BOSTON– Prominent global businessman Michael Psaros has announced that he will resign as Treasurer of the Archdiocesan Council at the end of his term in October, amid pressure from many, priests especially, to add $1 million per year to the proposed balanced budgets of 2019 and 2020 for the Clergy Pension plan, even as he repeatedly explained that was not feasible. A prolonged discussion resulted in an ultimate balanced budget, at $22. 4 million, for the next two years.
He appealed to the priests “with love and respect,” explaining that while he personally has “no objection” to this idea, “where will the money come from? You are the pastors of the church,” he reminded them. “The problem is not new, it started decades ago,” but he implored that if the budget is not balanced, “it will be tragic.”
Audit Committee Chair Ellaine Allen said the Pension Program is underfunded by $53 million. But the priests insisted on $1 million to be deposited into the fund every year, telling the Executive Committee it ought to make more cuts in the budget or go out and find the money.
At that point, Psaros turned and said to Archbishop Demetrios: “I am in shock, Your Eminence,and with love and respect I am not going to serve again as your treasurer. In October, I am done and I ask you to be involved in fixing St. Nicholas [National Shrine] and being involved in the fundraising efforts. I thank everyone in this room for the blessing and privilege of the last two years’ time trying to fix the problem. It is my opinion at least as treasurer for at least 60 remaining days that we don’t have a budget and I hope the newspapers publish that. Thank you.”
The Archbishop stood and said, “Archon Michael Psaros thought that we are facing something simple. You go to buy something if you don’t have the money what happens? It is a simple thing. He connected this simple thing with his resignation, but as Archbishop I say resignation not accepted. We should be extremely thankful to this team that worked on the Archdiocese’s finances and made it functional. By Archdiocese, I mean the headquarters because the Archdiocese is also the five hundred and forty parishes. This team did more than superhuman work.
“For an informed discussion and decision we need full information. So we have this talk today, we started with the proposal by the Finance Committee, zero increasing for 2019, zero increasing for 2020, the discussions seemed to be some sort of accommodation of opinions taking care of the important issue of the pension of the clergy and simply talking about raising it 3 percent for the year 2020 and just with accompanying hope there might be other sources during this period and simply eliminate the necessity for the 3 percent. And then we started with recommendations and other recommendations and this and that. This is something that needed a little more information.”
Psaros told The National Herald that “I am done. I am very proud of our work as a national office group. In August of 2017, this Archdiocese couldn’t make payroll and had garbage piled up to the second level of the 79th Street headquarters buildings because we couldn’t afford to pay the garbage man. We transformed the Archdiocese in less than nine months into an enterprise with a balanced budget generating a $2 million surplus. It is unfortunate today because I think we really fixed things with the heroic efforts of five volunteer officers, but the actions today actually blew up and destroyed everything that we worked for over the last nine months. I cannot believe that the Congress that has a duty to almost two million Greek Orthodox in this country could take a budget that exists today which is generating a $2 million surplus and vote in a budget for 2019 with $1.3 million deficit and the year after that with a $2.5 million deficit and the officers and the hierarchs have the temerity to say that ‘we don’t care where the money comes from, just go find it or just go cut it.’
“I am a global businessman. I own and operate multimillion dollar global corporations. Can you imagine any for-profit enterprise institutionalizing a budget where expenses exceed revenues? And for that reason I have decided in honor of my family, my family name, to step down from my position as treasurer.
“I cannot take my name, my family’s name and my reputation and attach it to this budget. For clarity, I will serve to the rest of my term because I was raised the right way and I am a gentleman and I have made a commitment.”
Psaros is co-Founder and co-Managing Partner of the private equity fund KPS Capital Partners LP. He is the son of George and Mary Ann Psaros and grandson of four Greek immigrants. Psaros’ father was a senior executive in the mill, and his great-grandfather worked at a Weirton, WV open hearth furnace in the days when E.T. Weir owned the mill. In 1983, union steelworkers voted to purchase the company with the help of investment banker Eugene Keilin, renaming it Weirton Steel. The buyout saved the town, and inspired Psaros to think about how management and labor could work together to revitalize the flagging manufacturing industry in America. Psaros began his career as an investment banker at Bear, Stearns & Co., Inc. During the 1990s he worked for Keilin, who by then had created his own firm with a colleague. Keilin, Psaros, and another partner, David Shapiro, founded KPS in 1997.
Psaros is an Archon, Ostiarios, of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, where he serves on its National Council. He is also a founding member of FAITH: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism; and serves on the Board of Trustees of Leadership 100 – Advancing Hellenism and Orthodoxy in America, the Executive Board of The Hellenic Initiative, and is a member of AHEPA. He is a benefactor of the Orthodox Church in Sierra Leone, Latin America, Korea and Jerusalem.
Psaros, and his wife, Robin, are benefactors of the St. Nicholas National Shrine in New York City, and the Washington OXI DAY Foundation.
He received the Recipient of the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Award for Excellence, the Homeric Award from the Chian Association, the Humanitarian Award from the Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund, and the Executive of the Year Award from the Hellenic American Bankers Association, the Homeric Award from The Chian Federation, Hellenic Heritage Award from the Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church, and the Inspiration Award from the Loukoumi Foundation. He was also honored by the Georgetown University Wall Street Alliance at its New York Scholarship Gala, and by the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity at its Chrysanthemum Ball.
He is also the Executive Producer and underwriter of the documentary short film, “PISTEVO”, about the centrality of Iconography in the Orthodox Christian Faith, which may be viewed at www.theartofbelief.org. The film has been viewed in over 20 countries by tens of thousands of the faithful. PISTEVO won “The Award of Excellence” at the IndieFEST Film Awards.
Psaros serves on the Board of Directors of Georgetown University. He and his wife created The Michael and Robin Psaros Endowed Chair in Business Administration at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business where he also serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Advisors.