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The Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce Celebrates 25th Anniversary Gala
The Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce held its 25th Anniversary Gala at The Loeb Boathouse in Central Park at 6:30pm. Recipients of the Distinguished Merit Award were Anthoula Katsimatides (Actor/Write/Producer) and Lyons Mortgage Services, Inc. Assemblyman Michael Tannousis was honored with the Cyprus Young Professional Award.
The program began with a welcome from Despina Axiotakis, Executive Director, followed by an address form the Master of Ceremonies and Vice President, Demetrios Comodromos, and Greetings from Maria Pappas, the first female president of the Cyprus US-Chamber of Commerce. Also present was the founding president Andreas Comodromos.
Maria Pappas gave a speech that was engaging and relatable. She emphasized the importance of the evening being a celebration, as we were all challenged by the pandemic both personally and professionally, and faced the difficulties with courage: “We demonstrated our strength and our resilience as a people and as a community.” She also went on to note that The Cyprus-US Chamber also faced many challenges. It had to reinvent itself from an in-person event model, quickly changing to a virtual platform: “We recognized that the newest information about our programs was crucial to our members and our community. We quickly modified our website to include direct links for up-to-date information.” She also pointed out that early on they hosted a zoom event geared towards business on how to quickly re-open their businesses safely. The zoom event was presented by Vice President Demetrios Comodromos, who was introduced earlier by Despina Axiotakis as a man who never says no with a can-do attitude in all he does. Maria went on to note that two financial zoom meetings, Investing 101 for Young Professionals and Getting Your House in Order were presented by Bill Peterson, Ken Marino, and Joanne Sternlieb of Neuberger Berman, who were also present at the gala. She also mentioned the challenges of travel these past two years and congratulated Board Member Evis Savvides, who led a wine tasting tour of Cyprus. Her enthusiasm continued to resonate as she highlighted an important event that will take place later this year introducing Cypriot tech and start-up companies to potential US investors. This initiative is being led by Aristos Constantine, Trade Commissioner at Cyprus Embassy Trade Center. In her closing comments, Maria expressed her appreciation and gratitude to all the sponsors and supporters, and the Board of Directors for all their hard work in the success of the gala, with a special shout-out to Chairman Nicolas Nicolaou, a thank you to the Cyprus Young Professionals, and lastly Despina Axiotakis for her remarkable devotion and commitment as Executive Director for the past 25 years.
Following Maria’s speech was the award ceremony. Demetrios Comodromos introduced the Honorable Michael Tannousis, NY State Assemblyman, District 64, on behalf of the Cyprus Young Professionals, citing the importance of this division, and its growth, to The Chamber and how it gave rise to many businesses and young entrepreneurs through networking events. Demetrios emphasized that one of the first people to attend their meetings nine years ago was founding member Assemblyman Michael Tannousis, fresh out of law school, bringing to the group his optimism and idealism. Presenting the award to him were Board Members Laura Neroulias, Stathis Theodoropoulos, Petroula Lambrou (Treasurer), Jovanna Tannousis, Christina Missoulis and Vickie Savvides, along with Katerina Athanasiou. Assemblyman Tannnousis acknowledged the opportunities the Cyprus Young Professionals group offered for networking here in NY while also strengthening ties to Cyprus. In his speech he noted: “I see a lot of friends around the room and friends I will have for life. None of these friends asked me my political affiliation. The only thing they asked me is how could they help me make sure I got to where I got to go.” He is proud to be the son of Cypriot refugees and to come from a family of service in the Cypriot Parliament. He encouraged others to rely the Cyprus Young Professionals as much as possible.
Next up were the Distinguished Merit Awards. Nick Tziazas, George Sophocleous, and Edith O’Donnell were present to receive on their behalf. An architect himself, Demetrios Comodromos emphasized that banks and mortgage lending are essential to people achieving their goals, both personally and commercially. Lyons Mortgage Services has been doing just that – serving the community for thirty years to help grow and prosper – and has received Best in Borough awards in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021. They have financed over 2 billion dollars in mortgage loans in both their residential and commercial lending communities, and doing it with trust and transparency. Nick Tziazas, president and founder of Lyons Mortgage Group, has been actively involved in the community as President of the Eleftehria Pan Cyprian Soccer Club, which provides children of the Greek and Cypriot diaspora an opportunity to participate in competitive developmental soccer programs in NYC. Nick Tziazas congratulated his fellow honorees and thanked The Chamber Board for the work they do throughout the year to promote and extend the commercial, industrial, and economic relations between the US and the Republic of Cyprus. He concluded by stating it was a special honor for him to be honored this year by The Chamber. He also thanked and recognized his colleagues and business partners, many of whom were present that evening.
The award ceremony ended on a dramatic, humorous, and entertaining note with actor/writer/producer Anthoula Katsimatides, also the recipient of the Distinguished Merit Award, for her many years of service to the community and her work as an artist. She has been a staunch supporter of Cyprus and causes affecting it. Anthoula especially thanked Despina Axiotakis for the nomination and recounted her days at Queens College sitting in the cafeteria with fellow students from Cyprus eating spaghetti with ketchup. She was amazed at how hard working, mature, self-sufficient, confident and smart they were, among them being Nikos Christodoulides, who recently announced his candidacy for president of Cyprus. She further went on to talk about how deeply affected she was by all the injustices that took place in Cyprus through these students’ eyes, and how inspired she was to get involved and influence change, so much so that the Turkish Consulate began to target her. She proceeded to thank her fellow honorees and mentioned all the Cypriot movers and shakers she has met that she admires and continue to inspire her, including the late Nikos Mouyiaris. She ended her speech with a warm and heartfelt thank you to the Cypriot community for their love and support, and how humbled she was to have the opportunity to express how grateful she is: “It is I who honor you.”
The mission of the Cyprus—US Chamber of Commerce is to promote and expand commercial, industrial, and economic relations between the Republic of Cyprus and the United State, and the development of commercial exchange between their respective industries, trades and business in an effort to offer assistance to its members in achieving their business goals, both in the US, Cyprus, and globally. Emblematic of their mission are the torch and the bow. The torch, representing the Statue of Liberty, symbolizes the light of prosperity which emanates from the United States of America and the achievements of of its system of free enterprise. The bow, which was found on the ship of Kyrenia, symbolizes Cyprus’ 3000-year history of global trade, and the ability of the Cypriot people to overcome adversity and become triumphant.