The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle has announced that John Zavitsanos, Archon Ekdikos, has been nominated to receive the 2019 Nicholas J. Bouras Award for Extraordinary Archon Stewardship. Archon Zavitsanos is a member of the Order's governing body, the National Council, and assumed leadership of the Exarch's Appeal in 2014. A special tribute dinner dance will be held at the Metropolitan Club, Friday evening, October 18, as part of the Order's annual three-day assembly, October 18-20, 2019 in New York City.
Archon George Safiol, Award Committee chairman, said, "Archon Zavitsanos has exemplified tremendous stewardship of time, talent and resources in support of the Mother Church of Constantinople, the Orthodox Christian Church throughout the United States, and to the mission of the Order of Saint Andrew in which all children of God should be granted religious freedom as a fundamental, inalienable human right. With the blessings of Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, the National Council deemed it most appropriate to recognize his efforts and name him as the recipient of this prestigious Award in recognition of the extraordinary service exemplified by National Vice Commander Bouras of blessed memory."
Zavitsanos, who is a member of Leadership 100, was invested an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 2004. In 2007, he was elected to the National Council. Since then, he has worked to help enact efficiencies and updates in Archon administration and policies.
Widely regarded as one of the top trial lawyers in Texas, he has been a board member of the Houston Lawyer Referral Service and has worked on many pro bono cases over the years, including working on a prisoner abuse case that at that time was one of the largest settlements with the state of Texas.
Zavitsanos co-founded his Houston law firm Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing more than 25 years ago. He has tried more than 75 cases to verdict and is the primary author of O’Connor’s Texas Rules * Civil Trials 2018 and 2019, the premier civil trial rules guide for Texas lawyers and judges. He trains lawyers across the country on how to effectively try cases and now represents some of the largest companies in the world. He has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, and many other national publications.
He also was a board member of the Menil Art Museum’s Byzantine Fresco Chapel in Houston and served as stewardship chairman of The Annunciation Cathedral in Houston, which now has one of the largest stewardship programs in the country.
Zavitsanos was born in a small village in Lefkada, Greece, to a family of shepherds and tradesmen. His father came to the United States working for minimum wage. Five years later, he brought his family here. They moved in with his uncle’s family in a one-bedroom basement apartment in Chicago. His parents were both illiterate and he spoke no English when he came to America. However, his father instilled in him two core values: become educated and always support the Church. Archon Zavitsanos was the first person on either side of his family to finish grade school. In a show of gratitude when he graduated with honors from the University of Michigan Law School, he had his father’s name, Socrates Zavitsanos, put on his diploma.
Zavitsanos has been married for 30 years to Joni and has four children. His wife and children all speak Greek. His wife Joni is an artist who focuses on Byzantine iconography like her father Diamantis J. Cassis (also an Archon) before her.
The National Council of the Order of Saint Andrew unanimously voted in 2010 to establish the Nicholas J. Bouras Award. The Award is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary and incomparable stewardship to the Order, empowering Archons to vigorously pursue securing religious freedom for the Mother Church of Constantinople. The Award is named after the late National Vice Commander Nicholas J. Bouras, Archon Depoutatos, who demonstrated remarkable leadership as a faithful son of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and exemplary steward of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.