Ourania “Rainy” Papademetriou, teacher, lawyer, daughter and granddaughter of Greek immigrants and Orthodox clergy, is running for a judicial position on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in the May 2015 Primary.
Ms. Papademetriou has devoted her professional life to helping others. Whether as a teacher, prosecutor, domestic violence advocate, or lawyer for the underserved, she understands the challenges of everyday people and will work to ensure everyone has a fair shot in court.
A Temple Law graduate, Ms. Papademetriou is the Managing Attorney at Philadelphia VIP, a nonprofit that provides free legal services to those in need. She has also served as the Director of Legal Services at Women Against Abuse and as an assistant district attorney in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
Ms. Papademetriou’ s commitment to public service and helping people is the result of her upbringing in a Greek Orthodox family of priests and presveteras long respected in the North American Greek Orthodox Church. She is the daughter of the Reverend Spyridon Papademetriou and the late Presvetera Metaxia Papademetriou, the granddaughter of the late Reverend Constantine Papademetriou and her namesake, the late Presvetera Ourania Papademetriou, and the niece of Reverend George Papademetriou and Presvetera Athanasia Papademetriou.
The Greek Orthodox Church has been the center of life for Ms. Papademetriou and her two brothers, Stylianos-John and the late Constantine. They grew up in three parishes, the Annunciation in Newburyport, Massachusetts, Saint Spyridon’s in Newport, Rhode Island, and Saint Matthew’s in Reading, Pennsylvania. By watching her mother and father minister to these parishes, she learned firsthand from an early age the importance and joy of relationships and helping others, especially those in need.
Public service has long been a tradition in the Papademetriou family. Ms. Papademetriou’ s late uncle, John Papademetriou, served his new country, the United States of America, in the Korean War as a medic in the U.S.Army. He was killed in 1952 while saving a wounded soldier. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star posthumously by President Truman and received a hero’s burial in the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Her grandfather, the Reverend Constantine Papademetriou, was a young teacher and priest in 1938 when the Ecumenical Patriarch Benjamin sent him to help minister in the young and growing Greek Orthodox Church in America. Before they could join him, Ms. Papademetriou’ s grandmother, her father, her Aunt Olga and Uncles John, George, Evangelos and Alkiviades were trapped in Greece by the outbreak of World War II. They endured great hardship for the duration of the war. At the conclusion of the war the Papademetriou family left Greece for the United States to pursue the potential of the “American Dream”.
The Papademetrious immigrated to the United States in 1947 and Ms. Papademetriou’ s father, Spyridon, entered the new Greek Orthodox seminary in Pomfret, Connecticut. One of her favorite family pictures is a small black and white photograph of her father as a young seminarian at Pomfret, shy and proudly holding the hand of the soon to be named Patriarch Athenagoras. “This picture represents to me my father’s commitment and love of our church and his sincere understanding of the immensity of the work he was about to embrace as a dedicated parish priest.”
Ms. Papademetriou cherishes the memory and honor of her family’s friendship with the late Archbishop Iakovos. “His Eminence would visit and sit at our dining room table and marvel at my mother’s Greek home cooking. He was a great friend of our family and officiated at the funeral of both my Papou and my Yiayia.”
Ms. Papademetriou earned her B.A in English cum laude from Salve Regina College and her J.D. from Temple Law School. Prior to becoming an attorney she was an English teacher at Thompson Junior High, the junior high school that she and both her brothers attended in Newport, Rhode Island.
Active in the public service legal community in Philadelphia, she has served as the Legal Center Director of Women Against Abuse and is currently the managing attorney for the Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program which provides free legal assistance to those in need. In 2012 she was appointed by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to serve as a board member to the Pennsylvania IOLTA Board, the board that awards grants for the provision of civil legal services for the Commonwealth’s poor and disadvantaged. She has also served as chair of the Public Interest Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association and is an immediate past member of its Board of Governors.
In 2010, Ms. Papademetriou was awarded the Philadelphia Bar Foundation Award. This award is presented to an attorney in the Philadelphia public service legal community whose career work advances the cause of equal access to justice for those struggling with discrimination, abuse and poverty. Her 25-year career in public service was recognized for her “unparalleled commitment to clients, possessing a deep understanding of her client’s suffering and an ability to access the public interest legal community.”
Ms. Papademetriou resides with her husband of 31 years, Jon Belisonzi, who she met in law school. They have lived and worked in Philadelphia for over 35 years and raised their daughters in the Philadelphia Public Schools. Their daughter Eleni, and her husband William Fritze, are both assistant district attorneys in the Philadelphia DA’s Office and their daughter Lisa is a tax accountant for Comcast. They all reside in the downtown historic center of Philadelphia. Eleni, like her parents, graduated from Temple Law School. Lisa is a graduate of the Smeal School of Business at the Pennsylvania State University. They all attend the historic Saint George Cathedral where Ms. Papademetriou serves on the board of directors of the Saint George Senior Housing Corporation. Daughters Eleni and Lisa are the directors of the Saint George Sunday School, the same Sunday School they attended at the same Church where they were baptized.
The date of the primary election is May 19, 2015.