The Hellenic Initiative’s (THI) 11th Annual New York Gala raised more than $2.5 million for 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 the community.
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 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 one hundred young Greeks with limited resources.
“The Hellenic Initiative’s Youth Academy leverages the unifying power of sports to strengthen communities and create brighter futures,” Leonsis said. “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,” he added.
More than 900 dignitaries attend the Hellenic Initiative’s Gala
The black-tie New York Gala, THI’s largest annual event, hosted more than nine hundred 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 to Wall Street and 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,” said THI Board Chairman and Co-Founder Andrew N. Liveris. “Now we’re actually reversing this ‘brain drain’ by giving those shining lights a reason to stay in Greece and create successful businesses.”
“We remain steadfast in our mission—to lift the Greek people with a combination of humanitarian aid and financial opportunity,” he added.
“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,” Stamas announced.
“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,” added interim THI Executive Director Peter J. Poulos. “This year is no exception and through their generosity, we have exceeded beyond our wildest dreams.”
One-quarter of attendees were young professionals and entrepreneurs
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 and 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, and Dennis Mehiel. THI International Ambassador Princess Tatiana was also present.
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 1st, a sold-out pre-Gala celebration of THI New Leaders was held at Thalassa Restaurant in New York.
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 forty-seven countries. The organization has made direct distribution of more than $20.5 million, sixty percent of which has been deployed into Greece’s economic development and forty percent into programs focused on crisis relief.