‘A part of history’: Andrew Malanos on the Kytherian Association of Australia’s centenary year

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The Kytherian Association of Australia (KAA) has celebrated its centenary with a bang. From its annual debutante ball to a special Nostalgia Day and Mamma Mia taverna night, every event has been enjoyed by both the young and elderly.

But who has been behind all these events? The Chairman of the KAA’s Centenary Committee, Andrew Malanos, and his dedicated team of volunteers.

As the KAA’s centenary year comes to a close, The Greek Herald spoke to Mr Malanos about the celebrations and what’s coming next.

How did you first become involved with the KAA?

My father, Constantine Malanos, gave 40 years of service to the Greek community including AHEPA Grand President, Chairman of St Basils, and as emcee at many Kytherian Balls. My mother, Nina Malanos, was the very first Secretary of the very first Kytherian Ladies Auxiliary over 52 years ago. So of course, they introduced me to the KAA – first as a child attending the annual Christmas picnics then I attended Greek dancing lessons in the 70s. In the 80s, I became Treasurer of the Kytherian Youth Association Committee that become legendary for amazing events such as ski trips, dances and New Year’s Eve parties.

Andrew Malanos.

What are the benefits and challenges of your role as Chairman of the Centenary Committee?

I took this project on over three years ago whilst also being the Vice President of the KAA Board of Directors. This combination of executive leadership responsibly and discretionary powers, along with the Board’s delegated authority, gave me the creative freedom, the tools, finances and the confidence to deliver such a successful centenary year.

Sure, there were also plenty of challenges, the most demanding one being COVID-19 and lockdowns, QR codes and all sorts of ever-changing rules and restrictions. I took every challenge as an opportunity, but I needed to draw on every drop of my 40 years of corporate management experience to be able to steer, mentor, advise, direct, appoint and task everyone to harness their strengths to deliver this most amazing centenary year.

The centenary committee was a hard-working committee of 14 volunteers, each with strong skills, wills, minds and opinions. Many had years of experience and were themselves capable members of other committees, so it was a real powerhouse. My first words to the Centenary Committee were there must be no preconceived ideas, no limits and no restrictions. The forum was open to everyone and there was to be no such thing as “can’t be done” or even “a bad idea”. So the real challenge for me was to bottle all that energy, and put it where I needed it, and I think did that well.

Andrew (front row, second from right) with his committee.

Why do you do it?

It was a most unique opportunity, one that will never be repeated again and of such critical importance to the KAA that I had to get it just right. Looking back, you almost don’t realise how much of your life the task consumes. I put everything into it, and I expect nothing back. Results are reward enough. It’s extremely satisfying for me to see good people do good things. The constant giving and sacrifices are more than worth it in the end.

Just look at what we have done, at what we have achieved. The photos are iconic, we have become a part of history, and I am so proud of that. Exceeding all my expectations, I have amazed even myself. That’s why I do it!

Andrew and his wife Elen.

How would you describe the KAA’s centenary year?

The KAA Centenary year has been sensational, brilliantly planned and executed with the most extraordinary outcome. No one could have ever imagined the groundbreaking quality, depth and breadth of our handcrafted events that were designed to showcase the combined ability, talents and achievements of the KAA, just who we are and what we are capable of. It’s not just events we did of course. We also released our 100-year gold coin from the Royal Australian Mint, and a range of merchandise branded with our centenary logo.

We also can’t wait to release our 100-year history book – over three years in the making so far.

The formal launch event at Darling Harbour was designed to showcase all the pomp and ceremony worthy of a Centenarian. Nostalgia Day was designed to showcase our rich 100-year history. Our Mamma Mia taverna night was designed to be the dance party of the century, with great food, great entertainment, great company – the perfect way to end the centenary year. So this was my absolute favourite for sure.

Andrew with the centenary committee at the launch event.

They were all special in their own way and they were all so unique that it could be another 100 years before your readers ever see these events repeated.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I have to say, that it has been an absolute honour and privilege to work with the most talented, conscientious and capable team of volunteers ever assembled, and without them none of this would have been possible. The debt of gratitude is enormous. It’s why the KAA is so strong and is guaranteed to still be around in another 100 years.

READ MORE: 101-year-old Hariclea Psaltis is the oldest member of Australia’s Kytherian Association.

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