Overlooking the Philadelphia skyline with its Welcome America fireworks display, the Maids of Athena honored its Grand President, Maria Ana Pantelous, on Saturday, June 24, 2023, in Camden, NJ. The setting was the New Jersey State Aquarium which was rented out for the AHEPA Family to see,
Spectacular views from the reception and banquet area overlooking the large and majestic sea animals were a picturesque backdrop for the crowd of over 200 participants. The local Maids of Athena Demetra Chapter of Cherry Hill sponsored the event. Young leaders of the Maids of Athena from across the continent, along with their fellow junior order, the Sons of Pericles Supreme Lodge led by its President Ryan Marinos, joined together for the party on the banks of the Delaware River. They were joined by the Grand President of the Daughters of Penelope Georgette Boulageris and her Grand Lodge, AHEPA Board of Trustees Vice Chair George Horiates, AHEPA’s district lodges of New Jersey and Delaware, past Grand President of the Maids of Athena and Past Supreme Presidents of the Sons of Pericles. A slew of people and family members from the local community came to honor Grand President Pantelous on a successful 2-year term as Grand President of this preeminent leadership organization for young women in the diaspora.
The Master of Ceremonies was Sophia Nitsolas, and as a close friend and Maids leader, she emceed the night flawlessly. The Grand President’s brothers, Yianni and Mihali Pantelous – both Sons of Pericles members, were hosts and spoke eloquently of their sister. Stavroula Horiates helped reinvigorate the local chapter, and many Maids present, including Dimitra President Sophia Iliades, talked and made presentations. It just kept going. And it wasn’t overplayed. It was undoubtedly heartfelt.
The Maids of Athena earmarked proceeds of the event to go to this year’s Maids of Athena philanthropic cause beneficiary, the Loukoumi Foundation, and to the local church’s iconography project as an acknowledgment of the support the local community has given to the Grand President over the years. Beaming with pride, the Grand President’s mother, Ana Pantelous, and her father, Haralambos Pantelous, spoke passionately about their daughter and their belief to pass on the desire to help in Hellenic causes to future generations.
Georgia Chletcos, the President of the Philadelphia Federation of Hellenic Societies, Stathis Karadonis, on behalf of Saint Thomas Parish Council, and Jim Rozanitis of AHEPA Cherry Hill, made presentations along with so many others not listed here. However, most deserving of all in recognition were the presentations of the Maids of Athena Grand Lodge led by Grand Vice President Rigo Nasopoulos of Brooklyn, Grand Secretary Ally Tsenekos from Ohio, Grand Treasurer Stephanie Owens of Florida, and Grand Governor Markella Roros, also of Brooklyn. They were joined by Sons of Pericles Supreme President Ryan Marinos from Atlanta, Supreme Vice President Alec Economakis of Virginia, Supreme Treasurer Basili Ronstadt of Chicago, and Supreme Governor George T. Horiates of Cherry Hill.
In her remarks to the crown, Maria Ana thanked AHEPA PSP George Horiates for instilling a sense of duty to the junior orders to ‘Defend Hellenism” and for his support over the years. She spoke of empowering these and future young women to the cause. For the new generation of leaders to join the fight others have carried before them, She also had a heartfelt thank you to Stephanie Maniatis of AHEPA Global HQ, who was in attendance as well as the Maids of Athena Grand Advisor Effie Kirkiles, who came from Fort Lauderdale for the occasion.
Maria Ana concluded, “Tonight’s celebration would not be possible without your guidance and support all these years. I am proud of our successes together. Thank you for believing in me. I could not have achieved any of this without you. It was an honor to serve as Maids Grand President.” She ended with a Maids of Athena motto passed on from generation, “Love in Pi Alpha. “