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The Power of a Decade: The Cypriot Young Professionals Celebrates 10 Years Together
By Laura Neroulias Bisiotis (Founding President of CYP)
Once upon a time, there was a group of Cypriots…who were Young…and very Professional. Yet, there was nowhere for them to go, unite, exchange ideas, or hang out. Boom. The Cypriot Young Professionals (CYP) of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce was born. And now, it’s turning 10 years old.
As founding president of CYP which was established in June of 2013, it’s quite remarkable looking back and seeing how much the organization has accomplished. While none of the original CYP Founders are “part” of the core group anymore (eh hemm, mainly due to the face that we have now moved up to the big chairs, sitting on the Board of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce), what CYP did for us professionally is extraordinary and, was the sole reason why we started it, why it has been different and how it continues to be relevant. More importantly, CYP has continued to carry and emphasize the mission of the Chamber, a non-profit membership organization dedicated to promoting trade and investment flows between Cyprus and the United States, a place where business opportunities are fostered, and closer ties amongst its own members and the greater business community in America is created.
From a thought, to a greater discussion, to inception, to inauguration, the journey of CYP has been strong. Starting off in mid-2012 with a kickoff meeting that took place at the Keo Room at the Cyprus Trade Center in New York, the setting was set with about 15 Cypriot ‘kids’ (all in their mid-late 20’s), and five adults from the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce. We were invited to all sit around a table, introduced ourselves and discussed how we can do something really great for young Cypriots who are looking to thrive in the business world, meet like-minded individuals, and ultimately, build communications & partnerships that would ultimately, shape a strong economic future the Cypriot community in the States. Many of us did not even know each other previously, and in some ways, somehow, we were plucked from our everyday lives to attend this meeting that looking back, was fate. The biggest impact from that meeting was that we had a mix of professions that were represented, including, public relations, architecture, education, finance, law, entertainment, the arts, accounting, fashion, fitness, real estate…and that made a whole difference. That’s when we knew this was going to be a very different organization that was inclusive to all types of businesses.
Over the last 10 years, the Cypriot Young Professionals has brought the community (young and elder) together both professionally and socially while at the same time, engaging a new generation of inspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs. Building a foundation for success by implementing impactful initiatives such as monthly networking events that highlight and celebrate specific Young Professionals and their successes to date (Harry Antoniou – Singer), to round-table discussions & fireside chats (Stylianos Lambrou – CEO of Heart Cyprus), to leadership dinners & entrepreneurship workshops (Jimmy Pelekanos – COO & Co-Founder of Bareburger, Eleni Janis, VP Social Capital Desk, Andrew Gounardes, NY State Senator), to launching the CYP Mentorship Program specifically designed to provide an opportunity for students and young professionals to work with a mentor, in an established professional in their field. The idea of the program was to establish a structured and formal relationship where individuals share ideas and experiences within the context of the mentee’s professional development goals, and perhaps, create a mentor and mentee relationship that could be life-long. Additionally professional development events for members included, #CYPExclusive Professional Head Shots, and US Tax Reform: What it Means for the US, World and You.
Bringing important Cypriot and Greek causes to the forefront has been a way for CYP to allow its members to grow together and give back within this short amount of time and throughout the 10 years, has become the fabric of the organization. While promoting business, trade and creating ways to build leaders & entrepreneurs into our Cypriot community is at the core, the important of supporting worthwhile causes has led to putting together initiatives that help reinforce and educate the public on the Cyprus Children’s Fund, the Cyprus Society for the Protection of Spastic and Handicapped Children, Thalassemia, and continuing to support the future, by way of launching a J1 Visa program, donating school supplies to Lefkara Public School & Limassol Public School, medical equipment for the newborn intensive care unit in Nicosia, and more.
Though the efforts of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce continuing to support the new era of Cypriot leaders, we have had several one-of-a-kind opportunities in meeting including, two Presidents of the Republic of Cyprus (Mr. Nicos Anastasiades & Mr. Nikos Christodoulides), as well as other notables within the Cypriot Community including several of Ministers of the Cyprus Ministry (Finance, Tourism, Transport), Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, Ambassadors, several dignitaries, and business leaders.
While all of the above is just a mere glimpse into the incredible voyage, and ultimately, reasons to be part of the Cypriot Young Professionals of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, it’s what you take away from it that really shows that this has worked.
With that being said, this is what I call a love letter to my fellow founders, as you have all grown into your own, and we have done it together, in support of each other, and it’s been a beautiful ride. Let me transition by this. If someone were to ask me, or any of us 10 years ago if we thought “this” was going to be enormous, effective, influential and help us all achieve our dreams….the big answer was always a YES. And you know why? We believed in it and we still do.
Meet the Founding Class of the Cypriot Young Professionals of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
- The Mockingjay, Laura Neroulias Bisiotis: As founding president, Laura set the tone of CYP. From 2013 inauguration to her 2014 presidential year, she vowed that this would be a way different professional organization by focusing on all professions. Whether you were in the arts, education, technology, architecture, finance, or marketing…. well, let’s stop there. At the time, Laura was working her way up the ladder in public relations in NYC (working with The Kardashians, Forever 21, Vera Wang, to name a few), where she built PR/marketing strategies that would build brands. Always finding creative ways to increase awareness (launching campaigns, programs, partnerships), Laura took that expertise to CYP, putting together a 1-5 year plan that was presented to the Board of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, activated social media (launching IG & Facebook), coordinated media and monthly in person meetings, organized networking events every 6-8 weeks with various themes that highlighted different professions in the Cypriot community, and launched the 10-person Inaugural CYP Mentorship Program (2014) unveiling the Mentors at a 100+ event where proceeds of the night went to Saint Basils Academy.
- Fast forward (2023): Laura is the founder of her own PR/marketing agency LORA PR focusing on media relations, social media, digital/SEO management, events, celebrity partnerships and more. What else? Many of her CYP Founders are her very own clients (Method Design, Patty Pops, Piere Michel Real Estate, etc.). As of 2019, she was elected to serve on the Board on the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce and serves as a liaison for CYP.
- The Careerist, Stathis Theodoropoulos: As founding member, Stathis played a huge role in setting up CYP and recruiting for CYP, as for some reason, no one can say no to him. Not just a business professional but also a person with a big heart, Stathis lead the very successful ‘Cyprus Sweethearts’ event in 2014 (the second time he did this event), raising over $6,000 for the Cyprus Children’s Fund on behalf of CYP. As 2nd president of CYP (2015), Stathi focused on making sure members sought value in the organization, launching leadership dinners with young Cypriots, continuing the CYP Mentorship Program and instilling #CYPExclusive opportunities for one-on-one access. While at the time, Stathis was working for Ralph Lauren, we all knew that one day, Stathis would make us politically proud.
- Fast forward (2023): A true Jersey Boy at heart (move over Bruce Springsteen), Stathi is the founder and principal of successful lighting business, Firefly Lighting, which he has been able to grow due to the many connections he has made through CYP (aka, Method Design is one of his biggest clients). What else? Stathi was recently being elected 4th Ward Councilman for the town of Kearny, New Jersey.
- The Legacy, Demetrios Comodromos: Let’s give a round of applause to the OG of the OG’s, Mr. Demetrios A. Comodromos (DAC). While his father, Andreas Comodromos is the founder (aka Father) of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there is no question that he has not filled his shoes. Having been part of the Cypriot community since day one of being on this planet (he was also part of the team that founded NEPOMAK USA), Demetrios’ architecture + design company, Method Design, was the unofficial (or sorta totally official) headquarters for CYP since inception. Not just a place for our monthly meetings, but a weekly spot where we would always gather, sometimes unannounced (!!) to hang, prepare and brainstorm our next great CYP event. In 2018, DAC moved up to become a Board Member of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the following year, organized the highly attended event, “Remaking Cyprus: A New Era of Vertical and Horizontal Development” featuring two developers from Cyprus (Cyfield & Ayia Napa Marina) and one engineer (Langan Engineering), to discuss the status of the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) Industry in Cyprus in the context of development.
- Fast Forward (2023): While Method Design has a new NYC home that is downtown (having moved from the iconic Flatiron location), it remains the home to CYP. What else? You are looking at the Vice President of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
- The Queen of Desserts: Meet Petroula (Patty) Lambrou Kalognomas, or actually, you probably have already met her as she has been the ultimate HYPE woman of CYP since the beginning with one of the most creative and determined business minds. While in CYP, she braved her long hours living her best corporate CPA life at one of the “Big Four” accounting firms, while never missing a CYP meeting or event, and more importantly…bringing her very own delicious baked goods to our hungry bellies. One of the biggest member and event-goer recruiters from an ongoing standpoint, Patty can fill up any size room. While she moved up in 2018 as Treasurer of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, she has continued to be one of the biggest CYP supporters and has always been integral part of the Cypriot community.
- Fast forward (2023): Petroula said goodbye to her corporate accounting life and said hello to “Patty Pops” – founder of the ultimate dessert destination specializing in cake pops and specialty desserts. Located in Pelham, NY (don’t worry, she ships nationwide!), go visit today and I bet, you will always see her either in the kitchen or up front with customers. Definitely follow Patty Pops on Instagram and see all of her amazing partnerships & opportunities (aka, Barbie Café! Hempz! Barbara Corcoran!) that she has popped.
- The Real Estate Man, Peter Michael: When you ask Peter Michael how he got involved, he, as well as the rest of the founders have no issues admitting how it happened. “I was minding my business, walking downtown looking at some real estate projects when I bumped into a few Cypriots I knew who were on their way to a CYP meeting, and basically, took me with them. Good thing.” Well, Peter Michael never turned back and with that, also attended every meeting and event soon after. A Bronx native who is always on the go, Peter grew up with both parents being Cypriot and was involved with the Eleftheria Pancyprian Soccer Club for many years. Having always found the time to support CYP, he has always been one of the first people to lend a hand.
- Fast Forward (2023): With his expertise in real estate having continued to focus on Lower Manhattan, Peter has launched his own brokerage, Piere Michel Real Estate, and welcomes all run-ins with CYP, especially during his busy schedule of leading sales & leasing of full-service luxury buildings throughout Manhattan, as well as historic townhouses.
- The Finance Guy, Renos Savvides: Typically, you will either see this man ripping it on the dance floor, perhaps in a suit & tie and/or tuxedo, on any given occasion. And for that reason, we love him! Having been part of the Cypriot community since day one of being on this planet (we have another legacy!), Renos played a huge role in CYP, being part of the Mentorship Program that launched in 2014 (representing finance) and has been an influential member and huge advocate for the organization. At the time and throughout the years of his membership, he was working with Credit Suisse, where he was responsible for ECM coverage of the Technology, Financial and Real Estate sectors.
- Fast Forward (2023): Newly elected on to the Board of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce as of 2023 (welcome welcome!) and spending the last 20+ years in the finance industry, Renos is currently a Managing Director of Neuberger Berman and Head of Equity Capital Markets where he is responsible for coordinating ECM activity across the Neuberger Berman platform.
- The Politician, Michael Tannousis: Having been the ‘token Cypriots’ with Laura Neroulias Bisiotis and his sister, Jovanna Tannousis at SUNY Binghamton University, the crew started the Hellenic Cultural Society (2004) and even after college ended, kept in touch where a CYP fate awaited. A lifelong Staten Islander and the son of Cypriot immigrants who came to America to seek a better life after being displaced by armed conflict in Cyprus, Michael began his career in public service in 2006 when he was hired as an aide to former New York City Council Minority Leader James Oddo. After graduating law school, he became an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, where he prosecuted major felony offenses. Proud of his Cypriot community roots, Michael joined CYP and right away, became our go-to for events, logistics and was an incredible voice of reason. Soon after, he served as a board member of the Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce.
- Fast Forward (2023): Meet Assemblyman Michael Tannousis, elected his second term to the New York State Assembly representing parts of Southern Brooklyn and the East Shore of Staten Island. Go Michael!
- The Beauty & Fashion Guru, Tatiana Raftis-Serghides: Having graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Tatiana has not only been CYP’s resident fashionista, but has brought brilliant, creative ideas and amazing connections into the organization (including shaping the well-attended CYP Leadership dinner featuring Bareburger co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Jimmy Pelekanos). Never missing a beat, a meeting and always offering to lend a hand, Tatiana is a true legacy – having spent her entire life in the Cypriot lime life as a massive influencer in the Pancyprian Association Dance Division, and Miss Cyprus USA Pageant.
- Fast Forward (2023): Having been surrounded by cosmetics her whole life, and after the passing of her uncle, the incredible Nikos Mouyiaris, Tatiana wanted to carry on what became known as a family business and start a new chapter of cosmetics in the family. Changing the way you wear lipstick (and VEGAN may I tell you), Tatiana is the Chief Executive Officer at The Beauty Tailor with husband, Andrew Serghides, who is the Chief Operating Officer. Go visit their Carle Store, Long Island store today (!!) for your one-on-one lipstick creation that is tailor-made to you to match your skin tone or dare you to step outside your comfort zone, in a fun, creative and interactive environment.
- The Cyprus Connect, Christina Shailas: Christina is a first-generation Cypriot who played an important role in CYP’s beginnings. As a CYP Mentor in the inaugural 2014 class, serving the topic of education, Christina’s influence brought up the importance of learning & technology to the group. Serving as a two-year term CYP President (2016 & 2017), under her leadership, she launched a J1 Visa program to help with opportunities to work in the States, and continued to find ways help Cypriot children (Stateside & in Cyprus) be prepared for their best, including hosting fundraisers for school supplies (Lefkara Public School, Limassol Public School), equipment donation for the newborn intensive care unit in Nicosia and also hosting a Thalassemia Fundraiser which raised over $10,000. In 2018, in collaboration with Nepomak USA, she was one of the speakers at “Cyprus 44 Years Later, Museum of Moving Image.”
- Fast Forward (2023): Living in Cyprus full time since 2018, and representing the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce as their Cyprus Liaison, Christina is the Founder/Director of Gear Education, a boutique firm specializing in educational technology services, working closely with schools to develop strategies that drive change by providing expert consultation and training on the use of technologies in education. What else? Gear Education is proud to be the first Google for Education Partner in Cyprus.
On Saturday, June 24, 2023, the Cypriot Young Professionals celebrated and honored the years of accomplishments the organization has had over the last decade. Going back to their roots, the event took place at CODE Astoria, previously known as Central Astoria, New York (Cypriot-owned), and more importantly, a venue where CYP hosted all of their events during the first few years of inception.
“It’s very sentimental and we have great memories here, launching the CYP Mentorship Program, hosting events for the Cyprus Children’s Fund, Saint Basils, and also, just being in the same room and coming together with so many of, “the Greats” of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce that always supported us. As CYP founders, this event is also a thank you to the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as they were the ones that also saw the need to create and put action steps in place to build a platform for young, business-eager Cypriots. They have been supportive of us in several ways, been open to our ideas, letting us run with them, coming to our events and always picking up the phone if we ever need anything. While they all helped us and molded us into the business professionals we are today, our goal is to do the same for a continued and bright future for CYP.” – said Laura Neroulias Bisiotis, Founding President of the Cypriot Young Professionals of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce within her opening remarks at the CYP 10 Year Anniversary event.
Event sponsors included, Maria Pappas (President of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce) as Presenting Sponsor, Method Design as Benefactor (CYP Founder, Demetrios Comodromos is Partner), as well as many CYP founders and Chamber Board Members companies filled the step & repeat including, LORA PR (Laura Neroulias Bisiotis), Patty Pops (Petroula Lambrou Kalognomas), Firefly Lighting (Stathis Theodoropoulos), Piere Michel Real Estate (Peter Michael), United Glass & Architecture (Lambrou Family), Anna & Andreas D. Comodromos (founder of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce), The CB Concepts (Christos Bisiotis), Lisa & Nicolas Nicolaou (Chairman of the Board of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce), American Network Solutions (Philip Christopher), Hellenic American Bankers Association (HABA), Imian Partners (Ted Kakoyiannis), and much more.
While many of the CYP original founders, Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce Board members, CYP members (past and present) packed the room, the 10 Year Anniversary Event also celebrated the CYP founders supporting the next generation of CYP and the many new, and exciting things set to be announced that will continue to bring a forward-thinking, strategic vision that stands the test of time and emphasizes a lifelong commitment to the Cypriot business community.
Passing the CYP legacy to two women powerhouses and having been part of the CYP journey for many years, we have Christina Misoulis who is currently a business insights & strategy manager at Louis Vuitton. Having spent eight years at L’Oreal, she is an incredibly experienced and systems savvy professional who has demonstrated incredible leadership within the CYP organization. Next up, her partner in CYP, Vickie Savvides, who has been part of CYP over the last few years as well. Having been honored as valedictorian of Baruch College in 2019, Vickie plays an important part of CYP’s forward-thinking community who has a strategic vision that stands the test of time and emphasizes a lifelong commitment to the community.
On behalf of the Founders of the Cypriot Young Professionals, we would like to note that we would not have been successful without the mentorship and leadership of those who came before us as they have been our inspiration and been “the Greats” of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce….Andreas Comodromos, Despina Axiotakis, Nikos Mouyiaris, Savvas Tsivicos, Nicos Nicolaou, Maria Pappas, Philip Christopher, Theo David, to name a few. We thank the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce who saw the need to create and put action steps in place to build platform for young, business-eager Cypriots. They have been supportive of us in several ways, been open to our ideas, letting us run with them, coming to our events and always picking up the phone if we ever need anything. While you all helped us and molded us into the business professionals we are today, our goal is to do the same for a continued and bright future for CYP.
Stay tuned young pros!! To learn more about, or to become a member of the Cypriot Young Professionals of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, please visit the following:
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/CYPCUCC
Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/CYPCUCC/