Continuing to espouse its commitment to the pursuit of excellence, the Greek America Foundation honored nine outstanding individuals committed to excellence in their respective lives, as well as service to the world around them. The Gabby Awards, named from “Greek America’s Best and Brightest” stars, have recognized these qualities in individuals since 2009 and continued to showcase them on stage at Carnegie Hall on June 17th.
Washington DC lobbyist and Greek-American community activist Andrew E. Manatos was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by his eldest son, Mike, the President of Washington DC-based Manatos & Manatos. His efforts have set numerous records in the policymaking process of the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives and the Executive Branch on behalf of the Greek American community and Greek Orthodox Church.
Mike spoke about his father as someone who has worked tirelessly for Greek-American community issues and who has showed undying commitment to his faith, family, country, and heritage. Manatos was honored in a tribute video that included remarks from two U.S. Presidents, as well as many other politicians and policymakers that have written history in America.
Dr. Marie Bountrogianni, Dean of the Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University received her award from Theane Evangelis, lawyer from Los Angeles who became famous for representing couples in the historic U.S. Supreme Court case which made same-sex marriage legal in the United States. Evangelis spoke about Bountrogianni as a role model and pioneer for younger women and their pursuit of support for marginalized people in society.
A tribute video was shown, featuring students at Ryerson, as well as others who have been touched by Bountrogianni’s service in politics and her work at the Royal Ontario Museum where she served as President. As a cabinet minister and former member of Ontario Parliament, Bountrogianni wrote much of the legislation that is still used today that offers people with disabilities and refugees the same rights as all Canadians.
Academy Award-winning actor George Chakiris received the Artistic Achievement Award, presented to him by George Psomas, a New York City-based Broadway actor. Psomas spoke about Chakiris as a role model for a new generation of young Greek-American singers, dancers and actors for whom he has served as an inspiration and role model.
A special tribute to the Oscar-winner featured clips from his appearance in West Side Story before he accepted his award.
Internationally acclaimed Greek singer Glykeria received an Artistic Achievement Award, presented to her by singers Margarita Cox, Alexandra Loutsion and Erini Sevasti, who performed during the awards. The trio spoke of how they listened to Glykeria growing up and how she was their inspiration to start singing.
The legendary “Voice of Greece” then paid homage to her home country with a heartfelt performance of her song “Patrida,” which received a roaring round of applause. Glykeria dedicated her award to the popular Greek singers of yesteryear who paved the way for the “laiko” genre of Greek music enjoyed by millions throughout the world.
Washington DC-based entrepreneurs, TV stars and best-selling authors Katherine Kallinis-Berman and Sophie Kallinis-LaMontagne of Georgetown Cupcake received their award from Dr. Angeline Beltsos, the leading global fertility doctor at Vios Fertility. Dr. Beltsos likened her work with that of Katherine and Sophie’s. “Baking cupcakes is a lot like starting a family,” she said. “You need a sperm, an egg and a whole lot of love… with cupcakes, you need eggs, flour and also a whole lot of love.”
The sisters dedicated their award to their Greek immigrant mother and grandmothers who instilled in them a love for baking, as well as philanthropy. A video was shown that highlighted their business success, as well as their commitment to philanthropy.
Detroit-area philanthropist and child-activist Danialle Karmanos received her award from Hollywood actress Molly Ringwald and her husband Panio Gianopoulos. Ringwald shares Karmanos’ activism for natural childbirth and recognized that from the stage when she introduced Karmanos. She also echoed what it was like being a non-Greek that is married to a Greek and everything that comes with a big, Greek family.
Ringwald praised Karmanos as a guardian angel for thousands of children she supports through her charity Danialle Karmanos’ Work it Out. She also spoke about the Karmanos Center for Natural Childbirth at Beaumont Hospital which Karmanos helped found with her husband Peter.
New York-based psychotherapist and child development and mental health specialist Nitzia Logothetis received her award from her husband George, the Chairman and CEO of the Libra Group and member of the Greek America Foundation board of directors.
George commended Nitzia’s work at the Seleni, the charity she co-founded with him, to destigmatize and transform mental health and wellness for thousands of people by addressing emotional health challenges of women, men, and their families. George also spoke about Nitzia as being his inspiration, someone without whom he would “not be 50% of the person” that he is today.
In a moving response, Nitzia spoke about the difficulties of motherhood and how the work of Seleni was helping thousands of women overcome the challenges and difficulties associated with what should be, the happiest time in their lives.
Ontario-natives and charity-founders and sisters Linda and Susanna Manziaris received their award from former Miss Pennsylvania USA Elena LaQuatra. LaQuatra spoke about the duo as being a terrific example of young people making a meaningful difference in society.
She also said she was inspired by their dedication to helping others, which manifests itself through their Girls Helping Girls organization, which has built schools in faraway places like Jamaica, Afghanistan and Africa, and empowered thousands of young girls worldwide with necessary tools to improve their lives and the world.
Los Angeles-native and founder of the world’s largest online entertainment studio whose content receives 8 billion views monthly, George Strompolos received his award from Niki Leondakis, CEO of Equinox Fitness. Leondakis spoke highly about the young Fullscreen CEO’s outstanding leadership and entrepreneurial skills, crediting him with “rewriting the rules of Hollywood.”
She also commended Strompolos’ efforts in organizing hack-a-thons and projects to help disenfranchised young people get connected to the internet and become empowered story-tellers online.