- “JUST BECAUSE,” SAYS MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY ABOUT HIS NEW CHILDREN’S BOOK
- Septemvriana: A Night of Terror for Greeks in Constantinople
- THE DARK DAY OF THE DISTOMO MASSACRE BY THE NAZIS
- The Hellenic Initiative’s 11th Annual Gala to Honor Ted Leonsis
- Full Circle: Indie Film Reconnects a Filmmaker with His Former Teacher-Turned Screenwriter
UHVA Hosts Annual Gala, Honors Founding Father
The United Hellenic Voters of America (UHVA) hosted its first post-pandemic gala this fall at the Fountain Blue Banquets in Des Plaines, Ill. The event recognized members of the community and honored the memory of the organization’s founding father, Dr. Dimitrios Kyriazopoulos, who passed away last year.
A non-partisan grass roots political group, UHVA was founded in 1974 and serves the Greek-American community in the Chicago area. In the aftermath of the Cyprus invasion, Dr. Kyriazopoulos, an educator and a leader in the Greek community, established UHVA to give Greek-Americans a collective voice and representation in government and civil affairs. During his tenure, Dr. K. as he is affectionately known, forged close relationships with elected officials, advocated for government jobs for Greek-Americans, and helped bring Greek issues to the forefront.
“This evening is especially bittersweet,” said National Supreme Chairman Kiki Whitehead. “Dr. K.’s spirit is felt so deeply tonight. He would be so proud to see you all here because this was his life’s work, bringing us all together, sharing our Hellenic pride, and providing a voice for Greek-Americans.”
UHVA’s founder helped many Greeks and non-Greeks to secure jobs or to help them on their path to office. Members and friends acknowledged his assistance. “Dr. K. and the UHVA were helpful in securing my position of Public Administrator for Cook County,” remarked Lou Apostol, Esq.
“When I met Dr. K., I could tell right away he was a kind, caring and gentle man, admired, respected, and held in the highest regard by his friends and loved ones,” shared John Valle, Supervisor of York Township. “He will surely be missed by me and all the lives that have been touched by his presence. I would like to express my deepest appreciation and profound gratitude for his years of public service and all of his efforts to improve the quality of life for his community.”
UHVA’s motto is “People. Not Party”. This is vitally important today. UHVA encourages its members to become actively involved in political discourse, become educated on important issues, and respect the rights and opinions of others. Many times, people enter the voting booth and don’t recognize names on the ballot. As voting is a right, it also brings an obligation to learn about the issues to inform our votes. Each election cycle, UHVA invites candidates for local, state, and federal offices to endorsement sessions, where they may present their plans and outline their stance on the issues. The Supreme Board then selects an endorsement list, a bi-partisan collective of candidates who they believe will forward issues pertinent to the Greek community and are committed to serve the community-at-large. They also encourage Greek-Americans to run for political office or to forge careers in public service.
“We also dedicate our efforts to strengthen ties between the people and governments of Greece and the United States,” Whitehead explained. “Our two countries share deep and historical foundations in democracy.”
Each year, at their awards gala, UHVA recognizes key individuals for their work the community. The sold-out event featured local Greek-American and other elected officials and candidates, plus members and friends of the Greek community.
The 2022 Person of the Year is Illinois Speaker of the House, Emanuel “Chris” Welch. Speaker since January 2021, Welch has also represented the 7th District in Illinois since 2013. Much of his work has focused on education. Prior to becoming speaker, he was a member of several different committees. As chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, he championed several pieces of historic legislation such as the four-year-map-grant award and the AIM High Scholarship.
Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree is Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. White is the 37th and longest-serving Secretary of State and has served Illinois since 1998. Prior to this office, he held several others, including State Librarian, State Archivist, and Cook County Recorder of Deeds. He’s also the founder of the renowned Jesse White Tumblers, which he created in 1959, “to provide a positive alternative for inner-city kids”.
2022 Mayor of the Year is George D. Alpogianis, Mayor of Niles, Ill. A resident of Niles since 2000, and the proprietor of his family’s Kappy’s Restaurant, he served two terms as village trustee prior to being elected mayor in 2021. A man who truly loves him hometown, Alpogianis leads with a mixture of his love for community, his business acumen, and his Greek family values.
Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Kyriakoula A. Fournier is this year’s Most Distinguished Greek-American in Law. Koula has served the State’s Attorney’s office for the past 22 years and is currently assigned to the Criminal Appeals Division. She’s worked in several other divisions, including Sex Crimes, Felony Trial, Internet Crimes Against Children, the Juvenile Justice Bureau, and the Narcotics Bureau. During her tenure, she has litigated hundreds of trials and motions on various felonies. Koula is a proud Hellene, who has served many community organizations, including the Hellenic Bar Association.
This year’s Most Distinguished Greek-American in Media is Paul Kotrotsios, founder and publisher of Hellenic News of America. He started the newspaper in 1987 and is also the founder and president of Hermes Expo International, an annual trade show and exhibition networking event. Born in Greece, Kotrotsios built his American Dream serving his Greek community, not only in the media, but as a founder and member of many organizations, including US-Greece Business Advisory Council of Greater Philadelphia, Hellenic American National Council, and others.
The 2022 Restaurant of the Year Honoree is Ki’s Restaurant in Glendale Heights, Ill. Opened in 1934, Ki’s began as a field house with two gas pumps at the front entrance, situated on a two-lane dirt road that’s now a major thoroughfare called North Avenue (Illinois Route 64). From its humble beginnings, Ki’s grew into a popular place in DuPage County, where customers could enjoy a great meal at a reasonable price. That was always their goal, along with “warm, attentive, quality service”. Now, several generations later, Ki’s is run by Spiro and Lefteris Roumpas. Spiro proudly accepted the award on behalf of all of his staff, whom he acknowledged for helping the business survive economic crises and a pandemic.
UHVA honors the legacy of Dr. K., but they don’t rest on “that’s the way we always do it” thinking. They continue to evolve as our community evolves. To learn more about UHVA, view endorsement lists, and find out about the Dr. K. Scholarship, their website is uhva.org.