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General News

The 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America! An Annual TNH Presentation of Our Community’s Top Achievers (31-40)

March 12, 2024
Eraklis & Vanessa Diamataris, co-Editors/Publishers

In this TNH/EK special edition of the 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America, we embark on a journey of celebration and inspiration. As co-editors and publishers, we are honored to shine a spotlight on individuals whose remarkable achievements not only exemplify the American Dream but also fill us with immense pride in our Greek heritage.

(The 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America! An Annual TNH Presentation of Our Community’s Top Achievers: 1-10)

The 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America! An Annual TNH Presentation of Our Community’s Top Achievers: 11-20

The 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America! An Annual TNH Presentation of Our Community’s Top Achievers: 21-30)

Each profile within these pages tells a story of perseverance, resilience, and triumph against all odds. From humble beginnings to soaring heights, these individuals have overcome obstacles, pursued their passions, and carved out their own paths to success. Their stories serve as a testament to the limitless possibilities that await those who dare to dream big and work hard.

But beyond their personal accomplishments, these individuals also embody the spirit of philanthropy and community service. They understand the importance of giving back and are committed to making a difference in the lives of others. Whether through charitable donations, volunteer work, or mentorship, they are dedicated to supporting worthy causes and lifting up those in need.

As we reflect on the remarkable journeys of these 50 individuals, we are reminded of the power of unity and solidarity within the Greek community. It is our shared values, traditions, and sense of kinship that bind us together and propel us forward. In times of adversity, we draw strength from our collective heritage and stand ready to support one another.

We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to our readers and supporters for making this special issue possible. Your unwavering dedication and enthusiasm have fueled our efforts and inspired us to showcase the incredible achievements of our Greek-American community and have been instrumental in bringing this project to fruition.

As we turn the pages of this insert, may we be inspired by the stories of resilience and determination, reawakening our faith in the American Dream and reinforcing our commitment to supporting one another. Let us continue to give generously to worthy organizations, especially those affiliated with the Greek community, knowing that together, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

After all, this is our community, these are our people, and it is our collective responsibility to uplift and empower each other.

  1. JOHN & CHRIS PAPPAS

Connecticut

$222 MILLION (Benzinga)

RETAIL & WHOLESALE – FOOD

Pappas, Chris & John

Since joining our list two years ago, Chefs Warehouse founders John and Chris Pappas have experienced a slight dip in their combined fortune, but this is more than offset by their company’s exceptional performance.

Moving forward, Chefs’ Warehouse, a food distributor for restaurants, showcased strong performance in Q4 2023, with 11.3% organic growth in net sales and a corresponding 11.2% increase in specialty sales, along with a notable improvement in gross profit margins. Looking ahead to 2024, the company projects significant growth, with anticipated net sales ranging from $3.625 billion to $3.775 billion, gross profit between $865 million and $900 million, and adjusted EBITDA of $205 million to $218 million. Additionally, a share repurchase program is included in their two-year capital allocation plan. The company’s strategic outlook emphasizes infrastructure optimization, integration of acquisitions, and preparation for moderate inflation. Key drivers for customer expansion include sales force growth and cross-selling initiatives, with optimism expressed for market growth in Florida and Texas, particularly with Florida poised to become a top market over the next five years.

According to the company’s website, “the Chefs’ Warehouse has been the trusted source of the world’s greatest ingredients to North America’s top chefs for 35 years, including renowned figures such as Thomas Keller, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Eric Ripert, and many others.” Chris and John founded the company, originally called Dairyland USA, inspired by their father Peter Pappas, a former “butter and egg man” who sold goods from his truck. Peter Pappas and his cousin, Greek Cypriot immigrants and Korean War veterans, founded the Veterans’ Butter and Egg Company in 1956, supplying butter, eggs, and cheeses to numerous New York City restaurants.

Chris, 59, has served as Chefs’ Warehouse chief executive officer since 1985 and as Board chairman since the company’s IPO. Prior to founding the company, Chris played professional basketball in Europe after graduating from Adelphi University in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration. Chris oversees all business activities, focusing on product procurement, sales, marketing, strategy development, business development, and operations. He also serves on the board of directors of the International Foodservice Distributors Association and the Hudson National Golf Club.

John, also an Adelphi University graduate, currently serves as the company’s vice chairman, a role he has held since March 2011. From the company’s inception in 1985 until 2011, he served as CEO. With 25 years of experience in logistics, facility management, and global procurement, John oversees the Chefs Warehouse network of distribution centers nationwide and plays a key role in corporate strategy development.

During the pandemic, Chefs’ Warehouse began offering home delivery to home cooks in New York and Connecticut to help them “stay safe and avoid long supermarket lines,” as reported by the Daily Voice. Chris stated, “we recognize that COVID-19 presents significant challenges for consumers to obtain day-to-day household foods. We are transforming our company to serve our communities in their time of need.” The management team also announced that they would donate 10% of retail sales profits to their front-line furloughed employees and other impacted employees in the foodservice industry.

Announced in May 2023, The Chefs’ Warehouse, Inc. continues its mission to be the foremost distributor of premium food ingredients to top chefs worldwide, exemplified by its recent acquisitions of Hardie’s Fresh Foods and Greenleaf Produce & Specialty Foods. President and CEO Christopher Pappas emphasizes the strategic significance of these moves, expanding the company’s reach and product diversity within the Produce category. With investments in talent, facilities, and leveraging a robust sales force, Chefs’ Warehouse has accelerated growth post-pandemic, penetrating new territories and product segments.

The addition of Hardie’s enhances national presence and introduces CW’s specialty offerings to the burgeoning Texas markets, while Greenleaf’s acquisition bolsters CW’s foothold in Northern California, fostering cross-selling opportunities and operational efficiencies in the Bay Area. This multi-year strategy aligns with CW’s goal of combining organic growth and strategic acquisitions to drive both top-line revenue and bottom-line synergies as it scales its operations.

 

  1. CONSTANTINE IORDANOU

New York

$221 MILLION (TNHE)

INSURANCE

New York University (Aerospace Engineering); Married, 3 children

Iordanou, Constantine – Verisk

Born in Cyprus as the eldest of six children to a policeman, Constantine ‘Dinos’ Iordanou was raised with a strong work ethic. In an interview with Risk & Insurance, Iordanou recalls that in the house of his father “you were expected to work hard and make something of yourself. All of the kids had jobs after school. The money they earned was theirs for pocket money – but sometimes it was needed to help the family cover its grocery bills.”

At 17, he embarked on a solo 17-day journey to the U.S., settling in Astoria, NY. He recalls calling his father, who asked him whether he had gotten a job already and whether he had registered for school – not how the trip went or whether he was OK. Eventually, he took on various jobs from pumping gas to driving cabs to washing dishes in a nursing home. Despite these challenges, he earned a BS in aerospace engineering from New York University, all while playing on the soccer team.

His career in insurance began at American International Group (AIG), where he rose through the ranks, notably spearheading the creation of an environmental liability group after the passage of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act in 1976.

Transitioning to Berkshire Hathaway and later Zurich Financial Services, Iordanou demonstrated his leadership abilities, culminating in his appointment as president and CEO of Arch Capital Group, Ltd. Fortune Magazine recognized him as a top businessperson in 2016. After ‘retiring’ in 2019, he returned to the corporate world, joining the board of directors at the Bank of Cyprus and co-founding Vantage Risk, a Bermuda-based insurer and reinsurer.

Beyond his professional achievements, Iordanou is dedicated to philanthropy and community involvement. He is a founding member of the Pancyprian Association of America and has been recognized with prestigious awards, including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Married to Marianne, they have three children and have received numerous accolades for their philanthropic endeavors, emphasizing Iordanou’s commitment to his roots and his impact on the insurance industry.

Iordanou’s involvement extends to educational institutions, having served as a trustee for Roosevelt University and the College of Insurance and Risk Management. His dedication to his heritage is evident in his support for organizations like Faith: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism. He has also been honored by institutions such as Our Lady of Mercy Academy and St. John’s University School of Risk Management for his contributions to society. With a legacy of leadership and philanthropy, Iordanou continues to inspire both in his professional endeavors and his commitment to giving back to the community.

Recently, there have been rumors circulating about Dinos Iordanou’s potential involvement as an investor in APOEL, the Cypriot professional football club based in Nicosia – specifically regarding the club’s plans for a new stadium. While his contributions to various sectors, including insurance and philanthropy, are well-documented, these reports suggest a potential expansion of his interests into the realm of sports infrastructure. If confirmed, this move would underscore Iordanou’s ongoing commitment to supporting initiatives that benefit his homeland and its community, further solidifying his reputation as a prominent figure with diverse interests and a dedication to making a meaningful impact in Cyprus.

 

  1. THEODORE ANTHONY SARANDOS JR.

California

$200 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)

ENTERTAINMENT

Married, 2 children

FILE - This Feb. 24, 2019 file photo shows Netflix chief Ted Sarandos at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
FILE – This Feb. 24, 2019 file photo shows Netflix chief Ted Sarandos at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Theodore Anthony Sarandos Jr., a prominent figure in the entertainment industry hailing from California, boasts a staggering net worth of $200 million. As the co-CEO and Chief Content Officer of Netflix, this Greek-American entrepreneur has made substantial contributions to the art of storytelling. In a recent interview with The Standard, he delved into his Greek heritage and discussed his paternal grandfather’s immigration to the U.S. from the Greek island of Samos as a young boy, during which the family name was changed from Kariotakis to Sarandos.

Sarandos spoke about his first visit to Samos with his children: “My father described it: ‘You get into the port. Make a left. Look up the hill. There’s a yellow house with goats in the yard.’ I’m like, ‘it can’t be that simple.’ But it was. My kids were excited to meet their family. We knocked on the door, but they didn’t speak English, and I didn’t speak Greek. So, I tried to explain who I was, and finally, they closed the door on us. Sarah [his daughter] started crying, ‘I thought we were going to see our family.’ I said, ‘Sarah, imagine if someone came to the door and started screaming at you in Chinese.’ But back at the hotel, the manager wrote them a letter. So, I handed it to them, and five minutes later, we were eating and drinking together.”

On May 18, Sarandos will be bestowed with the PEN America 2023 Spring Literary Gala Business Visionary Award in recognition of the significant impact that Netflix has had on the art of storytelling and society at large, particularly through critical content such as book adaptations.

Sarandos’ illustrious career has seen him rise from working as a store manager for the Arizona Video Cassettes West chain to becoming the Western regional director of Sales and Operations for East Texas Distributors and Vice President of Product and Merchandising for Video City/West Coast Video. In 2000, he joined Netflix, which has since celebrated a decade of original programming under his leadership. During the April-June period of 2020, Netflix acquired 10.1 million worldwide subscribers, more than triple its usual additions. Presently, the streamer boasts over 221 million paid memberships in over 190 countries.

Sarandos is best known for his role in producing popular television series such as ‘House of Cards’, ‘Arrested Development’, ‘Orange is the New Black’, ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Dark’ (Germany), ‘La Casa De Papel’ (Spain), and ‘Sacred Games’ (India). He has also overseen the production of original films, including ‘The Irishman’, ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’, ‘Bright’, ‘Bird Box’, and the Academy Award-winning film ‘ROMA’. Netflix’s productions frequently receive critical acclaim, enabling the company to dominate during awards season. Netflix counts even former President and Michelle Obama’s production company among its partners, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have also signed a deal to make programs with the streamer. Just in the past year, Netflix has announced plans for a ‘Leo’ sequel, a new season of the hit Korean game show, ‘Squid Game’, and unexpectedly boosted its viewership by acquiring the legal drama ‘Suits’ and featuring it prominently to customers. For his outstanding leadership of Netflix, in December, it was reported that a pay package was approved, netting Sarandos a 2024 salary of $40 million for the year.

Additionally, Sarandos was instrumental in signing hit creator Shonda Rhimes onto the platform, resulting in shows like ‘Bridgerton’ and the recent hit ‘Discovering Anna’. He is also responsible for the company’s sizable investment in the UK, which has yielded over 40 shows, including global hits like ‘Our Planet’ and ‘The Crown.’ Two years ago, he made the biggest deal in Netflix’s history, acquiring the Roald Dahl Story Company for $700 million.

Sarandos has two children from his marriage to Michelle Sarandos, and he is currently married to Nicole Avant, the former United States Ambassador to the Bahamas from 2009-2011, who was appointed to the post by former President Barack Obama. In addition to his roles at Netflix, he serves on the boards of the Tribeca Festival and the Los Angeles Film Festival and has been named Consultant of the Digital Entertainment Group. Since 2016, he has also served on Spotify’s board. In recognition of his impressive achievements, he was listed among the 100 most influential people in the world in the ‘Titans’ list of Time magazine (AKA TIME 100).

 

  1. PETER DIAMANDIS

California

$200 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)

ENTREPRENEUR

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Biology, Molecular Genetics); Harvard Medical School; Married, 2 children

Diamandis, Peter – LinkedIn

We were correct in our prediction last year: Peter Diamandis is looking like he will be a mainstay on our list – he continues to solidify his position as a pioneering leader in innovation and technology.

Born to immigrant parents in the Bronx, NY, Diamandis’ father was an OB/GYN and his mother ran her husband’s medical office. From a very young age, Diamandis expressed a keen interest in space exploration and would give lectures to his friends and family about space. When Peter informed his parents he wanted to be an astronaut, his mother said, “That’s nice. You’re going to be a doctor.” Nevertheless, so impressed was Peter’s father by a lecture Peter gave on the planets that he presented the boy with $5, a substantial sum in those days. “My first revenue earned; my first keynote,” he recalled in an interview. “That really impacted me.”

After graduating from Great Neck North High School, Diamandis went to Hamilton College before transferring to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Molecular Genetics and Aerospace Engineering) and then continuing on to Harvard Medical School.

Diamandis has tipped his toe in many arenas. However, most notably, he has been instrumental in spearheading the XPRIZE Foundation, a renowned organization that designs and operates incentive competitions to address global challenges. Under his leadership as Founder and Executive Chairman, XPRIZE has garnered significant attention for its efforts to promote breakthrough solutions, including the recent global competition focused on extending human life and health span (the prize is $101 million) as well as finding solutions for detecting and stopping the wildfires in the American West (the prize: $11 million).

In addition to his role at XPRIZE, Diamandis serves as the Executive Founder and Director of Singularity University, a prestigious institution dedicated to leveraging exponential technologies for positive societal impact. As an entrepreneur, he has founded over 25 companies spanning various sectors such as longevity, health-tech, space exploration, venture capital, and education.

Notably, Diamandis co-founded BOLD Capital Partners, a prominent venture fund investing in exponential technologies, as well as two public companies, Celularity and Vaxxinity, both pioneering advancements in healthcare. He is also the co-founder and Vice-Chairman of Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), a leading genomics and cell therapy company focused on enhancing human lifespan.

Diamandis’ contributions extend to the field of commercial space exploration, where he co-founded Planetary Resources, a company dedicated to asteroid detection and prospecting, as well as Space Adventures and Zero-Gravity Corporation. Additionally, he serves as the co-founder and chairman of Fountain Life, a platform delivering personalized and data-driven health solutions.

As a bestselling author and renowned speaker, Diamandis espouses his philosophy of proactive futurism, encapsulated in his favorite saying, “the best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.” His principles, known as “Diamandis’ laws,” emphasize innovation, resilience, and relentless pursuit of progress. With his ongoing initiatives and visionary leadership, Diamandis remains a driving force in shaping the future of technology and humanity.

 

  1. D. JAMES BIDZOS

Virginia

$169 MILLION (TNHE)

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY/MEDIA

Bidzos, D. James. AP Photo/Richard Drew

James Bidzos, born in Greece, immigrated to the United States as a child, where his parents worked hard in the service industry – his father as a barber and his mother as a manager at a restaurant. Now 69, Bidzos made his fortune in the information technology sector, where he was a pioneer in online security. Beginning his career at IBM, Bidzos quickly recognized the importance of online security in the early 1990s.

As a former computer programmer, Bidzos played a pivotal role in building RSA Security into a leading provider of authentication and encryption solutions. In 1995, he founded Verisign to develop digital certificate infrastructure for internet commerce, establishing the company as a global leader in domain name registry services and internet security.

Bidzos served as Verisign’s first CEO from 1995 to 2001. In 2010, Symantec acquired Verisign’s authentication services for $1.28 billion. Bidzos returned as CEO in 2011, earning recognition from Fortune magazine as the 2012 Businessperson of the Year for revitalizing Verisign’s income, growth, and stock performance.

Currently, Bidzos holds the positions of Executive Chairman, Chairman of the Board, and CEO at Verisign, Inc. and has overseen the company’s growth into the largest domain name registry and infrastructure provider. It serves as the registry for all addresses that end in .com (more than 350 million (2022).The company boasts over 900 employees and generates revenue of $1.4 billion, with profits reaching $795 million in 2023. Verisign has also been featured on Forbes’ Global 2000 list.

Bidzos’ contributions to the technology industry have earned him numerous accolades, including recognition as one of Time magazine’s Digital 50 and induction into CRN’s Computer Industry Hall of Fame. Additionally, his passion for aviation led to his certification as a pilot, recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2013.

In 2016, Bidzos was honored by the National Cyber Security Hall of Fame for his significant role in shaping the cybersecurity industry, further solidifying his legacy as a pioneer and leader in the field.

 

  1. PETE SAMPRAS

California

$150 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)

TENNIS; Married, 2 children

Pete Sampras – Wikipedia, Craig O’Neal

Despite the retirement of tennis legend Roger Federer, the sport is still in great hands with a new generation of players, which include Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Greece’s own Stefanos Tsitsipas. These players are continuing to break records and make their mark on the sport with incredible skill and dedication, all while navigating the challenges of fame and fortune. While it’s important to recognize the current greats, it’s also essential to remember the legendary players who made history before this era, such as Pete Sampras. Sampras spent a remarkable 286 weeks as the #1 ranked player in the world, securing 14 major singles titles, including seven victories at Wimbledon. His quiet determination serves as a testament to the idea that success can be achieved without flamboyance, with only the French Open eluding him throughout his career.

Sampras was born in Potomac, Maryland, to Sotirios, an American-born father of Greek heritage, and Georgia, his mother who was born in Sparta. Greek culture played a significant role in Sampras’ upbringing, with the family attending Greek Orthodox Church services every Sunday. Even at the young age of three, Sampras displayed a natural talent for sports, which he later honed as a professional tennis player. Starting his career ranked at 893 in the world, Sampras quickly rose through the ranks to finish the year at a respectable 97 in 1988. He won his first Grand Slam title in 1990 at just 19 years and 28 days old, becoming the youngest male U.S. Open champion. His precise serve earned him the nickname ‘Pistol Pete’. In 1993, he broke another record as the first player to serve over 1,000 aces in a season. Sampras held the number one spot in the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) for six consecutive years, a record that still stands.

Almost 53 now, Pete Sampras retired from tennis in 2003, leaving behind a legacy that was built over years of hard work and determination. His final match against long-time rival Andre Agassi in the iconic 2002 U.S. Open final marked the end of an era. In 2007, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in recognition of his contributions to the sport. Although Sampras is ranked #36 on our list, his position is not a reflection of his continued excellence. He remains at the top of his game, just as he was when he retired.

Today, Sampras plays exhibition tennis to raise money for charities such as earthquake victims. He lives in California with his wife Bridgette Wilson, a model, former Miss Teen USA, and actress, and their two sons. However, at the end of October 2023, Pete Sampras announced that his wife Bridgette was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Since the announcement, not much is known about her condition due to Sampras’ typical under-the-radar personality, away from the spotlight.

 

  1. KOSTAS KARTSOTIS

Texas

ENTREPRENEUR

$117 MILLION (Benzinga)

Shinola founder Tom Kartsotis, left, founded Fossil in 1984, at the suggestion of his older brother Kostas Kartsotis, now Fossil Group Chairman and CEO. (Photo: Public domain / U.S. Department of Labor)
Shinola founder Tom Kartsotis, left, founded Fossil in 1984, at the suggestion of his older brother Kostas Kartsotis, now Fossil Group Chairman and CEO. (Photo: Public domain / U.S. Department of Labor)

Immensely private, Kostas Kartsotis, the Chairman and CEO of Fossil Group Inc. which designs, develops, markets and distributes consumer fashion accessories, is on our list again this year. The company products include an extensive line of men’s and women’s fashion watches and jewelry, handbags, small leather goods, belts, sunglasses and apparel.

Kosta, the son of a Greek-American family, began his career working for department store Sanger-Harris (which is now a part of Macy’s) where he learned about merchandising, branding, marketing, design, supply chain and sourcing – especially in Hong Kong and China. In 1984, as he suggested to his brother, Tom, (who was a Texas A&M student living in Dallas at the time), that he found what was to become the Fossil brand.

Tom, who went on to create the Shinola brand (a private company specializing in watches, bicycles and leather goods), still owns an undisclosed percentage of the company, but Kosta is the one that runs it now. Tom was previously included on our list, however, since entering the private sector (and as a result of the family’s very private nature), information regarding his net worth is not readily available). According to Niood, Tom has a passion for vintage collectibles, the environment and adventure. He is a collector of contemporary art, a lover of fine wines, and strong believer in giving back.

Kosta has spent the last 30 years working on the development of the company and all its entities. According to the ‘Unreasonable Group’ (a Colorado-based, international company that supports a Fellowship for growth-stage entrepreneurs, channels exclusive deal-flow to investors, and partners with institutions to discover profit in solving global problems) – of which Kosta is a mentor – Fossil is purpose-driven with a strong culture and focuses on the art and science of fashion retailing. Great creative innovation and design – combined with data-driven operational excellence are the key objectives. Nevertheless, most recently, Fossil decided to leave behind smartwatches, and focus instead on its ‘less smart goods’. Notable collaborations with iconic brands like Disney, Willy Wonka, Barbie, Star Wars, and The Flash exemplify Fossil’s innovative spirit and its ability to resonate with diverse consumer preferences. Despite Kosta’s penchant for privacy, his transformative leadership has propelled Fossil Group Inc. to prominence in the fashion accessories landscape, leaving an indelible mark on the industry.

 

  1. JOHN VARVATOS

New York

$116 MILLION (TNHE)

FASHION

Eastern Michigan University (Education); Married, 3 children

John Varvatos. (Photo: AP Photo/Julie Jacobson FILE)

John Varvatos, born in Detroit in 1954 to Greek parents from Sparta and Thessaloniki, spoke about his Greek roots in an interview with Untouchable Blog. When asked whether his collections reflect his Greek heritage, he responded that while he is unsure if they do, his passion and humility

definitely do. He grew up in a humble 100% Greek family of seven, with a father who worked as

an accountant for a nation-wide milk carton manufacturer and a mother who “had art in her fingertips” and made clothes for him and all his siblings. They lived in a small house with only one bathroom (900 square-feet as he recalls), where family and heritage were essential. He now honors the heritage of his brand and the menswear industry with great respect.

John Varvatos began his career in the design industry at the age of 17, working for Polo Ralph

Lauren. In 1990, he made the transition to Calvin Klein (CK) where he served as the head of

menswear design. It was during his tenure at CK that Varvatos revolutionized the apparel

industry by introducing ‘boxer briefs’ a hybrid of boxers and briefs for men’s underwear. This groundbreaking invention quickly rose to fame, and the ads featuring Mark Wahlberg made boxer briefs one of the greatest apparel revolutions of the 20th century. “We just cut off a pair of long johns and thought, this could be cool,” said Varvatos about his innovation. His success at CK propelled him to the top of the design industry. In 1995, Varvatos returned to Polo Ralph Lauren and took charge of menswear design for all Polo Ralph Lauren brands. During his tenure, he created the Polo Jeans Company.

In 1999, John Varvatos launched his own eponymous company, after his second stint with

Ralph Lauren. He debuted his first clothing line in 2000 and soon opened a boutique in New

York City’s SoHo district. Since then, the brand has expanded to include a variety of

accessories such as belts, handbags, footwear, eyewear, and fragrances, and is available both

at retail stores and his own stores.

Varvatos was named GQ’s Designer of the Year in 2007 and he attributes his interest in fashion to his love for rock and roll. He would observe the fashion choices of various musicians, such as Alice Cooper and Green Day. Music has also inspired his philanthropic pursuits, particularly Ringo Starr’s

advocacy for “inner peace and global peace,” both causes that are significant to him. In March of 2023, Varvatos combined his love of music and philanthropy when he served as one of the three executive producers for the seventh annual LOVE ROCKS NYC benefit concert. The concert aimed to raise awareness and funds for the organization God’s Love We Deliver.

John Varvatos experienced a setback in 2020 when his namesake company filed for bankruptcy

and was subsequently sold to Lion Capital. He tried to bounce back into fashion by launching a new brand, OTD (On this Day), but after some limited initial success, he decided to shutter the initiative. Nevertheless, Varvatos is certainly not done with fashion. In September of 2023, Under Armour announced that it had appointed Varvatos as its chief design officer.

In 2018, Varvatos launched a fragrance together (JVxNJ), and then continued their partnership in 2019 by entering the celebrity tequila market with their brand called Villa One, created by the Stoli Group. Most recently, Eater announced that Varvatos and Jonas will be embarking on yet another venture – opening a Mexican restaurant (coming in 2025) in downtown Miami.

 

  1. ELENA FORD

Michigan

$100 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)

AUTOMOTIVES

New York University

Elena Ford, Chief Customer Experience Officer, Ford Blue

Elena Ford, born in New York in 1966 and a distinguished member of the Ford family, has marked her journey with significant contributions and leadership roles within Ford Motor Company. As the first female Ford family member to hold an executive position in the company, she embodies a legacy of innovation and commitment. The daughter of Charlotte Ford and Stavros Niarchos, and the great-great-granddaughter of Henry Ford, Elena brings a rich heritage and a deep understanding of the brand’s history and values to her roles. Her educational background, with a bachelor’s degree in business from New York University, laid the foundation for her impressive career.

Since joining the company in 1995, Elena has served in various capacities, demonstrating her versatility and dedication to enhancing Ford’s global presence and customer experience. Her early roles saw her deeply involved in marketing, brand strategy, and business management, where she was instrumental in developing and launching Ford’s global brand promise: ‘Go Further’. Her vision also led to the global rollout of Ford Signature dealership design, significantly strengthening dealer relationships worldwide.

Elena’s impact expanded as she took on the role of Director, Global Marketing, Sales, and Service from February 2009 through February 2013, where she was pivotal in implementing the company’s One Ford marketing vision globally. Her leadership continued to evolve as she was appointed Executive Vice President, Global Brand and Marketing, Ford Credit in August 2007, overseeing marketing, product management, and sales support activities for Ford’s financial services arm.

In March 2013, Elena advanced to Vice President, Customer Experience and Global Dealer, a position she held until October 2018. This role saw her developing global standards and sharing best practices for planning, training, vehicle delivery, and customer interaction, not just with dealers but within the company as well. Her initiatives included leading the development and launch of the innovative FordPass and The Lincoln Way apps, which further solidified her commitment to creating a world-class customer experience throughout the entire ownership cycle.

Before her current role, Elena served as the Chief Customer Experience Officer of Ford Motor Company, where she was responsible for integrating the work of the Ford Customer Service Division, the Quality organization, Sales and Marketing, and the global dealer network. This integration aimed at fostering tighter connections between Ford and its customers worldwide, a testament to her belief that “an exceptional experience is what today’s customers want and expect.”

In September 2023, Elena took on the role of Chief Dealer Engagement Officer at Ford Blue, reporting directly to Andrew Frick, the President of Ford Blue. In this capacity, she focuses on collaborating with Ford’s global network of 10,000 dealers to streamline operations and leverage this network as a key company advantage. Her responsibilities encompass enhancing the effectiveness and cohesion of the global dealer council’s governance, upgrading retail facilities, updating training and development programs, spearheading dealer diversity initiatives, increasing community involvement, and promoting the sharing of best practices.

Elena’s commitment extends beyond her professional duties. She champions activities for Ford Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, to increase literacy skills among young people from low-income families, including collaborations aimed at increasing access to new books and encouraging STEAM education. Moreover, her board memberships, including FordDirect, Percepta, Southampton Hospital Association, the Forman School, and Fair Lane: the Home of Clara and Henry Ford, reflect her broader engagement with community and educational causes.

Recognized twice among the leading women in the auto industry by Automotive News, Elena’s contributions are not limited to Ford’s success but also encompass her active involvement with the Henry Ford Hospital and various community and business organizations, such as United Way and the International Women’s Forum, Michigan. Elena Ford’s journey with Ford Motor Company, marked by leadership, innovation, and a profound commitment to community and customer experience, continues to inspire and drive forward the legacy of one of America’s most iconic automotive brands.

 

 

  1. JASON CALACANIS

$97 MILLION (TNHE)

INTERNET ENTREPRENEURSHIP, INVESTMENTS

Fordham University (Psychology); Married, 3 children

Calacanis, Jason – LinkedIn

Jason Calacanis, born in Brooklyn, NY to parents of Greek and Irish origin, is a digital entrepreneur, angel investor, and writer. His name, which roughly translates to ‘to have done well’ or ‘good for you’, reflects his future success. Calacanis grew up working at his father’s bar in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, which he credits for developing his people skills from an early age.

Despite financial challenges, Calacanis worked two jobs to pay for college, demonstrating his strong work ethic. While studying psychology, he recognized the potential of the tech industry and began covering internet news as a reporter in the 1990s. His journalistic venture, the Silicon Alley Reporter, evolved into a prominent magazine, showcasing his entrepreneurial spirit.

In 2003, Calacanis co-founded Weblogs, Inc. with Brian Alvey (with an angel investment by Mark Cuban), a blog network that he sold to AOL for over $25 million only 18 months later. Subsequently, he transitioned to angel investing, becoming one of the earliest investors in Uber, among other successful startups. Through his LAUNCH Fund and AngelList Syndicate, Calacanis has invested in over 300 startups, including Thumbtack, Trello, and Calm.

Known for his friendship with Elon Musk, Calacanis has raised millions of dollars for Musk’s ventures and even appeared in the Twitter company directory as a staff software engineer. Additionally, he hosts popular podcasts, including ‘This Week in Startups’ and ‘All In’, covering various topics from technology to politics.

Calacanis was in the headlines a few months ago when he ‘sounded the alarm’ regarding the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). Calacanis expressed concerns about SVB’s practices and suggested that the bank’s failure could have significant implications for the tech industry. He highlighted the importance of trust and integrity in banking and criticized SVB’s alleged focus on growth at all costs. Additionally, Calacanis emphasized the need for transparency and accountability in financial institutions to prevent similar situations in the future.

In 2017, Calacanis authored ‘Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups’, sharing timeless advice from his experience as an angel investor. His contributions to the tech industry have earned him recognition as a prominent figure and a successful entrepreneur.

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