The Council of the City of New York
Office of Council Member Costa Constantinides
(718) 274-4500

For Immediate Release
March 25, 2014
Contact: Shachar Sharon

City Council Members Celebrate Greek Independence

New York – City Council Members Costa Constantinides, Paul Vallone, and Vincent Gentile, in conjunction with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, celebrated the 193rd anniversary of Greek Independence.

The celebration honored Greek-Americans who have dedicated themselves to serving their neighbors and who, in keeping with the spirit of Greek heritage, have helped spread democratic values to all.

“I am proud to join my fellow Council Members in celebrating Greek Independence Day and returning this great celebration to City Hall after several years of absence. As the first Greek-Cypriot American elected to the City Council, it brings me special pride to join in honoring Greek-Americans who have worked to promote hellenism and their Greek cultural heritage,” said Constantinides. “These individuals have worked for the betterment of their communities and serve as important role models. I thank Speaker Mark-Viverito and my colleagues, Council Members Vallone and Gentile, for standing with the Greek-American community and honoring their contribution to our great city.”

The anniversary celebration was also attended by Ambassador Michel Spinellis, Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations, Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou, Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the United Nations, and Vasilios Philippou, Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus.

The Council Members honored:

  • Elias Tsekerides, President, Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York
  • Philip Christopher, President & CEO, American Network Solutions, LLC
  • Peter Louca, President, Asgata Association “Cyprus”
  • Effie Lekas, Assistant Director, Center for Byzantine & Modern Greek Studies at Queens College
  • Despina Axiotakis, General Secretary, Cyprus Federation of America
  • Vivian Patricia Selenikas, Principal, Long Island City High School
  • Demos Demopoulos, Secretary Treasurer & Executive Officer, Teamsters Local 553
  • Rev. Fr. Paul Palesty, Pastor, Greek Orthodox Shrine Church of St. Nicholas
  • James Athanasaios, COO, Vitale Sunshine
  • Alice Halkias, Tri-state Regional Director, Hellenic American Women’s Council

Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito said, “It’s an honor to celebrate the 193rd anniversary of Greek Independence. Greeks have contributed much to New York City’s culture and history and I am proud to celebrate this day with my colleagues in the City Council. Each of the honorees have all strived to spread the democratic ideals shared by Greece and the United States and we are proud to have them as New Yorkers.”

Council Member Vincent Gentile said, “Greek Americans have contributed as leaders of business, culture, community and government. The word “philanthropy” derives from an Ancient Greek phrase meaning “love of humanity” in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing and enhancing what it means to be a human being. It should come as no surprise that philanthropy is a Greek word because nobody knows giving back like the Greeks. It’s in their DNA! And when we celebrate Greek Independence Day, we honor and celebrate the deep connections between us all.”

Council Member Paul Vallone said, “Today we honor Greece’s independence and the over 100,000 New Yorkers of Greek Ancestry. Greek-Americans have made countless contributions to our great city and continue to be one of the most active and vibrant ethnic communities. My district is home to a large population of Greek-Americans and I am proud to honor Rev. Protopresbyter Paul Palesty, one of their great leaders from the Greek Orthodox Shrine Church of St. Nicholas.”

Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair the City Council’s Sub-Committee on Libraries and sits on seven standing committees: Civil Service & Labor, Contracts, Cultural Affairs, Environmental Protection, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation, and Transportation. For more information, visit