BRYAN SKARLATOS (CLASS OF 1985) AND WIFE ELENA KARABATOS, ESQ. HONOR HIS FATHER WITH ANGELO SKARLATOS SCHOLARSHIP
March 16, 2022 — Bryan Skarlatos (class of 1985) knows what a difference generosity can make in someone’s life. A generous act allowed his father, Angelo Skarlatos, to attend college.
A man who coached Angelo in a police athletic league in inner-city Baltimore took an interest in the bright young man’s future. Angelo’s family couldn’t afford to send him to college, so the man, a Dickinson College graduate, offered to pay for Angelo’s education at his alma mater. Skarlatos’s desire to honor that generosity in some way recently sparked him and his wife, Elena Karabatos, Esq., to establish the Angelo Skarlatos Scholarship to Promote Diversity and Inclusion at Penn State Dickinson Law.
“This scholarship is about paying forward the helping hand that a relative stranger gave to my father over three-quarters of a century ago,” said Skarlatos. “It is a recognition of the need to give people a leg up when they don’t have one.”
First preference for the scholarship will be given to eligible recipients who contribute to the diversity of the student body. “There are so many people in this world who don’t have the opportunities that others have,” said Skarlatos. “Part of my opportunity came from someone reaching out and giving that helping hand to my father.”
Dickinson Law: A family affair
Angelo joined the Army after graduating from Dickinson College, where he met Skarlatos’ mother, Joyce, and then attended Dickinson Law. He and Joyce settled outside of Carlisle, and Angelo opened an office of what eventually became SkarlatosZonarich in Harrisburg.
At age 44, Angelo passed away. Skarlatos was in college, and the Law School offered his mother a job. Joyce became the first director of information technology at Dickinson Law, navigating early versions of LexisNexis, among many duties. Skarlatos, as well as his brother, Nicholas Skarlatos, followed his father’s footsteps and went to Dickinson Law. Skarlatos holds fond memories of his classmates and classes, such as a contracts class with Professor Joseph B. Kelly.
“He was one of the toughest professors I ever had but one of the best because he really made you think. He used the Socratic method when questioning students, demanding answers and critiquing them. It was terrifying, but it motivated me to be really prepared and ready for class,” said Skarlatos. “Raising your hand took a superhuman act of courage. When you’d raise your hand, he’d say, ‘I’m intrigued, why are you volunteering?’”
Following his second year, Skarlatos headed to Wall Street to work as a summer associate alongside peers from Ivy League law schools. “The legal training I received during my first two years at Dickinson Law positioned me to know everything I needed to know and more,” said Skarlatos. “In fact, I knew more about fundamentals of the law than many of the other summer associates at the firm.”
After graduation, Skarlatos moved to New York City, building a career in tax law. Dickinson Law led him to his specialty. He wrote an article for the Dickinson Law Review on international tax law that was published in the Dickinson Journal of International Law, and so when he was asked during his first summer in New York what he wanted to focus on, he mentioned the tax code.
“I liked the idea of a complex code where the answers were supposedly all in one place, but there were lots of positions to make arguments. There’s ambiguity and opportunity to advocate in the gray areas where the answers are not clear,” said Skarlatos.
In 1986, he joined Kostelanetz & Fink, LLP, where he is now a managing partner, with offices in New York and Washington, D.C. He appreciates his firm’s devotion to pro bono work and promoting diversity in the field of law, including sponsoring the pre-law society at Spelman College and Morehouse College that includes a program to help students prepare for the LSATs.
An opportunity to give back
The law is truly a family affair for Skarlatos and Karabatos, who is a partner in the matrimonial firm of Schlissel Ostrow Karabatos, PLLC and a past president of the Nassau County Bar Association. One of their two children, daughter Sofia, is also a lawyer. Sofia and their son, Nikolas, a cybersecurity expert, reside in New York. With their children grown, Skarlatos said he’s at the point in his career where he can focus on giving back and pursue philanthropy, and the scholarship offers that chance.
“The process of deciding to create the scholarship and doing it have been very rewarding and personally meaningful to me. I feel more engaged in society in general and in my own life history in particular,” said Skarlatos.
The generous gift from Skarlatos and Karabatos moves Dickinson Law closer to meeting its goal of raising $16.4 million by June 30, 2022. The gift advances “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.