Every morning, I pull on my walking shoes and head out the door of my home in Tarpon Springs, a tiny, close-knit community near Clearwater Florida. I wave hello to my neighbor, who waves back and greets me in Greek, and walk to the quiet sanctuary of the Shrine of St. Michael where I sit and breathe in the incense – a peaceful start to a busy day, and then continue on to town for a pastry and a cup of thick, rich, dark Greek coffee. I know everyone in town by name, and most of them have known me since childhood.
Being a part of a community like this is a privilege, and not one I take for granted. I might say the same for the larger community of Tampa Bay, which has embraced me and helped me build my business into the success it is today. Giving back through philanthropy (like my support for Joshua House and dozens of other local charities) is one step I take towards supporting my city. But I also work daily to strengthen and develop the local economy by bringing together business owners, powerful people, movers and shakers, and helping them see the value in working together – and with non-profit organizations – to build their enterprises.
Being a community leader doesn’t always mean running for political office – for me, it means everything from helping a new college grad land his first job, to organizing relief efforts after a hurricane, to teaching business owners how to partner for mutual benefit. All of these actions, big and small, result in improving and building my community. See my Philanthropy page for more details on how I work with charities.