My Dear Heritage Society Board and Members,
I wanted to take this time to reflect back on my two terms as the Heritage Society President and say “thank you” to all of you who supported our organization and me throughout my terms. Because of your voluntary participation, creative ideas, and dedication to our Hellenic heritage, we managed to accomplish some important events, even amidst a pandemic. While many organizations came to a standstill, we persevered and continued to move forward. For that, we should all be proud.
Who knew that right around the corner, the world was going to shut down? In March 2020, we were ready to go with our photo tour event, “Greek Diners and Restaurants,” but ultimately postponed it just days before due to the lockdown. Hard to believe that in just a few months, it will be three years since then, and we are FINALLY holding the Greek Diners and Restaurant photo tour on March 11, 2023.
Regardless of the pandemic, since January 2020, we have completed two major projects at the top of my agenda when I took on the role of President. The first was applying for a historical marker in Philadelphia representing and honoring “Greektown.” The second, the most fascinating and exciting project, was the creation and premiere of the 1821 documentary “In Support of Liberty- Philadelphia and the Greek War of Independence.”
We also continued the “archives” project, which has been a long process, and we are still waiting to complete the Interview Series.
The Pennsylvania Historical Marker in Philadelphia was a personal top priority for me. The committee began the process of coming up with a plan, gathering information, photos, articles, and anything we could to submit to the Historical Marker Committee in Harrisburg. Kostis Kourelis was instrumental in providing the knowledge and archives needed, and Eleftherios Kostans provided several pictures supporting our belief that the Greeks of Philadelphia deserve to have a marker in the original “Greektown ” on 10th & Locust Streets in Philadelphia. As fate would have it, the marker committee chairman retired, and the application process for 2021 was delayed almost an entire year! Yes, we have had our share of hiccups, but we continued again, and now we are waiting for the final decision, which we should receive any day.
Our biggest project, In Support of Liberty film, was completed and premiered at our event on October 2, 2022, at the Philadelphia Seaport Museum to rave reviews. This film, written and directed by Eleftherios Kostans, which took over 2-years to complete, was a success as a result of the countless hours contributed by many of the film’s crew and contributors in research, writing, filming, editing, music score, and post-production, but also, the many members of our Society who raised an unprecedented amount of money prior to the event, which was a first for our Society. There are too many people that worked on the film and fundraising to name, but all of us, as members of the Society, should be proud of what we accomplished. I would also like to note that this was a first for any organization in our community to sponsor a documentary film of our history and our community’s part in that history!
As to the archiving, we began the process of archiving our pictures and documents with the help of a librarian who used the Heritage Society as her capstone project. The archive project is to create a database serving the Society and the community as a virtual library. The foundation is laid, and now we will be building on this ongoing project, which we all know will take much time. However, in the end, preserving our history is one of our Society’s primary purposes.
Finally, our interview series expanded its library with the addition of many new interviews. These interviews serve as a window into our Hellenic community and those that comprise it. We have only scratched the surface of all of the interesting and inspiring lives of our fellow Philhellenes. Also exciting is a new type of interview series we are adding called “Logia.” This was the brainchild of Dr. Elias Iliadis. These will be short vignettes of familiar and not so familiar Greek people in our communities. They will be a new way of learning and understanding the history of our beloved Greek community brethren.
Again, I want to thank the board and all the members who helped make my President’s tenure a great experience. I hope we all continue to do our part as Heritage Society pioneers.
2020-2022 Board Members & Advisors
Desanne Grigos Nazirides – Vice-President
Chris Kotsakis – Secretary
Despena Boston – Treasurer/Chairman of the Board
Constantinos Mitoulis – Board Member/Assistant Treasurer
Elias Anthony Iliadis, MD – Board Member
Simeon Pantelidis – Board Member
Agnoula Marcantonis – Board Member
Christina Katsapis – Board Member
Cheryl Christakis – Board Member
Telly Vasiliadis – Board Member
Georgia Chletcos – Board Member
Gregory Vlassopoulos, Jr. – Board Member/IT Consultant and Administrator
Eleftherios Kostans – Assistant Secretary/Public & Media Relations
Anthony J. Beldecos, Esquire – Legal advisor
Harry J. Karapalides, Esquire – Legal advisor
Nikolaos Yiantsos – Advisor
Alexandra Kroger – Advisor
Peter Papadeas – Advisor
I genuinely believe in our organization and its unique mission. Congratulations to Dr. Elias Iliadis, who has been elected as the 2023 Heritage Society President. I look forward to seeing the exciting things to come under his leadership. Axios!
Artemis “Tami” Tsingiropoulos
Former President of the Greek American Heritage Society of Philadelphia