The American Hellenic Council of California Holds Annual Gala
The American Hellenic Council (AHC) of California honored three distinguished Greek individuals for their service to Hellenism and their excellence in their respective fields of expertise. During the 2013 AHC Gala and awards ceremony Professor, Author & Poet Thanasis Maskaleris received the Theodore Saloutos Award, Congressman Gus Bilirakis was honored with the Pericles Award and Ambassador Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki with the Aristeio Award for winning and organizing the very successful 2004 Summer Olympics.
The event, which attracted over 400 attendees, was held at the Omni Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Michael Dukakis, former Governor of Massachusetts and 1988 US Presidential Candidate was the Master of Ceremonies.
The event featured singing by Ariana Savalas, an up-and-coming jazz artist, Alex Economou and the Takis Kokotas Band.
Professor Thanasis Maskaleris is the Founding Director at the Center for Modern Greek Studies at San Francisco State University. He spearheaded efforts that led to the establishment of the Nikos Kazantzakis Chair for Modern Greek Studies at SFSU in 1983. Each year, the AHC celebrates the achievements of dedicated community members who have made major contributions to Hellenism, Greek culture and heritage by awarding them the Theodore Saloutos award, named after UCLA Professor Saloutos, a founding member of the AHC. “We decided to honor Professor Maskaleris in recognition of his efforts in establishing the Nikos Kazantzakis Chair for Modern Greek Studies at San Francisco State University and for his contributions to Hellenism within the Greek-American community in California,” stated Alexander Mizan, Executive Director of the American Hellenic Council.
The second honoree, Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis, is a Republican from Palm Harbor, representing Florida’s 12th Congressional District. He was first elected to Congress in 2006, and is currently serving his fourth term in the United States House of Representatives. Each year, the AHC honors with the Pericles Award a nationally elected official who has made major contributions to Hellenic causes. Recent recipients of the Award include Rep. Shelley Berkley (2012), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (2011) and Rep. Dina Titus (2010). “We decided to honor Congressman Bilirakis in recognition of his dedicated work in Congress supporting the Hellenic Causes. He has been a leader in advocating for religious freedom and human rights protection in Turkey, for an end to the illegal occupation of Cyprus and for cooperation among the closest US allies in the Eastern Mediterranean; Israel, Cyprus & Greece,” said Alexander Mizan.
Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki who was honored with the 2013 Aristeio Award, is well known for winning and saving the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. According to Alexander Mizan, “we decided to honor Mrs. Angelopoulos in recognition of her exemplary and dedicated work in successfully leading the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens and her devotion to education and philanthropy in Greece as well as in the USA.”
In 2000, when slow progress and gridlocked bureaucracy put Athens in danger of losing the Olympic Games, she was asked to assume the presidency of the ATHENS 2004 Organizing Committee for the Olympics. Under her leadership, Athens made up for lost time and gave the world what IOC President Jacques Rogge called, “an unforgettable, dream Games.”
Today, Ambassador Angelopoulos-Daskalaki is an active member of The Clinton Global Initiative and she continues to serve as Vice-Chairperson of the Dean’s Council for Harvard’s John. F. Kennedy School of Government.
Her new book, MY GREEK DRAMA: Life, Love and One Woman’s Olympic Effort to Bring Glory to Her Country was published by Greenleaf Book Group Press this past May.
Previous AHC Aristeio Award honorees include billionaire and real-estate investor and philanthropist George Argyros (2009), George Marcus, CEO of Marcus and Millichap (2010), Van Vlahakis, Founder and CEO of Earthy Friendly Products (2011) and Andrew N. Liveris, Chairman and CEO of The Dow Chemical Co. (2012).
Thanks to Anastasios Papapostolou at the Greekreporter for his help contributing to this article.