New York.- The Leadership 100 25th Anniversary Celebration Conference concluded on February 8, 2009 in Puerto Rico, marking record growth in membership and continued success in raising new funds for grants despite the economic downturn.
Stephen G. Yeonas, Chairman of Leadership 100, told an estimated 340 members and their guests that membership has increased to a record 813 with 64 new members joining in 2008 and 374 members fulfilling their pledges of $100,000 each.
In reviewing the past year, the Chairman said: “We have had a very successful year despite the economic downturn and the future looks bright. We have reached 813 members in all with 64 new members in 2008 alone and managed to raise in excess of $1million in special grant funds to allow our Endowment Fund to recover over 2009. There is no question in my mind that our ultimate goal of 1,000 members and $100 million in the Endowment Fund will be achieved before our 30th Anniversary. We are strivers and optimists by nature, faith and heritage and we will prevail!”
The Conference began with meetings of the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees which heard reports on membership, investments, finances, administration and communications. The highlight was a report by Charles H. Cotros, Chairman of the newly-formed Leadership 100 grant Fund, who said that despite the economic downturn, $1,060,350 had been raised in cash and pledges from Leadership 100 members to continue support of scholarships for seminarians studying for the priesthood at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
After two days of forums featuring the traditional Bible Study led by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, a business panel moderated by George D. Behrakis, (Chairperson of the Conference with his wife, Margo), which included Charles H. Cotros and John G. Pappajohn, and special talks by the prominent trial attorney Jacob Stein and Deborah Norville, host of Inside Edition, conferees gathered for the Grand Banquet Saturday night to honor Leadership 100 Founders, presenting them with the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Award for Excellence, named for the visionary Archbishop Iakovos who initiated the organization in 1984.
Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico, who is Exarch of Central America and the Caribbean Islands, and Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta also attended. The entertainment was highlighted by the preeminent country soul singer, Ronnie Milsap, winner of seven Grammy Awards, as well as the Alpha Band, one of the best in Greek music. New members and fulfilled members in attendance received special recognition and Leadership 100 Partners, the young professionals and future leaders, now numbering 74, met at two special events.
In honoring Leadership 100ʼs Founding Members, Arthur C. Anton, Sr., Andrew A. Athens, George K. Chimples, Peter M. Dion, Michael Jaharis and, posthumously, Thomas A. Athens and George P. Kokalis, with the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Award for Excellence, Behrakis said: “In the lead were always the best example of leaders, our Founders, who always and everywhere rejoiced in hope, each and every one, Arthur C. Anton, who my own father pointed to as a shining example of what we can achieve, Andrew A. Athens, an apostle of Hellenism around the world, George K. Chimples, who has inspired us to ever greater heights, Peter M. Dion, who has offered us a special wisdom in our affairs and Michael Jaharis, whose generosity of spirit has no match. We remember too, with gratitude, Thomas A. Athens, who built up Leadership 100 like no other, and George P. Kokalis, who whipped us into action. What truly great examples for us and our children and their children.”
From its initial 100 members at its historic beginning, Leadership 100 now counts 813 memberships. Having surpassed its goal of 63 members in 2008, it has set a new goal of 70 members for 2009. Total grants since the inception of Leadership 100 will exceed $28 million in 2009. This is because Leadership 100, in response to the current economic crisis and its effect on its Endowment Fund, has raised in excess of $1 million for the special Leadership 100 Grant Fund, which was formed by the Executive Committee in October of 2008 to continue its grant program until such time as the earnings from the Endowment Fund allow the organization to resume grant distributions.
Paulette Poulos, Executive Director (Interim), in addressing the General Assembly, said:
“It is with great humility and a heart full of gratitude that I stand before you this morning to express my heartfelt appreciation to each and every one of you who came to Puerto Rico to help celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Leadership 100. As we gather to honor our Founders, we are reminded of the monumental challenges each of them has faced in their lives and their amazing achievements and perseverance in support of our Church and Leadership 100, a shining example to all of us as we enter the next 25 years of our mission. None of this would have been possible without the support of our Chairman, Officers, and Board of Trustees, and the guidance of our Spiritual Leader, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios and our Metropolitans to whom we owe deep respect and heartfelt appreciation.”