Author Spotlight: George P. Nassos
This month, we put Greek-American Author George P. Nassos in the Author Spotlight. Meet him!
Meet George P. Nassos
Born and raised in Chicago, Dr. George P. Nassos is an accomplished individual. A respected engineer, academic, and entrepreneur, he has long been an advocate for the environment and sustainability. He’s the author of three books. Keep reading to learn more about him and his work.
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Q&A with George P. Nassos
… on his Greek and American roots
You grew up in Chicago.
On the West Side, at the east end of the Austin neighborhood. I also attended Assumption Greek Orthodox Church as well as the Assumption Greek School when it was in the original Assumption Church–a wooden church converted into a school.
Where is your family from in Greece?
Both of my parents grew up in Tripolis in the Metamorphosis neighborhood. Both of my grandfathers (Anastasios Nasiopoulos and Yiorgos Kechris) also grew up in Tripolis but my paternal grandmother (Panagiota Haralambopoulou) was from Chrysovitsi and my maternal grandmother (Yiorgia Kolivera) was from Tziva–both villages outside of Tripolis. When my father emigrated to the U.S. at age 14, the people at Ellis Island told him he had to cut his name short, so it went from Nasiopoulos to Nassos.
… on being Greek
Has your Greek culture inspired you in your life and/or work?
Greek culture had a major impact on my life and my work ethic. I learned at an early age the principles of family life, faith in moving forward with a positive attitude, and a relentless work ethic. It can be summarized as having philotimo, the love of honor. I have gone out of my way to contribute to society and to help people as much as possible.
What does being Greek mean to you?
I am extremely proud to be Greek because of the many contributions the Greeks have provided to all societies around the world. Just a few examples are the Greek language which plays such a major role in the English language: democracy which is still applied worldwide; the Olympics which set a standard for world athletics; and I can add the arts, business and media. Right now, Greece has to be the most desired location for tourism because of the weather, the food, the islands, the seas, and more.
… on work
You are an engineer.
I have a BS Chemical Engineering from University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and an MS in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University. I also earned a PhD in Chemical Engineering and an MBA from Northwestern. I worked in various corporate roles for 30 plus years.
You are an academic.
After some 30 years in the corporate world, I went into academia where I was director of the MS in Environmental Management & Sustainability program at IIT and a similar program at DePaul University.
What are you doing these days?
Along with my good friend and academic genius, John Kalaras, and a few other academics, we are launching a new business college in the north suburbs of Chicago. It is called Ariston Institute of Chicago focusing on three curricula: business management, computer science, and environmental sustainability. We will be introducing new concepts that will make this school a model for business schools around the world to follow. We may even have a branch in Greece for EU and Middle East students.
I am also vice-president of Hydronergy, a new startup focusing on the production of hydrogen from waste aluminum. My partner and I have obtained the license of a patented process from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.
… on writing
What compelled you to write a book?
I learned so much from my parents, and shared those lessons with my children and then my grandchildren. But to be sure they didn’t forget, I decided to write them down so they could reference it later. Then I thought it would be helpful if they realized the impact these lessons had on me. So, I continued this writing and made it into the book, 15 Life Lessons from My Immigrant Parents, which I self-published.
Why are these lessons important to share?
I believe that many of these lessons, if adopted, can have a very positive impact on the life of the reader whether being Greek or any other ethnicity. On the other hand, there are some lessons that the reader will just say “that’s nice” or “that’s interesting” but not adopt them right away–perhaps maybe later in life.
If you had to pick the most important of the 15 lessons, what would it be and why?
My father often said, “Never retire”. When a person retires, he or she may start to decline mentally and physically. I know many people who retired with a nice pension, stopped working, and did very little for the rest of their life. And many of them have no hobbies or other activities to keep them busy, which resulted in both mental and physical decline.
Here’s another great lesson. “If you can do something today, you should be able to do it tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, you say it over again.” If you follow this lesson, there are many things you will be able to do much longer in your life.
Have you written or published any other work?
I wrote a book based on the capstone course I developed and taught at IIT, called Practical Sustainability Strategies: How to Gain a Competitive Advantage (John Wiley & Son, 2013). We published the 2nd edition (John WiIey & Sons) in 2020. The publisher recently asked my co-author, Nikos Avlonas, and me about a 3rd edition. The sustainability field is evolving so much there is plenty to add to a new book. I also wrote a chapter for Bio#Futures (Springer, 2021), edited by Emanuel Koukios, dean-emeritus at the National Technical University of Athens.
Will you write another book?
I have plans to someday write two other books. About 20 years ago, I wrote an environmental column for the Greek-American newspaper, The Greek Press. The newspaper eventually went digital and then discontinued publishing. I have continued writing monthly articles and publish on my website. Consequently, I am thinking of publishing most of these 200+ articles in a book titled, A Sustainable Environment: Our Obligation to Protect God’s Gift, which was the title of my newspaper column.
I am also thinking of writing a book about my experiences in the academic field. Having come from the business world, while working at IIT and DePaul, I couldn’t help but notice how inefficiently universities are run. I would like to make some recommendations for improving all the various colleges with a book titled something like, The Corporate Executive Goes Back to School: To Teach.
I don’t know if I’ll ever have time for these two books although the content for the first one is basically done.
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… on reading
What kind of books do you like to read?
Most of the books I read today deal with environmental issues and technology. However, I also read books about Greeks like The Extraordinary Greek People by Andrew Manatos. And I am planning to read Austin Lunch by Constance M. Constant.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Before I went into academia, I had more time to read because of my corporate traveling. My favorite author back then was Robert Ludlum. I have also read a few books by Thomas L. Friedman which were business and environment related. My favorite current author is Andrew J. Hoffman, a professor at the University of Michigan Business School.
… on the patriarch
Tell us about your collaboration with His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew.
About 10 years ago, I was invited to attend a small environmental conference hosted by Patriarch Bartholomew in Halki, Turkey. Five years ago, the patriarch invited me to another environmental conference, but this time it was much larger and was held in Athens and on some Greek islands. I have been very fortunate to attend meetings with Patriarch Bartholomew and have had the honor to meet and get to know him.
After he convinced Pope Francis to put the environment on his agenda, the pope presented his environmental encyclical, Laudato Si, in 2015. To implement this encyclical, the Chicago Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church created an Encyclical Working Group (EWG). I was invited to be on founding board of the EWG. I spoke at St. John the Cross Roman Catholic Church in Western Springs about how the two churches, Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic, are working together to mitigate the decline in the environment. Watch
Author Spotlight: George P. Nassos
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