THI/TNH Takeover – James Karivalis

Welcome to TNH’s second Takeover! In collaboration with The Hellenic Initiative (THI), The National Herald and THI have begun a partnership to introduce the NEXTGEN of Greek/Cypriot ‘movers and shakers’ to the rest of our Diaspora community around the world. Established to inform its readers about all things related to our homeland and its respective communities throughout the world, TNH is now providing THI’s New Leaders (40-years-old and younger), with a new platform to showcase their ideas and to engage their communities in a deeper, more meaningful way while simultaneously building a bridge to Greece and Cyprus. Our second featured New Leader is James Karivalis. Get to know him below!


James Karivalis

Alma Mater?

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

Current City?

Split time between New York, NY and Hammonton, NJ

Where in Greece are you from?

My grandfather was born and lived on the island of Chios before immigrating to the United States as a teenager


Private Equity Vice President

What motivated you to get involved with THI?

During our time as undergraduates, fellow new leader Anthony Liveris and I served on the executive board of PennHellenic, the Hellenic Student Association at the University of Pennsylvania. Years after graduating, Anthony contacted me that he was starting something new that would connect global Greeks to focus on uplifting our homeland. The organization would invest in nonprofits, entrepreneurs, and small businesses core to that mission, emphasizing impact and outcome. I saw the mission that The Hellenic Initiative had set out to achieve, and I was honored to be invited to join this effort.

What do you hope to achieve through THI?

I want to help connect those from the global Greek diaspora and raise awareness about the most salient issues impacting Greece.

Favorite activity to take part in where you live?

In my free time I enjoy chess, squash, and surfing.

Favorite place to take your non-Greek friends when they visit you in Greece/Cyprus?


Go-to Greek dish/drink when you're missing the homeland?

Mediterranean Snapper served the Greek way

Favorite Greek product you can find outside of Greece?

Greek yogurt

Top three people of Greek/Cypriot descent you admire?

  1. Jennifer Aniston
  2. John Stamos
  3. Tommy Lee

In addition to THI, how are you involved in/help the Greek/Cypriot community?

In addition to staying connected through church, I often celebrate my Greek heritage!

What is the biggest crisis Greece/Cyprus faces today?

Greece has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Europe. Although this metric has trended downward since the global financial crisis, Greece still has the second highest youth unemployment rate in the European Union, after Spain, as of June 2020. I think that innovation, education, and infrastructure investment are most likely to solve the problem in the long term.

One piece of advice an elder has given you that has proved invaluable?

Value deeply your community and what makes you different.

Favorite quote from a Greek philosopher?

Know thyself

One Greek/Cypriot tradition you'll never stop keeping?

Red eggs on Easter

How has your Hellenic background helped shape who you are today?

My entire life I’ve been blessed – I carried my grandfather’s name. Born into poverty on the Greek island Chios, my grandfather James Karivalis had no money for shoes. Wild cats ate his food. He immigrated to the United States and made a name for himself in the restaurant industry. The family he created will never fully comprehend the depths of his impoverished childhood. Papou’s virtues were discipline, creativity, tolerance, temperance, and a slick sense of style. It was Papou who pushed me to attend Wharton. He convinced me that a career in finance would be best over the long term. I bear his name with purpose.

Life Motto?

Carpe diem. Seize the day!


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