NEW YORK – New Yorkers know that when the Association of Greek American Professional Women (AGAPW) invites a speaker or presents a musical program it will be a special night.
When AGAPW honored retired Judge Harriet George with its Distinguished Life Achievement Award on November 5, the people who packed the Greek Press Office in Manhattan were not only treated to a delightful discussion between Judge George and the moderator, attorney Maria Markou, but they were also inspired.
The event which was part of the organizations Conversation with Women Leaders series began with greetings from Constantina Spatola, who served as Emcee, and AGAPW Founder and President Olga Alexakos, who declared: “we are honored to have this opportunity to honor the life and work of one of our great leaders in the community, and a great human being, a mother, a judge.”
During her touching introduction, Alexakos spoke of her first meeting with Judge George. “From the beginning she, opened her heart to us, but our heart is not big enough to receive her inner beauty.”
The award, a crystal in the shape of a flame, was presented by AGAPW’s officers. Alexakos said it was inspired by the Olympic flame, which symbolizes excellence and told Judge George “It honors you for exceptional accomplishment as a lawyer, judge and philanthropist…an exemplary citizen, a trailblazer and role model.”
Asked what her great strength was that enabled her to raise six children and have a distinguished career, Judge George said “patience,” eliciting laughter.
“Everyone has strengths,” she said, and added that “you have to be prepared for the unexpected and realize there are solutions to problems and not to despair.”
“My biggest inspiration was my mom,” she said. Her mother told her before kindergarten that she would be a lawyer and later that she would become a judge. “And I accepted that. I never questioned it, I never doubted it…It became a part of my life as though it were a chip in my head like the movie The Manchurian Candidate.”
Her father and husband were also very supportive.
Fr. Konstantinos Kalogridis, the pastor of St. Demetrios of Jamaica, offered the invocation and said it was a great joy and blessing to be part of the honoring a beloved parishioner.
Nick Papaconstantinou, the Director of the Press Office under whose auspices the event took place, who also welcomed the guests and congratulated AGAPW and Judge George. He acknowledged Georgia Koubarakis, who represented her husband, Manos, the Consul of Greece.
Alexakos thanked the Blue Olive Market for donating the Greek wine and Mediterranean appetizers for the reception.