It’s hard to define who I am and what I do in a single description. At any given moment of my life, I might be planning communications and marketing strategies for clients, on a skype call with a film production team discussing a script, writing a story for my news and blog website, or spending time interviewing potential scholarship recipients for my non-profit organization that I founded more than a decade ago. I split my time between my two homes in New York City and Athens.
I run a New York City and Athens-based public relations and event planning firm called Pappas & Polyzois to make a living; and, founded a charity called the Greek America Foundation to feed my soul and help others connect with their Greek heritage. I also publish a website called The Pappas Post.
In 2013 I decided to take my love for storytelling to a new level. I took the leap into film production and founded a small company to share stories that were important to me with the world, using the medium of film. That company is Iota Films, named from the first two letters of each of my parents’ names (Ioanna and Takis) as a way of thanking them for instilling in me my love for storytelling through the stories they shared with me.
I executive produced several short films including Alethea Avramis’ The Foreigner, which was nominated for a student Emmy Award and Alex Thompson’s Irene and Marie, which starred Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis. I also produced a documentary film called Hello Anatolia about a Greek American filmmaker named Chrysovalantis Stamelos who returns to Turkey in search of his Greek family’s roots.
Another documentary film I produced, Palikari: Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre has gone on to win numerous awards throughout the world and has received critical acclaim as one of the greatest untold stories of American history.
I also produced a short film called Eleftheromania, about an unprecedented incident of immense bravery on the part of 400 Greek prisoners in Auschwitz during the summer of 1944.
I speak regularly before large and small crowds about the importance of maintaining our cultural identity and historical issues pertaining to contemporary Greek-US relations and history. I also speak regularly about Greece’s role during World War II– an era I’ve studied and researched extensively. I own an extensive collection of items from this period, including a letter my paternal grandmother received from the British Field Marshall, thanking her for her role during the Battle of Crete with assisting Allied troops.
I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and lived in Chicago for almost twenty years before moving to the capital of the universe, New York City.
I have produced major international events like The Gabby Awards, the National Innovation Conference and an annual film and photography festival in Toronto called Greek Film and Foto Week, all under the auspices of the Greek America Foundation.
The proudest moment of my professional career was the Spring of 2004 when I watched Glykeria perform in front of 2,000 people in Istanbul, Turkey at a special concert that I produced for the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople– the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians. The performance included songs and music from the “lost lands” of Greek Asia Minor and many of the people in the audience were singing Greek songs they grew up with for the first time in decades.
Another exciting professional experience I had was being part of the production team for a 13-episode television show hosted by Leon Logothetis, who traveled around the world on a yellow vintage motorcycle relying solely on the kindness of strangers. I handled public and media relations for the production, as well as the social media campaign which was a daunting task to keep in touch with hundreds of thousands of Leon’s followers on the journey in dozens of countries throughout the world.
I was on much of that journey– which was more than a paying job for me, but a look deep inside myself and a familiarization with the world around me. I drove with Leon across the entire United States, from coast to coast, and also visited far-flung places like Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, which will stay with me forever.
My biggest role models in life are my parents, Chris and Joann– both immigrants from Crete, as well as Olympia Dukakis, Peter Diamandis, Arianna Huffington and the late Dr. Taki Papadakis, the former president of Drexel University.
A sentence that best defines me and defines everything I do in life– I am passionate about my Greek heritage and want to share it with the world.