NEW YORK – Real estate mogul George Marcus is among the three benefactors of The Hellenic Initiative (THI) who will be honored at its annual charitable fundraising gala in New York on September 30.
THI was established in 2012 by Greek-Americans to help Greece through its crisis and support its long-term economic development and “all the proceeds of the gala will go to our programs in Greece, which are increasing,” its Executive Director Mark Arey told The National Herald.
“I am proud to be part of The Hellenic Initiative and to help as much as I can and the gala is all about raising money for its three prongs: philanthropy, business education, and venture investing – I am very excited about it,” Marcus said.
Now that he has been returned to power, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says it is time to focus on implementing the reforms, and Marcus could not agree more. “We care about our heritage and the people who are suffering,” Marcus said, but he acknowledged that the time for change is long overdue.
The man who made his mark in business, founding G.M. Marcus & Company, that evolved into Marcus & Millichap Company, where he still serves as Chairman, and who serves as the Chairman of Essex Property Trust and Marcus & Millichap, Inc., told TNH the new government must work to create an environment where private enterprise can thrive.
He strongly supports programs like THI’s Fellowship a New Economy, which through yearlong placements “educates business people by sending them to companies like mine and Coca Cola for a year, where they can learn business techniques,” he said.
Marcus is most interested in THI’s philanthropic track, however, and has already sent $250,000 to THI for the aid distributions of International Orthodox Christian Charities – he is one of its founders – which works closely with Apostoli/Mission, the charitable arm of the Church of Greece.
A thumbs-up from George Marcus means a lot and inspires others to support important endeavors. He is known for being a doer not a talker, and appreciating that in others, so if he has committed his time and money to something, he has checked it out and was impressed.
“We love Greece, we want to help Greece in any way that is effective,” Marcus emphasized.
When THI was established, Marcus became a Board member. “Andrew Liveris is an outstanding individual in every respect and when he asked me to join, I said ‘absolutely.’ ” His only concern was that “going in and trying to reform the government is an impossible task for us abroad…but they made it clear to me they are going through every avenue but the government, which was great.”
THI has worked with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), which has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to organization doing the best work in Greece. “They are a very sound organization,” Marcus told TNH, and the organizations vetted by SNF have also received support from THI.
FROM HELLAS TO HELLENISM
After he arrived in the United States at the age of four right after World War II – he was born in Limni on the island of Euboea – Marcus, like the other members of his generation, focused on becoming a good American.
His family name was Moutsanas, and then it became Marcus –but at some point, again like many of his fellow Greek-Americans, after establishing his family and business he reconnected with his Greek roots. Marcus and his wife, Judy, live in Los Altos Hills, CA. They have four children; Mary Jane, John, Demetra, and Alexandria and three grandchildren; Jayden, Evvie, and Marlowe.
One sign of Marcus’ return to origins was his son’s changing his name back to Moutsanas. The journey home was prompted by one of Marcus’ best friends since his Sunday School days, Kenny Frangadakis – whose Greekness was fortified by the presence of 48 cousins and relatives. Marcus had hardly any relatives nearby when he was growing up.
“I soon became more involved and met some terrific people through groups like Leadership 100,” said Marcus who is an Archon, of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
“The thing I am most proud of,” he told TNH, “is theNational Hellenic Society,” which he founded. According to its website it was “established to create a lasting network of Greek-Americans that will preserve our heritage through the sponsorship and initiation of programs that support our Hellenic culture; benefit our members and their families; and honor our ancestors.”
Marcus is very active with the Metropolis of San Francisco. Led by Metropolitan Gerasimos “they are reorganizing and better relating to their local Orthodox parishioners…we started a planning process that will make it a completely revitalized community,”responding to realties like increased interfaith marriages that are both challenges and opportunities.
Marcus is on the President’s Council of United Religions Initiative and serves on the Advisory Board of both the Washington Oxi Day Foundation and the Taube Foundation.
His Hellenic spirit also led him down another traditional Greek-American path. Marcus is the majority owner of two renowned Greek restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area;Kokkari in San Francisco and Evvia in Palo Alto.