By Andriana Petratos

On Saturday, April 25th, 2015, the American Hellenic Council (AHC) of California held its Annual Gala at the Millennium Biltmore, in Downtown Los Angeles. The annual event, attended by over 400 of the Diaspora’s most distinguished representatives honored four individuals for their service to Hellenism and their excellence in their professional fields. This year’s honorees were Chairman, CEO and Global Co-CIO of Calamos Investments, John Calamos, the Owner and Founder of Felix BNI, Peter Economides, the Hon. Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, and Gene Rossides, author of “Kissinger & Cyprus: A Study in Lawlessness”.

After delivering his greeting, AHC Chairman, Dr. Menas Cafatos presented Gene Rossides, with the Theodore Saloutos Award for his political action efforts in the Cyprus issue. Rossides served as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury from 1969 to 1973, during the first term of the Nixon Administration when Henry Kissinger was National Security Adviser. He supervised the U.S. Customs Service, Secret Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. He served as the U.S. representative to INTERPOL. From 1958 to 1961, he served in the Eisenhower Administration and is a founding director of the Eisenhower Institute. In 1974, following Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus, he founded the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) and in 1975, the AHI Foundation (AHIF). Mr. Rossides is the author of the book, “Kissinger & Cyprus: A Study in Lawlessness”. He graduated from Columbia College and Columbia Law School.

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The 2015 AHC Gala. Photo Credit: Philip Georgious Productions

Investor and businessman, Dean Metropoulos, presented the Aristeion Award to John Calamos, founder, chairman, CEO and global co-chief investment officer of Calamos Investments, a global asset management firm. Founded in the 70’s the company went public in 2004 and is headquartered in the Chicago metropolitan area with additional offices in London and New York. The author of two books, Mr. Calamos received his B.A. in Economics and M.B.A. in Finance from the Illinois Institute of Technology. The son of Greek immigrants, Calamos, who attributes much of his success to his Greek heritage is also the head of Calamos Real Estate LLC that includes Hotel Arista, CityGate Centre and other entities surrounding the investment company’s headquarters in Naperville. Since 2012, he has served as chairman of the board of directors of Chicago’s National Hellenic Museum, of which he is a major benefactor.

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[L-R] Honorees Eleni Kounalakis, John P. Calamos & Mae Calamos. Photo Credit: Philip Georgious Productions
Mike Manatos, lobbyist and Senior VP of Washington D.C. based Manatos & Manatos, presented Former US Ambassador to Hungary, the Hon. Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis with the Pericles Award for her advocacy of peace, democracy, justice and for her support of the issues that concern the Hellenic-American community
From 2010 until 2013, Eleni Kounalakis served as the US Ambassador to Hungary, appointed by President Barack Obama. During her service, she received two Meritorious Honor awards, and was nominated by her staff for the Susan M. Cobb award for distinguished diplomatic service. Prior to serving as ambassador, Kounalakis was president of AKT Development Corporation, for nearly ten years as a Trustee of the World Council of Religions for Peace. Ambassador Kounalakis earned her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and an MBA from the Haas School of Business. In 2011, she received an Honorary Doctorate in Law from the American College of Greece.

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Peter Economides with Vivian Panou (L) and Pamela Spyrs (R) of Earth Friendly Products Photo Credit: Philip Georgious Productions

Peter Economides, a brand strategist and owner and founder of Athens-based Felix BNI, was the recipient of the Aristeion Award. A native of South Africa, Economides is a former Executive VP and Worldwide Director of Client Services at global advertising agency, McCann Erickson Worldwide, and Head of Global Clients at TBWA\Worldwide. Peter is also a Board Director of Make-A-Wish Foundation International.

The American-Hellenic Council is a non-partisan political advocacy organization with stated goals to promote democracy, human rights, peace, and stability in Southern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, with an emphasis on Greece and Cyprus. Since its inception, the American Hellenic Council has been the focal point of political activities of Greek Americans in California. The AHC has become an effective and respected political advocacy group whose primary purpose is to educate and inform the U.S. Congress for the protection and promotion of Greek-American interests. The American Hellenic Council has supported numerous Hellenic issues and has expressed support for members of Congress that understand and subscribe to its causes.