SACRAMENTO – In 2018, Chrysa Demos succeeded her father Angelo Tsakopoulos as CEO of AKT Investments and has now been honored as one of the Most Admired CEOs in the small-company category, the Sacramento Business Journal (SBJ) reported on September 15.
Demos “took over one of the Sacramento region’s largest land developers, which has built more than 30 million square feet of office space in Northern and Central California as well as more than 60,000 homes in master-planned communities across areas such as Roseville, Folsom and El Dorado Hills,” SBJ reported, adding that “she now leads a roughly 50-person firm that oversees 20,000 acres of farmland and wildlife preserves and is developing a mixed-use Sacramento project with 101 apartments that will likely break ground this summer and is slated for completion by 2022.”
Demos earned a bachelor’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University, then began as vice president of AKT Investments in 2008, “just as the Great Recession was starting to decimate the housing market,” SBJ reported.
Demos said that “AKT was able to persevere through the downturn because no one at the company panicked. Instead, they worked together to tackle one problem and task at a time, which helped put the company in a healthy position when the housing market rebounded,” SBJ reported.
Now that COVID-19 has sparked another economic downturn, Demos is “determined to stay positive,” SBJ reported.
“COVID-19 will have dramatic effects, but our community, our state and our nation are very resilient and we will overcome whatever challenges may come,” Demos told SBJ, adding that “these are remarkable times for all of us.”
Looking to the future, Demos told SBJ that she “wants AKT to develop more affordable housing for middle-class people,” noting that “it’s a goal that she acknowledges is getting tougher, with new energy usage regulations as well challenges like the scarcity of skilled labor, and increased tariffs, fees and environmental reviews.”
Demos “has also stewarded AKT’s long-term philanthropic work, specifically with the UC Davis MIND Institute, which has specialized in studying the causes and effects of autism since its inception in 1998,” SBJ reported.
“She has always been incredibly poised and focused,” said Dr. Lou Vismara, who helped found the MIND Institute with the support of Tsakopoulos following the 1995 autism diagnosis of Vismara’s son. “She has a genuine passion and she cares for people. It really empowers her,” Vismara told SBJ.
Demos is also “passionate about education” and “helped fund the build-out of a primary school in rural Bangladesh after volunteering as a teacher there in 2008,” SBJ reported, adding that “she was adamant about who the school should serve.”
“I said, ‘No girls, no money,’” Demos told SBJ, and “ensured that half of the school’s students would be girls to give them opportunities in a region that few women have.”
Demos earned an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School in 2018, and “is combining her business and philanthropic efforts,” SBJ reported, adding that “with her company’s homebuilding history dating back to 1964, Demos, with the help of Vismara, has commissioned studies by UC Davis Health to evaluate ways that home-design methods can better serve more vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly or medically compromised.”
Demos “approaches her leadership role with a combination of gratitude and a no-nonsense attitude typified by her father,” SBJ reported, noting that “she recalled how, on the day she took over as CEO, Tsakopoulos, whom she calls ‘semi-retired,’ told her he had a tee time in 15 minutes before leaving the office for the day.”
Demos told SBJ, “I’m very blessed because I stepped into a role surrounded by capable and competent people. I don’t do passive-aggressive. We’re very clear with mutual expectations. You can’t do land development by yourself.”
Of the COVID-19 pandemic, she told SBJ, "I am humbled by how everyone has come together to overcome these incredible challenges. I believe that we will move past this crisis by remaining focused on the things we can control and continue to do well — and safely — and by supporting one another.”
When asked about her “most notable professional accomplishment,” Demos told SBJ, “Bringing organization and structure to our operations,” adding that the “biggest contributing factor” to her success is “my family’s encouragement. Strong examples and belief in my abilities are the foundation of all I have accomplished. I learned at a young age the value of hard work, the importance of integrity and the honor and responsibility of giving back to our community.”