ATHENS – Savas Tsivicos is the first born-and-raised Cypriot – he is from Innia, near Paphos – to be Supreme President of AHEPA. He is well-known in the Greek-American community for his support for Greece, Cyprus, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, for his leadership and philanthropic endeavors – and for his dedication to AHEPA.
Tsivicos and the AHEPA leadership come to Greece often but their duties on this week’s trip to Greece included observing the Order’s efforts in wildfire and flood recovery. “We are very active – all the chapters there are coordinating their activities and they are on the front lines in Thessaly.
His first official act as S.P. was to establish a relief fund for the fires that devastated Rhodes and now the focus is assisting with the catastrophic consequences of the flooding. “From the first moments we provided food and water and helped with rescue operations.” He also emphasized while Ahepans were helping on the ground, “we are raising funds all over Greece and Cyprus to help with anything that is urgent,” adding that, “we did the same with the fires around Alexandroupolis. We are also replanting trees on Evia.”
Tsivicos emphasized that, “we have rich list of activities in Greece,” noting also it’s important that the AHEPA ethos radiates beyond the chapters, contributing to the growing spirit of volunteerism and civic responsibility in the Homeland.
“And all of our efforts are acknowledged and appreciated by the local communities and officials there and in Athens,” he said, noting that, “we had many meetings with officials such as regional governors and the ministers of Education, Health, and Tourism.”
The meetings with PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Defense Minister were pre-empted by the current crisis, but Tsivicos will meet the Prime Minister at events next week in New York.
“It was still a good opportunity for me as the new Supreme President to meet the members of the new government” in Greece and brief them about the pivotal role AHEPA plays in several areas in U.S.-Greece relations.
Coming to America
After re-thinking plans to study philology in Athens, he was asked by a friend, “why don’t you go to America, and Tsivicos replied, “why not?” Four days after being discharged from the Cypriot army he landed at JFK and moved forward studying business and public administration with a BA and MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Hotel Management followed by post-graduate studies at GWU. “I met my wife, got married and had three kids. Started a business.” He is CEO of Cypreco Industries – and he never looked back, although his homeland is aways calling this heart and mind, urging him to help in any way.
Settling in New Jersey, he served at his wife Maria’s parish of St. George in Asbury Park as Parish president, AHEPA chapter president, at the district lodge and as Supreme Treasurer and Secretary. He also served as chair of the Cyprus and Hellenic Affairs Committee.
Tsivicos delights telling people AHEPA, “is present in every corner of the U.S.” and all over the world. “It is truly an international organization and I characterize it as the modern ‘Filike Eteria’ because it organized the community to give back to society and to support and protect Greece and push for the liberation of Cyprus.”
He sees it is the premier Hellenic international networking organization – especially for young professioals, because they now have AHEPA ‘brothers and sisters’ everywhere. As he says, “when you travdel to places like Brussells, Munich, London, Paris – and Kerkyra and Thessaloniki – you know you have a network willing and able to assist you.”
Tsivicos stressed that, “youth is a priority for me – they are not only the future, they are the present. We have had meetings with the Sons of Pericles and the Maids of Athena and will help them in all their activities.”
Tsivicos was especially pleased to talk about the internships the Order helps facilitate in fields like medicine and public affairs. AHEPA also has a mentoring program he plans to further develop. “Sometimes, just opening a door is the best way to help people find jobs, especially with our elected officials” – locally and on Capitol Hill.
“And we look forward to seeing them take over, because we are getting old,” he said with a smile – “we need to pass the torch.”
Another priority is to build up the Journey to Greece study abroad program. “We are connected with Webster University, the only accredited American university with a presence in Greece. I spoke with its president and the Minister of Education and they were very excited, because the students who come here become ambassadors of Hellenism in America. Kids of the 2nd, 4th, 5th generation come for the first time, spending six months here – learning the history, the language, the roots of their forefathers.” Tsivicos wants to establish an endowment to support more students. “We pay for everything here – they only pay their airfare.”
Tsivicos concluded by stating he wants to work closely with past supreme presidents and other organizations to move forward on all fronts.