2022-2025 Philoptochos Board Member Bios

Philoptochos Board Officers

President: Joyce Spanakis

Joyce Spanakis was born and raised in Canton, Ohio and attended St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Massillon, Ohio. While at St. George, Joyce was the first woman to serve on the Parish Council as Secretary and eventually served as the first woman President. After her time with the Parish Council, she became President of the Philoptochos and was heavily involved in its ministries. While president, she co-chaired the Metropolis Daffodil Luncheon to raise funds for Social Services. In 2008, Joyce was appointed to the National Philoptochos Board by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios Geron of America. She served on the National Board from 2008-2016. In 2009, Joyce was appointed to the Metropolis of Pittsburgh Board and served there for 7 years.

Joyce currently attends Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Canton, Ohio and is a member of the Philoptochos Chapter at St. Haralambos in Canton. At Holy Trinity, Joyce has taught Sunday School and was an advisor to the HOPE group. She is a life-long choir member and currently serves as the Choir Director. She along with her husband, Nicholas, have chaired the regional Oratorical Festival at Holy Trinity. In 2020, Joyce rejoined the Metropolis of Pittsburgh Board as Vice President. In October of 2022, she was elected President of the Metropolis. She served as chair of the Fundraising Committee the past two years and organized a virtual Daffodil Luncheon where all monies raised went straight to regional Food Banks throughout the Metropolis. In October of 2021, she had the distinct honor to represent the women of Philoptochos as she greeted His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew on his visit through Pittsburgh.

Joyce and her husband, Nicholas, have been married for 19 years. They have one son, Stavros, who is attending college at Loyola Chicago. Joyce is currently in her 32nd year of teaching First Grade. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Speech Education from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, a Master of Arts in Education from the University of Akron, as well as her K-12 Reading Endorsement. When she is not busy handling school or Philoptochos business, Joyce loves to bake and travel.

Vice-President: Anna Vedouras

Anna Vedouras is a second generation Philoptochos Board member who has a strong commitment to service. Anna is an attorney who currently works as the Executive Director of the Cleveland Federal Executive Board. 

Anna Vedouras has been a member of the Sts. Constantine & Helen, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Philoptochos for over 30 years. She has served on its Boards various times in different roles.  Anna’s commitment to service has reached deep into the greater Cleveland Community. She has served on numerous non-profit boards including: The Cleveland Play House, The Center for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, The Cleveland International Film Festival (during which she also served as President), FOCUS North America and currently sits on the board of St. Herman’s House of Hospitality. 

She has served on the Pittsburgh Metropolis Philoptochos board since 2020.  She and her husband Jack Ramsey are active members of Sts. Constantine & Helen Cathedral, Cleveland Hts., Ohio. 

Anna received her B.A. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and her J.D. from Cleveland State University. She attended the Public Leadership and Policy program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 

Treasurer: Paula Makris Larance

Assistant Treasurer: Eleni Gugliotta

Eleni attends St. Paul Greek Orthodox Church in North Royalton, Ohio.  Eleni has been married to her husband John Gugliotta for 38 years.  The highlight of their life is enjoying their grown children Nathan, Alissa (husband Nate) and Sophia and their granddaughter Ruthie very much.   Professionally Eleni is the Administrator of her husband John and son Nathan's intellectual law practice, Gugliotta & Gugliotta, LPA in Akron, Ohio. 

Besides supporting her family Eleni has been involved in leadership through many church ministries throughout the years.  This has included creating curriculum and directing Vacation Church Schools, Holy Friday Retreats, Director of parish Religious Education, Chairing Oratorical Festivals at the parish and Metropolis District levels.  Eleni also was intricately involved in the St. Paul Hellenic Dance Program.  Under her direction the program quickly grew from two dance levels of 30 dancers to four levels with over 100 children participating from age 4 through college.  During this time Eleni co-chaired the Metropolis of Pittsburgh Folk Dance Festival in November 2014 where for the first time more than 350 dancers across the Metropolis of Pittsburgh attended.  Eleni has also served as a St. Paul Parish Council member. 

Additionally Eleni has directed the Cretan Dance Program of Cleveland which also saw growth during her leadership.  Today the program remains vibrant with Eleni's daughter Sophia now directing this dynamic group which perpetuates the traditional dances from the island of Crete.  Eleni also serves on the Board of the Cretan Club of Cleveland as Financial Secretary and has served as Youth Advisor.  She also is on the planning committee for the 2023 Pan Cretan Association of America National Convention. 

As Eleni's children grew her focus slowly shifted to her passion for Philoptochos.  In 2011 Eleni was elected as the treasurer of St. Paul Philoptochos which she has served as a board member since. Eleni was instrumental in transitioning the financial record keeping for her chapter onto an electronic platform which is still implemented at her chapter today.  Currently Eleni serves as President of the St. Paul Philoptochos.  Eleni was co-chair of the 2016 Daffodil Luncheon in Cleveland, Ohio and was honored to serve on the National Philoptochos Board from 2018 to 2022.  Eleni has served as assistant treasurer of the Metropolis Board from 2020 to current and is also serving on the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh Council.

Eleni's hobbies include spending time with her children and granddaughter either in their homes, swimming, hiking, dancing or vacationing.  One of Eleni's greatest passions is celebrating traditions from her heritage from the island of Crete and enjoying those experiences with her family and friends.  Vacations in Crete are a highlight.  Eleni also enjoys meeting many wonderful Philoptochos ladies from across the Metropolis and Archdiocese through her involvement and in attending National Clergy Laity Conferences, Children Medical Fund Luncheons and Metropolis meetings. 

Eleni looks forward to the continued organization and growth of the Metropolis of Pittsburgh Philoptochos to fulfill the mission of assisting those in need and perpetuate the Greek Orthodox faith and traditions in the next three year term.  Some of Eleni's goals are to work toward the efforts of an interactive Metropolis of Pittsburgh Philoptochos website and specifically getting payment options available for chapters to make their commitments online, along with payment portals for donors and other events.  Eleni is willing to mentor any chapter who wishes to transfer their bookkeeping to online platforms and is ready to help chapters by offering support wherever needed.

Recording Secretary: Despina (Ioannidis) Denne

Despina is the second of three children born to Joseph Theofrastos Ioannidis and Filomena (Fotoula) DiRocco Ioannidis, both natives of Greece.  Despina was born in Aversa, Italy in December 1950 and immigrated to the United States in 1956 with her parents and older brother John.  The family made its home in Reading, PA in close proximity to an aunt and her family and among many other welcoming Greek-Americans.  Her younger brother Constantine (Dino) arrived in 1963, the first native-born member of the Ioannidis family.  Despina is the widow of Alan R. Denne and stepmother to Carrie, Gregory and Rachel, all of Virginia, as well as proud yiayia to six wonderful grandchildren.

Despina attended the Reading public school system and graduated with honors from Reading High School.   In 1974, Despina graduated with high honors from Kutztown University, where she received a B.S. in Elementary Education.  She later continued her education with graduate courses in Environmental Sciences at the Berks Campus of Penn State University and in Business Administration through St. Joseph’s University.  
The bulk of Despina’s professional career was spent in the field of Industrial Health, Safety, and Environmental Compliance.  She was employed by Exide Corporation from 1980 to 1994 as Industrial Health Auditor, Hazardous Waste Administrator and later Associate Director of Environmental Services.  She was also employed by Arkema Inc. as Sr. Environmental Engineer and HES Specialist from 1995 until her retirement in 2010.
An active parishioner of the Saints Constantine and Helen Church in Reading, PA, Despina attended Sunday School and Greek School and was a member of the GOYA and Church Choir.  She has been involved in the St. Xenia Philoptochos Society for many years, serving on the Board of Directors and in various Officer positions, including two terms as President from 2011-2015.  Despina is the first member of the Parish to be appointed to the National Board of the Ladies Philoptochos Society, on which she has served since 2012.  She is also an elected member of the Metropolis Philoptochos Board, currently serving as Recording Secretary.  Additionally, in 2013 His Eminence Metropolitan Savas appointed Despina to his Metropolis Council, on which she was honored to serve one term.  
A lifelong proponent of volunteerism, Despina has been involved with numerous community organizations, including the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program from 1986 to 1998 and the former Rainbow Home, a residential facility for AIDS patients, from 1996 to 1999. In addition to the time she happily spends on Philoptochos activities, Despina is an avid reader, enjoys traveling, walking, art, music, film, theater, and cooking for family and friends. 
Despina’s Metropolis Philoptochos goals for the 2022-2025 term are:  
(1) to ensure the future of Philoptochos by attracting and engaging new members, especially younger working women; 
(2) to help promote a collaborative relationship among the chapters within the Metropolis so that we view ourselves more as a “family” rather than as separate entities; and 
(3) to reach out to all our chapters to give them the inspiration and assistance they need to achieve ratification.

Corresponding Secretary: Sharon Whitman

Sharon graduated from Reading Senior High School and received her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary Education from Millersville University.  Sharon met her husband Dean after graduation while working at the Reading Post Office.  She changed her career goals after unsuccessful attempts at obtaining a teaching job in the early 1970’s.  Sharon decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and pursue a career with the United States Postal Service.  She retired from the Postal Service in 2010 after spending her last twenty-four years as the Postmaster of Denver, Pennsylvania.
Sharon is a very active member of her Church.  She began teaching the fifth and sixth grade class of Sunday School while still attending college and continued to teach for twenty-five years.  On her retirement from teaching Sunday School, Sharon became a member of both Church choirs (Greek and English).  She joined Philoptochos in 1982 when her mother was the dues collector.  She served a short stint as Program Chair.  Upon retirement from the Postal Service, she became very active in the Chapter.  She joined the baking crew that prepared all the pastries for the Philoptochos Spring Bake Sale and the Church’s annual festival.  Eventually Sharon became one of the Chairs of the Spring Bake Sale taking on the responsibility of all the pre-orders, from which most of the sales for the bake sale are gained and now is on the committee to schedule all the baking days for both Philoptochos and the Church.  Sharon joined the Philoptochos Board and served as Chapter Vice President and President for two terms. 
She is currently the Chapter Treasurer.  Sharon is a member of the Shelter, Handbook, Knitting and Bake Sale Committees.  She joined the Metropolis Philoptochos Board and is currently serving her second term as Corresponding Secretary.  Sharon is also a member of the National Philoptochos Board, now serving her second term.  She was a member of the Feeding the Hungry, Operation Classroom and Family and Society Committees.
Sharon is a member of United Postal Managers Association, where she served various leadership positions on the local, state and national level.  She is currently the Treasurer of National Active and Retired Federal Employees Chapter 103 and previously served as President.
Sharon’s beloved hobby is crocheting, making clothing, household items, toys, etc. and uses this skill to make items for the chapter knitting committee.
Sharon’s goal for this term is to prepare an accurate list of all the Chapter Presidents in the Metropolis and a master file of all the members throughout the Metropolis.

Advisor: Barbara Pasalis

Barbara Pasalis was appointed to the National Philoptochos Board in 2006 by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America, and has served 8 years as Co-Chair of Public Relations and 2 years as Chair of Office Administration. In 2008, she was Co-Chair of the Philoptochos Banquet at the National Philoptochos Convention held in Washington, D.C. She chaired the Convention Documents committee twice, and also served on the 2013 Children’s Medical Fund Luncheon committee in Pittsburgh, PA. In 2016, she was appointed to the Executive Board and served as Secretary from 2016-2020. She was Co-Chair of the National Philoptochos Convention in Boston in 2018 and Chair of the 2020 National Philoptochos Convention originally planned in Cleveland, but which ultimately became the first virtual National Philoptochos Convention. She was appointed to serve as Treasurer of the Board in Fall 2020.

Barbara has been an active member of her local Philoptochos chapter serving as President, Vice President and Treasurer. In addition, she has served on the Metropolis of Pittsburgh Philoptochos Board for over a decade and as Treasurer for 4 years.

Professionally, Barbara founded Northcoast Educational Consulting, an educational consulting business, to help high school students navigate college admissions. She is a member of many professional national organizations, including the Independent Educational Consultants Association for which she served on the Executive Board and recently completed her service as President of the Association. 

Barbara was born in Columbus, Ohio and has lived in the Cleveland, Ohio area since 1977 when she married Thano Pasalis (deceased). Barbara has two sons and two grandchildren. She has been a member of Saint Demetrios Church, Rocky River since 1977.


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2022-2025 Philoptochos Board Members


President: Joyce Spanakis
Vice-President: Anna Vedouras
Treasurer: Paula Makris Larance
Assistant Treasurer: Eleni Gugliotta
Recording Secretary: Despina Denne
Corresponding Secretary: Sharon Whitman
Advisor: Barbara Pasalis

Board Members At-Large:

Evangeline Baron
Michelle Kotsagrelos
Becky Loutsion
Nikki Lykos
Diamond Marcum
Rosemary Nikas
Stephanie Ocker
Deborah Pries
Helen Rankin
Irene Sellas
Mary Trifelos
Helen Tsarwhas
Athanasia Ward
Paula Yakoumas