NEW YORK – When the only issue at the 25th annual Dinner Dance Gala of the Hellenic Lawyers Association is the need for a bigger room – New York venues don’t get much more elegant than the Pierre Hotel, however – the clear verdict is that it was a great success.
The sold out gathering attracted friends and family of the honorees, Spiros Maliagros, President, TIG Advisors, and HLA Attorney of the Year award recipient Charles Capetanakis, Partner, Davidoff Hitcher & Citron and Chairman and Founder of the Hellenic Classical Charter School in Brooklyn, NY.
HLA president Elena Paraskevas-Thadani welcomed the guests and acknowledged the members of the judiciary – Greeks and Philhellenes – who enjoy the annual affair. She paid tribute to them by noting their importance to society by saying ”if we can’t settle our dispute in a civilized manner we are not a civilization.”
The president’s tongue may have been in her cheek, and her colleagues would second the motion to honor judges before whom they may appear, but the judges present, including HLA founder Nicholas Tsoucalas and Harriet George, Nicholas Garaufis and Maria Ressos, had long earned the genuine respect and love of the guests.
Paraskevas-Thadani The event’s sponsors, benefactors and grand benefactors were thanked, especially for underwriting the attendance of law students,
Kate Christoforatos, Chairperson of the HLA Board, radiated pride and joy when she introduced the 2013 scholarship winners, her own daughter Kathryn A. Chistophoratos not least among them
The recipients also included Constantine H. Dellis, Tiffany A. Ghikas, Christen Giannaros, Evi. T. Katsantonis, Harry P. Koulos, Constantine Loazides, Patricia Sotirakis, Alexander Dimitri Zozos.
Fr. Paul Palesty, pastor of the Church of St. Nicholas in Flushing, offered the invocation and blessed the honorees, students and guests.
Also present were the consuls general of Greece and Cyprus, respectively, George Iliopoulos and Koula Sophianou, New York State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, who presented proclamations to the two honorees, former Assemblyman Matthew Mirones and newly elected City Councilman Costas Constantinides, who is himself an attorney.
Capetanakis was introduced by Paraskevas-Thadani, who read the plaque she presented to him “in recognition of you many years of distinguished service to the legal community, your exemplary achievement in the legal profession, you r outstanding effort to promoted Hellenic culture and your unwavering support of our association.”
Simotas said it was truly “an honor to be here, first and foremost because 13 years ago I received a scholarship, and second because you are recognition two outstanding people.”
She said of Capetanakis that he is one of those people who is a doer, not just talker. “He doesn’t just speak of his visions, he acts on them,” she said.
When I look at the list of past honorees I really was humbled.” Capetanakis first expressed his thanks to everyone, first and foremost his wife Dina, and then to his parents, who were present, as was his eldest son. He credits his parents for instilling in him his commitment to community service.
He thanked people who helped make the Hellenic Charter School possible, including the Church of the Kimisis tis Theotokou. He flashed his sense of humor when he also thanked, “My favorite mother in law.”
He congratulated Maliagros, who is also Fordham graduate, and acknowledged the importance in his life of Fordham Professor Constantine (Gus) Katsoris, whose son Nick was in attendance. “There are many Gus Katstoris disciples here. He just helped us because we were Greek and he was amazing. “
Capetanakis has also inspired students interested in the law along the way, and some guests wondered how many of his four sons, Basil, John, Alexander and Evan, would become attorneys themselves.
Spiros Maliagros was lauded by Paraskevas-Thadani as the embodiment of Greek entrepreneurship and noted the exceptional performance of this firm, TIG Advisors, in challenging economic times and called Maliagros and Capetanakis “real role models for our community.”
Maliagros said he was “humbled and honored,” to receive the award. He shared credit for his success with his colleagues “who challenged every assumption,” a valuable habit in a field where too many people do not grasp the fact that “you never know what financial crisis in around the corner. “
He acknowledged his wife Markella and his children Alexander, Nicole and Leonidas, and thanked his parents, his mother, who is from Sparta, and his Cephalonian father, for being great role models.
To the young students with bright futures he offered the advice: “Enjoy your journey, work hard, and look out for opportunities.”
When Fordham classmate Simotas presented Maliagros with a proclamation, she said “we knew he would be a star.”
Paraskevas-Thadani read his HLA plaque, “for an outstanding career in the legal and financial community, for you commitment and dedication to the law and the legal process, and for upholding the highest standards of the legal profession.”
The guests who filled the ballroom occupied the dance floor for much of the night, their kefi fired up as usual by singer Aphrodite Daniels.
Nick Katsoris, general counsel of John Catsimatides’ Red Apple Group and the co-founder with John and his wife Margo of the Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund, which has distributed more than $2 million to more than 850 scholarship recipients through the years, told The National Herald that “it’s important to support the law students and get the legal community together… I congratulate Elena and everyone else for a wonderful event.”
The back page of the gala program was dedicated to the memory of Peter Latos, “Beloved Colleague, Friend, Sustaining Member and Generous Member of the Hellenic Lawyers Association – You will be missed.”