New York.- By Vicki James Yiannias
Andrew C. Zachariades, chief executive officer and principal spokesperson of the entire AHEPA domain since his July 29, 2016 installation as its Supreme President at the 94th Annual Supreme Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, was on his way to the inauguration in Washington DC on January 19, but squeezed in some time for the first part of an interview about his plans for the organization.
A dedicated member of “the vibrant, venerable and unique organization”, Zachariades has held all positions in AHEPA, most recently that of vice president.
Zachariades is himself a vibrant, honored member of the community; he is also currently vice president of the Cyprus Children’s Fund. In 2000 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Saint Paul by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in honor of his many accomplishments. In 2008 Zachariades was awarded the District Five Ahepan of the Year for his successful eight-year chairmanship of The Fifth District AHEPA Cancer Research Foundation, which raised $1.5 million for cancer research.
The AHEPA Family, which includes the Daughters of Penelope, Maids of Athens, and Sons of Pericles organizations, is the largest and oldest American-based, Greek heritage grassroots organization, and has a membership of 1.4 million Americans of Greek ancestry and philhellenes. Its scope is international;AHEPA has chapters in the United States, Canada, Greece, and Cyprus, and “sister” chapters in Australia and New Zealand under the auspices of AHEPA Australasia.
GN: A basic question: what is the most important idea behind AHEPA?
AZ: The most important idea behind AHEPA is the same as what was important at its founding: the core values with which AHEPA was founded in July, 1922, still stand true.
GN: Having achieved a highly respected status in the community Greek Americans aren’t facing the discrimination they faced at that time. Protection of Greeks, an original purpose of the AHEPA, is no longer necessary.
AZ: Yes, AHEPA has been vital in the development and emergence of many American citizens of Hellenic heritage into every facet of society. Consider that in the early days, immigrants from Greece and Cyprus, as early as 1900—weren’t considered to be “white”—and were discriminated against and attacked by the KKK, whereas now…diving for the cross in Tarpon Springs, at the 111th Epiphany Celebration at Tarpon Springs, Florida recently, the Greeks stood tall and proud. Today, the push toward not forgetting our Hellenic roots has taken the lead.
GN: What is some work toward that goal?
AZ: Symposia, forums, and conferences are major ways that AHEPA creates awareness of the principles of Hellenism. Then there is the excellent example of the Odyssey Charter School in Wilmington, Delaware, Delaware’s first mathematics content-focused, 2nd language—Greek, elementary education charter school with insight into the classical learning ideals of Hellenism,
which now goes through high school, and has over 1,000 students, both of Hellenic and non-Hellenic heritage. This is one chapter. It is in the work of the chapters.
GN: What might be some new methods AHEPA can develop to encourage youth membership to expand, such as social media?
AZ: How to draw youth to the organization is a big challenge, as is bringing youth to church. Millennials tend to not like institutions. We are discussing how to address these issues, taking to the next level how to identify the issue and the best way to approach it. We must do this. In 2017 the Board of Trustees will be interviewing Millennials for social media work.
GN: You said: “This is a critical year on many fronts. Elections in the United States will provide us with an opportunity to work with a new administration and Congress in 2017”. What are these challenges? “
AZ: When we were in Greece we met with the secretaries of PASOK and New Democracy. They expressed their desire for AHEPA to bring new business to Greece. AHEPA can’t endorse this until reforms are implemented. From November 16 to 20 we travelled to Brussels to meet with European Union officials about regulations and compliances, and representatives from AHEPA chapters in Europe. In the case of Cyprus, issues such as property, territory and security need to be addressed as settlement talks proceed. First, the Turkish troops have to be removed, then the property of the Greek Cypriots restored. The AHEPA Family will continue to support our Hellenic heritage. We will continue fighting for this through education and with Hellenic values at the forefront. As I said at my installation ceremony, I’m excited to work with our seasoned Supreme Lodge and our membership to address these challenges and keep AHEPA on the steady path set forth by my predecessors in a spirit true to our mission.
A SHORT BIO
Zachariades has been an executive-level financial accountant for most of his career, overseeing complex transactions and billions of dollars of real estate development. For the past 15 years, he has served as the CFO and Controller of FBE Limited LLC, a privately held investment firm located on Wall Street in New York City.
A member of the Hellenic American Bankers Association. Zachariades is a graduate of Rutgers University in Financial Accounting and has graduate courses toward an advanced degree in Financial Accounting from the New York Institute of Finance. He is a frequent lecturer at the Graduate School of Business at William Paterson University, which is part of the New Jersey State University system.
Zachariades and his wife, Antoinette, are members of Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church in Jersey City, New Jersey., and have three children.
The delegates of the 2016-17 AHEPA Supreme Lodge: President in Canada, Bill Bakalis, Kitchener, Ontario; Supreme Vice President George E. Loucas, Esq., Cleveland, Ohio; Supreme Secretary Carl R. Hollister, Mason, Ohio; Supreme Treasurer James Kokotas, Brooklyn, New York; Supreme Counselor George G. Horiates, Esq., Moorestown, New Jersey; Supreme Athletic Director Louis G. Atsaves, Lake Forest, Ilinois; Sons of Pericles National Advisor Sandy Papadopoulos, Atlanta, Georgia.
Visit the AHEPA website, www.ahepa.org, for more information about AHEPA, the AHEPA Family, and its many worthy programs and projects that benefit society.