ATHENS – The annual Supreme Convention of Order of AHEPA has two climaxes: as the largest social and cultural organization in the Hellenic Diaspora, the Grand Banquet has featured some of its most memorable moments, but as the leading Hellenic service organization in the world, the installation of new officers the installation of the new officers guiding it into the future on July 30 was the fitting bright conclusion of the Order’s historic journey to the homeland to celebrate Greece’s Bicentennial.
Prior to the presentation of the new leadership, the Ahepans who journeyed to Greece for the first Supreme Convention held there since 2008 exploded into applause of love and congratulations for AHEPA Supreme President George Horiates and Daughters of Penelope Grand President Celia Kachmarski – who due to the COVID pandemic did yeoman’s duty in terms that were extended an extra year. In the appreciative buzz were heard exclamations of “class act” and “classy lady,” and both warmly thanked their AHEPA brothers and sisters for their hard work in behalf of the Order in difficult times.
Jimmy Kokotas, proud son of the community of Three Hierarchs in Brooklyn is AHEPA’s Supreme President and Kathy Bizoukas of Indiana is the new Grand President of the Daughters of Penelope. Tim Noitsis returns for a second term as President of the Sons of Pericles and Mary Ana Pantelas is the new President of the Maids of Athena, the organization for Ahepans aged 14-28.
With acclaims of ‘axios!’ and “axia!” mixed in with exuberant shouts of their names, the new leaders pledged a clear path through the remainder of the pandemic to a future fired by their deep commitment to America, their Diaspora communities, and their homelands of Greece and Cyprus.
The presidents of the AHEPA family’s organizations in a commemorative photo. Left to right: Sons of Pericles President Tim Noitsis, AHEPA Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas, Daughters of Penelope Grand President Kathy Bizoukas, and Maids of Athena President Mary Ana Pantelas. (Photo by TNH/Constantine S. Sirigos)
Ringing out loudly and clearly as well were pledges to support and promote the youth as part of its vital present, not just as some abstract basis for ‘futures’ that failed to arrive after past Clergy and Laity Congresses and conventions of AHEPA and other community organizations.
Both Kokotas and Bizoukas are united by their beliefs and their experience as past national advisors to the Sons and Maids, respectively.
MORE EXCITEMENT THAN USUAL ON THE ELECTION FRONT
In recent years, almost all of AHEPA’s highest national offices are filled with people nominated through a consensus among its two main parties. This year there were contested elections among the Daughters of Penelope – for Supreme Treasurer, with Margaret Dritsas emerging as the victor, and the Men’s Division.
Lou Katsos, past District 6 Governor in New York, challenged the outgoing Supreme Counselor Lou Atsaves. It was a case of something old seeming new – democracy and free elections being among the Order’s core principles but the above mentioned consensus candidate process emerged in the name of unity and harmony. While most Ahepans, including the candidates themselves, acknowledged the good qualities of both, Atsaves prevailed, winning by 133-42 in an unofficial tally.
(Photo by TNH/Constantine S. Sirigos)
After the installation of the officers, Atsaves struck a note of unity brotherhood while reinforcing the call for elevating the Order’s younger members and letting them show the community what they have to offer.
HERE WE COME – AGAIN
Kokotas had two surprise announcemtents about what is in the works: the AHEPA leadership is working on holding the 2024 Supreme Convention in Cyprus, and they have committed to returning to Greece more often.
Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas swears in the new Supreme Lodge, AHEPA’s national leadership. (Photo by TNH/Constantine S. Sirigos)