NEO magazine - November/December 2020


Every issue will feature profiles of prominent Greek Americans and what they’ve done this year, what they’ve done in their lives, what politics they espouse, what business they practice, what books they read, what films they watch, what clothes they wear, where they travel, who’s been promoted, who’s been honored, who shuns the limelight but gets things done, who embraces it and never grows old.

NOV/DEC 2020 $4.95

In Memoriam,


Paul S. Sarbanes




Illinois Hellenic

Bar Association


70 Years






Management into

Biotech Breakthroughs


Men of Service

:: magazine


Demetrios Rhompotis

Dimitri Michalakis

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(718) 554-0308

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Marketing & Advertising


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(347) 613-4163


Public Relations &

Marketing Director

Rita Despotidis

NEO Magazine

is published monthly by

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Phone: (718) 554-0308

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I called to do an interview

with Senator Sarbanes

several years ago and he

called me back in the car

w h i l e I w a s d r i v i n g .

“Senator, do you mind if I

call you back?” I asked him.

“Surely,” he said. I called him

l a t e r a n d w e d i d t h e

interview, with him talking

not like a senator, but like a

very nice man, with a Maryland drawl, who

spoke in English, not political boilerplate, and

who seemed to give me all the time in the world.

Then I discovered that my tape recorder had

recorded nothing. So now how do you call a

Unites States senator and take up his precious

time asking him to do an interview all over

again? I steeled myself and called him. “Surely,”

he said, when I told him my request. We did the

interview, again, and he showed just as much

patience, and gave me just as much time as


And when we inaugurated our magazine in

New York City and featured his son John as our

Person of the Year, he came with his gracious

wife, and was as generous and humble with us

as I remembered on the phone. I have met my

share of politicians, I have met my share of

people of consequence, but he was a singular

man of consequence, a history-maker for

Greek Americans in the Congress, but with all

the humility and substance of a truly noble


He b r o u g h t h o n o r t o t h e S e n a t e , a

distinguished record of service, and he not only

made every Greek American proud, he

provided a model of public service that few

legislators have equaled.

He worked over a lifetime to make this country

better and make us all better. He was one of a

kind and a model for all of us. His loss is a loss

for all of us.

In the same spirit of service, I’d like to

acknowledge the eminent presiding priest of

Kimisis Theotokou Church in Brooklyn, New

York, the Very Rev. Damaskinos Ganas. A

former president of Hellenic College, he has

dual master degrees from Hellenic College, as

well as degrees from the Teachers Pedagogical

School in Thessaloniki, Greece, and did postgraduate

work at the Thessaloniki Theological


He could have served anywhere, with

distinction, and yet he is a man of the people

and for the past 35 years he has been the pillar of

Kimisis and the face of the parish, who

remembers everybody’s name (“I go home at

the end of the day and make sure to remember

everybody I met that day”), who livens any

service with his sermon, and will remember

your name when you go up for the antidero,

and has performed the miracle of making the

parish not only survive, but thrive, through the

sheer force of his warmth, personality, and

practical skill in keeping the parish solvent.

In common with Senator Sarbanes, he has been

a bedrock and inspiration for our community.

Happy Holidays.


:: magazine



Editor in Chief:

Dimitri C. Michalakis

Western Region Desk

- Los Angeles

Alexander Mizan

West Palm Beach,

Florida Desk

Vassilios Kukorinis

Baltimore Desk

Georgia Vavas


New York: ETA Press

Los Angeles: Nick Dimitrokalis

(951) 764-5737

Graphic Design

Adrian Salescu

Athens Desk

Konstantinos Rhompotis

(01130) 210 51 42 446

(01130) 6937 02 39 94

Congressman John Sarbanes

Pays Tribute To Senator

Paul Sarbanes on the House Floor

“I want to thank the Majority Leader for

yielding. I want to thank you for your

friendship with my father, Paul Sarbanes, for

so many years – you go back with him a long

way. And he cherished that friendship, as he

did the relationship with all the members of

the Maryland Delegation during the time that

he served.

And I want to thank my colleagues here

tonight, who’ve come to help remember him

and pay tribute.

On behalf of my brother, Michael, and my

sister, Janet, I want to thank all the people who,

over the last 48 hours, have been sending in

these remembrances and tributes to my father

from his time in the Senate, and before that,

here in the House, where he was for six years

and from time periods before that even.

I want to thank right up front and in particular

his staff, who, over the course of his 40 years in

public service, he understood were the ones

who made him or broke him. He was a tough

task master, but he chose people that had that

same set of principles and values and

commitment to hard work.

A lot of the tributes that have been coming in

have talked about him being a workhorse, not

a show horse – the idea that if you put your

head down, you get the job done, you try to

build consensus where you can, but you

always remember that you’re here for a reason.

That is, to make good, strong policy that can

help people.

He lived a full life. He made a difference in the

lives of others, which is all he ever wanted to

do. I mean, he knew he wanted to be in politics

from a very early age, but his motivation was

looking at the opportunities he had – the son

of Greek immigrants who came to this

country with very little – and he had the

o p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r e d u c a t i o n a n d

advancement. His motivation was to make

those available to others.

He loved being with people. He had

a dry sense of humor. He enjoyed

banter with all who crossed his path

– was intensely interested in the

journey that others had taken to

whatever station they held in life.

And he was always asking, ‘Where

are you from? What do you do?

What’s next for you?’

He had an inherent integrity that

was strengthened by always striving

to meet the expectations of those

who put their confidence in him.In

politics, he was motivated, as I said,

by the burning conviction that

every individual has dignity and the

potential to succeed if given a fair

shot. And he was determined others

w o u l d h a v e t h o s e s a m e

opportunities that he had enjoyed. He

understood that if you share the credit, if you

don’t seek credit, you can get a lot more done.

And that was how he operated.

A few years ago, I prevailed upon him to sit for

about 20 hours of video-taped oral history,

because I wanted to make sure we captured the

essence of his life and his career. And so we

have this treasure, which we’ll make available

to people as we move forward. But I wanted to

just, in his own words, grab a few excerpts

from that, that I think convey who he is and

what he cared about.

I r e m e m b e r I

came home one

time and he was

s i t t i n g i n t h e

living room, on

the couch, and he

was revved up

about something.

I don’t know what

the issue was that

d a y t h a t h a d

gotten him, sort

of, motivated. But

he banged on the

side of the couch

and he said, ‘I’m

for the little guy!

I’m for the little

guy!’ He might as well, in that moment, have

been stating his purpose in public life. That’s

what motivated him from the moment he got

up in the morning until the moment he went

to bed at night. So he told in this oral history –

I’m just going to read a couple of these things –

he talked about getting public housing, or

senior citizen affordable housing, in the Inner

Harbor in Baltimore. And he was very proud

Senator Paul Spyros Sarbanes February 3, 1933 – December 6, 2020

of the fact that you had this senior citizen

housing there.

And he said, ‘Next door to it is an expensive

hotel, and behind the hotel is a big

condominium building with very expensive

condominiums in it. Every time I go by that

building, I get a sense of satisfaction out of it,

particularly in the nice weather I look up and

all these seniors are sitting out on their

terraces, looking out over the water. I know

that developers would give their eye teeth to

get a hold of that piece of property – but they

don’t have it. It’s part of this affordable housing

initiative. So a lot of seniors who worked hard

all their lives and are now retired, but don’t

have a lot of money, have the benefit of this

housing.’ He said, ‘I’ll always get a measure of

satisfaction out of that.’

We’re in the midst, as we know, in our country

of some really challenging moments

addressing issues of justice. Here’s a story

about how my father, in a small way, made a

statement around justice. “He said, ‘We had a

situation in one of the rural towns on the

Eastern Shore. And when they’d deliver the

mail, the postman, he’d come down the street

and there’d be these big houses and he’d go up

to the house and put the mail in the mailbox.

And then, as he moved on down the street, the

composition of the neighborhood would

change, and houses would get smaller – much

smaller. The complexion of the people living

in the houses changed too as you went down

the street, so they went from white to black.

And down the street, instead of the postman

going through the gate or whatever and up to

the house, they were going to require those

people to put a postbox at the street.


NOV/DEC 2020


“‘So some people came to us about that, a

couple of pastors or ministers, and they

pointed out this situation. So I got the

postal people in for a meeting in my

office.’ My father said, ‘Now what’s

happening here? As I understand it, up

here with the big houses and the white

residents, you’re going to continue to go

up to the house and put the mail through

the door slot, but when you get down this

way, to the little houses, and the African-

American residents, you’re going to

require them to put a mail receptacle out

at the pavement or at the curb, and you’re

not gonna go up to the house anymore.

What’s the rationale for this policy? Well,

of course, if you lay it out like that there

isn’t a rationale – at least not an

acceptable one that can stand the light of

day. So they dropped the project and went

on delivering the mail.’ “And here’s what

my father said, ‘That’s the way it ought to

work. And I felt it’s not a big issue, but we

got some justice done for those people.’

Small things that stand for big principles.

That’s what he was about. So I’m going to

close with just a couple, final thoughts

here. First of all, I want to thank the

Greek-American community, which was

f i e r c e l y p r o u d o f m y f a t h e r ’s

achievements. He was deeply proud of

where he came from. It was an inspiration

to him in public service. And I want to

thank so many who helped him along the

way from that community.

My mother, Christine, who died ten years

ago, she came into his life like a bolt of

lightning. He didn’t know what hit him.

He met her at Oxford, this brilliant,

beautiful woman who could match him

step for step in her intellect – and she

knocked his socks off. And I think the

great regret of his life was that he had

hoped, in his retirement – you know,

public life is hard, we know that – and I

think all along the way he was looking

forward to that time when the two of

them could spend more time together.

And unfortunately, she passed away

within a couple of years of his retirement

and they didn’t get that opportunity

together. And I don’t think he ever fully

recovered from that.

So, I think about his legacy, and I

understand, certainly, that there’s no way

his children – myself, my brother,

Michael, and my sister, Janet – were ever

gonna match that legacy, because it’s a

pretty unmatchable one, when you look

at the record. But I think we are all doing

what we can to continue it, to nurture it,

to sustain it going forward. And again, I

want to thank you for the time to speak

here and I want to thank my colleagues

for all your support and kind words over

the last couple of days.

And I yield back.

The Brilliance, Integrity and Humanity

Of US Senator Paul Sarbanes


US Senator Paul Sarbanes, who passed away at

the age of 87 on December 6, is a major reason

we Hellenes are held in such high regard in the

United States. The powerfully positive

impression he made for decades on hundreds

of influential American policymakers and

opinion leaders is


In 1971, before Paul

Sarbanes arrived in

Washington, D C,

Greeks were held in a

different regard. For

i n s t a n c e , t h e

protective covenants

a g a i n s t G r e e k s

b u y i n g i n t o

n e i g h b o r h o o d s

p r o h i b i t e d

m i l l i o n a i r e B i l l

C a l o m i r i s f r o m

buying a house in

Washington’s Spring Valley. Sarbanes arrived

in the US House of Representatives with a

bang. The Judiciary Committee chose him,

then barely out of his 30’s, from among their 38

seasoned Committee Members to draft the

Articles of Impeachment against President

Richard Nixon.

The genius that propelled him from a small

town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore through

Princeton University, a Rhodes Scholarship at

Oxford University and through Harvard Law

Magna Cum Laude, lifted him to immediate

prominence in the US Congress. Greeks also

gained notice as Paul and his brother-like

colleague and “patrioti,” Congressman John

Brademas, made up only .3% of the US

Congress but 66% of its Rhodes Scholars.

Sarbanes became the first Greek-American

US Senator, later followed by Senator Paul

Tsongas (of Massachusetts) and Senator

Olympia Snowe (of Maine). The Sarbanes

practice of doing the right thing and treating

others with respect – his philotimo – greatly

impressed thousands who followed him

closely during his nearly four-decade

Congressional career. The esteem for Paul felt

by these Members of the House, Senators and

national reporters accrued to the benefit of all

Hellenes. His always studied and objective

opinion on issues facing America was valued

by Republicans and Democrats. He was the

“gold standard” of what Americans desire in

their Washington politicians.

Sarbanes was also well known for his major

legislative victories. Without Congressmen

Sarbanes and Brademas’ extraordinary

credibility, their Turkish Arms Embargo

legislation following Turkey’s invasion of

Cyprus would never have passed the House of

Representatives. That bill’s enactment was the

only time in modern history the Congress

overruled the White House on a major foreign

policy issue. Then in the Senate, as a highranking

member of the Foreign Relations

Committee, he was the go-to expert on all

matters relat i ng to t he E c u menical

Patriarchate, Greece

and Cyprus. Senior

State Department

employees, all of

whom have to be

approve d b y t h e

S e n a t e F o r e i g n

R e l a t i o n s

Committee, knew

a b o u t S a r b a n e s’

hyper-interest in

H e l l e n i c a n d

Orthodox issues.

T h e y k n e w t h a t

m i s t r e a t m e n t o f

these issues could

jeopardize Senate

approval for their next high-level State

Department job. Sarbanes dramatically

improved US policy toward these issues. His

son Congressman John Sarbanes carries on

Paul’s remarkable and impactful efforts.

From left, Christine and Paul Sarbanes, Mike and Andy Manatos

Sarbanes is probably best-known to the

general public for the major legislative reform

in corporate executive responsibility for

financial wrongdoing. His legislation – known

a s t h e " C o r p o r a t e a n d A u d i t i n g

Ac c ou nt abi l it y, R e sp onsibi l it y, and

Transparency Act," nicknamed the “Sarbanes-

Oxley Act” – greatly reduced repeats of

Enron’s debacle t hat left t housands

unemployed, devastated retirement plans and

wiped out stockholders’ assets.

A m i d h i s l i f e a s a w orld-chang i n g

policymaker he was also a down-to-earth

Hellene. He had a great sense of humor and

could tell a wonderful story. He could also be

found at the heart of the championship round

of our family’s egg cracking competition at our

annual Easter lamb roast. He was a true friend

who appeared at your family weddings and,

more importantly, at your loved ones’


From his commanding brilliance that helped

shape much of our world, to his tenderness

and humor that touched us all, he is

unsurpassed. His like may never pass this way


Andy Manatos, CEO of Manatos & Manatos,

and Mike Manatos, President of Manatos &

Manatos, spent their careers working closely

with Senator Sarbanes in Washington, DC in

the promotion of Hellenism and Orthodox



AHI Mourns Passing

of Former U.S. Senator

Paul Sarbanes

In Memoriam

Senator Paul S. Sarbanes

and Cyprus

by Philip Christopher, Andy Manatos and Mike Manatos

We mourn the recent passing of our dear friend and fellow justicefor-Cyprus

advocate former US Senator Paul Sarbanes. His role

with Cyprus is historic and his impact on the well-being of the

country and its people extraordinary.

Ever since the immediate aftermath of Turkey’s illegal invasion of

Cyprus, the wisdom of Paul Sarbanes has been instrumental to

everything we have done. That wisdom has also been critical to

American successes for Cyprus. President Richard Nixon’s refusal

to enforce the law requiring the termination of US military aid to

any country that uses it aggressively moved our then young and

very highly regarded Congressman Paul Sarbanes to press for

Congressional action. The conventional wisdom of that time

warned him that opposing US policy toward Cyprus could in turn

cause him to be labeled “the Congressman for Cyprus” and damage

his hopes for a US Senate run in Maryland.

“The American Hellenic Institute deeply mourns the passing of

former U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes,” AHI President Nick

Larigakis said. “Senator Sarbanes exemplified Hellenic ideals to the

fullest extent. He excelled as a public servant, valued the

importance of education, culture, and the arts, and was a true

champion of the Rule of Law. These were values instilled in him as

the son of Greek immigrants.

“Without Senator Sarbanes’ strong advocacy, and the respect he

garnered during his service and a leader in Congress, the

community’s effort to impose an arms embargo on Turkey,

following Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation of the Republic

of Cyprus in 1974, would not have been a success. Together with the

late founder of AHI, Eugene T. Rossides, we were proud to work

with then-Congressman Paul Sarbanes on this most substantial

policy achievement. We will forever be grateful for his staunch and

unwavering support for the Greek American community’s policy

issues, especially during his tenure serving on the Senate Foreign

Relations Committee.

“Senator Sarbanes will always be remembered fondly by the

American Hellenic Institute and its members for his devotion to

AHI, the Rule of Law, and to Hellenism for which we are deeply

grateful and from which we all benefited. We were honored to

present him with the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service

Award in 1992. He also keynoted and addressed several AHI

forums, conferences, and events and contributed to AHI’s one-hour

documentary, ‘Cyprus Still Divided: A U.S. Foreign Policy Failure.’

“Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with Congressman

John Sarbanes, who carries Senator Sarbanes’ legacy, and the entire

Sarbanes family. May his memory be eternal.”

Sarbanes’ philotimo moved him to do the right thing. With fellow

Rhodes Scholar and “patrioti” Congressman John Brademas and

Europe Subcommittee Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs

Committee, Congressman Ben Rosenthal, he introduced

legislation to cut off US military aid to Turkey. Sarbanes and

Brademas’ revered status in the House enabled them to win enough

votes to enact the Turkish Arms Embargo. It sent a strong message

to Turkey about Cyprus because it was the first time in modern US

history the Congress overturned White House policy on a major

foreign policy issue. Every year for many decades Paul Sarbanes was

the highlight of our conference between leaders of our community

and top White House officials, senior Senators and Members of

Congress. Our meetings with the other officials focused on

educating them about the Cyprus issue. However, during each of

our long quiet meetings with Paul he, as a brother, helped us

understand the nuances of the issue and of American policy. Paul

carried major responsibility for victories all of our work has

enjoyed, like Dick Holbrooke and Bill Clinton reversing France and

Germany’s opposition to Cyprus beginning early EU accession

talks. At the time there was a consensus that Turkey would move to

take the rest of the island but that it would not happen if Cyprus

became an EU country.

For decades Paul Sarbanes helped us realize that our annual

meetings were crucial to maintaining a high profile for Cyprus in

Washington. His work as a senior member of the Senate Foreign

Relations Committee had an even more profound impact on

Cyprus’ profile. Since Cyprus has roughly the population size of

each one of the 435 Congressional district in America, such efforts

are particularly important.

As Paul was retiring from the Senate we asked, “With you retiring,

how can we best try to maintain the invaluable input you constantly

provide us with?” His answer was, as always, correct. He said, “You

better make sure that Bob Menendez gets reelected.” Menendez’s

role on the Foreign Relations Committee and the wisdom and

invaluable direction he provides has well carried on Sarbanes role.

For decades, Paul Sarbanes was not only the steady force for Cyprus,

but the voice of Greece, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and

Hellenism. He will be dearly missed. May his memory be eternal.


NOV/DEC 2020


HANAC's One Flushing Project wins Excellence

in Affordable Housing Development Award

HANAC's One Flushing project has won the

award for Excellence In Affordable Housing

Development from the Urban and Institute, as

part of Ull's 2020 New York Awards for

Excellence In Development Gala. The winners

of the awards were announced during Ull's

NYC virtual Gala on November 3rd,2020.

One Flushing is the product of a partnership

between Monadnock Development, HANAC,

Inc., and Asian Americans for Equality

(AAFE) and it consists of a 232-

unit, ten-story new construction

multifamily residential building

located on the corner of

Avenue and Main Street in

Flushing, New York. As the first

M a n d a t o r y i n c l u s i o n a r y

Housing project to be developed

in New York City, the building

provides affordable housing for

families and seniors, ample

community facilities, and social

services programming. The

d e v e l o p m e n t i n c l u d e s

approximately 14,000 square

feet of community facility space,

including a community center,

senior center, and non-profit

office space. On the ground

floor, One Flushing provides 20,000 square

feet of commercial/retail space, and below

grade, a public parking facility with 156 spots.

The building’s amenities include over 18,000

square feet of planted and active roofs--

including a rooftop farm for residents -which

also compliments other sustainable features

such as a 134-kilowatt rooftop solar array and

storm water reuse. A gym and community

room round out the amenities. Completed in

January 2019 and fully leased, One Flushing

w a s b u i l t t o r e f l e c t s u r r o u n d i n g

neighborhood and has only served to enhance

its vibrant community.

HANAC (Hellenic American Neighborhood

Action Committee) was founded in Queens,

NY in 1972 to serve the needs of the Greek

community. At that time, Greeks coming to

the United States needed social services to get

acclimated to life in America.

Through the 1960's immigration from Greece

was soaring and many Greeks settled in

Astoria. HANAC's founder was a reporter for

the Long Island Press working at City Hall and

became aware of the substantial needs of the

Greek immigrants and overall, the Greek

American Community. He then approached

Mayor John Lindsay and explained the

problem and sought his assistance with these


Today, HANAC is a citywide social service

organization, servicing 30,000 NYC residents

annually receiving funding from City, State

and Federal agencies. Additionally, HANAC

currently has a portfolio of 650 senior

affordable housing units throughout Queens,


The FAITH Endowment Awards

130 Scholarships to Top Greek

American Students

The FAITH Endowment welcomed 55 of the

brightest and most accomplished young

leaders wit hin t he Gre ek American

community into the FAITH Academic

Excellence program and awards 75 FAITH

STEM continuation scholarships. The 2020

FAITH Scholars join over 500 young leaders

who represent an exemplary range of

i n n o v a t i o n , a m b i t i o n a n d c i v i c -

mindedness—from aspiring architects and

educators to future biomedical engineers and

data scientists.

Scholarship amounts ranging up to $10,000

were awarded to applicants displaying

extraordinary academic achievement and a

spirit of charity, philanthropy and altruism

found at the core of their Hellenic heritage and

Greek Orthodox values. They are accepted

into top universities across the country,

merited the highest recommendations from

their teachers and mentors, scored within the

95th percentile for the ACT and SAT,

maintained an A grade point average and

ranked within the top 10% of their graduating

developing curriculum for a virtual

educational program for elementary students.

Furthermore, they remained engaged with

their Greek Orthodox community when it was

logistically difficult to do so — heading their

parish’s COVID response teams, providing

tech support for livestreams and hosting

weekly GOYA meetings over Zoom.

“This recognition is an unbelievable honor,

and I thank FAITH for supporting me as I

begin the next chapter of my studies and

further academic and professional pursuits. I

greatly appreciate the FAITH Scholar

program as an incentive for achievement

among young members of the Hellenic

communit y. I'm s o g rateful for t he

opportunity to connect with other FAITH

Scholars, and I wish to continue my

engagement and contribution to this

community in the future,” said Joanna

Papaioannou, a 2020 FAITH Scholar majoring

in biochemistr y at the University of


With the support and network provided by the

FAITH Scholarship program and mentors,

FAITH STEM Scholars are pushing society

forward through data-driven problem

solving, transformative technological

developments and advancements in scientific

and medical fields. Christina Bourantas, a

Students with

FAITH Founder

Dr. Roy Vagelos

FAITH scholars

junior at DePaul University majoring in

physics, interned at a children’s hospital and

aspires to develop prosthetics for those living

with neuromuscular conditions. Paul

Debassio, a pre-med senior at Rensselaer

Polytechnic Institute, began volunteering in a

student-run EMT program and is now doing a

full-time internship in the Yale New Haven

Hospital with a focus on pediatric hematology.

Loukas Carayannopoulos, a junior nuclear

engineer major at MIT, studied alternative

energy sources at General Atomics in San

Diego, and Mariana Frangos, a freshman math

major at Stanford University, collaborated

with an international team of data scientists to

evaluate clinical trial results for COVID


classes. While following rigorous course plans

of AP, honors and dual credit classes, 70%

founded clubs at school, interned in fields

related to their college majors and earned titles

from National Merit Scholar and class

valedictorian to student government

president and scholastic team captain.

Despite the interruptions they faced during

their spring semester, the 2020 FAITH

Scholars adapted to meet the growing needs in

their communities: grocery shopping for

elderly neighbors, creating a support program

for low-income medical students and


NOV/DEC 2020


The additional 75 college students qualified to

receive the FAITH Scholarship for Excellence

in STEM continuation award, bringing the

grand total of scholarships FAITH awarded in

its sixteenth year to 130. This special

scholarship series supports all four years of

candidates’ undergraduate studies if they

major in a STEM field (science, technology,

engineering and math), maintain a 3.6

minimum GPA and actively continue to

participate in organizations related to the

Hellenic and Greek Orthodox community

throughout their college career.

“Becoming a part of this amazing group of

FAITH Scholars is one of the most important

achievements in my life. As someone who has

a passion for STEM and a deep appreciation

for both my Greek roots and Orthodox

Christian faith, I am humbled and beyond

grateful for this award and am privileged to be

a part of something truly amazing,” said

George Tsakalakos, a freshman physics major

at Emory University who received the FAITH

scholarship in 2019.

FAITH was founded in 2004 with the core

mission to promote an understanding of the

Greek Orthodox faith, Hellenism and excellence

among young people through a series of high

quality, innovative educational programs and

cultural initiatives.

For more information, their website is

by Athena Efter

At j u s t 2 8 y e a r s o l d , G e o r g e

Petrocheilos is already running a

private equity firm with over 250M

assets under management. With offices

in Baltimore and Washington, DC, and

now in New York, Catalio Capital

Management LP is ready for the next

phase of its rapid growth.

George Petrocheilos

Spins Catalio Capital Management

into Biotech Breakthroughs

President-Elect Joe Biden and George

Co-Founder and Managing Partner

George Petrocheilos hails from Athens,

Greece, and came to the US in 2009 to

study at Johns Hopkins University,

where he received his degree in

Financial Economics. There he served

as President of the Johns Hopkins

Hellenic Association, where he was

active in promoting Hellenism. While

he was at Hopkins, George became

close with leading Greek-Americans in

Baltimore like Aris Melissaratos, a

leading executive at Westinghouse

C orporation and the late John

Paterakis, Sr., the founder of H&S

Bakery, Inc. whose mentorship and

guidance played an influential role in

his professional development. Fresh

out of college, George made it to The

Baltimore Business Journal’s “40 under

40” list of winners at just the age of 22.


NOV/DEC 2020


John Catsimatidis Jr. and George Petrocheilos

George Petrocheilos,

George Tsunis, John P. Angelos

It’s no wonder then that he would continue to

rise the ranks to eventually form Catalio

Capital Management, as Co-Founder and

Managing Partner, along with Dr. R. Jacob

Vogelstein who holds a Ph.D in Biomedical

Engineering from the Johns Hopkins School

of Medicine. Prior to Catalio, both George and

Jacob were General Partners at Camden

Partners Holdings, LLC, a private equity firm

that spun out of T. Rowe Price (NASDAQ:

TROW), where they launched its life sciences


is their inclusion

of an elite group

of world-class

scientists with

p r i m a r y

a c a d e m i c

appointment in

t h e G e n e r a l

P a r t n e r s h i p .

They are also

s e r i a l


e a c h h a v i n g

George with U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen

"It is incredibly rewarding to be able to

directly partner with the world’s most

successful scientist-entrepreneurs to

translate their basic research into

commercial ventures that enhance

the lives of millions of patients around

the globe. We truly believe that

investment in the life sciences and

biotechnology sectors has never been

more critical and we continue to see

an incredible opportunity for growth

in these businesses.”

With science pumping through their veins

and a vested interest in life sciences, they

joined forces and started their own company

d e v o t e d t o b i o m e d i c a l t e c h n o l o g y

investments that will lead the next wave of

breakthrough drugs, devices and diagnostics.

The company was launched in 2020 and was

conceived with the Greek word for catalyst,

Catalio, in mind. A unique aspect of the fund

founded a couple of

biotech companies.

Catalio's move to New

York is the next logical

step for the firm.

Since its inception,

Catalio has invested

in 250 high growth

l i f e s c i e n c e s


and raised

over 250 million dollars. This rapid

growth prompted the next big

move. George knows that there is a

lot of talent in New York, and he

wants to reach that talent with his

firm. New York might be going

through a rough patch now, with

the Covid 19 pandemic, but that is

all the more reason for George to

continue his mission. Finance, science, and

New York seem to be the perfect life science


George wants to make an impact on human

lives globally. Having been exposed to all the

depth of technology and science happening at

Johns Hopkins, he became intrigued by the

idea of financing biomedical technology

growth: “Science is making an impact on our

Catalio Capital Management Co-Founders

Dr. Jacob Vogelstein and George Petrocheilos

Christos & Kiki Petrocheilos, George

Petrocheilos, Jayne Plank, Aris Melissaratos

lives everyday through new breakthroughs

that are needed to improve human lives.” He

wants to help make the quality of life better for

as many people as possible by investing in the

best breakthrough biomedical technology

companies that will bring their drugs, devices,

and diagnostics to millions of patients around

the world.

Catalio invests in companies at all stages of

development, from company formation to

IPO. Investments include liquid biopsy

companies Thrive Earlier Detection (that

got acquired by EXACT Sciences in October

for over 2 billion dollars) and Freenome,

drug discovery company Recursion Pharma,


G r e e k - C y p r i o t b u s i n e s s m a n a n d

philanthropist, for his friendship and

mentorship on many issues affecting Greece

and Cyprus by emphasizing advocacy and

public policy.

John Catsimatidis Jr., Ted Leonsis,

George Petrocheilos, Zach Leonsis

mental health-start up COMPASS Pathways

(NASDAQ: CMOS), which went public in

September and monoclonal antibody

treatment firm AbCelllera (NASDAQ:

ABCL), that went public earlier this month.

Archbishop Demetrios and George

Petrocheilos upon being inducted

into the Leadership 100

Key Members of the leadership team include

its Chairman Edward J. Mathias, who played a

key role in the founding of The Carlyle Group

(NASDAQ: CG) and a member of its Board of

Directors up until his 2019; along with

General Partners and investment Committee

Members Tom V. Brooks and Dr. Kenan

Turnacioglu. Prior to joining Catalio, Tom

served as an executive for Goldman Sachs

(NYSE: GS) and later as Vice Chairman &

Executive Vice President for Constellation

Energy (NYSE: CEG). Dr. Turnacioglu cofounded

long short equity hedge fund

PointState Capital, LP in 2011, from which he

retired in 2018. Prior to that, he was a

Managing Director and Head of Healthcare

Investments at Duquesne Capital, the

investment firm of renowned

investor Stan Druckenmiller.

Dr. Freda Lewis Hall, recently retired Chief

Medical officer and Executive Vice President

of Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) also came on board

Catalio earlier this month as their newest

Venture Partner.

George and Dr. Vogelstein remarked that “It is

incredibly rewarding to be able to directly

partner with the world’s most successful

scientist-entrepreneurs to translate their basic

research into commercial ventures that

enhance the lives of millions of patients

around the globe. We truly believe that

investment in t he life s ciences and

biotechnology sectors has never been more

critical and we continue to see an

incredible opportunity for growth in

these businesses.”

When asked about innovation in

Greece, George is very optimistic, and

emphasized the phenomenal work of

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

and his administration. In his own

efforts, George is a member of the

board of the Hellenic Innovation

Network at MIT’s Enterprise Forum,

whose goal is to help connect Greek

start-ups in the US. His interest in

Hellenic issues is one that also comes

with strong civic minded awareness.

He is a member of the Hellenic

American L e adership C ouncil

(HALC), led by Endy Zemenides,

whose mission is a commitment to the

ideals of democracy, rule of law, and

philanthropy. He was very grateful to

the late Nikos Mouyiaris, the cofounder

of HALC and a prominent

George with Baltimore Police

Commissioner Kevin Davis,

Roula Paterakis and the late

John Paterakis, Sr.

George also serves on the Board of the

Trustees for the Kennedy Krieger Institute, a

Johns Hopkins Medicine affiliate, that focuses

on improving the lives of children with

neurological disorders and developmental


H i s c o m m i t m e n t p e r s o n a l l y a n d

professionally to improving quality of life for

patients worldwide, through investing in

breakthrough biomedical technology

companies, is the science of the future. At just

28 years old, with the recent successful fund

close, he’s way ahead, racing through the

catalyst stage.

Anthony Liveris, George Petrocheilos,

John Catsimatidis Jr., Diamantis Xylas


NOV/DEC 2020


United We Stand: Lera Bracelet

Initiative Co-Founders Ellen Efkarpidis

and Aphrodite Dimopoulos

by C. Salboudis

Ellen Efkarpidis protesting against

racism in Mineola, Long Island

A shout-out to Hellenic Young Professionals Ellen Efkarpidis and

Aphrodite Dimopoulos for their admirable L.E.R.A. bracelet

awareness initiative. The L.E.R.A. (Learn, Educate, Respond and

Act) initiative was established in response to the Black Lives Matter

activities surrounding the recent George Floyd incident.

Since the 1800s, the minority Greek American and African

American populations have banded together in solidarity against

intolerance and inequality. For decades before the Civil Rights

Movement -- and in the many years since the ministries of

Archbishop Iakovos of America (1959-1996) and Dr. Martin Luther

King (1955-1968) -- we’ve worked towards the common goals of

social inclusivity and justice.

Ellen Efkarpidis, News12 Reporter

Danielle Campbell and Aphrodite Dimopoulos

It is remarkable to see how the social disruption has motivated the

young founders of this initiative (Schreiber High School Class of 2021)

to establish a fundraising strategy that will lead to better sensitivity

training and charitable support of our cultures, which have been united

for so long. Proceeds from bracelet sales will be split between Campaign

Zero, The Innocence Project and The National Police Accountability

Project, each of which has set a goal to reform the criminal justice

system and police departments.

To get your LERA Bracelet and support this initiative, visit

In the words of NEO Magazine’s very own Demetrios Rhompotis,

real life examples of the unity between these two cultural groups have

taught us that “tests in school prove our grasp of various subjects; life

and its collective challenges prove our valor and dignity as human

beings.” Time and again, individual heroes and organizations in our

community have reached out to secure and preserve the

fundamental principles of equality that are at the heart of the

American vision “Liberty and

Justice For All.” Each manifestation

The L.E.R.A. bracelet of courage that unfolds through

initiatives like this one serve as

examples to inspire heightened

sensitivity and understanding of

what active equality looks like today,

where the gaps are, and what work

we need to join together to

accomplish for this and future


In the midst of concerns over online

instruction and other pandemic-related issues, these young women

have taken a stand to identify a positive community-building

opportunity and took action to make the world a better place. While

decorative, the bracelets also serve as a prompt to search our own

internal bias and determine positive steps towards accountability

and empathy for all our brothers and sisters both here and around the


“For those wearing the bracelet it has become a subtle and constant

reminder of empathy and compassion towards others, with luck that

will continue to grow,” Efkarpidis said. “We also hope the bracelets

sparks productive and positive conversations about important issues

of what it means to support one another.”


NOV/DEC 2020





Charles C. Condes served in

the U.S. Army Air Corps during

World War II as a meteorologist

In order to provide immediate

economic stimulus to enterprises

that are simultaneously creating jobs

and helping people on the ground in

Greece, the Charles Condes Venture

Impact Award (VIA) has been

est ablished by The Hellenic

Initiative, with the support of the

Helidoni Foundation and a $500,000

donation from the estate of Charles

C. Condes.

Charles C. Condes was the son of

Greek immigrants from Laconia

and Arcadia. Upon completing his

B . S . d e g r e e i n m e c h a n i c a l

engineering from the Illinois

Institute of Technology, Charles was drafted, serving in the U.S.

Army Air Corps during World War II as a meteorologist who was

attached to the Royal Air Force. After the war, Charles worked as a

consultant in the private sector and was later recruited for the

position of Bridge Design Engineer for the City of Chicago. “He

designed the machinery that raised many of the iconic bridges over

the Chicago River,” said his niece, Harriette Condes Zervakis.

In addition, he made numerous successful investments, and turned

his attention to philanthropic endeavors. His legacy continues to

have a positive impact in the United States and Greece. While THI

continues to support endeavors that encourage the creation of

startups, COVID-19 has focused its attention on helping existing

firms survive the new crisis. Talented, energetic young people with

goods and services businesses are now finding themselves cashstarved

in the pandemic, and THI has stepped in with material and

moral support.

The VIA will award annual cash prizes of $25K each to companies

producing returns while having a measurable social impact.

Harriette Condes Zervakis was motivated to make the donation by

her uncle’s deep love for Greece, and her personal concern about the

impact of brain drain on Greece. His views were shared by his late,

lovely wife Phyllis “It has been alarming to see thousands of bright

young Hellenes forced to leave their homeland and to take their

talents elsewhere,” she commented. “I was happy to find an

organization like THI that is addressing this critical issue.” The

awards will be presented at a special online event on December 17,

2020. “Though born and raised in Chicago, Uncle Charles held a

special place in his heart for Greek history, culture, and language,

along with faith that the Greek people are by nature resilient,

innovative, and enterprising. The VIA Awards are in line with his


George P. Stamas, THI Board President said that “THI invested in

Greece’s promising startup community during the Greek crisis. The

success of those young firms validated our approach and made us

proud. Now that they face the COVID, we have doubled down on our

support with the VIA. This generous gift from The Charles C.

Condes Trust will help bolster promising Greek companies.”

Peter J. Poulos, THI’s Executive Director stated: “Since we could not

organize physical events this year we decided to create the Venture

Impact Award in order to support startups in need of capital who are

also making an impact on society. With the gift from the Estate of

Charles Condes we will be able to make a real difference”.

Hellenic Relief Foundation Raises Funds for Greece

With donations still coming in, the Hellenic

Relief Foundation has surpassed the $55,000

mark in support from its first-ever live radiomarathon

which aired on Hellas FM and

livestreamed worldwide on Thursday,

December 3rd. The eight-hour fundraising

show, aimed it's efforts to raise money for its

vital food distribution program and social

services during the COVID-19 pandemic for

the Christmas season and beyond.

With Hellas FM President Nikos Fillas and

host Dimitris Filippidis at the helm, alongside

H.R.F. board members Kostas Zachariadis

and Dean Efkarpidis in studio, and H.R.F.

board member Anna Eliopoulos leading the

phone center, the multi-hour broadcast

presented the stories of the beneficiaries of the

H.R.F.'s monthly distributions, the volunteers

who ensure the organization's mission is

executed on a monthly basis, and shared the

messages of support from the former

President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis

Pavlopoulos, and Mrs. Pavlopoulos, noted

Greek artists, including Anna Fonsou, Angela

Dimitriou, Lefteris Pantazis, Antypas, and

Dimitris Kontolazos, as well as the Consuls

General of New York of both Greece and

Cyprus. The show also presented noted

members of the community, from Greek

Orthodox priests of various communities and

other religious organizations (Philoptochos),

to leaders of various cultural organizations

(syllogoi) to philanthropic organizations, such

as AHEPA, all giving their endorsement of the

work that the H.R.F. has done, and will

continue to accomplish.

Over 230 individuals, cultural organizations,

businesses, and more contributed to the radiomarathon

by donating in person, over the

phone, on the Hellenic Relief website, and on

Facebook. The H.R.F. also wants to thank all

the volunteers present that day, as well as all

the Hellas FM team and H.R.F. family who

made the day a major success.

Donations are still being accepted at

The Hellenic Relief Foundation Inc. is a non

profit organization (501(c)3) and was founded

in 2012, with the goal of raising funds in the

United States to be used towards the purchase

of food items, and other basic necessities for

the underprivileged in Greece that have

increased in numbers due to the current crisis.

To date, around 700,000 dollars have been

remitted, and with donations within Greece,

as well as volunteered saocial and medicinal

services, the true value of the aid is roughly 1.5

million dollars. The expenses of the HRF are

covered by board members. For more

information their website is

Hellenic Bar Association of Illinois Foundation:

Continuing the Legacy Celebrating 70-year

commitment to education and Hellenism

by Maria A.


In 2020, many organizations

canceled events or turned to

technology. The Hellenic Bar

Association of Illinois (HBA) is

no exception. On November 7,

their charitable arm, Hellenic

Bar Association Foundation

(HBAF) hosted a virtual

v e r s i o n o f t h e i r a n nu a l

Scholarship Ball. “We wanted

everyone to still enjoy the event

but be able to do so in the comfort of their homes.

Our commitment to financially assist law students

of Hellenic descent remains steadfast,” said Koula

Alevizos Fournier, HBA president.

Hellenic Bar Association President Koula Alevizos

Fournier (right) presents an award to Immediate Past

President Vicki Pappas Karl for her service to the


HBA, one of the largest and most successful ethnic

bar associations in the United States, has a longheld

commitment to the legal community.

Founded in 1951 as a professional and social

organization, the group quickly evolved into a

force for electing Greek-American judges to the

judiciary. One year later, Member James Chelos

became the first elected Greek-American judge in

Cook County, Ill. Since then, dozens of their

members have been elected or appointed to the

judiciary. At its inception, the greater percentage

of their members were solo or small firm

practitioners. Today their diverse membership

includes attorneys representing all areas of law, in

government, judiciary, and corporations, plus

small, regional, and international firms. Through

the HBAF, the organization gives back to the

community through annual scholarships for law

students of Hellenic descent and educational

events for both current and future attorneys,

including a Law Day Essay Contest for elementary

school students.

According to its president, HBA wanted to do

something special to commemorate the event’s

70th year, to make it memorable. “Basile the

Comedian hosted the event. He attended law

school, so he has insight into the legal profession.

Plus, he relates to the audience,” Fournier said.

The pre-show cocktail hour featured Basile in a

live interactive improv comedy that segued into

the main event. His Eminence Metropolitan

Nathanael offered the invocation, then extended

congratulations to the honorees.


NOV/DEC 2020


Immediate Past President Vicki Pappas Karl

received an award for her service to HBA. “I’m

proud to be part of this organization that’s

committed to serving the Greek-American legal

community through scholarships, continuing

education, and providing legal services for the

indigent of our community through Hel.LAS

(Hellenic Legal Assistance Services).”

The organization awarded six $10,000 awards to

deserving Greek-American law students. “The

past several years, we have been able to obtain

matching donations for every dollar raised,

doubling our giving power. The Hellenic Bar is

proud to continue this legacy to preserving our

commitment to education and Hellenism by

helping law students further their education and

become the future leaders of our community,” said

Fournier. The 2020 HBAF Scholarship Recipients

are Eleni Eliopoulos, Haridimos Kouklakis, James

Heracklis, Christos Kapsalis, Nicole Mouzakiotis,

and Maria Palivos.

Eliopoulos, a second-year student at the

University of Illinois at Chicago John Marshall

Law School, is also a Nikos Mouyiaris 2030

Leadership Fellow with the Hellenic American

Leadership Council (HALC). As a HALC fellow,

she has traveled to Washington D.C. to lobby

Congress for strong foreign policy with Greece,

Cyprus, and Israel.

Well-known businessman, philanthropist, and youth

advocate John G. Manos is the 2020 Hellene of the Year

Kouklakis is a third-year law student at DePaul

University College of Law. As a proud AHEPAn,

he co-founded the Sons of Pericles (SOP)

Bloomington, Ind. and founded the Merrillville,

Ind. chapters. During his undergrad years, he

served as president and vice president of the

Hellenic Student Association.

Third-year student at the Illinois Institute of

Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law

Heracklis is the editor for the school’s Journal of

Intellectual Property. He’s involved with the

Chicago-Kent IP Clinic, and is president of the

Hellenic Law Student Association. He is also a

Patent Agent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark


Kapsalis is a third-year student at University of

Illinois College of Law and ranks in the top 10% of

Dr. Dimitrios Kyriazopoulos, founder of the United

Hellenic Voters of America with current National

Supreme Chairman Kiki StamAtiou Whitehead,

received the the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award

his class. He’s Articles Editor for the University of

Illinois Law Review, a participant in the moot

court program, and an intern for the Illinois

Attorney General’s office. He has also worked at

the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau; at

Meyer Capel, P.C. in Champaign, Ill.; and at the

United States District Court for the Northern

District of Illinois.

A second-year student at DePaul University

College of Law, Mouzakiotis also ranks in the top

10% of her class. She’s a staffer of DePaul Law

Review, a teaching assistant, and vice director of

marketing for the Jaharis Health Law Institute. She

has worked as a legal extern for Walgreens

Corporation; a legal intern at Blitt & Gaines Law

Firm in Wheeling, Ill.; and interned at the Rust-

Oleum Corporation.

Palivos, a second-year student at DePaul

University College of Law, is on the Dean’s List;

received the highest grade in legal writing; and is

on the staff of Loyola University Chicago Law

Journal. Currently, she’s a law clerk at Romanucci

& Blandin. She has interned at the Illinois

Appellate Court in Chicago and at the United

States District Court for the Northern District of

Illinois with the Honorable Charles P. Kocoras.

As part of the HBAF tradition, each year the event

honors distinguished members of the community.

“Awards are presented to prominent members of

the Greek-American community who embody

the unwavering commitment and dedication to

supporting and advancing the Hellenic

community,” added Fournier.

John G. Manos is the 2020 Hellene of the Year.

Archon Eutaxias and Archon Co-commander for

the Metropolis of Chicago, he is a well-known

businessman, philanthropist, and youth advocate.


Handbag Designer Annie Diamantis received

the 2020 Professional Achievement Award

The former president of the Pancretan

Association of America established the PAA

Mentorship Program to provide youth guidance

and assistance as they apply to and complete their

academic studies, to provide access to internships,

and lead them to job opportunities. His dedication

to youth and education is also evident in his role as

trustee of the Pan Hellenic Scholarship

Foundation. Manos received the Ellis Island

Medal of Honor in 2015. His list of accolades and

awards is numerous.

“It is not I who deserves this award for Hellene of

the Year, for all I have strived to do is continue and

mimic the work of my aunt, my parents, and the

The Hellenic Bar Association Lawyer of the Year

is Georgia Loukas Demeros, a partner at the law firm

of Thompson Coburn LLP in Chicago

Greeks who built the Hellenic community in

America. It was through their example that I

learned how to support Hellenism. If we want to

preserve Hellenism, we all must now take time and

do the work to make sure our Faith and culture is

instilled in our youth. Now we must step up and

pay it forward. Pay it forward to them by

supporting their studies, goals, and ambitions

while keeping them connected and tied to our

Greek Orthodox Faith and our rich heritage,” said


The United Hellenic Voters of America (UHVA)

and Founder Dr. Dimitrios Kyriazopoulos

received the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. K., as he is known, established UHVA in 1974,

as a nonpartisan grassroots political organization

serving the Greek-American community in the

Chicago metropolitan area. The group is

dedicated to addressing issues vital to the Greek-

American community by actively participating in

political and community affairs. Additionally,

they strive to forge close relationships with elected

officials. Today he serves as its honorary National

Supreme Chairman.

“Dr. K.’s vision for UHVA brings together Greek-

Americans to provide them a platform to be

represented,” said Kiki Stamatiou Whitehead, Dr.

K.’s stepdaughter and the group’s current National

Supreme Chairman. “Our group is unique, as we

are nonpartisan. This allows us to choose

candidates that best represent our community. We

choose people, not parties.”

A retired senior professor at DePaul University

where he taught for more than 40 years, Dr. K. has

served in leadership positions in the American-

Hellenic Organization, United Hellenic American

Congress, and AHEPA. He’s listed in the Who’s

W h o a m o n g

Hellenic American

L e a d e r s a n d

Hellenes of the


T h e 2 0 2 0

P r o f e s s i o n a l

A c h i e v e m e n t

Award recipient is

Designer Annie

Diamantidis. For

h e r c o m p a n y ,

Annie Handbags,

s h e c r e a t e s

h a n d c r a f t e d

handbags made

f rom luxurious

m a t e r i a l s ,

including exotic crocodile, python, ostrich, and

stingray, featuring bold colors and 14K gold

hardware. In homage to her Greek roots, her

creations are named after Greek Goddesses. Her

bags have caught the attention of celebrities like

Angelina Jolie, and have become “red carpet go-to

handbags”. Her collections are sold in luxury

boutiques and hotels nationwide. Her handbags

have been featured on hit TV shows like ‘Billions’

and ‘Gossip Girl’. Recently, she appeared as a

handbag expert on the new hit reality TV show,

‘Hardcore Pawn’. She has partnered with several

charities including Bear Necessities, which helps

fight pediatric cancer; Hippocratic Cancer

Research Foundation, which aims to discover,

develop, and implement effective new treatments

for cancer patients; and Save A Mother

Foundation, that helps reduce childhood

mortality in the villages it has served. “I’m

humbled and honored to be recognized and

rewarded as a distinguished member of the Greek-

American community for preserving Greek

heritage through my work as a handbag designer,”

Diamantidis said. “Dream big, know that anything

is possible if you work hard to achieve it.”

Lawyer of the Year is Georgia Loukas Demeros. A

partner at the law firm of Thompson Coburn LLP

in Chicago, she serves as an estate planning

advisor and personal general counsel to closelyheld

businesses, business leaders, and other

individuals. Her background as a CPA informs her

work. Demeros is among the 2020 Notable

Women of Law, named by Crain’s Chicago

Business. In 2010, Law Bulletin Publishing

Company named her among the “Top Forty

Lawyers Under 40 to Watch.” For the past six

consecutive years, she’s been recognized as an

Illinois Super Lawyer and in 2014, Chicago

Magazine recognized her as a “Five Star

Professional” for estate planning. She currently

serves as a member of the Academic Advisory

Board for the Accounting Department of Loyola

University of Chicago. Demeros also serves many

community organizations. She’s among the legal

advisors to The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of

Chicago and is an inaugural member of the Order

of Myrrhbearing Women, a women-led initiative

of the Metropolis. “I know that I would not have

achieved the professional successes I have

achieved without my family and my community.

My parents instilled in my siblings and me the love

of Hellenism, the Orthodox Faith, the importance

of education and hard work. And while this award

has my name on it, what it stands for and the road

leading to my professional achievements, equally

belong to my parents, and I can’t thank them

enough for their sacrifices and guidance,”

Demeros said.nShe expressed important words of

The Hellenic Bar Association Foundation awarded six $10,000 scholarships to deserving

law students. The 2020 scholarship recipients are, L-to-R: Christos Kapsalis, Nicole

Mouzakiotis, Eleni Eliopoulos, Maria Palivos, Haridimos Kouklakis, and James Heracklis

advice for our youth. “To everyone in the next

generation of Greek-Americans, please always

remember, no matter how successful you become,

never forget your Faith, your family, and your

Hellenic roots.”

Proceeds from the event and the silent auction will

apply to next year’s scholarship awards.

For more information about Hellenic Bar

Association of Illinois, their website is

*) Maria A. Karamitsos has been a positive voice in

Greek media since 2002. She was the Founder,

Publisher, & Editor of WindyCity Greek magazine.

For 10 years, she served as the Associate Editor &

Senior Writer for The Greek Star newspaper. Her

work has been published in GreekCircle magazine,

The National Herald, GreekReporter, Harlots Sauce

Radio, Women.Who.Write, Neo magazine,

KPHTH magazine, XPAT ATHENS, and more.

Maria has contributed to three books: Greektown

Chicago: Its History, Its Recipes; The Chicago Area

Ethnic Handbook; and the inaugural Voices of

Hellenism Literary Journal. She's working on her 1st

novel. Learn more at


Greeks from around the

world united in fervent

s upp or t of G re e c e ' s

economic recovery and

p r o v i d e d r e c o r d -

THI Board President breaking donations for

George P. Stamas crisis relief at the firstever

Virtual Gala of The

Hellenic Initiative on November 12, 2020.

"Phila nthropy, from the

Greek root philanthrōpia

— in Greek, φιλανθρωπία

— was on active and

continuous display last

n i g h t , " T H I B o a r d

Pre s i d e nt G e orge P.

Stamas said, "when the

Greek diaspora came together to raise $1.6

million, a remarkable sum given that our Gala

was virtual."

T H I B o a r d

C h a i r m a n

Andrew N. Liveris

s a i d , “ T h i s

pandemic is going

to be with us for a

while, so doing a

virtual gala is in

our DNA. It is in

our DNA to be

George Stephanopoulos p a r t o f t h e

r e s p o n s e

mechanism and show resilience. It is what

Hellenes are. All our ancestors and

predecessors, all the people that are inhabiting

the islands and the mainland of Greece today

know that we do thrive and survive and make

things happen in times of need. Stand tall THI,

stand tall philhellenes, stand tall Hellenes. We

will get through this and we will come out of it

stronger than ever


D e s p i t e t h e

hurdles inherent

i n a ny v i r t u a l

fundraiser, Greeks

and philhellenes

the world over

tuned in not only

to watch, but to

t a k e p a r t b y Sakis Rouvas

pledging funds to

aid their mother country. Funds raised will

provide pandemic relief and help Greek

businesses and entrepreneurs who took a huge

hit when travel restrictions devastated

Greece’s all-important travel industry. Greek

tourism, a sector normally recession- and

disaster-proof, had just begun recovering


NOV/DEC 2020

The Hellenic Initiative's

First-Ever Virtual Gala

Raises $1.6M to Aid Greece

THI Board Chairman

Andrew N. Liveris


Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, THI

Executive Committee Member

from years of

f i n a n c i a l

difficulty when

tourism slowed.

Prime Minister

of the Hellenic

R e p u b l i c

K y r i a k o s

M i t s o t a k i s ,

addressing the

global audience,

said, “For the last eight years, THI has been at

the forefront of helping Hellenes in need and

investing in a new

Gre e c e and i n

f a n t a s t i c j o b

c r e a t i o n

programs, like

ReGeneration and

t h e V e n t u r e

Impact Award.

This gala is, of

course, the largest

fundraising event

i n t h e g l o b a l

Greek diaspora.

But it also helps to build partnership and

k n o w l e d g e , s h a r i n g b e t w e e n t w o

communities, separated by geography, but

united by identity and history. That help has

been invaluable — and unprecedented.”

THI Executive Director Peter Poulos noted

that this year’s event proved challenging yet

rewarding. "So many philhellenes and Greeks

from around the world heeded the call for

support and together we hit a real home run

for investment in Greece. Thanks to robust

board leadership and a dedicated staff, results

exceeded our greatest expectations," Poulos

said. "The unseen

benefit in going

virtual was that it

enabled people

internationally to

stream our event.

M o r e o v e r ,

s p e a k e r s a n d

entertainers didn’t

n e e d to b e on

hand in New York

City or London to


Archbishop Elpidophoros

of America

Nana Mouskouri

Titled “Radiate: The Hellenic Initiative Virtual

Gala,” the event served as a vibrant call to

action, illuminating innovation as well as the

strength, and resiliency of Greece by sharing

the emotional accounts of the challenges

charities are facing on the ground as well as the

success stories of startups across different

economic sectors for which THI provides key


Co-hosted from Athens by popular Greek

singer/actor Sakis Rouvas, who also

performed, and from New York City by ABC

N e w s C h i e f A n c h o r & P o l i t i c a l

Correspondent and Greek American George

Stephanopoulos, the event included

performances and messages from well-known

G r e e k s a n d

Greeks from the

d i a s p o r a ,

including R it a

W i l s o n a n d

Christos Mastoras

who performed a

d u e t , b e l o v e d

G r e e k s i n g e r

Nana Mouskouri,

indie sensation

M o n i k a ,


Marina Satti aka SATTI, and the Greek Youth

Symphony Orchestra.

THI organized

both luxury and

charitable auction

i t e m s t h a t ,

particularly this

year, focused on

giving to those in

need. Charitable

a u c t i o n i t e m s

i n c l u d e d Diane Kochilas

p r o g r a m s f o r

hunger relief, health and social welfare

support, and vocational training. As in prior

years, Greek artists, food and wine purveyors,

luxury destinations, and fashion and jewelry

designers from around the world also came

together to donate items.

Peter Diamandis, Founder

and Chairman of the XPrize


Nia Vardalos

Founded in 2012,

THI is a global,

nonprofit, secular

i n s t i t u t i o n

mobilizing the

Greek diaspora

and philhellene

c o m mu n i t y t o

s u p p o r t

s u s t a i n a b l e

e c o n o m i c

r e c o v e r y a n d

renewal for the Greek people. THI's programs

address crisis relief through strong nonprofit

organizations and build entrepreneurial skills

in a new generation of business leaders. Since

2012, THI has committed or distributed $5.7

million in direct crisis relief and $10.1 million

i n e c o n o m i c a n d e n t r e p r e n e u r i a l

development. Last year's Gala raised more

than $2.2 million, making it the most

successful fundraising event in the Greek

diaspora globally. For more information, their

website is


σ τ ρ α τ η γ ι κ ή

Endy Zemenides is the Executive Director

of the Hellenic American Leadership

Council (HALC), a national advocacy

organization for the Greek American

community. To learn more about HALC,


Almost like clockwork, the Erdogan regime

and its enablers in the United States switched

from rhetorically assaulting candidate Joe

Biden (in August, Erdogan’s spokesman

Ibrahim Kalin accused Biden of “ignorance,

arrogance and hypocrisy” and told him “You

will pay the price”) to courting Presidentelect

Joe Biden. Perhaps encouraged by the

presence of certain individuals with a history

of appeasing Turkey on the transition team or

by overly diplomatic tweets by Biden advisors

that he was “glad to see Turkey signaling an

openness to dialogue with the next

administration”, Turkey is setting itself up for

a fresh start with the Biden Administration.

Ankara is once more employing one of its

typical tactics – rolling out Turkey apologists

in American op-ed pages. The mid-

December Washington Post opinion by Asli

Aydintasbas entitled “Trump lost Turkey.

Here’s how Biden could restore the crucial

relationship” is an egregious example of such

disingenuous spin.

Aydintasbas is a senior fellow at the European

Council on Foreign Relations, a pro-Turkey

hotspot that churns out spin for Ankara from

the likes of Carl Bidlt and Nathalie Tocci.

Aydintasbas latest contribution to the ECFR’s

poppycock on Turkey includes a particularly

cynical talking point – one perhaps designed

to appeal to the Biden team’s commitment to

fix global relationships damaged during the

Trump years: “If it wasn’t for Trump, I doubt

the Turkish leader would have purchased the

S-400 or so greatly expanded his attacks on

Turkish civil society and human rights.”

The latter claim on human rights is

particularly disingenuous. After all, Turkey’s

main assault on that front began during


By Endy Zemenides

President Obama’s second term, almost

immediately after Erdogan’s 2013 visit to the

White House. The Turkish government’s

crackdown following Gezi Park and its purge

after the 2016 coup occurred with Joe Biden

as Vice President and Tony Blinken at the

State Department. It was enough for

President Obama to decry Erdogan as “a

failure and an authoritarian” in his final

interview with Jeffery Goldberg of The

Atlantic. Turkey’s crackdown on civil society

during the Obama years was enough for the

former President – who, during his first term

spoke more to Erdogan than to any other

world leader – to make this observation in his

memoir A Promised Land: “But whenever I

listed to [Erdogan] speak. . .I got the strong

impression that his commitment to

democracy and the rule of law might last only

as long as it preserved his own power.”

Despite this rhetoric, there was no holding

Turkey to account for human rights

violations by the Obama Administration.

Aydintasbas notes the efforts of the Trump

Administration to secure the release of

Andrew Brunson, but fails to mention that

the Obama Administration had started those

efforts and merely failed to be as forceful as

Trump, who imposed limited sanctions on

Turkey. Unsurprisingly, he completely avoids

discussion of Obama’s State Department

i g n o r i n g t h e U S C o m m i s s i o n o n

Int e r n at i onal R e l i g i o u s Fre e d om’s

designation of Turkey as a “country of

particular concern” (the designation for the

worst human rights violators in the world) in


Aydintasbas goes on to incorrectly (and

deceptively) lay complete blame for Turkey

going ahead with the S-400 purchase on bad

signaling from the Trump Administration. It

is true that President Trump’s rhetoric on the

issue was horrible, and the work of Turkey’s

top appeaser in the US government –

Ambassador Jim Jeffrey – probably gave

Turkey a false sense of security, there were

countervailing signals as well. From

Congress you had: the passage of CAATSA

(Countering America’s Adversaries Through

Sanctions Act); constant pressure – both in

terms of legislation and Congressional

rhetoric – for the application of CAATSA

s a n c t i o n s . D u r i n g t h e T r u m p

Administration, the Pentagon and the State

Department made it clear that activation of

the S-400s would never be accepted in

Washington. Turkey was ejected from the

F35 program. So Aydintasbas’ assertion that

there was no pushback during the Trump

years is just not credible.

The truth is that mixed signaling – and

therefore bad signaling – is a bi-partisan

tradition in Washington. The gradual “reset”

that Aydintasbas argues for will continue that

inane and counterproductive tradition. He

argues for an “S-400 compromise”; there is no

r e a s o n t o t r u s t E r d o g a n o n a n y

“compromise”. He has demonstrated that he

can play for time. The U.S. only stands to lose

in any solution short of the S-400s being

given back or destroyed.

T h e U S h a s f i n a l l y s i g n a l e d t h a t

accountability will be the watchword for

Turkish-American relationships rather than

accommodation, or worse yet, appeasement.

We must be on the lookout for those like

Aydintasbas and his colleagues, who resists

holding Turkey accountable.

Nic Faitos of


from Finance

to Florals

Nic Faitos took his years of marketing and

advertising experience on Wall Street to stock

out of finance and stock up on perennials. In

1991 he ventured out to start his own ad

agency, and instead found himself stopping

and smelling the roses literally. With friends

and clients in the floral industry, Nic decided

to start his own fulfillment company in what

was primarily still, at that time, an inbound

market. For 25 years, Nic and his team have

been bringing beautiful, fresh flowers,

sourced locally and from afar, to various

company lobbies and reception areas

throughout New York City. Located in the

Chelsea area of NYC’s famed flower district,

Starbright Floral Design offers customcurated

flowers that are

designed with you, your

needs, your home, your

office, or your event in

mind. They offer sameday

delivery to NYC and


When Nic, short for

Nicodemus, first started

his business, he had a

couple of friends in the

floral industry. It was

still an inbound market.

Outbound marketing

that included outreach

to hotels and larger

b u s i n e s s w a s v e r y

limited, so he started to

cold call companies. He

would speak to human

resources departments

and start getting orders

in from companies like

American Express and

Ernst &Young. This was

du r i ng t h e t i m e of

b r i e f c a s e s , b i g Stephen Faitos

cellphones the size of

bricks, and all orders placed via fax. His

business model involved sub-contracting

from local florists, but as business grew so did

Nic Faitos

by Athena Efter

t h e m a g n i t u d e o f

orders. Five years later,

he decided to start his

own fulfillment venture

in 1991. By the year

2000 it grew to 65

employees and has

maintained 25 years of

solid, sustained growth,

and has b e e n ver y

successful in all aspects.

With the C ovid-19

pandemic the company

has had to refocus and

rethink its strategy. His

son Stephen, who is also

h i s b u s i n e s s

partner, and other

key employees, are

taking this time to

consider the future

and how they will

a d a p t t o t h e

changes taking place as a result of the

health crisis. In May, for example, they

saw an increase in individual orders for

the Mother’s Day holiday, after having

been a go-to florist for with big

institutions and companies throughout

the city. With offices closed and many

components needed to serve their

extensive client base, they were able to

sustain themselves through an increase in

individual orders.

Home offices are now part of the new

n o r m a l . W h y n o t m a k e y o u r

environment less drab and more colorful

with a weekly or monthly delivery of fresh

and seasonal floral

d e s i g n s , a n d a

h e a l t h y d o s e o f

a r o m a t h e r a p y ?

Many flowers and

plants have natural

healing properties

that could create a

healthy environment

for those who work

a t h o m e , n o t t o

m e n t i o n t h e

e x c i t e m e n t o f

receiving a fresh

b o u q u e t o r

a r r a n g e m e n t o f

flowers at your door.

One thing is certain.

F l o w e r s m a k e

everyone’s day a little

b r i g h t e r . M a n y

human resources

d e p a r t m e n t s a t

offices recognize

now that the future

o f f i c e i s b o t h a

h y b r i d o f h o m e

office and regular

office. They still want

to reward their employees for their hard work

through employee appreciation gifts. Flowers

are a great way way to do that.

Starbright is used to larger volume orders, so

fresh flowers arrive every 48 hours. They have

relationships with various vendors and

farmers locally and globally to bring you

seasonal flowers. Their relationships with

small businesses and enterprises helps them

give back into the workplace.

Nic lives part of the year in Greece and is an

active member of the Hellenic Chamber of

Commerce in Greece. He is also very active in

the Greek Division of the Ronald McDonald

House. One of his charitable contributions is

to collect the flowers he provides for events

and disperse them around the Ronald

McDonald House, and sends flowers to Gilda’s

Club, a cancer support community.

Fueled by a passion for the artistry of flowers,

quality, and customer service, Nic and his

Starbright team strive to bring you the best in

floral design, whether it’s your office, a

wedding, a birthday gift, an appreciation of

thanks, or a “just because”. You can always

count on your order arriving on time with the

freshest blooms and greens. Their style is

cutting edge, modern to elegant, and

traditional. They have a versatile style and

design team ready to work with your taste and

convey feelings that can’t always be adequately

expressed through other gifts.

In an evolving world that continues to look

towards greener ways of sustainability,

Starbright also wants to lead the way for eco

friendly alternatives in the floral industry here

in New York City. Starbright is currently in the

planning stages of sustainability to eliminate

plastic and offer more biodegradable options.

They are teaming up with the Garbage

Goddess, whose mission is to turn waste into

biodegradable compost, to start this initiative.

He hopes to encourage other florists to do the

same. Other programs he’s looking to create

involve recycling and repurposing vases. With

your contribution to this effort you will

receive a free bouquet of flowers.

For more information on Starbright, their

website is


NOV/DEC 2020


Turkey rejecting the post-Lausanne

order means

by Dimitris Eleas*

War is coming

opposes the construction of EastMed, the

pipeline that will be built jointly by Israel,

Cyprus and Greece, and via Italy, it will

transport the natural gas to Europe. The

agreed pipeline is also a response to the

Turkey-Libya provocative deal. Another such

response is the other mega project of the

electrical interconnection of Crete with Israel

via Cyprus.

Turkey is a country with a large population

and great ambition. Although in recent years,

economically speaking it has been marching

in the footsteps of Argentina with high

inflation and volatile economy.Recep Tayyip

Erdogan has done wonders, backed by a large

section of the Turkish society. At the same

time, is an elected Sultan with "madness of

greatness", as Le Monde once wrote. Mr

Erdogan is planning the future carefully and

from time to time, with such charisma that few

politicians have, from balconies blames in

speeches for all the misfortunes of Turkey the

Greeks! Or, Mr Erdogan sits comfortably in a

golden armchair and goes live on Turkish

television, in order to give an interview and

talk about "Blue Homeland", as this is how

Turkey describes its maritime zones. Showing

maps too, with revised borders.

Modern Turkey in its foreign policy is

behaving towards its neighbouring countries

as if they were still provinces of the Ottoman

Empire. Turkey is also known for its

confrontations with Israel. It treats the eastern

Mediterranean Sea as one private lake inside a

zoo. It is attacking Syria and this is a harbinger

of other attacks. He converts Hagia Sophia

from a museum (1934) to a mosque (2020).

But what does modern-day Turkey really

pursue? Isn't large enough a country that

occupy on the planet 783,000 square


Turkey in two neighbouring countries is also

exercising psychological violence. One

country is Greece; the other country is Cyprus

(only occupying the southern part of the

island, after the Turkish invasion of the

northern part in 1974). These countries have

weakened political leaderships, and Greece in

particular has suffered a lot after the

multilateral financial crisis of 2009-2018.

Turkey, however is constantly in breach of its

limits at sea and in the air. The Turks, too,

underestimate the recent statements by U.S.

Ambassador to Athens Geoffrey Pyatt, which

are clear regarding the inhabited islands:

"They have equal rights with the mainland",

always based on international law and

international practice. And maybe, let's just

say, it's not only psychological violence and

constant bullying, but the Greeks are directly

threatened on a daily basis by Turkey, a NATO


Turkish diplomacy, a kind of "anti-diplomacy"

in recent decades has repeatedly shown that it

does not respect Greece and grossly violates

Greece's rights to its own seas. Turkey does not

even like to hear about the maritime zones of

Greece (a de facto exercise of its sovereign

rights). Turkey went into an agreement with

the Libyan government on maritime borders

without taking into account the islands of

Crete, Rhodes, as well as the smaller Greek

islands of Kastellorizo and Strongyli. Imagine

if one would claim that Hawaii, the UK, and

Ireland don't have Exclusive Economic Zone>

In essence, Turkey signed (November 28,

2019) an agreement on "imaginary maritime

bundary" with Libya, because if one reads the

map carefully, he will see this absurdity


Turkey does not respect the maritime zones of

Cyprus either, especially after the natural gas

deposits discovered there. It also plans, from

time to time, to make its own drilling in

Cypriot waters, but also in the area that

“borders" with Libya. By exercising its military

muscle, it wants to impose "co-operation and

sharing" as far as it can in the Aegean Sea, in

t he Cypr iot S e a and in t he e astern

Mediterranean Sea. At the same time, Turkey

And in the air, things are not better; Turkey's

warplanes not only violate Greek airspace, but

thrive in the Aegean as well as in the Eastern

Mediterranean. The Hellenic Air Force is

hitting the air daily –training the Turkish

pilots– but Turkey, cunningly with the

dogfights, it manages to pass on an innocent

mouse and cat game. With so many violations,

the Turks are seeking to create a grey zone

regime all over the Aegean Sea, something

they have been trying to do since the 1996

Imia Crisis. Turks generally do what they can

to humiliate their neighbours.

Turkey behaves like a drunk bigot who holds a

knife in his hand –to mention the analyst

Panagiotis Kondylis, who was studying, day

and night, Thucydides and Carl von

Clausewitz– and lifts it up (so the knife stays in

the air). As it holds the knife, it continues to

drink, shout, punch and kick right and left.

Thus, countries like Greece, Cyprus and

Armenia must find ways to stop this

behaviour. They are mainly using diplomatic

means to appease Turkey, which in turn is not

appeased, and the futile policy that they follow

is being read by Turkey as green light to

continue psychologically blackmailing its

neighbours. The United Nations, the United

States, the European Union (led sadly by

Germany, not France) and the international

community must in turn find ways to

intervene before it is too late for peace in the

region, in the Balkans and in the world at large.

One has to stop, the long hand holding the

knife in the air, before it goes down and does

big damage.

Although the scenario of war was unlikely in

the past, it is now closer and like a ghost

hovering over the Aegean Sea and the Eastern

Mediterranean Sea. Calming tensions is only a

short-term solution since today’s Turkey

rejects the post-Lausanne order. The Treaty of

Lausanne was signed on July 24, 1923 and

enabled decades of stability. The exact day of

the anniversary in 2020, Hagia Sophia became

a mosque again. The loud symbolism speaks

for itself, and so far it is obvious that Turkey

has done wonders to bring against her the

Americans, the French, the Armenians, the

Israelis, the Arabs, the Indians, and above all,

the Greeks. The main historical rival of

Turkey, Greece must prepare for the coming

war which will be another Battle of

Thermopylae and Salamis.

*Dimitris Eleas is a New York City-based writer

and political activist. His writings in Greek

language have appeared in books, journals and

newspapers. You can contact him via his e-mail:


NOV/DEC 2020




by Uzay Bulut*

Europe has once again been targeted with

Islamist terror attacks.

On October 16, Samuel Paty, a history teacher,

was beheaded in Paris by an 18-year-old

Chechen Muslim who acquired refugge status

in France this past March. The teacher was

murdered after showing cartoons from

Charlie Hebdo depicting Islam's prophet

Muhammad to his students, during a

discussion on freedom of expression.

On October 29, three people were murdered

and several others wounded in an Islamist

knife attack in the Basilica of Notre-Dame-del'Assomption

in Nice, France; one victim was


After the attack in Nice, France raised its

nationwide terror alert status to the

"maximum emergency" level. Approximately

4,000 military personnel were deployed to

guard schools, churches, and other places of


In Vienna, on November 2, four more people

were murdered and 22 injured (including a

police officer) in another Islamist terror attack

that took place in six locations across the

Austrian capital.

After Paty's murder, French President

Emmanuel Macron defended freedom of

expression and freedom of religion:

"Our compatriot was killed for teaching, for

teaching children freedom of speech, freedom

to believe, or not to believe. Our compatriot

was the victim of a terrorist attack."

Macron added that Islam was "in crisis" and

that he would fight "Islamist separatism"

within the country. It was reported hat "the

government would present a bill in December

to strengthen a 1905 law that officially

separated church and state in France. He

[Macron] announced stricter oversight of

schooling and better control over foreign

funding of mosques."

In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip

Erdogan remarked "What's the problem of the

individual called Macron with Islam and with

the Muslims?... Macron needs mental

treatment." He also called for a boycott of

French products and was supported in

parliament by the ruling Justice and

Development Party (AKP), the Nationalist

Movement Party (MHP), the secular

opposition Republican People's Party (CHP)

and the Iyi Party.

The Turkish government's hostile reaction to

Europe is not new. Erdogan has been

threatening Europe and the rest of the West for

several years. The ongoing crisis between

Turkey and Europe appears to stem from deep

cultural and political differences between the

parties involved -- Europe that respects

freedoms and Turkey that violates them.

After the 2016 attempted coup in Turkey, the

authorities' crackdown on journalists critical

of the regime targeted Western journalists as

well, including French journalists Olivier

Bertrand and Loup Bureau.

Turkey, long a candidate for European Union

membership, has often been criticized by

Western governments and international press

organizations for its mass incarceration of


In March 2017, Erdogan, lashed out at

criticisms at an event in which he addressed

journalists in Ankara. If Europe continues its

attitude, he said, "no European and no

Westerner will be able to walk safely and

peacefully in the streets."

Erdogan pressed on, saying that Western

countries always accuse Turkey of violating

press freedom and jailing journalists. "When

we wanted a list of those [jailed] journalists...

they gave us one... The list includes everyone

from murderers to thieves, from child abusers

to swindlers. It is only journalists that are

missing in the list."

Erdogan stated that Turkey was sent a list

containing the names of 149 [journalist]

prisoners in Turkey and that the list was

examined by the government. "144 people in

the list are in jail due to terror-related crimes

and four due to ordinary crimes."

"What do these people have to do with

journalism that you send this list to our

country?," Erdogan continued. "We are aware

of their real intentions. When it is about

themselves, they have no problem shelving

democracy, rights, freedoms, justice, and

prosperity but when it comes to Turkey, they

immediately put on a mask. We have also

decided to treat those with masks like the

bandits that they are. Indeed, if you have

nothing to hide, why are you wearing a mask?

Come out courageously and say 'I have issues

with Turkey; I want it to get divided and

fragmented' so everyone can know who is


"If you open this dangerous road," he went on,

"you will be the ones to be exposed to the

greatest damage. As Turkey we call on the

European countries to respect democracy,

human rights and freedoms."

Freedom House lists Turkey as "Not free."

According to a November 16 report by the

Platform for Independent Journalism (P24), at

least 86 journalists and media workers are in

prison in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention

or serving a sentence.

Problems between Turkey and France

intensified even more following Turkey's

invasions of northern Syria: After Macron met

with Kurdish-Syrian officials (Syrian

Democratic Forces/SDF) at Elysée Palace in

March 2018, he offered to mediate Turkey-

Kurdish talks. Macron said he hoped "a

dialogue can be established between the SDF

and Turkey with help from France and the

international community."

Erdogan turned down the offer: "This is a

statement that goes beyond the limits and

height of that person [Macron]... Who gave

you such a duty? Do not engage in endeavors

that exceed your height. We don't need a

mediator. Since when has Turkey had a

problem of sitting around a table with terror

organizations? Where did you get that from?

You can sit at a table with a terrorist

organization, but Turkey fights against

terrorist organizations as in Afrin [Syria]."

Turkey's elected Dictator

Recep Tayyip Ergogan

Erdogan evidently forgot to mention that

Turkey has been hosting members of the

terrorist group Hamas, an offshoot of the

Muslim Brotherhood, while presumably

enabling them to set up bases there from

which to attack Israel. According to areport in


The Times on October 22, Hamas is secretly

operating a facility in Turkey where it

c o n d u c t s c y b e r a t t a c k s a n d

counterintelligence operations. Citing

Western intelligence sources, The Times said

the headquarters was set up two years ago and

is overseen by Hamas military leaders in the

Gaza Strip. However, Erdogan targeted France

after Macron met with Syrian Kurdish

officials: "After this attitude, France has no

right to complain about any terrorist

organization, any terrorist or terror acts.

Those who sleep with terrorists and even host

terrorists at their palace will sooner or later

understand the mistake they have made.

Those who so recklessly support these

terrorists should also be ready to account for

the consequences to the French public. The

problems we are experiencing right now

might also happen to them any time. I do not

know what more we should say or do for them

to understand we are not making jokes and do

not have the slightest tolerance for this."

On April 7, hours after a man ploughed his van

into pedestrians in Münster, Germany,

Erdogan threatened France again: "France,

you are helping terrorism, you support and

host the terrorists in the Elysee Palace. You

will not be able to account for these things. You

see what is happening in Germany, right? The

same will happen in France. The West will not

be able to get rid of this scourge of terrorism.

You will not be able to get rid of this terror

scourge. As the West feeds these terrorists, it

will sink. "

Austrian precautions against radical Islam

also seemed to anger Erdogan. In June, 2018,

the Austrian government announced it was

closing down seven radical mosques and expel

40 foreign-funded imams employed by ATIB

(Turkish-Islamic Union for Cultural and

Social Cooperation), which is connected to

Turkey's Presidency of Religious Affairs

(Diyanet). The moves followed the Austrian

“Islam Law", passed in 2015, which bans

foreign funding of religious groups and made

it a duty for Muslim organizations to have "a

positive fundamental view towards (Austria's)

state and society".

"Political Islam's parallel societies and

radicalizing tendencies have no place in our

country," said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian


Erdogan responded: "The Austrian PM... is

making calculations over closing our mosques

in Europe. Where is this going? I'm afraid

towards a crusade-crescent war; the steps

taken by this Austrian Prime Minister are

leading the world towards it. For this reason,

the Western world should pull these men

together. If they don't, these calculations will

be made differently. They say [they are] going

to kick our clergy out. So [you think] you'll do

it and we will stand idle? We will do some

things too."

That a NATO member and European Union

candidate, Turkey, is openly threatening the


NOV/DEC 2020


security of Westerners, is unprecedented. Yet,

on November 22, Erdogan called on the

European Union to "keep your promises" on

issues such as the country's membership bid

and refugees: "Even if we leave aside the

previous history, only the Ottoman Empire

had a history of 600 years in Europe. Today, we

see ourselves as an integral part of Europe."

Erdogan was referring to the centuries-long

Ottoman occupation of several European

nations such as Cyprus, Hungary and Greece.

The presence of the Ottoman Turks in Europe

was marked by wars between the Ottoman

Empire and Europe dating from the late

Middle Ages up through the early 20th

century. After destroying the Greek Byzantine

Empire in Asia Minor (today's Turkey),

Ottoman Turks waged wars against Christian

nations in the Balkans, including the

Hungarians, Bulgarians, Croatians, Greeks

and Serbs. The Ottoman Empire targeted

Central Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The Ottoman-Venetian Wars lasted for four

centuries, starting in 1423 and lasting until

1718. Christians in European nations that fell

under the Ottoman occupation became

dhimmis, second-class, tolerated, subjects of

the empire who had to buy their lives and

protection by paying a high tax, and were

systematically abused by Ottoman authorities.

One of the most abusive Ottoman practices

was the institution of "devshirme," also known

as the "child levy" or "blood tax," with which

Christian boys were forcibly abducted from

the conquered population, enslaved,

converted to Islam and later trained as

soldiers. Erdogan evidently sees the Ottoman

occupation and abuse of European nations as

Turkish "contributions" to Europe.

This current belligerence once again

demonstrates major differences between

Europe and Erdogan's regime. It is a crisis

between a mentality that respects a free press

versus a mentality that jails critical journalists.

It reveals a mentality that wants to preserve the

safety of its citizens versus a mentality that

aims to force others to submit to its demands

through threats and use of terror. It is a

mentality that stubbornly believes in violating

and even trying to invade the territories of its

neighbors versus one that tries to resolve

issues through dialogue and negotiation.

As the president of France, Macron has the

responsibility to protect the security and

freedom of expression of his citizens. It is

Erdogan's regime who targets the safety and

freedoms of Europeans -- as well as

Amerinias, Syrians, Iraqis, and many of his

own Turks.

T h i s a r t i c l e w a s f i r s t p u b l i s h e d i n Gatestone Institute, a

non-partisan, not-for-profit international

policy council and think tank is dedicated to

educating the public about what the

mainstream media fails to report.

Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist, is a

Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone



in a Box:

a new online



Greece in a Box is a freshly built online

platform with a unique collection of

award-winning documentaries about

Greece, available for rent or purchase.

Greece in a box was created to allow an

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Special focus is

given to projects

p r o m o t i n g

Greek history,

i d e n t i t y a n d

culture. From

Greece’s most

famous musical

clan in Crete, to

t h e u p l i f t i n g

story of Greek

villagers w ho

tackle the world

m a r k e t w i t h

o r g a n i c

tomatoes, and the human experience of

population exchange between Greece

and Turkey in 1922, the platform offers

an amazing selection of films that capture

the people, stories and events from

Greece’s past.

Many of the films in the selection are

accompanied by educational kits that

offer children, families and teachers the

chance to delve into important issues

c o n n e c t e d t o G r e e c e . T h e s e

documentaries are also recommended

f o r s c r e e n i n g s w i t h i n s c h o o l s ,

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The films are intended for private use and

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viewing. For further information about

public or educational screenings, you can

contact them at

Another planet in his galaxy is the Greek

Orthodox church. He’s sung in church choirs

since his teens. This grounding experience, he

said, not only feeds his creativity, but also his



His musical diversity is indeed a study in

contrasts, however, there’s yet another layer to

Mezilis, like another planet, that’s led him on

an exciting new orbit.

“I’ve always been interested in astronomy,

astrophysics, and cosmology. When I attended

UC Berkeley, a team there was actively

discovering the first extra solar planets. It

fueled my curiosity. I did take astronomy

courses but they were quite remedial; I got

bored and instead concentrated on my music


by Maria A.


Musician Jason Achilles

M e z i l i s i s a s t u d y i n

contrasts, an artist of many

layers and dimensions. Peel

aw ay t hose l ayers and

discover a trained classical

pianist, a rock guitarist, an

orchestral composer, and producer. Find a

member of the choir at St. Sophia Greek

Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles.

Continue, to reveal at his core, a science

enthusiast who’s channeled his creativity into

partnerships with NASA. This proud Greek-

American weaves all his interests into his

work, which now catapult him onto an out of

this world odyssey.

Mezilis is the son of a Greek immigrant father

from Elassona, Thessaly; and an American

mother. Born in Evanston, Illinois, his family

relocated briefly to Michigan, then settled in

Cupertino, California, where his father

worked in Silicon Valley during the early years

of computer development. “We didn’t speak

Greek at home. I did go to Greek school, but I

didn’t have any Greek friends. Though my

family always called me Axilleas, I didn’t begin

to realize the influence of my Greek heritage


NOV/DEC 2020

Art & Science

Converge for an

Out of this World


Musician Jason Achilles Mezilis

channels his passion for astronomy

into a partnership with NASA


and truly embrace it until I was in my 20s.

Adding Achilles to my stage name really

brought my heritage to the forefront. It’s hard

to ignore a guy named Achilles, and it’s easier

for folks to remember,” he says.

Like planets in the solar system, his many

interests revolve around a smoldering sun of

creativity. It began in his youth.

Feeling intimidated by his father’s expertise as

a classical guitarist, from the age of eight,

Mezilis instead became enamored with and

studied classical piano. He began listening to

rock music soon after and began teaching

himself all the guitar parts on the piano. “But

then hearing Eddie Van Halen changed

everything. I fell in love with the guitar.” He

also plays baglama. He’s combined all of these

influences into his compositions.

During a career spanning more than two

decades, and now touring internationally as

an experimental rock multi-instrumentalist,

he’s played with many diverse musicians.

Mezilis also composes for other artists, and

has written music for film, TV, and video


Years ago, in an interview, he expressed that if

he weren’t a musician, he’d be “doing

something in the science world. “When I was

in Kindergarten, I saw a model of the solar

system. It blew my mind. I also recall the first

time I saw Jupiter through a telescope. I could

see the clouds on the surface. Later, I saw a

solar eclipse and became enamored with

science fiction. I’ve always loved anything to

do with space, but until a few years ago, I never

did anything professionally.”

He said as time progressed, he felt something

missing. “My artistic side was chugging along,

but a whole other aspect of me was unfulfilled.

It seemed impossible to do something in the

space industry without a degree. I studied a

lot. I started having these crazy ideas and

randomly emailed scientists. Then one day,

the microphone idea came along.”

His research revealed that for 20 years, people

attempted to develop a microphone that could

record sound in space but hadn’t succeeded.

As a musician and producer, he knew about


“The idea bolted through me like an electric

shock. I’d stumbled upon this rare crossroads

between space and audio. I could leverage my

professional life with my interest in the space


Following six months of research, in fall 2016,

he contacted NASA. “I was on tour with my

band on the East Coast when I received

NASA’s response. They were interested and

wanted to meet via phone. After a late night

performance, while my band was still passed

out on our buddy’s living room floor, I got up

early that next morning for a call, quickly

slamming a coffee to stir my brains. It was one

of the most surreal experiences.”

Impressed, NASA moved forward on the

project with Mezilis as a consultant. He

teamed up with Caesar Garcia, a microphone

designer and engineer. “We clicked right away.

He was equally excited for the project. When

he told me he competed as a 10m diver for the

U.S. in the 2004 Athens Olympics, and started

talking about his adventures in Greece, I knew

we had a good vibe.”

Jason Achilles

Mezilis explains

testing on

the ExoCam

Several months later, they presented their

design plan at the NASA Jet Propulsion

Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena. “What an

honor to be selected and work with their team.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have the budget to

develop our custom design, but later with our

input, selected an off-the-shelf component.

We chose an existing microphone we felt

could survive the trip, the conditions, and do

the job.”

Mezilis gives public talks about the

microphone’s development and how he came

t o work w it h NA S A . Hi s s c i e nt i f i c

presentations include IPM2018 Workshop on

Instrumentation for Planetary Research in

Berlin, and a lecture on transformative lunar

science at Microsymposium 60 in Houston,

Texas. “When I present a public lecture to folks

about this Mars microphone development, we

include music performances before or after,

and tie the music into it. It’s a really fun

marriage of my interests.”

The Mars Perseverance Rover mission,

outfitted with the microphone, launched this

past summer. He attended. “Witnessing a

rocket launch is awesome. It’s overwhelming,

especially that I helped put something on it. I

confess, I got emotional.”

The trip to Mars takes six months. The

microphone he contributed to is set to record

the landing sequence in mid-Feb 2021. “Likely

it will take a few weeks to get the audio back.

It’s unclear when we’ll be able to hear it.

Transmission and bandwidth are at a

premium, so it will take some time.”

Fueled by the experience, Mezilis wanted to

work with NASA again, but this time, as a

project leader. Ideas swirled in his head. One

day serendipity intervened when, performing

as a musical guest at an astronomy lecture in

Pasadena in late 2018, Mezilis met Rex

Ridenoure, a 40-year veteran of the space


He shared his idea for a novel camera design

he called “ExoCam” (from the Greek word for

“outside”) that would remotely capture video

of rockets landing on other worlds. People

would see something never before witnessed.

“I had originally wanted to outfit a camera on

the 2020 Perseverance Rover to Mars. It was a

little late for that mission, but we found

another application. Rex

has been involved in

developing cameras for

space since the Space

Shuttle days. He was

intrigued; one of the few

who said this was not

impossible. We started

working on it together.””

An initiative by President

Trump paved the way.

“The President refocused

NASA funding for moon

projects, in hoping to

achieve a human landing

on the Moon by 2024. I reformulated the

camera proposal for lunar development.”

In early 2019, with Rex’s assistance, Mezilis

secured a five-minute presentation spot at a

lunar and planetary science conference

outside Houston. There, he introduced the

idea to the space community. Quickly

momentum began to grow.

To date, they’ve received $650,000 in NASA

support and joined forces with spacecraft

technology developer Honeybee Robotics for

systems engineering. Rex’s company, Ecliptic

Enterprises Corp., will provide avionics, and

Arizona State University is supporting the

data and image analysis. Masten Space

Systems is the rocket provider, supporting a

suborbital test flight scheduled for summer


In addition to fundraising and development,

they’re working toward becoming an official

part of a moon mission. “NASA creates and

supports development of so many exciting

things. Their interest in our project stems

from the many possible applications in the

world of science explorations.”

The cornerstone of their funding agreement

with NASA is to help understand the

properties of lunar dust and how that will

affect future landing missions. “Imaging

technology is important. Following the

lessons of the 1986 Challenger disaster, the

Space Shuttle program employed more

cameras because in certain situations they

found it’s the only way scientists can actually

see what’s right or wrong. This novel camera

view of lunar landings that we’ve developed

will similarly allow engineers to make many

important future design changes, from a lunar


Mezilis relishes his experience working with

NASA and said they’re incredibly supportive.

“NASA’s funding program is well-catered to

support start-ups and private industry. Our

government has some very cool support

systems for small businesses, though at first,

they can be difficult to navigate. I have nothing

but good things to say about NASA.”

He said that this creativity is fueling his other

art. “I’ve got a lot of ideas coming and they’re

flowing in all my work.”

His inner “little boy science nerd” is still in

disbelief. “Presenting to a conference of the

leading lunar and planetary scientists is more

t e r r i f y i n g t h a n j u m p i n g o u t o f a n

airplane—and I’ve done both. It’s a tough

community of brilliant individuals, but their

willingness to hear these kinds of ideas from

an outsider is remarkable. NASA has granted

me project leadership status, which is mindblowing.

Sometimes I can’t sleep because I’m

too excited thinking about it.”

His imagination continues to grow. “When

you’re five, it’s all about imagination. As a

teenager, I imagined myself playing on huge

stages. I’ve done that. Imagination is never in

short supply. The difficulty is to force myself to

stop dreaming and start doing. I never

imagined I could do this.”

His odyssey on a new course, more ideas

formulate, though Mezilis is primarily focused

on fundraising for the ExoCam project. “We’re

off to a good start, but we have a long way to


Jason Achilles Mezilis

in the Studio - Ready to Launch

Always encourage little ones to dream and to

follow their passions. We never know where

these odysseys will lead. They just might

catapult them out of this world.

To learn more on Achilles you can check at

You can also see a video with Jason Achilles

Mezilis testing on the Lunar ExoCam Static

Camera, his latest project with NASA, at

*) Maria A. Karamitsos has been a positive

voice in Greek media since 2002. She was the

Founder, Publisher, & Editor of WindyCity

Greek magazine. For 10 years, she served as the

Associate Editor & Senior Writer for The Greek

Star newspaper. Her work has been published in

GreekCircle magazine, The National Herald,

GreekRepor ter, Harlots Sauce Radio,

Women.Who.Write, Neo magazine, KPHTH

magazine, XPAT ATHENS, and more. Maria

has contributed to three books: Greektown

Chicago: Its History, Its Recipes; The Chicago

Area Ethnic Handbook; and the inaugural

Voices of Hellenism Literary Journal. She's

working on her 1st novel. Learn more at


Mavroudis' Time

cover for the 200,000

of Covid in the US

The calendar showed September 21st, 2020,

when TIME magazine for the second time in

its history – the first was after the September

11 attack - had featured a black border on its

cover, designed by the hand of the Greek-

American graphic designer and one of the

most influential and talked-about illustrators,

John Mavroudis, paying tribute to the 200,000

dead from Covid-19.

As the San Francisco-based artist says to NEO,

he picked up the numbers from Johns

Hopkins University, he drew line after line of

Date, Number, and the word “Deaths’’, over

and over. Until the page was practically full.

He then colored the dates in grey in order to

make the death count stand out more. From

there it was a matter of expanding some of the

lettering so that it formed the number 200,000

while still keeping the type readable on the

daily death count.

“TIME had only done that once. Coronavirus

has killed the same amount of Americans that

died on 9/11, but in a 3-day period. EVERY

three days. But there was no national outrage.

There was no emotional trauma, no video of a

plane hitting a building or a building melting

before our eyes. This was a catastrophe every

day. Quietly, methodically taking lives without

the pizazz or flash of an explosive event. The

country was growing numb to this true

American carnage’’.

America’s failure

by Kelly


John Mavroudis

Mavroudis believes that America’s failure to

deal with the pandemic was magnified by an

John Mavroudis

The multi-awarded illustrator of TIME

and The New Yorker

incompetent leader who couldn’t display an

ounce of empathy because he simply has none.

‘’The only thing Trump cares about is if

coronavirus affects him personally, or affects

his re-election chances. He doesn’t even

give a shit about his own supporters, unless

it would be a problem to cast a vote for him.

So he lies about his “hoax” and sneers at

people wearing masks. To compound

matters, his political party is not simply a

cult of yes-men fawning all over his every

utterance… too fearful that he’ll send an

angry Tweet their way. It’s pretty pathetic

and no way to run a country…. But in a

crisis like this? A pandemic? It’s a death

sentence for thousands”.

‘’Greek relatives gave me the passion for


He was just a kid when he heard at his

grandparents’ house his uncle Anastasis

and aunt Clio talking about politics. They

subscrib e d to Nat ional L amp o on

magazine and they were also making fun of

politicians. When he started going to college,

he was interested in politics and this seemed

like a perfect place to combine love of art and

politics. So he became the political cartoonist

for college’s newspaper.

“It was pretty fun trying to come up with new

ideas. Ever since those days, I’ve always tried

to keep my brain busy with idea-generation’’,

he says adding that he was also inspired by

Greek Mythology.

‘’The visual storytelling involved and the

simple, yet powerful imagery is something

that inspires me daily. To be able to combine

ideas and convey them in a way to make

people think. I owe a great debt to my Greek


Blending his drawings with type, Mavroudis

has been awarded many times for his covers.

When he was young and reading TIME

magazine, he could not imagine that in a few

years the covers of the emblematic publication

would have his signature.

‘’I grew up seeing TIME magazine on our table

every week. My parents subscribed and I was

always fascinated by the covers. When I got

older, I started really appreciating The New

Yorker, as well for the amazing journalism and

the iconic covers. They’re the pinnacle of

American print media, along with The New

York Times and the Washington Post’’, the

Greek – American illustrator says.

He admits that making covers is a very

humbling experience, as many of his ideas that

he still thinks would have been perfect covers,

were rejected.

‘’I still submit ideas that occur to me, knowing

full-well that it’s ALWAYS a long-shot to be

accepted. The difficulty doesn’t deter me’’

As for his awards, he confides in NEO that

every time he is distinguished for his work, he

feels so elated but also embarrassed by the


‘’I’ve come to realize that recognition does

help motivate. I went years turning in work

without much coming from it, and that can be

demoralizing. It makes you question yourself

and your value. But I’ve also learned that

sticking to it and building up a body of work

you’ll be proud to show your child is

something to strive for. The awards are nice,

for sure but the work that can stand the test of

time is the true measure’’.

‘’Greece was a dream trip for me”

The highly acclaimed artist has only been in

Greece once. His father was a Greek who was

born in Alexandria, Egypt, so he took a trip to

both countries.

‘’We visited relatives in Athens and Volos and

also went to Delphi, Kefalonia, and Poros. I

loved the historic sites, the food, the people.

My favorite memory is sitting in the café for

hours, drinking retsina, eating amazing food,

listening to music, and just talking and

laughing. I hope to go back very soon. I want

to take my wife and my daughter, Athena, to

visit this beautiful country’’, he says ending up

that he is very proud to be Greek.


NOV/DEC 2020


Historic Brooklyn

Diner Struggles

to Survive Another


by Athena Efter

Irene Siderakis, owner of Brooklyn’s iconic

Kellogg’s Diner is tired. She might even say fed

up, but she continues to persevere despite the

hardships her business is facing. She didn’t

sign up for this business. Her husband Chris

did, back in 2013. Irene was a stay-at-home

mom. Two years later, her husband died

unexpectedly, and she was left to take over a

business she knew nothing about.

It hasn’t been an easy road for Irene. Alone,

faced with bills, four children, and a business

she inherited, she did what any strong woman

would do. She picked herself up by her

bootstraps and learned the ropes through trial

and error. She may have, at first, been very

green at this once well-greased machine, but

she learned the hard way, which is often fast

and furious. She has been taken advantage of

and swindled by others looking for control

and an opportunity through her inexperience,

whether it’s a fixer upper or buying something

for the diner. It cost her thousands of dollars.

With tears in her eyes and her voice shaking,

she tells me the truth: “You name it. It’s

happened to me, because when you are so

vulnerable, and at your darkest moment, there

are very few good people who won’t take

advantage of you, but there are many that

come here that will take advantage you and act

as if they are helping you, but in reality they are

not. They helped me become stronger and

learn. Even though it’s been painful, I am

grateful to them because I learned the hard

way.” She managed to learn and run ship like a

pro, so to fail now would be a big tragedy.

Irene is the owner of Brooklyn’s iconic

Kellogg’s Diner on Metropolitan Avenue in

Williamsburg. The diner has been around

since 1928, and now, because of the Covid 19

pandemic, has been operating on a limited

schedule, after having been shut down in

March. The diner is known for its overnight

business, as a 24/7 dining operation. After

having been pressured by others to sell, Irene

decided firsthand to ride out the storm and see

for herself what it’s worth, but she’s struggling,

like many small business owners and

restaurants right now.

Diners, especially New York City diners, are

known for their round the clock business –

breakfast, dinner, lunch, and all that’s in

between - including business deals over cups

of coffee where you can sit in booths with

plenty of refills and privacy. Then there’s the

overnight crowd, the throngs of twenty

somethings pouring in from the bars and

clubs for that hangover prevention breakfast

or very late night three course dinner. You

name it. You can get it at the diner any time,

any day, any hour. Seeing Irene in action I

could see she is a woman for all hours.

With all the determination that gives her that

Brooklyn sass, she poured out all her

struggles, in between getting up and greeting

customers, and making sure everyone was

being compliant with health guidelines. She

was courteous and hospitable. Her customers

know her. It’s like a home away from home for

many people in a big city that can often lend

itself to loneliness. Where are you going to go

if not the 24-hour diner for company or a bite

to eat at 3am after slaving away for hours

composing your Broadway masterpiece? At

no time did she allow more than the 25%

capacity in what is a very big diner, with plenty

of space for social distancing. If you were

picking up food to go, you had to wait in the

vestibule area, behind a partition of glass

doors, at the entrance of

the diner. Everything felt

safe and well-managed.

Irene is taking this virus

s e r i ously. What she

doesn’t understand, like

m a n y o f u s , i s t h e

hypocrisy and lack of

s u p p o r t f o r s m a l l

businesses. Her grueling

question remains: “Why

must we have a time limit

on how late or early

business e s c a n s t ay

open?” Taking half of her

day away creates crowds

that want to come in all at

once. She questions why

the lockdown isn’t fair all

across the board.

Food is an essential business. Supermarkets

and other big retail chains are seemingly not

bound to a 25% capacity rule, but yet her

restaurant is not only compliant, but could use

the extra hours under her efforts of

compliancy. It still won’t be near enough to

cover her losses. It won’t offer a guarantee that

there is no turning off of electricity at 25%

capacity round the clock, but round the clock

is better than watching the clock and shutting

down when you could be generating the

needed income to help sustain your business.

Irene already suffered a loss when she had to

shut down in March. The initial plan was to

shut down for two weeks, but then she

contracted Covid. She shut down her business

for 7 weeks for the safety of her employees, all

of whom were grateful for the decision she

made. She is also a mom, and runs her

business like a mom. There was no

compromising their safety, but with promise

to give them their jobs back as things return to

normal. Things did not return to normal. She

eventually had to let many of her employees go

with heavy heart. When she reopened on May

1st, she couldn’t hire much of her staff back

b e c au s e b u s i n e s s h a s b e e n f u r t h e r


With her PPP loan, she was able to re-open

right away. It was her priority to pay her

employees, but that PPP lasted only eight

weeks. She still lost 75-80% of business, even

with an increase in take-out and delivery. Her

rents and notes are all based on a 24-hour

business. All she can she can pay right now is

payroll and food vendors, and is behind

schedule. Her debts are piling up and she is

trying to catch up. For the government to shut

her down like this, after all the work she put in

to save the diner, seems egregiously unfair.

She’s not just advocating for herself but for all

small business owners. She continued to site

the many inconsistencies that she considers to

be small business discrimination.

Her greatest frustration is that they send

guidelines, but they give you no real plan. She

shows me the NY Food Safety Plan Template.

In essence, you have to come up with the plan.

S h e h a s P P E

everywhere, from hand

sanitizers to signage, to

employees wearing

masks and wiping down

t a b l e s a n d s e a t s

constantly. She has to

pay for any additional

PPE or other needed

upgrades mandated by

the city as a result of a

global pandemic.

The government can’t

go to Plan A without a

Plan B, according to

Irene. She pointed out

that Long Island was

able to open up at 50%

in the summer, but New

York City was still shut down: “There were no

border controls or temperature checks, so how

did Covid not spread there? We don’t have a

problem listening to certain rules that they

think are good for the public, but they can’t

just shut down a whole economy without

helping us first. Things are still running, bills

are still running, people’s lives are still going

on. They need to come up with a plan first. All

they know how to do is shut us down. This is a

domino effect that hurts everybody, not just

me. Landlords need the revenue to pay their

real estate and property taxes. They have to

give a break to everyone. We need relief. This

was not done because didn’t pay bills. I feel like

I am getting punished for something that was

put upon us. The diner cannot sustain another

shutdown. My workers can’t afford it. I can’t

afford it. It’s not just me. It’s all of us who

depend on the businesses that are getting shut

down for our livelihood.”

Chris and Irene Siderakis with their

children Themis, Billy, Marios and Demetris

On Monday, December 14 New York shut

down again...


NOV/DEC 2020





Silent Partners to Empire:

The Greeks and Serbs who helped

build the Austrian and Russian Empires

Alexander Billinis is a writer and lawyer in Chicago,

Illinois. He and his family returned to the US after

nearly a decade in Greece, the UK, and Serbia. He writes

prolifically on Balkan topics. His books, The Eagle has

Two Faces: Journeys through Byzantine Europe, and

Hidden Mosaics: An Aegean Tale, are available from

History favors the headlines rather than the

fine print. Not unlike social media today, what

is usually remembered are the posts and tweets

rather than the long, complicated, but often far

more rewarding reads. In the details, all too

often, you find the realities, ones easily

overlooked to the point when they are no

longer the realities and we are left, instead, with

the often rather empty headlines.

In the case of the southward expansion of the

Austrian and Russian Empires against the

heretofore dominant Ottomans, in the

hundred years between the Ottomans’ defeat at

the gates of Vienna in 1683 and the Russian

annexation of the Crimea in 1783, the

headlines are indeed few. Most students of

history will know that the Russian, and

particularly the Austrian, empires were

multiethnic and that this would eventually

figure prominently in the collapse of both. Few

will know, however, that in both empires

Greeks and Serbs formed key ethnic elements.

This is a story deserving to be told, for any

number of reasons. First, because it is true, and

it is an example of “silent minorities” forming

the backbone of imperial success. Second,

because this imperial experience transformed

both the empires in question and fostered

revolutionary activity in both the Greek and

Serbian homelands. Finally, because the fate of

these silent minorities is worth considering.

The Battle for Central Europe and the Black

Sea basin was a long drawn out series of wars to

remove the Ottomans from conquests won in

the early 1500s, when the Ottoman Empire was

at its height and all Europe trembled before

them. Even though the Ottomans’ defeat at

Vienna was a key turning point, and in the next

decade and a half a vast territory would be

liberated from Ottoman rule, the see-saw

battles and destruction continued. Around the

same period, the Russian state also sought to

push back the Ottomans who commanded the

entire Black Sea littoral, the key Crimean

Peninsula, and much of the Ukrainian and

Caucasian hinterlands. As in Central Europe,

victories went back and forth, and territories

changed hands, often resulting in scorched

earth and depopulation.

Eventually, first on the Austrian frontier and

later on the newly Russian Black Sea coast, the

borders stabilized as these European states

consolidated their gains behind natural

barriers, the Danube and Sava Rivers for the

Austrians and the Black Sea coast and

Caucasus Mountains for the Russians. Much of

their new possessions were wastelands,

ravaged by fire and sword for decades, with no

production or economy. Neither Austria nor

Russia were particularly wealthy states in

comparison to the Atlantic countries of


Enter the “Silent Partners”

The Orthodox population of the Ottoman

Empire chafed under Turkish rule and viewed

the advance of Austria towards the Balkans

favorably, though with a degree of skepticism.

Austria was a Roman Catholic power and

Catholics were hostile to Orthodoxy, as the

Orthodox Greeks under Venetian rule could

attest. As an Orthodox power, Russia held a

more natural appeal to Greeks, Serbs, and the

other Balkan Orthodox. For their part, the

Russians and Austrians were only too glad to

use the Balkan Orthodox populations for

support in their campaigns against the Turks.

This included deep Austrian incursions into

the heart of Ottoman held

Serbia, and an attempt in

the Russo-Turkish war of

1770-1774 to open a

s e c ond f ront i n t h e

Pe l op on n e s u s . B ot h

attempts f a i l e d a n d

re s u lted i n h or r i f i c

Ottoman revenge against

the rebellious Orthodox,

prompting many to quit

the Ottoman Empire for

the Russian and Austrian



The San Nicola Greek Orthodox Church,

Trieste Waterfront, built 1792

Since the Treaty of Passarowitz (Pozarevac) in

1717, Ottoman citizens could trade and

establish themselves in the Austrian Empire.

Tens of thousands of Greeks and Serbs

answered the call, setting up extraordinarily

strong merchant colonies in several Austrian

cities, most notably the main Austrian port of

Trieste, where Greeks and Serbs dominated

shipping and commerce. Due to geographical

proximity, the Serbs were by far the largest

number of Orthodox immigrants, and they

settled whole villages as farmers and soldiers,

policing the Austro-Turkish frontier as loyal

Habsburg soldiers for two centuries.

The Russians also heavily leaned on the

Orthodox of the Ottoman Empire. Here the

Greeks tended to dominate in terms of

numbers. Thousands quit the Peloponnesus

and other parts of Greece to settle the newly

conquered Black Sea territories, bolstered in

several waves (up to 1920) by Greeks from the

Black Sea coast of Turkey. Bulgarians also

settled heavily in parts of the newly liberated

Russian territory (known then as Novorossiya

“New Russia” and now part of the Ukraine),

where Serbian farmers settled in the interior.

The new port city of Odessa quickly boasted a

l arge Gre e k s h ippi ng and m e rchant

p o p u l a t i o n , a n d a s t h e U k r a i n i a n

chernozemlya (black soil) began to be plowed

up, Greeks played a key role in the grain trade.

It might almost be said that the export trade of

Black Sea Russia was “subcontracted” to

Greeks, who, whether subjects of the Tsar or

not, had the right after the Treaty of Kucuk

Kaynardji (1774) to fly the Russian flag.

Greeks and Serbs never forgot about their

h omeland, e v e n a s t h e y w e re of t e n

phenomenally successful subjects of the

Hapsburg and Romanov Empires. Though the

Austrians were Catholic, they granted

toleration to their Orthodox subjects, though

they required that Orthodox Churches

conform to Austrian baroque styles, which is

why Serbian and Greek Orthodox churches in

the former Austrian Empire, including in

S e r b i a’s Vo j v o d i n a

province, look remarkably

Western in appearance.

Greeks and Serbs fostered

cultural and linguistic

e d u c a t i o n i n t h e i r

communities, and actively

endowed institutions back

i n t h e i r O t t o m a n

homelands, which raised

t he l e vel of c u ltural

awareness and the desire

for Greeks and Serbs to

“rejoin Europe” and claim

their place at the table. The

first Greek newspaper was in Vienna, and it

was from Austrian Trieste that Rhigas

Pheraios, the first martyr of Greek (and

Serbian) independence was to set out to fan the

flames of revolution in the Balkans. A Greek

betrayed him to the Austrian police, recalling

the Greek saying that “Where there is a

Thermopylae one will find an Ephialtes

(traitor).” Without the financial, cultural, and

moral support of the Austrian or Russian based

diasporas, there would not have been

successful revolutions in either Greece or


When the time for action came, these diasporas

were heavily involved in the conflict. The

Secret Society dedicated to Greece’s liberation,

the Philike Etairia, was founded in Odessa in

1814. The first salvoes of the conflict were fired

in Romania, by Russo-Greek volunteers, many

of them on a leave of absence from the Russian

army. Serbians living on the other side of the

Austrian frontier readily aided their brethren

to the south, despite the official hostility of the

Austrian (and the Russian) regimes for any

revolutionary activity. Many Greeks and Serbs

returned to the emergent states, some

integrated into the local ruling class, yet others,


NOV/DEC 2020


the majority, stayed in the Diaspora. They

remained dedicated to their Greek and Serbian

heritage and fostered business links with the

homeland when possible. Yet the slow pace of

assimilation continued, particularly in the

Russian Empire where they were among

coreligionists. It is quite common to find

Hungarians or Austrians with Greek and

Serbian ancestors, and in Russia, large,

cohesive Greek communities have remained to

this day, though far more assimilated into the

Southern Russian and Ukrainian populations.

Greeks and Serbs always answered the call of

their adopted countries.

What Remains

In the former Austria-Hungary, most of the

Greek and Serbian communities have largely

assimilated, though Vienna remains a huge

Serbian Diaspora center, largely recent

economic immigrants. A portion of the

Serbian migration into the Austrian Empire

was absorbed into Yugoslavia in 1918, but with

the independence of Croatia in 1991 and the

subsequent war, hundreds of thousands of

Serbs were forced to flee the homes they

inhabited for centuries, as soldiers and farmers

defending and building the Hapsburg Empire.

The northern Serbian province of Vojvodina

remains as a legacy of this community, united

with the Serbian motherland yet proud of their

distinct culture, which includes an unusual

tolerance for the 23 other nationalities resident

in a province a bit smaller than Massachusetts.

The vast swath of Serbian settlement in today’s

Hungary has disappeared. According to a

professor in Budapest’s Nikola Tesla High

School, which remains one of the best Serbian

high schools anywhere, the Hungarians

actively forced assimilation on the Serbs over

the past one hundred years, so that a

community numbering 300,000 in 1918 is less

than 3,000 today, even as there remain about

300,000 Hungarians in Serbia’s Vojvodina

province. All over Hungary I have found empty

Serbian Orthodox Churches, often ornate with

large courtyards, testimony to a prosperous

and proud community that helped make the

empire possible.

In Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia, the situation

was somewhat more complicated. The Serbian

farmers in the Ukrainian interior quickly

assimilated among coreligionists who spoke a

similar language, with only a few place names

to indicate any difference from their neighbors.

For the Greeks, it was a different matter.

Though the vast majority did assimilate into

the large Ukrainian and Russian population,

the density of their settlements, primarily on

the coasts, with constant inflows of immigrants

and refugees, and the advanced Greek

maritime network meant that the Greeks

remained both distinctive as a community and

vital to the southern Russian economy. The

community was bolsted by wave after wave of

Pontic Greeks fleeing Turkish genocide. The

Greeks also felt autochthonous there; Greeks

had settled the Black Sea since classical times,

including the Crimea. In spite of, or in Stalin’s

bizarre logic, because of their key role, they

were often sent to Central Asian exile during

the Stalinist era, and others still faded into

Soviet assimilation. By the 1980s, though there

were still about one million recognizable

Greeks in the Soviet Union, and no doubt there

were millions more with some Greek ancestry.

A good portion would then seek to return to

Greece via the right of return Greece grants to

those of Greek descent. My military unit when

I served in the Greek Army was at least fifteen

percent born in the ex-Soviet Union. In the

1990s there was some hope that the Greek

presence, bolstered by the Greek Merchant

Marine and a relative strong Greek economy,

might be revived but by and large the region

remains depressed and the old glories of the

Greek maritime diaspora are just memories

forgotten even by the Greeks.

This is not to suggest that there is a lack of

academic work on these communities. There

certainly is, and some of the best Greek,

Serbian, and Russian historians have compiled

excellent studies. Often enough though history

is written for other historians, rather than for

the public at large. The context is key and often

it is missing, or misled. For me, both as a writer

and as a historian (in training), the role that

Greeks and Serbs played in the wider world is

extremely important. Far too often history is

headlines, and the textual details are forgotten,

to the point where they cease to be details or

history at all. To turn around the narrative

requires us to know the textual details and to

turn these into headlines. The history is there,

it is our history, and it helped to make their

history. The context—that is up to us.

“The Lame Angel”,

a Greek Novel now in the US

Author Alexis Panselinos

Recital Publishing from Woodstock, NY

brings an acclaimed Greek novel to Englishspeaking

readers. The Lame Angel by Alexis

Panselinos was originally published in Greek

by Kedros in 2002. Its only English translation,

by Athens-based author/editor Caroline

Harbouri, is now available from booksellers


The Lame Angel is set in Athens during the

Nazi occupation and tells the story of an

injured private eye from New York facing

difficulties at every turn, but aided by a

mysterious gift. It tinges the bleak with the

whimsical, a unique mix of gritty history and

magical realism.

"Truly heartrending pictures of occupied

Athens and yet imbued with a discreet, crisp

sense of humor," writes Vangelis Hadjivasiliou

of Eleftherotypia newspaper.

Alexis Panselinos read Law at the University of

Athens and worked as a practicing lawyer. His

first book, a collection of stories, appeared in

1982 to great acclaim. In 1985 his novel The

Great Procession won the State Prize. His novel

Zaida or A Camel in the Snow was nominated

for the 1997 European Literary Award. The

Dark Inscriptions received the Novel Prize

from Diavazo literary magazine in 2012. His

latest novel Light Greek Songs won the 2018

Prize of the Athens Academy. His novels have

been widely translated in French, German,

Italian, Polish and Romanian. He has received

the Great Award for Life Achievement from

the eminent literary magazine O Anagnostis

(The Reader). He lives in Athens, Greece.

Philoptochos Turns 90

and Expands its Mission

“To help the poor, the destitute, the hungry,

the aged, the sick, the unemployed, the orphaned,

the widowed, those with disabilities and the victims of disasters…”

In 2014, the Greek Orthodox Ladies

Philoptochos Society asked its chapters and

stewards to join the Greek Orthodox

Archdiocese of America in supporting the

historic construction of the Saint Nicholas

Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine

– while still meeting the organization's longtime

fundamental mission to serve the needy

among us.

It was a daunting challenge no doubt, but one

that the 25,000 Philoptochos stewards across

the United States embraced with faith, energy,

and spirited dedication. Since that time,

Philoptochos contributed $11,293,921 to

brothers and sisters in need, emergencies

across the globe and deserving institutions,

causes and programs. The women of

Philoptochos raised these funds through

f u n d r a i s i n g e v e n t s a n d i n d i v i d u a l

contributions, all the while inspiring their

communities by their example of love for

Christ and His message.

The following is a partial list of the charitable

grants of nearly $10 million dollars during this




Saint Basil Academy

Social Services

Ÿ Hellenic College/Holy Cross School of



Children’s Medical Fund

Ÿ Philanthropies of the Ecumenical




National Philoptochos Emergency Fund

Aid to Greece & Cyprus

But that’s not all. As Philoptochos fulfilled its

mission, one dollar at a time, their stewards

also embraced a return to hands-on

philanthropy. And so, while feeding more

than 4,000,000 meals to the homeless and

hungry, while offering much needed supplies

to underserved schools across the United

States, and while developing educational

initiatives addressing serious problems faced

by our communities, the stewards of

Philoptochos also opened their hearts and

contributed $1,665,000 to the Saint Nicholas

Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine.

For 89 years, the Greek Orthodox Ladies

Philoptochos Society has offered generous

and continuous assistance, love and faith

wherever and whenever a need arises – not

only to our local communities, metropolises

and nation – but around the world, as well.

The Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos

Society is the philanthropic arm of the Greek

Orthodox Archdiocese of America and their

website is

“Akoma: Songs for

Greek America”,

a new Album by Stavro

Cosmos FM


Award Virtual Gala

The Greek American Educational Public Information System, Inc.

(GAEPIS, Inc.) and its Board of Directors are announcing the

recipients of the 25th Annual Phidippides Award. The organization

is bestowing the Phidippides Award to the Hellenic Medical Society

of New York to recognize their advocacy of Hellenism and their

selfless service during the Covid-19 pandemic. This year's

Phiddipides Award Gala will take place virtually, on February 11th,

2021, at 7 pm.

This year also marks Hellenic Public Radio's, COSMOS FM - the

GAEPIS, Inc.'s media outlet - 34th year of service, promoting and

preserving our Hellenic Heritage.

Greek American singer-songwriter Stavro (Stavros Piperis) released

his new album, “Akoma: Songs for Greek America”, on Friday, Dec.

11. Stavro was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska and is a member

of St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Parish. The ten-track Greek-

English fusion project was recorded and produced by Ben Brodin at

the esteemed ARC Studios, the internationally sought-after

recording studio which has welcomed artists like Jason Mraz,

Phoebe Bridgers, Bright Eyes and She & Him.

Akoma is the follow-up to last year’s Chances, which Stavro also

enlisted Brodin to produce. The duo reunited this summer in

quarantine for a new challenge: fusing Stavro’s acoustic-pop sound

with the music of Greece. Stavro has been penning songs in English

and composing for half a decade, but began to weave Greek into his

lyrics this year. He also added a new instrument to his repertoire: the

Cretan lute. “I told Ben that I’d been experimenting with Greek

lyrics, rhythms, melodies… I wanted to make a record out of it. I had

no idea where to begin, or how he would respond to the idea,” Stavro

said. Brodin’s response? “I love a challenge.”

The two began work on ten songs that cover a wide expanse of

Hellenic musical tradition. “Greek Americans are moved by both

Hellenic and American music—we even weave the two languages

together when we speak—but we need music that expresses that dual

character,” Stavro said. “We deserve art that mirrors our unique

identity, that honors our story. This album is not a final word, but a

first step.”

Akoma: Songs for Greek

A m e r i c a : S t r e a m i n g

everywhere Dec. 11, 2020.

“Stay (An M’agapas)” and

“Zeibekiko Tis Nemeas”

streaming ever ywhere.

i Tu n e s / Ap p l e M u s i c :



L i k e . F o l l o w . S h a r e

Instagram: @stavromusic


The Hellenic Medical Society of New York (HMS) has its origins in

the Greek-American Medical Fraternity, an organization cofounded

by the renowned physician George N. Papanicolaou during

the First World War and registered with the New York State

authorities in 1920. It has since evolved to a society having as a

mission to unite physicians and health care professionals of Hellenic

heritage in an effort to foster and support medical, research,

educational, and cultural programs of the highest possible standards

that will enrich the quality of life of the individual and the greater

New York City/TriState Area community.

Hellenic Public Radio – COSMOS FM (HPR) broadcasts under the

aegis of the Greek American Educational Public Information

System, Inc. (GAEPIS) – a not-for-profit media, educational

organization, founded in 1987 to meet the needs of Greek

Americans, serving the Hellenic-American community in all its


COSMOS FM is the only daily, bilingual non-commercial Greek

radio program in the New York Metropolitan Area. It has over 5,000

supporting members and reaches over 200,000 Hellenic and non-

Hellenic listeners each week. COSMOS FM provides 13 hours of

programming per week for 676 annual hours of broadcasting time. It

features 20-plus different programs in Greek and English, including

local, national and international news; news from Greece and

Cyprus; and programs on politics, science, social issues, religion,

health, finance, music, the arts, sports, and community affairs,

produced mainly by volunteers.

Since 1994, the Board of Directors of GAEPIS and Cosmos FM, have

presented the Phidippides Award to a person or an organization in

recognition of their efforts in the advocacy of Hellenism. The award

was inspired by the Athenian herald named Phidippides

(Ηµεροδρόµος Κήρυξ). According to Herodotus, Phidippides was

dispatched by Miltiades in 490 B.C. to request the Spartans' aid in

defending Athens from the Persians, who had landed at Marathon.

Phidippides is said to have accomplished an incredible feat, as he ran

200 kilometers in two days to reach Sparta.

Recipients of the Phidippides Award have dedicated themselves to

sustaining Hellenism's boundless culture, tradition, and civilization.

Previous recipients of the award include Jules Dassin and the Melina

Mercouri Foundation, Mikis Theodorakis, Gianna Angelopoulos-

Daskalaki, Dimitrios and Georgia Kaloidis, Michael Cacoyiannis,

John and Margo Catsimatides, Dennis Mehiel, A. S. Onassis

Foundation, Prof. Edmund Keely, Senator Paul S. Sarbanes, Kyriakos

Tsakopoulos, Dr.John Brademas, Socrates Kokkalis, Dr.

Konstantinos Papadakis, Ted Spyropoulos, Yannis Markopoulos,

Mario Frangoulis, Nikos Mouyiaris. Merkourios Angeliadis,

Michael Psarros and His Emminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of



NOV/DEC 2020


Fat no More: Hold the Eggs, Skip the Bacon

Many people struggle with weight loss and

weight gain. Putting it on and putting it off is

just as easy as putting it back on. So, how do

you keep it off, without putting it back on,

eating what you want, and not necessarily

having to go to the gym obsessively, or at all,

for that matter? Stavros Mastrogiannis, a

fitness and weight loss professional, has

developed a system on how this can be done,

designed with the non-fitness person in mind.

His book, Fat No More: How To Lose Weight So

It Stays Off For Life, provides the seven steps

needed to motivate you and help you set your

happy weight for life.

After speaking with Stavros about his weight

loss philosophy, I realized that I have been

following this regimen, somewhat, all along. I

often skip breakfast and eat one meal a day. It’s

not just genetics that keep me in shape. In fact,

Stavros will tell you that it’s less about genetics,

and that sustainable weight loss is achievable.

In order to eliminate the problem, you have to

get to the root cause of the problem. According

to Stavros, no one has a weight problem but a

behavior problem. Changing your behaviors

can change your weight concerns. You can

change even more than just your weight. The

way you think is important for weight loss, and

a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Raised in Greece, Stavros came to the United

States in the late 1980s and started taking

nutrition classes. He saw many contradictions

with what he understood in Greece. Healthy

regions around the world had more in

common than what he was taught in class. He

went on to say that eating breakfast goes

against human nature. There are studies that

show that eating breakfast makes no real

significant difference. Let’s explore this


Stavros emphasized that one of the drawbacks

to eating breakfast is that rest is important for

digestion. People don’t normally rest after

breakfast, especially if they are racing off to

work. Stress compromises digestion. Your

cortisol level is elevated in the morning and its

function is to get the body ready for action.

When it goes up it releases energy from the fat

cells. The worst thing you can do is eat because

it interferes with insulin. You have more

energy in the morning after digestion. Many

studies that support breakfast are also

supp or ted by cereal companies and

companies selling pork and dairy products, so

high protein diets of bacon and eggs were

touted as healthy and an important part of

your morning routine. This is not necessarily

true. A person can be content with one meal a

day with the right approach. This does not

mean you should starve yourself. He suggests

a light lunch, with lots of fruits and vegetables,

and a heavier dinner. This way, your body

becomes more efficient at burning fat, which

gets stored, and is fuel for the day. His weight

management philosophy is to eat twice a day.

After doing this consistently, he discovered

that he wasn’t as hungry. He

derived more pleasure from

eating that one meal because he

wasn’t eating as much.

Let’s investigate this even more

closely. In many c u lture s

throughout the world, fasting is a

big part of their lifestyle, whether

it’s done for religious reasons or

health reasons. It works. It’s a

form of purging and cleansing.

The body goes through a process

of autophagy during a fast, where

the body gets rid of mutated and

dysfunctional cells. Fasting can

get rid of the carcinogens that

cause many health issues, mental

and physical. How you eat is just

as important as what you eat. In

Greece, for example, meat was

traditionally eaten once or twice a week and

included more fruits and vegetables. Studies

have shown that in areas where animal

products and animal byproducts were heavily

consumed, cancers and heart disease also

went up. In areas where there was more fruit

and vegetable intake, these diseases were


Does this mean you can’t eat junk? Yes, you

can, upon occasion. He decided to conduct the

supersize experiment, where he ate junk food

from fast food restaurants once a day. He

actually discovered that his cholesterol went

down by 10%. This does not mean you should

eat junk everyday, but it’s important to listen to

your body, take care of it, and make junk food

a special treat, rather than a consistent habit.

He is a staunch proponent of cutting down

meat consumption and increasing your fruit

and vegetable portions.

I asked Stavros walking counts and he said yes

– walking or any kind of physical activity -

along with consistent eating habits.

Most weight loss programs apply a motivation

technique. His system also applies a

motivation technique to keep you going, and

once it becomes a habit, you don’t need it

anymore. He’s not selling a product, as many

other weight loss programs do, but

information and a solution to help you

maintain a healthy weight, and save money


While Stavros is not disqualifying other

weight loss systems and other methods

learned in traditional nutrition, health, and

fitness classes, his philosophy focuses on a

disciplined approach to eating and sustainable

weight loss. His study explores why 95% of

people who lose weight end up regaining it.

His research led him to discover that, over the

past 30 years, we have doubled the amount of

money spent on weight loss products and

services, yet the obesity

rate has increased, almost

tripled. In this book you

will receive a practical,

science-backed solution

that actually works in the

real world and delivers

sustainable results. No

more counting calories,

points, measuring your

f o o d p o r t i o n s , o r

spending all your free

time working out. Using

this book as your guide,

can help your body look

and feel the way nature

intended. You will also

learn how to debunk 10

p o p u l a r w e i g ht l o s s

myths. Through his book

and in-person classes,

Stavros has been able to help his clients reach

their goals by helping them apply a stress free

approach, and one that includes people who

don’t like to diet or exercise.

Stavros Mastrogiannis, a fitness

and weight loss professional

With the Covid-19 restrictions, Stavros is

preparing the launch of his online course and

workshop, which will be available early next

year. His book Fat No More: How To Lose

Weight So It Stays Off For Life, can be

purchased as a paperback on Amazon or

Kindle. If you would like Stavros to speak at

y o u r e v e n t , h e c a n b e e m a i l e d a t Write “Speak”

in the subject line.


NOV/DEC 2020


“A great tree has fallen”…

That was the phrase South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa

used from his native language upon announcing the news that

George Bizos, a Greek immigrant and champion for human

rights who was also Nelson Mandela's lawyer and friend, had

died. The same exact phrase came to my mind when I was

informed about Senator Paul (Panayotis) S. Sarbanes’ passing.

“A great tree has fallen”, one that like

the centuries- old olive trees in

Laconia, from where the Sarbanes

family hails from, produced fruits

galore and sheltered many, especially

from Maryland's poorer areas, under

its imposing shadow.

Paul Sarbanes was a modern giant,

for the Greek American community

and the country. He lived a full life,

not only in terms of length but also of

the accomplishments and the efforts

he undertook the many years that he

served as a legislator in both houses of Congress. His name is

already synonymous with the American Statesman, as it

should be, a measure of integrity, ethics, hard work and hope

that things can always become better.

He was also a champion of Greece's and Cyprus' causes in

Congress, leading the way even when not many were eager to

follow. His work on that front, starting with the brutal Turkish

invasion in Cyprus, was monumental.

I had the honor to meet and talk to Senator Sarbanes numerous

times over the years and he always imparted his wisdom

generously. He also attended one of NEO's earliest events in

Manhattan and, since, each time I would see him, he would ask

me “how the magazine is doing”. And each time I thanked him

for his interest in the project, as I'm doing once more now.

“A great tree has fallen” this December, but its memory,

contribution and impact will always remain erect, becoming a

beacon that lights up the night and helps straying boats to avoid

hitting the rocks…

Our cover this time is George Petrocheilos, a young

entrepreneur, who at 28, has already accomplished what would

take others the better part of their lives. I met George at Johns

Hopkins when I went to a Greek student event. I was

immediately impressed by his qualities, his wit, his character,

his ability to connect with people and the fact that, like me, he

doesn't mince his words. We kept in touch and today I'm

proudly happy to share his story and accomplishments with

you. And I'm sure that we will see much more in the future

from this uneasy and brilliant fellow...

And since it's the season to be jolly, Merry Christmas to all!

Thanks in abundance to our supporters, past and new ones,

who despite the gloom and uncertainty of our Covid times,

showed up and made this issue possible. Enjoy with your

families and people you love and Have a beautiful, Covid free

New Year!

Move Over Rockefeller,

Astoria Gets Its Star!

Members of the Athens Square Tree Committee. Back Row: Luca Di Ciero,

NY Space Finders, Andrew Latos, Rock, Health, Fitness, Tonino Sacco,

Sacco & Fillas, LLP, Kirk Karabelas, Alma Bank, Gus Antonopoulos,

Farenga Funeral Home, Anastasios Mentis, Mentis Photography. Front

Row: Maria Markou, Markou Global Legal Group, Gus Lambropoulos,

Committee Chair, and Agora Asset Management (AAM), Elias Fillas

Committee Co-Chair, Sacco & Fillas LLP, Ari Tsatsaronis, Rock, Health,

Fitness, and George Delis

by Athena Efter

We aren’t comparing Rockefellers to Astors

here, but if the spirit of John Jacob Astor were

floating through Athens Square Park, we

could say that Astoria, the Queens community

named after the famed wealthy businessman,

has gained a very big star. It takes a village. In

this case, it took a lot of love for community

and a very big tree to put this historical tree

lighting ceremony together on Tuesday,

December 2 at 6:00pm at Athens Square Park.

The Norway Spruce, born

and bred in Pennsylvania,

is the same breed as the

Rockefeller Center tree, but

about half the size. It stands

at 30 feet tall and 16 inches

wide. It is still a very big tree

which became the king of

queens that night.

T h i s proj e c t w a s t h e

brainchild of Elias Fillas of

Sacco Fillas LP and Gus

Lambropoulos of Agora

Asset Management, both

with roots in Astoria.

Together they formed the

A t h e n s S q u a r e Tr e e

Committee as Co-Chairs in

an effort to bring hope and

unity to our community.

Elias Fillas noted that this

tree is especially significant now with the

Covid pandemic: “The importance of this tree

is a symbol of community and more

importantly the

unity of all the

various diverse

a n d e t h n i c

backgrounds that

e x i s t h e r e i n

Astoria. Our goal

is to bring joy and

h o p e t o t h i s

c o m m u n i t y ,

which, like most

of the rest of the

w o r l d h a s

e x p e r i e nced a

year filled with

sadness, fear and

loss. It is very

gratifying to see

all the faces here,

and it gives us

hope that there

are better days to


With the support

of George Delis,

P r e s i d e n t o f

Athens Square

I n c . , t h e y

a p p r o a c h e d K i r k K a r a b e l a s ,

Chairman of Alma Bank, and other

m e m b e r s o f t h e c o m m u n i t y

i n c l u d i n g C o s t a s ( G u s

Antonopoulos) of Farenga Funeral

Home, Luca Di Ciero of NY Space

Finders, Maria Markou, President of

Markou Global Legal Group LLC, Ari

Tsatsaronis and Andrew Latos of

Rock Health and Fitness, and Tonino

Sacco, Managing

Partner of Sacco +

Fillas LP to make

this first event

happen, and give

us a little taste of

“ C h r i s t m a s


Spectacular” with

fewer crowds and

more community


Kirk Karabelas, Master of

Ceremony, offered a few

words of hope: “I hope that

t h e m i s s i o n i s

accomplished that this tree

spreads happiness and

hope and it allows people

to feel a sense of normalcy

in their lives until we can

get back to normal again.”

He gave a special shout out and welcome to St.

Basil’s Academy and St. Michael’s Home who

were watching the event virtually.

Maria Markou led a moment of silence for all

the people that were lost during Covid, and for

those lives and businesses that continue to

suffer during the pandemic.

The tree lighting ceremony was preceded by a

countdown to the lighting and closing

thoughts by Jospeh Di Pietro, President of the

Italian American Federation, on what the tree

symbolizes: “In the spirit of the holidays, to

promote peace and love throughout the

community, to honor the healthcare and

frontline workers in their fight against Covid,

in memory of those who we have lost, and to

inspire hope. We thank you all for coming to

express your support.”

Also present were the 30th Ave Business

Association, the NYC Department of Parks

and Recreation, Community Board 1, AHEPA

District 6 Governor Lou Katsos, City Artists,

George Alexiou, VP of Athens Square Inc.,

Bishop Apostolos who lead a prayer service,

and Rita Syntilas, the wife of the late Stamatios

Lykos who designed the park.

The ceremony was followed by music, singing,

and dance performance of holiday classics by

the artistic team of Cyprus New York

Productions, led by Phyto Stratis, who is also

the Artistic and Music Director of the

Pancyprian Choir. Performances were given

by Louis Panayiotou, Ariadne Panagopoulou,

Aggeliki Psoni, Demetris Michael, and Phyto


Co-Chair Gus


summed it up

best: “It’s the

tree of Hope.

Astoria finally

got its star.” He

credits his wife

Maria Markou

f o r t h e

inspiration to

move forward

w i t h t h i s

beautiful event

t hat brou g ht

much needed

h o p e t o a

community that

h a s b e e n

h e a r i n g t h e

s i r e n s o f

despair, with a

spike in Covid, a lot more often. Athens

Square Park and the tree are located a block

away from Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Elias Fillas, Co-Chair and

Gus Lambropoulos, Chair of

Athens Square Tree Committee

Gus and Elias look forward to bigger and

greater things to come in the future, born out

of this newly established tradition in Astoria.

We are looking forward to next year’s


Uptick Multimedia videotaped the project

and tree lighting ceremony, from inception to

completion, and George Malonoukos oversaw



NOV/DEC 2020


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