on his epic Olympic mural "Kyklos-Circle of Glory" sponsored by the Hellenic Cultural Foundation. The last speaker, Dr. Alexander Kitroeff, spoke on the historical significance of the 2004 Athens Olympics and the central role that Greece plays in the Modern Olympic Movement, through the combination of its Modern and Ancient elements. Professor Kitroeff recently published a book on the Olympic Games "Wrestling with the Ancients: Modern Greek Identity and the Olympics."

Downloadable photographs from the event are posted on AHI's Web site at For additional information regarding the AHI’s 29th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner, please contact Vivian Basdekis at (202) 785-8430 or For general information regarding the mission and activities of AHI, please visit our Web site at