American Hellenic Institute

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March 17, 2005—No.22 (202) 785-8430


WASHINGTON, DC—On March 5, 2005, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) paid tribute to a distinguished set of Greek Americans and philhellenes at its 30th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage and National Public Service Awards Dinner, held at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC. Linked by their important career achievements and by their contributions to the Greek American community and the community at-large, this year’s honorees included:

  • The Honorable Stephanie Duncan-Peters, Judge for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia;

  • Helen C. Evans, Ph.D., Curator for Early Christian and Byzantine Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City;

  • Stylianos S. Zavvos, businessman and community activist, and Chairman of Continental American Capital;

  • U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, 18th Congressional District of Florida (R); and

  • George Veras, President of Veras Communications.

Opening the evening’s program was AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis to announce the entrance of the Marines of Headquarters Battalion for the presentation of the colors. The American and Greek national anthems were then performed by Chrissellene Petropoulos, with the evening’s invocation and benediction delivered by Reverend Steven P. Zorzos of Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, DC. Reverend Zorzos attended the event as an official representative of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America.

Guests were also treated to a special fashion show featuring the Winter Collection 2005-2006 of Athens-based haute couture designer Vlassis Holevas, which was organized by Shine International Events Management. Mr. Holevas is considered one of Greece’s most successful representatives in the fashion industry and has been honored as an innovator for his creations. His clients include Greek singers Despina Vandi and Elena Paparizou, television stars Eleni Menegaki and Moni Bakodimou, artist Della Rounik and others. The 19 minute extravaganza impressed dinner guests with elegant evening and winter wear in rich colors and luxurious fabrics.

Following dinner, which was accompanied by the music of the Baltimore based Greek band Apollonia, AHI’s newest Advisory Board member Thanos Basdekis, Esq. introduced master of ceremonies Larry Michael. Mr. Michael is Senior Vice President of Westwood One Sports and the official "Voice of the Washington Redskins." AHI founder Gene Rossides then greeted guests and briefly reviewed key activities undertaken by AHI in 2004.

The Hellenic House mortgage was paid off in full in December 2004 to establish the physical permanence of the organization. Mr. Rossides also noted that: "In 2004, we also initiated and established a financial endowment program in order to ensure the financial permanence of AHI….We are here to stay and continue our efforts in support of the rule of law, strong U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus based on the sole criteria of what is in the best interests of the U.S."


The first award recipient of the evening was Judge Stephanie Duncan-Peters, honored for her distinguished career in the justice system. Her service as a judge began in 1992, when she was appointed to the Bench of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and where she now serves as the Presiding Judge of the Civil Division.

In her acceptance remarks, Judge Duncan-Peters gave credit for her award to the resilience of her family and its strong value system, carried over from Greece by successive generations. "When others told my parents that the college major I selected was suitable for a boy but not a girl, and that a law school education would just be wasted on me because I would get married and never put it to use, they refused to listen," she said, concluding by thanking her family and friends for their support.

The second honoree, Dr. Helen C. Evans, was honored for her exceptional work in the field of art history and presentation and promotion of the Hellenic heritage and Byzantine history. She elaborated on her experience working in this field when accepting her award:

"I am quite willing to praise all things that go with the Byzantine world because it is not my own world, but one that I tremendously admire and respect…. It has been my privilege over the last few years to try to make that world come alive again…. I hope over the next years we will increasingly make the Empire of the Romans that in 1557 became called Byzantium more alive, make it more real."

Following Dr. Evans, Stylianos S. Zavvos was granted an award for his outstanding business achievements and activities in support of Hellenism. Mr. Zavvos gave credit for his achievements to his Greek parents and the set of values they instilled in him. Noting also a twofold tangible and spiritual challenge currently being confronted by Hellenism in America, Mr. Zavvos cautioned:

"[A]ny culture that does not renew itself in the present risks becoming irrelevant and marginal. Thus our role to be a vital and integral part of American society is important and will enhance our share of influence in shaping a better future for Hellenism."

Receiving an award for her distinguished career in public service spanning two decades, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen thanked AHI and its friends, stating "I feel privileged to be recognized by this esteemed institution." She also noted:

"Today, the American Hellenic Institute, in conjunction with the United States government, continues to advance the rule of law and promotes human rights… throughout southeastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean….. I’m very gratified to receive [this award] and I look forward to continuing to work with you to further the interests of the Greek American community and to put an end to the occupation and a reunification of the Republic of Cyprus."

Concluding the awards presentation, George Veras was honored for his outstanding accomplishments in television production and for his promotion and support of the Greek American community. During his acceptance remarks, Mr. Veras congratulated his fellow honorees, and stated:

"[T]o be up here on this same podium doesn’t feel quite right because for me, I’m just a storyteller. And the stories I tell are the stories of a community that is my life and is my family – the Greek American community of the United States…. I appreciate the opportunity that you’ve let me into your houses to tell that story, to reinforce it for our children, for future generations in the same way it was written thousands of years before by our ancestors…. So for that, I thank you, I appreciate you having me here tonight."

The evening’s honorees were introduced by friends and associates with distinguished records in their own professional fields: Chief Counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Paul Clayman (for Judge Duncan-Peters); Nicholas Chimicles, Esq., senior partner at the law firm of Chimicles & Tikellis (for Dr. Evans); Costas Kondylis, president of the architectural firm of Costas Kondylis and Partners (for Mr. Zavvos); AHI Chairman James Marketos, Esq., partner at the law firm of Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe (for Representative Ros-Lehtinen); and Gary Paul Gates, acclaimed author, television writer and producer (for Mr. Veras).

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

Dignitaries and government officials attending the event included: Ambassador of Greece to the United States George Savvaides and his wife, Mrs. Savvaides and Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States Euripides Evriviades.

Other notable guests recognized included: Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee Aram Hamparian; President of the Hellenic American National Council and major AHI benefactor Ted Spyropoulos; former honoree and President of the Hellenic American Women’s Council Theodora Hancock; former honoree Christine Warnke of Hogan & Hartson; Dr. Stamatios Krimigis, former honoree and head of the Space Department of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; Mike Emanuel, National Correspondent for FOX News; AHI major benefactor Jim Lagos of the law firm of Lagos & Lagos (Springfield, OH); Steve Williams, Corporate Director of Europe/Eurasia for Lockheed Martin; Richard Jackson, President of Anatolia College in Thessaloniki, Greece; Peter C. Pappas, Executive Vice President of Pappas Telecasting Companies; and George Walsh, U.S. Marshall of the District of Columbia.


In addition to the AHI gala dinner, the weekend’s events were kicked off with a breakfast briefing at the Capital Hilton on the topic of "News in a Post-9/11 World," with special guest speaker Mike Emanuel, Correspondent for Fox News. Mr. Emanuel recounted his recent trip to Iraq as an embedded reporter with U.S. troops at Camp Liberty where he reported on the Iraqi elections. The breakfast briefing was followed by an open house reception at the Hellenic House.

Downloadable photographs from the weekend’s activities are available on AHI’s website at For additional information regarding AHI’s 30th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage and National Public Service Awards Dinner, please contact Georgia Economou at (202) 785-8430 or For general information regarding the mission and activities of AHI, please visit our Web site at


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