George D. Behrakis presented with award of The Hellenic Initiative by Ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis.
Greek Reporter featured the philanthropy of George D. Behrakis, Chairman Emeritus of Leadership 100, in a video on their website titled “The Strategy of Philanthropy: George D. Behrakis”. The video can be accessed at http://usa.greekreporter.com/2015/06/03/the-strategist-of-philanthropy-george-d-behrakis/
The accompanying article describes Behrakis as a legend in the pharmaceutical industry who has given away tens of millions of dollars “of his well-earned money.” In the video he is asked about philanthropy, Hellenism in America, the Greek American legacy and his belief that Greeks need to “give back more.”
“Greeks always go for the gold, not the silver or the bronze,” he memorably stated, according to the article, when he was honored by The Hellenic Initiative last fall. He stated that, “If I had listened to what people used to tell me, I would never have been successful.”
The article reprises his entrepreneurial career in the development of new effective drugs such as Tylenol, and Volmax for asthma, beginning his own company, Dooner Laboratories with minimal funding from friends and relatives, selling it nine years later and opening Muro Pharmaceuticals, a highly successful company which he sold in 1996.
“Greek Americans need a legacy in the United States. I strongly believe that,” says Behrakis, who has devoted his time to philanthropy after retiring from the pharmaceutical business, mainly through The Behrakis Foundation. He says the best reward he receives is when young Greeks get a sense of pride through his philanthropy.
A native of Lowell, Massachusetts, Behrakis cites the inspiration of his parents who were of modest means but gave what they could to their church. He and his wife, Margo, have made major donations including to Northeastern University where he studied pharmacy, to build the most modern Health and Sciences Center in the United States, an 84,000 square-foot complex. In mid-2009, the couple made a $10 million donation to establish the George D. and Margo Behrakis Wing at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.
His latest philanthropical endeavor is fighting smoking in Greece. He provided funding and is personally involved along with Harvard University in a national anti-smoking campaign in Greece in cooperation with the Hellenic Cancer Society and Dr. Panagiotis Behrakis, a well-respected pulmonary physician there.
In 2012, Behrakis received an honorary degree from Hellenic College in Brookline, MA and another from Drexel University in Philadelphia. He was presented with the Greek Heritage Award by The American College of Greece, recognizing his contributions to promoting Hellenism.