CHICAGO – The Hellenic Bar Association Foundation celebrated its 69th Annual Scholarship Ball, awarding a total of $50,000 in scholarships to five students at the Fairmont Hotel on November 2. Some 275 Hellenes and philhellenes in the fields of law, education, and business were in attendance to honor the younger generation and support them in their pursuit of success. With the cost of legal education having skyrocketed in recent years, it is not uncommon for students today to carry some $200,000 in debt to finance their law degree.
“It is incumbent upon the members of the Hellenic Bar Association, whose ranks include many experienced lawyers, judges, and elected officials, to help the law students in our community pay for their education,” said HBA President Vicki Pappas Karl. “Each dollar we give to this young generation of lawyers is an investment in our future and reaps dividends for our community far more valuable than the funds we commit today.”
The theme of this year’s ball, Celebrating Service, highlighted Greek-Americans dedicated to philanthropy, humanitarianism, and service to others. Honorees included Eleni Kouimelis, the Lawyer of the Year, Partner at Winston & Strawn and is a co-founder Hellenic Legal Assistance Services (Hel.LAS), a Chicago-based legal aid clinic serving community members in need on a pro bono basis.
Paula Fasseas, founder of PAWS, Chicago’s first no-kill animal shelter, received the award of Hellene of the Year.” Past HBA President, Diamond Mendonides, was honored with the Lifetime Service Award posthumously for his mentorship and commitment to Greek-American education, while the Hellenic Foundation received the Humanitarian Award for the organization’s support of various philanthropic efforts in the Chicagoland area. Maria Vathis received an Outstanding Leadership & Service award in recognition of her role as HBA president 2018-2019.
“These acts of service are profound and enduring achievements of which our community is proud,” Pappas Karl said.
Special guests included His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael and Very Rev. Timothy Bakakos, Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, who gave the invocation at the ball, as well as media personality Kiki Vale, who served as Emcee, while music and entertainment were provided by the Sounds of Greece.
About the Scholarship Recipients:
James Betzelos is a second year law student at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s John Marshall Law School. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2018, where he received degrees in Political Science and History.
Demitri Kladis is a second year law student at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s John Marshall Law School. He received his undergraduate degree in 2018 from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he majored in Political Science.
Alex Pappas is a third year law student at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C. He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in May 2015. After college, Alex worked for two years as a research analyst for Bracewell LLP, a government relations firm.
Constance Raftis is a second year law student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh, where she majored in Business Administration.
Tom Thanasouras is a third year law student at Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Tom graduated from Indiana University–Bloomington in 2017, where he majored in Finance at the Kelley School of Business.
“I am truly honored and grateful to have received this award and to have the opportunity to meet so many incredibly intelligent and hardworking lawyers, judges, professionals, and law students,” said HBA scholarship recipient Constance Raftis. “I am proud to be part of such a dedicated community, and I cannot wait to build even stronger connections and friendships throughout the future,” she said.
Established in 1951 by a group of Greek attorneys, the HBA continues its tradition of supporting scholarships for worthy law students with strong academic, spiritual, and cultural foundations, rooted in Orthodoxy and Hellenism.