Welcome to The National Herald’s Annual 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America List! It is my honor and privilege to spearhead this project for the first time this year. As such, I would like to say, at the risk of sounding cliché and unprofound, how incredibly proud I am to be a Greek-American with immigrant parents. Having read countless stories about the truly deserving individuals on our list, I can’t help but feel a renewed admiration for our people, our culture, our perseverance and our work ethic.
America’s genius has always been its ability to attract the world’s brightest minds and hardest working people and have them live alongside each other to advance the common good. Our list proves that Greeks have been contributing mightily to the American success story for as long as they have been coming to these shores in the hopes of a better life for themselves and for their families. That courage is the indispensable kindling needed for the American patented entrepreneurial approach to work that creates jobs and fortunes. However, as we all know, wealth can be defined and measured in an infinite number of ways: by the sheer value of assets and income of an individual but also by community, good health, service to others, opportunity, etc.
Americans love rankings and lists – and Greek-Americans are no different. As such, this annual insert is year after year our most read special issue of all. However, I have come to find that the most popular part about it, the actual numbered rankings, is actually the least important. Although countless hours were spent researching and contacting the various individuals featured on our list, we are aware that this list is not all encompassing (some individuals do not like to be in the public eye) and that the net worth of the individuals are approximations (i.e., the stock market’s daily fluctuations may cause some people’s net worth to change minute by minute). This is a ‘problem’ that is not unique to The National Herald but also to Forbes, for example, which is widely regarded as the ‘gold standard’ of such rankings.
Thus, while the numbers may be the most ‘fun’ part to skim over and the easiest way to list these individuals, it is by far the least valuable. Contrastingly, what is valuable is each person’s unique story – their struggles, their triumphs, their journey. They cover an impressively wide spectrum of industries: energy, retail, finance, shipping, food service, engineering, publishing, entertainment – just to name a few. I encourage everyone to take the time this weekend to actually read the biographies of these individuals – you may be surprised at how much we all have in common.
With that being said, I thought it was important this year to feature ten women, most of which we were able to speak with personally, who may not be multi-millionaires, let alone billionaires, in the traditional sense, but who have acquired or bestowed an immense amount of wealth onto humanity through their contributions in education, culture, history and the arts. We invite you, once again, to enhance this list by letting us know of any information – including, perhaps, a particular Greek-American we may have overlooked, so that this Special Edition can continue to get better and better, year after year.
- JIM DAVIS & FAMILY – Massachusetts
$5.6 BILLION (Forbes)
Middlebury College (Biology/Chemistry); Married, 2 Children
With a slight drop in net worth from last year, James S. “Jim” Davis, the owner and Chairman of New Balance (NB) tops The National Herald’s 50 Wealthiest Greek-Americans once again.
A graduate of Middlebury College, Davis, now 76, is the Massachusetts-born son of Greek immigrants. Davis bought the now 113-year old retail sports footwear company in 1972 and took the company to new heights four years later with the development of the New Balance 320 running shoe. Davis’ wife, Anne, serves as NB’s Vice Chairman, having joined the company in 1977. The company has since grown, remaining one of the few shoemakers that continues to manufacture some of its shoes in the United States, and now features clothing and equipment for lacrosse and soccer. Davis and his family own an estimated 95% of the company, which is still private.
In April of 2019, NB Development Group broke ground on The TRACK at New Balance near Boston Landing, featuring a multi-sport athletic complex spanning a city block, as well as a concert venue with The Bowery Presents (with room for up to 3,500 fans) and a New Balance Athletics Sports Research Lab. The 250,000 square foot complex will also include ground floor retail and food services with an expected completion by late summer 2021. Of the project, Davis said, “The TRACK at New Balance will set a new performance standard in professional and amateur sports due to its innovative design, location and amenities.” The project will also drastically change the area from a sprawling mass of decrepit warehouses.
Davis is also a co-founder of Major League Lacrosse (MLL), which was founded in 1999, debuted in 2001, and in 2015 averaged almost 4400 fans per live game. On April 1, 2019, MLL announced that it would eliminate 3 of its 9 teams this year to focus on the “expansion of strategic markets.” The League, spanning the United States’ Eastern seaboard, will no longer include the Ohio Machine, the Florida Launch or the Charlotte Hounds. All three of these teams were previously owned by Davis. The owners of the 9 teams met earlier this year and decided they wanted to implement a new policy: “one team, one owner, one vote.” Davis still owns one franchise: the Dallas Rattlers.
Davis’ Bloomberg business profile also notes that “he co-founded a private business in real estate acquisition and management. He served as Unit Chairman, Chairman, Director and Trustee Emeritus of Middlebury College. Davis also serves on a number of nonprofit boards including the Children’s Museum in Boston and the Sports Museum of New England. He is a Board Member of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. He serves on the boards of the International Athletic Footwear & Apparel Manufacturers Association and the Two/Ten Foundation, Inc. He is a Member of the Athletic Footwear Council and serves on the board of the Monterey Institute of International Studies which specializes in international studies and language.
He is a Trustee at Newbury College and a Trustee of Worcester Academy in Worcester, MA. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Rubber and Plastic Footwear Manufacturers Association. He serves on the Industry Sector Advisory Committee (ISAC) on footwear, leather and leather products as well as the Industry Policy Advisory Committee (IPAC) which is the trade advisory committee to the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.”
- TOM GORES – California
$4.1 BILLION (Forbes)
EQUITY INVESTMENT, SPORTS
Michigan State University (Construction Management); Married, 3 Children
Jumping up one spot from last year, Tom Gores is number 2 on the National Herald’s 50 Wealthiest list this year. Gores, 54, was born in Nazareth, Israel to a Greek father and a Lebanese mother. When he was only four, the family moved to Genessee, MI. Throughout his youth, Gores stocked shelves at his father’s small grocery store in Flint, MI. After earning a bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University, he joined his brother Alec (also featured in this edition) in buying out companies.
Gores oversees more than 25 companies with some $13 billion in assets through his Los Angeles-based private equity firm, Platinum Equity – which he founded in 1995. PlatinumEquity is one of the largest private companies in the United States and has offices in California, New York, Boston, London, and Singapore. Its in-house business development, M&A, transition, legal, real estate, marketing, finance, and operations teams enable them to resolve matters expeditiously.
Platinum Equity structures acquisition solutions to help sellers achieve their divestiture objectives. These usually include corporate sellers shedding non-core assets, public sellers seeking to maximize shareholder value, or private sellers seeking capital and operational support. It has also developed alternative deal structures to meet the current capital environment.
Since its founding in 1995, Platinum Equity has completed nearly 200 acquisitions in a broad range of market sectors. The current portfolio includes companies in diverse industries, acquired in a range of corporate divestitures, public-to-private transactions, and transactions with private sellers. Each portfolio company operates independently with the goal of creating long-term, sustainable value.
In 2011, Gores and Platinum became owners of the National Basketball Association’s Detroit Pistons. In August, 2016, he purchased Platinum’s stake and became sole owner.
In 2016, he launched FlintNow to address the water crisis in his hometown of Flint, MI.
In April of 2019, Gores threw his hat in the ring to become the next owner of Fox Sports Detroit. The regional sports network has been for sale as part of the Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets. It has been reported that the final bids, all in the neighborhood of $10 billion, have been received by Disney.
Gores, his wife, Holly, and their three children live in Beverly Hills, CA, but also maintain a home in Birmingham, MI. Mrs. Gores, a Michigan native, has longstanding roots in the state and joins her husband’s commitment to community initiatives throughout Michigan.
- JOHN A. CATSIMATIDIS – New York
$3.1 BILLION (FORBES)
OIL, REAL ESTATE, SUPERMARKETS
New York University; Married, 2 Children
At a personal fortune estimated at $3.1 billion, John A. Catsimatidis remains very close to the top our list again this year.
When Catsimatidis was an infant, he and his family moved to an apartment in Harlem from the small Greek island of Nisyros. Catsimatidis, now 70, is a true self-made billionaire – getting there through decades of hard work and innovation.
Catsimatidis attended New York University, but withdrew before completing his degree requirements because of business demands. He opened his first grocery store in 1969 and owned ten stores by the age of 24, making $25 million a year in revenue. He plowed $5 million into Manhattan real estate in 1977; that property was worth $100 million just five years later.
Catsimatidis stumbled upon the Chapter 11 proceedings of United Refining in Warren, PA. and purchased the oil refiner’s stock for $7.5 million. The firm now owns 375 gas outlets and convenience stores in Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio.
In a self-funded campaign for mayor of New York City in 2013, in which he finished a strong second in the Republican primary, Catsimatidis has hosted his own Sunday morning radio program on New York City’s AM 970 radio station, Cats Roundtable. The show is really two in one, featuring local and national news, with an array of local and nationally-known politicians and other influential guests stopping or calling in on a regular basis. Having no need for sponsors, Catsimatidis says that the motto of his show is: “Get the truth out.”
Catsimatidis is chairman and CEO of the Red Apple Group, which is among the country’s largest privately held companies with 8,000 employees and estimated annual revenues of $5.2 billion. Red Apple has holdings in oil refining, retail petroleum products, convenience stores, supermarkets, and real estate. With a major focus on energy, Catsimatidis’ fortune accelerated with rising oil prices.
Catsimatidis’ most recent projects include building mixed-use developments in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene and Coney Island neighborhoods. He is planning to build Ocean Dreams – a 425-unit luxury rental complex overlooking the Atlantic in Coney Island. He is also planning to construct a 50-story tower in St. Petersburg, FL. In March of 2019, Santander Bank provided Red Apple with a $200 million refinancing package for its downtown Brooklyn 32-story project, the Eagle.
Catsimatidis is a licensed pilot, though eye surgery has grounded him over the past few years. He has helped raise millions for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Juvenile Diabetes research. He served as co-chairman and founder of the Brooklyn Tech Endowment Foundation. At the time, the $10 million fund was the largest gift to a secondary school in the United States. Since 1988 he has funded scholarships at the NYU School of Business.
Catsimatidis is married and the father of two children, Andrea and John. His wife, Margo, runs his company’s in-house advertising agency.
- JOHN PAUL DeJORIA – Texas
$2.6 BILLION (Forbes)
HAIR CARE PRODUCTS, SPIRITS
Married, 4 Children
John Paul DeJoria’s net worth is significantly lower this year in comparison to last ($3.1 billion) – perhaps because he is a member of The Giving Pledge, a charity led by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates (a campaign to encourage wealthy people to contribute a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes). In 2016, DeJoria pledged to give more than half of his fortune away. “The more I make, the more I get to give back. Success unshared is failure,” he told CNBC.
Born to an Italian immigrant father and a Greek immigrant mother, who divorced by the time he was 2, DeJoria has known poverty repeatedly: first during his childhood being raised by a single mother in Los Angeles, CA, and two periods of homelessness as an adult.
DeJoria has been quoted telling a story that when he was 5, his mother didn’t have enough money to buy her sons Christmas presents. As they walked through downtown Los Angeles, his mother pointed to a woman wearing a navy blue suit ringing a bell. “Boys,” his mother said, “I’m giving you a dime. See that lady ringing the bell? Put this in her bucket.” DeJoria didn’t understand; 10 cents was a lot for a kid who didn’t have much in 1950. Why did he have to give it away? “That’s the Salvation Army. They need it more than we do,” was her reply. From that experience, he learned that “success unshared is failure.”
DeJoria’s very first job, at age nine, was selling greeting cards door-to-door. He and his brother had paper routes through their school years. After high school and two years in the U.S. Navy, DeJoria did whatever it took to make ends meet – from selling encyclopedias and working as a janitor to pumping gasoline. During his first homeless period, after he and his then-wife separated, he collected bottles to stay afloat, all while caring for his two-year-old son. Eventually, he took his talents to several hair care and cosmetic companies before becoming an independent consultant.
In 1980, DeJoria teamed up with his friend Paul Mitchell to launch John Paul Mitchell Systems, a line of high-end hair care products. The partners began with $700 and with DeJoria living in his car at the time. He said he knocked on salon doors until he got 12 orders and checks. After two years of hand-to-mouth work, the company grossed $1 million.
In 1989, after Mitchell died, DeJoria found another partner and launched Patron, a premium tequila, something unheard of at that time. His friend Clint Eastwood placed it in his film In the Line of Fire, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck endorsed it, and DeJoria gave it away at John Paul Mitchell events.
Today, DeJoria is on lists of the world’s billionaires, and one of America’s richest living veterans. His John Paul Mitchell Systems hair products, still privately held, is worth more than a billion dollars. They are available in more than 100,000 salons in the United States and are distributed throughout the world. Patron Spirits, the original ultra-premium tequila, was recently acquired by Bacardi Limited for $5.1 billion.
In June 2014, DeJoria co-founded (with British entrepreneur Jonathan Kendrick) ROK Mobile, a music streaming service combined with a contract-free mobile phone plan offering unlimited voice, text, and data that runs on the rails of larger cell phone carriers T-Mobile and Sprint. On March 20, 2019, ROKiT (part of ROK Mobile) announced a line of five mobile handsets, including three smartphones, to market (sold at ROKit.com and Walmart.com). Unlike other phones, these are paired with vital life services like family telemedicine, legal counsel and more. “We started ROKiT with a mission to provide people with well-being and security, and offer a realistic entry point to top notch technology. It has been incredible to see our vision realized as people react to the phones,” said John Paul DeJoria.
Most recently, DeJoria partnered up with Mastronardi Produce, the leading greenhouse company in North America, to make quality, flavorful product more widely accessible. The partnership will focus on developing Advanced High-Density Farming Systems to grow local fresh food in underserved markets around the globe.
DeJoria has been quoted saying the key to success is to be prepared for rejection. As a lifelong salesman, he has faced more than his share. Remembering his three-year stint selling Collier’s encyclopedias door-to-door, he said: “doors literally slam in your face – maybe 30, 40 doors before the first customer will actually talk to you.” But, he advised would-be entrepreneurs, no matter how many rejections you get, go to the next door with the same enthusiasm as you had at the first, with a smile on your face.
The vast list of charities supported by John Paul Mitchell Systems includes the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the American Cancer Society, Food4Africa, Grow Appalachia, and Chrysalis, a nonprofit group that helps homeless and low-income people get back on their feet and find the path to self-sufficiency. DeJoria is also a patron of Mineseeker, a non-profit organization dedicated to seeking solutions to the worldwide problem of landmines. In 2006, he was appointed Admiral by the governor of Texas, and he received the Citizen of the Year Dolphin Award from The Malibu Times. DeJoria was also honored with the Sustainability Award for his dedication to environmental preservation at Fashion Group International’s 25th Annual Night of Stars event, and was inducted as a lifetime member into the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans in honor of his journey to overcome humble beginnings to achieve success.
He and his third wife, the former Eloise Brady, are based in Austin, TX. Dejoria has four children, one of whom is professional drag-racer, Alexis DeJoria.
- AMB. GEORGE L. ARGYROS – California
$2.6 BILLION (Forbes)
REAL ESTATE, SPORTS
Chapman University (Business & Economics); Married, 3 Children
George L. Argyros is well known in a wide variety of prominent circles, as his long and illustrious life has included achievements ranging from real estate, to sports, to international diplomacy.
Argyros served as U.S. Ambassador to Spain and was an owner of the professional baseball team, the Seattle Mariners. But Argyros, 82, made his fortune in grocery stores and real estate.
A second-generation American of Greek descent, he was born in Detroit, MI and raised in Pasadena, CA. He worked his way through high school and college in southern California as a paperboy and grocery clerk. Argyros went into real estate in 1962, selling land at busy intersections to gas stations. Today, his privately held Arnel & Affiliates owns and manages 5,500 apartments and 2 million square feet of commercial space.
In 1987, Argyros founded Westar Capital, a private equity firm. He is a director of First American Financial Corp and Pacific Mercantile Bancorp. Formerly the largest shareholder and a board member of Kansas software developer DST Systems (NYSE:DST), he sold off the bulk of that stock in 2014, reducing his shares from 20% to 4% of the company’s stock. He also retired from the board.
Argyros developed a friendship with scientist/inventor Arnold Beckman in California in 1962. Soon afterward, he began a 22-year service as chairman of the board of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, which awards research grants in chemistry and the life sciences. In 2013, the foundation developed the Beckman-Argyros Award in Vision Research. The annual award offers a $100,000 prize and a $400,000 research grant to an individual who has made a significant achievement in vision research.
In 2001, then-President George W. Bush appointed Argyros U.S. ambassador to Spain. Years later, Argyros hosted a $25,000-per-couple dinner for U.S. Senator and then-presidential hopeful John McCain (R-AZ) at his home in 2008. Argyros also served on the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FreddieMac) under President George H.W. Bush.
A resident of Harbor Island in Newport Bay, CA, Argyros is a recognized business leader and philanthropist. He was the 1993 recipient of the Horatio Alger Award of Distinguished Americans, and a 2001 recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
Chapman’ University’s School of Business and Economics was renamed in his honor in 1999. He has served on the board of trustees for several community organizations, including the California Institute of Technology, the Beckman Foundation, the Horatio Alger Association, and Chapman University.
Argyros sold the Mariners in 1989, after trying to move them elsewhere, and had also pursued purchase of the San Diego Padres.
In January 2012, Argyros became a member of the Board of Regents of the Orange County Council Boy Scouts of America. In April 2011, he and his wife made a $5 million gift to an ambulatory surgery center at the University of California. In 2018, the Argyros family foundation pledged $7.5 million to renovate the Los Angeles Coliseum, home of the USC Trojans and, according to the Los Angeles Times, the foundation donated $750,000 to help get the Balboa Island Museum & Historical Society established in its new location in Newport Beach, CA.
Most recently, the Argyros family is part of an estimated $17-million campus renovation for the Mariners Christian School in Costa Mesa. Their contribution went towards a new 900-seat auditorium (the Argyros Center for Worship and Performing Arts) and a redesigned gymnasium (Living Legacy Athletic Center).
Argyros is an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Order of St. Andrew the Apostle. He and his wife, Julia, have three children and seven grandchildren. The Argyroses were honored by the city of Costa Mesa, CA in May 2016 with a Lifetime Achievement Award for service to the community.
- C. DEAN METROPOULOS – Florida
$2.5 BILLION (Forbes)
Babson College; Married, 2 Children
Dean Metropoulos, age 71, is Chairman and CEO of Metropoulos & Company, a boutique buyout and management firm. He remains very high on our list, as a result of his $2.5 billion estimated net worth. He accumulated his fortune by purchasing and resurrecting food brands such as Hostess, Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, Chef Boyardee, Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, Pinnacle Foods, Bumble Bee Tuna, Vlasic Pickles and Utz Snacks. He also recently helped produce the film Cliffs of Freedom.
The Greek-born Metropoulos moved from Tripoli to Massachusetts with his parents at age 10. Typical of many immigrants, his parents worked hard and encouraged their children to pursue their dreams. Metropoulos made his first American acquisition at the age of 32, when he acquired a cheese company in his wife Marianne’s, native Vermont.
After graduate school, Metropoulos joined GTE International as director of finance for Europe, the Middle East and Africa residing in Geneva, Switzerland, and later returning to the United States to become GTE’s youngest senior vice president responsible for their international business, including operations in 62 countries.
Metropoulos is very well known in the private equity, investment banking, and financial community, having spent nearly three decades acquiring, restructuring and growing nearly 80 different businesses involving approximately $14 billion in capital in the United States, Mexico and Europe. Many of these were subsequently taken public or sold to strategic acquirers.
“We love acquiring and transforming undermanaged companies by investing heavily in operating efficiencies, systems, new products, innovation, and unique marketing,” Metropoulos said, “thus turning them into vibrant, growing businesses. We have been particularly privileged and fortunate to acquire and revitalize brands with deep roots in our American culture and tradition, such as the recent acquisitions of the 170-year-old PBR and 100-year-old Hostess. Our European-acquired brands, such as Perrier Jouet and Mumm Champagnes, among others, often go back 300-plus years: truly humbling heritages.”
In July 2013, Metropoulos paid $410 million to buy Hostess Brands and return Twinkies to grocery shelves after the company had filed for bankruptcy protection and closed its doors. Hostess has made a remarkable turnaround; in the past few years it has released several ice cream flavors and rolled out a new upscale line of snacks. In 2016, The Gores Group (see Alec Gores, infra) acquired Hostess via a spin-off, under a special-purpose acquisition company process.
Metropoulos sold Pabst Brewing for an estimated $750 million in September 2014, nearly tripling his 2010 investment. Pabst remains one of the fastest-growing brewing companies in the United States, if not the fastest.
In 2016, Metropoulos sold his equity stake in Utz Quality Foods LLC back to the snack maker’s family – roughly doubling his money 15 months after he invested nearly $150 million of equity in the Utz company.
Metropoulos’ sons, Evan, 38 and Daren, 35, are and have been an integral part of the turnaround of the acquired companies. He has said that his sons have been the “the creative catalysts for repositioning and reinventing these brands.”
In August of 2016, his son Daren purchased the legendary Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, CA for $100 million. Metropoulos and his wife are both members of the Leadership 100 Foundation, a leadership organization that supports the activities of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States. Metropoulos is also a founding member and president of Faith Endowment, a New York based organization promoting the Greek Orthodox religion, culture and interests.
- JAHARIS FAMILY – New York
$2.4 BILLION (TNHE)
The Jaharis Family Patriarch, Michael, passed away in early 2016 at age 87. He founded Key Pharmaceuticals, Kos Pharmaceuticals, & Vatera Healthcare Partners.
The son of Greek immigrants from the island of Lesvos, Michael Jaharis was born in Evanston, IL. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Carroll University in Wisconsin, served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during the Korean War, and later attended night school at DePaul University to earn a law degree while working as a sales representative for Miles Laboratories.
In 1972, Jaharis and partner Phillip Frost acquired Key Pharmaceuticals and transformed the small cold remedies producer into a prominent company with cutting-edge, top-selling asthma and cardiovascular drugs. Under Jaharis’ leadership, Key’s sales increased 100-fold before the company’s $836 million merger with Schering-Plough in 1986. Two years later, Jaharis launched Kos Pharmaceuticals, which pioneered the HDL cholesterol market with its good cholesterol-raising drug Niaspan, before being sold to Abbott Laboratories in 2006 for $4.2 billion.
He remained Chairman Emeritus of the Kos board until his passing.
In 1999, Jaharis founded Arisaph Pharmaceuticals Inc., a privately held drug discovery and biotech company, and had served as director since 2005.
Jaharis was also the founder of Vatera Healthcare Partners LLC, a venture capital firm focusing on the healthcare industry, which is a key investor in Arisaph. In June 2013, Pearl Therapeutics, in which Vatera was the largest investor, was acquired by AstraZeneca for $1.15 billion.
Proud supporters of Hellenism, the late Jaharis and his wife, Mary, have been longstanding major benefactors of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, and many cultural, religious, higher education, and healthcare institutions through the Jaharis Family Foundation, Inc.
In October 2010, the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture was inaugurated at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological Seminary in Brookline, MA.
In 2014, the foundation donated $10 million to Haverford College in Haverford, PA to finance a new music center and a student loan debt relief fund. In 2013, the foundation announced a donation of $2 million to support humanitarian relief efforts in Greece. The money, supporting the work of the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), Doctors of the World, and SOS Children’s Villages, was offered as a challenge gift to inspire other donations from Greek-Americans.
In late 2017, the Jaharis Family Foundation, Inc., announced a new $1 million challenge gift to IOCC to expand its programs, implemented in partnership with Apostoli, the humanitarian organization of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens, to offer sustainable access to safe and nutritious food for children, families, and the elderly, and providing relief to refugees. That ‘challenge’ gift was surpassed with IOCC supporters giving more than $1.2 million to help people in need in Greece.
Jaharis was the driving force behind the effort to rebuild St. Nicholas Church destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. “When finished,” Jaharis told the Archdiocesan Council in 2012, the new structure will provide “a shining spotlight on the Greek Orthodox faith and our core values of love, respect, peace, healing, and forgiveness.”
Jaharis’ wife, Mary, continues to live in New York. The couple had two children and now have five grandchildren. The Mary Jaharis Center continues to support book-length publications for major articles in the field of Byzantine studies broadly conceived. Grants are aimed at early career academics.
- PETER NICHOLAS – Massachusetts
$2.3 BILLION (AffluenceIQ)
Duke University; Married
Peter Nicholas, 78, co-founded the medical device company Boston Scientific with scientist John Abele in 1979, after meeting Abele at a children’s’ soccer game.
According to a report published by the Partnership for a New American Economy, Nicholas was raised by Greek immigrant parents. His father, who had come as a child from Constantinople, settled in the Munjoy Hill neighborhood in Portland, ME – a Greek community that produced “dozens of immigrant children who grew up to achieve real success.” Speaking of his father, Nicholas said, “It’s almost like a gift they inherited from their mothers and fathers – these funny looking Greek kids all had embedded in them this ambition to work hard and achieve a better life than what their parents could have ever imagined.” In the same study, Nicholas was quoted saying that he was “very aware” of the old country his family came from and how much his parents wanted him to work to take advantage of the many opportunities that America offered.
A graduate of Duke University, Nicholas went on to earn an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton School of Business. He is Chairman Emeritus of Duke’s Board of Trustees. In 1996, Nicholas gave $20 million to Duke for its School of the Environment, which was named in his honor. Since then, he and his wife, Virginia (Ginny) Lilly, have made other gifts of tens of millions of dollars to Duke.
Ginny is the great-grand daugther of Eli Lilly, founder of the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Company, where Nicholas worked prior to founding Boston Scientific.
Boston Scientific is a worldwide developer, manufacturer, and marketer of medical devices whose products are used in a range of interventional medical specialties, including interventional radiology, interventional cardiology, peripheral interventions, neuromodulation, neurovascular intervention, electrophysiology, cardiac surgery, vascular surgery, endoscopy, oncology, urology and gynecology. The company went public in 1992 and currently employs almost 30,000 people.
The company is primarily known for the development of the Taxus Stent, a drug-eluting stent which is used to open clogged arteries. With the full acquisition of Cameron Health in June 2012, the company also became notable for offering a minimally invasive implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) which they call the EMBLEM Subcutaneous Implantable Defibrillator (S-ICD).
In 2016, Nicholas announced that he would step down as Boston Scientific’s chairman, a year ahead of his intended retirement. President & CEO Mike Mahoney, who succeeded Nicholas as Chairman, said this about his predecessor: “These changes represent a major milestone in the history of the company, as Pete’s dedication, passion, and commitment were instrumental in bringing the benefits of interventional medicine to patients in need. Under Pete’s leadership, Boston Scientific has become a leading global healthcare corporation serving 22 million patients each year, and we are deeply indebted for his decades of service and love of the company.”
- ALEC GORES – California
$2.2 BILLION (Forbes)
TECHNOLOGY, LEVERAGED BUYOUTS
Western Michigan University (Computer Science); Married, 5 children
Alec Gores, 65, like his brothers Tom and Sam (also featured in this edition) was born to a Greek father and Lebanese mother, in Nazareth, Israel. The family, which included 6 children, moved to Genesee, MI when he was a teenager.
“My father was willing to give up literally everything he had [in Israel] and pack his bags and bring us here,” Gores told Forbes in October, 2016. “He did it for the kids, to make sure we have a better future.”
The elder Gores, Charlie, emphasized hard work and an appreciation for the opportunities the United States presented, his son told Forbes. “The day we landed in America, my dad sat us down and he said, ‘This is your new country. You have to respect it. You have to embrace it,’” Gores remembers. His dad added: “You’ve got to work hard, and you can do anything you want in this country.” Alec began his professional career by bagging groceries at his uncle’s store soon after arriving in America (for 25 cents an hour) – he didn’t speak any English at the time.
Today, Gores heads the Beverly Hills-based private equity firm The Gores Group, which has $2.5 billion in assets. He lives in an 11-bedroom mansion on 2.2 acres in Beverly Hills – near his brother Tom, who bought a palatial estate in Holby Hills in 2016 as part of a reported $100 million deal.
After graduating from Western Michigan University with a degree in computer science (the first person in his family to finish college), he founded Executive Business Systems in 1978, for $10,000, and was selling computers out of his basement. His father “gave me his last $8,000 and had me go buy a demo machine,” Gores told Forbes. “That’s what I needed to start the business.” He grew the company tremendously, and sold it in 1986 to Contel for approximately $2 million.
In 2016, he joined C. Dean Metropulos, also featured in this edition, to take the food snack giant Hostess public. In February of this year, Gores and Metropoulos again joined forces and created a new blank check company, Gores Metropoulos Inc., which completed its $400 million initial public offering.
Gores famously lost over $17 million in a three-day backgammon series to fellow billionaire JP McManus in 2012, the Independent reported, and Gores promptly “paid up like a gent.”
The father of five, Gores is now married to Kelly Noonan Gores, his second wife (John Legend performed at their wedding in 2016). Kelly released the documentary Heal (83% on Rotten Tomatoes) on Netflix this year which is about the power of the mind to heal the body.
- HASEOTES FAMILY – Massachusetts
$2.1 BILLION (Forbes)
The Haseotes Family finishes off our top ten wealthiest Greek-Americans of 2019.
Their company, Cumberland Farms, was founded by current CEO Ari Haseotes’ grandparents, Vasilios and Aphrodite, in 1938. That year, the Haseoteses emigrated from Greece’s Macedonia and Epirus regions to the United States and purchased a one-cow, one-calf dairy farm in Cumberland, RI for $84.
Cumberland Farms expanded across state lines and eventually grew to become the largest dairy farm operation in Massachusetts. In 1956, the company opened a jug-milk store in Bellingham, MA. During the 1950s, few convenience food stores with dawn-to-midnight service every day of the week existed in the northern part of the country. In 1962, Cumberland Farms quickly expanded to become New England’s first true convenience store.
By the early 1990s, Cumberland Farms ranked third among the country’s convenience store chains, and was also a leader in both the retail and wholesale distribution of petroleum products through the Cumberland Farms (and previously, also Gulf and Mobil) names.
The company first added a gas station to one of its stores in 1971 and expanded greatly in the wake of the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo. By 1975 Cumberland Farms opened its 1,000th store. The following year, it opened a 560,000-square-foot bakery and warehouse in Westborough, Mass. In 1987, it purchased all of the Northeast assets of Gulf Oil from the Chevron Corporation, including 550 service stations and a terminal network throughout the Northeast.
In 2010, Gulf Oil L.P., a subsidiary of Cumberland Farms, announced it had acquired all rights, title and interest to the Gulf brand in the entire United States and its territories. About 5 years later, Cumberland Farms sold Gulf Oil for a reported $1 billion in order to “get out of the wholesale business and focus exclusively on retail.”
Today Cumberland Farms is one of America’s largest family-owned convenience store chains – and one of the largest family-owned companies of any kind in the United States. A closely held family-owned company since its inception, Cumberland Farms has since grown to become a multi-billion-dollar corporation – in 2017 alone, the company reported $6 billion in revenues. Lily Haseotes Bentas, daughter of Vasilios and Aphrodite Haseotes, is chairman of the board of directors. Her nephew, Ari, succeeded Bentas as CEO in June 2014.
In June, 2016, Ari Haseotes told the Boston Globe as a result of the sale of Gulf, Cumberland can now devote more resources to remodeling its stores and revamping its distribution center. By getting out of the wholesale business and focusing exclusively on retail, Haseotes is returning the company to its roots, more in line with how it was run by his grandparents.
Also in 2016, Lily Haseotes Bentas donated a $8.7 million 23,000 square foot academic wing at Salve Regina which houses the university’s business and nursing departments. She (fittingly) christened the building (The Lily Haseotes Bentas Center) with a Cumberland Farms old-time milk bottle.
In April of 2019, The Oil Price Information Service (the gas industry publication) and the Journal Inquirer (a newspaper based and published in Connecticut) said that Cumberland Farms may be exploring the possibility of a sale that could end eight decades of ownership under the Haseotes family.
- PETER G. ANGELOS – Maryland
$2.0 BILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
LAW, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
University of Baltimore; Married, 2 children
Peter G. Angelos, 89, is an attorney and is best known for being the owner, chairman and CEO of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles, but his law firm and wealth expanded exponentially in 1982, when he represented 8,500 plaintiffs – the largest number of plaintiffs ever – in asbestos litigation and won. He reportedly made over $100 million on this one case.
He bought the Orioles in August 1993, leading a group of investors including prominent Marylanders such as novelist Tom Clancy, in purchasing the team for $173 million, a record price at the time.
The Orioles enjoyed some success early under Angelos’ ownership, making the postseason as a wild card team in 1996 and winning the American League East Division title in 1997. But manager Davey Johnson resigned after the 1997 season, and 14 straight losing seasons ensued. As of late, their fortunes have taken a roller coaster ride, clinching the division in 2014, just falling short of repeating in 2015 and making the playoffs again in 2016, but currently in another slide towards the cellar.
Angelos and his wife, Georgia, have two sons: John, who serves as the Orioles’ executive vice president and Louis, an attorney at the family law office. Angelos began to cede control of the Orioles to his sons starting in 2017. According to the Baltimore Sun, in early 2019, the MLB asked the Orioles to inform it by June who will be in control of the club since Angelos senior has been dealing with some health issues.
In 2016, Forbes reported that the Orioles’ value had increased 61% in two years, from $620 million to over $1 billion. In April of 2019, Forbes reported that the team is worth $1.3 billion.
Angelos was born in Pittsburgh, PA on July 4, 1929, to immigrants from the island of Karpathos. He went to Baltimore at age 11, where his family settled in the Highlandtown section. His father owned a tavern in East Baltimore where Peter worked during his adolescence. He graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law, where he was class valedictorian, and went on to a lucrative career in trial law, specializing in cases involving harmful products, professional malpractice, and personal injury.
His firm, the Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos, has attorneys and locations in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Angelos began working as a criminal defense lawyer following graduation. For most of his legal career, he was a successful attorney representing Baltimore labor unions and their members through his own private practice, which he founded in 1961. Beginning in the 1980s, he refashioned his firm’s focus from criminal law to civil class action suits. Angelos was also enormously successful in suing Wyeth, the makers of the diet pill fen-phen, and representing the state of Maryland as lead attorney in a lawsuit against tobacco company Philip Morris. The agreement had stipulated that he would receive 25% of the recovery, but when it came to $4.5 billion, Maryland refused to pay; Angelos’ team settled for $150 million. It was after that he became a major player in the Baltimore community. Commenting on winning settlements of that size on behalf of governmental entities, Angelos said, “If you get that kind of a fee, you’re fundamentally taking it from the public interest.”
A lifelong Democrat, he won election to the Baltimore City Council and served on the Council from 1959 to 1963. He ran for mayor as an independent in 1964, but lost. He has been an active supporter of national Democratic candidates.
Angelos has been active in charitable programs in the city and state. He enjoys horse racing and owns thoroughbred horses. He has given $10 million to his alma mater; in return, the new law school building bears the name of his parents. The John and Frances Angelos Law Center at the University of Baltimore opened in April 2013. That same year, he gifted $2.5 million to the MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center in Baltimore to open a lung disease center.
- EFSTATHIOS (STEVE) VALIOTIS – New York
$1.6 BILLION (TNHE)
REAL ESTATE, BANKING
University of Athens (Theology); Married, 3 children
Efstathios (Steve) Valiotis, 71, is president and founder of the Astoria, New York based Alma Realty Corporation (‘alma’ is the Greek word for leap or jump), one of the largest privately-held landlord and real estate firms in the New York metropolitan area. In 2007 he also founded Alma Bank. Today, he owns and manages more than 120 buildings and 6,000 apartments in New York alone – and more in New Jersey.
Born in Vordonia, near Sparta in Greece, he earned his degree in theology from the University of Athens. He immigrated to the United States in 1972 and worked in the food industry (first as a dishwasher at his brother-in-law’s restaurant and then as a pizza-maker in a pizza parlor) and, within two years, purchased a newsstand and a food mart followed by a pizzeria. His next venture was establishing a custom-made furniture business, Knossos Inc., in Astoria in 1976. Two years later, the business expanded to include two retail display stores on Manhattan’s Park Avenue and Sixth Avenue and a furniture-manufacturing factory in Queens. Valiotis owned and actively managed Knossos until 1994.
In 1978, he began his highly successful career investing in real estate. Since then, Valiotis’ expertise in acquisition and development has included the purchase, sale, construction, and management of both residential and commercial properties. His first few real estate investments were conversions of abandoned industrial and warehouse buildings into upscale residential loft buildings. In 1983, Valiotis founded his own firm, known as Alma Realty Corporation. Alma serves as the vessel through which Valiotis develops, builds, manages, and acquires real estate. He has built a diverse portfolio over the last decades including multi-family residential buildings, commercial buildings, ground-up construction of residential and commercial buildings and a retail shopping center. Alma Realty also owns and manages over 15,000 apartments of market and affordable housing properties in New York and New Jersey as well as more than five million square feet of commercial property. He is committed to investing and improving communities by providing safe residential and commercial developments.
In 1989, Valiotis, along with several other investors, formed Marathon National Bank. He served as chairman of the bank’s board of directors and as a member for ten years. Marathon was eventually acquired by Piraeus National Bank of Greece in 1999. In 2007, he formed Alma Bank, in which he serves as chairman of the advisory board. The bank started with $50 million in capital and in almost 12 years has grown to over $1.1 billion in total assets with 13 branch locations.
Valiotis established his construction company, Vordonia Construction Corporation (eventually becoming Vordonia Contracting and Supplies Corp. in 2002), in 1988, which served as the general contractor for the majority of his projects until 2002. He also formed Valco Building Materials and Supplies Corp. of Long Island City in 2006, a large retailer of building materials and appliances as a subsidiary of Alma operations.
Valiotis made news in late 2017, for converting the former Jewish Hospital in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood into 700 units of long-term affordable housing, the Real Estate Journal reported.
In 2019, it was reported in the RealDeal and Lohud that Alma Realty was planning to build a nine-story, 181-unit building called One Park Place in Peekskill, NY. The development was said to include a public park, more than 300 below-ground parking spaces and an outdoor terrace with dining space. The project has already secured the city’s approval and is expected to “draw a lot of new residents.”
As of May 2019, Center City Partners, Alma Realty’s subsidiary (Valiotis is the managing member), is the developer of Center City Mall in Paterson, NJ and is seeking to partner with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to advance a $100 million investment in the city. They hope to build an arena, hotel, and parking garage at the struggling downtown commercial complex – but first they must get the approval of the mayor.
Valiotis is a supporter of the St. Demetrios Cathedral and School in Astoria and is a major benefactor of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, School and Community Center in Whitestone (the church’s Efstathios and Stamatiki Valiotis Greek American School was named after him and his wife, Stamatiki Kousoulas). Valiotis never forgot his roots and hometown; he financed and built a T.E.I. (technical college) in his hometown of Sparta, which also bears his name. A firm believer in education, he supports various educational institutions.
In November of 2016, the National Herald reported that the Valiotises donated $10 million for a new St. Michael’s Home for the elderly on Long Island.
- GEORGE M. MARCUS – California
$1.5 BILLION (FORBES)
San Francisco State University (Economics); Married, 4 Children
Born George Mathew Moutsanas in 1941 on the island of Euboea in Greece during World War II, George Marcus, now 77, emigrated to the United States at the age of 4. His family settled in San Francisco’s blue-collar Potrero Hill neighborhood, where, he has said, his top priority was fitting in. It was in this neighborhood that Marcus eventually met his future wife, Judy. According to an interview with the Nob Hill Gazette, Marcus was friends with Judy’s younger brother – they knew each other since elementary school. However, it wasn’t until after Marcus came home from the military that his friend (and Judy’s brother) suggested that he should go on a date with his sister.
Marcus founded G.M. Marcus & Company, which evolved into Marcus & Millichap Company (MMC), with the help of his business partner, William A. Millichap four decades ago. MMC is one of the country’s premier providers of investment real estate brokerage services, and the parent company of a diversified group of real estate, service, investment and development firms. According to Forbes, MMC closed nearly 9,000 transactions valued at $42.3 billion in 2016.
MMC’s featured company, Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, has established itself as a leading real estate firm with more than 1,200 brokers in markets throughout the United States. With dozens of offices across the United States and Canada, the firm concentrates on investment brokerage, and provides financing and research services to both buyers and sellers. Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services went public with 6 million shares in October 2013, generating net proceeds to the company of about $34.6 million. In 2015, due to the company’s success, Marcus’ net worth catapulted him from millionaire to billionaire.
Marcus is also chairman of Essex Property Trust, a publicly held, multi-family real estate investment trust (REIT). Located in Palo Alto, CA and traded on the New York Stock Exchange, Essex is a fully integrated REIT that acquires, develops and redevelops apartment communities in select west coast communities. The company, according to Forbes, currently owns more than 60,000 apartments along the West Coast (with sales of $1.4 billion). Marcus is also one of the original founders of Plaza Commerce Bank and Greater Bay Bancorp. He served on Greater Bay’s board of directors until it was sold to Wells-Fargo in 2007 for $1.5 billion.
Marcus completed his undergraduate studies in Economics at San Francisco State University in just two and a half years, and founded the university’s first economics club. He also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the California State University System in 1981-89, and has helped select several SFSU presidents. He was named SFSU Alumnus of the year in 1989 and one of its 11 Distinguished Centennial Alumni in 1999. He and his wife, Judy (also an SFSU alum), helped create SFSU’s International Center for the Arts with a $3 million gift. Marcus also helped develop SFSU’s Greek Studies program, and chairs its Modern Greek Studies Foundation, which supports the Nikos Kazantzakis Chair for Modern Greek Studies.
Marcus supports many organizations of the Greek- American community. In 2008, he co-founded and is the current Chairman Emeritus of the National Hellenic Society, which brings together distinguished Greek-Americans on a national level to preserve their heritage. His considerable commitments to the Greek Orthodox Church and the Community include memberships on the boards of directors of the Modern Greek Studies Foundation, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco, International Orthodox Christian Charities, the Elios Society of Northern California, Leadership 100, and many others. He is also involved with The Hellenic Initiative, the Washington Oxi Day Foundation, and the Taube Foundation.
Along with another Greek-American couple, George and Judy Marcus opened the successful Evvia restaurant in Palo Alto in 1995, and its sister restaurant Kokkari in San Francisco in 1999. Known for both its rustic and elegant cuisine and environment, Kokkari enjoys its standing as the premier Greek restaurant and a favorite of the local Democratic establishment.
Marcus is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owners/Presidents Management Program and the Georgetown University Leadership Program. Among Marcus’ professional memberships are the Board of Regents of the University of California, the Real Estate Round-table and the Policy Advisory Board of the University of California in Berkeley’s Center for Real Estate & Urban Economics.
In February 2017, The National Herald reported that Marcus donated $1 million to the Hellenic College and Holy Cross Theological School (HCHC) in Massachusetts. Last year, the Marcus family gave San Francisco State University a $25 million gift to benefit the school’s liberal arts program (the largest grant ever given to that institution).
- JAMES S. CHANOS – New York
$1.5 BILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Yale University (Economics & Political Science); 4 children
James S. Chanos, 61, is informally known as “Wall Street’s most notable bear.” Founder and President of Kynikos Associates, Chanos heads the world’s biggest short-selling hedge fund. He is renowned for predicting – and profiting from – the 2001 Enron Corporation scandal. His speculations catapulted him into billionaire status just a few years ago, where he has remained.
Chanos is a second generation Greek-American who grew up in Milwaukee, WI. His father owned a chain of dry cleaning stores in Milwaukee and his mother worked as an office manager at a steel company. He founded Kynikos Associates (in Greek, “kynikos” means cynic) in 1985 after a Wall Street career as a financial analyst with Paine Webber, Gilford Securities, and Deutsche Bank. Jim Levitas, his former boss, partnered with Chanos to launch Kynikos Associates with $16 million. A year later, Levitas, unable to endure the stress of short selling, left the company. Kynikos has offices in New York and London.
Chanos has a long and distinguished history of making shrewd predictions, having identified several financial meltdowns such as Boston Chicken, Conesco, and Tyco International. In 2000, he started investigating Enron. One year later, predicting the company’s financial problems, he became Enron’s short seller. By the time the Enron scandal was public, Kynikos Associates profited greatly. Financial magazine Barron’s mentioned his early prediction of Enron’s fall as “the market call of the decade, if not the past fifty years.” Later on, Chanos successfully predicted Sotheby’s stock drop – it plummeted in November 2007 from $57 to $10. He even foresaw the global financial meltdown of 2008. In April 2007 at a finance ministers’ conference in Washington, DC, he warned that American banks and brokerage firms were highly vulnerable to a real estate crash because of the vast amounts of dubious mortgages they held. More recently, Chanos has taken swipes at the electric car maker, Tesla (and Elon Musk), claiming that the company’s equity is “worthless.”
In March, 2006, Chanos created the Coalition of Private Investment Companies, an organization aiming at promoting hedge funds in Washington. Recently, the lobbying group has shifted its attention to Europe.
He appears regularly in the American media giving financial advice and predictions. He has long been considered a “media operator” with a strong relationship with journalists that respect and promote his ideas. He continues to regularly predict that China’s economy will crash, partly due to excessive real estate development.
Chanos is a graduate of Yale University, where he studied economics and political science. Organizations he supports include the Washington OXI Day Foundation, the George and Olga Tsunis Center for Hellenic Studies at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, NY, and Faith: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism.
Chanos is currently a lecturer in finance and a Becton Fellow at the Yale School of Management, where he teaches a class on the history of financial fraud. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Museum, the New York Historical Society and the National WWII Museum. He was divorced in 2006 and lives in New York City with his four children.
- DR. P. ROY VAGELOS – New Jersey
1.4 BILLION (TNHE)
University of Pennsylvania (Chemistry); Married, 4 children
Dr. Pindaros Roy Vagelos, now 89 years old, was born in Rahway, NJ in 1929 – just before the infamous stock market crash. In 1943, his parents, Herodotus and Marianthi Vagelos bought a restaurant (then known as Estelle’s Luncheonette), where Vagelos and his two sisters worked during their adolescence. According to the Columbia University Magazine, the family ate dinner there six nights a week. Vagelos, described as a “violin-playing, sports-loving math whiz at Rahway High” worked behind the counter every day after school as a soda jerk, a dishwasher, and as a potato peeler.
Vagelos eventually earned a medical degree over half a century ago. Before assuming broader responsibilities of business leadership, Vagelos had won scientific recognition as an authority on lipids and enzymes, and as a research leader. This followed a decision early in his career to put his principal energies into research, rather than the practice of medicine. Vagelos, whose parents were born in Asia Minor and emigrated to the United States in the 1920s, earned his bachelor’s degree with honors in 1950 from the University of Pennsylvania. He earned a medical degree from Columbia University in 1954. After an internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston (1954-56), he joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD. At NIH from 1956 to 1966, he served in the National Heart Institute, holding positions in cellular physiology and biochemistry – first as senior surgeon, then as head of Comparative Biochemistry. In 1966, Vagelos joined the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine as chairman of its Biological Chemistry Department where he founded the division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences.
Since then, he has had a long and distinguished career in healthcare, and particularly in pharmaceuticals. He served as Chairman and CEO of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. from 1985 to 1994. He joined the worldwide health products firm in 1975 as senior vice president of research, and became president of its research division in 1976. Starting in 1982, he served as senior vice president of strategic planning. He continued to hold both positions until 1984, when he was elected executive vice president.
The author of several books, including an autobiography, Medicine, Science and Merck, and more than 100 scientific papers, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences in 1972, and to the American Philosophical Society in 1993. He has received honorary degrees from 14 institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton and Washington Universities.
After retiring from Merck (due to the company rule that CEOs retire at age 65), Vagelos was chairman of the University of Pennsylvania’s board of trustees from 1994 to 1999, having served as a trustee since 1988. He has funded three of the university’s most elite undergraduate programs: the Vagelos Scholars Program in Molecular Life Sciences, the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management, and the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research. He was also president and CEO of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens from 1999 to 2001. He served on the National Research Council Committee on Science & Technology for Countering Terrorism in 2002 and on the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine Committee that published “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” in 2005.
Merck was very respected under his leadership, having been voted “America’s Most Admired Corporation” in the annual Fortune magazine poll for seven consecutive years. During Vagelos’ tenure there, Merck developed the cholesterol-lowering statins, MEVACOR and ZOCOR.
Vagelos is sometimes called the father of ‘pharmacophilanthropy’ for his decision that Merck contribute the drug MECTIZAN free to cure millions of Africans of river blindness. His charity work at the University of Pennsylvania includes sponsoring scholarship/study programs as well as the Roy and Diana Vagelos Laboratories. The Diana Student Center, named after Mrs. Vagelos at her alma mater, Barnard College, opened in 2010.
Since 1995, Vagelos has been chairman of biotech company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which employs 7,400 people and had sales of $6.7 billion in 2019 according to Forbes. (Regeneron President and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. George Yancopoulos is number 20 on this list.)
Vagelos is also the founding chairman of Columbia University Medical Center’s board of advisors, and chaired the center’s capital campaign, which passed its target of $1 billion. In 2010 the Vagelos couple contributed the lead gift to Columbia University Medical Center for a new medical and graduate education building. Seven years later, it was announced that the Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons would be renamed the Columbia University Roy and Diana Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in recognition of a $250 million gift given by Vagelos to the college. A substantial part of the donation ($150 million) would be used to endow a fund that will help eliminate student loans for medical students who qualify for financial aid. Altogether, the Vageloses have been responsible for about $450 million in philanthropy to Columbia’s medical school alone.
Vagelos is currently on the boards of the National Math and Science Initiative and The Nature Conservancy.
Between 2005 and 2013, the couple contributed $31.6 million to the University of Pennsylvania for studies in energy research and the life sciences. In April of 2019, the couple added to that sum by contributing an additional $50 million to Penn in order to build a center to connect physical scientists and engineers who are focused on energy-related solutions. It is the largest gift in the history of the School of Arts and Sciences. As The National Herald reported in May 2016, the Vageloses’ philosophy is simple: “giving back.”
Vagelos has been married to the former Diana Touliatos for almost 65 years. They live in New Jersey and have four children and several grandchildren.
- JAMIE DIMON – New York
$1.4 BILLION (Forbes)
Tufts University (Psychology & Economics); Married, 3 children
Jamie Dimon, 63, is chairman and CEO of America’s largest bank JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), and considered one of the nation’s most powerful people.
Dimon was born in New York City. His grandfather, a Greek immigrant from Smyrna, was a broker and passed his knowledge of the business onto his son, Dimon’s father. Dimon’s father and grandfather worked together for 19 years and Jamie joined them during the summers in their New York office. In a 2016 interview with CNBC, Dimon said that he and his family were very ‘tight’ – so when both of his parents died within a few hours of each other in that same year, it was very tough on him.
As a boy, Dimon attended the Browning School, a prestigious all-boys prep school on New York’s Upper East Side. He later majored in psychology and economics at Tufts University, and earned his MBA from Harvard University Business School. Upon graduating in 1982, Sanford Weill convinced him to turn down offers from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and instead to join him as an assistant at American Express. Through a series of unprecedented mergers and acquisitions that ensued, they formed Citigroup, then the largest financial services conglomerate in the world. Weill was the one who made the deals, but Dimon was the whiz kid who made the numbers work. Dimon left Citigroup in November 1998 due to an internal conflict with Weill.
Listed at a $1.1 billion net worth in 2015, Forbes knocked him out of the “billionaire’s club” early in 2016, estimating his net worth had fallen to just under $900 million due to a portfolio wane, and listed him at $700 million later in the year. But that number was back up into the billion range only a few years later with Dimon being characterized as one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Wall Street boom.
For the 2013 fiscal year Dimon received a 74% pay raise to $20 million, which has continued to increase since (his current salary is $31 million). According to Forbes’ 2019 list of the world’s largest companies, JPMorgan is the largest and most powerful public company in the country, and second largest company in the world behind one Chinese bank (ICBC). Its market value was estimated at nearly $370 billion.
JPMorgan Chase was at the center of several high-profile investigations in 2013, paying $20 billion to settle legal claims, and reported a much-publicized $6 billion loss in 2012. Despite this, Dimon has managed to keep JPMorgan well ahead of the curve since taking the helm in 2006. Even when all the country’s major banks – e.g., Bank of America and Citigroup – were barely managing to stay afloat, the $2 trillion-in-assets bank thrived recently, earning Dimon the respect of his peers. He has been on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people three times since 2006.
In July 2014, Dimon said he had been diagnosed with throat cancer. The following December, he announced to his staff that he had concluded treatment and that after testing, his doctors found no evidence of cancer in his body, although he will continue to be monitored. Even though he continued to work during his treatment, he had cut back on his schedule. By 2016, it appeared the cancer was in remission and he had a good long-term prognosis.
More recently, Forbes reported that Dimon had told Donald Trump’s presidential transition team that he did not want to be considered for Secretary of the Treasury, though it is unclear if that was because if he accepted the position he would have to divest his JPMorgan Chase holdings.
Dimon is on the Board of Directors of Harvard Business School. He is also on the Board of Trustees of New York University School of Medicine.
In April of 2019, Dimon tapped two senior women insiders as his possible successors at JPM: Marianne Lake and Jennifer Piepszak – even though he intends to run the largest U.S. bank for at least another five years (according to Fox Business).
- TED J. LEONSIS – Maryland
$1.1 BILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
INTERNET, VENTURE CAPITAL, PROFESSIONAL SPORTS
Georgetown University (American Studies); Married, 2 children
Theodore J. Leonsis, 62, has been the toast of our nation’s capital’s sports world and isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon. He is the founder, chairman, CEO and majority owner of Monumental Sports and Entertainment (formed in 2010), which owns and operates the professional sports teams Washington Capitals (National Hockey League – the team won the 2018 Stanley Cup in a 4-3 game 5 victory over the Las Vegas Knights), Washington Wizards (National Basketball Association), Washington Mystics (Women’s National Basketball League), and the Verizon Center in downtown Washington, D.C. The partnership also operates Kettler Capitals Iceplex (the Washington Capitals’ training facility and front office headquarters) and the George Mason University Patriot Center. He also served as the mayor of Orchid, Florida in the early 1990s.
After surviving an airplane crash landing in 1983, he resolved to “rethink [his] priorities and how [he] planned to lead [his] life going forward.” He drafted a list of 101 goals to accomplish. To date he has completed 74 of the tasks, including owning a sports franchise, playing one-on-one basketball with Michael Jordan, and starting a family charity foundation. (See the complete list at tedstake.com.) In 2010, he published The Business of Happiness: 6 Secrets to Extraordinary Success in Life and Work.
Few people have roots as deep in the computer industry, or as much knowledge and experience of its history and potential. A pioneer of the Internet and new media, Leonsis participated in launches of the Apple MacIntosh, the IBM PC and Wang office automation systems. He has led four businesses that have grown at record rates: he built Wang WP (the first word processor) from a $200 million to a $1 billion company with the largest female management team in the country. He was founder and CEO of Redgate Communications Corporation, considered the first new media marketing company. He built AOL into the first $1 billion interactive services company and the world’s biggest media company, helping to increase its membership from fewer than 800,000 to more than 8 million in a four-year span (1994-97).
The grandson of Greek immigrants, Leonsis was born to a family of modest means in Brooklyn, and spent his early years there. His family later moved back to his mother’s hometown of Lowell, MA where Leonsis, now a teenager, worked mowing lawns in order to make some money. According to an interview with N-Magazine, Leonsis said that when his guidance counselor evaluated his skillset, she concluded that he was destined to work in a grocery store. She was very wrong. Leonsis graduated from Lowell High School in 1973 and attended Georgetown University with the financial help of a businessman named Jim Shannon for whom Leonsis had worked as a lawn mower. After graduating in 1977 (the first in his family to obtain a university education), he moved back to his parents’ home in Lowell and began working for Wang Laboratories. In 1980, Leonsis started his own company, which grew quickly. He sold it to International Thompson for $60 million in 1981. He then started Redgate, which he sold to AOL in 1993, commencing his relationship with the once-pervasive online juggernaut. He completed his tenure as AOL’s president and vice chairman before stepping down in 2006.
In 2015 he became Board Chairman of the District of Columbia College Access Program (DC CAP), a private non-profit organization that encourages and enables public high school students to enroll in and graduate from college.
Leonsis is a co-founder and partner at Revolution Growth Fund, chairman of the Groupon board of directors, and founder/chairman of SnagFilms, a website that allows online audiences to find, watch and share documentary films. He has produced award-winning documentaries including “Nanking,” which told the story of the 1937 invasion of Nanking, China by the Japanese army. It premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and won a Peabody Award and an Emmy Award in 2009.
Leonsis and his wife, Lynn, live in Potomac, MD in a 20,000 square foot home that Franklin Roosevelt, and later, Joe Kennedy (the father of President John F. Kennedy), used to rent over the summer. They have a son, Zachary, and a daughter, Elle.
- KOSTA & TOM KARTSOTIS
$1 BILLION (TNHE)
WATCHES, LEATHER ACCESSORIES
Kosta, 66, and Tom Kartsotis, 59, are founders of the Fossil Group, Inc., whose brand is widely associated with watches, jewelry, and other accessories, as well as clothing.
Kosta serves as chairman and CEO of Fossil. Meanwhile, Tom, who founded the company, still owns a small stake, but in 2003 also founded Bedrock Manufacturing (named after the Flintstones hometown), a Texas-based private equity and brand management firm, which takes up most of his time. Under this firm, Tom launched Shinola, a high-end watch brand, famous for being manufactured in Detroit.
Tom dropped out of Texas A&M and traveled to Asia with a plan to import cheap toys – but ultimately decided on Asian-made, moderately priced, watches. With $200,000 that he had earned from scalping tickets, Tom opened an importer of watches from Hong Kong – which ultimately morphed into the brand called Fossil. Tom and Fossil head designer Lynne Stafford (whom he later married) put their own spin on the watches and to this day, the company does billions in sales annually.
Based in Richardson, Texas, Fossil was founded in 1984 and has almost 11,000 employees and sells its products in 120 countries around the world. The company designs and manufactures accessories and its brands include Fossil, Relic, Abacus, Michele Watch, and Zodiac. Fossil also branched into the sale of leather goods and other accessories in the 1990s. The company works closely with other brands such as Burberry, DKNY, Emporio Armani, Columbia Sportswear, Diesel, Michael Kors, Kate Spade and Adidas. Fossil also produces collectibles, some of which are based on popular films or pop culture characters.
In 2011, Tom Kartsotis’ Bedrock and Swiss movement maker Ronda embarked on a joint venture to create Shinola, a Detroit-made watch collection. As the website says, the company operates an “in-house watch and leather factory on the fifth floor of the Argonaut Building, where a team of artisans hand-assembles luxury timepieces and crafts premium leather straps.” In 2019, Marc Jacobs announced a partnership with the makers of Shinola to launch a new line of watches. The company also manufactures bicycles and just a few months ago opened up its first hotel, Shinola Hotel. The 129-room, eight-story boutique hotel is part of a multimillion-dollar development project by Shinola and Bedrock, which has acquired and developed more than 100 properties in Detroit since 2011 – as reported by The New York Times and The Star Tribune. The company has hired hundreds of people in Detroit and across the country (over 600).
Priding himself a creator of American jobs, Tom was featured in Business of Fashion in 2016 for doing just that. Among the fans of Shinola watches, are former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. President Obama in 2016 also presented a special Shinola watch, engraved with the Presidential seal on the back and with a case also featuring the seal, to then-UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the Washington Post reported.
- GEORGE D. BEHRAKIS – Massachusetts
$930 MILLION (Affluence IQ)
Northeastern University; Married, 4 children
George D. Behrakis, 85, Founder and Chairman of Mythos, LLC, a private investment company based in Lexington, MA, also serves on the board of the Lexington-based venture capital firm Gainesborough Investments, and is a renowned philanthropist.
Born on New Year’s Day in 1934, the son of Greek immigrants, Behrakis was born and raised in Lowell, MA. His wife Margo and he have established chairs and scholarships at various universities and medical centers.
Of all his philanthropic endeavors, the most dear to Behrakis is the anti-smoking campaign (Smoke Free Greece) in Greece he helped to fund. Almost a decade ago, he was shocked to see two women passing out free cigarettes to 11- and 12-year-old girls in front of a school in the wealthy Athenian suburb Kifisia. Behrakis gave a $1.8 million grant in 2010 to a Harvard University School of Public Health to study smoking in Greece. His goal was to reduce smoking among Greece’s youth by 35 percent and to date, he has come very close, cutting smoking by approximately 32 percent. Since then he has donated more funds to publish a self-help guide to quitting, produce school programs, and further study at the academy of Athens on the effects of smoking.
A 1957 graduate of Northeastern University in Boston, Behrakis also studied at Boston University, and is a recognized leader in the pharmaceutical industry. He became best known, perhaps, for his talent in solubilizing previously insoluble chemicals and making them stable for medical use. With the help of Behrakis, Northeastern University and the Medical Center in Boston opened the Behrakis Health Sciences Center (which houses the Northeastern Schools of Health Professions Nursing and Pharmacy) and created the Center for Drug Discovery in 2003.
After completing his military service, Behrakis began his career in 1959 at McNeil Laboratories (a division of Johnson & Johnson) where he and his team created Tylenol (eventually becoming a household name). In 1968, he founded Dooner Laboratories, which developed and manufactured a leading asthma medication, Slophyllin and Slobid. He sold the company to Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (now Aventis) and purchased ophthalmic firm Muro Pharmaceuticals in 1978. Behrakis sold his eye care products to Bausch and Lomb and searched for new products, including pharmaceuticals for asthma and allergies. Behrakis sold the firm to Asta-Medica AG, a division of German conglomerate Degussa, retiring as president and CEO in 1998.
A recipient of many awards for his contributions to business, science, the arts, and the Greek Orthodox Church, he sits on the board of trustees of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and is vice chairman emeritus of Northeastern University. He has served on many boards of both public and private companies. He is on the advisory board of the Harvard School of Public Health.
Probably no institution has received as much from Behrakis as the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. His relationship with the museum dates back to his high school days, when his uncle, John Zaroulis, took him to see the galleries. Later, Behrakis would host parties at the Museum. He became a member in 1989, a patron in 1996, and an overseer in 1998. Then, one day in 2001, Behrakis showed up for lunch with MFA Director Malcolm Rogers and handed him a sealed envelope. Inside was a check for $2 million to endow Christine Kondoleon’s position as curator of Greek and Roman Art. He has given $25 million to the museum since 2006 and the museum now has the new George D. and Margo Behrakis Wing, which houses Greek, Roman and Egyptian galleries.
In 2011, the 50+year member of AHEPA was honored with the organization’s Archbishop Iakovos Humanitarian Award in Orange, CT. In October 2014, he was honored by The Hellenic Initiative, a non-profit institution focused on supporting Greece through crisis relief, entrepreneurship support and economic development.
Behrakis, a former president of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Lowell, is a member of the Archdiocesan Council’s Executive Committee and an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He is a chairman emeritus of Leadership 100. He and Margo have been married for over 50 years and have four children and several grandchildren.
In December 2015, Behrakis was given an honorary doctorate from the Medical Faculty of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens for his contributions to science, pharmaceuticals, and medicine, and for his extensive humanitarian endeavors.
Extremely moved by the experience, he told TNH in February, 2016 that “you can receive a lot of honors, but when you receive an honor from your own, your family, being first-generation Greek, to receive an honor from Greece is one of the high points of my life.”
- MARCUS A. LEMONIS – Illinois
$900 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Marquette University (Political Science); Married
New to our list this year, Marcus Anthony Lemonis, 45, is a Greek-American businessman, investor, politician, and television personality.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon during a violent civil war, he was adopted by a Greek couple living in Florida, Leo and Sophia Lemonis, from a Beirut orphanage at nine months old. He grew up learning about the operations of the automotive industries as his grandfather owned two of the largest Chevrolet dealerships in the country (in Tampa and Miami). At the age of 12, he started a lawn-mowing business to raise funds to open a candy business. During his time at Marquette University, he served as the president of the Student Athletic Committee and organized clothing drives for the homeless in Milwaukee. At the young age of 22, he ran for the Florida House of Representatives and was endorsed by the Miami Herald, but ultimately lost the campaign.
Lemonis eventually took a job at AutoNation, the country’s largest car dealer, and worked his way up to regional manager. Then he took some advice from a family friend, Lee Iacocca (the former head of Chrysler Corporation), who told him the path to long-term success lay in finding an industry that was ripe for transformation. Iacocca advised him to get into the camping and RV business, which put him on the path to eventual chairmanship at America’s #1 source for RVs, camping accessories, RV maintenance and repair, Camping World and Good Sam. His new company, FreedomRoads, began buying up independents and, in less than three years, has become the country’s largest RV dealer, selling 18 brands and racking up more than $1.5 billion in its third year.
The entrepreneur is the current CEO of companies like Camping World Holdings, Inc. (which acquired FreedomRoads – an American corporation specializing in selling recreational vehicles, motor parts and motor services), Good Sam Enterprises (a subscription-based products and membership club targeted towards recreational vehicle and other outdoor enthusiasts), and Gander Mountain Company, Inc. (a retail network of stores for hunting, fishing and camping). Apart from these companies, he is the presenter of the American reality television show, The Profit which focuses on saving small businesses across the country.
In 2005, he was included in Crain’s Chicago Business’ list of 40 Under 40. Three years later, he was named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year.
- DR. GEORGE YANCOPOULOS – New York
$886 MILLION (Forbes)
Columbia University; 4 children
Dr. George Yancopoulos, 60, joined Regeneron Laboratories in 1989 as its Founding Scientist and is currently President and Chief Scientific Officer.
Dr. Yancopoulos earned MD and PhD degrees from Columbia University, and was the eleventh-most cited scientist in the world in the 1990s.
He was selected in 2004 as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Along with key members of his team, he is a principal inventor and developer of Regeneron’s four FDA-approved drugs – including Praluent (alirocumab) Injection, Eylea (aflibercept) Injection, and Arcalyst (rilonacept) Injection – as well as of its foundation technologies including the Trap technology, VelociGene, and VelocImmune.
Encouraged by his father, a first-generation Greek immigrant who complained how little the university life paid, Yancopoulos in 1988 jumped ship to a small Tarrytown, NY Biotech firm called Regeneron and helped its worth rocket 2,240 percent in the past five years.
His career, featured in Forbes, showed how his scientific ability and humility combined to help him develop drugs for patients with illnesses from asthma to cancer and made the company a force to be reckoned with in its field.
“We were a tiny company, but we had the most powerful technology,” he says. “And sometimes that’s what counts,” he told the magazine.
Sanofi, Regeneron’s partner on most of its drugs, has re-upped on the value of the technologies Yancopoulos has created, recently announcing it would pay $640 million to kick off a new partnership in which Regeneron will invent cancer drugs that harness the immune system.
“George sees and feels biology in ways very few scientists really can,” said Elias Zerhouni, the President of Global R&D at Sanofi. “It is this creative intuition combined with scientific rigor that makes him special in my view.”
Yancopoulos defers to his team of scientists and the man who hired him, fellow billionaire Leonard Schleifer, who said his find has “immense talent and genius.”
Yancopoulos’ fourth drug, Praluent (for lowering cholesterol in people already maxed-out on statins), was approved in July 2016.
He’s also working on a big project to sequence patients’ DNA and Deutsche Bank estimates that his experimental drug for allergic conditions could generate $10 billion in annual sales by 2025.
Forbes reported in 2015 that “he has aimed to be a different kind of R&D chief, and a bit of a throwback to his role model – and Regeneron’s chairman – Roy Vagelos, whose run as R&D head and then chief executive of Merck is legendary.”
In the same interview, Forbes reported: “Yancopoulos works at his science like a scientist, not a man interested in the money it brings.” He is deeply involved in Regeneron’s drug discovery and is a principal inventor on all the technology patents that underlie the invention of all of Regeneron’s drugs. Despite this, “[i]t hasn’t gone to his head. . . [He] does his kids’ laundry and dresses in the worn Oxfords and khakis of an academic scientist,” Forbes wrote. He is uncomfortable discussing his wealth but hopes that the very thought of it, generated by life-saving drugs, might serve “as an inspiration to kids who (might) otherwise become hedge fund managers.”
- JOHN P. CALAMOS, SR. – Illinois
$816 MILLION (TNHE)
GLOBAL ASSET MANAGEMENT
Illinois Institute of Technology (Economics); Married, 2 children
John P. Calamos, Sr., 79, is founder and chairman of Calamos Investments, a global asset management firm.
The son of Greek immigrants, he grew up above his family’s grocery store on Chicago’s west side and attended Chicago public schools. He developed his passion for the stock market as a teenager and began his investment career when his parents entrusted him with the family’s $5,000 nest egg. With this responsibility, Calamos got a taste for the markets but ended up attending the Illinois Institute of Technology on an ROTC scholarship to pursue another passion – architecture. Finding that he had “very little design talent,” Calamos shifted his focus to economics, finance, and philosophy. Interestingly, Calamos has said that economics is more about philosophy than it is about math; “In college I learned that economics is not a math problem. It is economic philosophy: how are we organized as a society? Reading many philosophers from Plato to Socrates and others, I felt it taught me a great deal about life and gave me a perspective of history going back thousands of years.”
After graduating from college (the first in his family to achieve this great feat), Calamos spent 15 years in the service with the United States Air Force – 5 of which were in active duty flying the B-52 bomber, and during the Vietnam War as a forward air controller. He later spent about a decade in the USAF Reserves flying the A-37 jet fighter and earned the rank of major.
Throughout his Air Force years, Calamos continued to study books on finance and investing strategies. In 1977, he flexed his confidence and started his own company, taking out a $60,000 second mortgage on his house to help bankroll the endeavor. One of his early employees was his older brother, Angelo, who retired from the company in 2004. Calamos also ended up taking the company public in 2004 under the NASDAQ ticker CLMS.
In 2016, Calamos stepped down as CEO (and was replaced by another fellow Greek and Chicagoan – John Koudounis) and now serves as the Chairman and Global CIO of the company. The company traces its roots to the 1970s when Calamos used convertible securities, which were little known at the time, to help his clients grow and preserve their wealth.
Today, the firm, headquartered in Chicago with additional offices in London, New York, San Francisco and Miami, serves clients worldwide, including major corporations, pension funds, endowments, foundations and individuals. The firm also provides wealth management services to high net worth individuals and families. The company offers its investment capabilities through separately managed portfolios, mutual funds, closed-end funds, private funds and UCITS funds. A recognized expert in risk-managed investing, Calamos has written two books (Investing in Convertible Securities: Your Complete Guide to the Risks and Rewards and Convertible Securities: the Latest Instruments, Portfolio strategies, and Valuation Analysis) and contributes to industry publications. He is interviewed regularly by CNBC, Bloomberg TV, and Fox Business Channel.
The factors to which Calamos attributes his success include his Greek heritage, a strong work ethic, and entrepreneurial spirit. Calamos also credits his military service as a key factor in his success, as it solidified his view of the importance of discipline, risk assessment, and teamwork.
His entrepreneurial activities extend beyond the financial services sector, with a private real estate arm, Calamos Real Estate LLC.
In 2018, the Chicago Bulls and Calamos Investments announced a multi-year partnership that made the Chicago-based company the first company to display its logo on the Bulls court apron in the United Center arena.
Calamos established the John P. Calamos Foundation, which supports a number of scholarship initiatives in the Greek community. He and his wife also endowed Illinois Institute of Technology’s first endowed chair in philosophy. Since 2012, he has also served as chairman of the board of directors of Chicago’s National Hellenic Museum, of which he is a major benefactor. He says of the museum: “We have built a national institution to honor our parents and grandparents, to honor our rich Hellenic history.” In addition, he and his wife were recognized as 2014 Distinguished Citizens by the Three Fires Council, Boy Scouts of America. Holy Cross School of Theology and Hellenic College and also honored Calamos in 2018.
Calamos is married and has two children. He and his wife, Mae, are active philanthropists. He is a trustee of the Illinois Institute of Technology and of Benedictine University.
- JOHN PAYIAVLAS – Ohio
$739 MILLION (TNHE)
FOOD SERVICE INDUSTRY
Married, 2 children
John Payiavlas, 87, is chairman of AVI Foodsystems, the country’s largest independent, family-owned and operated contract food service company, providing vending, institutional dining, and coffee service operations.
A son of Greek immigrants from Ohio and roots from the island of Chios, Payiavlas grew up in a working-class family with hopes of realizing the American dream. In 1951, Payiavlas was drafted into the United States Army and promptly left for basic training in Fort Riley, Kansas. In 1952, he was deployed to join the UN forces supporting South Korea and later transferred to the Greek Expeditionary Force Battalion. He was one of four Greek-Americans to serve in this Battalion and was awarded the Commander’s Silver Cross of Valour, the highest military decoration of the Greek state. Payiavlas completed his service in 1953 and was honorably discharged as Sergeant First Class.
Payiavlas’ successful journey in food service began when he and two friends opened and operated a local diner, the Village Café, in their small hometown of Warren, Ohio. It was there that a frequent customer presented John an opportunity to purchase a very small vending company known as Automatic Vendors. His decision to seize the opportunity later resulted in him running a multi-million dollar corporation.
He founded AVI in 1960, and from the beginning, he was determined to make his business a success. Insisting on absolutely no shortcuts, he differentiated himself from the competition by providing homemade “from scratch” fresh foods for the refrigerated vending machines he serviced. The company currently serves millions of consumers daily in some of the most prestigious institutions in America, including industrial centers, corporate headquarters complexes, universities, school systems, and healthcare facilities throughout the country. Their clients include Ohio State University, FedEx, DirecTV, BMV of North America, General Electric, Wellesley College, Progressive Insurance, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Verizon, and Xerox. Intensely private, Payiavlas runs the company as chairman of the board, while his son Anthony is president and CEO, and his daughter Patrice (Patsy) Kouvas serves as vice chairman.
Family values, a strong work ethic, and dedication to customer needs continue to permeate through thousands of team members in every facet of the business. As Chairman, Payiavlas has been actively involved while his children lead the organization with the same enthusiasm, commitment, and vision. Payiavlas and his wife, Mary, were honored in 2006 with the Cleveland Clinic’s Distinguished Fellow Award. They have supported several of the clinic’s initiatives, including the Heart and Vascular Institute, Taussig Cancer Center, Glickman Urological Institute, and Department of Nutrition Therapy. In April, 2017, the Payiavlas family donated $500,000 to Youngstown (OH) State University for their new sports media center.
In 2000, Payiavlas was inducted into the Business Hall of Fame of Northeast Ohio’s Inside Business Magazine (ibmag.com). In October, 2016, at the Oxi Day Foundation in Washington, DC, Payiavlas was honored with the Service Award of the Jaharis Family Foundation (also featured in this edition).He is a Lifetime Chairman of the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Endowment Fund, an Archon Depoutatos of the Ecumenical Patriarchate – the highest honor in all Christendom for a lay person, dating back to the 4th century, as well as a member of AHEPA and other community and business organizations.
- GEORGE SAKELLARIS – Massachusetts
$719 MILLION (MassLive)
University of Maine-Orono; Married, 2 children
George Sakellaris, 72, is Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO of Ameresco, which is one of the largest energy solutions companies in North America. The Framingham, MA company specializes in providing comprehensive services, energy efficiency, infrastructure upgrades, asset sustainability, renewable energy, and energy information management solutions.
Sakellaris was born in Laconia, Greece. After graduating from high school there, he arrived in Bangor, ME, as a college exchange student in 1965 to go to college. He spoke little English when he first enrolled at the University of Maine-Orono, but worked his way through his studies and earned a BSEE degree, driven by a love of mathematics and the sciences. His parents arrived in the United States in 1969 and the family settled in Boston.
He then worked at a local utility, New England Electrical Systems (NEES), earning an MBA. and MSEE from Northeastern University along the way. Then, Sakellaris explains, “in 1979, while working for New England Electric, NEES Management wanted to establish a company to promote energy efficiency to avoid the need to build new generation plants. They asked me to lead that initiative and I welcomed the challenge.”
The subsidiary he launched was called NEES Energy. Then in 1990, Sakellaris purchased NEES Energy and it became the energy conservation company he re-named NORESCO. In 1997, he sold that industry-leading independent energy services company to Equitable Resources (EQT), a Fortune 500 company. Sakellaris continued to lead NORESCO and was appointed as a Senior Vice President of Equitable Resources. In January 2000, he left EQT and three months later founded Ameresco.
Sakellaris took Ameresco public 10 years later. Today it has dozens of offices throughout North America and Europe and over a thousand employees providing strong local operations. “Green. Clean. Sustainable” is the motto of the company that increases energy efficiency for federal, state and local governments, healthcare and educational institutions, housing authorities, and commercial and industrial customers.
In October 2014, Ameresco was chosen to construct a $25.4 million solar project at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC). Minnesota’s largest solar generation site to date, the airport houses a 3-MW solar installation on the top deck of two Terminal 1 parking structures.
About sustainability, Sakellaris says: “We have a sharp focus on our customers’ needs for comprehensive energy efficiency services and budget-neutral solutions, particularly in today’s environment of aging infrastructure and budgetary constraints. As an entrepreneurial, technology-agnostic company, Ameresco is in the best position to offer our customers the optimum solutions to suit their requirements.” He continued, “Being in the service business ‘you are as good as your people.’ We always strive to hire and retain the best in our field.”
Sakellaris is a Distinguished Member Inductee of the Frances Crowe Society at the University of Maine, which gave him the Edward T. Bryand Distinguished Engineer Award in 2007. In May 2012, the University of Maine granted him an Honorary Doctorate for his lifetime of achievements, recognizing his dedication and exemplary leadership in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy. His awards include winning an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year 2011 New England award, and Business Leader of the Year 2012 for Large Business by the Worcester Business Journal. In 2009, he received a Gabby Award (named loosely from the acronym “Greek America’s Best and Brightest”) from the Greek America Foundation. The Web TV station NewGreekTV named him “Greek of the Week” in August 2014.
He supports numerous educational institutions, including Northeastern University, Holy Cross/Hellenic College, and the University of Maine. At UMass Lowell, he established an endowment in memory of his mentor, the late Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas. In addition, he was a founding member of Faith: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism. He is an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and a major benefactor at his local church, St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church in Braintree, MA.
An avid sailor, Sakellaris has won the RORC Carribbean twice – once in 2014 and then again in 2016. He has also won the sailing competition “Les Voiles de St. Barth” three times consecutively – in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
- DEMOULAS FAMILY – Massachusetts
$694 MILLION (The Boston Globe)
The Demoulas family, one of America’s richest families, is difficult to gauge, both in terms of net worth and current status of control of their lucrative Market Basket Supermarket chain which celebrated its centennial anniversary two years ago. Nonetheless, the family’s history and contributions are notable.
Their supermarket empire began in 1917, when Greek immigrants Athanasios (Arthur) and Efrosine Demoulas opened a small market selling fresh lamb in Lowell, MA. In 1950, the original store model was revamped and premiered as the DeMoulas Superette. Arthur turned the business over to his two sons, George and Telemachus (Mike) in 1954. The following year, the Superette tripled in size and became DeMoulas Super Market. Over the next 17 years, the two brothers converted the lamb shop into a successful grocery store chain of 15 stores. The brothers each signed a will naming the other as executor of his estate, and reportedly agreed to divide the business equally between their two families in the event of one of their deaths. Both brothers had four children, and both named a son Arthur, after their father. From their youth, both cousins (George’s son Arthur S. Demoulas and Mike’s son Arthur T. Demoulas) followed their fathers in the family business.
In 1971, George, then 51, died unexpectedly while vacationing in Greece with his family. Mike continued to expand the chain and began opening stores under different names, including Market Basket. Tensions began brewing between the two families and erupted in the 1990s, when it came to light that Mike had been secretly shifting his brother’s half of the company assets under his own name after George’s death. Two decades of lawsuits followed, Mike and his family on one side and George’s heirs on the other. The feud was settled in December 2014, when Arthur T., who ran the business after his father’s death in 2003, finalized a buyout of Arthur S., and the rest of George’s heirs for $1.6 billion in cash, according to Forbes.
Despite those difficulties, the business has flourished. Over the past decade it added approximately 30 new stores and a new perishable/produce distribution center, and doubled sales. Today, the Tewskbury-based DeMoulas Market Basket, Inc. owns 79 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, employs 20,000 people, and earns more than $5 billion in annual sales. The company was ranked by Consumer Reports as the second-best among all national supermarket chains, behind Wegmans. It was also ranked number 79 on Forbes’ list of America’s largest private companies in 2018.
In October 2014, National Labor Secretary Thomas Perez spoke at the National Press Club of Demoulas, saying that he “maintained a family-friendly work environment, paid his workers well, and contributed generously to their retirement.”
According to the Lowell Sun, two foundations – the Telemachus and Irene Demoulas Family Foundation with $61 million in assets and the Demoulas Foundation with $30 million in assets – have donated millions to Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, schools, camps, hospitals, the Boston Ballet, and the Boston Museum of Science, Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Lowell, Mass., Bentley University and Boston College. The greatest beneficiary, however, is the Lowell Plan, an economic-development organization for the city, which has received well over $10 million in the last decade.
- JOHN PAPPAJOHN – Iowa
$681 MILLION (TNHE)
University of Iowa (Business); Married, 1 child
John Pappajohn is an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and at 90 years old, a self-proclaimed workaholic – still working 7 days a week (as reported by the Iowa Magazine in September 2018). In the same interview, Pappajohn said, “I never anticipated being 90…I’m in my office every Saturday and Sunday. Mary is a very understanding wife, and when she calls, I go home. But I’m very active in my venture business, and I’m doing very exciting things. My incentive isn’t to be rich; it’s to do what I want in philanthropy. Mary and I feel strongly that a successful life must include service to society and our fellow man. This is how we will be judged. We must all try to make a difference in this world.”
Pappajohn emigrated from Euboea, Greece to the United States with his mother when he was just nine months old to join his father, who was a U.S. citizen. He struggled during kindergarten because he spoke limited English. In the early 1930s, right before the Great Depression, Pappajohn’s father opened a grocery store (where Pappajohn could earn 10 cents a day by stocking shelves and performing various odds around the story). His father provided for families in the community during those pressing times, often allowing them to purchase on credit that he knew they wouldn’t be able to repay. The lessons that Pappajohn learned at the grocery store guided his eventual business career.
When Pappajohn was older, he had to occasionally miss school to sell scrap to help support his family. “I became a scrap junk dealer. The junk yard was one block from our house. The man there – Harry Wolf – became a friend and a mentor; I would sell him something every day,” Pappajohn says. “I’d pick up pennies I found on the street. I still do; habit I guess.”
His father died when he was 16 years of age. He worked his way through college and alternated working and attending school with his brothers. He graduated from the University of Iowa’s College of Business Administration in 1952. He did not interview for a job after graduation – instead he knew he wanted to own his own business and thus he decided to establish an insurance agency. Eventually, in 1969, Pappajohn organized Equity Dynamics, Inc., a financial consulting entity, and Pappajohn Capital Resources, a venture capital firm in Des Moines, Iowa. He became one of the early venture capitalists.
Throughout his career as a venture capitalist, he has been an early investor in more than 100 companies, most of which are dedicated to healthcare and biotechnology industries. He has also been involved with over 100 startups and over 50 IPOs, and has served as Director in over 40 public companies.
Pappajohn serves as director on the boards of three publicly traded companies: Cancer Genetics, Inc., American CareSource Inc., and CNS Response, Inc., a company which uses EEG-generated biomarkers for use in personalized medicine in psychiatry.
Both Pappajohn and his wife, Mary, are avid philanthropists, having gifted more than $100 million to various causes. They have partnered in numerous endeavors, providing millions for scholarships, business opportunities and community enhancements. His charitable donations include the John & Mary Pappajohn Clinical Cancer Center, and Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers at five Iowa universities and colleges. To date, over 150,000 college students have taken part in the latter, which have sparked over 1,000 new businesses. The Pappajohn Scholarship Foundation has distributed over $4 million in grants to support ethnic, disadvantaged, and/or minority students over the past 10 years.
In September 2009, the Des Moines Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened, featuring $40 million of the avid collector couple’s outdoor sculptures from their personal collection. In December 2010 the Pappajohns pledged $26.4 million towards a new University of Iowa biomedical research building. In 2017 the Chronicle of Philanthropy identified the biggest donors to charities in each of the 50 states and named Pappajohn the top philanthropist in Iowa.
Pappajohn has demonstrated a great love for the fine arts: he was named by Art News Magazine as one of the top 200 collectors in the world from 1997-2014. He was appointed to the advisory board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. He currently serves on the National Committee of the Performing Arts for the Kennedy Center. He also serves as a member of the Trustees Council of the National Gallery of Art as well as on their Collectors Committee (formerly Chairman). He is a vice chairman of the board of trustees of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, a member of the national committee with the Whitney Museum in New York City, and honorary director at the Des Moines Art Center.
Pappajohn’s church activities include serving on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s Archdiocesan Council and executive committee, and Leadership 100’s board of directors. He received the title of Archon from the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in 2000.
Pappajohn is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Horatio Alger Award (1995), the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2000) and the Woodrow Wilson International Center Award for Corporate Citizenship (2007). He is the first Iowan and the second Greek-American (Pete Peterson was the first) to receive the Woodrow Wilson Award. He has received four honorary doctorate degrees and in 2013 he received the Gabby Award for philanthropy from the Greek America Foundation.
The Pappajohns live mainly in Des Moines. They have one daughter, Ann Vassiliou.
- ANGELO K. TSAKOPOULOS – California
$600 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
California State University (Political Science & Business), Sacramento; 6 children
Born in Arcadia in Greece, Tsakopoulos, now 82, came to America at the age of 15, sailing into New York City. He moved to Chicago to live with family, before eventually continuing west to the San Joaquin Valley in California. Encouraged by a close mentor to continue his education, Tsakopoulos studied political science and business at California State University, Sacramento. While attending school, Tsakopoulos supported himself as a real estate salesman, foreshadowing his highly successful career in real estate development.
Tsakopoulos founded AKT Development Corporation in Sacramento, California, which became a leading real estate developer in the area under his leadership and has built tens of thousands of homes and more than 30 million square feet of office space. AKT also maintains a large commercial building portfolio and manages approximately 20,000 acres of farmland.
Tsakopoulos and his family have also been dedicated supporters of civic and community causes. Tsakopoulos has made lasting contributions to the education and cultural life of the greater community. The Tsakopoulos family has donated land and funds to cultural institutions including the Greek Orthodox Church, the Crocker Art Museum, and the Roseville Arts Center. Tsakopoulos has also had a strong commitment to supporting education through the Angelo and Sofia Tsakopoulos Endowment Fund and as a co-chair for California State University Sacramento’s Capital Campaign. To support the study and celebration of Greek heritage and history, Tsakopoulos served as an instrumental figure in the creation of the S.B. Vryonis Center for the Study of Hellenism in Sacramento. In 2018, the Tsakopoulos family donated $1 million to establish the Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Endowed Chair at the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.
In 2016, Tsakopoulos, on his 80th birthday, was honored as a permanent part of the United States Congressional Record for “his legendary career in real estate development and his long history of philanthropy in California.”
Tsakopoulos has also carved out a niche for himself as a major player in and fundraiser for the Democratic Party, and as a standard bearer for Greek political and cultural interests in America. He and his children have raised and contributed millions to national, state and local campaigns and issues over the past decade. Democratic presidential candidates aside, a few of the major recipients include former California Governor Gray Davis, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Tsakopoulos is also dedicated to advancing the careers of Greek-American politicians, including former California state treasurer and once-gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides. His daughter, Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Hungary in 2010 and in 2018 was elected as California’s 50th Lieutenant Governor. Tsakopoulos and his family have established Hellenic Studies chairs at several major American universities across the country, Georgetown, Stanford, and Columbia universities among them.
- JOHN G. RANGOS SR. – Pennsylvania
$468 MILLION (TNHE)
Houston School of Business; 3 children
John G. Rangos Sr., 89 a renowned industrialist and philanthropist, made his fortune through the transportation, waste management and disposal, as well as security services.
Born in Steubenville, OH, Rangos grew up during the Depression in northern West Virginia and Fredericksburg, VA. His education at the Houston School of Business was interrupted when he joined the Active Force Reserve unit in Pittsburgh, PA. He served with great distinction in the Army from 1951-54, including a stint on a combat signal team in the Far East. Rangos returned to civilian life with military honors, to include the National Defense Medal, United Nations Medal, Korean Campaign Medal, and a Presidential Unit Citation from President Truman and President Syngman Rhee of South Korea.
Rangos began his career with the Rockwell Manufacturing Company in Pittsburgh, where he distinguished himself by becoming the youngest general agent in company history. He formed several companies in the 1960s, and pioneered technological advances in the transportation and disposal of industrial waste. He founded Chambers Development Inc. in 1971, a firm that provided waste treatment services, developed commercial recycling programs, and broke ground with specially lined, layered landfills to protect groundwater supplies.
Rangos’ many innovative achievements include converting power plant boiler ash into a useful component of cinder blocks and anti-skid material for highways. He also played an instrumental role in inventing techniques for recycling bituminous byproducts and disposing sewage and sludge. He developed methods for liquid industrial waste disposal, and created a resource recovery system that converts waste-generated methane into usable energy.
Together with his sons, Alex and John Jr., Rangos advocated standards for regional sanitation sites that resolved many environmental concerns nationwide. They initiated present-day environmental protection standards decades ago, to include the design and strict enforcement of federal laws forbidding corrupt practices in the transporting of illegal waste. Across the eastern seaboard and into the Midwest, they built the largest, most sophisticated land disposal facilities in the industry – including double-composite-lined HDPE (high-density polyethylene) facilities to protect ground water – long before other waste management companies emerged.
In October 1991, Chambers Development owned and operated a number of large regional landfills, worth a reported market value of $1.7 billion. Chambers went public and, in 1995, was merged with USA Waste, then the country’s second largest waste management company. Rangos served as vice chairman of USA Waste, during which time Waste Management Inc., the country’s largest trash hauler, acquired USA Waste. That merger in 1998 has proven to be a major continued success.
The massive Okeechobee, FL. landfill (approved in 1993, and now operated by Waste Management) is just one example of Rangos’ commitment to sound environmental practices and regional economic development. That site has a 100-year capacity and receives 7,000 tons of waste daily. Such monumental, environmentally friendly disposal sites have also been an economic boon to the areas in which they function. Okeechobee County still receives millions of dollars in royalties from its landfill each year, boosting the local government’s ability to finance schools and roads, as well as improve police and firefighting services.
Rangos also founded U.S. Utilities in the mid-1960s. A precursor to Chambers Development, USU was part of a conglomerate, which eventually became part of Chambers. USU subcontracted with Stone & Webster (now part of the Shaw Group), a major engineering services firm, to help build atomic energy plants.
Together with his partner Ian McLennan, a respected FBI agent, Rangos co-founded Security Bureau Inc., one of the most prominent security companies in the country, in the mid-1970s. SBI guarded everything from banks and shopping centers to industrial and atomic energy plants. It grew into a company with a license in every state in the union, and was eventually sold for more than $40 million.
Rangos has three children and several grandchildren. He is founder and director of the John G. Rangos Sr. Family Charitable Foundation, founder and former president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, founder and chairman emeritus of International Orthodox Christian Charities and former fundraising chairman for UNICEF. He sits on numerous boards.
The Rangos Foundation supports medical research at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, one of the world’s finest pediatric care centers, and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he established an innovative new program which invites and challenges the brightest young minds at Johns Hopkins to find a cure to metastatic cancer. The Rangos Foundation also supports programs at Duquesne and Carnegie Mellon Universities, and many other programs and organizations (e.g., the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society). Rangos has recently taken an active interest in helping the country’s wounded warriors readapt to civilian life.
In early 2016, he received an honorary doctorate from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY. In 2018, Rangos was honored at Johns Hopkins to celebrate a decade of progress at the highly successful innovation hub that he was instrumental in initiating. The John G. Rangos Sr. Life Sciences Building was the first building in Johns Hopkins’ Science + Technology Park, a mixed-use redevelopment of 88 acres adjacent to the Johns Hopkins University medical campus and hospital in East Baltimore. Today, more than 40 life science companies and research institutions have located there to partner with Johns Hopkins in commercializing scientific discovery.
- PETER J. BARRIS – Virginia
$466 MILLION (TNHE)
Northwestern University (Electrical Engineering); Married, 2 children
Peter J. Barris, 67, is a venture capitalist known for helping to launch companies including Groupon, CareerBuilder, SalesForce, TiVo, Jet.com, and Diapers.com. Forbes included him on its Midas List of the world’s best venture capitalists and technology investors every year between 2007 and 2014. He was managing general partner of leading venture capital investor New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA) from 1999 to 2017, having joined the company in 1992.
At NEA, he led investments in over 25 companies that have gone public or had successful acquisitions. NEA invested $14.8 million in Groupon early on and received $70 million back in 2011. That year, Groupon went public, reaping one of the greatest venture returns ever with an initial public offering value of $12.8 billion.
Under his leadership and management, according to the NEA website, the company’s assets grew from $1 billion to over $20 billion and the organization scaled-up its operations to become one of the world’s largest venture capital firms. The company with offices in Maryland and California’s Silicon Valley now has branches in India, China – and most recently – New York City. NEA, founded more than 35 years ago, has seen 200+ portfolio companies go public and 320+ acquisitions. He now serves as the Chairman and General Partner of the company.
Barris grew up in Chicago, IL. His father, James, was an engineer, and his grandparents were from Greece. His father encouraged Barris to follow the same career path that he did – but Barris had his eyes set on the law – more specifically, patent law, which he had heard required an engineering degree. Northwestern had excellent law and engineering schools, so he enrolled as an electrical engineering major. Eventually, he realized that patent law wasn’t where his passion lay but continued his studies of electrical engineering and then went on to earn his MBA from Dartmouth College.
He started his career in various management positions at General Electric Company. In an interview with Forbes, he counted his first bosses, while at General Electric, Greg Liemandt and Jack Welch, as having “the most profound impact” on his career. He went on to become president and COO of Legent Corporation (LGNT) and senior vice president of the Systems Software Division of UCCEL Corporation (UCE), both of which experienced profitable acquisitions.
At NEA, Barris took $570-million company Neutral Tandem public in 2007 and the $590-million Echo Global went public in 2009. He is involved with NEA affiliates, including Groupon, TV software/hardware company Hillcrest Laboratories, Internet service provider Boingo Wireless, online job recruitment site Career Builder, digital distribution company SnagFilms (whose founder, Ted Leonsis, is also on this list), and social media management company Sprout Social. He is on the board of directors of public companies including Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN), Goji Food Solutions Ltd., Benchprep, Hillcrest Laboratories, Inc., MediaOcean, SnagFilms, and Sprout Social.
He is Vice-Chair of the Northwestern University Board of Trustees and serves on the Board of the Tuck School Private Equity and Entrepreneur Center. He also launched the Barris Incubator Series at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, which aims to encourage student start-ups. He previously served on the executive committee of the board of the National Venture Capital Association and was also a founding member of Venture Philanthropy Partners, a philanthropic organization in the Washington, D.C. area.
Barris, a member of Leadership 100 and an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, lives in McLean, VA. with his wife, Adrienne. They have two daughters. His interests include traveling, skiing, “any and all Greek food,” boating, and spending time with his family.
- DR. NICHOLAS GALAKATOS – Massachusetts
$379 MILLION (TNHE)
BIOMEDICAL TECHNOLOGY, VENTURE CAPITAL
Reed College; Married, 2 children
Nicholas Galakatos, 59, is the Head of the Blackstone Life Sciences business since December of 2018. He had been Managing Director of Clarus Ventures from the company’s beginnings in 2005 to 2018 and moved to Blackstone when Blackstone acquired Clarus. Blackstone Life Sciences was formed out of the acquisition as a firm which would be a key source of capital for large pharmaceutical companies that would bring cutting-edge treatments to patients.
Blackstone Life Sciences is a private investment platform that seeks to invest in companies and products within the life science sectors. The company looks to bring the necessary funding required to advance medicines and healthcare technologies to the broader market instead of languishing as ideas.
The Greek-born Galakatos has over two decades of healthcare sector industry and investment experience. He was vice president of New Business at Millennium Pharmaceuticals (from 1997 to 2000), a leading biopharmaceuticals company purchased by the Takeda Oncology Company for $8.8 billion in May 2008, and a member of its management team. During that time Galakatos co-founded Millennium Predictive Medicine and TransForm Pharmaceuticals, where he was chairman. Prior to his stint at Millennium, he was an associate at Venrock Associates focusing on early stage biotechnology investments. Before Venrock, he was head of Molecular Biology Research at Novartis.
Galakatos was born in Athens and raised in Thessaloniki. He earned his undergraduate degree at Reed College and a doctorate in organic chemistry at MIT before his post-doctoral studies at Harvard Medical School.
He is director of ophthalmology company Ophthotech, cardiovascular therapy company Portola, and diagnostics company Nanostring, all of which had successful IPOs in 2013. Before that he sold TransForm Pharmaceuticals to Johnson & Johnson, and as the chairman of Hypnion, Galakatos “made out well with 2007 sale of Hypnion to Eli Lilly for $315 million,” Forbes reported.
He and his wife, Alice, have two sons. Galakatos is a member of the Director’s Council of the Koch Institute at MIT, and the Genetics Advisory Council at Harvard Medical School. He is also on Anatolia College’s board of trustees.
In 2016, Galakatos joined Entasis, an AstraZeneca spinout, as Chairman of its Board of Directors.
- JOHN GEORGES – Louisiana
$350 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
FOOD SERVICES, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, PHILANTHROPY, MEDIA
Tulane University; Married, 3 children
John Georges, 58, is an entrepreneur in multiple industries, an avowed philanthropist, and a strong supporter of Hellenic causes. He is Founder and CEO of Georges Enterprises, a company based in Elmwood, LA, specializing in acquiring and growing businesses. It invests in food vending, grocery distribution, video/arcade entertainment, restaurants, and media outlets.
Georges Enterprises began as Imperial Trading in 1916, a wholesale grocery distribution company founded by Georges’ grandfather Gus Pelias. The company is now the eighth largest convenience store supplier in the nation.
Georges started out in the family business at a young age, sweeping warehouse floors at age 11 and making deliveries by age 15. His father, Dennis Georges, immigrated to the United States after serving in the Greek Resistance and the Royal Greek Air Force at a young age during World War II.
In April 2013, Georges Enterprises acquired The Advocate, a Baton Rouge daily newspaper with a New Orleans edition and websites covering nearby towns Ascension and Acadiana. It is the largest newspaper in Louisiana.
He completed his studies at Tulane University in 1983, turning his attention to Imperial Trading, expanding its sales from $29 million to $1 billion today, with 5,000 retailers in 12 states. Recent acquisitions by Georges Enterprises include: $50 million food distributor Clifford D. Fite Company (2011), $100 million Union Grocery (2010) and historic Bourbon Street restaurant Galatoire’s (2009). Georges said in a related press release, “We are looking to make more acquisitions in the food distribution sector.”
In 2006, Imperial Vending merged with Whitener Snacks to become Refreshment Solutions, a Georges Enterprises subsidiary. Georges Enterprises’ AMA Distributors specializes in entertainment from video games and pool tables to jukeboxes. Among Georges Enterprises’ portfolio of real estate holdings are 25 acres of industrial real estate in the greater New Orleans area, including the site once occupied by Louisiana Film Studios.
Georges Enterprises was previously very involved with marine services. However, as Georges confirmed to the TNH immediately after the BP Oil Spill in January 2010, the company sold its fleet of offshore tugs under Dolphin Marine International Company to concentrate on its food distribution business. The family of his wife, the former Dathel Coleman, owns cleanup company Oil Mop OMI.
Georges is very involved with both Louisiana public life and the community of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. As Parish Council president, he hosted Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew when he visited New Orleans in October 2009.
In May 2019, Georges’ New Orleans Advocate purchased the The Times-Picayune and the accompanying nola.com website from Advance Local. The Advocate will continue to serve as a seven-day, home delivered newspaper in the New Orleans metro area as it uses the brands of both publications, and the papers will be formally merged in June of this year. The websites will merge into nola.com at approximately the same time.
A notable campaign financer, Georges ran for governor of Louisiana as a democrat in 2007 and Mayor of New Orleans in 2010, but fell short in both efforts.
He is a member of Tulane University’s President’s Council and is a foundation member of the University of New Orleans and LSU Medical. He is on the New Orleans Business Council, Jefferson Business Council, and the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce board of directors. He has also chaired and been vice president of the Western Region of the Young Presidents Organization. He has chaired the Metairie Park Country Day School Recovery and been on the board of both Crimestoppers and the Young Leadership Council of New Orleans. He is also on the board of The Hellenic Initiative, and he and his wife, Dathel, are involved in numerous other philanthropic endeavors.
The Georges have three children: Zana, Liza, and Nike.
Georges was instrumental in rebuilding the Greek community in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Everything was “a wasteland,” he told TNH in 2015, “and we rebuilt everything in 90 days – it was a miracle.” He is featured in a full-length interview in this issue.
- MICHAEL D. CAPELLAS – California
$340 MILLION (TNHE)
Kent State University; Married, 2 children
Michael D. Capellas, 64, a 30-plus year veteran of the information technology industry, founded Atlanta-based Capellas Strategic Partners, a strategic technology advisory firm, in 2012.
From 2007 to 2010, he was the Chairman and CEO of First Data Corporation (FDC), the world’s leading payment processing company. He was on the board of directors of VCE, the Virtual Computing Environment Company, from January 2006 to November 2012, serving one year as chairman and CEO. The company was formed by tech giant Cisco and EMC Corporation with investments from VMware and Intel, offering technology products and solutions for cloud-based computing. He serves on the board of Cisco, the leading multinational corporation networking and communications technology and services company.
Capellas was also senior advisor for Silver Lake Partners, a $13 billion private equity firm focused on making large-scale investments in leading technology companies, from October 2006 to July 2007.
Capellas’ earlier executive roles include chairman and CEO of Compaq Computer Corporation between 1999 and 2001. Following Hewlett-Packard’s acquisition of Compaq, he stayed on as president of HP for six months to ease the integration of the two companies. He then left HP to become chairman and CEO of MCI WorldCom between 2002 and 2006, presiding over the eventual Verizon-MCI merger. He had joined WorldCom, which was in bankruptcy, to help it overcome a massive accounting scandal. After the transfer to Verizon was completed, Capellas received a $40 million severance package.
Capellas took charge of First Data shortly after Kohlberg Kravis Roberts acquired the credit card giant for $29 billion in April 2007. In 1992, First Data had spun off from American Express. It handles e-commerce processing services, including merchant and bank transactions, credit, retail and debit card issuing and processing. It also provides money orders and paper check processing.
Capellas says he inherited his gritty determination from his father, a Greek citizen who fought with the Greek Army against the Germans in Italy during World War II. After the war, the elder Capellas met and married his wife, Juliet, in Italy. The family then immigrated to Ohio, where Capellas’ father worked his way up from laborer to superintendent at the Republic Steel Corporation. He worked there for 30 years. Capellas developed an interest in computers as an undergraduate at Kent State University. Shortly after he graduated, he met his wife, Marie Angelillo, a former nurse. The two married in 1979, and traveled the world for two decades as Capellas’ business reputation grew. He was a senior vice president of Oracle Corporation from 1997 to 1998. In his work with Compaq, he is credited with making it Microsoft’s key strategic partner for the release of its Windows 2000 operating system. In December 2006, Capellas was appointed acting CEO of Serena Software, selected by Silver Lake, which took Serena private in March 2006.
Capellas and his wife have two daughters. He enjoys golf and rock and roll. He is also actively involved in community and charitable work. In 2002, he became the first recipient of the Hope Technology Award from the Center for Missing & Exploited Children. He is a member of the board of governors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Capellas previously served as a member of the American University Board of Trustees, and is recognized as a global thought leader in the technology industry. He recently served as co-chair of the CLOUD Commission, including specialists who offered the Obama Administration recommendations on cloud computing policies. In mid-2015, Capellas was appointed to Tenable Network Security’s Board of Directors.
In early 2017, JDA Software named Capellas Chairman after Bal Dail stepped down from that position.
- NICHOLAS G. KARABOTS – Pennsylvania
$335 MILLION (TNHE)
PUBLISHING, REAL ESTATE, WINERY
Geographically, Nicholas G. Karabots, now 85, has gone from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, by way of the South Bronx.
Financially, though, he has transcended galaxies: from shining shoes to donating tens of millions of dollars at a time. “The issue here is not ultimately your net worth, but what you do with the value you have created,” said Karabots, owner of Kappa Publishing Group, Inc. the nation’s largest publisher of puzzle magazines and books, as well as companies related to real estate and winemaking.
His parents, Konstantina Hrisomalis and Georgios Karabotsios, hailed from the Peloponnesian villages of Anavriti and Malendreni, respectively. The family name was shortened when his father arrived on Ellis Island.
Karabots was born in New Jersey and raised in the South Bronx, and attended the Greek American Institute. After his father lost his restaurant business in the Wall Street crash of 1929, Karabots held his first job at age 9, in 1942, as a shoeshine boy in Manhattan’s Union Square. After graduating high school in 1951, he entered the printing industry, learning the ropes at an RCA affiliate on Wall Street before becoming a manager of printing operations elsewhere. Eventually he achieved sales and then management positions, offered by a Hellenophile from Austria, who was the owner of Polychrome, a manufacturer of supplies related to the printing industry. In 1964, he launched, with a partner, Phota Inc., a company that manufactured photographic chemicals specific to the development of X-Ray film and assisted in the development and importation to the United States of Fujifilm. In 1970 he acquired a printing company in Scranton, PA. and expanded it via the printing and binding of TV Guide, among other nationally known magazines. That company, today known as Kappa Graphics, LP.
Today he is Chairman of the Board and CEO of The Spartan Organization, a company he founded that provides management and legal services to the various Karabots affiliates. He holds similar positions in his other privately held companies whose interests include printing, publishing, product fulfillment, land development, a country club and a vineyard and winery. He is assisted by his daughters Andrea Duloc and Despina McNulty, son-in-law Paul Kolkka, and granddaughter Alecia Duloc. Andrea’s husband, Michael, is the owner and president of Kable Distribution and Product Fulfillment Services, Inc., former subsidiaries of Princeton, N.J.-based AMREP Corporation, Inc. (NYSE: AXR), a publicly held company in which Karabots is a controlling shareholder. From 1993 to 2013, he was a director of AMREP Corporation, whose interests rest in the real estate and media-related industries such as product and subscription fulfillment combined with newsstand distribution services. Karabots resigned in 2013 from his position as vice chairman of the board of AMREP in order to devote more time to his pending acquisitions in the private sector, but retains his significant shareholder interests in AMREP. The company has developed Rio Rancho, New Mexico’s third-largest city.
Karabots purchased Scranton Lithographing Company in 1970, which became Kappa Graphics. That led to a relationship with puzzle book publisher Official Publications, which Karabots acquired.
The Karabotses’ combined businesses employ about 1,600 people. His real estate interests began with a 1980 purchase of a farm outside of Philadelphia. This led to other land acquisitions, primarily in Pennsylvania, the subdivision of these other assets, and eventually the design and development of Jericho National Golf Club, Inc. in Washington Crossing, Penn. Karabots also owns Krasi, LLC, the operator of Karamoor Estate Vineyards and Winery, and producer of Karamoor Estate Wines, which have won many awards in American wine competitions. Apart from its huge gamut of puzzle magazines and subscription services, the Kappa group of companies also publishes wrestling, astrology, games, children’s activity books, and a wide variety of atlases and street guides. Its affiliated printing-related companies in Pennsylvania and Indiana offer commercial and digital printing, and a variety of product distribution services.
Together with his wife of 60 years, Athena Dikegoros Karabots, whose parents emigrated from the Macedonian village of Rhodohorion, he established the Karabots Foundation, Inc. as a result of his experiences as a youth in the South Bronx. The foundation specializes in expanding opportunities for young people in inner city or otherwise underserved communities. He told TNH in 2009: “My heart aches for the young children who are tied to poverty and don’t know that there is something out there that is better.” In fall 2012, the foundation gave $7.5 million to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for a new pediatric care facility, dedicated and opened in February 2013. They donated $10 million to The Franklin Institute Museum to expand its classrooms and exhibition capabilities at its existing location, which serves thousands of children each year. The foundation has also contributed $15 million to support the Philadelphia Art Museum’s education center by its acquisition of a painting by Thomas Eakins, together with a rare 16th century horse and man armor. Both have attracted youth from around the country. To date the foundation has provided over $60 million to many organizations that focus on the foundation’s mission. Nicholas and Athena Karabots have also supported the University of Pennsylvania and currently the University of Arizona in their archaeological excavations on Mt. Lykaion in Arcadia, Greece.
He and his wife live in Pennsylvania and have three daughters and 10 grandchildren. Karabots is routinely featured in publications as one of Pennsylvania’s most generous philanthropists.
- MICHAEL E. KALOGRIS – Pennsylvania
$330 MILLION (TNHE)
Columbia University (Business); Married, 2 children
Michael Kalogris, 68, co-founded Arete Capital Partners, a private investment company, in 2008. Arete, where he is Managing Partner, functions as an operating partner of the New York based equity firm Catalyst Investors.
Kalogris was chairman and CEO of SunCom Wireless, a wireless carrier which had operated in the southeastern United States since 1999, and in parts of the Caribbean since 2004. Founded as Triton PCS Holdings in January, 1999, the company changed its name to SunCom in 2005. Based in Berwyn, PA, SunCom went through several deals with other major cellular carriers. Before it was finally acquired by T-Mobile for $1.6 billion in cash and $800 million in assumed debt in February 2008, SunCom provided digital wireless communications services to more than 1.1 million subscribers. Kalogris has a long history in the “buy it, build it, sell it” business. In November 1999, he reached an agreement with Rural Cellular Corporation, which purchased portions of Triton’s assets for $1.24 billion in early 2000 (Verizon eventually acquired Rural for $2.66 billion in cash and assumed debt in August 2007). He also built out Triton’s network with Cingular Wireless in 2004 before changing Triton’s name to SunCom and ultimately selling SunCom to T- Mobile.
He still lives in Pennsylvania with Elizabeth, his wife of many years (and high school sweetheart), with whom he has two children. Besides Kalogris’ reputation of making money for his investors, it was a deal with AT&T in the 1990s that attracted investors. In exchange for a small equity stake, AT&T gave Triton licenses covering 11 million people in areas contiguous with AT&T’s territories in the southeast.
Kalogris earned a MBA at Columbia University Business School in 1982. He worked at IBM where he was in the sales, marketing, product development and corporate finance divisions. While there, he was the youngest member of the IBM Acorn Taskforce which was the key catalyst in introducing IBM’s original personal computer. Kalogris then entered the telecommunications business by taking a job with a Philadelphia-based outfit called Metrophone, helping to build it into a $1.1 billion cellular company in Philadelphia and its suburbs before its owners sold Metrophone to Comcast in 1991. Kalogris had no equity in Metrophone, so he left to build Horizon to operate mostly in suburban Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. Five years later, Horizon was sold in a series of deals for the $575 million, but Kalogris and his fellow managers got to share just $10 million of that among them. This only made him determined to get more of the action, so he found backers in J.P. Morgan, Chase Capital Partners, and Desai Capital Management to give him 10 percent of Triton as compensation for running the deal. The money flowed in: even before the bonds were placed, Kalogris received a $425 million bank revolver loan and $140 million in equity commitments. That and junk bond proceeds built his system, and he has never looked back.
Kalogris has consistently distinguished himself as a leader in the highly competitive wireless industry, and is a former board member as well as former chairman of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA).
In 2016, Kalogris participated in a panel to evaluate innovations by budding business entrepreneur students of Millersville University in Central Pennsylvania.
- D. JAMES BIDZOS – Virginia
$283 MILLION (TNHE)
James Bidzos, 64, is another Greek-American who prospered in the technological revolution. Founder, Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO, of Verisign, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN), which provides domain name registry services and Internet security worldwide, Bidzos’ company offers a range of security services, including managed DNS, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) mitigation and cyber-threat reporting. Verisign currently manages $21 billion worth of .com domains, with a domain selling for $7.85 per domain annually. Bidzos served as its first CEO from 1995 to 2001. In 2010 the company’s authentication services were purchased by Symantec for $1.28 billion. Bidzos returned to the CEO job in 2011. The following year, he was named Fortune’s 2012 Businessperson of the year for reviving Verisign’s income, growth, and stock performance, which previously had flagged. His compensation increased by 46 percent in 2013 to $8.5 million, including his bonus and stock awards.
Born in Greece, Bidzos he came to the United States as a boy. His father worked as a barber, and his mother managed a restaurant. A former computer programmer, he is credited with foreseeing the need for online security in the early 1990s. Bidzos is an Internet and security industry pioneer, whose accomplishments include building RSA Security, an Internet identity and access management solution provider, into the early standard-bearer for authentication and encryption, and launching Verisign as a spin-off in 1995 to develop the digital certificate infrastructure for Internet commerce. Verisign operates infrastructure services that enable and protect billions of interactions every day across the world’s voice, video and data networks.
The Mountainview, CA-based Verisign (now moved to Reston, VA) offered a variety of Internet and communications-related services in its global affiliate network. Verisign managed two of the world’s 13 Internet root servers, a.root-servers.net and j.root-servers.net, considered national IT assets by the U.S. Federal government. Since 2007, the company has been focusing on its core business and whittling away less profitable side efforts. In 2009 it sold its security service business to SecureWorks and its security consulting business to AT&T. Verisign focuses now on its Internet infrastructure services. Among the company’s services are providing .com, .net, .cc, .tv, .name and .jobs domain names for websites. Bidzos served as president and CEO of RSA Security from 1988 to February 1999, and then served as RSA’s vice chairman from 1999 to May 2002.
He has been named one of Time magazine’s Digital 50, and is in CRN’s Computer Industry Hall of Fame. In September 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration named Bidzos, who is a certified pilot, to the FAA Airmen Certification Database.
In late 2016, the National Cyber Security Hall of Fame honored Bidzos, who is an inductee, by naming him keynote speaker at its fifth annual award ceremony in October in Baltimore, MD, for his “key role in the creation of the cyber security industry.”
- STRATTON SCLAVOS – California
$259 MILLION (TNHE)
COMPUTERS, CELLULAR TECHNOLOGY
University of California, Davis; Married
The son of second-generation Greek-American parents, Stratton Sclavos, 58, is a partner at Radar Partners LLC, a private equity and venture capital firm based in Palo Alto, CA He served on the board of directors of Intuit, Inc. from 2001 to 2010, as well as the company Juniper Networks. In June 2014, he joined the board of digital security start-up BitGo. The company produces a digital wallet designed to tackle theft of bitcoin, a form of digital currency invented in 2009.
Sclavos earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical & computer engineering from the University of California in Davis. From October 1993 to June 1995, he was vice president of worldwide marketing & sales for Taligent Inc., a software development company that was a joint venture among Apple Computer, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard.
He was chairman, president, & chief executive officer of Verisign for 12 years before he resigned in May 2007, leading that company through many acquisitions. He joined Verisign in July 1995 as one of its first employees. He helped establish Verisign as a global corporation used by millions of consumers and businesses daily as they interact on the world’s voice and data networks. Sclavos led the company through a decade of robust growth and technological innovation. His last years with Verisign were taken up with investigations into the company’s stock option program, but it is not believed that Sclavos personally benefited from the option grants in question, though it did occur under his watch.
A San Francisco native, Sclavos still lives in California with his wife, Jody, and their two children. His investments include co-owning upscale Greek restaurant Dio Deka. A lifelong Bay Area resident, he formed the Sclavos Family Foundation to support charitable efforts in children’s education and medical research.
He enjoys playing basketball. He held an ownership stake in Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment (SVSE), the parent company of the San Jose Sharks hockey team, until he sold his shares to majority owner Hasso Plattner in January 2013. In June 2002, he was honored with the Ernst & Young Northern California Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He was also honored with the 2001 Morgan Stanley Morgan Leadership Award for Global Commerce, named to Forbes’ Top 50 CEO’s list, and served alongside 30 technology experts on former President George W. Bush’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee.
Last June, Sclavos was among those featured in the news regarding bitcoin, for his role as a Board Member of bitcoin company BitGo.
In early 2017, thescoresports.com wrote that Sclavos invested in Echo Sports, a sports gaming company founded by former NBA star Rick Fox, although the amount invested was not reported. Sclavos is a firm believer that the future belongs to esports leagues and has invested heavily in that field.
- MICHAEL G. PSAROS – New York
$250 MILLION (TNHE)
Georgetown University (Business); Married, 3 children
Michael Psaros, 51, is a co-founder and co-managing partner of private equity fund, KPS Capital Partners, LP, and a member of its investment committee. KPS Capital Partners, LP is one of the world’s leading private equity franchises, with approximately $5.2 billion of assets under management. KPS acquires and then turns around, non-core, underperforming, or distressed manufacturing and industrial companies on a global basis. KPS’ unique investment strategy has resulted in the creation of world-class, industry leading companies.
KPS Portfolio companies currently have aggregate revenues of approximately $5.6 billion, operate 162 manufacturing facilities in 30 countries, and employ approximately 38,000 associates, directly and through joint ventures. KPS has completed over 70 platform company investments that saved over 50,000 jobs world-wide.
Psaros is the son of George and Mary Ann Psaros and grandson of four Greek immigrants from Chios and Halicarnassus (Bodrum) in Asia Minor. He grew up in Weirton, W.V., where the lifeblood of the town was the steel industry, specifically National Steel. Psaros’ father was a senior executive in the mill, and his great-grandfather worked in the open hearth furnaces. 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 and then worked for Keilin in the 1990s. In 1997, Psaros co-founded his own firm, KPS Capital Partners, LP, in partnership with Keilin and David Shapiro.
Psaros is the former Treasurer of the Archdiocese of North and served on its Executive Committee. During his two-year tenure in office, he led the successful financial and organizational restructuring of the Archdiocese. The changes Psaros implemented, working with new leadership at the Archdiocese, were transformative, resulting in a balanced budget and accompanied by new practices and procedures to promote accountability, responsibility, and transparency.
He 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 The Leadership 100, 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 received the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Award for Excellence, the Homeric Award from the Chian Association, the Humanitarian Award from the Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund, the Executive of the Year Award from the Hellenic American Bankers Association, the Homeric Award from The Chian Federation, the Hellenic Heritage Award from the Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church, the Phidippides Award from Hellenic Public Radio (Cosmos FM), and the Inspiration Award from the Loukoumi Foundation. He was also honored by the Georgetown University Wall Street Alliance and by the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity at its Chrysanthemum Ball. Psaros gave the keynote address at the Centennial Gala of the All Saints Greek Orthodox Church of Weirton, West Virginia.
Psaros supports the Washington OXI DAY FOUNDATON, and delivered the OXI DAY speech in the Armed Services Committee Chamber of the U.S. Senate in 2015.
He and his wife are benefactors of the St. Nicholas National Shrine.
Psaros 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.
- JENNIFER ANISTON – California
$240 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
TELEVISION AND FILM
New York’s School of Performing Arts
It is hard to believe that for Jennifer Aniston, the iconic face of millennial sitcoms and one of the best-known personalities in Hollywood, the year 2019 marked her 50th birthday.
Aniston lived in Crete and Athens during part of her childhood as Jennifer Joanna Anastassakis. The daughter of Nancy Dow (a direct descendant of the royal House of Stuart of Scotland – making Aniston a royal) and daytime soap opera star John Aniston (Days of Our Lives), she eclipsed her father’s television fame and success with her own role as Rachel Green on the eternally popular situation comedy, Friends (1994-2004). Aniston and her five castmates struck what was a record payday at the time – $1 million each per episode for the last three seasons of the show – and she still collects sizeable residuals from the still-wildly popular sitcom’s syndication ($20 million/year as per USA Today’s calculation in 2015).
Thanks to her portrayal, Rachel Green, the character Aniston played on the show, became so popular that the hairstyle she wore in the sitcom began to be known as The Rachel. Aniston has continued to appear in feature films and is often cast as the ‘girl-next-door’ type, but sometimes as a quirky villain.
In 2018, Aniston made her Netflix debut with the musical comedy Dumplin. In 2019 she will be seen alongside Reese Witherspoon in the Apple TV and drama series The Morning Show. Her success has propelled her to even greater fortunes, topping $240 million in net worth this year.
Born in Sherman Oaks, CA, Aniston’s family relocated to New York after their stay in Greece. Her parents divorced when she was 9, and she was raised by her mother, Nancy Dow.
Aniston began her professional training as a drama student at New York’s School of Performing Arts – a division of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts. While she was at school, Aniston thought there was something wrong with her – she thought she was ‘stupid’ – but she was later diagnosed as dyslexic. She went on to appear in various off-Broadway productions, television series and films, until 1994 when Friends came along.
Besides her lucrative acting career, Aniston is in demand as a spokeswoman for brands such as Aveeno and Vitamin Water.
In 2011, she reportedly made over $20 million selling her Beverly Hills home for $35 million, twice the price at which she bought it.
The actress has also been a director and producer in recent years. She directed one of five segments that made up the cable TV movie Five (2011), which focused on women living with breast cancer and was one of 100 artists and other public figures to narrate the documentary film Unity (2015), which investigates human existence and interconnectivity.
She received her own Hollywood Walk of Fame Star in February 2013 – the first actor from friends to be honored with a star. Some of her awards include the Screen Actors Guild (1996), Emmy (2002), Golden Globe (2003) and People’s Choice (four times) Awards, and has assisted and worked with many charities like Rain (an anti-sexual assault organization), St. Jude’s, and various cancer-fighting organizations. She was also named GQ magazine’s first ever Woman of the Year in 2005 and was Ellen Degeneres’ very first guest for the very first episode of The Ellen Show in 2003.
Aniston’s personal life was often a source of media attention, especially her relationships with actors Brad Pitt, whom she first met on a blind date and later married from 2000 to 2005, and Justin Theroux, whom she wed in 2015; the couple announced in 2018 that they were divorcing.
Ariston is a well-known activist and a philanthropist. She has donated generously to different philanthropic organizations such as Doctors without Borders, AmeriCares, Feeding America, Clothes Off Our Back, EB Medical Research Foundation, OmniPeace, and Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, Project A.L.S., Friends of Al Faro etc. Aniston has also contributed appreciably to the cause of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, and has hosted shows like Stand Up For Cancer and It Can’t Wait.
- DR. WILLIAM S. STAVROPOULOS – Michigan
$230 MILLION (TNHE)
Fordham University (Pharmaceutical Chemistry); Married, 2 children
William S. Stavropoulos was born in 1939 in Southampton, New York. The son of Greek immigrants, he grew up in the nearby town of Bridgehampton, where his family owned and operated a very popular ice cream parlor and eatery – The Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen. He attended Bridgehampton School, where he excelled both academically and athletically. One of the sixteen students in his high school graduating class was his close boyhood friend Carl Yaztrzemski, beloved future Hall of Fame baseball star who played for the Boston Red Sox for 23 years.
After a long and distinguished career at the Dow Chemical Company, where among other capacities he served as Chairman and CEO, Stavropoulos is moving in a different direction: he is president and founder of minor league baseball team the Great Lakes Loons. In 2005, he was inducted into the Midland County Sports Hall of Fame as a Professional Baseball Visionary for his work, which includes founding the Michigan Baseball Foundation. The Loons are affiliated with Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, who won the league championship in 2016.
The MBF’s mission, according to its website, is “to bring affordable, family-friendly entertainment to Mid-Michigan. Through the Great Lakes Loons and Dow Diamond, MBF hopes to revitalize and reinvigorate the region and promote greater economic and civic prosperity.”
Stavropoulos was a director at Tyco International Limited from 2007 to 2012. A major diversified, multinational company, Tyco is a leading provider of security products and services, fire protection and detection products and services, valves and controls, and other industrial products.
In May 2007, just two months after Stavropoulos became a board member, Tyco agreed to pay almost $3 billion to defrauded investors, the largest such payment ever made by a single company. He retired at the end of 2012.
Prior to joining Tyco, Stavropoulos spent 39 years at Dow. In addition to leading the company, he held various positions in research, marketing, and general management. He also served in a variety of research and business positions in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Stavropoulos was named president of Dow USA in 1990, and was elected vice president of Dow Chemical Company. He was then elected a senior vice president of Dow in May 1991, and became chief operating officer in 1993. He served as CEO from 1995 to 2000 and again from 2002 to 2004, and was a member of Dow’s board of directors from July 1990 to March 2006 (he was succeeded by Andrew Liveris, a Greek-Australian, who is also featured in this edition).
Stavropoulos holds a bachelor of science degree in pharmaceutical chemistry from Fordham University and a doctorate in medicinal chemistry from the University of Washington. He is a director of Teradata Corporation, and on the advisory boards for Metalmark Capital LLC and Maersk Inc. He is a trustee of the Fidelity Equity and High Income Funds’ Board and is an Advisory Partner of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC, a private investment firm. In May 2019, it was announced that Stavropoulos would be replaced by Christopher D. Pappas as Independent Lead Director of Univar, the largest chemical distributor in the United States. Stavropoulos will continue to serve on the Board.
Stavropoulos is a past chairman of the American Chemistry Council, Society of Chemical Industry, and American Plastics Council. He served on the board of trustees at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.
Among his awards and honors are AHEPA’s Man of the Year (1995), the Hellenic American Bankers Association Man of the Year (1997), an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Northwood University (1998), the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (1998) and induction into Junior Achievement of Central Michigan’s Business Hall of Fame (2005). “Institutional Investor” magazine named him one of America’s best CEOs three times (1998, 2003 and 2004). In 2010, he received the title of Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Stavropoulos and his wife, Linda, have two children, Bill and Angela, and several grandchildren. In 2016, the Bill and Linda Stavropoulos Family Foundation made a $10 million gift to the University of Notre Dame for the creation of a center specializing in biophysical research in the College of Science.
- CHRIS & HARRIS PAPPAS – Texas
$220 MILLION (TNHE)
Brothers Christopher J. and Harris Pappas – 71 and 74 years of age, respectively, and still very much involved in their thriving family business – opened the first Pappas Restaurant in 1976. Today, the privately owned Pappas Restaurants, Inc. operate nearly 100 restaurants in seven states. More recently, Chris’ and Harris’ children, all in their 20s and 30s, have taken on more prominent roles in the business, including marketing, real estate, culinary research and development, and construction.
Pappas Restaurants grew from the work of their father, Jim, and his brothers at Pappas Refrigeration, which they opened in 1945. Pappas’ eight unique brands include Pappas Seafood House, Pappasito’s Cantina, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, Pappas Bar-B-Q, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Pappas Grill Steakhouse, Pappas Burger, Yia Yia Mary’s Pappas Greek Kitchen, and the original Dot Coffee Shop, which was established by their father Jim and his three brothers in 1967. Each company has its own specialty, with Yia Yia Mary’s, for instance, specializing in Greek food, fish and mezedes (Greek, with a hint of Texas). Pappas Restaurants also has a food catering business.
Chris and Harris Pappas also serve as CEO and president, respectively, of Luby’s Inc., a publicly traded cafeteria chain founded more than 50 years ago. The brothers became majority shareholders in the company in 2001. The years 2018 to 2019 were tough for this particular company (closing several restaurants) but with the two Pappas’ at the helm, a turnaround is surely on the horizon.
Chris Pappas serves on the board of directors for the Greater Houston Partnership and is also a member of the Dean’s advisory board at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston. He was inducted into the college’s Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor in 2009. Chris is a member of the board of directors for the National Restaurant Association, the Texas Restaurant Association, and the Greater Houston Restaurant Association and is an advisory board member of Amegy Bank. In 2001, he was inducted into the Texas Restaurant Association Hall of Honor. He is also a member of the Houston Food Bank’s Capital Campaign Committee and he has assisted in raising over $50 million for the organization. Chris received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He and his wife, Maria, have been married 30+ years and have five children.
A graduate of Texas A&M, Harris Pappas was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, serving one year in Thailand and one year in Vietnam, earning two Bronze Stars and three Army Commendation medals. He is a member of the board of directors of Oceaneering International, Inc., a publicly held oil and gas operations firm, and also served a ten-year term on the board of trustees of Memorial Hermann Healthcare System in Houston. He is an advisory director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston and of Bank-Frost National Houston. He is a member of the Texas A&M Foundation Development Advisory Committee and serves on the Education Development Council Advisory Committee. He has received awards from both Texas A&M University and the school’s Mays College of Business. Harris is a member of the World President’s Organization and on Schreiner University’s advisory board. He is a founder of the Hellenic Foundation, which endeavors to raise scholarship money for seminary students attending Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. An avid boater and fisherman, he and his wife, Vicky Marinos Pappas, have children and grandchildren.
The brothers’ grandfather, H.D., arrived in the U.S. in 1897 and became a restaurateur. Chris and Harris were encouraged to avoid the restaurant industry and given warnings about its long hours and unpredictable schedules. The brothers managed to stay away – for a little while. But the lure of the restaurant biz proved too strong for both brothers. Soon, Harris found himself managing his father Jim’s first restaurant, the Dot Coffee Shop, only to be followed shortly by Chris who stepped in at his brother’s request.
The Pappas Brothers often help nonprofit groups and churches renovate their kitchens. Highly involved in the Annunciation Cathedral of Houston, both brothers were granted the title of Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 2008.
In 2016, Pappas Restaurants donated $500,000 to Texas Southern University which, in its newspaper, quoted Chris Pappas on that occasion: “On behalf of Pappas Restaurants, my brother Harris and I are proud to partner with Texas Southern University with this donation of more than a half a million dollars. The work that TSU does enriches not only the lives of the students on their campus, but also the entire Houston community. As native Houstonians, we strongly believe in supporting higher education in our hometown, and we are excited that our contribution will provide a place for students to live, study and support one another while pursuing a college degree.”
- PETE SAMPRAS – California
$150 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Married, 2 children
Widely regarded as one of tennis’ all-time greats, Pete Sampras, 47, retired in 2003 after a surprising win against Andre Agassi at the 2002 US Open with a then-record 14 grand slam titles (a record until 2009 when Roger Federer broke it). Sampras, nonetheless, remains the only man to be ranked number one in the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) six consecutive years, and is best remembered for his epic battles with fellow American Andre Agassi. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2007.
Born in Potomac, MD to an American-born father (Sotirios) of Greek descent and a mother (Georgia) born in Sparta, Sampras from age three showed an unusually gifted athletic ability. Georgia grew up with six sisters and two brothers and didn’t come to the United States until she was 25. Not surprisingly, Greek culture was an important part of Sampras family life. As a kid, Pete attended Greek Orthodox Church services every Sunday with his parents and siblings.
In 1988, Sampras turned professional just before his 17th birthday, and began the year ranked number 893 in the world, but before the year was over, he climbed up the rankings with lightning speed, finishing at 97.
Sampras’ 14 Grand Slam titles include seven at Wimbledon, five at the U.S. Open, and two at the Australian Open. The French Open was the only Grand Slam title that he never won. In 1990, Sampras became the youngest US Open men’s champion at 19 years and 28 days old. Because of his precise serve, he earned the tiled “Pistol Pete.” In 1993, he became the first player to serve more than 1000 aces in a season.
Sampras now plays exhibition tennis to raise money for charities, such as earthquake victims.
Sampras and his wife, the former Miss Teen USA Bridgette Wilson, and their two sons, live in California.
In a recent interview in 2019, Andre Agassi commented on the importance of having a strong and great rivalry in your career. Agassi was quoted saying, “A great rival is like a mirror. You have to look at yourself, acknowledge where you fall short, make adjustments, and nurture the areas where you overachieve. There were times my rivals brought out the best in me; there were times they brought out the worst. They probably helped me win things I never would have otherwise; they also cost me titles. I don’t know how you quantify what it would have been like without a rival like Pete Sampras. I would have won more. But I think I would have been worse without him.”
- SAM GORES – California
$150 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
American Academy of Dramatic Arts; 3 children
Sam Gores, brother to Alec and Tom Gores (also featured on this list), founded the entertainment talent agency Paradigm in 1992 and has become one of the top agents in Hollywood. After arriving in the U.S. with his family from Israel, Gores worked as a butcher and as a grocer. Gores now oversees the Paradigm’s 600 employees out of its Beverly Hills headquarters, in addition to offices in almost a dozen other cities. Over the years, he has grown his company by wisely acquiring niche agencies and diversifying Paradigm’s client base.
Gores worked his way up the Hollywood food chain. He studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and was part of the first graduating class of the original California campus. In 1977 he took a job at The Gage Group, a talent agency headed by well-known industry player Martin Gage. In 1986, he founded his own shop, SGA Representation, and after a series of mergers and acquisitions, the Paradigm Agency was born.
In 2014, he acquired a 50% stake in London-based CODA Music. Gores further expanded the firm’s European reach by partnering with X-ray Touring and Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa in 2017. Paradigm first became a player in the music industry by purchasing Monterey Peninsula Artists (Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Aerosmith, Toby Keith) in 2004 and Little Big Man (Coldplay, The Fray) in 2006. Other noteworthy names in Paradigm’s repertoire include: Jason Mraz, Kacey Musgraves, Shawn Mendes, Tiesto, Imagine Dragons, Janet Jackson, Zoe Kravitz, Halsey, Stephen King, Antonio Banderas, Neil Patrick Harris, Kenny Chesney, Ed Sheeran and The Black Eyed Peas.
In an interview with Billboard in 2014, Gores was asked about his management style. He said, “I’m not a dictator. I want to be a good leader, not a good boss, necessarily. Sometimes a boss creates fear and a leader brings confidence. A boss sometimes points fingers or blames, where a leader tries to fix mistakes. A boss will come at you with all the answers, but a leader asks questions. Bosses can make drudgery, and leaders make things interesting. Bosses are interested in themselves, and leaders are interested in the group. I always try to err on the side of being more of a leader.”
Gores has donated to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. He is also an active participant in Conservation International and Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish Arab Education in Israel which builds schools in Israel for both Jewish and Arab children. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Recording Academy. He also serves as a Trustee at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and is on the board of Geffen Playhouse.
- CONSTANTINE IORDANOU
$122 MILLION (TNHE)
New York University; Married, 3 children
Constantine “Dinos” Iordanou, 68, was president, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Arch Capital Group, Ltd, a Bermuda-based insurance/reinsurance global entity.
Born in Cyprus, Iordanou arrived in the United States and worked his way through college, New York University, earning a BS in aerospace engineering before entering the insurance industry in a trainee role at American International Group (AIG).
Arch, a Forbes-rated powerhouse, writes insurance and reinsurance on a worldwide basis through operations in Bermuda and the United States. Its subsidiaries offer a full range of property and casualty insurance and reinsurance products globally, with a focus on specialty lines of business.
Iordanou told the publication Risk & Insurance in 1999 that he was promoted when AIG chairman Hank Greenberg noticed him in 1980. In 1987 he moved on to Berkshire Hathaway, where he worked up to heading their commercial casualty operations. From March 1992 through December 2001, Iordanou served in various capacities for Zurich Financial Services and its affiliates, including senior executive vice president of group operations and business development of Zurich Financial Services, president of Zurich American Specialties Division, chief operating officer and chief executive officer of Zurich American, and chief executive officer of Zurich North America.
He joined Bermuda-based Arch (NASDAQ: ACGL) in December 2001 as its president and member of its board of directors. In 2003, Iordanou was appointed president and CEO of Arch Capital Group, Ltd. In November 2008, he was appointed chairman of the board. He retired from the company in March 2018. His stated reasons for retiring are to spend more time with his grandchildren, focus on philanthropy, play golf, travel for leisure and many other activities.
He is also a director at Verisk Analytics, Inc. of Jersey City, N.J., the American Insurance Association (AIA) and the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR).
He is a founding member and lifetime trustee of the Pancyprian Association of America, established in 1975. He also is a founding member of Faith: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism. Iordanou has previously served as a trustee of Roosevelt University and the College of Insurance and Risk Management. His awards include the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (1999). He is married to Marianne Iordanou and they have three children.
Last May, for his philanthropic efforts Iordanou and Marianne received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Our Lady of Mercy Academy. “For the past fifteen years, Dinos and Marianne have been actively involved with Mercy: “As parents of Mercy graduates, they spearheaded the campaign to build a turf field ten years ago. They have continued to work tirelessly on many projects to benefit Mercy students now and into the future.”
Iordanou was honored in May, 2016 by the Pan-Cyprian Association, whose president, Philip Christopher, said that “we are honoring him in particular because he has never forgotten his roots. He has been a trustee of our association from day one and as CEO of Arch, for the fact that he went to Cyprus and opened an office there employing 20 Greek Cypriots, just to show what can be done and hopefully other companies will follow.”
In December, 2016, Iordanou made news by selling 50,000 shares of stock. The shares were sold at an average price of $87.24, for a total value of $4,362,000.00. Following the completion of the sale, Community Financial News reported, Iordanou the chief executive was left directly owning 242,622 shares in the company, valued at approximately $21,166,343.28.
- JOHN VARVATOS – New York
$120 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Eastern Michigan University & University of Michigan (Pre-Med & Education); Married, 3 children
John Varvatos, 64, was born in Detroit, but his roots are from Sparta and Thessaloniki.
Varvatos entered the design industry at 17, in 1983, joining Polo Ralph Lauren, and in 1990 moved over to Calvin Klein (CK), where he was in charge of menswear design and pioneered the concept of “boxer briefs,” which are men’s underpants that are a hybrid between boxers and briefs.
That innovation propelled Varvatos to the top-tier of the design industry, as boxer briefs were highly touted as one of the greatest apparel revolutions of the 20th century.
Varvatos, later asked about what gave him the idea, said: “we just cut off a pair of longjohns and thought, this could be cool.”
Varvatos returned to Lauren in 1995, as head of all Polo menswear design, and he created the Polo Jeans Company.
Just at the turn of the century, in late 1999, Varvatos started his own company, debuting his first clothing line a year later, and opened a boutique in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. The brand now includes belts, handbags, footwear, eyewear and fragrances and is available at retail stores as well as his own stores.
Varvatos joined the cast of NBC’s Fashion Star in 2012. One year later he saw the release of a limited edition Chrysler 300 in his name. In 2014, he partnered with a music label to launch John Varvatos Records, initially singing the Zac Brown Band.
Varvatos attributes his early interest in fashion to his love for rock and roll, observing the fashion statements of various rock musicians, from Alice Cooper to Green Day.
Music, he says, also inspired his philanthropic causes, and he was influenced particularly by Beatles legend Ringo Starr’s involvement in “inner peace and global, peace, both of which are important to me.”
Varvatos was named Gentleman Quarterly’s (GQ) Designer of the Year in 2007.
In 2015, Varvatos melded his three worlds: fashion, rock music, and Detroit, into the John Varvatos Detroit fashion line. An avid hockey fan, Varvatos had the privilege of creating custom-blazers for the National Hockey League’s top all-time 100 players at an event in early 2017 during the League’s All-Star Weekend.
In March 2019 Varvatos and HBO launched Game of Thrones upscale merchandise clothing – marking Varvatos’ first partnership with a television series. The line includes 11 menswear pieces including a hand-dyed leather jacket, cross-over Henley shirts, pants, a textured messenger bag and graphic prints over spray dyed t-shirts that feature emblems such as the ‘iron-throne’ motif.
In a fascinating 2019 interview with the Untouchable Blog, Varvatos said the following when asked about whether his Greek roots come through in any of his collections: “I don’t know if they come through in my collections, but they definitely come through in my passion for what I do and my humility for what I do. I grew up in a 100% Greek family that was very humble – seven people in an 800 square foot house with one bathroom – and family was very important, relatives were important, the heritage was important. And now, I am very true to the heritage of my brand and have a respect for the heritage of menswear.”
- ANDREW N. LIVERIS – Michigan
$110 MILLION (TNHE)
CHEMICALS, PLASTICS, MANAGEMENT
University of Queensland (Chemical Engineering); Married, 3 children
Andrew Liveris, 65, is the former chairman and CEO of international chemical, materials, agroscience and plastics global giant, the Dow Chemical Company, based in Midland, MI. The Australian-born Liveris succeeded Dr. William Stavropoulos, a friend and mentor (also listed in this edition) in 2004 and became Chairman of the Board in 2006. Liveris, a 40-year industry veteran, left Dow after piloting the merger of the United States’ two largest chemical producers – Dupont and Dow – in a $130 billion deal in 2017.
Liveris first started working at Dow in Australia in 1976 in manufacturing, engineering, sales, marketing, and business and general management. Much of this time he worked in Asia, including 14 years in Hong Kong. He served as general manager for Dow in Thailand, and president of all Asia-Pacific operations. He joined Dow’s board of directors in February 2004, and was named CEO in November 2004. He was elected chairman of the board, taking over on April 1, 2006.
Liveris contributed in 2012 to spearheading The Hellenic Initiative (THI), a global, nonprofit, secular institution whose vision is to mobilize the Greek diaspora and philhellene community to invest in the future of Greece through programs focused on crisis relief, entrepreneurship, and economic development.
Liveris is a firm believer in incentives for increasing manufacturing in the United States again. He wrote and frequently speaks on his book Make it in America (2011) on that topic. Under his leadership, among the products that the new Dow aimed to make in America were new products, often with an environmentally friendly or research-based core, such as solar shingles for homes.
He was tapped by the Trump Administration to help identify new ways to spur innovation and revitalize the U.S. manufacturing sector, and served as Co-Chair of President Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership steering committee (which aims to pool the efforts of industry, schools, and the government for innovation in fields like information technology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology) and as a member of the U.S. President’s Export Council.
He also aligned himself in 2011 with the president and billionaire Warren Buffett in calling for higher taxation rates for millionaires like himself.
With roots in Kastellorizo, Greece, Liveris was born in Darwin, Australia. As he told students in a lecture in 2005, his grandfather was a Greek sailor who made the impromptu decision to stay in Darwin, after traveling there on a merchant ship at the start of the 20th century. Liveris attended the University of Queensland in Brisbane, graduating with a bachelor’s degree (first-class honors) in chemical engineering, and was awarded the University Medal for that year. In 2005, he received an honorary doctorate in science from the school.
Liveris sits on the Board of Directors of IBM, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Novonix, and he is a member of the Concordia Leadership Council and the Australian government’s Industry Growth Centres Advisory Committee. He serves as a trustee of Saudi Aramco, The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the California Institute of Technology and the United States Council for International Business. He is also on the board of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) and serves as Co-Chair of the Saudi-U.S. CEO Forum. Previously, he was Vice Chair of the Business Roundtable and an Executive Committee Member and past Chairman of the U.S. Business Council. In the fall of 2018, Liveris was named special adviser to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Liveris is a chartered engineer and a fellow of the Institute of Chemical Engineers, as well as a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. In 2011 alone he received awards from the Committee for Economic Development, the U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) and the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute. He was awarded the Order of Australia, the nation’s highest recognition for outstanding achievement and service, in 2014.
- GEORGE J. TSUNIS – New York
$110 MILLION (TNHE)
New York University; Married, 3 children
George J. Tsunis, 51, uses the quality of human connection in his successful Chartwell Hotels enterprise, which he founded in 2006, building on a family tradition of hotel and restaurant ownership. Chartwell, under Tsunis’ leadership, practices the “live well” philosophy, which focuses on healthy eating and going green at its hotels.
The company currently owns and manages ten hotels, including Chartwell’s Holiday Inn at Williamsport, PA, which earned a “Newcomer of the Year award” from Holiday Inn in 2007.
Tsunis contributed nearly $1 million to President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. In September 2013, Obama nominated him for ambassador to Norway. After a highly publicized series of challenging confirmation hearings before the Senate last year, however, Tsunis withdrew his nomination in December 2014.
As Chartwell Hotel’s chairman and CEO, Tsunis makes a point of visiting the hotels as often as he can. “I don’t think there is any substitute for going and visiting the hotels as a management tool,” he said. “Like all Greeks, my family started out in the restaurant business. And it’s all about hospitality and taking care of guests. We went from feeding them as coffee shop owners and restaurateurs, to now providing overnight accommodations.”
Tsunis and his family build on the legacy of his father, the late James Tsunis. James and his cousin Charles Tsunis began with coffee shops, carved out a name for themselves by building the Bonwit Inn on Long Island in 1971, and eventually invested in hotels and real estate. George Tsunis also oversees his family’s real estate and restaurant holdings, which include shopping centers and office buildings in the Northeast. Tsunis is also the board chairman of NuHealth which is the financial backer of Nassau University Medical Center, Nassau County’s only publicly operated hospital. He was appointed as board chairman by Nassau County Executive, Laura Curran.
After studying at New York University, Tsunis was trained as an attorney at St. John’s University, also in New York. He was a partner at Long Island law firm Rivken Radler LLP, working in real estate development, zoning and land use. Tsunis previously also was a Special Counsel to the Town of Huntington, Senator Alfonse D’Amato’s appointee on the U.S. Senate committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and an attorney for the New York City Council. He has worked on campaigns including those of Governor George Pataki (1994) and Suffolk County Executive Robert Gaffney (1999). His decisions on whom to support are based on what their stances are on the important issues of the community – the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Greece, and Cyprus. He donated $1.25 million in 2013 to enhance course offerings in Greek language and culture at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, NY, establishing the George and Olga Tsunis Center in Hellenic Studies and the James and Eleni Tsunis Chair in Hellenic Studies (in honor of Tsunis’ parents).
Active in both his local community and the Greek Orthodox Church, he was the youngest member of the board of directors of Long Island’s Dowling College, his region’s American Red Cross chapter, and one of the youngest to receive the title of Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate/Order of St. Andrew. He was named to the National Council of the Archons. He is also on the board of trustees of Touro Law School. He often actively works behind the scenes to promote Hellenism and Orthodoxy’s interests in the United States and is a founding member of Faith: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism. Along with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), he was Grand Marshal of New York’s 2014 Greek Independence Day Parade.
He and his wife, Olga, live on Long Island. They have three children.
In August, 2016, Arbor Realty Trust welcomed Tsunis as a member of its Board of Directors. Arbor’s Chairman, President, and CEO Ivan Kaufman said: “George comes to Arbor with extensive experience as a business executive, attorney, board member and civic leader for numerous profit, non-profit and educational institutions throughout his long and successful career. We look forward to the many contributions he is certain to make during his tenure as a board member for Arbor Realty Trust.”
- JASON CALACANIS
$100 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
INTERNET ENTREPRENEURSHIP, BLOGGING
Fordham University (Psychology); Married, 3 children
Jason McCabe Calacanis, 48, is an American entrepreneur, noted angel investor and author who hails from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York. Calacanis started his professional career in earnest in the 1990s, as one of a handful of people who went “all-in” on the internet from its outset. He created a highly successful magazine called Silicon Alley Reporter to keep readers up to date on the happenings in the newly created mass-tech sector of the economy during the dot-com era. He was offered a sum of $20 million dollars which he turned down and then the dot-com bubble burst forcing him to sell the magazine for nominal value and then was fired from it. Learning from the fickle nature of the internet, Calcanis didn’t waver in his pursuit of total immersion into the newly created web-based world and co-founded Weblogs, Inc. in September 2003 along with Brian Alvey. Weblogs, Inc. was a blog networked platform that featured entries of a variety of different interests, primarily tech news but which also had video game, automobile and cultural features. About 18 months after its founding, Calcanis sold Weblogs, Inc. to AOL for $30 million. Since the sale of Weblogs, Inc. to AOL, Calacanis has amassed the majority of his fortune by being an angel investor. Most notably, he was one of the first investors in tech behemoth Uber that was recently valued at more than $100 billion.
Calacanis graduated from Xaverian High School in 1988 and earned his B.A. in psychology from Fordham University.
- TINA FEY – New York
$65 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
University of Virginia (Drama); Married, 2 children
With a celebrity star continuing to rise with no peak yet in sight, Elizabeth Stamatina Fey, known to the world as Tina, added to her net worth in 2018-19 to finish in our top 50 once again.
Knowing from an early age that she was destined for a career in comedy, the native Pennsylvanian, now 49, joined the cast of Saturday Night Live (SNL) more than twenty years ago. After a successful stint on the show’s consistently popular “Weekend Update” mock news segment, Fey shined even brighter in 2008 with her spot-on impersonation of Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin. She also became the first female head writer in SNL history.
Fey reprised the role several times during that campaign season (and did so again around the time of the 2012 and 2016 elections as well). In one bit characterizing Palin’s attestation that she is familiar with world affairs because as Governor of Alaska, she had to deal with fly-over zones of airplanes from neighboring Russia, Fey blurted out in a comically ditzy manner: “I can see Russia from my house.”
In a classic example of how comedy bits can influence public thinking, many Americans polled since them attributed that line to Palin, not realizing it was Fey who had said it.
Fey and her SNL sidekick, cohost for numerous award shows, and “BFF” (Best Friend Forever), Amy Poehler, starred in the comedy film Sisters in 2015. Poehler joined Fey to cohost SNL in December 2015, reprising her own signature role as Hillary Clinton.
Also a writer and producer, Fey has won to date nine Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, five Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Producers Guild Awards, and seven Writers Guild of America Awards.
Fey created, wrote for, and starred in the multi-award-winning sitcom 30 Rock (it received 112 Emmy nominations in total), and has appeared in numerous feature films besides Sisters, including Martin & Orloff (2002), Mean Girls (2004), Baby Mama (2008), The Invention of Lying (2009), Date Night (2010), and most recently, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016). Maybe surprisingly, Fey’s highest grossing film was the 2010 animated movie Megamind.
Fey takes on many causes, including having done benefits and fundraisers for various charities. She is also vocal about gender roles in America, having told Town & Country magazine in 2016 that, when hearing that this must be a great time for women in comedy, she responds: “No, it’s a terrible time. If you were to really look at it, the boys are still getting more money for a lot of garbage, while the ladies are hustling and doing amazing work for less.”
- ARIANNA HUFFINGTON – New York
$50 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
University of Cambridge (Economics); 2 children
Arianna Huffington, nee Ariadne Anna Stassinopoulos, was born in 1950 Athens, Greece, to Elli (a Red Cross worker) and Konstantinos (a journalist). Her father was a newspaperman. During World War II, when Germany occupied Greece, he was publishing an underground newspaper but was eventually caught and sent to a concentration camp where he spent the rest of the war. Afterwards, he recovered at a sanitarium in Greece where he met Arianna’s future mother, who was recovering from TB. In a 2010 interview published on the website Inc., Arianna said she got her knack for relationships from her mother: She was capable of having an impersonal relationship with anybody. The delivery man would arrive at the house, and she’d say, “Sit down; have something to eat.” As a result, I find it very easy to connect with people. And that’s part of the Huffington Post. I’m bringing in voices – some well known, some not – and providing a platform.
Stassinopoulos left Greece for Great Britain during her teens and studied at the University of Cambridge. She moved to the United States in 1980. The following year, she released an acclaimed biography of one of the world’s opera greats – Maria Callas: The Woman Behind the Legend.
Stassinopoulos eventually married Michael Huffington, a secretary within the U.S. Department of Defense, and the couple had two children. The two later divorced, but Arianna kept his last name.
In 2005, Stassinopoulos (now Huffington) launched the online site The Huffington Post, serving as its co-founder and editor in chief. In March of 2011, AOL acquired The Huffington Post Media Group for $315 million. In 2016, she announced that she was leaving the company in order to start Thrive Global, a health and wellness venture. She authored the book Thrive where she makes an ‘impassioned and compelling case for the need to redefine what it means to be successful in today’s world’ – after her own experience of collapsing as a result of exhaustion and lack of sleep while she was president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group.
Huffington was named to the Forbes Most Powerful Women list in 2013 and was named to Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people, in 2006 and 2011. Her daughter, Christina, was recently engaged to Paul Needham, a media investor.
- CRIS ANGEL – New York
$50 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos was born on December 19, 1967 in the Town of North Hempstead, New York, to Dimitra and John Sarantakos. His father owned and ran a successful restaurant and doughnut shop.
Angel became interested in magic around the age of 7 after one of his aunts showed him a card trick. After graduating from high school, Angel opted not to go to college. Instead, he chose to follow the path of being a professional magician. He educated himself by going to public libraries frequently where he studied magic, music, mysticism, and even martial arts.
He practiced his trade in relative obscurity until he caught a big break in 1994 – appearing in a major prime time television special titled Secrets. Eventually, his popularity grew so much he ventured to the A&E Network to launch a reality show. Criss Angel: Mindfreak debuted on the A&E Network in 2005 and stayed on the air until 2011. The shows were shot in Las Vegas and featured Angel performing a number of mesmerizing illusions. The illusions often gave off a sense of danger and this contributed to the popularity of the program. His live performance illusion show titled Criss Angel Believe at Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas generated $150 million dollars in tourist revenue to the city in 2010. In 2018 he was ranked number 3 on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest paid magicians.
Angel and his brothers J.D. and Costa founded the BELIEVE Charitable Foundation in 2007 in the loving memory of their father John who passed away in 1998. The foundation works for the benefit of children, especially those suffering from debilitating illnesses and diseases. He also actively supports the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Angel won the International Magician Society’s Magician of the Decade title in 2009 and Magician of the Century title in 2010.
- GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO
$40 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Giannis Sina Ougko Antetokounmpo, 24, is a Greek professional basketball for the NBA team, Milwaukee Bucks. A bonafide NBA superstar whose fame has reached most corners of the world, Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, Greece to Nigerian immigrants from Lagos. He grew up in the Sepolia neighborhood in Athens and due to harsh working conditions for immigrants in Greece, Giannis and his brothers helped his parents financially by hawking items on the side of the street. Giannis’ basketball journey began in 2007 as he was introduced to the sport then and within 3 years was playing on local club Filathlitikos’ youth squad. In 2011, he was called up to the senior squad of Filathilitikos which competed in the Greek Basket League (Third Division) before the team was promoted to the Greek A2 League (Second Division) for the 2012-2013 season. In 2013, Antetokounmpo declared himself eligible for that year’s NBA draft where he was selected in the first round with the 15th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks. At the conclusion of his rookie season, Giannis was named to the NBA All-Rookie second team. After continuing to impress despite his young age, on September 19, 2016 Giannis Antetokounmpo signed a four-year $100 million contract extension with Milwaukee. The contract reflected the superstar that Giannis had become and the faith that the Bucks had that he would only get better. In his 6 NBA seasons to date, Antetokounmpo has been selected three times as an NBA All-Star (2017,2018,2019), two times to the All-NBA Second Team (2017,2018), selected to the NBA All-Defensive Team (2017), NBA Most Improved Player (2017), NBA All-Rookie Second Team (2014).
In addition to his exploits at the club level with the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA, Giannis is a proud member of the Greek Men’s National Basketball Team and has represented his country 38 times to date. Giannis is one of 4 brothers born to Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo. His father Charles passed away following a heart attack at the age of 54 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Giannis is an active member in the Milwaukee metro-area philanthropic community and has never forgotten his Greek roots. He gives back to Greece whenever possible and is the poster-child of Greek tourism, Aegean Airlines, and recycling initiatives in Greece. It was announced that he will be funding an indoor basketball court near Mati, east of Athens where 100 people lost their lives a year ago so that the community can continue to heal following the losses sustained. Giannis is currently unmarried, though he is in a relationship of two years with former Rice University volleyball standout Mariah Riddlesprigger.
Antetokounmpo didn’t gain Greek citizenship until he was 18 years old and because he was born and raised in Greece, he didn’t have Nigerian citizenship either, therefore making him essentially ‘stateless’ for the first 18 years of his life. While Giannis did not grow up Greek-American, the list seemed to be incomplete without the man who is inspiring Hellenes, philhellenes, and people who have nothing do with Greek alike by accomplishing such great things and demonstrating great character at a young age in the United States.