June 06, 2022

Steve Medeiros: Dem of Many Colors

Steve as Vice Chair, 2015-2018 - The view from here

by Karen Lee, DAGR Secretary, Chair 2015-16, 2017-18

A VERY Happy Thanksgiving, 2008, Steve, left, with John Bacalis, Kostas and Katerina Zafirakis, Yvette Jarvis and Alec Mally. Christine Counelis, at table

DAGR had had some upheavals after 2008. It takes time to regain momentum. Yvette Jarvis held one term; Alec Mally stepped up for another. When Alec decided not to run for a 2nd term in 2015, Steve and I were ‘next in line,’ but he was still working fulltime at ACS. I was semi-retired. So, I went for chair and he took vice chair. 

I often said we were like Siamese twins, joined at the heart and brain. Over the next four years, Steve attended every monthly regional call (online) with me, and usually an hour on the phone afterwards, discussing our take-aways for action. Those were in addition to usually an hour by phone every Saturday (Steve’s day off 1) and a lot of Sundays at the edra (headquarters) cleaning, painting and plotting. We shared a respect for: plan, execute, evaluate, plan again. 

In quick succession, from April 2015, there was a Voter Fair at the Embassy, then the DA global AGM in Dominican Republic. Steve came over to my place and we attended the first full day remotely. It was brain-numbing and yet terrifyingly fascinating. A lesson in Robert’s Rules as cudgel. The second day, Steve stayed at his home computer and we commiserated by phone. Then, 4th of July was coming at us. Nikki found a new venue on the beach and the wild race was on.

The haul from Edinburgh, plus a few of our own, 2015

In November, Steve and I flew to Edinburgh for the DA EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) regional meeting. We arrived back, loaded with buttons and calendars, for DAGR’s Dem primary Debate Night and inauguration of its Women’s Caucus. After that, we turned to the unfinished business of non-profit filing and the campaign year to come.

2016 saw Steve take on planning and execution of February’s Global Presidential Primary at the Grand Bretannia. He read the barge-load of legal (FEC-compliant) instructions from global, ran the volunteer training, and supervised the counting and reporting of returns. I laid out flow-logistics and pointed at things. There's a video, re-vamped for 2020 GPP on YouTube.

Another AGM online was followed by Steve’s signature accomplishment, DAGR’s first booth at the Athens PRIDE festival in June! Tony helped set up, I came down and spent the rest of the day with Steve in blistering heat, handing out our first LGBTQ flyer, written by Issues chair, Kristin Zissis. Then, came another up-tempo 4th of July (by now, dubbed FOJ), and as summer oozed into fall, we kept looking for a ‘headquarters’ property for the non-profit. It finally fell into our lap during Debate Watch planning. Debate Watches were at the Hard Rock, well attended. Election Watch was at the Caravel, super well attended. Who wouldn’t come out to see Trump defeated? And then, he won. Really?

Karen with Tony at shift change, 2016, first PRIDE booth. And we ARE taking back the red hat!

But the Greek tax office approved our headquarters – a tiny, sidewalk-level storefront in Patissia – and we were legal at last! Let the open fundraising begin! And the housecleaning. The edra as we called it had been unused in the economic crisis. Steve and I and a few other faithful volunteers went every Sunday to scrub, paint, furnish (donated). It was filthy fun and great for bonding and making next plans. The edra gave us space to sort, label, and store all our signs, banners, paraphernalia in one place, easily loaded and unloaded for events. A home.

In 2017, after DAGR’s first Women’s March on Washington parallel, and an even-more-numbing global AGM in Tokyo -- starting online at 3 a.m. Athens time -- Steve took up PRIDE again. It moved to Syntagma Square, and so did we. Trump’s first year brought out more volunteers, and Steve revamped the flyer! He missed FOJ, flying to the US for an ACS alumni event, but was back to support our wine-n-cheese fundraiser and to encourage our bid to host the DA regional meeting. Steve knew it would be energizing and would encourage more members stepping up to get involved. We lost to Madrid. It’s a long story, not a pleasant one. Disappointing. And worse followed. Still, Steve flew there to show support to the Madrid folks.

Wine-n-cheese with Alex Triantaphyllis, left, 2017

Across 2018, Steve was more visibly stricken by his illness and treatments. It slowed but didn’t stop him. He was out of a Sunday morning or a weekday appointment with treasurer and counsel and me to set up the DAGR bank account. He donated a marching banner for Athens PRIDE parade: Love Trumps Hate. He did the initial planning for our Study Abroad drive and contacted his colleagues in higher education. We got a small share of a DNC grant for the pocket notebooks and pens we passed out to students at the registration events. Steve organized the one at ACS’s fall festival. Throughout the year, he took the lead on the Film Nights at the Exile Room, and every time I suggested he should run for chair as I termed out, Steve gave his familiar (but infrequent) reply: NO no no no no!

An hour well-spent sharing issues with Nevada Congressperson, Dina Titus (2nd from right)

Until, sitting in a drizzly garden at Krithamos, as we booked our 2nd Thanksgiving event there, he felt better than he had in a long while, and he finally said, ‘Well, okay, I think I can do it.’ He did, and hit the ground running, training up his new ExCom, setting up events. Athens PRIDE was bigger than ever, for all of us. After talking with then-global Chair, Julia Bryan, Steve reached out to congressional Greek-American Democrats, netting a meet-up with Rep. Dina Titus (NV) when she visited patrida in June. He was still standing for FOJ, his last, really, public event.

Although he’d helped in the planning, by the time our 2nd (nearly identical) EMEA bid materialized in October, Steve was unable to attend. His vice chair, Stacey, had to pick up the reins. And then he was gone.

Not forgotten, obviously. And, there is not a doubt in my mind that, had Steve lived, 2020 would have seen the formation of a local LGBTQ caucus. It was his hope, and Steve’s hopes had a way of turning into action.

We honor his service by picking up the baton and carrying it forward!