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HANAC Honors Peter Vlachos at 42nd Annual Gala

By on February 18, 2015

Peter Vlachos, a Portfolio Manager at Beck, Mack & Oliver investment firm, was honored with the Man of the Year Award this past fall at the 42nd annual HANAC (Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee) gala. The event took place at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York City.

    Vlachos has been a member of HANAC’s Board of Directors for more than 20 years and in the investment business for more than 50. As a youth, the native New Yorker attended Stuyvesant High School and Colby College, where he graduated with a BA in History, Government and Economics. During the Korean War, Vlachos served in the 328th Bomb Squadron as a radar bombing and navigational technician and the Air Force Strategic Air Command’s 93rd Bomb Wing.

    His professional career began at a Wall Street firm called Amott Baker. In 1967, he joined the Dreyfus Corporation, an investment management company. He was eventually promoted to portfolio manager and finally President of the Dreyfus Leverage Fund. He moved to Neuberger Berman, another investment management firm, in 1980 as an investment advisor. Nine years later, he founded Austin Investment Management, Inc. He sold the company in 2009. During his time at Austin Investment Management, Vlachos was also a board member of VirtualRelocation.com and Bullhorn, Inc.

    The Man of the Year, now in his 70s, is a huge supporter of the arts. He has served on the investment committees and boards of the Metropolitan Montessori School, The School for Strings music academy, his alma mater Colby College, and the non-profit organizations Scenic Hudson and Outward Bound, to name a few.

    He has also served as an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Vice President of the American Associates of the Saint Catherine Foundation, Treasurer of Faith: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism, and has sat on the Archdiocesan Council of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

    Today, Vlachos splits his time between Martha’s Vineyard and New York City with his psychiatrist wife, Dr. Susan Deakins. He has two children, son Dimitri and daughter Zoe Vlachos Young Yang, and 4 grandchildren.

    According to HANAC chairman Evangeline Douris, Vlachos “was honored for his devotion to the organization. He exuded honesty, integrity, philanthropy, and kindness. Always helping people and organizations in the community with his expertise.”

    HANAC president Nikita Drakotos echoed this sentiment, saying “it was an honor for us to present Mr. Vlachos with the Man of the Year Award.”

    The organization’s mission, according to Douris, is “to develop, implement, and administer the operation of service programs for the betterment of the community. To provide these services to any and all who are needy without discrimination as to race, creed, national origin, or other defining characteristics and to work closely with other providers including the city, state, and federal government for the betterment of the community.” Each year, Man of the Year nominations are submitted by members of HANAC. The Board of Directors then selects the man who best embodies the organization’s vision and honors him with a dinner dance fundraiser.

    “I was extremely pleased with the success of the dinner dance this year,” says Douris. “I love elegance and try to achieve it when organizing the events. I create the flower arrangements every year together with Louis, my wonderful florist. Although we do have success each year, there was something special about this year’s event. There was a feeling of happiness that permeated the room. Of course, having Basile perform his comedy routine was hilarious.” The evening also included music by Alpha.

    Says Drakotos, “I agree. People had a lot of kefi and came to enjoy themselves. And, most important, our financial goal was reached!”

    Douris founded HANAC (Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee) in 1972 in Astoria, Queens with her late husband, George. “Initially, the concern was with the needs of the Greek immigrants living in the community,” she says. George, who was working for the Long Island Press at the time, approached then-mayor John Lindsay and received a $75,000 grant to found HANAC. George and Evangeline hired staff and identified Columbia and NYU students to conduct a study that would ultimately determine the service priorities for this newly formed organization. The survey took about a year and found that the senior citizens in the community needed the most assistance. HANAC would take this information and submit proposals for an ESL program and senior center. They were eventually approved.

    More than 40 years have passed, but the focus on seniors remains to this day. Speaking of the future, Douris says, “The emphasis will most likely be for the elderly. As our population gets older special programs and services will be required. It will be a challenge.” Another of HANAC’s challenges? “Acquiring the necessary funding for existing and future programs,’ says Drakotos.

    “Today, HANAC has become one of New York City’s largest and most successful social service organizations, touching the lives of over 30,000 individuals with a wide range of programs and services for diverse and multiethnic communities in four boroughs,” says Douris. These services include counseling, affordable housing assistance, immigration services, after-school programs, employment assistance, and senior services. In addition to those that partake in HANAC’s programs, the organization aims to provide relief to the colleagues, caretakers, and family members of each client.

    Despite the past, present, and future challenges facing HANAC, Douris remains optimistic. “I am proud of the extraordinary work HANAC has done for 41 years. I am proud of the talented, dedicated staff that runs our programs. I am proud of the tender loving care we give our elderly, the most vulnerable population. I am proud of the 30,000 clients served annually,” she says. “As chairman I would like to thank HANAC’s amazing staff that take such extraordinary care of the communities, parents, grandparents, and children who are in need. They are my heroes.”

    For more information about HANAC, their website is hanac.org

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