The United States Senate has confirmed New York businessman George Tsunis to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Greece.
Tsunis will replace outgoing Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who has served since 2017 after being appointed under the Obama Administration.
The son of Greek immigrants from Nafpaktos, Tsunis earned his bachelor’s degree from New York University and his law degree from St. John’s University and practiced law at Rivkin Radler, Long Island, New York’s largest law firm before founding Chartwell Hotels.
His work experience includes government service as a staffer in the United States Senate, an attorney at a large law firm, a director on publicly traded companies and as the chairman of multiple government agencies.
Stories about Tsunis’ confirmation have described him as a “Democratic fundraiser,” which tells only part of the story of his involvement in U.S. politics. In fact, Tsunis’ time as a U.S. Senate staffer was in service for Senator Alfonse D’Amato, a Republican from New York.
Tsunis is best known for his relationships with and support of President Biden and Senators Menendez, Chuck Schumer, Jeanne Shaheen and Corey Booker. But the first-generation Greek American also supported late Senator John McCain and established working relationships with Republican senators such as James Risch, the lead Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, and Rand Paul, also on the committee.
Tsunis has a long history of philanthropy and activism in the Greek American community which includes membership in the Faith and Leadership 100 Endowments; activism through the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) and the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH) and involvement in New York-based educational institutions and charitable organizations.
Perhaps his most significant public service achievements came after an unsuccessful bid to become U.S. Ambassador to Norway in 2014.
Tsunis was appointed to lead the Nassau University Medical Center, one of the largest public hospitals in the United States. After helping to root out corruption there, Tsunis resigned to take the reigns as chairman of the Battery Park City Authority which governs the 92-acre planned development on Manhattan’s Lower West Side. He was appointed to that position by former NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, who also appointed him as a director of the New York Convention Center (Jacob Javits Center).
Tsunis’ unique combination of experience in the private, public and non-profit sectors; his familiarity with Greece its pertinent issues and his Greek upbringing and family life — he and his wife Olga are raising three proud Greek-American children and they visit Greece every year — make him a worthy successor to Ambassador Pyatt and one that can keep improving U.S.-Greece relations headed in an upward trajectory.
Featured image: Nassau University Medical Center chairman George Tsunis at a board meeting in June 2018. (Photo by Danielle Silverman, Newsday)
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