York.- By Vicki James Yiannias
With her characteristic openheartedness and spirit of inclusiveness Paulette Poulos, Executive Director of the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Endowment Fund, Inc., received AGAPW’s 2015 Greek American Woman of the Year Award on March 12 for her service to Orthodoxy and to Hellenism. “My history for half a century has been intertwined with the identity and values that came to be embodied in our cherished Orthodox Faith” said Ms. Poulos.
In a message read by Reverend Dr. Robert Stephanopoulos, who gave an invocation at the beginning of the event, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios spoke of AGAPW participants as “emulating women of generations past, who found inspiration in their work of philanthropy from the vessels of God’s grace and tender mercy…” and acknowledged Ms. Poulos, who “as a loyal and dedicated right hand to Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory, and as the industrious Executive Director of Leadership 100, has been immersed in this established tradition of Christian concern.”
The Greek American Woman of the Year Award is AGAPW’s (The Association of Greek American Professional Women) signature event in celebration of Women’s History Month and it carries with it another AGAPW signature, the presentation of the organization’s Excellence Tuition Scholarship. Elena Karavassilis, a sophomore at Queens College Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies was this year’s recipient of the award which was presented by Dr. Aphrodite Navab, Vice-President /Community Liaison of AGAPW. Voicing her gratitude to the scholarship’s contributors Dr. Navab encouraged future contribution to a fund that has reached 3,000 dollars from “a very humble beginning.”
Master of Ceremonies Anthoula Katsimatides introduced the event, a relaxed and comfortable wine and hors d’oeuvres reception in the Lounge Room of the 3 West Club in Manhattan, where Fran Karivalis’s slide presentation of Ms. Poulos’s life and work brought the award-winner even more into focus. There were remarks by Anthousa Iliopoulos, Maria Logus, Esq, President of the National Philoptochos Society, Mr. George Tsandikos, Chairman of Leadership 100, a Citation by the Honorable Aravella Simotas, New York State Assembly member was read in the event of her absence, and a vocal performance of selections from Theodorakis, Hatzidakis, and Rodgers and Hammerstein by Flora Kyrou.
She knew from the beginning that her path would be different from many in her generation who pursued the traditional roles of women in society, said Ms. Poulos, whose beloved parents, Rebecca and Charles, gave her and her siblings, Carol and Peter, unconditional love and guidance and instilled in them “faith, ideals, and the importance of integrity”. “I have not viewed my service to the Greek Orthodox Church and Community as a professional accomplishment, but rather as a personal and spiritual fulfillment…” she said.
As Executive Director of the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Endowment Fund, she strives to carry on the legacy of her mentor, Archbishop Iakovos, “who so successfully led our Church and Community into a new era”, said Ms. Poulos.
“I was privileged to serve with a great leader in the person of Archbishop Iakovos of Blessed Memory, who set the course for our Church and Community, not only in America, but throughout the world. Archbishop Iakovos was a visionary and he afforded me the unique opportunity to serve the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in various capacities for which I feel truly blessed. It was in fact quite unusual in 1965 for women to be elevated to these roles, but through my long association with Archbishop Iakovos, who believed in placing women in positions of responsibility, I found a proper place for the full expression of my talents. By his example, I learned the depth and breadth of leadership throughout our beloved country, within our cherished community, in relationship to the great leaders in the nation, in our Church, and around the world.”
She expressed deep indebtedness to His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios for his trust in her and his paternal love and guidance and gratitude to the Chairman of Leadership 100, George Tsandikos “for his sage counsel, guidance and support and, especially, for his love and friendship for so many years”, to Leadership 100 and to the Church at large.
She extended her “warmest and heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Olga Alexakos, the dynamic and capable president of AGAPW, who devotes all her energies and untiring efforts to the success and advancement of this most worthy organization… I thank you and I join you in your great cause.”
Prior recipients of AGAPW’s Greek American Woman of the Year Award: 2014: Ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis; 2013: Aravella Simotas, Assemblymember; Penelope Tsilas, Attorney and Philanthropist; 2011: Loula Loi Alafoyiannis, Founder, Global President, and CEO of the Euro‑American Women’s Council (EAWC), Philanthropist, and Humanitarian
Prior recipients of AGAPW’s Excellence Tuition Scholarship: 2014 Kristina Bogos, New York University, 2013: Vaia Trittas, New York University, 2012: Alexandra Kavouras, Queens College, CUNY, 2011: Nayia Moysidis, Columbia University
Other distinguished guests were: AGAPW board members, Irene Sarri, Evgenia Soldatos, Chairman of Leadership 100, Mr. George Tsandikos; Vice Chairman of Leadership 100, Mr. Argyris Vassiliou and Mrs.Vassiliou; Judge Harriet Pavles George; Presbytera Nikki Stephanopoulos; Nancy Papaioannou, President of the Atlantic Bank of New York and President of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce; Mrs. Penelope Tsilas, on AGAPW’s Advisory Council and 2012 Greek American Woman of the Year Award recipient; Maria Allwin, board member of The Hellenic Initiative; Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Kourides of the Hellenic American Cultural Foundation; Professor Katherine Schwab of Fairfield University; Catherine Moutousis, President of the Holy Trinity Cathedral Philoptochos, and Aphrodite Skiadas, former President, National Philoptochos Society.
For more information: www.AGAPW.org