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Politics

AHC Honors Aris Anagnos with its Lifetime Achievement Award

April 15, 2018
Vasilis Papoutsis

LOS ANGELES, CA – The annual American Hellenic Council’s (AHC) Gala, is the paramount fundraising and social event for the Hellenic-American community of Southern California and it is a celebration of those Hellenes and Philhellenes who have made significant contributions to the Hellenic Culture.

The 44th AHC Awards Gala honored three individuals who have been exceptional in their professional and philanthropic endeavors and are longtime contributors to Hellenic causes.

Prof. John Camp is a renowned archeologist and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Professor of Classics, Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks is the President and CEO of Earth Friendly Products, and Aris Anagnos a successful real estate developer, philanthropist and political activist.

Commissioner of the California Department of Corporations and Legal Affairs Secretary & Counsel to the Governor Demetrios Boutris served as Emcee, and musicwas provided byTakis Kokotas and his band.

AHC President Menas Kafatos welcomed the attendees and encouraged the Greek youth to remember their Hellenic roots and to keep fighting for the advancement of Hellenic Ideals. Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, who is a candidate for lieutenant governor of California, then took the stage and relayed her family story, a story familiar to many Greek immigrants who came to the United States. She talked about her grandmother who did not know how to read or write English and her father, Angelo Tsakopoulos, who worked as a farm worker while attending college and later became a very successful real estate developer. And she talked about her vision for California, a vision of inclusion, fairness and economic prosperity.

Camp, who received The Theodore Saloutos Award, has been working in the Athenian Agora excavations since 1996 and has received many awards and honors among them a Fellowship of the Society of Antiquities. He is also a member of the Advisory Board for the American Journal of Archeology.

Hanks was given the Aristeion Award in Business; her family’s business, Earth, is a leading manufacturer of environmentally friendly products. Before Kelly devoted herself to running Earth, she fought extensively for Hellenic Causes, became an AHC board member at age 19, and eventually its executive director. One of her significant milestones during her tenure was to “lead an international delegation to the Green Line buffer zone in Cyprus. We were one of the first to cross it” she told TNH. At the trip “we were accompanied by UCLA Professor Paul VonBlum who began teaching a class about the invasion of Cyprus. The name of the class was Art as a form of Political and Social protest and it is still taught today” she said.

Anagnos, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award, is renowned for philanthropy, political activism, and genuine Hellenic patriotism. He has dedicated his life to the ideals of freedom and justice. He served in the Greek Army with the Allied Forces in the Middle East during World War Two, then returned to Greece and worked with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association (UNRRA) as a general relief worker in war-devastated Greece.

Anagnos came to the United States and earned a BBA with a major in finance. After several years in the insurance business, he switched to real estate investments and development and achieved great success and wealth, which he used to support causes and institutions close to his heart. In 1984, Anagnos and his since-deceased wife Carolyn made a million-dollar donation to the Saint Sophia Foundation in Los Angeles for the construction of a Senior Citizen Home.

In 1989, they established the Peace Center Building in Los Angeles, which housed several peace and human rights organizations rent-free. And in 2008, Anagnos formally donated the building for this use by establishing a nonprofit foundation. In 2003 the Aris and Carolyn Anagnos Peace Center Foundation sold the building on Third Street and bought a 15,000 foot building in Culver City, CA that is currently the home of one of his most cherished institutions the America Hellenic Council. After the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the Anagnoses were founding members of the Save Cyprus Council that was later renamed the Hellenic American Council and it is now the American Hellenic Council,where he has served as vice president and a term as president. Dr. Kafatos, who has known Anagnos for many years said “I am proud to be the Council’s chair and serve on the Board with Aris Anagnos.

His constant alertness as to the dangers that Turkey places on the nations of Eastern Mediterranean should be followed particularly in the present dangerous situation because of the Turkish aggression,” he told TNH. Among the many lobbying efforts that Aris undertook for Greece and Cyprus was about the arms embargo imposed to Turkey. “The Congress had imposed an arms embargo against Turkey after their invasion of Cyprus but the Turkish lobby was able to convince President Jimmy Carter to lift the embargo. Carter recruited Democratic Senator George McGovern to help him convince the Congress to lift the embargo. McGovern was a friend of mine and I had supported him in his campaign. When I visited him in his Washington, DC office and expressed my dismay on the attempt to lift the embargo, McGovern told me that he shared my mistrust about the Turkish government but he told me that the Turkish government had given him solid assurances that they will withdraw their troops from Cyprus once the embargo was lifted. The Congress lifted the arms embargo but the Turkish government never withdrew its army, that has remained in Cyprus to this day,” Anagnos told TNH.

A dedicated Democrat, Anagnos now 95 years old is still actively involved in local and national politics. He served on the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California for over 25 years, including a term as president for two years. He was also President of the Southern California Americans for Democratic Action. All the honorees received certificates at the VIP reception prior to the Gala by Rep. Brad Sherman and Rep. Judy Chu. Also in attendance were the Ambassador to Greece in the United States Haris Lalakos, who addressed the attendees, the Consul General of Greece in Los Angeles Gregory Karahalios, and Mike Manatos, President of Manatos & Manatos, the prestigious DC lobbying firm. Namie Fotion received the Van Vlahakis Scholarship and Georgia Kouros the Dr. and Mrs. Kallins Scholarship.

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