National Hellenic Society’s Heritage America Program Impresses and Inspires

The participants in this year's Hellenic America Program with Greek-American members of Congress Charlie Crist (D-FL), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Dina Titus (D-NV), and Niki Tsongas (D-MA). Photo: Heritage America Program

WASINGTON, DC – The 2017 Heritage America Program, sponsored by the National Hellenic Society and Manatos & Manatos, took place July 13-16. This unique and proprietary program is in its second year and reconnects college-aged Greek-American students with their roots, heritage, culture, and Hellenic identity through the prism of the American experience. Students learn little-known information about the rise of the Greeks in America over the last 100 years. Participants meet a who’s-who of Greek-American decision makers, business leaders, and other important contacts who will serve as future mentors and career guides for Heritage America alumni.

Participant Alexi Nikolopoulos wrote about her experience in a post on LinkedIn. She wrote, “From July 13-16, I had the privilege of participating in Heritage America, a program co-sponsored by the National Hellenic Society and Manatos & Manatos and designed to connect Greek-American college students to their Hellenic heritage. Over four days in Washington, DC, twelve fellow students and I met Greek-American politicians and business leaders who inspired us with their stories of success and conveyed the important role their Hellenic heritage has played in fostering that success.”

She summarized the highlights of the program which included meetings with Ambassador of Greece to the US Haris Lalacos, Greek-American members of Congress Charlie Crist (D-FL), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Dina Titus (D-NV), and Niki Tsongas (D-MA), and the first U.S. Director of National Intelligence and former Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte who recounted his experiences as U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, Mexico, the Philippines, and Iraq.

The participants attended a Baltimore Orioles game and met with Orioles COO, John Angelos. Photo: Heritage America Program

The participants also had lunch at the Monocle Restaurant with current and former Greek-American Congressional Staffers, who shared stories of how Greek values passed down from their ancestors have shaped their careers and lives. A tour of the U.S. Capitol Building, photos on the Speaker’s Balcony, and a dinner reception at Kellari Taverna with Greek-American journalists including WTOP radio Sports Director, George Wallace, and former Fox 5 news anchor and reporter, Laura Evans Manatos were also highlights of the first day.

Meetings with WWII veteran and businessman, Steve Yeonas, who, Nikolopoulos wrote, “shared his wisdom about the importance of reading, traveling, knowing your priorities, and working everyday to ensure that your actions match your goals,” former presidential nominee, Governor Michael Dukakis, and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Admiral James Stavridis started off the second day.

A tour of the White House and meetings with Greek-Americans in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, including White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer, Michael Kratsios, and White House Deputy Counsel, Greg Katsas followed, capped off by a tour of the Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Gallery and a dinner reception at AHEPA headquarters with leaders of the community.

The third day included lunch with former U.S. Senator, Paul Sarbanes, who, as Nikolopoulos noted, “shared a wealth of knowledge and advice for those interested in pursing a career in politics.”

A VIP tour of Baltimore Orioles Park at Camden Yards followed by the Orioles vs. Chicago Cubs game, during which Baltimore Orioles COO, John Angelos, invited the group to the owner’s box for the last few innings, concluded the third day.

The participants had lunch with Greek-American Congressional staffers at the Monocle Restaurant. Photo: Heritage America Program

On the fourth and final day, George Washington University Associate Professor Diane Cline led a tour exploring the Greek influence on Washington, DC. A visit to the Harvard University Center for Hellenic Studies was followed by lunch with Fox News Chief Congressional Correspondent, Mike Emanuel, and Managing Partner of New Atlantic Ventures, Thanasis Delistathis, “who both highlighted the importance of taking risks and working from the bottom up,” Nikolopoulos observed.

“Although the individuals I had the privilege of meeting in DC grew up in different places, have ancestry in different areas of Greece, and had different stories to tell, there were extraordinary continuities in their experiences, values, and the messages they shared. They all emphasized the importance of hard work, education, and family. By taking time out of their busy schedules to meet with us, they demonstrated the strength of their loyalty to their Hellenic heritage. This program has been a priceless gift… Thank you to our remarkable leaders, Mike Manatos and Art Dimopoulos. Thank you to my twelve new friends, from whom I have learned so much,” Nikolopoulos wrote.

The full article is available on LinkedIn. More information about the Heritage America Program is available online at: www.nationalhellenicsociety.org.