NEW YORK – The Association of Greek American Professional Women (AGAPW) held its annual Greek American Woman of the Year Award Gala on March 27 honoring Ioanna Giannopoulou- Cosmos FM Hellenic Public Radio Director of Operations- as Greek American Woman of the Year.Ambassador Vasilios Philippou- Consul General of Cyprus in New Yorkwas also honored at the event with the Distinguished Public Service Award.
Among those present at the event were Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the United Nations KorneliosKorneliou, Consul of Greece Lana Zochiou, the presiding priest of Three Hierarchs Church in Brooklyn Fr.
Eugene Pappas, last year’s Woman of the Year Dr. Miranda Kofinas, Penelope Tsilas- the 2012 Woman of the Year, the Hon. Judge Harriet George, Atlantic Bank President Nancy Papaioannou, Hellenic Medical Society of New York President Dr. George Liakeas, Dr. Apostolos Tambakis,Cosmos FM journalist Dimitris Filios,and New York City Greek Film FestivalDirector James Demetro.
Sylvia Papapostolou-Kienzl, Producer at Cosmos FM, served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event. Dr. Olga Alexakos, AGAPW Founder and President, gave the welcoming remarks, thanking everyone for their presence, and noting that the event was the 8thsuch celebration since AGAPW began. She pointed out the importance of showing gratitude to women especially who do so much, often silently, acknowledging the honorees Ioanna Giannopoulou and Amb. Philippou, and his wife Antheaas well for their dedication and support for the community. Alexakos noted Amb. Philippou’shumility and “expressed our deep gratitude” as she presented him with the Distinguished Public Service Award, noting that his presence at many AGAPW events “made us feel very important.”
In his acceptance speech, Philippou thanked AGAPW for the honor and congratulated the organization for its efforts for Greek American women through scholarships and promoting the value of women in society, especially during Women’s History Month. He offered his congratulations to Giannopoulou, “a voice of Hellenism” and noted her support for the issues facing Greece and Cyprus as well as women’s issues. Philippou concluded his remarks with wishes for continued success for AGAPW.
Vivian Makka and Anna E. Eliopoulos of Cosmos FM,notedGiannopoulou’s “strength of character to overcome it all” and that she is a second mother to both of them and the mother of the Cosmos FM family.
Dr. Stella Lymberis, the keynote speaker, thanked all those in attendance, especially Amb. Philippou. Dr. Lymberis said, “We are all going to miss you,” as he will soon be leaving his post as Consul General of Cyprus in New York. She then spoke about this year’s honoree Giannopoulou who was born in Lamia, raised in Athens, and then moved to Brooklyn. Lymberis highlighted the fact that Giannopoulou continued her education and became the Director of Operations at Cosmos FM where she “keeps the ship in balance.”
Alexakos presented the award to Giannopoulou, reading the inscription which included that, “Your example inspires a new generation of women leaders.”
Giannopoulou was visibly moved by the presentation. She said, “I feel deeply humbled. I want to thank AGAPW for this great honor,” adding that she “felt compelled to join the organization when it was founded, it was about time.” Thanking her mother and two sons, George and Tom, who were present for the event, for their love and support. She also thanked Fr. Pappas who encouraged her in 2001 to join Cosmos FM, a nonprofit, supported by its members, adding the importance of maintaining a strong connection between the diaspora and Greece and Cyprus.
Fr. Eugene Pappas noted that you wonder what impact our lives have on others, adding that Giannopoulou is “dynamic.” He also observed that the acronym AGAPW is very spiritual, beginning with Alpha and ending with Omega, like Jesus Christ who said, “I am the Alpha and Omega.”
Aphrodite Navab and Dr. PannieTrifillispresented the AGAPW’s Excellence Tuition Scholarships which were awarded to NikolettaToffoloni, Katerina Toffoloni, and EvageliaToffoloni. The young ladies were selected separately by the scholarship committees who did not know they were triplets.Katerina expressed her thanks and her and her sister’s dedication to their Greek heritage, language, and culture. The proud parents, Joseph and Maria Toffoloni were also in attendance at the event.
In a musical program curated by Nektarios Antoniou, Soprano Sofia Antonakos performed popular arias made famous by Maria Callas during her iconic career, accompanied by pianist-conductor Pavlos Kordis. Antonakos impressed the audience with her remarkable voice, delivering the classic arias with power, emotion, and thesubtletyof a true artist.
The event concluded with a raffle for unique Greek products and the painting Catch Me by artist Yiannis Kaminis was auctioned to benefit AGAPW.