Margo Catsimatidis (nee Vondersaar), born in Indiana, bade farewell to her family of six brothers and sisters and set out for New York City in 1971 with a goal for a career in dance. While in Indianapolis at age 12, Margo was the youngest person ever invited to dance with the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet. In New York, Margo studied ballet with a renowned Russian instructor and appeared in numerous theatrical productions. A dance related injury directed Margo to channel her creative talent and energy into other career choices, while keeping her ballet contacts close, serving for a time on the board of the legendary Martha Graham Dance Company.
In 1973 Margo became the first secretary to the owner of a young company named Red Apple Supermarkets. This job would subsequently guide her career and life, eventu- ally marrying owner John Catsimatidis. That small supermarket chain grew into Gristedes, the largest supermarket chain in New York City. Now known as Red Apple Group, the company has holdings in supermarkets, real estate, oil refining and distribution, aviation and a newspaper. Along with her husband, this dynamic couple has guided the growth of Red Apple Group to a thriving business concern with over $5 billion dollars in annual sales.
In 1984 Margo founded MCV Advertising Associates, an advertising agency spe- cializing in retail print advertising. MCV Advertising grew into one of the premier print agencies in the New York metropolitan area.
In addition to her professional advertising career, Margo heads a wide variety of civic and charitable concerns.
Margo, along with husband John, are co-publishers of the Hellenic Times newspa- per, the largest English language, Greek American newspaper in the United States. Margo is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church of America’s Leadership 100, a group of church leaders who guide Orthodoxy in the Americas. Margo and John are the recip- ients of numerous awards and honors in the Greek American community.
A highlight of Margo’s contributions is the Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund. Founded in 1989, Margo has been a driving force behind this fund, which caps its annual fund-raising drive with the largest Greek American dinner gala in the country, with an av- erage attendance in excess of 1200. Presented annually every May in New York City, it draws many of the top entertainment, political, and religious figures in the country. To date, the Hellenic Times Scholarship fund has distributed over $2 million in scholarships to over 800 students of Greek American heritage.
While devoted to the Greek American community, Margo pays tribute to her own heritage as well, having served as Chairman of the annual Russian Heritage Foundation dinner in St. Petersburg, Florida, and a Board member of the Tolstoy Foundation. Margo’s work in heritage preservation brought her national recognition, and in 2000 she was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
Margo also serves on the steering committee of the Alzheimer’s Association and the Board of the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. Along with her husband John, they are patrons of the National Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and serve on the Executive committee of New York Hospital and as Chairpersons for the Police Athletic League’s (PAL) Annual Holiday Party for over 1000 needy New York City children. Margo also serves on the committee for the PAL women’s luncheon.
As a member of the West Side Chamber of Commerce, Margo’s direction turned a small block party into one of the City’s largest annual public events – the Columbus Avenue Festival attended by millions of New Yorkers over the years.
The Catsimatidis’ political involvement is legendary in New York. They have hosted dinners in their home for Presidents, Vice Presidents, Governors, and politicians from all levels of government, as well as being instrumental in the building of the chapel at the Presidential retreat at Camp David.
The cornerstone of Margo’s life is her family. Their daughter, Andrea Catsimatidis Cox, 22, is a graduate of New York University’s Stern Business School, and their son, John Jr.,20, is a sophmore at NYU.
The Catsimatidis’ maintain homes on Fifth Ave. in Manhattan, and East Quogue LI.
|Alzheimer’s Association Honoree||OTTY Philanthropist Award|
|Parkinson’s Disease Foundation Honoree||AHI- American Hellenic Institute Honoree|
|National Osteoporosis Foundation Honoree||PAL – Police Athletic League “Women of the Year”|
|New York City Comptroller Greek Heritage Award||World Wide Children’s Foundation Honoree|
|GMR – “Uncommon Women” Honoree||Bowery Mission Annual Valentine Gala Honoree|
|Ellis Island Medal of Honor||Children’s Tumor Foundation Honoree|
|Phidippides Award||Soldiers and Sailors Honoree|
|Greek Orthodox Church of American, Leadership 100||DeWitt Clinton Masonic Award|
|EAWC- European American Women’s Council||NY Society for prevention of Cruelty to Children|
|Vice Chairman – Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund||Board Member – Russian Heritage Foundation|
|Board Member – Parkinson’s Disease Foundation||Steering Committee– Alzheimer’s Association|
|Board Member – Tolstoy Foundation||Executive Committee– New York Hospital|
|Executive Committee– Police Athletic League|