Former L.A. Business Leader and Jewish Philanthropist Honored in Florida

George Schaeffer became the 30th recipient of Florida Atlantic University’s “Business Leader of the Year” award.
May 29, 2024
Sabine Dunner, Robin Broidy, Irina Schaeffer, George Schaeffer and Rabbi Pini Dunner

Longtime Los Angeles resident and entrepreneur George Schaeffer has been named “Business Leader of the Year” by Florida Atlantic University, which celebrated Schaeffer and his family at a ceremony at its Boca Raton campus this week.

Schaeffer is the latest recipient in the three-decade history of the award, which FAU’s College of Business has awarded annually since 1991 to “celebrate the legacies of outstanding business leaders in the Southeast region of Florida and the state,” according to a university press release.

“[George] is an incredible entrepreneur and outstanding role model for our business students here at Florida Atlantic University,” said Daniel Gropper, dean of FAU’s College of Business, in the same release. “His story is inspirational, and he is a great community and business leader.”

Schaeffer is the co-founder and CEO of People’s Trust Insurance, which provides affordable home insurance coverage for Florida property owners. People’s Trust offers policies tailored around the unique needs presented by owning property in Florida, where natural disasters like hurricanes can place significant pressure on insurance premiums and availability.

Schaeffer moved full-time to People’s Trust after selling the nail polish brand, OPI Products. Under Schaeffer’s leadership, OPI grew into one of the world’s largest providers of nail polish and tools; its products are now found in beauty parlors around the world.

Tuesday’s ceremony at FAU honored more than just Schaeffer’s business acumen. It also highlighted his impact as a philanthropist.

Schaeffer and his wife, Irina, founded the George & Irina Schaeffer Foundation in 2009 to support scholarship and student financial aid programs, medical research and humanitarian projects. The Foundation has raised millions of dollars for charitable causes around the world, including the American Heart Association, the Leukemia Research Foundation and the National Lung Association.

Much of this philanthropy has been directed to Jewish causes. Schaeffer is chairman of the board at the Bnai Zion Foundation, which established the George W. Schaeffer Music Conservatory in 2013 to offer music education in the town of Ma’ale Adumim, Israel.

While Schaeffer was honored for his contributions to the Florida business community—at a business school in Florida—much of his legacy as an entrepreneur and philanthropist runs through the city of angels.

Schaeffer moved to Los Angeles in 1981 to take over OPI Products. It wasn’t the first time—or the last, with his move to Florida more than a decade ago—that he would fly thousands of miles in pursuit of new opportunities.

Rabbi Pini Dunner of Beverly Hills flew to Boca Raton and spoke at the breakfast, telling the gathering about his many years of close friendship with George Schaeffer, whom he described as much more than a mere “Businessman of the Year.”

“To be a great businessman, it’s all about the bottom line. But to George, the bottom line is not enough. He worries about every one of his employees, and even his customers, taking a personal interest in their wellbeing, in their success and in their welfare.”

Born in Hungary to two Holocaust survivors, Schaeffer and his family fled the turmoil of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution to land in New York City, where he would spend much of his adolescence and early career years before coming to Los Angeles.

That move, said close friend and fellow L.A. philanthropist Elliott Broidy, who moved to Florida several years ago, was fortuitous.

“George was—and still is—a pillar of the Los Angeles Jewish community and one of our city’s finest business leaders,” said Broidy. “He’s committed to stewarding the same impact in his new home, and I’m glad to see that Florida Atlantic University is recognizing his pivotal work.”

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