Alumna Profiled: Vana Lavidas
Graduated: DEREE ’79
Lives in: Athens, Greece
Current Position: Chairman of the Board, MDA-Hellas, ACG Trustee
“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.“
Born and raised in Athens, Vana Lavidas holds a B.Sc. in Economics from Deree — The American College of Athens and an MBA from La Verne University.
Dedicated to charity, she is the Founder of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA Hellas), an Association for the care and welfare of those with neuromuscular disorders in Greece. Since its establishment in 2000, she has chaired the Board of Directors. During its 21 years of operation, MDA Hellas has established and equipped three special medical units, operating in major public hospitals in Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras, with the aim of providing special care to patients with neuromuscular disorders. It has also established and operates the “Home of MDA Hellas,” specially designed to allow easy access to patients, located in the heart of Athens. At the “MDA Home,” patients can enjoy sessions of training, education, and therapeutic exercise or just entertainment. MDA Hellas supports nowadays more than 1.400 families across the country.
She is also a founding member of the Friend’s Association of Children with Cancer “Elpida” and has been on its Board of Directors for nine years. She is also a board member of the Friends of National Art Gallery in Athens.
Since 2013, she has been a Trustee member of The American College of Greece (ACG) and a non-executive board member of the listed company Lavipharm SA, a pharmaceutical group engaged in the research, development, manufacturing, import, marketing and sales, wholesaling and retailing of pharmaceutical, skincare and healthcare products in Greece, with strong international activity and a history of 110 years.
She has four children and four grandchildren. She follows a healthy lifestyle and loves outdoor activities, such as running, is a Marathon runner, and swimming. She also enjoys martial arts, like karate.
Q.: What are three enduring lessons you learned during your studies at DEREE?
- Persistence – Never give up
- Endurance – Wait for the right moment
- Tidiness – Always work methodically
Q.: Describe DEREE in three words.
Q.: One of your favorite DEREE memories?
One of my favorite memories is my first computer course. DEREE as a pioneer by that time had introduced a computer science course which took place at “Scholes Doxiadis”. I can still remember the huge server room and all of us working from terminals. Having in mind the fact that computer technology had just arrived in Greece, the experience was more than exciting. Nowadays, a computer is an essential tool that everyone is familiar with, but at that time it was very innovative.
Q.: What do you miss most from your days at DEREE?
Despite the fact that we had to undertake responsibilities, develop skills, adjust and respond to the challenges, we were still carefree.
Q.: Where was your favorite spot on campus?
My favorite spot on campus was the cafeteria. In it you could get a glimpse of the entire student body.
Q.: Who was your favorite professor and why?
Anastassios Papaligouras was my favorite professor. His class Greece in the Common Market helped us realize the challenges, the advantages and the risks of Greece’s admission in the European Economic Community. He was an inspiring man with a sense of humor, a capacity to touch his audience and hold its attention.
Q.: Have you kept in touch with any of your classmates?
When college is over and new obligations emerge, it’s hard to keep in touch with all your classmates. Nevertheless I am really lucky because some true friendships lasted in time and I am glad that now we can still gather and look back at these innocent years with nostalgia.
Q.: How did DEREE help prepare you for your professional life?
DEREE taught me time management. I believe that if you want to succeed, you need to learn how to properly manage your time. It helped me learn how to rely on myself, be my own manager and regulate my own time successfully.
Q.: What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Never quit going after your dream.
Q.: What (or who) inspires you most?
The children of MDA HELLAS always inspire and motivate me to become a better person and to fight to make this world a better place.
Q.: Your motto in life?
Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.
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