Washington, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted its 41st Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and Public Service Awards Dinner, honoring a distinguished set of awardees based upon their important career achievements and contributions to the Greek American community or community at-large. They were:
Basil N. Mossaidis, AHEPA Executive Director;
Rena Papapostolou, Co-founder, Return to Origins, Greek language educator;
Nicolas Bornozis, Founder, President/CEO, Capital Link; and
Peter J. Pappas, Sr., Chairman of the Board, P.J.M. Holdings Corp., and Philanthropist.
Larry Michael, “Voice of the Redskins,” and senior vice president and executive producer of Media, Washington Redskins; was the evening’s emcee.
More than 300 participated at the Dinner – Special event guests included Ambassador of Greece to the United States Christos Panagopoulos, Consul Konstantinos Polykarpou; U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes, Congressman John Sarbanes, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, former American Ambassador to Greece Thomas Miller, Founder of AHI & the AHI Foundation Eugene Rossides.
AHI volunteer legal counsel and Board of Directors Treasurer Nicholas G. Karambelas, Esq., partner in Sfikas & Karambelas LLP, introduced Michael.
The Marines of Headquarters Battalion presented the colors and the American and Greek national anthems were performed by Maria Pearce. Rev. Steven P. Zorzos, Presiding Priest of Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, D.C., offered the invocation and benediction. Apollonia provided the musical entertainment.
Opening the evening’s program were AHI President Nick Larigakis and AHI Foundation President Dr. Spiro Spireas, both of who offered greetings. They also reviewed the initiatives and programs that AHI and AHIF provide the community.
Basil N. Mossaidis, who is the executive director of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the largest and oldest association for American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes, accepted the AHI Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for his extraordinary efforts to promote and advocate for Hellenism in the United States.
In acceptance, Mossaidis thanked AHI President Nick Larigakis and AHI for the honor. He also thanked his parents and recalled his upbringing in a Greek household as the beginning of his journey to where he is today.
“This is what Hellenism is about to me, it is about family, and like I said earlier I believe that we are all one Greek family,” Mossaidis said, adding about his current position in the Greek American community with AHEPA, “…we build bridges from the AHEPA to all the other Hellenic American organizations to try and promote what is best about being a Hellene in this country and AHI does a wonderful job there. They present beautiful policy statements and issues, and we support what they do and all the other organizations …. It is an honor to be able to sit here in Washington and to see how all of us preserve Hellenism…So when we go to Greece and we see the people suffering, we suffer with them. And it is our job, Nick [Larigakis] and I do this like we said on a daily basis to promote, to preserve, to protect Hellenism…”
Rena Papapostolou received the AHI Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for her tireless promotion of Hellenic art and culture through music and dance through her work as co-founder of Return to Origins, a Greek cultural and educational program aimed at fostering Greek culture and heritage and strengthening Greek ecclesiastical tradition, especially among the youth.
Papapostou accepted the honor with deep emotion and gratitude toward AHI and on behalf of her late husband, with whom she founded Return to Origins.
“Nearly 50 years ago we started this life of service through music, dance and education through which we have enjoyed and taught to others the best principles and values of our Hellenic heritage,” she said. “I would especially like to extend my most heartfelt thanks to president of AHI, Mr. Nick Larigakis with his generous support, RTO has been continuously successful. I would also like to say that I take a personal pleasure and pride in the fact that he has become one of the most distinguished leaders of our community. He was after all one of my students and one of the best at that.”
In acceptance of the AHI Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for his outstanding achievements fostering strong economic ties with the Hellenic world, Nicolas Bornozis, recalled his beginnings in the capital markets and international finance industry, working for a French bank in the United States, eventually becoming its CEO. Twenty years ago, he started Capital Link, a leader in investor relations for the shipping industry, closed-end funds and companies seeking access to the U.S. and European financial markets. Capital Link organizes 12 large-scale investment conferences annually in Athens, New York, London and Shanghai, attracting as many as 1,000 delegates at some venues and spurring investment and business opportunities in Greece.
Nicolas Bornozis, President of Capital Link, mentioned: “I have always been a low profile person and prefer the publicity to go to my clients and the causes that I support. We are humbled and proud to receive this prestigious award, which further recognizes and validates our efforts and commitment to Greece, to the shipping industry and to our clients. Given the challenging market conditions at present, we believe that our mission and role is even more significant. This Award, which I accept on behalf of the Capital Link team, motivates us to continue and reinforce our efforts.”
“…it has been particularly testing but equally important to put up the right message about Greece,” he said. “We are all proud to be Americans and we are all proud to be Greek and [to have the] opportunity to thrive and contribute back to the American society and we have to contribute back to Greece….we have been grateful to partner with the New York Stock Exchange, with major investment banks, and big organizations and every year we organize an international forum about Greece in New York that focuses on a message of hope and promise. We do that every year regardless of the political or economic conditions of Greece.”
This is the second award for Mr. Bornozis and Capital Link this year as on Thursday, February 18th, 2016, he received the “1st Propeller Club of Piraeus Members Award” by The International Propeller Club, Port of Piraeus for his contribution in strengthening the bilateral relations between Greece and the United States of America in the Maritime Field and for his efforts to raise the profile of shipping in the investment community and to a wider audience around the world.
Capital Link’s efforts have also been recognized by the 2011 Greek Shipping Lloyds Awards and in 2012 and in 2013 by the Intercontinental Finance Magazine in London.
Several political and business leaders from the United States and Greece provided video testimonials on the work and contribution of Mr. Bornozis, including former Prime Ministers Antonis Samaras and George Papandreou, John Paulson, Wilbur Ross and many more.
PETER J. PAPPAS
Peter J. Pappas, Sr. received the AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award in recognition of his entrepreneurial spirit, philanthropic endeavors, and fidelity to Hellenic causes. Pappas is the Chairman of the Board of P.J.M. Holdings Group, one of the largest HVAC and mechanical contracting firms in the United States.
In acceptance, Pappas recounted his family story and what it was like to grow up “literally in the streets” of New York City, and how that impacted his path through life, as uncertain as it may have seemed at the time, “I never thought I would have a chance, growing up in New York City being born and coming from humble beginnings; my father was born in Cyprus, he came to this country at 18 years old and he was a butcher…all his life. He married my mother who was a seamstress, born in the U.S. with heritage from Kalamata, and raised two sons… It was through my entire growing up that I had no idea who I was, what I would do or even what I had an interest in doing. And I think what happens is that as times goes on, things do fold out in front of you. Coming from a blue-collar neighborhood where everybody opted just to get out of high school, I ended up going to college at NYU and again not knowing what to do or what profession to even take…”
Pappas also remarked about AHI Founder Gene Rossides and the work at AHI under President Nick Larigakis, stating, “He [Gene] has been an amazing man and now Nick [Larigakis] who is following him is doing a sensational job, with this group and moving this group right along and is to be commended, as everyone else said.”
And Pappas also had a message for the young people in attendance, “I saw a lot of young people walking around this room today, and I think that what the young people have to believe in is that you will have a chance…So I say to the young, you know the great line, ‘I had a dream’…Gene Rossides had a dream, other people have dreams, you young people have dreams and carry those dreams out.”
About American Hellenic Institute:
The American Hellenic Institute is an independent non-profit Greek American public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community. AHI has become the leading forum for addressing important issues that affect the U.S.’s relationship with Greece, Cyprus, and Southeastern Europe. It is a well-respected lobby, think-tank, business network, and educational foundation that informs and influences leaders, policymakers and citizens alike.