New Chairman: “The more we grow the more we can give away”
George S. Tsandikos from New York, was inaugurated Chairman of Leadership 100 at the concluding Grand Gala of the 23rd Annual Leadership 100 Conference in Naples, Florida. He served as Vice Chairman for the past two years under Charles H. Cotros of Memphis, Tennessee, whose term was completed as Chairman but who remains a member of the Executive Committee.
Tsandikos has been Managing Director of Rockefeller & Company in New York since 2003, having previously served as Vice President of J.P. Morgan Private Bank, also in New York, from 1989 to 2003. He has also worked as an Associate with Burns and Levinson, Counselors at Law, Boston, from 1987 to 1989. He holds an A.B. in economics from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, and a J.D., Cum Laude, from Boston College Law School, Newton Centre, Massachusetts. Tsandikos is a member of Holy Trinity Archdiocesan Cathedral of New York and an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
In an interview with NEO magazine he highlighted his priorities as Chairman and his vision for the organization.
You assumed your duties as another successful conference concluded. This year also marks the 30th Anniversary of L100. How does all that make you feel?
The growth and success of Leadership 100 is remarkable. Since its inception, the organization has awarded grants totaling over $38 million. Our investments now total $82 million and we continue to grow. I am reminded of His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, of blessed memory, who together with the Founders had the courage, vision and wisdom to establish Leadership 100. And now with the blessings of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, I am humbled and honored to serve as Chairman.
What will your priorities as chairman be?
First and foremost to continue to grow membership. The more we grow the more we can give away.
You are much younger that many of your predecessors. Does your election to chairmanship signify a generational shift when it comes to the organization and the way it operates?
I would not characterize it as a generational shift. Actually, at 54 years old, I am the same age as many of the Founders were when they created Leadership 100. In truth, we are an organization for all ages.
You hold a very important position in a huge company and you could help Orthodoxy and Hellenism by donating, as I’m sure you have done, some generous amounts of money to one or more causes of your choice and live happily ever after. And yet you chose to get involved, actually to become chairman of the L100. Why?
Because of the extraordinary people involved. From the dedicated staff led by the indefatigable Paulette Poulos, to the Founders, officers, board members and all members, we all share a love of our Church and Hellenism.
There has been talk that L100 doesn’t do enough when it comes to helping Hellenic education and the national issues of Greece and Cyprus in the US. Given that L100 is an Endowment Fund, is that possible in the first place and to what extent?
The amounts contributed to Leadership 100 are inviolate – only the income and capital appreciation are available for grants. Then, of course, in accordance with our Regulations, the purpose of the organization is to seed and nurture the national ministries of our Church. I feel strongly that in so supporting these national ministries, the causes you mention – all very worthy and important – benefit. Still, we have tried to be helpful in a more direct way as well. For instance, many of our members came forward and responded directly to the appeal of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios when he wrote to us and asked for our assistance for the crisis in Greece.
Despite the legal restrictions in getting L100 involved in causes other than helping the church, do you believe that as a forum it is strategically positioned to serve as breeding ground for ideas and initiatives that might expand beyond its stated purpose? I think the Hellenic Initiative, even the National Hellenic Society, are a result of such a process.
I believe the Church is the breeding ground from which all begins. So far Leadership 100 has provided scholarships to seminarians at Holy Cross School of Theology totaling over $15 million. Certainly over the years our clergy have played a key role in all ideas and initiatives that help promote Orthodoxy and Hellenism. So we need to be sure we continue to have qualified, good priests and we do not want the financial challenge of tuition to dissuade anyone. So, yes, we are such a breeding ground.
A message that you would like to extend to L100 members and the community at large?
I would like to thank the members for their commitment and encourage them to spread the word and help keep Leadership 100 growing.
After your tenure will be over in two years time, is there something in particular that you would like to have accomplished and be remembered by?
If we reach 1,000 members by the end of my tenure, I will be very pleased.