Gala Raises More Than $2.5M
Ted Leonsis Noted Philanthropist/Washington Wizards Owner Honored for Service to the Organization and Support of New Summer Youth Academy in Greece Funds Raised Support Economic Development and Humanitarian Programs in Greece.
NEW YORK, December 4, 2023 — The Hellenic Initiative (THI) held its sold-out 11 th Annual New York Gala on Saturday, December 2 raising more than USD $2.5M making it the most successful fundraising event not only in the organization’s history but among the global Greek Diaspora.
Funds raised support THI’s vetted humanitarian and economic development programs in Greece.
Noted philanthropist Ted Leonsis, founder, chairman, principal partner and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, was honored for his service as a founding member of the THI board and his embodiment of philotimo (φιλότιμο) — translated as helping others and taking pride in community. Mr. Leonsis is the
majority owner of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals, and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.
A portion of the evening’s proceeds will help fund the THI Summer Youth Academy, which will debut in July 2024 with Mr. Leonsis serving as the 2024 Academy Chair. The program will offer basketball coaching, life skills workshops, and mentoring from basketball idols and special guests.
THI has partnered with basketball training and sportsmanship organization Eurohoops to create an unforgettable summer experience for 100 young Greeks with limited resources.
“The Hellenic Initiative’s Youth Academy leverages the unifying power of sports to strengthen communities and create brighter futures. As an NBA and WNBA team owner – as well as owning teams in the NHL and across esports, I am proud to support this important endeavor. It sits at the intersection of my Greek heritage and my conviction that team sports, particularly basketball, have the potential to empower youth and drive meaningful, positive change,” said Mr. Leonsis.
The black tie New York Gala, THI’s largest annual event, hosted more than 900 dignitaries and guests from the U.S., Canada, UK, Europe, and Australia. The event kicked off with a cocktail reception at the premier event space 48 Wall followed by a walk across a red-carpet across Wall Street to the celebrated Cipriani Wall Street for a seated dinner where they were welcomed by THI Board Chairman and Co- Founder Andrew N. Liveris and THI Board President and Co-Founder George P. Stamas.
“Greece’s greatest export has been its people with the best and the brightest leaving for opportunities elsewhere. Now we’re actually reversing this “brain drain” by giving those shining lights a reason to stay in Greece and create successful businesses,” said THI Board Chairman and Co-Founder Andrew N.
The Hellenic Initiative’s 11 th Annual New York Gala
Liveris. “We remain steadfast in our mission — to lift the Greek people with a combination of humanitarian aid and financial opportunity.”
“The creation of the THI Summer Youth academy is the perfect culmination of Ted’s sports know-how, his commitment to youth empowerment, and his devotion to THI,” said THI Board President and Co- Founder George P. Stamas. “We’re thrilled to help bring this program to life and provide leadership training and mentoring to young Greeks in need.”
“From the beginning of THI in 2012 when we held our first Gala, we were overwhelmed at the outpouring of love and enthusiasm from the Greek Diaspora in their support for Greece. This year is no
exception and through their generosity we have exceeded beyond our wildest dreams,” added interim THI Executive Director Peter J. Poulos.
Father Alexander Karloutsos THI Honorary Advisor opened the evening’s presentation with a message from His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros. The Jimmy Vali Band provided entertainment.
Officials from Greece and the Greek American community attended, including Greek Ambassador to the United States Ekaterini Nassika, THI Board members John Koudounis, Michael Psaros, Dean Dakolias, George Anderson, Drake Behrakis, Theane Evangelis, Nikos Koumettis, George Svokos, John Georges, Pericles Navab, Peter Barris, Dennis Mehiel, and THI International Ambassador Princess Tatiana.
A silent auction of world-class art, jewelry and experiences donated by Greeks from around the world contributed more than $120,000 to the total funds raised.
One quarter of attendees were young professionals and entrepreneurs, who are the future of the Hellenic Initiative. On Friday, December 1, a sold-out pre-Gala celebration of THI New Leaders was held at Thalassa Restaurant in New York.
ABOUT THI Founded in 2012, THI is a global, nonprofit, secular institution mobilizing the Greek diaspora and philhellene community to support sustainable economic recovery and renewal for the Greek people.
THI has become the largest Greek diaspora organization in the world, with supporters in more than 47 countries. The organization has made direct distribution of more than $20.5 million, 60% of which has been deployed into Greece’s economic development, and 40% into programs focused on crisis relief.
Photo credit: D. Panagos