Hellenic Lawyers Association holds lavish gala in New York

This month, the Hellenic Lawyers Association (HLA) will hold its lavish annual gala at the Pierre Hotel (Fifth Avenue and 61st Street, November 20th, 7:00 p.m.), honoring George S. Canellos, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Regional Director in New York, and John C. Stratakis, Esq. of Poles Tublin Stratakis & Gonzalez, LLP, the latter with the prestigious “Attorney of the Year Award.” Federal and state court judges, local politicians, prosecutors and prominent lawyers will be attending the event which will also offer a silent auction and music by Alpha.

By Demetrios Rhompotis

In an interview with NEO magazine, HLA President Mamie Stathatos-Fulgieri pointed out that the organization has hosted lectures, educational events and networking opportunities throughout the year for its members and for the Greek-American and legal communities. In addition, HLA presents scholarship awards annually to deserving law students of Hellenic descent. Moreover, “we offer an opportunity for Americans of Hellenic descent to socially interact and integrate within the community by promoting cultural and political awareness and offering resources.” About to enter her second year as President, she believes the experience has been rewarding and “there are several attorneys who are anxious to join our organization in light of the fact that it is ethnically-based and they consider their heritage to be extremely important to their American identity.”

Mamie Stathatos-Fulgieri grew up in Whitestone, New York, at the Holy Cross Parish, and attended the Transfiguration Greek School in Corona. She thereafter attended St. John's Preparatory High School in Astoria for three years as was accepted to an early admission (starting college at 16) at St. John's University, where she received a Bachelors of Art in Government & Politics with a minor in English. In 1991, she entered St. John's University School of Law and was the scholarship recipient of the Eastern Orthodox Lawyers Association in 1993.

Following graduation from St. John's School of Law in 1994, Mamie served as an Assistant District Attorney with the Queens County District Attorney's Office under District Attorney Richard Brown for 3 1/2 years and handled major narcotics investigations, including search warrants and wiretaps. In 1998, she joined the law firm of SACS, where she is now a Senior Attorney representing some of the largest medical institutions in New York.

In 2008, Mamie was elected President of the Hellenic Lawyers Association, which is the premiere organization of lawyers of Hellenic descent in the New York metropolitan area. In addition to her legal commitments, she is a committee member with the PKD (polycystic kidney disease) Foundation in NY and the DeRosa Foundation for Colon Cancer Research & Prevention. She was married to Matthew Fulgieri in 2003 at the Church of the Resurrection (in Brookville) and has two sons, Matthew (4) and Evangelo (3).

Tickets for the HLA gala are $250 per person ($200 for students) and may be purchased by mailing checks to “HLA” at 21-74 Steinway Street, Astoria, NY 11105 or calling Kate Christoforatos at (718) 726-5400, or by visiting HLA’s website www.hlany.org

Interview with
President Mamie Stathatos-Fulgieri

It’s been almost a year since you became president of the Hellenic Lawyers Association. How would you describe the experience so far and where do you want to see the organization a year from now?

It has been a rewarding and active year. We hope to continue to grow and expand in order to accommodate the needs of the Hellenic community.

Does the HLA, as a group, take stand in major legislative issues, such as the Gore-Bush standoff, for example?

The HLA appreciates and understands each perspective but traditionally, as an organization, opts to take a non-partisan approach. Certainly, our members have varied opinions and we promote an open forum where these political issues may be addressed. If any action is required within the group, then affirmative steps will certainly be taken.

Two very important issues of Hellenic American concern, the Turkish violations of the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the Turkish occupation of Cyprus, besides political, entail fundamentally legalistic aspects as well. Has the HLA dealt with the cases from a legal point of view?

Although the HLA has not yet had the opportunity to assist the Greek community abroad, we are receptive and we stand in a position of empowerment. Fundamentally, as Greek-Americans, we are committed to stand together and offer whatever political and legal recourse available to those members of the community who are in need.

Are you the first woman to lead the HLA? Has that led to an increase in the number of women involved in the organization?

We have had a number of exceptional female presidents leading our organization in the past and in general a marked increase in female membership. Certainly, being a woman in a position to affect change, it would be my hope and objective that younger woman would be inspired to reach their goals and surpass any limitations set forth by society.

Why should a successful attorney of Hellenic descent join HLA, especially as he or she is able to join countless other non-ethnic groups from the industry?

We offer an opportunity for Americans of Hellenic descent to socially interact and integrate within the community by promoting cultural and political awareness and offering resources including academic scholarships. I have found that there are several attorneys who are anxious to join our organization in light of the fact that it ethnically-based and they consider their heritage to be extremely important to their American identity. Not to mention the pride they have as Greeks.

The economy is in everybody’s lips these days and lawyers are not an exception. Are things looking better or promising?

Although we are currently in an economic flux, the economic changes tend to be cyclical and, as history has served, it is anticipated that there will be a focal turning point upward. That being said, lawyers are certainly not immune from the impact of the current unstable economy and in fact, HLA occasionally (and more in recent times) receives correspondence from law students or lawyers looking for employment. Our organization helps these lawyers by circulating their resumes to our extensive network in the hopes that one Hellene will help the other, particularly during such trying times.

Would you be open for closer cooperation with other major Greek-American organizations such as L100 or AHEPA? Also, would you as president seek closer ties with counterpart institutions from Greece and Cyprus with which as American Hellenes you share a special affinity?

For the past several years, HLA has successfully collaborated with our fellow Hellenic professional organizations and we anticipate continued cooperation. The experience has been rewarding and beneficial for the members of all the organizations involved. We hope to continue along those lines and it is our ambition to extend the arm of HLA to those members of our counterpart institutions from Greece and Cyprus.

A message to your members and the American Hellenic community in general.

As the complexities of the justice system increase, it is our hope that with an expanding organization we would be able to assist our fellow Hellenes in navigating the waters of an often-time intricate legal system. Therefore, membership and participation in such a vital organization are imperative and necessary in order to provide much needed services to our Hellenic community on all fronts. I particularly wish to encourage our young lawyers to partake and become involved with HLA in order to further the goals of our founding members and to give back to our Hellenic community, so that we can continue to build a strong, solid foundation for our next generation of Greek-Americans to forge ahead even further than we have.


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