By Catherine Tsounis
“When you help and uplift your community, you help uplift yourself. This was a guiding principle that influenced and inspired me to be involved and give back to my community,” said Aphrodite Kotrotsios, the main force behind the “Hermes Young Professionals Initiative” of the 2012 Hermes Expo held March 31st through April 1st at the Trump Taj Mahal Hotel and Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Stavroula Kotrotsios added “it was first communicated to me by my first mentor, Paul Kotrotsios, my Father. His guidance and support along with his friends helped me to succeed today as a law student. I wanted to communicate to my fellow professionals through the Hermes Young Professionals Initiative the opportunities available. We want to inspire them to move forward with their professions and careers. I thank our mentors for attending this dialogue at the Hermes Expo and enriching this experience with the community in the Greek-American culture.”
Strong speakers presented a dynamic workshop on Saturday afternoon, March 31st. The program included: Mr. Christos Christou, M.D., Moderator; Carol Brooks, International Trade Office of Philadelphia Department of Commerce, Yanni Sianis, Business Coordinator for Calamos Investments; Nick Larigakis, President of the American Hellenic Institute; Honorable Aris Melissaratos, Senior Advisor to the President-Enterprise Development at John Hopkins University; Chryssanthos Petsilas, Hellenic Republic Ministry of Culture & Greek National Tourism Organization; Aravella Simotas, NY Assemblywoman for New York’s 36th Assembly District and Gwen Diakos, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from New Jersey. The workshop was sponsored by the Aris Institute and Hermes Expo. For more information, visit http://www.hermesprofessionalsinitiative.org/.
The speakers’ sincerity impressed the young professionals present. “I am here to help you,” said Carol Brooks. “Do not be afraid to take unpaid internships. One experience leads to the other. Be free to call me. I will not turn anyone away.” Nick Larigakis explained “U.S. Cyprus relations are American interests. We must resolve all differences so that your children will not fight a war in the Mediterranean in ten years. This generation was never drafted or fought a war for freedom. A better life was offered to you. Make culture a part of your everyday life. My door is opened for everyone.”
Ari Melissaratos revealed he “works seven days a week helping our youth. Every person must network. If you start in McDonald’s, start at the bottom and move ahead. Earn a job. Do not wait for it to be handed to you. Impress your peers.” His speech describes a thought from Epicurus (341-270 B.C.) that states “It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.”
“Five years ago, the Hermes Young Professional Initiative (HYPI) was established by Stavroula and Aphrodite Kotrotsios with a mission to support young Greek-Americans in their professional development,” said Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas. “Since 2010, the Professionals Growth and Youth Mentor Fair has served to open a dialogue between students and professional leaders. Aphrodite Kotrotsios stated that ‘it is up to us to keep the flame alive and pass on the torch to the next generations.’ The HYPI is an integral part of the broader Queens community. Its contributions are deserving of recognition.” For more information, visit http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Aravella-Simotas.
Gwen Diakos, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from New Jersey, wanted to be “an air marshal on planes.” One person was impressed that Ms. Diakos was willing to risk her life and carry a gun to protect all. The Senate candidate said “it is a spiritual experience to discover what you want to do with your life. I want to be involved, helping persons see both sides of the coin. Family is the most important part of your life, knowing you have their support to acquire your dream.” For more information, visit www.diakos2012.com.
Yanni Sianis, a dynamic, athletic, businessman said “the biggest challenge is that youth need a change in psychology. We are the protectors of the image of our heritage in the U.S.A. Calamos is a proud supporter of the National Hellenic Museum.” Sianis, a former soccer star, is the son of an immigrant family from the village of Paleo Pyrgos, Arcadia, Greece. The Peloponnese is the center of intense patriotism since the Greek Revolution of 1821.
In a previous workshop, George Maragos, candidate for U.S. Senate from New York, explained “running for the U.S. Senate is not for gain. I am motivated to give back and restore to the next generation opportunities that we had. We are losing competiveness. Our youth has the determination to succeed. Mr. Paul Kotrotsios is bringing the Greek-American community together through his 2012 Hermes Expo. Visit http://www.maragos4ny.com/.
Mr. Chrysanthos Petsilas of the Greek National Trade organization said “we speak Greek and do not know it. Greek is probably the language that most influenced other languages around the world.” Mr. Petselas was referring to Xenophon Zolotas’ historic speech talking Greek with English words. Visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenophon_Zolotas. The speaker continued saying “Come to Greece! It is much more than what is taught in school. We welcome all youth to come to our land of golden, sandy beaches.” Visit www.visitgreece.gr.
How did the young professionals respond to the workshop’s program? Angela Spirou said “I must say that the most important thing I have secured from the speakers at the HYPI is the drive to not only follow my dreams, but to succeed and live them.” Dimitri Soultogiannis believes “the Young Professionals Initiative is a great chance for any young professional, Greek or not, to network, meet people and excel in anything they do.”
Elias Degermentzidis believes “the conference was a great opportunity for all of us to listen to seasoned professionals, absorb their wisdom and network with them.” Despina Siolas, MD/Ph.D. said she “was impressed with how many women were pursuing non-traditional roles in commerce, politics, defense, contracting, litigation and etc. It was very inspiring to see progressive Greek women pursuing challenging roles in society.”
Linda Kotrotsios is the silent power behind the scene of Hermes Expo for twenty-one years. She has raised three outstanding daughters, Aphrodite, Stavroula and Ioanna while supporting her husband Paul in his business ventures. She is the mentor of her family, the cement of this unique business enterprise. Mrs. Kotrotsios is to be commended for her administration of Hermes Expo in this time of economic depression. Hermes Expo international is a link to commerce, communications and culture through synergy. Business exhibitions, conferences and networking events are held since 1992 with the USA-Greece-South Eastern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean countries. For more information on Hermes Expo, visit www.hermesexpo.com.