AHIF Hosts 11th Annual Future of Hellenism in America Conference
The American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) hosted its landmark 11th Annual Conference on the Future of Hellenism in America, keeping the discussion of the promotion and preservation of Hellenism at the forefront of the community. This year’s conference was held in Atlanta, Ga., at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, Thalia N. Carlos Hellenic Community Center.
Featuring more than 20 prominent speakers from across the country, conference presentations analyzed key issues including the future of Greek American organizations, the political process and lobbying, religious and ethnic identity, promoting Hellenic values through business, Greek education, and perspectives from young Greek Americans. Speakers also identified how Hellenism could be promoted in the future through these various channels.
At a dinner hosted the evening before the main events, American Hellenic Institute President Nick Larigakis extended welcoming remarks followed from Conference Chairman Sandy Papadopoulos.
The dinner’s Keynote Speaker was U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD). Following the day’s events he stated: “I very much enjoyed speaking to Atlanta’s Greek American community about Hellenism in the Public Service. By giving back to the broader society we enrich ourselves as individuals, improve the communities we live in, strengthen our country, and set a great example for the next generation. By engaging in acts of Hellenism in the Public Service we express our philotimo and present the best of the high ideals and values of Hellenism. Whether it is a businessman serving on a hospital board, a student volunteering at Americorps, or an educator going the extra mile, Hellenism in the Public Service celebrates the great deeds and hard work of those in our community striving to give back to the broader society.”
Atlanta natives Dr. Victor G. Polizos and Karen Stamatides received AHI’s Hellenic Heritage and Public Service Award for the Promotion of Hellenism.
In his acceptance, Dr. Polizos focused on how Hellenism has inspired him in his life and how the ancient Greeks instilled a sense of pride in his heritage. He also spoke of being inspired by his immigrant parent, as they taught him at an early age to love his Hellenic roots and shared stories of their homeland of Greece. He remains inspired everyday by witnessing the involvement of his wife, Christina, and children Georgea and Constantine, in their Greek Orthodox Church community through leadership in choir, Sunday School and Hellenic dance groups. Dr. Polizos also thanked many friends who have inspired and continue to inspire him through their life’s work. “We all have one thing in common; our passion for Hellenism,” he said.
In her acceptance, Stamatiades described her journey to becoming a Helleniphile, which was advanced by her longstanding membership in the Daughters of Penelope and that membership afforded her the opportunity to put this love into action. As the National President of the Daughters of Penelope, she instituted a Civic Responsibility campaign which reached out to members of Congress with the message of the purpose, goals and interests of the Daughters of Penelope. She also worked to outreach to the Daughters’ 10,000 members to encourage them to become more involved in various Hellenic issues and carry that message to their respective representatives. This effort culminated in a successful Capitol Hill Day in March of 2008, which saw members and their representatives meeting face to face to discuss issues of Hellenic interest and thus gave us a unified voice to maximize impact. These programs are still in effect and continue to give the organization’s members a vehicle to express their views and Hellenic concerns to their elected representatives.