Ted Venetoulis, George Petrocheilos, Georgia Vavas, Neil Vranis, Aphrodite Kotrotsios, Paul Kotrotsios, Aris Melissaratos, Rep. Helen Bentley
By Maria Romas
Although George Petrocheilos has lived in the United States for only three years, and although he is still a student at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, he was still able to single-handedly put together an amazing reception and fundraiser for the Johns Hopkins Hellenic Association, where he serves as the President. George was able to gather approximately 70 Greek-American and non-Greek dignitaries and college students all over Maryland and Washington D.C. in order to fundraise for the Hellenic Association as well as network with each other.
“When I came to America, I didn’t know anyone,” Petrocheilos said. “Everything changed the day I met Aris Melissaratos. Aris has helped me so much, with anything I have ever needed and he should get most of the credit. My network of people expands day by day, and thus I help other people because of my connections. It’s all about helping people in every aspect of life.”
Petrocheilos and the 34 other students in his Organization hosted the event at the residence of Michael S. Kosmas, a leading Washington D.C. attorney, who for many years worked with Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley, who was also there. “This is an incredible opportunity for Greek-American to gather and celebrate their heritage,” said Mr. Kosmas. “It brings together all different aspects of the community. It’s nice to see students setting up with role models and mentors.”
People started arriving at the event at 6:30 pm. Petrocheilos had made sure that not only Johns Hopkins students attended: There were representatives from the University of Maryland, Georgetown University, George Washington University, American University and Loyola. ‘We have undergrads, law-school students, MBA and PhD candidates’, Petrocheilos noted.
For once again, Petrocheilos used his extended personal network and brought together Maryland’s leaders of business, politics and academia: Hon. Aris Melissaratos (Former Secretary of Business & Economic Development), Senator Paul Sarbanes, Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley, Congressman John P. Sarbanes, Dep. Mayor Kaliope Parthemos, State Senator Bill Ferguson, Katherine Newman (Dean of the Johns Hopkins University), Hon. Ted Venetoulis (Former Baltimore County Executive), John and Tommy Korologos (Owners of the Double T Diners), Dr. Kostas Lyketsos (Chair of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins Hospital), Jason Fillipou (Exec. Director of the Greektown CDC), Nick Larigakis (Exec. Director of the American Hellenic Institute), Chrysovalantis P. Kefalas (Former Dep. Legal Counsel to Governor Ehrlich), Troy T. Geanopulos (Former Sr. Vice President of Constellation Energy), Courtney Samuels (Special Assistant to Senator Barbara Mikulski) and several Johns Hopkins University professors were among those distinguished guests.
“George is amazing,” said Melissaratos, who has supported the group in every way he could since 2010. “He has met more people in the past year and a half than I have in 60 years. He has θάρρος, and every time I get a call from him, he’s in some Senator’s office meeting people and helping connect others … I like to see young kids like George Petrocheilos thriving: He has the presence and leadership skills that people of my generation never would have dreamed of having.”
“There was a terrific turnout,” Senator Paul Sarbanes said. “I think it’s a real contribution, and am impressed at the young people who responded. I strongly support what George Petrocheilos does, and I think an event like this is an important thing to do. If I can be helpful, I am anxious to do what I can.”
Legendary Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley who is arguably one of the most recognizable people in Maryland politics said she knows Petrocheilos and she knows how hard he works to make things happen: “Getting people together for an event is a task,” she said. “I give George a lot of credit. He even picked a time with no rain and no snow! He is also a very nice person, and he is very hardworking. When he takes on a duty, he really applies himself 500 percent to make it happen.”
Both Deputy Mayor Kaliope Parthemos and Dean Katherine Newman talked about how impressed they are by Petrocheilos’ efforts, amazing network and great leadership. ‘I will never forget the day that George came to my office for the first time. He bombards you with questions, and new ideas. I just love him!’, said the Dep. Mayor while addressing the audience.
Vice President Neil Vranis addresses the guests
“The event was a tremendous success,” said senior neuroscience major Neil Vranis, the Vice-President of the student group. “The diversity of ages and experiences provided a myriad of opportunity for our members and others who attended this event for the future.”
Petrocheilos said that he plans to host this event on an annual basis, and we are all looking forward to next year’s reception!
Photographers: Nathalia Gibbs, Amanda Garcia and Pratik Sarkar