NEW YORK – Mariyana Spyropoulos, a public servant with a passion for her Greek heritage, will be one of the honorees at the 65th annual Scholarship Ball of the Hellenic Bar Association of Illinois (HBA) that will be held on November 7 at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Chicago and where scholarships will be awarded to worthy law students of Hellenic descent.
Businessman and philanthropist Ted Spyropoulos of blessed memory, Mariyana’s father, will also be honored posthumously.
She is now focused on winning re-election as a commissioner for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago – the primary is in March 2016 – but Spyropoulos is also dedicating time helping the Community Center her father established for her city’s Greek-American community get off the ground.
She placed first out of nine candidates when she was first elected by the citizens of Cook County in 2010 on the Democratic ticket, and this year her peers chose her unanimously to be president of the Commission, which is a position of great responsibility.
The agency treats waste water and manages storm water, and Spyropoulos told TNH the challenge overseeing lot of old infrastructure is compounded by climate change. Heavier rains in recent years have raised the threat of contamination of Chicago’s water. She said the Commission is on the mark regarding innovation and responding to climate change.
Chicago is starting to use green infrastructure to capture more rain water before it goes into the system, and they are doing interesting things in the area of resource recovery. For example, the bio solids that are by-products of the treatment process can be sold as fertilizer, creating a revenue stream that reduces the tax burden. The County also offers tax incentives for homeowners to avail themselves of the latest technology.
An attorney with a MBA, Spyropoulos also works at the Law Offices of Mariyana Spyropoulos & Associates, which has real estate, criminal and general business practices.
She told TNH she was always was passionate about law, and her interest in government has roots in her childhood discussions with her father, who was active in civic, Greek-American community, broader social and political matters.
“I always talked to him about upcoming elections, watching the debates with him and having conversations about it…I miss him very much particularly this time of year.”
She loves all of Greece, “everyone loves the islands” she said, but Kalavryta, where her father was from, is dear to her heart.
She learned her Greek at the afternoon school of St. Nicholas of Oakmont and by attending “every dinner dance that was held in Chicago during her childhood and beyond
Her mother Erika, who is Swedish, is an artist. She does oil paintings of “All kinds of things. She went through a boat phase, she did paintings of the 2004 Olympics,” he Spyropoulos said. Her mother also loves gardening, perhaps partly as a result of becoming an honorary Greek.
Turning to the community center, Spyropoulos told TNH her father bought the building on Milwaukee Avenue, about 10 miles north of downtown Chicago.
“There are five volunteer directors and we are formulating how to run it… My dad wanted to have this place available for the community for different organizations and clubs and dance groups to have meetings there,” she said. It is not a large space, but lectures and performances can take place there.
Spyropoulos is active with the Hellenic American Women’s Council (HAWC) and the American Hellenic Institute (AHI), as well as HBA and other groups, especially the Kalavryta Society
She has been a member of HBA since law school and said, “The do a lot of great things and they work hard to keep the group going, which is not easy in this day and age when people have a lot of things going on.”
Four or five scholarships of approximately $4000 to $5000 will be awarded on November 7, which will be matched by the law schools.
HBA president Thomas Massouras, a trial attorney with the Federal Government, told TNH the additional honorees are Tom Demetrio, of the firm of Corboy and Demetrio, one of Chicago’s top firms, Paul Vallas, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools and recent Illinois Lt. Governor candidate, and the 90 Acts of Kindness initiative of the Sunday school of the Assumption Church in Chicago which other parishes are emulating.
The children made a powerful impression with the 90 philanthropic activities they were engaged in over the past year.
Massouras, who has roots in Tripoli, Nafpaktos, Kea, and Vitina, a tourist area in Peloponnesos, said that among HBA’s activities is mentoring law students and a law day in Federal Judge Charles P. Kokoras’ courtroom that includes an essay contest for students. They also support the Hellenic Foundation, which helps the elderly and the poor.
Distinguished personal injury attorney Nicholas C. Syregelas will be lauded as Attorney of the Year and the Emcee will be Andrea Darlas, award winning WGN radio and TV personality. The guests will be entertained by the Linardakis Band and Kosta DJ.