Who’s Who

Meet the officers and members of UCSC and read their biographical information 

John M. Vassiliades, UCSC President

Founding member of UCSC. In 1991, along with Louis George, Panos Nicolaou, Nick Nicola, Marios Pavlides, Savvas Polli, Charles Kiriacou, George Loizides, Sakis Roussos, Gilbert Kyprianou, George Vassiliou and Evagoras Hadjidamianou, met quite a few times in places around Los Angeles and Orange Counties to compose the bylaws and file articles of incorporation of the organization. John spearheaded the effort to enlist members and to develop a data base with addresses of Cypriot families in Southern California. With the help of a Los Angeles attorney George Kezios, on November 13, 1991 UCSC was established as a California Non-Profit Public Benefit Organization under section 501 (c) (4) of the Internal Revenue code with main objective to preserve the proud heritage of Cyprus and to promote goodwill. He has since served as treasurer, secretary, vice president and currently as president. John is a graduate from Long Beach State University (CSULB), a licensed civil engineer and works since 1983 for California Department of Transportation managing various types of transportation improvement projects in Los Angeles county, including the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement project in Long Beach (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHK3yEUhvFY). Born in Cyprus as a British subject while the island was still under the British century-old colonial rule. After finishing high school and military draft, moved to the US to attend college. A resident today of La Palma, Orange County, has a daughter Annamaria and hopes to inspire her to continue the legacy of her dad and stay engaged with the Cypriot community.

Nicolas D. Nicola, UCSC Vice President

One of the key UCSC founding members and a frequent advocate of the Cyprus cultural heritage. Born on March 10, 1946 in the occupied village of Eptakomi, in Famagusta Cyprus to Dimitri and Katerina Nicola. In 1961 after Cyprus gained its independence from Great Britain and at young age 15 he left Cyprus to go to Birmingham, England and worked at his uncle’s restaurant. He also worked as a barber for many years until age 25 and eventually moved when he opened his first Greek restaurant business in North London and named it Cypriana Taverna. The restaurant was big hit from the time of its opening date and was frequently visited by many members of the British elite and politicians. It was also a favored spot for visiting tourists and politicians from Cyprus. Enjoying a lot of wealth from the thriving restaurant business in London, he then began investing in real estate in North Cyprus. After the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and faced with a total loss of all his investments in the occupied now Famagusta, he decided to come to the US with his wife and kids for a better future and to try to open a Greek restaurant in Los Angeles. The plan fell apart and instead of staying in the restaurant business, he opened a barber shop which he still runs with a great success till the present date. He is married to Artemisia and has two daughters, Despo and Nina and a son Dimitris. He enjoys hunting, fishing, talking politics and enjoying life.

George Shakolas (a.k.a. Topsis), UCSC Secretary

Born on July 9, 1958 in the occupied village Prastio in Morphou, Cyprus to Abraham and Maroulla Shakolas, and attended elementary and high school education in his village. Following the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus he was forced to leave from his home in Prastio with the rest of his family who joined the 160,000 other Greek Cypriots refugees and came to the Greek controlled part of South Cyprus. Because of the many uncertainties of the war and the volatile and fragile climate in the island, his family left Cyprus in 1975 and with the help of his uncle Nikos Kiriakides, they came to the US and settle in California along with many other of his siblings. Shortly after their arrival in the US, each and every able body man and woman in their household was working and contributing to a family grand plan to establish a base and to eventually open a small business. In 1982 the family opened their first restaurant in Gardena, and eventually their business kept growing with the addition of 4 other new restaurants. He enjoys playing soccer and he is an avid LA Lakers and Salamina Soccer Club fan in Cyprus. He is married to Laura and has 2 children, Abraham (with two grand-kids, Valentina and George) and Constadina.

Dr. George A Marcoulides, UCSC Member of the Board

Dr. George A Marcoulides is a professor of Research Methods & Statistics in the Graduate School of Education and in the Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Managements (IGPM) in the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Riverside. He is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. He is currently editor of the journals Structural Equation Modeling and Educational and Psychological Measurement, editor of the Quantitative Methodology Book Series, and on the editorial board of numerous other scholarly journals.

George Loizides, UCSC Member & Sustainer

George is a founding member of UCSC and his wife Rodoula Loizides originally are from the village Kathikas just outside Paphos, Cyprus. In 1954 they immigrated to Rhodesia South Africa when many Cypriots then, were seeking to build their lives abroad due to the island’s harsh economic times. George settled in the village Bidi outside Antelope mine in Rhodesia, he became fluent to the local African Dialect and soon managed to own a general store selling groceries, tools, machines and all kind of merchandise. In 1980 there was uprising by the locals in many African countries that forced thousands of Cypriots to repatriate. Forced to abandon his entire livelyhood, George brought his family to the US and worked as a cashier at the S & J Greek Imports store in Long Beach. Like most Greeks in the Southland, George with his oldest son Demitris went into restaurant business  and in 1999 open the now famous George Greek Cafe  http://georgesgreekcafe.com/, one of the best and finest authentic Greek restaurants in California. Demitri cooks exactly like his mom, he uses no shortcuts, exhibiting the greatest care and experience in preparing fresh, delicious, tender and healthy food for all to enjoy. He uses only the highest quality products to produce healthy, traditional, fresh, homemade Greek dishes, which are prepared daily from scratch. Missed Greek food, go to:  http://georgesgreekcafe.com/

Gregory Shakolas (a.k.a. Kittos), UCSC Member & Sustainer

He is George Shakolas older brother, born on January 26, 1953 also in the occupied village Prastio in Morphou. Attended elementary and high school education in his village and Frederick Technical College in Nicosia. Came to US along with his brother and parents and together established them selves in restaurant business running with great success 4 fast food restaurants. He is involved with the community and with St. John’s Greek Orthodox Church in Anaheim. He likes to do construction projects, loves the hobby like no other and is known in the community as the Cypriot counterpart of Bob Villa who always comes up with ideas for projects at home and business. He is always the Greek Cypriots community’s No. 1 handyman to call when something breaks down at home or in business. He is married to Soulla and has 3 daughters, Maria, Andrea and Sophia.

Makis Havadjias, UCSC Board Member and Sustainer

Makis Havadjias is an owner and CEO of a restaurant franchise, Farmers Boys Burgers (http://www.farmerboys.com/). Inspired by the spirit of the heartland, Farmer Boys restaurant was built on homegrown goodness and raised on family pride. Founded by the five Havadjias brothers, the first Farmer Boys restaurant opened its doors in Perris, California in 1981. Their generous portions and farm-fresh food quickly gained a loyal following and by 1997, seven more family owned restaurants appeared accross Southern California. Eager to share their success, the Havadjias brothers granted their first franchise in 1998. A year later, the first independently owned Farmer Boys restaurant opened in Temecula, California. At last count, there were 72 Farmer Boys restaurants at locations all over Southern and Central California and in Nevada. Today, thanks to an ever-expanding franchise operation, the Farmer Boys family continues to grow. From his headquarters in Riverside California, Makis and his brothers work hard to expand their business, and continue its success. If a young immigrant and his brothers from the tiny island of Cyprus can build a food service empire out of nothing more that ingenuity and sweat, then anything is possible! Makis latest vision was to put forward a project in Olympia Greece, the birth place of the Olympic Games, in honor of all Olympian athletes. Why does a man who has everything start a project like The Monument of the Immortals (TMOTI)? Why put yourself through the hassles and the tribulations? To understand the answers to these two questions, you must know a little bit about Makis Havadjias the man, before you learn about Makis Havadjias the co-founder of The Monument. And that is Makis… a man who will not give up until that vision is realized. He is prepared, as are the other supporters of The Monument of the Immortals to see this project to completion, and to allow for The Monument to exist into perpetuity. Makis, you see is not only the spiritual and philosophical father of this project, he is also the person who will stay up late to speak with a professor half-way around the world, or a student in a neighboring town. He is engaging, and consistently engages his peers, those who look up to him and those who challenge him. Makis Havadjias serves on the Board of Director’s of The TMOTI Foundation and serves as its Chairman. He operates the US Regional Office of TMOTI from the United States (Riverside, CA) and spends about four months of the year operating the International headquarters of The Monument of the Immortals International Foundation (TMOTIIF) in Nicosia, Cyprus. To read more, go to: http://www.themonumentoftheimmortals.com/

George Psaras, UCSC Member and Sustainer

George Psaras was born on August 30, 1958 in the village of Eptakomi in North Cyprus. His father Kiriakos and mother Angeliki were traditional farmers who cultivated the land, raised crops and animals, produced high quality honey, made Cypriot dairy milk and cheese products and run the farm like a small business. George attended elementary education in his village and intermediate school in the larger village of Trikomo. On September 24, 1976 he left eftakomi after spending two years of enclavement under Military rule that followed the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of North Cyprus, and came to the South to finish his high school education at the Laniteion Gymnasium in Limassol. After serving in the Cyprus National Guard he came to the US in 1981 to attend the Northrop University majoring in Computer Science. George worked in several restaurants as a cook for about two years while attending college and later left school in order to work full time. In 1987 along with his brother Andreas they bought Harry’s Place restaurant with the brothers George and Gregory Shakolas. Presently, George with his brother Andreas Psaras they own four restaurants in Southern California today and they aspire to expand their business soon with the acquisition of new restaurants. George Lives in Stanton, he loves hunting, fishing and playing soccer, he has 2 children Kiriakos and Maria. He is a member and supporter of many sports clubs and organizations, most notably the N.R.A. and the Greek American Club and Hunting Association.

Savvas Poli, UCSC Vice President

Savvas Poli and his wife Loulla are both founding members of the UCSC board and have been involved with the organization from the beginning. Savvas also has served as president and had successfully organized several fundraising events with proceeds to support the Cyprus Children’s Fund and the Elpida Charitable Organization in Cyprus. Savvas is originally from Agios Athanassios suburb of Limassol and immigrated to the US as a newlywed to start a business in construction with father in-law. His construction company grew big and he had brought in other Cypriots to help them start businesses on their own. Savvas and Loulla live in San Fernando Valley, they have two daughters and spent lots of their time with their grand kids.

Kypros Ioannou, UCSC Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer

Kypros has been a faithful and very supportive Cypriot, dedicated to the causes of the organization and always at the forefront of each of our events. He is married to Agathi and both have been first to render their full support to the UCSC. He has served as treasurer of the organization for over a decade managing the difficult task of keeping the accounts in order and the organization solvent. Kypros is self employed, has a painting construction business and lives in Santa Clarita.

Apostolis Panayiotou, UCSC Member of the Board

Apostolis and wife Niki (she is the sister of Loulla Poli) have both been loyal and very supportive of the UCSC efforts for more than two decades. Apostolis is also a general contractor like most other Cypriots of the San Fernando Valley.

Dr. George Georgiou, UCSC Member of the Board

Dr Georgiou served as president of UCSC from 2003 to 2004 and was recognized for his successful term by the entire board of directors, in January of 2006 during our Annual New Year Dinner Celebration held at the Mykonos Greek Restaurant in Long Beach. Dr. Georgiou teaches computer science in San Bernardino University. Dr. Georgiou has 2 Masters degrees in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge and a Masters and Ph.D. Degree in Computer Science from Tulane University, New Orleans Louisiana. He is credited for quite a few noteworthy publications, including The Field of Values of a Matrix and Neural Networks and the IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning Systems, Feb. 2014, IEEE Xplore. Married to Taline who is a teacher and they reside in San Bernardino with their 3 children.

Petros Petrou, UCSC Member of the Board

Petros, is a proprietor restaurateur and had run successfully several restaurants in Southern California. He is originally from Chirokitia, a famously known village of Cyprus and one of the oldest Paleolithic settlements sites, visited by scores of tourists and archeologists each year. Petros and his wife Helen live in Burbank and they have both been an invaluable team to the UCSC with their generosity and labor of love in every event. Petros and Helen have been very generous contributing in events and very kind in hosting our board’s regular meetings at their house, making it a convenient place to meet but also pleasant for the UCSC members of the board to meet since driving for meetings in Southern California is never too easy.

Costas Constandinou, UCSC Member of the Board

Costas Constandinou married to Toula, from Santa Clarita, is a general contractor. Became involved with the organization originally as a member and later with the UCSC board as a director. He and his wife have given much energy and effort to support our causes. If late president John F Kennedy meant for us not to ask what our country can do, but rather what we can do for our country, then Costas and Toula personify this ideal. In every event they would offer to take a task and help by laboring with enthusiasm, preparing or catering food or setting up the tables and serve the guests.

Luis George, UCSC President Emeritus and Member of the Board

Luis George owned Arista Entertainment Company, a major Southern California film distribution company with operating headquarters in Thousand Oaks. His office building had a big conference room that allowed our group to assemble and plan forward. He spearheaded the effort to bring those first Cypriots together, from many parts of Southern California to form our brotherhood that eventually went to business as UCSC. Following his successful efforts and once the organization was formed and ready to operate, Luis George passed the hurdle to the other officers, explaining that his job was done and that younger folks should work to organize events and bring the Cypriot community together.

Nick Georgiou, UCSC Member of the Board

Nick Georgiou owns several fast food restaurants in Southern California and has operated as a partner with Makis Havadjias at Farmer Boys Fast food restaurant. More bio on Nick Georgiou coming soon!

Andreas Psaras, UCSC Member of the Board

Andreas Psaras was born on February 27, 1961 in the village of Eptakomi in North Cyprus. He attended elementary education in his village and intermediate school at 8th Gymnasium in Limassol, after his family was forced to leave their home by the Turkish occupation army. After completing his military service with the Cyprus National Guard he came to join his older brother George who was already working full time in restaurants as a cook. They later joined forces with the Shakolas brothers and bought Harry’s Place restaurant until several years after, they decided to go on their own, they split the partnership and they bought their own restaurants. Andreas is also an avid sportsman, he loves boating, fishing, hunting and has taken after his father Kiriakos trade who was a farmer, as a hobby. His house resembles a mini farm today, his visitors and friends are always happy to bring their kids to see his birds and other animals in a lively place surrounded by fruit trees. Andreas is married to Angela, has 2 children, Angeliki and Kiriakos and they live in Fullerton.

Dr. Petros Ioannou, UCSC Member and Sustainer

Petros A. Ioannou received the B.Sc. degree with First Class Honors from University College, London, England, in 1978 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, in 1980 and 1982, respectively. From 1975 to 1978, he held a Commonwealth Scholarship from the Association of Commonwealth Universities, London, England. He was awarded several prizes, including the Goldsmid Prize and the A. P. Head Prize from University College, London. From 1979 to 1982 he was a research assistant at the Coordinated Science Laboratory at the University of Illinois. In 1982, he joined the Department of Electrical Engineering-Systems, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California. He is currently a Professor in the same Department and the Director of the Center of Advanced Transportation Technologies. In 1984 he was a recipient of the Outstanding Transactions Paper Award for his paper, An Asymptotic Error Analysis of Identifiers and Adaptive Observers in the Presence of Parasitics, which appeared in the IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control in August 1982. He is also the recipient of a 1985 Presidential Young Investigator Award for his research in Adaptive Control. Dr. Ioannou is a Fellow of IEEE and the author/co-author of 5 books and over 150 research papers in the area of controls, neural networks, nonlinear dynamical systems and intelligent transportation systems. More on Dr. Petros Ioannou at: http://ee.usc.edu/faculty_staff/faculty_directory/ioannou.htm

Michael Sarris, UCSC Member and Sustainer

Michael Sarris has been a principal at the Law Offices of Michael Sarris since 2002. He specializes in the legal areas of personal injury, product liability, medical malpractice, construction accidents, premises liability, car accidents, divorce, paternity, child custody, child support, visitation, spousal support, temporary orders, premarital agreements and domestic abuse. Previous to this, from 2000 to 2001 he was employed as an associate at the Mergers & Acquisitions Group of the Investment Banking Division of JP Morgan Chase in New York conducting financial analysis, and structuring transactions. Mr. Sarris has also worked for several law firms in various roles, including Higgs, Fletcher & Mack LLP in San Diego, CA and Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue in Los Angeles practicing various areas of corporate transactional law. He holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School, a LLM from University of London and a JD from Athens University Law School. He is a member of the CA Bar Association since 1995 and also a member of the European Union Bar.

Vasilis Tsangarides, UCSC Member and Sustainer

Vasilis Tsangarides born in Karavas, one of the most picturesque village in occupied since 1974 North Cyprus, came to the US in the mid 1990’s and became founder and CEO of Everlast Builders, a very successful building company, operating in Southern California’s Canyon Country http://www.everlastbuildersinc.com/. The success of his firm was not just the result of his hard work, but also his genuine commitment to building relationships based on clients satisfaction and grew steadily with more contracts with government, education, healthcare & mix use agencies and private developments. Vasilis pledge to his clients is a personal one, that the Everlast team of associates is committed to assuring that customers needs are met and that each and every project is treated with the same professionalism.

Christos Panaouris, UCSC Student from Cyprus

Christos Panaouris was born on February 21, 1982 in the village of Moutoullas in Cyprus to Andreas and Sotiroulla Panaouris. He attended elementary school in his village in Moutoullas and high school education in the capital Nicosia. Christos finished his military service in the Cyprus National Guard in 2001 and worked for few years as an Electrician for commercial and residential buildings. He is now studying Computer Science at Cerritos College and wants to explore opportunities to get involved in International business. He spends his time studying, reading, working out in a gym and playing soccer. As a newly arrived young Cypriot man in Long Beach, California, he wants to meet new people to socialize and make friendships, to go out and party and to make long term relationships with good people.

Theodoros Pantelides, UCSC Student from Cyprus

Theodoros was born in Limassol on December 22, 1977 to Alexandros and Irene Pantelides. His father now retired, was a high school physics professor in Limassol’s 2nd Gymnasium. Theodoros attended elementary and high school education at Tsireion and later took several years of courses at ATI (Advanced Technical Institute). In 2002, following completion of his military service in Lithrodontas, he came to the USA to study Computer Programming at California State University at Long Beach (CSULB). He is now taking Senior level courses and has one more semester to go before graduating with BS in Computer Programming. His hobbies are cars, reading car magazines, fixing and repairing mechanical items and going out with friends for leisure and sports.

Aggelos Varnava, UCSC Student from Cyprus

Aggelos was born on February 25, 1982 in Limassol to Michael and Helena Varnava who originally came as refugees following the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the unfortunate occupation of their home in the city of Famagusta. He attended elementary and high school education at Tsireion and Laniteion Schools in Limassol and then went on to complete his military service at the village of Mathkiatis near Kornos. In 2001 he came to the USA to study Business Management at California State University at Long Beach (CSULB) and after graduation he wants to continue towards an MBA. He hobbies are many to mention, from fishing, hunting and all kinds of sports, to cooking, enjoying Cyprus foods and drinks like Zivania, playing tavli (backgammon), pilotta (cards) and getting together with friends regularly for the usual leisure time and gossiping.

Panayiotis Stavrou, UCSC Student from Cyprus

Panayiotis was born on February 6, 1976 in Larnaca to Pantelis and Eleni Stavrou. His father Pantelis is a Musician and mother Eleni is a sales person for the famed and fashionable Gucci brand clothing and line of products. Panayiotis attended the Leivadeion Elementary school and Makariou the 3rd High School in Larnaca. Following his military service in an armor mechanized unit in the Cyprus National Guard he arrived in the USA in 2001 to study Athletic Training and Kinesiology at the California State University at Long Beach (CSULB). He lives in Long Beach and enjoys most sports, soccer, basketball, swimming, water polo, etc., exercising, cooking, making souvla (Cypriot barbeque) and leisure time with his friends, playing cards and backgammon.

Michael Konstas, UCSC Student from Greece

Michael was born on August 23, 1980 in the port city of Pereas in Greece and is closely affiliated with the Cypriot students who are studying at California State University at Long Beach. Also from his mother’s side, he is nephew to Philip Christopher a great patriot, who is the President of PSEKA, the New York Cypriot American Organization that is advocating for a fair, just, lasting and peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem. Michael finished elementary and high school education in Kiphissia in Athens and came to the USA in 2000 to study Communications. In 2004 he completed his undergraduate studies with a Batchelor Degree in Communications and he is presently pursuing an MBA at CSULB. Michael loves sports and he played with professional water polo teams both in the USA and Greece. He also likes spear fishing, hunting, biking, camping, hiking  and exercising at the Gym.

Marios Sofocleous, UCSC Student from Cyprus

Marios was born on November 27, 1980 in Nicosia, Cyprus to Christos and Antroula Sofocleous. He attended elementary school and high school in Kaimakli, in Nicosia. He graduated from KaimakliHigh School in Nicosia in 1998 and after that he joined the army for two years for his military service. He then he pursued a bachelors degree in Computer Science, in Intercollege in Nicosia. After finishing his bachelor degree he decided to do a masters degree in the USA. He enrolled in the Computer Science department in San DiegoStateUniversity and he is interested in Robotics and bioinformatics. Among his hobbies is the weight training, martial arts and Rubiks cube.

Barbara Gavriel, UCSC Student from Cyprus

Barbara was born on October 21, 1983 in Nicosia, Cyprus to Stelios and Litsa Gavriel. She attended elementary school and junior school in Latsia, Nicosia and then she attended high school in Acropoli High School in Nicosia. She then pursued a bachelor’s degree in Public and Business Administration at the University of Cyprus. She graduated from UCY in 2005 and then earned a Fulbright Scholarship to do a Masters degree in the USA. She graduated from University of San Diego with a masters degree in Information Technology.

Dr. Leo Aghajanian, DDS, UCSC Honorary Member, Sustainer

Dr. Aghajanian http://leodds.com/ is Armenian American and an astute friend and supporter of Greece and Cyprus. A native of Los Angeles, has been serving Glendale, Burbank, and the surrounding communities since 2006. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology with honors from UCLA in 2002 and his doctorate from the UCLA School of Dentistry in 2006. He completed advanced post-graduate training at Community Medical Centers and the VA Hospital in Fresno, California in affiliation with the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry San Francisco, California between 2006 and 2007. Dr. Aghajanian is a Fellow of the California Implant Institute where he completed his Implant Residency training. He is also a member of the American Dental Association, California Dental Association and the San Fernando Valley Dental Society. Dr. Aghajanian and his wife, have one daughter, Natalia. They reside in Glendale where they enjoy the many activities and community events of the area.

Steve Blount, UCSC Honorary Member, Economic Adviser to UCSC

Steve Blount is a California resident and holds an MBA in Entrepreneurship with concentration in Economics. His baccalaureate degree is in Social Science with emphasis in Sociology. For the last seventeen years before retirement Steve was the controller for a very successful manufacturer.  Before that, for ten years he had his own bankruptcy consulting practice.  In all Steve has thirty-four years of experience in money management, finance and accounting. Steve is a trustee of the Cypress School District and a member of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). He is the State Secretary for the Pacific Southwest Association of Gideons International, an organization that distributes God’s Word in the form of Bibles and New Testaments in 197 countries and in 99 languages.  The Gideons began distributing God’s Word in the Republic of Cyprus in 1969.  There are 31 Gideons and 24 members of the Auxiliary made up of wives of Gideons that are citizens of the Republic of Cyprus and live in the Republic.  As of 5/31/13 324,638 Bibles and New Testaments have been placed and distributed in Cyprus. Steve is also the Director of Corporate & Foundations for the Friends of Morris Charitable Foundation which is affiliated with the Juliet Morris public elementary school in the Cypress School District.  In addition he is a member of the Cypress Kiwanis Club, an ambassador with the Cypress Chamber of Commerce and the California Science Teachers Association.

The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage. -Thucidides