Women's History Month Highlight: Nikie Calles, Chief Archivist Emerita of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North & South America

March is International Women’s History Month, and it would only be proper to celebrate it by honoring the women of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. We want to showcase the wonderful women who work for our beloved Archdiocese and its Affiliated Institutions this March to celebrate their contributions and the talents they bring to our Church. This week, we present the resilient women of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

Nikie Calles

Position: Chief Archivist Emerita of the Greek Orthodox Archdiodece of North & South America

The Archive of the Archdiocese is a vault that holds a treasure beyond value: the memory and history of America's Greek Orthodox community. And it is widely acclaimed as the world's leading repository and research center for the historical study of Orthodox Christianity and Hellenism in America and global impact.

But the present structure of the Archdiocesan Archives would not exist, but for Ms. Nikie Calles; it is the fruit of her lifetime work, which she completed over the course of her 60-year tenure with the Archdiocese. Serving as special secretary to the Geron Archbishop of North & South America Iakovos and as Director of Archives, Nikie singlehandedly created the robust preservation and systematic indexing systems of the archive—the treasury of memory of both Orthodox Christianity and Hellenism in America.

Born near Agrinio in Greece, Nikie later immigrated to the United States. She graduated from The Teachers College of Saint Basil Academy in 1964, where she was distinguished among her peers by her mighty intellectual ability and hallmark work ethic. Recognizing her gifts, Archbishop Iakovos himself recruited Nikie to work at the Archdiocese of North & South America upon graduation and mentored her over the course of the next half century. She retired in 2022.

In sixty years of service, the indefatigable Nikie Calles meticulously preserved, sorted, and catalogued hundreds of thousands of documents and other objects, making them available to historians and scholars of Orthodox Christianity. Moreover, she also carried out countless hours of research and has made contributions—in most cases uncredited—to nearly every major publication dealing with the history of the Archdiocese. In addition, she guided generations of doctoral students with research needed toward the completion of their PhDs. Most recently, she assisted with the book “The History of the Greek Church in America” by Alexander Kitroeff. Following, her retirement, she was tapped as historical consultant for the Archdiocesan Centennial Exhibit, which has traveled to major cities and museums throughout the United States.

In 2022 at the Clergy-Laity Congress in New York, New York, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America honored Nikie with a lifetime achievement award.

The service that Nikie Calles has rendered America’s Orthodox Christian and Greek-American community is beyond value. Her legacy will be lasting and the extent to which her work will impact generations to come cannot be overstated.

What is the role of faith in my life?

I love the church and I am able to express my love for the church and honor her through the work that I have dedicated my life to.

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