Chief Executive Officer
George Contos is the Chief Executive Officer of YAI, a role he transitioned to in September 2015 from his position as YAI's Chairman. As a proactive change agent for the YAI Network, George restructured YAI’s senior leadership team; implemented a regional, person-centered operational model; and initiated an agency-wide culture shift toward innovation and engagement by incorporating technology initiatives across the organization, including in the day-to-day lives of people YAI supports. Leading YAI through a comprehensive strategic planning process, George reallocated and repositioned the organization’s financial and human resources to prepare the organization for the field’s transition to managed care.
To date, George has pursued opportunities for growth of both an organic and transactional nature, which have yielded YAI tens of millions of dollars in awards and grants from New York and California. Included among these is the prestigious START award, which enables YAI to administer a novel, evidence-based approach to crisis intervention for people with I/DD and co-occurring behavioral health needs. YAI manages START in parts of New York City and several regions in California.
Under George’s leadership, YAI has grown its arts and culture offerings and enhanced its education and rehabilitation services for children through expanded and increased enrollment at its two schools, the International Academy of Hope and the Manhattan Star Academy. In 2019, YAI launched a consulting department to introduce and share its subject-matter expertise internationally. An initiative that led to a major contract with the government of Saudi Arabia.
George’s former and current participation on nonprofit boards and government councils includes roles with the Manhattan Star Academy; the InterAgency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies; the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Joint Advisory Council for Managed Care; Care Design of New York; Building Solutions for Tomorrow; and the Mayor’s Crisis Prevention and Response Task Force. In 2019 and 2020, George was recognized by City and State as one of New York’s Nonprofit Power 100.
As a former asset manager and registered investment advisor, George developed charitable giving and legacy strategies for individuals, families, and private foundations.
Earlier in his career, he was an attorney admitted in New York and Connecticut who specialized in elder law, trust-based asset protection, and Medicaid planning.
George received his J.D. from Georgetown University, his B.A. from Tufts University, and his Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP®) from The American College. He was born and raised in Manhattan, where he continues to reside with his fiancée Jennifer and daughter Lauren.
YAI supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. It is one of New York’s largest not-for-profit organizations, with 4,000 employees and annual revenue approaching $250 million. YAI’s hundreds of health, education, and social services programs throughout Downstate New York, Northern New Jersey, and California serve people of all ages.