I love my family and my work. I grew up in harsh dictatorship conditions in Europe, where food was rationed and as a girl, I was not allowed to have goals or aspirations. My mother is a strong and independent woman, who recognized early artistic talents in me and pushed me to study ballet and drawing after school. She taught me to follow my dreams and not let anyone doubt me. After the communist regime fell, I immigrated to Greece where I learned the language and attended school while working in a candle factory. I eventually came to the United States when I was a teenager as an exchange student and was very lucky to be supported by a kind American family, who took me in and helped me through my undergraduate studies and my immigration process. In my formative years I learned quickly to rely on myself, to work hard, and to continue my studies in order to have a better life than what was planned for girls in my country. I am now exactly where I want to be. My career in the arts is deeply rewarding and my business is gaining international recognition and making my parents proud. I have devoted my work to helping people in need, those like me, and it feels right. I was that little girl, barefoot because the only pair of shoes were reserved for school, without a lot of food in her tummy, but with intense drive and belief in herself, and when I see that now in someone else I do everything I can to help. My life and career with my husband is driven by a strong belief that we must give back and support others where we can. I like to read, a lot, and trying to return to playing piano as I used to when I lived in Greece. I am very social and love being surrounded by our generous and loving friends in our community. They’re in the arts as well and I love that there is always an exhibit or event organized by our friends that we enjoy attending.
Meet SelaMar 05, 2021
Meet StephenMar 05, 2021
I am grateful for the support and love of my family, and network of friends. I work every day to make the most of the opportunities I have been given, and the experiences I have had, and I hope to help others on their path. I grew up in the Midwest, the younger son of two loving and nurturing parents. My parents always wanted the best for us and worked to support us in whatever we chose to pursue. At a young age, I took an interest in art – I would draw on everything I could find. When I would go to the library, I would find books about art and drawing and bring them home, copying what I saw. As I grew up, and filled piles of my own sketchbooks, my parents looked for ways to support me in this passion. Not artists themselves, they would find summer art classes for me to take, art exhibits to attend, and more books and supplies to keep me going. We would travel as a family to cities around the US—and even to England and France—and they would always let me and my brother choose where we would like to go in each city. I would almost always pick a museum with a piece of art I had seen in one of my books and seeing it in person would be a highlight of my trip. I remember in high school having the opportunity to take an art history course. I loved learning in the course about other cultures, ways of thinking, and ways of making. As part of our course, our teacher arranged a trip to Chicago. It was the first time I had traveled so far without my parents, and my first taste of life in a bigger city. I was enthralled by the city, and energized by the density of people, ideas, and arts events at every corner. I knew then that I wanted to pursue a career that would help me contribute to this sense of collective culture. After I completed my undergraduate studies in the Midwest, a friend of mine told me he was moving to New York City, and had room for me in his car if I wanted to go. I could not pass up a chance to live in such an epicenter of arts and culture. We were on the road the next weekend, and in the city a few days later. I spent the summer crashing on a friend’s couch, exploring the sites and the city with a group of friends who had also recently moved, and meeting new friends. I took my portfolio to offices throughout the city, hoping to land a job that would help me stay in New York. I started my first job at the end of the summer, doing the work I had always wanted to do. My mentor from my undergraduate days had said she always thought I should pursue a graduate degree, and after a year of working in New York I decided to apply and make that next move. I couldn’t be happier that I did, because that’s where I met Sela! Our relationship would not have been possible without the help of everyone who had believed in me and helped me along the way.
Our Cuddle PupsMar 05, 2021
We have two of the cutest dogs in the world. We rescued Wicket four years ago, who is a 6-year old terrier mix, whom we found in a parking lot wandering around unwell. We gave him medical care, love and warmth, and we have loved him since the first day we saw him. He has graduated fourth grade of doggie classes with straight A’s. His trainer says he’s an over-achiever-we think he just loves the treats! He is very sweet and loves to cuddle. Somehow, he can hear when we move a blanket to sit and runs to us to make sure he gets a spot on our lap. A year ago, we rescued Sophie, another terrier mix, who was abandoned by her humans. She also needed medical care and lots of emotional support, which we had plenty of to give. Sophie has grown to be a confident little dog who speaks her mind, she lets us know when she wants to play. We are fortunate to be able to take our dogs to work, where they greet everyone in the office, and they are loved. Our colleagues save treats in their desk drawers for Sophie and Wicket. The two of them love children. We take them with us when we visit our nieces and they love playing with them and licking food from their hands.
Our HomeMar 05, 2021
We live in a vibrant multi-cultural city surrounded by close friends and amazing people. The people here are so friendly and outgoing. We felt welcome the moment we arrived. When we were new to the city we did not know more than just a few people. But quickly, thanks to the close-knit nature of social connections, and the social and supportive atmosphere, after just attending a few gatherings and events, we connected with many people who have since become very close friends. The city has everything a big city should offer - great food, cultural events, and overall energy. There is always something new to explore, something new to learn, someone new to meet. At the same time, the closeness of the community makes life here feel very intimate, and personal. Even though it is a large city with a large population, we will often run into friends and acquaintances at the store, or the coffee shop, or we will find ourselves at the same event without having planned to go together. The frequency of these kinds of “accidental” interactions help us always feel connected and involved. It is also a city where the people have a positive attitude, and it is filled with many inspiring leaders who creatively contribute to make the city a better place. The area enjoys great weather all year around and it’s surrounded by great national parks and extensive trails nearby, where hiking, camping, and exploring are easily accessible and the views are breathtaking. When not with our support community or outside, in our own home we enjoy a quiet and cozy life. Stephen is an excellent cook, we enjoy making meals in the kitchen, surrounded by good music and Sela’s many, many plants (she has a ‘green thumb’ and gardens a lot). We surround ourselves with our favorite art, books, and sweet dogs, and we often invite friends for dinner or conversations on our patio, which also has amazing mountain and city views. Sunsets and moon rises here are spectacular over the city lights.
TraditionsMar 05, 2021
Our yearly traditions revolve around visiting our families – we spend winter holidays with Stephen’s family and the summers at the beach with Sela’s. Our schedule and Sela’s family’s schedule allows for summers off, which we spend in her country in Europe. In that part of Europe, families take long vacations and there is a strong tradition of spending summers together outdoors. Everyone leaves the hot cities to be in the cool beach climate of the Mediterranean. Our family spends weeks in small beach towns swimming in amazing beaches and eating fresh seafood. Our nieces learned how to swim with us, and now they’re competitive swimmers in national teams. The blue sea is part of our lives in many ways. Sela’s brother owns restaurants and a wine business and is a great cook. Sela’s mom and brother dedicate their time to cooking traditional meals for the family, and when we come back from the beach, there is always amazing food to be had and new traditions to be learned. Sela’s father, before he passed away, was a respected writer and every summer he would have book launch events that were scheduled so that we could attend. Stephen’s brother’s house has become the family center for winter holidays, where Stephen’s parents come and we all spend two weeks together, with the kids, dogs, lots of food and warm fires. We love Christmas decorations and the tree. We have established meal traditions that we look forward to every year. Our sister-in-law is a baker and makes amazing sweets, Stephen’s grandmother’s Thanksgiving cornbread stuffing recipe is a staple, and his mom makes the best manicotti for Christmas. We all go for runs afterward to burn the calories! Stephen’s dad reads ‘The Night Before Christmas’ to the kids every year and we all love hearing it. Whenever Stephen’s parents’ schedule doesn’t make it easy to travel for the holiday, we travel to them for a couple of weeks and we spend a great time together at Stephen’s childhood home. Stephen’s parents also love museums and travel, so when we visit them our days become full of fun plans, outings, and great conversations at restaurants.
What We EnjoyMar 05, 2021
We love to travel. We have been lucky to live in many parts of the country and in Europe, where we have family and close friends. We travel every summer and visit with our loved ones, we always try to see a new town, or museum, or try a new adventure while traveling. Sela speaks four languages, and Stephen speaks three, so we immerse ourselves in the local culture and food and enjoy our travels to the fullest. Stephen took Sela to Paris for her birthday recently, and it was a fantastic trip. Stephen loves to paint and when we travel, we make time to sit at a coffee shop or bench and give him time to paint and take in the scenery, while Sela sketches. We love hanging his paintings at home to remind us of our travels. When not traveling, we love to exercise and stay fit. We walk everyday with our dogs and enjoy spending the time together to unwind. We also love to jog, practice yoga, and go on hikes. We used to bike to work, but we’ve moved to the top of a steep hill and we’re not quite able to take that hill on the way home, yet! We love music. Sela used to play piano as a little girl and is currently looking to find a small piano to start again, and Stephen regularly plays the guitar after dinner. One of the dogs likes his music, the other one finds it strange. Sometimes we have silly dance parties in the living room, just the two of us, and the dogs are totally confused and want to join. We also just love to be together, enjoy a good meal, a good book, or a movie night at home, cuddling with our dogs. Stephen loves to try cooking new recipes, and Sela loves to wake up early to spend time in her garden with her unique plant collection.