October, 2023

202319Oct09:0012:30Elevate Her: Empowering Mothers in an Agile Reality09:00 - 12:30

Event Details

When: October 19, 2023 | 09:00-12:30
Where: ACG Events HallThe American College of Greece, Gravias 6, Aghia Paraskevi campus
(Parking upon availability)

Organized by:
Office of Sustainability, Public Affairs – ACG
Center of Excellence in Sustainability – ACG
Rise Club Non-profit Organization

Supported by:
ACG Sustainability Leaders
Psychology Society, Deree – ACG

The event, to be held in Greek, is free and open to the public.

About the event

The event aims to inspire and empower mothers and women professionals through education, mental health support, and corporate sustainability and responsibility initiatives.

It features success stories and practical strategies to promote personal and professional growth in the context of motherhood; stories that aim to motivate and provide insights into personal growth and overcoming challenges.

The panel discussions focus on the role of education in empowering, for better career opportunities, emphasizing upskilling and reskilling strategies such as initiating eco-friendly businesses or initiatives. Issues on mental health will be discussed, recognizing the unique challenges that mothers face. Sustainable partnerships and best practices, undertaken by companies, will be showcased, presenting how mothers are positively impacted, while the former fulfil CSR objectives.


09:00 | Registration

09:15 | Welcome Remarks

Claudia Carydis, Vice President Public Affairs, The American College of Greece
Ifigeneia Karanasiou, Founder & President, Rise Club Non-profit Organization

09:25 | Sharing the Journey | Inspirational success stories of mothers/women professionals

Cleopatra Tomais
Natassa Triantafyllidou, EMICERT, Lead Environmental Auditor, PMO

| Panel Discussion I | Empowering Mothers through Mental Health & Education

Eleni Petra, M.Sc., Scientific Collaborator, E.K. “Athena”, Head of the Women’s Innovation Unit (IUW)

Dr. Stella Apostolaki, Associate Professor of Environmental Science, Department of Science and Mathematics, Executive Director of the Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development, The American College of Greece

Meropi Michaleli, Psychoanalyst, Founder of Koidis, Member of the Hellenic Psychoanalytic Society (HPS), IPA, SEPEA, Founding Member and Former President of the Greek Society for Infant Mental Health (W.A.I.M.H.)

Dr. Alexia Polissidis, CEO of Anacalypsis Therapeutics, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, Biomedical Sciences Program, Department of Science and Mathematics, The American College of Greece

Moderator: Lina Giannarou, journalist, Kathimerini

11:00 | Discussion – Panell II | Corporate Sustainability & Responsibility to support mothers

Alexia Machaira, Sustainable Retail & Corporate Communication Manager, AB Vassilopoulos

Rania Assariotaki, Director, Office of Sustainability – Public Affairs, The American College of Greece / Ex-officio member, Academic Advisory Board, ACG Center of Excellence in Sustainability/ Affiliated member, ACG Center of Food, Tourism & Leisure / Member of the BoD, AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education)

Vasiliki Kapari, People Director, Wella Company

Melina Thomaidou, Head of Communications & Patient Relations, Abbvie

Moderator: Ifigeneia Karanasiou, Founder & President, Rise Club Non-profit Organization

12:00 | Breathing Techniques Workshop

Sophie Themelis, Wellness Coach, The American College of Greece

12:30 | Networking – Coffee Break by Dimello

“Dimello will be providing complimentary coffee and a special gift for all participants!” 


Speakers’ Bios

Stella Apostolaki, is Executive Director of the Centre of Excellence in Sustainability at the American College of Greece (ACG), Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Environmental Studies Program, Department of Science and Mathematics, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She teaches environmental science courses in the Environmental Studies, in the Biomedical Sciences and in the International Honours programs.

She has a wide research experience, she is expert evaluator of Calls for Proposals for European Commission, has worked as a researcher in collaboration with universities and authorities in Greece and in the U.K., and has participated in numerous EU funded projects. Her main research interests include: integrated water and storm water management, sustainable development and innovation, climate change, conservation of biodiversity, ecosystem restoration, public education, green urban planning with emphasis on amenity and biodiversity and implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Rania Assariotaki

Rania Assariotaki joined The American College of Greece in 2008. She currently holds the position of Director, Office of Sustainability. She has previously occupied the position of the first Senior Manager for Sustainability at ACG. Before joining ACG, she served in the field of customer service. She holds an MSc in Marketing from ALBA at The American College of Greece. Since December 2020, serves as an ex-officio member of the Academic Advisory Board of the ACG Center of Excellence in Sustainability and since April 2022 as an affiliate member of the ACG Center of Excellence in Food, Tourism, and Leisure. Under her coordination, in 2020, ACG was awarded the STARS Gold rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Since September 2020 she participates as a mentor for sustainability issues in the mentorship program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Starting January 2022, she serves as an elected member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Board of Directors. The purpose of the Board is to advise, govern, oversee policy and direction, and assist with the general promotion of AASHE. In February 2021, she was appointed by AASHE to serve as a member of the AASHE Advisory Council for her constant commitment and support to promoting sustainability best practices and culture on and off campus. The Advisory Council is an advisory body whose input often has a significant impact on staff and board decisions of AASHE. In February 2020 became a member of the Corporate Responsibility Committee of the American – Hellenic Chamber of Commerce. In 2015 she was certified as a GRI G4 reporter and in July 2016 received her certification as a Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner approved by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). Also, she has received certifications in: Carbon Reduction Strategy, Sustainability Reporting, Social Impact Assessment & SROI.  In August 2019, she was certified as a Sustainability Management professional, and in October 2021 in High Impact Leadership from the Institute for Sustainability Leadership, University of Cambridge.

Claudia Carydis

Claudia Carydis Benopoulou has been Vice President of Public Affairs at The American College of Greece since June 2012. Her responsibilities include cultivating mutually beneficial relations with key stakeholders of both the private & public sectors. She is the ACG liaison with government officials, public authorities and foreign missions in Greece. As part of her portfolio, Claudia oversees College Events and the Office of Sustainability, which is responsible for the sustainability reporting, implementation of sustainability best practices and policies at ACG, as well as the relevant awareness & community engagement initiatives and partnerships with national/international organizations. Under her leadership, in 2020, ACG was awarded the Gold STARS rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in recognition of sustainability best practices implemented in 5 categories (Academics, Operations, Planning & Administration, Social Engagement, Leadership & Innovation).

Claudia has been working at ACG since 2005 and was initially the Executive Director of Alumni Relations. She serves as an ex-officio member on the Academic Advisory Board of the ACG Institute of Global Affairs, is an elected member of the Board of Directors of the American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) for a second term (2022-2025) and a member of the AMCHAM Education, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Committee since 2017.

Claudia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Deree-The American College of Greece and a Master’s degree in International Relations & Communication from Boston University, US.

Vasiliki KapariVasiliki Kapari, People Director of Wella Company, has studies in International Relations and Human Resources Management. She has acquired 17 years of professional experience in HR departments in Technology, Hotel, Wellness Services and FMCG industries, with local and global roles, in multinational and Greek enterprises. For the last 13 years, she has been dealing with Corporate Responsibility both within companies and in organizations & forums, such as the Hellenic American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce.


Ifigeneia Karanasiou

Ifigeneia Karanasiou is the founder of Rise Club Non-profit Organisation. She is a D.P.L.G. architect, graduate from Ecole Superieure d’Architecture de Paris – Belleville and a mother of 3. She has worked as an architect in offices in London and Brussels and currently working in Athens. She is also the co- founder of Agora Greece, an e-shop that aims to promote organic Greek products supporting small local producers and promote the treasures of the Greek Land all over the world.

From very early she started being involved with social issues such as gender equality at workplace, role of women in the modern era and women’s work following motherhood.

It wasn’t until after her divorce that Ifigeneia decided to found Rise Club, a Non-profit Organisation supporting unemployed mothers to return to workforce, by updating and upgrading their soft and digital skills, promoting their emotional health and empowering them. Rise Club aims to create sustainable employment opportunities for single mothers and enable them to achieve the needed balance between family and professional life.

Rise Club’s mission for #digitalera is to increase social and economic mobility amongst low or even no-income stay-at-home mothers by providing the necessary tools, skillsets and confidence through online courses related to their career aspirations, providing them opportunities to re-integrate to workforce and thrive in their life; thereby strengthening generations of families and children to flourish and succeed.

Macheras AlexiaFor the past 18 years, Alexia Machaira has worked as the Head of Communication and Corporate Responsibility at AB Vasilopoulos. Her main role is corporate communication with key social partners and the media, while also overseeing the coordination of the Corporate Responsibility strategy. With ten years of prior experience in advertising companies, she has studied Law at Paris II – Assas University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the American University of Paris.

Meropi Michaleli

Meropi Michaleli is a psychoanalyst with over twenty-five years of experience in prenatal counseling and psychotherapy in both public and private centers in Greece (Children’s Hospital, “Alexandra” Hospital, “Elena Venizelou” Maternity Hospital). She is a member of the Hellenic Psychoanalytic Society (HPS), the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA), and the European Society for Psychoanalysis of Children and Adolescents (SEPEA). Additionally, she is a psychosomatic psychotherapist and a member of the Hellenic Psychosomatic Society, with training from the Institute of Psychosomatics in Paris (IPSO-PARIS). She is a founding member (1993) and former president (2013-2019) of the Hellenic Society for the Mental Health of Infants.

Since 1996, Ms. Michaleli has been involved in training healthcare professionals in the prenatal period with the aim of detecting, treating, and preventing psychopathology during this time. She teaches and studies the psychoanalytic approach and understanding of the prenatal period, the reproductive process, and the early traumatic experiences of this period. She works privately as a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist for parents, infants, and adults. Her innovative contribution to prenatal psychotherapy with parents and infants and the education of interdisciplinary healthcare teams is summarized in her audio interview with the International Psychoanalytic Association.

She studied Clinical Psychology and Psychopathology at the University of Sorbonne (Paris V – René Descartes) and holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Athens. She was the scientific coordinator of the European Horizon Program “Birth and Future – Training of Professionals for a Medical-Psychological Approach to the Prenatal Age” (1996-2000), which is included in the programs promoting the mental health of children under six years in Europe by the Mental Health Directorate of the European Communities.

Ms. Michaleli has taught in the postgraduate program titled “Reproductive-Regenerative Medicine” at the 1st Obstetrics-Gynecology Clinic of the University of Athens. From 2014 to 2016, she was the scientific coordinator of the postgraduate program “Promotion of Mental Health during Pregnancy, Neonatal, and Infant Period” co-organized by the Hellenic Society for the Mental Health of Infants and the Child Health Department of the National School of Public Health. She contributes to the collective volume of the International Psychoanalytic Association, “Applying Psychoanalysis in Medical Care” (Routledge 2022), with her overall research and clinical work.


Eleni Petra

Eleni Petra holds a Diploma in Computer Engineering and Informatics, from the Technical University of Patras, Greece, and a Master of Science in Computation, the University of Manchester, Institute of Science and Technology (U.M.I.S.T.)  Her technical specialty is in Information Systems, User Interfaces, Human Factors in MMI, Data Base Management Systems, e-infrastructures, data infrastructures.

Over the past 30 years she has worked as a Scientific consultant and Project Manager for a number of Research Centers, companies, government agencies, and the European Economic Union (IST, Esprit programme, FP6, FP7, Horizon programmes).  She has served  as a Project Manager and Technical Coordinator for the technical and management  administration (included 6.800 projects of informatics in the framework of the  Sectoral  Operational Programme “Information Society” of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) as Deloitte senior manager,  of over 65  projects of PIRAEUS BANK and ETBA, as a Project Manager and Technical Coordinator for the MIS in the Greek Ministries of Public Works (Access points and Road Accesses) and Industry (EPV).  While working at FORTH (Foundation of Research and Technology) in Crete she was Project or Team leader in ESPRIT Projects (Intelligent Workstation – IWS, ITHACA, etc.) and the Associate Manager of the Hellenic Esprit Special Action in Multimedia and CIM.

Currently, she is working for ATHENA RESEARCH  AND INNOVATION CENTER, and University of Athens as Project Manager in Horizon2020 projects related to research infrastructures (RDA) and Virtual research environments for marine environment and acquaculture (BlueBridge H2020 project).

In parallel, she supports  as scientific consultant the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and the Archaelogical Society at Athens.

Melina ThomaidouMelina Thomaidou is, a senior manager & strategist with variety of experience in fields of public affairs, strategic communication, external relations and patient advocacy, digital marketing, PR & New Media, sales and marketing, clinical affairs, successfully leading a variety of positions and businesses growth, driving change in brand awareness and strategic health initiatives for companies in the pharmaceutical sector. Adept at implementing product launches, strategic communication, crisis management, public relations and corporate social responsibility programs that enhance brand image and generate positive media coverage. A visionary, proactive, strategic thinker with excellent inter-personal and presentation skills able to keep the big picture in mind and at the same time focus on details always in the spectrum of innovation. Mother of Dimitris & Dora.

Sophie ThemelisSophie Themelis, was born and raised in Amman, Jordan. With a BA in Dance and a strong background in exercise, meditation and wellness, she has been working since 1990 at Deree as a group fitness instructor, faculty member, Recreational Sports Coordinator and finally Executive Coordinator, Wellness. Her expertise in group fitness and personal training enabled her to work in spas and sports clubs in Greece and Jordan and had a daily fitness program on Jordanian National Television.  She has participated in congresses and seminars in Greece and abroad with the latest being: The Pilates Coach-Germany, The Physicalmind Institute/The Method Pilates -U.S.A, Grounding, Reiki, Biosynthesis, Pranic Healing Light- Greece. She has been a member of IDEA (The Health and Fitness Source) since 1998. Sophie speaks Arabic, English, French and Greek.

Alexia V. Polissidis holds a BSc Honors Pharmacology degree from the University of Alberta, Canada and a PhD in Psychopharmacology from the Medical School, University of Athens. She is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at The American College of Greece and an independently funded Junior Research Team Leader at the Center for Clinical, Experimental Surgery, and Translational Research at the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens, where she also established in 2011 the NeuroBehavior Rodent Phenotyping Facility. She has a background in psychopharmacology and translational neuroscience with expertise in preclinical drug screening, cannabinoid pharmacology and transgenic and viral rodent models of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases. Her current research interests include 1) gene-environment interactions and their contribution to the mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) pathogenesis, 2) identification of potential phenotypes or biomarkers to permit early intervention with neuroprotective therapies for PD, and 3) mechanisms underlying the psychotropic and therapeutic effects of cannabinoids and other psychotropic drugs. Alexia has received 2 grants and 6 awards for her research, published 38 peer-reviewed papers, and co-authored two book chapters. Alexia currently serves as a member of the Governing Council of the Hellenic Society for Neuroscience. She was a member of the first National Committee for Medicinal Cannabis Products and an external advisor for the European Medicines Agency Expert for the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use. Alexia is also Co-founder and CEO of Anacalypsis Therapeutics, an Athens-based biotech discovering novel therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative diseases.