Philanthropist of the Year - Greg Skalny
Greg Skalny retired after a lifetime of apprenticeship and a quarter of a century of management in the import distribution business. With his brother, he grew a fledgling company, Willow Specialties, into The Willow Group of companies, serving the packaging, commercial display, floral, food service, and home accessories markets with a concentration on baskets and related items. Greg sold his interest in 2007, after starting his relationship with Easton Mountain where he stepped into the world of LGBTQ spirituality and embraced becoming a queer elder. He found a new way to express himself.
Greg is a 1980 graduate of Gettysburg College, and holds BA in English Literature, a privilege and legacy of his parents' emphasis on the value of a Liberal Arts education. During his tenure with Willow, he built the business through acquisitions of companies based on markets served. Among the companies acquired was Skalny Basket Company, started in 1928 by his grandfather, a Polish immigrant basket weaver; which had left family control in 1979. The business required frequent travel to Asia where Greg witnessed China's period of rapid development and urbanization, but most of his travel was to rural production areas. When Greg retired, The Willow Group was considered an industry leader. Since his grandfather's day, the companies relied heavily on immigrants, displaced persons, and refugees as a reliable labor force, providing hundreds with first jobs as they adjusted to American life.
Today, Greg devotes much of his time to Easton Mountain and is a retreat junkie. His other interests include serving on Foundation boards which direct funds to quality of life issues in the Rochester, New York community. He also serves on the advisory committee for the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies at the University of Rochester.
Greg cites a simple philosophy as a queer elder, nee Daddy.
What we all needed from our actual dads, but only some received:
- Show up regularly and consistently.
- Choose to have soft opinions.
- Be generous as prudent and able.