American Hellenic Institute


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AHI Hosts Weekend Activities to Celebrate 32nd Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner
April 2, 2007—No. 22 (202) 785-8430

AHI Hosts Weekend Activities to Celebrate 32nd Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner

WASHINGTON, DC—On March 10, 2007, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) honored a distinguished set of Greek Americans and philhellenes at its 32nd 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 American community and the community at-large, this year’s honorees were:

  • Christopher Hitchens, renowned public affairs journalist
  • U.S. Representative Thaddeus G. McCotter, 11th Congressional District of Michigan
  • Margo Catsimatidis, president of MCV Advertising and co-publisher of The Hellenic Times
  • Plato Cacheris, nationally prominent attorney and partner at Trout Cacheris, LLP
  • John P. Calamos, Sr., chairman, chief executive officer and chief investment officer of Calamos Investment Funds

Opening the evening’s program was AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis. The Marines of Headquarters Battalion presented the colors and the American and Greek national anthems were performed by soprano Eleni S. Peyser. Reverend Dimitrios Antokas of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Bethesda, MD, offered the evening’s prayers, and music was provided by the band Apollonia.

American Hellenic Institute Advisory Committee member and Legal Counsel Nicholas G. Karambelas, Esq. introduced the master of ceremonies for the evening, Vicki Liviakis, who is an anchor and reporter for KRON Channel 4 News in San Francisco.

AHI President and Founder Gene Rossides then welcomed the dinner guests and recognized AHI founding member George Spyropoulos, who was instrumental in helping the organization to fund the building—Hellenic House—where it is currently headquartered. Mr. Rossides also introduced a video clip of a new documentary on Cyprus which the American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) is collaborating with Veras Communications to produce and air on PBS channels nationwide.


The first award recipient of the evening was Christopher Hitchens, who was presented with the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for his pursuit of the rule of law and justice for the people of Cyprus and Hellenism through his writings and speeches. In his acceptance remarks, Mr. Hitchens pointed out:

“Those of us who are governed by the rule of law don’t demand very much. We are very modest and understated in what we ask. All we want is for the removal of every single Turkish soldier from Cyprus, as international law demands, the restoration of the sculpture of Phidias [the Parthenon Marbles] as a unity, the same way it was carved, as a tribute to the glories of 5th century Athens and the human culture that it has inspired…. Take heart. You have friends who will never desert you. Mr. Erdogan, tear down that wall. Zito I Ellas (Long live Greece). Eleftheri I Kypros (Free Cyprus).”

The second honoree, Congressman Thaddeus G. McCotter, also received the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for his commitment to public service and his support in strengthening U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. AHI Advisory Committee member James Lagos delivered the following message from Congressman McCotter, who was unable to be present, due to unforeseen circumstances:

“As a member of Congress I appreciate the privilege of working with you to further the cause of liberty, democracy, human rights, free markets and the ideal and practice of equal justice under the rule of law. I will continue urging my colleagues in Congress to remain engaged in the effort for a just and lasting reunification of Cyprus, the promotion of the God-given, self-evident, and inalienable rights of all Cypriots to their property, free movement and free settlement.”

Following, Margo Catsimatidis received the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for her dedicated philanthropy and generous support of Hellenism, education, and the Greek American community.

Citing the importance of striking a balance in life between family, work, the church and community, Mrs. Catsimatidis underscored that, “To fulfill life, one must always strive to make the world a better place. Be effective. Be practical. It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. I thank you all again, because what keeps people going is being appreciated, and that keeps them going.”

Guests were then treated to a special video tribute to Greek American veterans of World War II, featuring the secret Greek American Operational Groups (OGs) and presented by AHI Chairman James L. Marketos, Esq. The OGs were small contingents of uniformed Greek Americans who in 1944 secretly battled the Nazis behind enemy lines in Greece as hazardous-duty volunteers for the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the CIA. Until recently, the activities of the OGs were practically unknown, either in the U.S. or in Greece.

The video—currently eleven minutes in length and which is available for sale through AHIF headquarters—requires additional funding to be produced into a full-length documentary. AHIF believes the OGs story should be more widely known, and the bravery of the men who served in the OGs should not be forgotten. By telling the OGs story, AHIF’s video will fill the current knowledge void and honor the men who served.

Following the video tribute, Mr. Marketos delivered a public declaration that stated, “We express our community’s deepest gratitude for the sacrifice and dedication of all Greek Americans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces in World War II. By answering the call of duty, they helped save the world from the threat of fascism and restored the peace and prosperity that we are allowed to enjoy today.”

Following the video tribute, Plato Cacheris was presented the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his unparalleled achievements and excellence in the legal profession. Upon receiving his award, he stated that, “I’m proud to be a first generation Greek American. Both my father and mother came from a little horio (village) called Nafplio in Greece. It has been described as the most elegant city in Greece, and having been there, I subscribe to that description.”

He continued and said: “There are too many people that I have to thank for the award that you’ve bestowed on me and humbled me with, and I just don’t have the time to go into all that. But I do have one person I must recognize—the lady that’s accompanied me here tonight, my wife of over 50 years.”

Concluding the awards portion of the event and receiving the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his outstanding business achievements and pioneering investment strategies and for his dedicated philanthropy and generous support of the Greek American community was John P. Calamos, Sr. In his acceptance speech Mr. Calamos stated:

“As I’ve gotten older here and I’ve become successful, as I look back, our Greek heritage is so important to us. I think we may be the last generation that has the obligation to make sure that they remember that. One of the things I’ve tried to do is really help the generations behind us remember our heritage. It’s so important…. There are too many stories that go untold and I want to commend the AHI here for really telling the story, keeping the history going, and being so involved. I thank you so much for this honor.”

The evening’s honorees were introduced by friends and associates with distinguished records in their own professional fields: award winning author and journalist Nicholas Gage (for Christopher Hitchens); AHI Advisory Committee member James Lagos (for Congressman Thaddeus G. McCotter); John Catsimatidis, Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer of the Red Apple Group, Inc. (for Margo Catsimatidis);Gene Rossides (for Plato Cacheris); and George Stamas, senior partner of the international law firm of Kirkland & Ellis (for John P. Calamos).

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

Dignitaries and government officials attending the event included Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandros Mallias and Mrs. Mallias and Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States Andreas Kakouris and Mrs. Kakouris. Also attending from U.S. Congress were Congressmen John Sarbanes (D-MD), Zach Space (D-OH), and former AHI honoree Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

Other notable guests attending the dinner were, Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) U.S. Regional Coordinator Ted G. Spyropoulos; Manny Velivasakis, president of the Pancretan Association and president of the Hellenic American National Council; President of the Pan-Macedonian Association of U.S.A. and Canada Panos Spiliakos; Demetrios Kontolios, supreme president of the Chios Societies of the Americas and Canada; President of the Hellenic American Women’s Council Maria Stamoulas; AHI Delaware Chapter President Dr. George Moutsatsos; John Sitilides, chairman of the Woodrow Wilson Center Southeast Europe Project; Editor-in-Chief of Washington Monthly Paul Glastris; Professor George P. Tsetsekos, dean at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business; Director of the Voice of America’s Greek Service George Bistis; Publisher of Odyssey magazine Art Dimopoulos; Publisher of the Hellenic News of America Paul Kotrotsios; Publisher of Greek America magazine Greg Pappas; and Chairman and CEO of Euclid Financial Group Andreas Pericli.

Former AHI honorees at the dinner included: President of Drexel University Constantine Papadakis; author Marilyn Rouvelas; former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD); Rev. Dr. John Tavlarides, dean of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Washington, DC; and Dr. Christine Warnke, senior governmental affairs advisor at Hogan & Hartson and John Catsimatidis.

Greek Embassy Dinner in Honor of AHI

The weekend’s events were kicked off with an elegant dinner at the Greek Embassy on Friday, March 9, 2007, hosted by Ambassador Alexandros Mallias and Mrs. Mallias in honor of AHI for its significant contributions to strengthening ties between Greece and the U.S. This event was a tremendous success, attended by the maximum possible guests, 100 persons.

Breakfast Briefing by Ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus

On the morning of March 10, 2007, AHI hosted a breakfast briefing at the Capital Hilton featuring Ambassador of Greece Alexandros Mallias and Ambassador of Cyprus Andreas Kakouris. Both ambassadors provided the audience with an update on the most recent events related to and status on U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. Their presentations were followed by a lively question and answer session, during which time audience members had the opportunity to interact with both Ambassador Mallias and Ambassador Kakouris.

Downloadable photographs from the weekend’s activities are available on AHI’s Web site at


For additional information, please contact Georgia Economou at (202) 785-8430 or For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our Web site at