Greenwich Pediatric Dental Group
Photographs by ChiChi Ubiña
Dr. Stacy Zarakiotis-Alexandrou
Tell us about yourself. Where you grew up, your education, your background.
I was born in New York City. We moved around a lot because of my father’s position in banking. We lived in Chicago for a couple of years, then Greece, South Africa, England, and back to New York City in 1990.
I was offered a seven-year undergraduate-graduate combined program. I completed the program in six years as I had credits from my A-levels in London. After graduating from dental school at NYU, I completed a one-year general residency program at Metropolitan Hospital Center/New York Medical College. I then worked for a year as a general dentist while applying to pediatric programs. I completed a two-year pediatric residency program at St. Barnabas Hospital. I also became a diplomate of the Board of Pediatric Dentistry. This diplomate status has allowed me to work with Yale New Haven Hospital at Greenwich Hospital – where we take more difficult and medically compromised patients to the operating room for any necessary treatment.
What made you decide to become a pediatric dentist?
I decided to become a dentist because I loved my orthodontists – all three of them – in Athens, Johannesburg, and London. I always knew I wanted to work with kids. When I got to dental school, I loved making teeth look beautiful with restorations – so the focus shifted from orthodontics to pediatric dentistry.
Tell us about your family.
I live in Greenwich with my husband Christos, our 10-year-old son Charlie, and our new baby maltipoo, Bella. I consider my patients my extended Greenwich family. They have supported and promoted my practice. They introduced me to my husband. They have helped me find a home in town. They have helped guide me with Charlie’s schooling and after school activities. I was set up on a blind date with Christos by two of our Riverside families and the rest is history.
How did you and Dr. Emily become business partners?
It was meant to be.
Dr. Emily and I were both taught by an exceptional pediatric dentist and mentor Dr. Patricia Lewis. Before her passing, Dr. Lewis had told Emily to reach out to me if she needed anything. When I met Dr. Emily, she had completed her pediatric specialty 10-years prior, she was pregnant with her third child and living in Rye. We met for dinner and like I said – the rest was meant to be.
You are very generous in the community. Please tell us about that.
We try to give back as much as possible especially to our local schools. I am very involved with Operation Smile because of one of our Greenwich families – the Lori family. It is so special to be able to bless a child with a smile! I am also on the board of the YWCA. Promoting and encouraging girls and women in our community is a priority for me. It is important for our young girls to know that everything is possible, and you can do whatever you put your mind to. In September 2019, I put on my dancing shoes and took part in Dancing Stars of Greenwich. Anything to help Abilis and all the amazing work they do. I won the People’s Choice Award! As a family, we try to support our community as much as possible. I even coaxed Charlie into walking the runway for Kids for a Cause/ Breast Cancer Alliance events the last couple of years. I love how proud he is to be doing something to give back and support his grandmother Marina – a breast cancer survivor. Greenwich has given me so much that I feel it is my DUTY to support events and organizations as much as I can.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time? Do you exercise?
I love to read. I love to hang out with friends and family. I love to try to new restaurants. Traveling, going to shows and concerts – that is my thing. This year that was all taken away, but I am hopeful that we will get back to it all soon.
To be honest…I hate exercising. I love to dance, but I really do not exercise. This past year, during lockdown, I started walking with friends and I love that I am not only starting to exercise a little but also spending quality time with my walking buddies. Talking everything out and walking is like therapy and a workout all in one!
Tell us about your work/life balance? Who is your “team” at home? Do you rush home for homework with Charlie?
I am still trying to find balance after 25 years in practice. It is very hard. I am very lucky to have an amazing husband who is very supportive and helps a lot. I am also fortunate to have full time help at home. It is such a relief to get home at the end of a long day and know that everything is done. Dinner is ready and I can sit down and enjoy quality time with my family. Something silly I do is light candles to make dinner romantic most evenings. I guess everyone has their quirks. I do not help Charlie with homework. I did a little dance when our 4th grade teacher told us not to help with homework. One less thing to do! To be honest, I NEED to step away, otherwise I would probably want to take over and do ALL the homework. What can I say? It is my type A personality. Getting back to balance, I think I find something that works for a while and then things change, and I end up looking for a new balance. I do not think anyone ever has it all figured out. It makes me feel better to think that!
What are the pluses and minuses of owning your own business?
Owning my own practice allows me to do my own thing. I decide where I spend, where I save, what I support, and that is an awesome feeling. I miss being part of a larger practice and the comradery of working side by side with colleagues, but I enjoy the independence of my decisions. I guess I like the control. What I dislike the most is dealing with the administrative part of owning a practice. I am happiest in a room with a patient, just chit chatting and doing my thing, while wearing as much pink as possible.
I was very fortunate to start my business as a single person without commitments and so my practice was my baby, my priority, and my patients were my family. Today, things are very different. Now that I have a family of my own, I realize how hard it is to balance it all.
Did your mother work? Tell us about your parents.
My mother was never able to work as we were transferred every two to three years. Her work was trying to get us all settled and comfortable with every move we made. Thinking back on it now as an adult, I would not want to do everything she did. She was the ultimate hostess and was there for us 24/7. This is so much harder than what I do. I can’t even imagine how difficult it is to not be able to step away. I think I took for granted that she sacrificed herself to always put her family first. To all my stay-at-home moms- I APPRECIATE you and all that you do for your families.
My father was my everything. He raised his daughters to believe they can do everything and anything they put their mind to. Bobby Zarakiotis grew up in Greece – very poor. He put himself through college and taught himself English and German. He held degrees in Education, Engineering, Law and Business. He did everything to provide for us. He came to United States with a graduate program through Manufacturers Hanover Corporation and worked his way to the very top. He is the epitome of a self-made human being who was not only successful in his career, but also successful with supporting his whole family. He was committed to pushing us all – my sister and my cousins – to do the best we can do and never letting go of our dreams. Dentistry was not his first choice of careers for me, but I think he realized in the end it is not what you do. It is about how much you LOVE what you do that catapults you to the top of your game – in work and in life.
What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of your job?
The most challenging part of pediatric dentistry is treating our patients with special needs. The bond that we have with these patients and their families is something truly special. When people speak of job satisfaction that is what it is for me. To know that you can help a patient and a family that has so many other things going on and make a small part of it all a little easier is the most satisfying part of what I do. Over the years, I have realized that our patients who cannot talk or communicate with us have a different connection to us. Whether it is a look, a smile, a sense of comfort, and security; we have a unique connection. The bond that we share with these patients makes my heart full and helps me carry on when I am tired, cranky, or just done.
Dr. Emily Gabeler-Manheimer
Tell us about yourself – Where you grew up, your education, your background.
I grew up in upstate New York, in Gloversville near Saratoga Springs. I went to Cornell University, then Stony Brook University for dental school, and Jacobi/Albert Einstein for pediatric dental residency.
How did you decide to become a dentist?
My mom is a nurse, and my dad was a science teacher. There was an influence there in terms of love of science, and a profession working hands-on with people. My father was also a very popular football and volleyball coach, seeing the influence he had on young people affected my own decision to work with children.
Tell us about specializing in children’s dentistry.
After completing four years of dental school, pediatric dentists complete an additional two years of intensive post-graduate pediatric training focusing on the unique dental needs and issues of children. We are also specially trained in treating children and young adults with special needs. We are essentially the “pediatricians of dentistry.” Dr. Stacy and I are both board-certified, which means that we have completed all the necessary pediatric training as well as an intensive multi-step examination process that validates that we have the knowledge, skills, and experience that is needed for quality patient care for our pediatric patients.
Tell us about your family.
My husband and I live in Rye with our three children, James (7), Evelyn (4) and Violet (2). We met sophomore year at Cornell and graduated together in 2004. (Go Big Red!)
Tell us about how you two became business partners.
I had always heard about Dr. Stacy and the fantastic practice that she has built in Greenwich. Her reputation is stellar, and I was always most impressed with how she has a very personal way of practicing and getting to know her patients and going the extra mile for them. This was always my goal, being part of a patient-centered practice while providing the highest quality of care. I reached out to her when the timing felt right and I had a significant amount of practicing experience under my belt, and it felt like a perfect fit from the beginning. We have a similar background when it comes to our training, and we both care so very much for our patients and the practice, so it has always felt like a very compatible relationship.
Do you have any hobbies? (Do you have time for them?)
With three kids seven and under I do not have as much time for solo hobbies these days, but I have tried to involve my children in the kinds of activities that I enjoy! We are an active family and love to be outdoors. We love hiking, kayaking, skiing, paddle boarding, walking to the beach, going on family bike rides, or throwing a baseball or football around the backyard. Now that we are past the infant stage, we can do these things altogether as a family, which is a fun new “era” for us. We also love board games and jigsaw puzzles! If I ever find myself with some alone time, I enjoy reading (and meeting up with my book club), playing the piano, and exercising.
What do you do to relax? What do you do for exercise?
Like so many, I am a huge Peloton fan! After I had my third child, I no longer had time to get to the gym. The Peloton allows me to sneak in quick workouts when I have a free moment, and I love both the spinning and the strength training workouts! I have recently started to do sunrise runs with a friend, and I have been shocked that I have been able to a) get up this early, and b) run a decent distance! I have never run before in my life, but I am enjoying this new routine!
Tell us about your work/life balance? Who is your “team” at home? How do you and your husband balance things?
I have a fantastic nanny who works for us three days a week. She has an incredible bond with my children, and I am so grateful we found someone so energetic, loving, and engaged with them! My husband is a cardiologist/electrophysiologist. Since we are both in the medical field, we have a unique understanding of each other and the physical and mental demands and stresses of patient care, especially during a pandemic! There are also challenges. As two health care worker parents, we will never have the flexibility of working from home. That is why it is essential that we have a strong support system around us. We are very fortunate to live around the corner from my husband’s parents, who are very active, hands-on grandparents. They serve as a very necessary “back up support” if my nanny is unavailable, or we need help with a drop off or a pickup from school or an activity. It is truly a team effort!
On being a working mom –
I love being a hands-on mom to my children. Of course, I wish I never missed a moment with my kids, but I try not to let the “working mom guilt” get to me. My kids see that I am happy and fulfilled by my work, and I think they understand that the work that I do is important, and that I am proud of it and it makes me happy. I appreciate and cherish the time I do have with them!
Tell us about your mother.
My mother always worked, and still does at age 70! She is a registered nurse, and now works in Hospice care. I grew up with her working a full-time job, including every other weekend and half of all the major holidays. I never felt like I was missing out in any way – she was always everything I needed and more. Seeing how deeply she cares for her patients has always had an impact on me, and this influenced me to choose a career in health care.
Who are your mentors?
I am very fortunate to have had two wonderful parents, who taught me the importance of hard work, diligence, and treating all people with kindness and respect. Both of my grandmothers were fierce, strong, smart women who ran successful businesses. I had strong male influences in my life as well. I was very close to my father and my great-uncle. They believed that I could do absolutely anything I set my mind to. They never made me feel like my options were limited because I was female. I am also thankful to have had wonderful instructors in dental school and residency, whose passion for pediatric dentistry was extremely influential to me.