NEW YORK – The Cypriot Young Professionals (CYP) of the Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit organization that promotes trade and investment between Cyprus and the United States, organized their first meeting for the year 2019.
The event took place on February 21 in Manhattan, and launches the Leader Dinner series. The first guest for the private dinner series was the newly elected New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes.
The Democrat represents the 22nd electoral district, which includes the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Marine Park in South Brooklyn. Gounardes is also a member of the CYP.
The aim of CYP is to establish and strengthen relations between young Cypriots. Generally speaking, the Leader Dinners are very elaborate and educational conversations in a relaxed and human tone aiming at the information, education, and professional development of the members.
Gounardes, accompanied by his girlfriend Melanie Graf, replied to all the CYP members' questions and thoroughly analyzed a number of issues. The debate covered his first election campaign in 2012 as well as his election victory in 2018. He spoke of the importance of the help he received from the community, but also of the long-term personal and work benefits of building a solid social network around him.
Gounardes spoke about the endless hours of work pre-election, going from door to door and neighborhood to neighborhood, endlessly, seven days a week. He also replied to the guests' questions about one of the controversial issues of the day, that of Amazon's departure from New York.
He noted that politicians are not elected by multinational corporations but by the people and should always prioritize the interests of the voters.
Other issues discussed during the evening were the importance of supporting small businesses, the issue of abortion, which Gounardes considers above all a health issue, as well as the process by which he makes decisions. The young senator underlined the importance of temperament, but also of research and dialogue, as important factors for making the right decisions.
The discussion also included the long-lasting social impact of the heavy burden of student loan debt. As young people postpone serious economic decisions for later, it is really worth considering what the future impact will be on retirement or housing for the young generation.
Gounardes concluded the discussion by saying that we should not be afraid to discuss political issues, or be afraid to disagree. With regard to the invitation made by CYP members, Gounardes told The National Herald, “I am thrilled to be able to talk to the young Cypriot professionals about my work in Albany and how much it means to me to have the support of these communities, not only for the people of our own generation, but also the Hellenic American and Cypriot communities, but also to represent these communities and our neighborhood in the Senate. I hope to inspire people to want to get more involved with their community, politics, and government. "
CYP chairwoman Jovanna Tannousis commented to TNH about the dinner, “This was our first dinner of the year. These are casual and private meetings, where we can talk with the leaders in our community on a more personal level about their achievements, but also their own efforts and learn from them. We had the honor tonight to have Andrew Gounardes of whom we are all very proud. The dinners are not only of a political nature and we intend in the future to host leaders from across the spectrum of industry, technology, and commerce.”