2014 HTSF Gala a Hit on Broadway

NEW YORK – The 23rd anniversary Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund (HTSF) gala lived up to its reputation as one of the community’s parties of the year, but onstage, front and center and in the spotlight as the guest walked in, were the true highlights of the event, the 35 young scholarship recipients, the community’s best and brightest from across the nation. This year’s winners brings total to 885 students who have collectively received $2.2 million since the birth of the HTSF. Another highlight was a thrilling rendition of the Greek national anthem by Mario Frangoulis, who received the Artistic Achievement award and who later dazzled with a mini-concert. The other 2014 honorees were George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge – New York Field Office, of the FBI, and Michael Psaros, the co-founder private equity fund  KPS Capital Partners, both of whom emphasized the importance in their lives of the ethic of work, work, word, their Orthodox faith, and their Greek heritage. They urged the scholarship recipients to make them focus of their lives and to cherish them. The guests who filled the ballroom of Times Square’s Marriot Marquis Hotel were greeted by the first songs of the band “Alpha,” which has been a big part of the great musical entertainment for  22 consecutive years, and they were welcomed by  Nick Katsoris, the gala chairman, who is also the president and co-founder – along with John and Margo Catsimatides – of the HTSF. After Fr. Alexander Karloutsos, Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, offered a moving invocation, and the award presentation followed. Psaros’ introduction began with a video tribute to his business achievements and his family, during which he was praised by his business partners, whom he also considers family. He credits their firm’s success to values he learned at home and which he shares with his colleagues. To the students, whom he congratulated, he said “Do something with your life.” Reflecting his firm’s genius for reviving manufacturing firms, he said “go out and make something,” but then added the general charge to “leave behind a tangible legacy.” He told them that when they get to college, ”Pick up the phone every day, call your parents, and say “S’agapo.” Katsoris also announced that Psaros and his wife Robin made the largest ever single donation to the fund: $100,000. Frangoulis praised the Catsimatides family and Katsoris for their commitment to providing scholarships, which is also at the core of his philanthropic activities. He concluded his acceptance speech by declaring “I am very proud to be Greek. We are going through difficult circumstances but we will work hard,” he said, echoing the secret to all success that was revealed by his fellow honorees, “and we will push through.” Frangoulis then invited pianist Hinako Sato to the stage for their performance, and when he finished he proceed to shake the hand of every single scholarship recipient, evoking loud applause when he wished them all the best and said, “Bravo sta pedia.” John Catsimatides presented Venizelos the Honoring Public Service award after noting “he is responsible for keeping everyone in this room safe.” Venizelos expressed his gratitude and said, “but this night is about the kids. They make it special. They are the future, the key to keeping the faith and our Hellenic heritage going.” He showed that men in his position have – perhaps need to have – a sense of humor, when he sarcastically thanked Catsimatides for the tough acts he had to follow: Frangoulis – “the most good looking guy in the room” and Psaros, the financial giant whose firm has $6 billion under management. He smiled and told the students that following the rules and the law is the best path to success, because “in the end it will catch up with you.” He knows. “I’m in the business,” he said. The program concluded with Margo Catsimatides coming onstage to present the scholarships and to wish everyone a happy Mother’s Day. Frank Dicopoulos then introduced Kathy Sledge, who returned to the gala with her famous group Sister Sledge. The climax of their set was “We are Family.” The night ended with dancing and the performance of Greek singer Valantis.