Board of Directors
StayUNITED's Board of Directors governs the work of the organization. Our Board shapes the organization's direction through its mission, strategy, budget, and key policies; ensures that the finances, resources, and leadership in place are in line with the organization's vision; and monitors and improves the performance of the organization.
Chairwoman of the Board
Ismini Svensson is the Co-Founder of StayUNITED where she serves as Chairwoman of the board. She is the Founder and President of the international real estate investment firm Svensson Investments. Prior to establishing Svensson Investments, Ismini worked in Washington, D.C at the Democratic National Committee's Department of Finance. Her involvement in the American political scene allowed her to work alongside senior government officials in the Obama administration. In the years before, she founded and served as President of KConstruction and assisted in the construction of the Olympic Village for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. For her leadership and philanthropic work, Ismini has been recognized by officials at the local, state, and federal levels of government across America. She has been featured on prominent news media networks and talk shows worldwide including CNN, NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, People Magazine and more. Ismini received her Bachelor of Arts and Master's degrees in civil engineering from the National Technical University of Athens. She speaks five languages: English, Greek, Chinese, German, and French. She is a grade 9 pianist. A ballerina since the age of 3, she received multiple honors from the Royal Academy of Dance. Ismini and her husband Mark have one daughter, Rafaela, and reside in New York.
Mark Svensson is the Co-Founder of StayUNITED where he serves as Vice-Chairman of the board. A member of the All-USA Academic team, Mark studied Government at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Previously, Mark worked for the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP as part of their presitigous legal assistant program, serving clients including First Horizon National Corporation, British Airways, and Nomura Holdings. He worked for Congressman Eliot Engel on Capitol Hill and served as a Fellow under Secretary Kenneth Salazar at the United States Department of the Interior. For his community leadership, Mark has received special recognition from the White House as well as recognition from officials at the local, state, and federal levels of government across America. For the past four years, he has served as a Commitment Mentor to the Clinton Global Initiative University. He has been featured on prominent news media and talk shows worldwide including NBC Nightly News, CNN, ABC News, Fox News, CBS and more. Mark is a sports enthusiast. He enjoys playing basketball, tennis, and golf. Mark and his wife Ismini have one daughter, Rafaela, and reside in New York.
Vice Chairman of the Board
Maria Karydi, Ph.D.
Member of the Board
Dr. Maria Vlassopoulou-Karydi is a distinguished archaeologist and author. She received her Ph.D. in Archaeology from the University of Athens. She worked at the Prehistoric Collection of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens from 1974 to 2010. She has served as the Secretary of both the prestigious Central Archaeological Council of Greece (1996-1998) and the Central Council of Modern Monuments (1984-1990). Her notable curatorial work includes '1000 years of the Olympic games: treasures of ancient Greece,’ as part of a cultural festival complementing the 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia; ‘Goddesses - Mediterranean Female Images from Prehistoric Times to the Roman Period’ in Barcelona’s Museu d’Historia de la Ciutat; and ‘Jewelry from Greek Prehistory’ at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. As an author, her published works include ‘Universal Athletics - Figures and History,’ and the award-winning bilingual book ‘Arcadians - Αρκάδες,’ which received honors from the Panarcadian Federation of America. Other writings include ‘Ivory mirror handles with relief female figures’, ‘Vegetal remains from Mycenae’s Grave Circle B,’ and ‘Mycenaean Terra-cotta Models of Seats and Seated Figures.' Born in Tripoli, Greece, Dr. Karydi currently resides in New York.
Kenneth Svensson, M.D.
Member of the Board
Dr. Kenneth Svensson is a board certified family practitioner, who has been serving the needs of all ages in New York for the past 25 years. Dr. Svensson established a private practice in 1988, located on the beautiful waterfront town of Nyack, New York. Dr. Svensson earned his B.A. degree from New York University and his medical doctorate from the Universidad Central Del Este in the Dominican Republic. He completed his Family Practice Residency at UMDNJ /St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Paterson, NJ and participated in a Surgical Residency at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He is licensed to practice medicine in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Dr. Svensson is a preceptor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and was a preceptor at New York medical college for 10 years. He is a Diplomat at the American Board of Family Medicine and a Fellow at the American Academy of Family Physicians. Dr. Svensson is a philanthropist. He is involved with the Association for the Visually Impaired and the Mental Health Association of Rockland County. He is fluent in Spanish. In his down time, he enjoys cycling and rowing. Dr. Svensson is very passionate about teaching proper nutrition, fitness, and preventative medicine to his clients. He lives in New York with his wife and two children.
David J. Wolpe
Head Rabbi, Sinai Temple of Los Angeles, California, national best-selling author
His Beatitude Ieronymos II
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece and primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece
David J. Wolpe is the head rabbi of the Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California, one of the largest congregations in the United States. He was named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek magazine in 2012 and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post. He previously taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Hunter College, and UCLA. David’s work has been profiled in the New York Times, and he is a columnist for Time Magazine. He regularly writes for many publications, including The LA Times, the Washington Post’s "On Faith" website, The Huffington Post, New York Jewish Week, and many others. He has been featured on television numerous times, including the "Today Show," "Face the Nation," "ABC this Morning," and "CBS This Morning." In addition David has been featured in series on PBS, A&E, the History channel, and the Discovery channel. He is the author of seven books, including the national bestseller "Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times." David’s new book is titled "Why Faith Matters." As a result of his influence in the Jewish community, Rabbi Wolpe was selected to deliver the benediction at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
His Beatitude Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece and Primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece, born Ioannis Liapis in Oinofyta, Boeotia, in 1938, is a graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy and of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Athens and holds degrees in Archaeology, Byzantine Studies and Theology. Subsequently, thanks to a Scholarship of the Greek State Studentship Foundation, he went on to pursue graduate studies at the University of Graz, the University of Regensburg and the University of Munich. Following a stint as academic assistant to the great archaeologist Prof. Anastasios Orlandos at the Athens Archaeological Society, he taught literature at the Lycée Léonin (Leontios School) of Athens, as well as at other high-schools in Athens and Avlonas, and was ordained deacon and then presbyter in 1967. After entering the clergy he abandoned his academic career. He served as Protosyncellos of the Diocese of Thebes and Levadeia, Hegumen of the Monasteries of the Transfiguration of Sagmata and Hosios Loukas (1971-1981), as Secretary, and then Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece (1978-1981). In 1981 he was elected Metropolitan Bishop of Thebes and Levadeia, and on February 7, 2008, was elected the new Archbishop of Athens and All Greece by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, receiving 45 out of 74 votes in a two-ballot process. He shall be ceremonially enthroned on February 16, 2008. In addition to his pastoral ministry, HB the Archbishop has been pursuing his work on Christian Archaeology and has published two major textbooks, Medieval Monuments of Euboea (1970, First Prize of the Academy of Athens) and Christian Boeotia (2006), and numerous articles, studies and other books on theological, social and historic subjects.
Chester L. Gillis
Dean of Georgetown College, Georgetown University
Chester Gillis is Dean of Georgetown College at Georgetown University, Professor in the Department of Theology, and the founding Director of the Program on the Church and Interreligious Dialogue in the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. An expert on the U.S. Catholic Church, the history of Catholicism, and the papacy, his other areas of expertise include interfaith dialogue and religious pluralism. He holds degrees in Philosophy and Religious Studies from the Catholic University at Leuven in Belgium and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Dean Gillis' research interests include comparative religion and contemporary Roman Catholicism. He is the author of A Question of Final Belief: John Hick's Pluralistic Theory of Salvation (1989), Pluralism: A New Paradigm for Theology (1993), Roman Catholicism in America, Catholic Faith in America (2003), and editor of The Political Papacy (2006), as well as numerous articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries. He is co-editor of the Columbia University series Religion and Politics. Gillis served as Chair of the Department of Theology at Georgetown University from 2001 to 2006, the Core Faculty of the Liberal Studies Program from 1998 to 2008, and Director of the Doctor of Liberal Studies from 2006 to 2008. He is a recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Liberal Studies Program at Georgetown. He also served on the Executive Faculty at Georgetown and is a member of the Jesuit Honor Society Alpha Sigma Nu. A member of the American Theological Society, he served on the Academic Relations Task Force of the American Academy of Religion. Frequently consulted by the media about contemporary issues in religion, in particular, Roman Catholicism, Dean Gillis has appeared on Face the Nation, Meet the Press, The News Hour, ABC, NBC, and CBS Evening News, Good Morning America, Nightline, and National Public Radio and is a contributor to the Washington Post/Newsweek website On Faith.
All contributions to StayUNITED are tax-deductible. StayUNITED is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with Federal Tax ID Number 46-1703447.