Senator Mike Gianaris, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, Councilmember Costa Constantinides and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz hosted a celebration of Greek Independence Day at the Stathakion Center in Astoria this past weekend. The Queens Elected Officials took to marking the occasion with a ceremony, recognizing Greek heritage and culture, and honoring local community leaders. But this year they broke new ground having all four honorees be women.
Here is a short bio of this year’s honorees:
Evgenia Soldatos, ADA, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office:
Effie Soldatos graduated from the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in 2014. She has since worked as legal counsel and intern with justices Hon. Nicholas Tsoucalas of the U.S. Court of International Trade and the Hon. Richard Lee Price of N.Y.S. Supreme Court. She has worked hand in hand with Aravella Simotas’ office where she researched and drafted legal memoranda on various legislative issues, including New York State and New York City administrative law. She assisted the Honorable Simotas in preparing memoranda on state legislative initiatives. She served as intern with the US Environmental Protection Agency where she researched and drafted legal memoranda for Regional Head Counsel of Criminal Division regarding federal environmental prosecutions, including violations under Comprehensive Environmental Response, the Compensation and Liability Act, Clean Air Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and CrimeVictims Rights Act. She is also on the board of Hellenic Professional Women, a professional networking organization.
Jenny Emexezidis, Chief Financial Officer of Queens Medallion Group of Companies and Melrose Ballroom:
Jenny Emexezidis was born and raised in Astoria, Queens. She passed her CPA exam on the first try. She is the owner of Action Accounting and Melrose Ballroom. She previously has had a long career in accounting having worked for Texaco as an international auditor, an Assistant VP at Solomon Brothers, and as credit analyst for Banque Paribas. In 2011, she became CEO of Queens Medallion Group, the large conglomerate of yellow cab fleets and the constellation of businesses associated with them. She is currently the owner of the Melrose Ballroom whose aim is to bring world-class entertaintment to Astoria. She is on the board as Treasurer as well as CFO.
As a breast cancer survivor and active member of SHAREing and CAREing, she believes giving back is as important as a finding a cure. She has put her financial skills to work in a philanthropic capacity by serving as treasurer for her church and school.
Nomiki Kastanas from National Greek TV
Along with her husband, the late Demetri Kastanas, Nomiki spearheaded National Greek TV in the 1980s which evolved into the face and voice of the Omogenia.
In 1987, Demetri Kastana expanded National Greek TV into a full-time channel on Time Warner Cable and Nomiki took on a key management position. The channel brought Nomiki into direct contact with the Greek community offering them help with matters of a personal, professional, even technical in nature. Nomiki worked on many fund raising telethons for charitable causes such as The Greek Children’s Fund, The Deborah Children’s Hospital, Agia Markella Church, as well as several telethons conducted for The Federation of Hellenic Societies to raise money for the Greek Independence Day Parade.
Her love and desire to help the Greek community brought her to the Federation in October 2016, when she volunteered on the Parade Committee and in 2017 was elected General Secretary of The Federation of Hellenic Societies where she still serves.
Ismini Michaels, Treasurer of the Greek Children’s Fund
Ismini Michaelidou was born in Leukosia, Cyprus. She graduated from the Cyprus Paedagogical Academy and worked in Cyprus as a teacher for twelve years. She came to the US in 1975 with her late husband Stelio and her three girls, Maria, Andry and Noni.
She has worked as Greek teacher for 37 years at the school Transfiguration of Christ in Corona and the afternoon school of Archangel Michael in Port Washington.
From the beginning of her arrival in the US she began offering her knowledge and time to the community though the Cyprus Federation of America. She became president of the community department and the choir of Pancyprian Association of America, an association she still serves today.
She has been an active member of the Greek Children’s Fund since 1983 and she continues as a treasurer in this capacity. She also donated her time to an organization that supports students with cardiac issues.
She is one of the first members of the community “Our Cyprus” which was founded in 1987 by Petros Petridis.
She is a grandmother to five grandchildren.
Assemblymember Simotas said, “I am pleased to join my colleagues in celebrating Greek Independence Day here in Astoria, where so many Greek immigrants have found the opportunity to thrive and prosper. Our celebration honors the brave and righteous Greeks who fought to break the yoke of the Ottoman Empire’s oppression 196 years ago, and now we can proudly stand committed to the democratic ideals that bind Greece and America. I extend my deepest appreciation to the four remarkable Greek women honored tonight for their commitment to bettering the Greek community in New York.”
It is fitting that four Greek American women were honored this March 2017 footing a double bill in celebration of #Greek History and #Women’sHistory month.