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Events

Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce Celebrates 25th Anniversary Gala

NEW YORK – The Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 25th anniversary on May 12 at its annual Gala held at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park. The well-attended event brought together the members and supporters to honor the organization and the Distinguished Merit Award recipients Anthoula Katsimatides and Lyons Mortgage Services as well as Cyprus-U.S. Chamber Young Professionals (CYP) Award recipient New York State Assemblymember Michael Tannousis.

Despina Axiotakis, Executive Director of the Chamber, gave the welcoming remarks, noting how good it was to see everyone in-person after two years and pointing out that in that time, the Chamber “shattered” the glass ceiling by electing the first woman president of the organization Maria Pappas and congratulated the honorees. Axiotakis then introduced the Master of Ceremonies Demetrios Comodromos, the Chamber’s Vice President, who noted that she has been the heart and soul of the organization since it started and thanked her for all her efforts. Having attended community events since he was a young child, Comodromos observed that the issue of justice for Cyprus has been the struggle for over 40 years. He then acknowledged the presence of the many distinguished guests and the honorees.

Left to right: Despina Axiotakis, Nancy Papaioannou, and Peter Kakoyiannis at the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce Gala on May 12. Photo: Eleni Sakellis

Chamber President Maria Pappas welcomed everyone and thanked them for their support and noted that the Chamber was one of the first to move from in-person events to Zoom events during the pandemic, starting with the informative online event on how to reopen a business with the safety protocols that had just begun been implemented, directed by Chamber Vice President Comodromos, and continued with events on investing and other topics addressing the needs and interest of the members. She mentioned that an upcoming initiative with Cyprus Trade Commissioner Aristos Constantine to introduce tech and start-up companies from Cyprus to U.S. investors. Pappas thanked the sponsors for their generosity and their support, the Board of Directors, and the Gala committee- Despina Axiotakis, Nicolas Nicolaou, Demetrios Comodromos, Theodore Kakoyiannis, Laura Neroulias, Petroula Lambrou, Jovanna Tannousis, Vickie Savvides, Christina Missoulis, and Christina Shailas.

The awards presentation included the honorees sharing their gratitude and heartfelt appreciation for the recognition from the Chamber. Comodromos presented the CYP Award to Assemblyman Michael Tannousis, recalling a meeting nine years ago at the Cyprus House when Tannousis was just out of law school and working in the Bronx District Attorney’s office and now he represents parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island in the New York State Assembly. “As the first Cypriot-American elected to state-level office in New York and as the son of Cypriot refugees, I’m proud to receive this honor,” said Tannousis. “I’d like to thank the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce for presenting me with this esteemed award as they continue to work diligently to maintain a successful economic relationship between Cyprus and the United States. This award is very meaningful to me and I hope that the Cyprus Young Professionals have continued success for years to come.”

Anthoula Katsimatides received the Distinguished Merit Award at the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce Gala on May 12. Photo: Eleni Sakellis

“I’m also proud to come from a family in public service,” Tannousis said. “My grandfather was in the Parliament of Cyprus for 30 years, and my uncle is now in his 12th year in the Cyprus Parliament, and I’m proud to carry that tradition of public service forward.”

Lyons Mortgage Services was represented by Nicos Tziazas, George Sophocleous, and Edith O’Donnell. Comodromos noted in his introduction that the company has been serving the community for 25 years and has supported the community’s soccer team the Eleftheria Pancyprians, working with children through playing soccer. Tziazas, President and one of the Founders of Lyons Mortgage Services, congratulated his fellow honorees, and thanked President Mary Pappas and the Chamber for the efforts to promote and extend the commercial, industrial, and economic relations between the Republic of Cyprus and the United States and for the special honor for Lyons.

Lyons Mortgage Services, represented by Nicos Tziazas, at the podium, George Sophocleous, and Edith O’Donnell, received the Distinguished Merit Award. Photo: Eleni Sakellis

Comodromos then introduced Anthoula Katsimatides, actor, writer, producer, and voice-over artist, noting that she was also the Community Affairs assistant for Governor George Pataki and it was then that she learned about Cyprus and became one of the staunchest defenders of the Cyprus cause.

Katsimatides said that although her roots are not from Cyprus, the island nation holds a special place in her heart from her days at Queens College where she made many friends who were from Cyprus, among them Nikos Christodoulides, who went on to become Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus and is now running for president. She noted that from her friends she learned not only about the beauty of Cyprus, but also about its history and the injustices it suffered and continues to suffer. In her time working for Gov. Pataki, Katsimatides said, “I did everything in my power to get him to recognize all the injustices [of Cyprus] and to establish a favorable relationship with the Cypriot community.”

She mentioned that she had the opportunity to perform in a Cypriot play, but was concerned about the accent, and that while she has the accent from her parents’ birthplace, Nisyros, she was worried she would not get the Cypriot accent right, but the director assured her she would be fine. Katsimatides shared some of her favorite Cypriot expressions and words, to the delight of the audience, adding that she became a godmother and koumera in Platres, Cyprus. She concluded by saying how humbled and honored she was to receive the award and thanked everyone “for the opportunity to allow me to express how grateful I am to this community for all the wonderful souls I have come across in my life, you have supported me through my difficult times, you have celebrated me through my happy times, helped educate me, helped me grow and experience true empathy and support and love.”

New York State Assemblymember Michael Tannousis received the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber Young Professionals Award. Photo: Eleni Sakellis

Among those present were Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, Consul General of Cyprus Michalis Firillas, Consul of Greece Dimitris Papageorgiou, Trade Commissioner of Cyprus Aristos Constantine, PSEKA President Philip Christopher, Federation of Cypriot American Organizations President Kyriacos Papastylianou, Andreas Comodromos, Peter Kakoyiannis, Theoharis David, Maria Hadjidemetriou, Evis Savvides, Nicholas A. Karacostas, Nancy Papaioannou, Laura Neroulias, Phyto Stratis and many other members of the Chamber, the CYP, and the community.

The event concluded with music by Mylos Entertainment and dancing.

 

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