NEW YORK – Phillip Themistocles Frangos was elected Supreme President of the largest membership organization in the Greek-American community, the Order of AHEPA, at its 92nd Supreme convention in New Orleans on July 25.
In an interview with The National Herald shortly afterwards he shared some thoughts about the convention and significance of AHEPA to the community.
“The Convention deliberations, workshops, and discussion of new ideas and concepts indicate that the AHEPA is vibrant and determined to make a difference for the better in the grassroots. Measures were taken to pursue enhanced usage of technology, social media, and communications to strengthen and expand the Hellenic-American voice in the overall community.”
He emphasized the important of AHEPA’s link with the homelands during their times of troubles. “AHEPA will not rest on its laurels following the massive relief aid garnered to help the people of Greece and Cyprus.”
The Cyprus and Hellenic Affairs Committee continues to take the lead on issues concerning Greece, Cyprus and religious freedom in Turkey.
He also noted that “We continue to look for programs and activities to improve domestically so that we can continue to provide service to the community, meet our mission to the benefit of society as a whole, and to enhance the message of Hellenism in this great country.”
“AHEPA will have its sights set on its next ambitious effort – to help rebuild the St. Nicholas National Shrine at Ground Zero,” he said.
As always, the Grand Banquet was an opportunity to showcase the Order, outstanding Greek-Americans and noteworthy individuals and organizations.
After noting that along with George Kalogridis, President of Walt Disney Resorts, B’nai B’rith International was honored at the Grand Banquet, he said “ The latter reflected enthusiasm by AHEPANs for efforts by our respective organizations to enhance a critical relationship between the only three democracies in a highly volatile region – Greece, Cyprus and Israel – for the benefit of the United States and those three countries.”
Frangos is very proud of the fundraising efforts of the components of the AHEPA family.
“The Junior Orders raised $60,000 for research on the neuromuscular disorder Friedreich ataxia…the AHEPA National Housing program announced that a total of $360,000 has been distributed to national and local charities by AHEPA National Housing entities during the past year. The AHEPANs of District 4 (Pennsylvania) presented a check for $14,000 to pay for the cost of shipping $600,000 medical supplies to Greece. This will be the seventh such shipment by AHEPA to Mother Hellas.”
He believes the future of the Greek-American community is bright, “due, in part, to programs such as the AHEPA Journey to Greece as well as the plethora of other study abroad and heritage programs or overseas internships offered by Greek-American organizations. The key, however, is keeping our young engaged upon their return to the States from these study abroad trips,” he said.
Effective and innovative programs are critical. He believes “AHEPA can help by supporting Greek language immersion charter schools throughout the nation – much like AHEPA has done in Wilmington, DE, with the Odyssey Charter School. Obviously AHEPA can do more here to help these efforts to either take root or grow. It should not be overlooked that AHEPA supports many Greek schools in parishes with great success. For example, in my own parish, Holy Trinity of Lansing, MI, following completion of the program upon graduating from high school, our daughter received two hours of humanities credits at the University of Michigan.”
He added that “to help with Greek identity, the AHEPA Journey to Greece program is a vehicle through which we help young people find and connect with their Greek identity. Our challenge is to make this program more affordable. We were able to accomplish this, in some part, thanks to a very generous grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation this year.”
Frangos most recently served AHEPA as Supreme Secretary (2011-2013) and Supreme Vice President (2013-2014). During these three years Frangos undertook over 200 chapter visitations and meetings in 22 districts of the AHEPA domain, giving him a clear picture of its challenges and potential.
Licensed as an attorney, Frangos is a former Chief Deputy Secretary of State and CEO of the Michigan Department of State. In this capacity Frangos also served as Executive Secretary to the Michigan Historical Foundation.
Frangos has served his parish, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Lansing, Michigan, for over 20 years on the parish council including four years as president.
For 35 years he has been married Tula (formerly Kackos) of Philadelphia, whom he met at an AHEPA dance. They are the parents of Themistocles and Maria.