SANTA MONICA, CA – The 10th weekend conference of the National Hellenic Society (NHS) continued the organization’s string of successes when it convened from October 10 to 13 at the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica, CA, near Los Angeles, with many young people in attendance.
Also present, representing Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis, was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Greeks Abroad Antonis Diamataris.
NHS is a prominent association of Greek-American leaders, visionaries, and philanthropists who strive to perpetuate and celebrate the Greek-American community’s rich heritage. NHS was established to create a lasting network of Greek-Americans to preserve their heritage through the sponsorship and initiation of programs that support Hellenic culture, benefit community members and their families, and honor their ancestors. NHS members represent accomplished men and women in the Greek American community, and membership is solely by invitation. As is its tradition, fellowship and enrichment are a prominent part of this society.
It was established by prominent businessman and philanthropist George M. Marcus who is today Chairman Emeritus. Marcus is Chairman of Marcus & Millichap and of Essex Property Trust.
NHS’s current chairman is Drake Behrakis, President of Marwick Associates.
Talking to The National Herald Drake Behrakis said that “The National Hellenic Society was proud to celebrate its 10th anniversary in Santa Monica California with over 350 attendees including 85 student alumni of our programs. A special delegation of 10 students also participated and reflected on our contributions to the Community and the Diaspora and our growing relations with Greece.”
Behrakis added that “it was also an honor to have the Deputy Foreign Minister Antonis Diamataris in attendance. Our weekend included a visit to Getty Villa, a traditional Greek glendi on the beach, and informative and engaging presentations from members of our community and Greece.”
It should be noted that the Board of Directors, led by chairman Drake Behrakis and chairman emeritus and founder George Marcus, laid the groundwork for growth in the organization and its programs over the next 5 to 10 years.
During the official banquet Angelo and Sophia Tsakopoulos and Dr. George Korkos were honored and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis sent a congratulatory message read by Diamataris, who in his speech said among other things, “brothers and sisters, it’s a pleasure and an honor to represent the Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the annual conference of the National Hellenic Society, a leading, path breaking organization of distinguished Greek-Americans. I want to congratulate my friends, George M. Marcus, Chairman Emeritus and Drake Behrakis, Board Chairman for a job well done.
I also want to congratulate members George Behrakis and Dean Metropoulos for appearing on the latest edition of Greek stamps. It’s a great honor well deserved.”
Speaking to the gathering about his new responsibilities, he said, “almost exactly five decades after I immigrated to New York from the island of Lemnos, and four decades of serving our community as the Publisher/Editor of the National Herald – please note that the Greek Daily that was founded in 1915 and the English weekly edition which I founded in 1987 – I accepted, I must admit with…great hesitation, the offer of my friend and Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis to become a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Greeks Abroad. Yes, it was a very difficult decision. After all I have a family in New York, friends, a job that I loved, a home, a dog named Plato etc. Yet, my family and I accepted the offer for these reasons: First, I have known Kyriakos for a long time and I trust him. Second I saw this as a great opportunity to strengthen the relations between us and our homeland. As you know the politicians of Greece paid lip service to the Greeks abroad. We were expected to support them, in any way we could but I am not sure we were even welcomed to invest there. Well, Kyriakos and I work very hard to change that. And we understand that we don’t have any time to waste.”
Diamataris added that, “the Prime Minister has also assigned me the task of the churches outside of Greece and I must tell you that I am very much encouraged with the latest appointments His all Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has made in the U.S.A. but also in Great Britain and Australia. In particular, Elpidophoros, our own archbishop, brings hope, as his name indicates. He is a young, dynamic clergyman with a proven record who seems determined to make a difference, even perhaps a new beginning, in the affairs of our Church.”
According to its web site:
“The National Hellenic Society was established by a group of dedicated Greek Americans each a leader in their respective fields. The members of The National Hellenic Society have demonstrated the values and ideals that the National Hellenic Society espouses: service to our fellow citizens, the communities we live in and our nation.
“The National Hellenic Society’s purpose and interest is the perpetuation of those values and ideals that are embodied within the Hellenic heritage – classical ideas associated with ancient Greek democracy including the pursuit of knowledge, education, the arts, and civic responsibility.
“The National Hellenic Society has been incorporated under the laws of the state of Delaware as a non-profit, non-stock, tax-exempt entity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The National Hellenic Society’s focus is on the promotion of Hellenic heritage and the furtherance of Hellenic ideas through the sponsorship of scientific, educational and charitable programs. The National Hellenic Society coordinates its activities and provides financial support to other tax-exempt organizations sharing common goals.
“The Society actively will support programs sponsored by universities, colleges and educational institutions throughout the U.S. that demonstrate a common interest in preserving, promoting and enjoying for posterity, education, the sciences, arts, music, culture, history, philosophy, democracy and related legacies derived from and through the ancient Hellenic era to the present.
Through the support of programs that foster the preservation of the Hellenic heritage in the United States, The National Hellenic Society strives to be a beacon for the promotion, understanding and appreciation of the Hellenic heritage in the United States, and pass on the stewardship of Greek heritage and shared democratic values and ideals to the next generation.”