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American Hellenic Institute Business Network Kicks Off 1998 With A Flurry of Networking Events



February 16, 1998 No. 11/98


1998 has witnessed a busy opening schedule with the AHI Business Network holding three receptions in four weeks, on January 5 in Denver, CO, January 19 in San Diego, CA and February 2 in Atlanta, GA.

The featured speaker in Denver was Congressman Dan Schaefer (R-CO). Leading the Host Committee there was Event Chairperson, Emannuel Tsikoudakis, President of the Pan Cretan Association of America. The others on the Committee included: George Apostolakis, President of the Cretan Chapter of Denver and a local businessman, Michael Kolovos, President of Active Adventures, LLC, longtime AHI member Dr. George Krikos, AHI-Denver President and educator, Elaine Kusulas, Dr. George G. Papadeas, Vice President of the Colorado Dermatologic Society, Pambos Polycarpou, President, Spring International Language Center and Mr. Manolis Tsapakis. Over 50 people attended this network reception.

In San Diego, at the La Jolla Marriott, over 110 persons came to hear "Top Gun," otherwise known as Congressman Randall "Duke" Cunningham. Congressman Cunningham impressed the audience with his remarks praising the vast contributions to Western civilization of the ancient Greeks and modern Greeks. In addition, he discussed his thoughts on U.S-Greek relations and the importance of Greece to U.S interests. Upon completion of his presentation, Congressman Cunningham received a thunderous standing ovation from the audience.

Congressman Cunningham is a true hero from the Vietnam War. As a U.S. Navy fighter pilot in Vietnam he became the first fighter ace of the war. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor, received the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars, fifteen Air Medals, the Purple Heart, and several other decorations. His experience in Vietnam and his background as an educator prepared him well to train fighter pilots at the Navy Fighter Weapons School--the famed Top Gun program at Miramar Naval Air Station. Many of his real-life experiences as a Navy aviator and fighter pilot instructor were depicted in the popular movie "Top Gun."

Serving as the Event Chairperson was the AHI-San Diego President George Karetas, President & CEO of Premier Food Services. Mr. Karetas' company is one of the leading catering firms in San Diego.

Assisting Mr. Karetas on the Host Committee were, Spiro Demetriadi, Partner in the Demetriadi Group, Dr. Athanasios (Tom) Foster, President, Del mar Medical Clinic, Inc., Charles Kakos, President, Grape, Fourth Hawthorne; DBA Sharp Rees Steely Pharmacy, Anthony Kalikas, Esq., President, AHEPA San Diego Chapter 223, Stavros Kondilis, President, Corinthian Apartments, James D. Mellos, Jr., Chairman & CEO, D.D. Mellos Investment Corp., Arthur Pathe, President, AHEPA Chapter 505, Gerry Ranglas, President, R&V Management Corp., longtime AHI member Alex Rigopoulos, President, Global Insurance Company, Steve Sourapas, Chairman & CEO, Crest Beverage, Dean A. Spanos, President, San Diego Chargers, Steve Terris, Chairman & CEO, Sam's Homemade Cheesecake, Laki Vassiliadis, President, Laki Real Estate Corp. and Nick Zambus, President, Zambus Properties, Inc.

On February 2, 1998, the AHI Business Network presented its program in Atlanta at the Marriott Lenox Square. On a wind swept rainy "nor' easter" type of night, over 70 persons came to hear Congressman Michael Pappas (R-NJ).

Congressman Pappas talked about his many efforts in the Congress the past few years to promote the issues affecting U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. He also discussed the legislation that he introduced House Concurrent Resolution 188 (H.Con.Res. 188), which AHI initiated, regarding the islets of Imia in the Aegean as being Greek sovereign territory.

Serving as the Event Chairperson in Atlanta was Alec Papadakis, Esq., Partner of the international law firm of Hurt, Sinisi & Papadakis with offices in both the United States and Greece offering a full range of legal services. Mr. Papadakis was instrumental in recently opening the first "Applebee's" restaurant franchise in Greece located in Thessaloniki.

The Host Committee in Atlanta consisted of Professor of Management at Georgia State University, C.G. Alexandrides, Steve Alexander, Jr., President, Steve Alexander Agency, Michael P. Athanas, Director, CIBC Oppenheimer, Chris and Maria Callas of Apollo Industries, Jerry Couvaras, Chairman, Atlanta Bread Company, Leo Frangis, Kanes, Benator & Co., L.L.C., George Kleris, M.D., the Laconian Society of Atlanta, Demetrius Mazacoufa, Esq., Law Offices of Demetrius Mazacoufa, longtime AHI member Kyriakos Michaelides, M.D., Honorary Consul of Cyprus, Bill Sioutis, President, Gondolier Restaurants, Dimitris & Eleni Tzortzis, Giorgio's Restaurant, Ike Tzortzis, Owner of Gondolier Restaurants and Thomas Zacharopoulos, Vice President, Marsh & McLennan, Inc.

The AHI Business Network is a division of the AHI initiated in 1989 to reach out to the business experience of Greek Americans and to put it to work helping other Greek Americans by sharing business information and contacts. Its concept is people helping people by sharing experience, knowledge and ideas.

The final event for 1997 took place on December 15, 1997 with a Network reception in Pittsburgh, PA where the featured speaker was Congressman Ron Klink (D-PA). The event, held at the Double Tree Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh attracted over 75 guests. Congressman Klink spoke of the importance for Greek Americans to help one another and to be united in their efforts.

The audience also received a wonderful surprise when the Honorary Chairman of the event, John Rigas, President & CEO of Adelphia Cable made a special effort to travel to the event and address the audience.

Serving as Chairperson of the Pittsburgh reception was Thomas C. Geanopulos, Chairman of Fostech, Inc. Mr. Genopulos is a leading personality in the Greek American community of Pittsburgh. His company Fostech,Inc., which he founded, manufactures an innovative form of commercial and industrial lighting which encompasses responsible environmental technology.

Assisting Mr. Geanopulos on the "Host Committee" were Gus Georgeadis, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, longtime AHI members James N. Lardas and his son Nicholas D. Lardas, President of Niko Contracting Co., John S. Myseros, M.D., Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Allegheny General Hospital, AHI-Pittsburgh Chapter President and attorney, Pantelis T. Papazekos, Esq., Gregory Pappas, Publisher, Greek America, Stavros Semanderes, President, Odyssey Contracting, Inc., Sam Zacharias, President, Gateway Financial and Peter J. Zikos Insurance.

AHI executive director, Nick Larigakis, who organized the events said:

"The AHI Business Network receptions are designed to foster business and social ties among AHI members throughout the country. The events also provide a good venue whereby the AHI can reach out to the Greek American community and to introduce the many diverse elements that we pursue in support of issues concerning Hellenism. We hope to go to as many cities as we can in 1998."

For persons interested in an event in their city, contact Nick Larigakis at 1-800-424-9607 or 202-785-8430.