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HACC Honored George Economou as Person of the Year

NEW YORK – With the admonition that anyone can reach the highest level and achieve their goals as long as they have perseverance and never give up, TMS Group Founder George Economou received the Person of the Year Award at the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce (HACC) 72nd Gala on May 17.

At the event with a massive turnout of well-known executives from the shipping, business, trade, banking and investment sectors, which took place at CASA Cipriani in Manhattan, Economou referred to his not particularly encouraging first period of searching for a professional opportunity in the U.S., after graduating from MIT, but also the reasoning with which he took advantage of an opportunity, when, unexpectedly, it came.

“I drove around in a Chevy Blazer, took out the back seats and took trips across America. I was young and I liked the adventure,” he said of the period after graduation, before the first disappointment of the job market.

Maria Tzompanaki well-known actress and Artistic Director of the New York City Greek Film Festival, at the HACC Gala, announced that the Festival will return in September. Photo: TNH/ Christodoulos Athanasatos

“I graduated and applied for hundreds of jobs that didn’t get me an offer. The money was running out and I had to go back to Greece. But I always dreamed of coming back here,” he then emphasized, narrating with particular vividness the dialogue with his first employer, who approached him shortly afterwards.

“He said ‘come work for me.’ I asked him for how much? He said to me, ‘do you really want to work?’” Economou noted.

He then focused on his subsequent development and offered advice to the younger people, as well as to the parents present.

“Anyone can succeed, as long as they have passion, effort and good work. You need luck in the beginning, but after a certain point luck is not so important. This is my message to everyone who has children,” concluded Economou.

Brian P. Devine served as MC for the event, while the Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos offered the opening prayer. Following this, HACC Executive Board President Clay Maitland, addressed a greeting, making special reference to HACC Executive Director Alexandra Spyrou-Mitsakis, while Executive Board Chairman Markos Drakotos, emphasized the importance of the mission of the HACC for the members of the community.

The Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce 72nd Person of the Year Gala was held on May 17 at CASA Cipriani. Photo: TNH/ Christodoulos Athanasatos

“This world is becoming more and more fragmented and it is even more important to remember that we have each other to rely on. Regardless of the size of each of our successes, the Chamber remains an organization that the community can rely on. We thank George Economou for accepting the award,” said Drakotos.

The presentation of the honoree was made by former president of the Chamber, John C. Stratakis, who spoke with warm words about his activity and progress in a particularly demanding market.

Immediately after the award ceremony, Greek-American performer Evangelia opened the musical program, which culminated with the presence of Demy, who traveled from Greece to perform at the Gala.

The Greek Film Festival is back

Maria Tzompanaki well-known actress and Artistic Director of the New York City Greek Film Festival was also among those present at the Gala and announced that the emblematic institution of Greek cinema in the USA is returning in September, after a five-year hiatus that began with the pandemic.

“The New York City Greek Film Festival started years ago from the nostalgia of Greeks for their homeland and the good old Greek cinema. Today, hand in hand with nostalgia stands the need to communicate the new face of Greek culture to the third generation of Greeks who live here, as well as movie lovers, cinephiles of all ethnicities who live in New York,” said Tzompanaki, adding that the 2024 Festival theme will be an artistic tribute to Crete, featuring and with the participation of many artists from the island, from all sectors.


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