Home Community AHI Hosts 49th Anniversary Awards Dinner

AHI Hosts 49th Anniversary Awards Dinner

The honorees. Photos by AHI

WASHINGTON, DC— The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted its 49th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner, March 4, 2023, at Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C.

The evening’s program honored a distinguished set of awardees based upon their important career achievements and contributions to the Greek American community or community at-large. They were: Euripides Kastaris, Iconographer, Artist, and Teacher; Jeannie Ranglas, Prominent Church Patron and Philanthropist; George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., Scientific Founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron and John D. Georges, Founder and CEO, Georges Enterprises.

The program also included a special presentation to Yola Pakhchanian for her 40 years of service to the American Hellenic Institute.

AHI Board Member John Vasiliou introduced Mike Emanuel, chief Washington correspondent for Fox News, who served as the evening’s emcee.  

The Marines of Headquarters Battalion presented the colors, and the American and Greek national anthems were performed by Mezzo-Soprano Sophia M. Pelekasis of The Juilliard School. She also performed a musical interlude. Father Dimitrios Antokas of Saint George Greek Orthodox Church, Bethesda, Md., offered the invocation and benediction. Apollonia provided musical entertainment.

AHI Foundation President Leon Andris conveyed greetings and introduced AHI President Nick R. Larigakis, who reviewed the Institute’s initiatives and programs that are provided to the community.

“As a reminder, the American Hellenic Institute does the heavy lifting of creating policy and lobbying for our issues”, Andris said. “The Foundation is then able to take a broader view of things, especially a view to the future”, noting programs such as the Foundation’s student trip that builds leaders for tomorrow.

“Lastly, a lot of wonderful words will be spoken tonight, but not enough, in my humble opinion, to sufficiently recognize the heart and soul of AHI and the Foundation, Nick Larigakis”, Andris said.

President Larigakis congratulated each of the honorees, noting their excellence in professionalism and unwavering devotion to serving others as reasons for their achieving exceptionalism. In doing so, they exemplify the highest ideals of Hellenism. He also touched upon AHI’s accomplishments in 2022 and what he looks forward to in 2023 as AHI reaches the cusp of its 50th anniversary. On the policy front, Larigakis stressed that we cannot have double standards that jeopardize upholding of the rule of law.

“With Ukraine, we are reminded that respect for the territorial integrity of nations is a central pillar for what has become to be known as the ‘Rule Based International Order,’” Larigakis said. “However, no such Order is credible, or can even be an aspiration, if we apply it selectively. The Biden administration, considering Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, must be clear-eyed about dangerous rogue nations that threaten peace, and this includes Turkey. Freedom can only be fulfilled within the context of the rule of law, and without the rule of law, freedom does not exist, and frankly, neither does the ‘Rule Based International Order’”.

Honorees Credit Those Who Sacrificed, Provided Inspiration

Iconographer, Artist, and Teacher Euripides Kastaris received the AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his unparalleled achievements and excellence in the arts, his inspiring Byzantine Iconography and support of Orthodoxy.

 “It is with gratefulness that I accept the AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award”, Kastaris said. “We are in a room full of leaders in the Hellenic American Community, people who make this organization and their own business and church communities vibrant and successful. So many of you are just as worthy as myself of being honored for your achievements and hard work”.

Kastaris also spoke about his immigrant parents, a Greek Orthodox priest and presvytera, who came to America to serve the Greek Orthodox faith community, and their dream to have their three children attend great universities and earn quality educations.

“That dream was realized for all three of us because of my parents’ sacrifices,” he said, adding his excitement to be able to teach about how “Greek DNA” permeates all facets of the culture political and conceptual ideas of Western Civilization.

Prominent Church Patron and Philanthropist Jeannie Ranglas received the AHI Hellenic Heritage Public Service Award for her passionate and selfless commitment to charitable endeavors, multiple philanthropic achievements, and her support of Orthodoxy.”

In acceptance, Ranglas, reflected on the individuals who influenced her life and spoke about the important role that faith plays in our lives.

“There are so many people whose influence on my life has guided my development, and by extension, my involvement in the church and civic communities on me and my spiritual formation, that I still carry with me today,” she said. “Our faith and culture are intertwined, but without our faith, we would have nothing. But it is how we demonstrate that faith that can and will make a difference in our world. If I could leave you all with one final thought, it would simply be to serve others with love, with generosity, and with joy and most of all Faith. These principles have guided me, and I hope they will inspire you to be a person whose actions speak louder than words.”

George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., Scientific Founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron received the AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his legendary achievements in the field of pharmaceutical science and his inspirational leadership and service to the Greek American community.

In acceptance, Dr. Yancopoulos stated: “I am honored to be recognized by the American Hellenic Institute, and I congratulate my fellow honorees. As the son of Greek immigrants, stories of my ancestors shaped my life and led me to my chosen profession of creating new medicines for patients in need. My upbringing instilled in me the belief that science and technology can better the human condition, and I’m inspired to see the myriad ways that people of Hellenic heritage improve the world every day. I hope that we all continue to inspire and equip the next generation of innovators and philanthropists who we are depending on to tackle the most complex challenges of tomorrow.”

Founder and CEO of Georges Enterprises, John D. Georges, received the AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his outstanding business achievements, dedicated philanthropy and promotion of Orthodoxy.

“AHI is the best foreign policy organization in America, which makes this award so meaningful for my family and me. As an American of Greek descent, it is truly a privilege to be an honoree at this year’s award dinner”, Georges said.

In acceptance of her AHI 40-year service recognition, Yola Pakhchanian expressed gratitude to AHI’s leadership of President Larigakis, AHIF President Andris, and board of directors, adding, “I owe an immense debt of gratitude to the late Gene Rossides, founder of AHI, who not only gave me my dream job 40 years ago, but also provided me with a platform to give back to the people of Cyprus that over a century ago, offered refuge to my grandparents and father when they were forced to flee Turkey. It has been a great privilege to have been part of this organization and to have had the opportunity to work with so many incredible people over the years. I am proud of the work we have done and the countless accomplishments we achieved”. She also gave a nod to the community’s next generation–the alumni of the AHIF’s Foreign Policy Program who were in attendance.