American Hellenic Council

All posts tagged American Hellenic Council

The Tech Rehearsal

Published April 16, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair


Now that the lights were set, I was ready to begin the tech rehearsal for the video presentation. There were many reasons for my decision to save the video presentations in several digital formats – one of which resulted from an incident that took place about a week before I left for the trip. I had just switched internet companies at my production studio and shortly afterwards, I began to experience connectivity issues with my laptop. As it is only used as a backup system, due to my heavy production schedule, I didn’t have time to troubleshoot or call a technician to help resolve it before I left for L.A. Plus, because I made the assumption that the issue resulted from switching cable companies, I believed (hoped, rather) that once I arrived at the facility, I could tap into their wireless system without a problem. What that meant, however, was that if my laptop was used for the show, and the problem was not a wireless connectivity issue, it would hinder my ability to connect to the internet during the event, should the other platforms fail. In other words, if I needed to access the videos via YouTube with my laptop, there was a good possibility that I would again run into connectivity problems.


The hotel staff did not provide detailed information about the audio/video (A/V) hardware that would be available to us, so I was focused on preparing for it as best as I could without it. In addition to publishing them on the YouTube platform, I saved the videos on a flash drive and also produced DVD versions. Furthermore, the files were formatted to work on electronic devices driven by the Windows or MAC platforms. My strategic management plan was to ensure the most successful outcome, so for added security, the video files were produced and tested in both formats (Windows and QuickTime files). This strategy also served to provide a sense of confidence from knowing that there were sufficient backup systems implemented should one fail.

dvd sample

The A/V staff member that worked with me during the program suggested that the easiest most effective method for the presentation was to connect my laptop to their system. Although I did not anticipate using my own equipment, it was a decision I could live with because I was familiar with the operational and functioning processes, plus, I was prepared.  I could now decide which format to implement and test out first. I chose the system that contained all the videos in one place:  the flash drive. The DVDs were formatted so that each video presentation was on a separate disc. Initially, when I burned the DVDs I did so as complimentary gift for the AHC and for the honorees. I had not planned on using them for the event as my first choice for playback, and in truth, they were only considered as a final resort backup system because I believed the flash drive would be the more convenient method. Plus, I had each file saved on the laptop. In other words, I only considered their use for the presentation as a last resort. In fact, I did not bring any of them down to the tech rehearsal because my plan was to play the files directly from the flash drive.


I inserted the flash drive and began the first video so I could set sound levels and the technician could center and fit the image on the widescreen projectors. Within a few minutes I noticed that the audio was not in synch with video. How on earth did that happen? I closed out of that file and began the next video file and noticed the same thing! What the … how the … I was speechless! I played the third video and the same thing happened. This was beyond bizarre, this was surreal! Then I tested the videos on the laptop and they TOO had audio synchronicity problems. Plus, now that we were committed to using my laptop, guess what else I discovered? I still was unable to connect to the internet – even using the hotel’s wireless system! Shock and panic started to creep in. This meant that two of the systems (flash drive and laptop files) I planned to use were inoperable as was my ability to resort to YouTube where they were also available on high definition. I had but one option left: I had to resort to the DVD platform. So I ran back up to the hotel room, grabbed the DVDs, and prayed this final system would work (gulp) … but you’ll have to come back to check out Friday’s post to find out whether I was successful or whether after investing many hours of hard work and planning it was what my daughter would refer to as an “epic fail!”

Until then … stay tuned and keep organized!


“Security represents your sense of worth, your identity, your emotional anchorage, your self-esteem, your basic personal strength or lack of it.”  — Stephen Covey

The Main Event: The AHC Gala

Published April 11, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair


With the first two presentations complete, I was now focused on the final video for Dean Metropoulos. He was the recipient of the Aristeio Ward because of his continual support of Hellenism and his outstanding achievements which have had a significant impact both nationally and internationally. For example, the Metropoulos management firm has been involved in nearly 80 acquisitions that includes around $50 billion in invested capital for the past 25 years with impressive returns on Wall Street. With all of his accomplishments however, many would agree that his saving the Hostess Twinkie was one of the highlights.

Metropoulos Aristeio Award

Dean Metropoulos Aristeio Award 2014 AHC Gala Tribute Video

The more information I gathered on Mr. Metropoulos, the more impressed I was with his story because what my research revealed, was that like Maria Pantelia and John Sarbanes, he too, is passionate about his life’s work, which is a key component that contributes to their effectiveness as inspirational leaders. Having worked on these video presentations and discovering what exemplary individuals they are, was a transforming experience for me. It sparked my Greek fire and motivated the storyteller in me to share their journey in a way that truly honored their authentic spirits so that the audience, could discover like I did, who they are and also understand why these extraordinary people were being honored. (Click on the image of Dean Metropoulos above to see his video presentation).

 American-Hellenic-Council-California-AHCThe Main Event: The Gala

Kathy invited my daughter and I to attend the event to make sure the video presentation went smoothly. So we decided to make it into a little mom-daughter spring break journey as we had not been to L.A. since she was in kindergarten when we traveled there to visit Disneyland. We left Vegas early in the morning to get in by early afternoon, but got caught in gridlock traffic on the San Bernardino Freeway. It held us up over an hour. (That’s the part of Southern California I do NOT miss!) By the time we arrived at the Omni Plaza, we were nearly an hour late and Kathy was deeply focused on putting out some of her own “fires” one of which was being short on volunteers that day.


So, we dropped off our luggage and immediately asked what we could do to help out. For us, it was fun because it gave us the opportunity to spend some quality time with our gal pals, working together while catching up. We also had a chance to check out the ballroom where the event would take place. Later, a few of the staff members escorted us to the venue to could go over the layout. For me, in the role of Technical Director for the video presentation, it allowed me to meet the Audio/Video (A/V) staff,  see the equipment we were given to work with, and schedule a rehearsal the next day to set light cues and sound levels for the event.

013112 - back up plans

What my experience in showbiz and my extensive research work in grad school have taught me, is to be well prepared and expect the unexpected. That meant, rehearsals were an integral part of making sure everyone knew their part and that I too, understood what my responsibilities were as well. I also came prepared with my own backup plan for the presentations if for whatever reason, we ran into any technical issues. In addition to bringing my laptop I had several DVD copies of each presentation. Plus, each video file was saved on a flash drive. In addition, I uploaded them all on YouTube in Hi-Definition. In other words, I had as many formats of the video presentation as I could think of to make sure I had many options to choose from, should one system fail. Boy am I glad I did!  But that’s next week’s blog post. You will have to come back then to find out how it all turned out and whether it was an epic success or a fabulous failure!

Until then … have a great weekend everyone and stay organized!


“The appearance of things changes according to the emotions, and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.” — Kahlil Gibran




The Award Presentations

Published April 9, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair


Now that I had some feedback from Kathy about Congressman Sarbanes tribute video, I could begin putting together the presentation for the next honoree, UC Irvine professor, Dr. Maria Pantelia, the recipient of the AHC’s Theodore Saloutos Award. This award is given to honor distinguished members of the Hellenic Community for their extraordinary devotion to Hellenism, its traditions, ideals, and culture. (Note: this award was named after the late UCLA professor who founded and presided over the Save Cyprus Council which later became the American Hellenic Council).


Professor Pantelia is the Chair of Classics at the University of California Irvine as well as the Director of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae® (TLG). The TLG is a research center at UC Irvine whose aim is to provide a comprehensive digital collection of all surviving texts written in Greek from antiquity to the present era. Under her direction, the TLG underwent a major expansion to include Byzantine and Modern Greek, in addition to being brought online in 2001. To this day, the TLG has identified and digitized the entire extant corpus of Greek from Homer to the fall of Constantinople in 1453 CE. It is a collection that consists of more than 4,000 authors and 15,000 works. Equipped with a highly powerful search engine and a suite of digital research tools designed to analyze this data, the TLG is an indispensable resource used by millions of readers in more than 2,000 academic institutions in 58 countries worldwide. Needless to say, like Congressman Sarbanes, Dr. Pantelia’s achievements were impressive and significant as well, so my personal goal was to make sure that the video presentation highlighted her accomplishments eloquently.


After going through all the footage and collecting the data available, I pieced them together and completed the presentation. Both Kathy and I were extremely happy with the final results and couldn’t wait for show time. Now that I had finished these two presentations, I was ready to focus on the next and final honoree: Dean Metropoulos, the recipient of the Aristeio Award and the topic of Friday’s blog. In the meantime, for those interested, below are the YouTube links of the video presentations for Dr. Pantelia and Congressman Sarbanes:


Dr. Maria Pantelia, The Theodore Saloutos Award, 2014 AHC Gala Tribute Video


Congressman John Sarbanes, The Pericles Award, 2014 AHC Gala Tribute Video

Until Friday … keep focused and stay organized!


“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” — Mother Teresa

My Introduction to the AHC

Published April 7, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair


Kathy Konst, Executive Director, AHC

Kathy Konst, Executive Director, AHC

Early this year, a close friend of mine, Kathy Konst, found herself in a situation she did not quite know how to approach. The non-profit organization she works for was hosting their annual gala award dinner. In addition to her responsibilities to help organize the event, she was also in charge of providing the video presentations for each of the honorees to highlight their achievements. With all her corporate, political, educational, and organizational management skills, video production was new territory for her. Not aware of her predicament and while she was trying to determine how to approach this arduous task, I happen to post on Facebook,  a short video presentation I produced for a project in grad school.

185427690_640 (1)

The timing could not have been more perfect. She watched the video and saw a solution to her dilemma. Dr. Chopra (2014) postulates that we use information and intelligence to move energy, and by focusing our intentions, we can help direct our outcomes. He further purports that when live our lives with an awareness and appreciation of coincidences and their meaning, we can then create more opportunities that will produce an infinite amount of possibilities. This is a state he identifies as synchrodestiny, where he explains, it becomes possible to accomplish the spontaneous fulfillment of our desires (Chopra, 2014). What this means in scientific terms is that the energy I transmitted from being in a state of joy, with a focused passion to create a video presentation simply as an educational tool to entertain fellow classmates, created an opportunity in which our energies became synchronized. Was this merely a coincidence, or a genuine example of synchrodestiny in action? The bottom line was that my friend was in a predicament and just like magic, I unexpectedly found myself in a position to step up and help out. Regardless of an explanation, I thought that was pretty cool.


Due to our busy schedules, I had not been in close contact with Kathy for a while and was not cognizant of her position as Executive Director at The American-Hellenic Council in California, the non-partisan political advocacy organization, community organizer, and networking venue for Greek Americans nationwide. Since the organization’s inception, the American Hellenic Council has been the focal point of political activities of Greek American citizens. The AHC has become an effective and respected political group whose purpose is to lobby the U.S. Congress for the protection and promotion of Greek-American interests. During its existence, for example, the American Hellenic Council has supported numerous Hellenic issues, has made political donations, and raised significant contributions for members of Congress who support Hellenic issues (American Hellenic Council, 2014). I have not been as active in the political arena, so this was a new territory for me. All I knew was that a close friend had a dilemma and I found myself in a position to give a lending hand. She said she was so relieved and felt like an enormous weight had been lifted off her shoulders.


The pressure was now on me. However, in truth, I did not feel any pressure. In fact, I felt joy and honor that this project fell into my lap, so to speak. I had just completed grad school and was confident in my skills and abilities. So I decided to approach this assignment like another research project, only this time, rather than creating a final product as a written presentation, it would result in a video presentation. My job was to gather the data and come up with an end product that would not only meet the level of last year’s presentation, but exceed it. I began by collecting all the pieces, including the biographies, photos, and video clips of all the three recipients: Congressman John Sarbanes from Maryland’s Third District, UC Irvine Professor, Dr. Maria Pantelia, Ph.D, and Mr. Dean Metropoulos, the CEO whose management firm recently saved the Hostess Twinkie. Next, I had to decide how to piece it together.


John Sarbanes, Maria Pantelia, and Dean Metropoulos

I had gathered enough data on Congressman John Sarbanes, the recipient of the Pericles Award, so I worked on his presentation first. The parameters I was given for this assignment, was to take all the information collected and create a three minute video. This meant I had to go through all the video footage provided as well as create an outline to organize the data. From the information I collected, which was quite impressive, I composed a script and storyboard so that I could provide a clear picture of Congressman Sarbanes’ achievements. The Pericles Award is to honor this political leader as an advocate of peace and democracy in the Eastern Mediterranean as a supporter of the American Hellenic Community. After I pieced together a first draft, I sent Kathy a sample video from all the data I collected thus far, that also included a fabulous soundscape by the musical genius of Greek composer/producer Yanni. (Click on the image of Congressman Sarbanes below to watch the video sample I sent her.)


Congressman John Sarbanes, Recipient of the 2014 AHC Pericles Award (Extended Video draft)

The reason I intentionally produced a video presentation that was longer than what she asked for was because there was a considerable amount of interview footage from Congressman Sarbanes and I wanted to be clear on what she felt was significant to include. The immediate response I received from Kathy was fabulous! She absolutely loved it! The big challenge now … editing the piece down to roughly three minutes. The results my friends, will be the focus of Wednesday’s blog … until then … work hard, play fiercely, and stay organized!

  “Abundance is a state of mind in which you believe you are intrinsically creative. You recognize that the universe is abundant, and that you are an expression of the universe.” — Dr. David Simon



American Hellenic Council. (2014). Retrieved April 6, 2014, from LinkedIn: Chopra, D. (2014).

Coincidences: Clues from the universe by Deepak Chopra. Retrieved April 6, 2014, from