The American Hellenic Council (AHC) honored three distinguished Greek individuals for their service to Hellenism and their respective professional fields. During the AHC Gala and awards ceremony Professor, Author & Poet Thanasis Maskaleris received the Theodore Saloutos Award, Congressman Gus Bilirakis was honored with the Pericles Award in Politics and Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki with the 2013 Aristeio Award. The event which attracted hundred’s of Greek-Americans was held at the Omni Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, March 30th 2013. Michael Dukakis, Former Governor of Massachusetts and US Presidential Candidate was the Master of Ceremonies.
Professor Thanasis Maskaleris is the Founding Director at the Center for Modern Greek Studies at San Francisco State University. He spearheaded efforts that led to the establishment of the Nikos Kazantzakis Chair for Modern Greek Studies at SFSU in 1983 .
Each year, the AHC celebrates the achievements of dedicated community members who have made major contributions to Hellenism, Greek culture and heritage by awarding them the Theodore Saloutos award, named after UCLA professor Saloutos, a founding member of the AHC.
“We decided to honor Professor Maskaleris in recognition of his efforts in establishing the Nikos Kazantzakis Chair for Modern Greek Studies at San Francisco State University and for his contributions to Hellenism within the Greek-American community in California” stated Alexander Mizan, Executive Director of the American Hellenic Council.
Professor Maskaleris was born in Arkadia, Greece and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 17. He completed his studies in Philosophy and English at the University of Oklahoma and studied Comparative Literature at Indiana University and University of California, Berkeley. He later embarked in writing original poetry in Greek and English, and translating contemporary Greek poetry and prose extensively. He taught Comparative Literature, Classics and Creative Writing at San Francisco State University until his recent retirement.
The second honoree, Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis, is a Republican from Palm Harbor, representing Florida’s 12th Congressional District. He was first elected to Congress in 2006, and is currently serving his fourth term in the United States House of Representatives. As a young boy, Gus learned the importance of public service from his father, Michael Bilirakis, who represented Florida’s Ninth Congressional District from 1983 to 2006. The elder Bilirakis also instilled in his son a pride in the family’s Greek heritage, which Gus proudly carriers into his career today.
Each year, the AHC honors with the Pericles Award a nationally elected official who has made major contributions to Hellenic causes. Recent recipients of the Award include Rep. Shelley Berkley, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Dina Titus.
Gus has always been vocal in supporting every resolution that reaches the House of Representatives and represents positions that the American Hellenic Council supports. As co-Chair of the Hellenic Caucus in Congress, he has spearheaded several efforts calling for religious freedom in Turkey, for an end to the occupation of Cyprus and for a resolution in the name dispute between Greece & FYROM. He was either lead sponsor or co-sponsor of HR676, HR180, HR306, & HR506 during the 112th Congress. His voting record on Hellenic issues is impeccable, having earned him a 100% voting score according to the AHEPA Congressional scorecard.
“We decided to honor Congressman Bilirakis in recognition of his dedicated work in Congress supporting the Hellenic Causes. He has been a leader in advocating for religious freedom and human rights protection in Turkey, for an end to the illegal occupation of Cyprus and for cooperation among the closest US allies in the Eastern Mediterranean; Israel, Cyprus & Greece.” stated Alexander Mizan, Executive Director of the American Hellenic Council.
Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was honored with the 2013 Aristeio award. Gianna Angelopoulos is well known for winning and saving the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
“We decided to honor Mrs. Angelopoulos in recognition of her exemplary and dedicated work in successfully leading the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens and her devotion to education and philanthropy in Greece as well as in the USA” stated Alexander Mizan, Executive Director of the American Hellenic Council.
In 2000, when slow progress and gridlocked bureaucracy put Athens in danger of losing the Olympic Games, she was asked to assume the presidency of the ATHENS 2004 Organizing Committee for the Olympics. Under her leadership, Athens made up for lost time and gave the world what IOC President Jacques Rogge called: “an unforgettable, dream Games.”
Today, Ambassador Angelopoulos-Daskalaki is an active member of the Clinton Global Initiative . She continues to serve as Vice-Chairperson of the Dean’s Council for Harvard’s John. F. Kennedy School of Government.
Her new book, MY GREEK DRAMA: Life, Love and One Woman’s Olympic Effort to Bring Glory to Her Country will be published by Greenleaf Book Group Press in May, 2013.
Previous AHC Aristeio Award honorees include billionaire and real-estate investor and philanthropist George Argyros (2009), George Marcus, CEO of Marcus and Millichap (2010), Van Vlahakis, Founder and CEO of Earthy Friendly Products (2011) and Andrew N. Liveris, Chairman and CEO of The Dow Chemical Co. (2012)