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Panepirotic Federation of America Names New President

The Panepirotic Federation of America (PFA) came under new leadership on Sunday after the scheduled departure of its long time president Nikos Gatzoyiannis (Nicholas Gage). The new president is John Katsimbaris, a senior consulting engineer in the automotive industry in Detroit.

“Mr. Gatzoyiannis consented to serve a fifth term at our last convention on the understanding that he would leave halfway through his term to open the way for younger members to lead the organization,” Katsimbaris, whose parents are from the Konitsa region of Epiros, said. “As our fiscal year ended on June 30, he informed us at a board meeting on June 28 that this would be a good time to make the transition.”

Katsimbaris, the former PFA vice president, officially took over the leadership of the organization yesterday when he was sworn in as the new president. Replacing him as vice president is George Nanis, a real estate executive from Worcester, MA, who served in the same post from 2015 to 2018.

“Both John and George have worked closely with me over the years to protect the ethnic Greeks of Northern Epiros and all Albania, to enhance the economy of free Epiros by encouraging tourism and investments in the region,  and to promote the culture of Epiros in the United States so our people can be proud of where they come from,” Mr Gatzoyiannis said.  “They are well equipped to lead the Panepirotic Federation into the future boldly and effectively.”

Katsimbaris praised the contributions of Mr. Gatzoyiannis as PFA president during two terms in the 1990s and three in the new millennium. “Nick made the Federation highly respected in Washington, deeply admired in Athens and greatly feared in Tirana,” he said. “He leaves it well organized, solidly financed, and effectively positioned to carry out its mission in both parts of Epiros. Of course, he leaves the presidency, not the Federation. We will continue to count on him for advice and support.”

“I think one of Nick’s most important achievements was to bring into the Federation young, American-born members and inspire them to care about their ancestral homeland the way their parents did,” Mr. Nanis said. “That’s no easy task, as other groups have found out.

Katsimbaris, whose father worked for the Greek Foreign Ministry, was born in Constantinople in 1968 and educated in Greece, Germany and the Netherlands. He speaks Greek, English, German and Dutch and has degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering

Married to the former Andrea Feles, he has been active throughout his adult life in both Europe and the United States in promoting Greek national issues, especially those involving both parts of Epiros.

Among the noted Americans whose parents come from Epiros are Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic Party candidate for president; George Tenet, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency; actress and producer Rita Wilson, the wife of Tom Hanks, and the late actor and director John Cassavetes, whose father was one of the founders of the Panepirotic Federation of America in 1942.

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