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General News

The Hellenic Initiative 10th Anniversary Gala Raises $2,248,000

December 4, 2022

NEW YORK – In a festive atmosphere, The Hellenic Initiative (THI) held its 10th Anniversary Gala at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan, bringing together the Greek diaspora to raise $2,248,000 in support of worthy causes in Greece while also honoring Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla.

A Thessaloniki native, Dr. Bourla received a standing ovation from the audience of over 900 attendees and noted that “it’s a blessing to be Greek” in his acceptance speech.
“In the last 26 years since I left, I have lived in nine different countries, but in every stop, I never felt Greece was too far away. You see, for me Greece is not just a place. Greece is a set of values and a way of life,” said Dr. Bourla, visibly moved.

The Hellenic Initiative honored Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla at the New York Gala on December 3. (Photo: TNH/ Christodoulos Athanasatos)

James N. Gianopulos, former chairman and CEO of Paramount, served as Master of Ceremonies and offered the welcoming remarks, introducing Fr. Alexander Karloutsos who gave the invocation.

A video presentation then highlighted the achievements of THI and the ways in which the organization is helping Greece through its many programs and projects.

Left to right: New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes, his wife Melanie and U.S. Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

THI President of the Board George P. Stamas offered his greetings, sharing his thoughts on THI’s first ten years and appreciation for all the supporters and especially the staff which has made such a great contribution to the organization.

THI Chairman Andrew N. Liveris then shared his greetings and introduced the honoree Dr. Bourla, first with a video presentation which noted that “his team helped us all in the pandemic. They saved millions of lives with the vaccine and showed that the impossible is possible. When the scientists said that the vaccine will take some years, Dr. Bourla replied ‘why not some months.’”

“In the years to come, science and technology will continue to lead the way, while countries that focus on innovation will see rapid, stable and – most importantly – inclusive and equitable growth in the future. Greece has an excellent opportunity to become one of these countries and I strongly believe that the Greek diaspora can contribute to upgrade the innovative ecosystem of the country,” Dr. Bourla said, making special reference to Pfizer’s investment in Thessaloniki.

Left to right: James N. Gianopulos, Dennis Mehiel, THI President of the Board George P. Stamas and THI Chairman Andrew N. Liveris. (Photo: TNH/ Christodoulos Athanasatos)

“I am proud to say that Pfizer is playing its part in shaping this ecosystem in Greece. A few years ago we decided to form a Digital Research Center because we knew that there is so much talent in this country that is looking for important opportunities,” said Dr. Bourlas. It was then announced that THI will make a significant donation of new ambulances to the Greek-Jewish communities.

THI also honored Stamas for his long-term contribution to the organization during the pivotal first ten years of its operation, a distinction that he accepted with particular emotion.

“All these successes of which we are proud, would not have happened without the hard work of George Stamas,” said Dennis Meheil, while Liveris pointed out that THI traveled a long way in this successful decade.

“No one ever expected us to make it to the 10th anniversary, but we did. We have a new Greece. We have so many young people here,” Liveris noted.

Among those present were U.S. Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis, Greek Ambassador to the U.S. Alexandra Papadopoulou, U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Konstantinou, Consul of Greece Dimitrios Papageorgiou, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S. Marios Lysiotis, Consul General of Cyprus Michalis Firillas, Michael Psaros, John Catsimatidis, C. Dean Metropoulos, John Koudounis, New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes and his wife Melanie, Prince Pavlos of Greece and Denmark, the co-editor-publishers of The National Herald Eraklis Diamataris and Vanessa Diamataris.

The event also included a performance by Greek singer Elli Kokkinou, who kept the attendees dancing until shortly after midnight.

It should be noted that Kokkinou had just recently completed a sold out tour in the U.S. and had also performed on September 30 at THI’s London Gala.

Greek singer Ellie Kokkinou performing at The Hellenic Initiative Gala on December 3. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

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