The American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) hosted its Seventeenth Annual Conference on the Future of Hellenism in America, keeping the discussion of the promotion and preservation of Hellenism at the forefront of the community. This year’s conference was held in Dallas, TX., at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, Nov. 9-10, 2018.
Featuring nearly twenty prominent speakers from across the country, conference presentations analyzed key issues including: the future of Greek American organizations, the political process and lobbying, religious and ethnic identity, promoting Hellenic values through business, Greek education, and perspectives from young Greek Americans. Speakers also identified how Hellenism could be promoted in the future through these various channels.
On the eve of the Hellenism Conference, November 9, AHIF held a successful conference dinner with more than 125 persons in attendance. There, AHI President Nick Larigakis officially opened the conference and welcome remarks followed. George Naftis served as Master of Ceremonies.
Ambassador Haris Lalacos, Greek ambassador to the United States, delivered the Keynote Address, “The Role of Greece in Promoting Hellenism Abroad.” The ambassador’s remarks were thorough and touched upon topics such as increase coordination between the U.S. and Greek governments. He emphasized that the relationship between the U.S. and Greece is at a high point, and the future looks bright regarding the relationships between these two governments. One of his most poignant remarks, however, was when he discussed his affinity for Greek Americans. Amb. Lalacos stated, “I am always touched when Greek Americans are connected with Greek culture and language.”
The Invocation and Benediction were given by Rev. Presbyter Peter Kostakis, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas.
Barbara Vittas and Maria Lainioti Carayannopoulos received AHI’s Hellenic Heritage Public Service Award for the Promotion of Hellenism and Orthodoxy in America.
In her acceptance remarks, Vittas first thanked all the individuals involved with and speaking at the awards dinner, honored guests, attendees, as well as congratulating her fellow award-winner, Mrs. Maria Carayannopoulos. During her speech, Vittas said, “When I first moved to Texas in 1979 and became involved in the community, people had the conception of church-based initiatives as simply older Greek women at the kitchen […] By 2012, Ladies Philoptochos Society was able to raise $800,000 in philanthropic aid to those in Greece and Cyprus.”
During her speech, Mrs. Carayannopoulos stated, “I am overwhelmed with gratitude and joy for this wonderful but totally unexpected honor. I am truly humbled! Thank you from my heart, Mr. Larigakis, for your leadership at AHI and for making a bridge to the Greek American communities near and far. And congratulations to my fellow winner, Barbara Vittas—it is an incredible honor to be up here with her. We should all be united in our efforts to preserve and share our Hellenism and Orthodoxy. I dedicate this plaque to my father who taught me to be humane, to my mother that gave me music to soothe my life and to my beloved late brother Dimitri who shared his life with me, mentored me and brought me to America!”