Biographical Sketch of George P. Belitsos (A.K.A. Dr. George)
George P. Belitsos is the founder and Chief Executive Officer Emeritus, of Youth and Shelter Services, Inc. (YSS.) Headquartered in Ames, YSS provides a full spectrum of programs and services to support children and youth – from infancy to independence. YSS had its birth on the campus of Iowa State University when George was an ISU graduate student. The creation of YSS was intense in its commitment and dedication to children and youth, a commitment and dedication that has continued to the present.
YSS became incorporated as a non-profit child welfare and youth development agency in 1976. George serviced as CEO for 39 years, retiring on January 1, 2016. YSS started as Iowa’s first emergency youth shelter, and has grown rapidly to become a comprehensive child, youth, and family service agency with 27 locations and an annual operating budget of over $17 million.
The year before his retirement, 5,683 unduplicated clients received treatment services from YSS and 37,800 received education, prevention, crisis intervention, and youth development services. YSS is nationally known and accredited through CARF International.
During his tenure as YSS CEO, YSS received the prestigious Aurora Excellence Award in 2008 from the Des Moines Register, the 2010 Organizational Award from the Friends of Iowa Civil Rights, and the 2009 Outstanding Nonprofit Collaboration Award from the Iowa Nonprofit Summit. That same year, YSS received the Iowa Community Health Prize for its leadership in statewide public health and tobacco control. In 2011, YSS received the NBC-TV Today Show’s Lend a Hand Award which included a live on-site national broadcast featuring Al Roker delivering over $650,000 worth of donated cash, goods, and services to YSS. In 2013, YSS was recognized with the Partner in Progress Award by the Iowa Pride Network and the Gay Straight Alliance for its advocacy for LGBTQ youth and outreach to sexual minority homeless youth.
Dr. George has testified before congressional committees investigating juvenile delinquency and child poverty, as well as various state legislative committee hearings. Dr. George was a Presidential appointee to the National Advisory Committee for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. For four years, he chaired the Committee to Advise the National Institute for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. He was a gubernatorial appointee and served on the Iowa Crime Commission for 16 years, and the Child Welfare Advisory Committee for eight years. He was Chair of the Iowa Commission for the International Year of the Child. George was also Chair of the Child Welfare Permanency Committee, and the Out-of-Home Placement Task Force. He also served on study committees on Adolescent Suicide, Substance Abuse and Teen Pregnancy. Dr. George has served as a Board member of the National Network for Youth, and the Iowa Coalition for Children and Family Services.
George P. Belitsos has been recognized by Iowa State University for exceptional leadership, outstanding service, and effective advocacy for the young people of Ames Iowa and the nation. At the Iowa State University Commencement held on May 5, 2012, George P. Belitsos was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from ISU. He is now fondly called Dr. George by friends and former YSS clients, staff, and board.
Awards and Recognition
Dr. George received the Award for Excellence in April 2011 from the Iowa Behavioral Health Association and a Lifetime Achievement Award in December 2014 as presented by Governor Terry Branstad and First Lady Chris Branstad. In 2014, he was honored with the Business Person of the Year from the Ames Chamber of Commerce. In 2015, George received the Citizen of the Year Award from the Story County Board of Supervisors and the 2016 Outstanding Contribution to the Welfare of Children and Youth Award from YSS. On July 21, 2016, the Friends of Iowa Civil Rights presented Dr. George with the 2016 Iowa Outstanding Individual Contributions to Civil Rights Award. On July 20, 2018, Dr. George received the Character Counts 2018 Adult Citizen of Character Award from the Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University. Most recently, he was awarded the LGBTQ Legacy Leader Award on October 24, 2019 from One Iowa and DSM Magazine.
Current Volunteer Service
Dr. George serves as a member of the following statewide and international groups: The Board of Directors and current Chair of the Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery, and the Board and Executive Committee of the Partnership for a Healthy Iowa. On February 1, 2018, he was appointed by Governor Reynolds to a three year term on the Iowa Commission for Tobacco Use Prevention and Control and on September 27, 2019, he was elected commission chair. Dr. George founded and serves on the Central Iowa Service Network Against Human Trafficking. On April 1, 2018, Dr. George was elected to the board of directors of the International Rotarian Action Group
Against Slavery, and on August 2019, he was elected vice-chair.
Dr. George also currently serves as a member of the following local groups: the Mary Greeley Medical Center Patient Safety Council, the Chamber of Commerce Local Government Committee, the Story County Prevention Policy Board, the Ames Interfaith Refugee Alliance, the Board of Directors for the Story County League of Women Voters, co-chair of the Ames United Church of Christ Social Justice Committee, and the Board of Directors of the Rotary Club of Ames. Dr. George is also a longtime member of the Ames Noon Kiwanis Club.