Interview with Maria A. Karamitsos, Founder and Editor of WindyCity Greek, interviewed by Tony Kariotis of GreekPosts.com
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I was born and raised in Chicago. My father is from a small, mountaintop village about 30 minutes from Ancient Olympia, in Ilias. My mom was born and raised in Chicago’s original Greektown, to parents from Steno & Tegeas, Arkadia. I’m married and have two daughters. We’re all avid readers and writers.
What makes you most proud to call yourself Greek? Is being Greek important to you?
Though Greek was my first language, when I was 5, my dad declared that we would only speak English at home so he could learn. My mom didn’t drive, and my dad worked day and night. So there was rarely any church for us, and no Greek school. My dad’s family was all in Greece. My mom was from a large family, but only 1 of her 6 siblings married Greek. Ultimately, our ‘Greekness’ became diluted. Fast forward to my college days. One morning I woke up and thought, ‘I’m Greek & Orthodox, but I don’t really know what that means.’ After grad school, I took Greek classes to re-learn the language and began traveling to Greece regularly. I began attending church. I jumped in with both feet – I performed in a Greek dance troupe and became very involved in the community. I knew I found where I was supposed to be. I’m very proud to be Greek. Greece has given so much to the world. We have an incredibly rich history, heritage, and culture. We live this every single day.
What inspired you to make something ‘Greek’ your business?
Beginning in 2002, I began writing for several Greek publications on a part-time basis. In late 2015, it became a full-time job. For 10 years, I was the Associate Editor for The Greek Star newspaper. It shut down in 2015, as did GreekCircle magazine, the first Greek publication I had contributed to. At that time, I wasn’t sure what was next for me. I thought I’d take some time and finish a novel I’d started writing a few years before. Then, as my family prepared to travel to Greece in Summer 2015, I began seeing more and more negative press about Greece – and people of Greek descent. I felt like people had this very skewed impression of what Greeks were all about, who we are. I heard things like, ‘Greeks built the Parthenon and called it a day’. I got so angry. I knew Greeks were doing amazing things – I’d always used my space to write about positive things, all the awesome things that Greeks around the world were doing. I got really fired up and decided that the world needed a new kind of publication dedicated to showcasing all the innovative and excited works of Greeks around the world. I also wanted to bring something to Chicago, since we don’t have much left in terms of Greek media – we mix in a little Chicago news where it fits. We launched in September 2015.
What are you most proud about WindyCity Greek?
Many of the people that we write about are not well known, and we’ve helped them get exposure. We have received so much positive feedback. I love when people tell us that we gave them hope and inspired them. I also love when they tell me, ‘You helped grow my business. People came in and they told me they found out about me in WindyCity Greek; or ‘I had no idea about x and I checked it out’. I love connecting people and bringing them together. It’s really fun to have people approach me and say, “Hey! You’re Maria Karamitsos! I love WindyCity Greek!”
Can people reach out to WindyCity Greek with article submissions? How can they?
As a magazine, our content is planned in advance. We have a specific style and format. We get many blind submissions that we can’t use because the subject matter has nothing to do with what we do. We do not publish press releases or content posted on other websites. We’re always looking for fresh voices, so we suggest to first get familiar with our publication and the types of articles we publish, to determine if there is a fit. Then, if there’s interest in discussing the possibilities, they can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where do you see your website going into the future?
We’re in the process of transitioning to a quarterly format. Our readers have told us that they can’t keep up will all the content. Additionally, they want to interact with content in different ways, like with video, podcasts, and slide presentations. The quarterly format will free up some time for us to explore these different media so we may serve our readers the best we can. We’re in the process of developing a new website, which will be live soon. We hope to continue to spread the word about all the amazing things Greeks around the world are doing, for many years to come!
Is WindyCity Greek your main career?
WindyCity Greek is main career, but I’m also a mom and an author.
How often do you get to visit Greece?
Not often enough! We were there last summer for a month and will be back this summer. Can’t wait!
Is there something else you’d like to share about yourself that we may not know about your Greek roots!?
Here are a couple things:
I was baptized in Greece. My dad swears it was the ‘ladi’ that destined me to do what I do.
My husband’s roots are in Messinia and the island of Poros.
Thanks for your time, we look forward to seeing more of your work!!
Thank you very much for this opportunity! We wish you all the best!
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