The Underdog Who Surprised the System

Last week, Barack Obama made a stop at a private residence in New Rochelle, New York. The President’s visit was covered in the media as just a roundtable to benefit the Democratic National Committee.

However, somebody who knows the Greek hosts of the event, would find a much more interesting reason behind the visit, hosted by Libra Group CEO, George Logothetis, and his wife Nitzia who runs the NY-based non-profit, Seleni Institute.

George Logothetis has met the President before, but most importantly what brings them together is a common mission to help those our society has not helped yet. The outsiders, who given the right opportunities will rise despite the odds against them… just as Obama and Logothetis did in politics and business respectively. And now they are both passionate to prove that their theory works!

Obama’s administration has launched the initiative “My Brother’s Keeper, to give every child – no matter what they look like, where they live – the chance to reach their full potential, ” while Logothetis has started life-changing.

President Obama himself urged Americans to adopt the program’s ethics: “I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds to stay on track and reach their full potential.”

Libra CEO George Logothetis and President Obama
Libra CEO George Logothetis and US President Barack Obama have one very important thing in common!

Logothetis is in fact a different kind of CEO whose idea of Philotimo-based business might not be usual practice of leaders for large corporations such as Libra, but encompasses perfectly the President’s message for offering opportunities to socio-economic disadvantaged students. In an attempt to give opportunities to students as well as discover talent, Libra runs one of the largest private company paid internship programs in the US.

The private initiative that had attracted attention from the White House before, takes in 100 interns per annum who work at the Libra Group or one of its 30 global subsidiaries. It is run in collaboration with several partner organizations. Initially the program focused on Greeks and the Greek diaspora through partnerships with Deree College and the Greek America Foundation. More recently Libra Group has partnered with Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America, a national, not-for-profit organization dedicated to public high school students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. As such, Libra is among the first organizations to respond to President Obama’s call to action under the My Brother’s Keeper initiative.

These interns are not the first within Libra’s internship program to have experienced serious social and economic disadvantage: In July The Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP) announced that it had secured internship placements with Libra.

Laurent Lamothe, Prime Minister of Haiti, commented: “We see professional training as a fundamental element to spur a new generation of entrepreneurs, to that end my government has successfully partnered with the Libra Group and HELP. I look forward to seeing this program extend to public university students in the coming months and commend all partners for their continued engagement with Haiti.”

Other Libra Internship Program partners include Miami Dade College, The Instituto Griego Atenagoras I in South America and The University of Piraeus.

And for those who might argue that there is not much help private corporations can offer for social programs unless they see their profits declining, Logothetis’ progressive ideas have led Libra’s transformation from a relatively small shipping company to a diverse multinational and multicultural conglomerate.

It seems that Logothetis’ bond with Obama goes way beyond politics, or business, as they both seem to have walked the same path, that of the underdog who surprised the system.

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