What is HPSI?
The Hellenic Professional Society of Illinois (HPSI) was founded in 1925 by a small group of professionals who shared a love of conversation, intellectual debate and a thirst for knowledge, beauty and wisdom. HPSI is one of the longest surviving organizations of the Chicago Hellenic Community.
The Mission of HPSI is to uphold the honor and dignity of the professions represented by its membership; to cultivate a spirit of good fellowship; to encourage and promote education and learning and to cooperate with other organizations of professional people in promoting the arts, letter and sciences, especially those enhancing the Hellenic spirit and culture.
Since its inception, HPSI has served as a meeting ground for professional individuals of Hellenic descent. HPSI hosts many events throughout the year, including: lectures on cultural, historic and business topics, social events, including the annual Membership and Christmas parties, as well as philanthropic events. Over the years, HPSI has raised money to support many organizations and causes such as: Hellenic Foundation, Hellenic Museum and Hepatitis-C Research.
HPSI serves Hellenes throughout Illinois, as well as Southern Wisconsin and Northwest Indiana. Its members range from just out of college to seasoned professionals.
As HPSI closes in on a century of existence, it continues to make changes and expand its programming.
Come join us as we celebrate our rich heritage!
HPSI: A Rich History Meets a Vibrant Future
The Hellenic Professional Society of Illinois is one of the state's longest surviving Greek organizations. It has a rich history and a very vibrant future. Before looking ahead, it's important to reflect on the founding of the organization and the highlights of the last 85 years.
In late 1924, Dr. Polyvios Korrylos, a well-known surgeon and professor at Cornell University came to Chicago with the intention of organizing a professional society. He went to visit Dr. Nikolaos Salopoulos, who was the first Greek Consul in Chicago. The two discussed several ideas, before coming up with names of fifty individuals with whom they would present their idea. Salopoulos invited all fifty to a dinner at the LaSalle Hotel and explained the vision to them. The Greek Professional Men's Club was formed that very evening, with Salopoulos elected as honorary president.
The first formal meeting was held in the spring of 1925, and 30 people attended. Dr. Sotirios Zaph was elected the first working president. The club was comprised of primarily doctors and most had emigrated from Greece.
The Greek Professional Men's Club began hosting lectures that year, many of which were very controversial in nature, stimulating debates questioning history, taking on sensitive political topics and the like. Much controversy surrounded the organization, over the years, not only due the nature of its lecture topics, but also from in fighting, power struggles and a lack of funding that threatened to stifle the growing club. The intellectual and cultural stimulation that was created would prove to be the glue that has held the organization together, to this day.
Women were prohibited from joining, and a few years after the Men's Club's founding, the Greek Women's University Club was formed to provide Greek women with a professional forum.
A few years later, social events were added to the calendar, bringing Hellenic professionals together to celebrate national holidays and religious events. These events presented a more casual environment in which Hellenic professionals could meet and exchange ideas. Social events have remained at the core of HPSI's calendar of events.
One of the first programs instituted was to honor college graduates of Hellenic descent. A scholarship program was established in conjunction, as an impetus to continuing education. Graduates were honored, mentored and deserving students were awarded scholarships in what has become an HPSI tradition.
As more Greeks went to college and took up professional careers, the make up of the organization changed, with lawyers, professors and other professionals joining the ranks.
In the late 1940s, there was some talk about approving women into the membership. It wasn't until 1954, when then-president Gus Mazarakis made the historic decision to allow women to join their male colleagues. The name was then officially changed to the Hellenic Professional Society of Illinois.
It would be another 25 years before the Society would elect a woman president. Angelique Sallas, PhD. was elected to the presidency in 1975. Ironically, she is the grandniece of founding father Salopoulos.
In addition to Nikolaos Salopoulos and Sotirios Zaph many other great individuals have led HPSI, including:
||Annette Kouimelis Karones
||Anastasia Mazurek Usher
||Lucia Pappas Economos
||Maria (Fotinopoulos) Karamitsos
||George P. Logothetis
Their leadership and dedication have contributed to the growth of an organization that can withstand the test of time.
The Society has dealt with pitfalls in membership over the years, however the last 4 years have shown steady growth. HPSI is currently experiencing resurgence, as the ideals set forth by the many past presidents continue to be relevant. By the century's end, a great influx of young professionals gave new life to the organization, led by its then-youngest (and female) president. The membership has grown tremendously over the last few years, with members predominantly in the late 20s to early 40s range.
Over the years, HPSI has partnered in cooperation with other Hellenic organizations to sponsor some enjoyable and enlightening programs. One such program began in 1981, the Annual Valentine's Dinner Dance, which has become one of the largest events in the Chicago Hellenic community.
In 1997, the community and HPSI suffered a great loss in the passing of Fotios Litsas. Litsas had a great love of education and brought the HPSI scholarship program to new heights. It was that year that the Dr. Fotios K. Litsas Memorial Scholarship was established and funded by members of HPSI.
HPSI continues to provide high quality seminars and lectures as well as social events. Nearly a century later, it is still upholding its original mission: to provide a forum for professionals of Hellenic descent.