project did not originate from one of the Ivy League universities,
Stanford, or Berkeley. The seeds of this project began in the hub
of California’s agricultural heartland: Fresno.
Tony Kocolas, a college history instructor, was commissioned by a mass media outlet to write a series of short vignettes about the importance of Ancient Greece for TV distribution. Though favorably received, the "shorts" were never used.
Since Kocolas had experience in producing documentaries, he helped create Thucydides
Productions, whose goal is to produce the documentary Our Greek Heritage: The Greek Roots of Western Civilization. Tony Kocolas then approached Victor Davis Hanson and Bruce Thornton, two of the most respected and recognized scholars of the Classics, to participate in the documentary--both agreed.
This project was embraced by Chris E. Rockas and Robert Sexton, two dedicated champions of Hellenism. Rockas' and Sextons' AHEPA Chapter, Fresno AHEPA Chapter 151, and their AHEPA region, AHEPA District 21, adopted the project unanimously. Armed with these endorsements Chris Rockas, a respected attorney,
had the project adopted as a national AHEPA project at the Miami convention.
The chapters of AHEPA District 21 were very generous with their support of the project.
Unfortunately, outside of District 21 only the Denver and the Newport News (Virginia)
chapters of AHEPA generously supported the project. Additionally, as fund-raising efforts were to commence they were derailed by distractions as the Greek fires.
Fortunately for the future of the project Greek-American organizations outside of
AHEPA embraced the project, including the Pan-Arcadians and the Lodi Hellenic
Society. However, the most dedicated support and the most generous donations have
come from the PanCretan Association of America. The PAA endorsed the Hellenic
Project at its national convention in Las Vegas. Additionally, after the PanCretan endorsement the Cretan organization made a generous gift to the endeavor--thus far
the largest single donation to the project. The few PAA chapters that were contacted
responded with generous donations.
Tony Kocolas, the project coordinator, who is of Cretan descent, explained that Cretans
pride themselves on defending Hellenism, especially in battle. Kocolas explained to
his fellow Hellenes that the "enemies of Hellenism in America are not Turkish soldiers or Nazi paratroopers, but misguided malcontents who want to distort the history of our Hellenic ancestors for desired social agenda-- even though the information presented is totally false."
Chris Rockas, as the original project Oversight chairman took pride the Hellenic
Project was the only AHEPA project with a complete accountability of all the monies
raised and spent. Rockas was also aware that as long as the project was under the umbrella of AHEPA its appeal to all Greek-Americans would be more limited. It was
with this in mind that in early 2011 the Oversight Committee voted unanimously to
separate themselves from AHEPA and become a Pan-Hellenic organization
The Pan Hellenic organization is officially known as the Hellenic Project Oversight
Committee. For tax purposes it is a 501 (c) 3, primarily through the efforts of Oversight
member, and PAA Legal Advisor, James Maropoulakis Denney. As a source of pride the
complete financial accountability remains intact. The reorganized Oversight Committee is now chaired by George Gianopoulos, though Rockas and Denney are Senior Project
Advisors on the Committee.
The continued support of the PAA was confirmed when the current PanCretan Association's dynamic and charismatic President John Manos agreed to be a