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CommunityBusinessMidwest Greek Community Insights: A Glimpse into Greek-American Life, Culture, and Achievements

Midwest Greek Community Insights: A Glimpse into Greek-American Life, Culture, and Achievements

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By Terry Poulos, Special to the Hellenic News of America
From the crossroads of America (Chicago and Northwest Indiana and beyond), we have one of the largest concentrations of Greek Americans outside the Motherland herself. With that, today I’m honored to present a new column offering bite-sized news about Greek Americans and all things Hellenism with a Midwest focus. Hope you enjoy!
* It’s off to Paris 2024 for NBC5 Chicago news anchor Alex Maragos. He’s been selected by the network to cover the Olympics. His late grandfather was prominent Judge Sam Maragos and his uncle is noted attorney/politico Dean Maragos.

* In October and for the second consecutive year, Alex emceed the annual fundraiser for the Chicago Greektown Educational Foundation, which provides laptops, Greek language software, and other technology to Chicago-area Greek schools. The not-for-profit was founded by Leo Louchios, who sadly passed away this summer. Leo was a top aide to longtime Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who retired after a celebrated career. Leo accompanied White on two excursions to Greece, where White served in the US military in his youth. Replacing White as the new SOS is Alexi Giannoulias, former state Treasurer. Leo was an adviser to Giannoulias and offered keen insight into the inner workings of the office.

Alex-Maragos
NBC5 news anchor Alex Maragos (middle right) emceed the recent Chicago Greektown Educational Foundation annual fundraiser. Here he’s pictured with foundation board members. Photo credit: CGEF
* Calamos Investments in Naperville, IL recently opened a Chicago office, including a suite specially made for NBA star Giannis Antetokounpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Early in 2023, the rising finance powerhouse partnered with Giannis to open the world’s first exchange-traded fund headed by a pro athlete. The Calamos Antetokounmpo Global Sustainable Equities ETF (SROI:NYSE ARCA) is an ESG fund. The initiative stemmed from a friendship formed between Giannis and Calamos CEO John Koudounis. Giannis’ brother Thanasis Antetokounpo, another Bucks player, is also on the SROI board. Calamos was founded by John Calamos, a billionaire philanthropist who also serves as chairman and grand benefactor of the National Hellenic Museum (NHM) in Chicago. Calamos Investments has been expanding at a rapid pace, getting into new markets and also on the sponsorship front with its logo emblazoned on the court at the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls.
* Calamos has been sponsoring a radio show on WGN 720-AM with WGN radio’s Anna Davlantes interviewing Calamos executives about the economy and giving investment advice. Speaking of WGN, the radio and TV superstation throughout the years has featured many Greek Americans on the air and in producer roles. Most prominent among them at present, entertainment critic Dean Richards. After a stellar career, reporter Andrea Darlas recently took a buyout and joined the NHM board. She’s also heading the University of Illinois alumni network.
* More Giannis: The two-time NBA regular season MVP and Finals MVP recently entered into a partnership as an investor in the growing Greek and Mediterranean restaurant franchise Avli, founded by Louie Alexakis. There are now five Avli locations – four in Chicago and one in Milwaukee. Giannis has partnered on the Milwaukee location. Additionally, Lou Canellis, FOX32 Chicago’s lead sports anchor, along with business partners Alexakis and Bill Glastris all own Avli Foods separately from the restaurants.
* Actor, TV personality, and “Deal Or No Deal” model #9 Patricia Kara, a Chicago native, recently released the ebook version of her upcoming print tome “Dream On…Now Deliver: The no-nonsense guide to achieving success in the entertainment industry.” Available on Amazon, among other platforms. She’s married to former NFL player Noel LaMontagne.
* Actor-turned-singer/songwriter Lisa Zane, sister of Billy “Titanic” Zane, in October held a launch party in Chicago for her latest CD of love songs with classic guitar ballads, titled “Mysteries of Spain.” The tracks are spectacular!
Patricia-Kara
* CEO Niko Drakoulis and Sure People of Arlington Heights, IL made some big waves this Fall. The “people analytics” company partnered with USA Diving, and one of its clients, the Texas Rangers, won the World Series! Sure has steadily been building a blue-chip client roster.
* On the topic of diving, the Chicago area Greek community boasts two-time USA Olympic diver Christina Loukas among its ranks. Christina finished 8th in the world at the Beijing Games, then 7th in London. She recently earned a master’s degree in physical therapy.
* Chicago area native James Pappas, now in the greater Phoenix area, is making some moves with his basketball and soccer ball branding company Dime, and he also recently started as director of development at a unique charter school.
* This season, there are two Greek Americans on the football roster at Purdue University – Fenwick H.S. Illinois product Jimmy Liston, a freshman center and former all-stater in football and wrestling, and sophomore linebacker Yanni Karlaftis, the younger brother of Kansas City Chiefs star defensive lineman and Super Bowl champion George Karlaftis.
* Addendums: Kathy Demos Kappos accepted a position at the Walt Disney Company working in ad portfolios… Young actor Brenny Bravos had a speaking role in the hit TV series “Chicago Fire.” She’s the daughter of Hellenic Voters of America president Kiki Stamatiou Whitehead. Kiki is also an artist who illustrated the newly-released book “How Does My Mamma Know.” Kiki and this columnist both paint sculptures that appear on Halsted Street for the annual Greektown outdoor art exhibition)…Marketing and advertising veteran Tina Manikas, longtime Draft FCB top executive, is now president of an entire agency, Tracy Locke…Two Chicago news veterans now have prominent roles at Politco.com, Shia Kapos and Tina Sfondeles…News veteran Andrea Hanis is now editor-in-chief at the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin…Leave ’em wanting. More next month…
Terry Poulos is a writer, entrepreneur (TheSportsIndex.com), and artist who has also covered Greek America for more than two decades for newspapers, magazines, and web portals. He’s currently co-director of the Greek Media Club and a member of the AHEPA Athletics Hall of Fame selection committee,. As a researcher/historian focusing on ancient and modern science and technology, he often incorporates Hellenism into his blog and artwork at Scientiquity.com

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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