San Francisco, CA – The delegates of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), unanimously elected Nicholas A. Karacostas their supreme president at its 87th Annual Supreme Convention in San Francisco. Karacostas ran unopposed in elections that were held Saturday, July 4, 2009. He was formally installed as supreme president on Sunday.
“Words cannot express how humbled and honored I am to be elected AHEPA Supreme President,” said Karacostas, who emigrated from Kyrenia, Cyprus as a three-year-old with his family. “It is the culmination of 30 years of service to the organization, dating back to my membership in the Sons of Pericles.”
He continued, “I look forward to working with our new Supreme Lodge, and entire membership, to keep AHEPA on the steady path set forth by my predecessors. There are many challenges facing the community, and new ones will emerge. However, I’m confident we will strive to overcome them together in true spirit to our mission.”
Karacostas, who hails from Flushing, N.Y., is a 25-year member of AHEPA Gus Cherevas – Estia-Pindus Chapter 326, in Flushing.
He has served AHEPA in numerous leadership positions including supreme vice president, two terms as supreme counselor, and on its Board of Directors. As supreme president, Karacostas’ responsibilities include being the chief executive officer, and principal spokesperson, of the entire AHEPA Domain, which includes the United States, Canada, Greece, and Cyprus.
The newly-elected supreme president was born in Kyrenia, Cyprus and immigrated to the United States three years later. He is the son of Andreas and Soteroula Karacostas and nephew of Philip Christopher, president of PSEKA and the Pancyprian Association of America. Since his young age he was involved with the Pancyprianʼs Youth Division while he played soccer with the Pancyprian.
Karacostas, an attorney, is the senior vice president of Arch Insurance Group. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the New York Bar Association, and National Institute for Trial Advocacy. Karacostas received his J.D. from the City of New York Law School and is a graduate of New York University.
Karacostas has served on the Parish Council of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Flushing, N.Y., for six years. Also, he is a legal advisor to the Pancyprian Association of America Inc., and serves on the Board of Directors of HANAC, Inc. St. Michael’s Home and the Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce.
Karacostas and his wife, Anna, have two daughters, Georgia and Andreana.
His first official meeting took place last Wednesday, when accompanied by AHEPAʼs Executive Director Basil N. Mossaidis he visited the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in New York. The meeting with Archbishop Demetrios lasted almost an hour and at the conclusion they spoke to the “Greek News.”
Archbishop Demetrios said the meeting was constructive and positive.
“We exchange views on the educational, housing and environmental programs of AHEPA. There is a will to promote a cooperation between the Archdiocese and the AHEPA on these and other programs with a sense of unity amongst all the organizations within the Greek American Community, in order to be more productive.”
Supreme President Karacostas thanked the Archbishop “for allowing us such a substantive time period to visit with him. Itʼs always an honor and a privilege to meet with him and discuss all the issues that are important to both the Greek Orthodox Church and to the Greek American Community. The AHEPA stands behind the Greek Orthodox Church. We have been together almost identical since we have been both created in 1922. I had a wonderful opportunity to tell His Eminence about our programs this year and we will be visiting more often, since I am from New York myself. I will keep him up to date with regard to AHEPAʼs programs and support of the Greek Orthodox Church”.
THE NEW SUPREME LODGE
The 2009-10 Supreme Lodge is comprised of: Supreme Vice President Dr. John Grossomanides, Jr., Westerly, R.I.; Canadian President Nick Aroutzidis, Ontario; Supreme Secretary Anthony Kouzounis, Houston; Supreme Treasurer Col. Nicholas P. Vamvakias (ret.), Fairfax, Va.; Supreme Counselor Anastasios Konstantin, Oakland, Calif.; and Supreme Athletic Director Spiro Siaggas, Atlanta.
The eight Supreme Governors are: Region I: Peter S. Sergis, Rockledge, Fla.; Region II: John Mesogitis, Venetia, Pa.; Region III: Theodore Manolios, Lidenhurst, N.Y.; Region IV: Alex G. Geourntas, Roslindale, Mass.; Region V: Chris D. Kontos, Grosse Isle., Mich.; Region VI: Tom Gober, Highland, Ind.; Region VII: James J. Peros, Denver; and Region VIII: Peter T. Triantafyllos, West Hills, Calif. Mesogitis and Gober were re-elected.
Elected to positions on the Board of Trustees were: Franklin R. Manios, Warren, Ohio; and John Galanis, Elm Grove, Wisc. Manios, a past supreme president, was re-elected. Nick Dixie, Dallas, Texas, was elected to the Board of Auditors.
The organizations that comprise the AHEPA Family also held elections. Elaine M. Sampanis, West Chester, Ohio, was elected Daughters of Penelope Grand President; Dean Tselepis, Wyckoff, N.J., Sons of Pericles Supreme President; and Sia Zois, Dayton, Ohio, Maids of Athena Grand President.
AHEPA held its 87th Annual Grand Banquet Friday, July 3, 2009, in San Francisco. Honors were presented to:
Her Excellency Dora Bakoyannis, foreign minister, Hellenic Republic, who received the AHEPA Pericles Award (Consul General of San Francisco Xenia Stefanidou accepting), George M. Marcus, accomplished businessman and philanthropist, who received the AHEPA Archbishop Iakovos Humanitarian Award, Basile Z. Katsikas, entertainer, who received the AHEPA Aristotle Award, Professor Speros Vyronis, academic, historian, and author; who received the AHEPA Academy of Achievement Award, Chris Economides, Jr., Charlotte, N.C., who received the AHEPA Lifetime Achievement Award, and Pete Nicholas, Baltimore, Md., who received the Ahepan of the Year Award.
Actor Michael Papajohn, who has had movie roles in Spider-Man, Charlieʼs Angels, The Longest Yard, Land of the Lost, Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen, and Terminator 3, served as Master of Ceremonies.
The audience received an eloquent Keynote Address from His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios and remarks from His Excellency Andreas Kakouris, ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S. His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos also participated.
California State Senator Elaine Kontominas Alquist, a member of the Daughters of Penelope, and Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis, an Ahepan, were also recognized.
Daughters of Penelope Grand President Barbara Stavis Wolf led in the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the organization. In a special moment, Founding Member of EOS Chapter 1, Effie Choppelas, who is 101, was recognized and received a standing ovation from the audience.
Sons of Pericles Supreme President Demetri Vidalis and Maids of Athena Grand President Stephanie Maniatis recapped their years and provided emotional farewells. For Maniatis, it was the conclusion of her second term as grand president.
Moreover, Nick Stratas, chairman of the board, AHEPA National Housing Corporation presented charitable contributions in excess of $50,000. AHEPA and AHEPA Chapter 145, Denver, also presented $10,000 each to Archbishop Demetrios that goes toward their fulfillment of their Leadership 100 pledges.
Consul General of San Francisco Xenia Stefanidou, who represented the Embassy of Greece and the Foreign Ministry, offered remarks to the AHEPA Family.
“On this occasion, I would like to acknowledge, on behalf of the government of Greece, that the efforts and support of this significant organization [AHEPA] have greatly contributed to the substantial progress in the visa issue,” said Stefanidou. “For this development, we are very grateful to the AHEPA family.”
Moreover, she read Her Excellency Dora Bakoyannisʼ acceptance letter for the AHEPA Pericles Award.
“I am particularly humbled as this special honor comes from the distinguished members of AHEPA. AHEPA represents millions of Greek Diaspora and has played an admirable role in helping nurture and strengthen the bilateral relations between Greece and the United States,” wrote Foreign Minister Bakoyannis. “As Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, I would like to express my deep admiration and gratitude for the role your members are playing in promoting our country through their actions and words in the USA. And I would like to reassure you that we in Greece treasure your achievements and take pride in the prosperity of the Greek American community. Indeed each and every AHEPA member is an extraordinary ambassador for Greece.”
Foreign Minister Bakoyannis also commended the Daughters of Penelope as the “driving force” behind the progress of countless Greek-American women.
PAST PRESIDENT GULAS
In final address as supreme president, Ike Gulas emphasized themes of unity and togetherness.
“In my two years as your supreme president, we have witnessed the realities of a cruel world—devastation caused by natural disasters, the promulgation of bigotry, and the affliction of disease. But weʼve also seen the triumph of the Hellenic spirit and the continued fulfillment of the American Dream,” said Gulas. “Together, with your help, we delivered a half-million dollars in financial and humanitarian aid to victims of Greeceʼs deadly wildfires. Together, with your passion, we fought hate propaganda that emanated from FYROM—an eerie reminder of why we were founded 87 years ago. Together, in the spirit of Brotherhood and Fellowship, we continue to bring the ideals of AHEPA into the lives of our peers, colleagues, friends and family all across the globe.”
He also touched on AHEPAʼs role to bring to the forefront Greeceʼs candidacy for inclusion into the United Statesʼ Visa Waiver Program and he highlighted the benefits of utilizing social media networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to communicate the organizationʼs message and to create awareness about issues the community faces.
AHEPA was established in 1922 by visionary Greek-Americans to protect all from prejudice from the KKK. In its history, AHEPA has joined with the NAACP and Bʼnai Bʼrith International to fight discrimination. It has grown to become the largest membership-based association for Hellenic-Americans and Philhellenes in the world.