The Onassis Foundation - 2003 Recipient

The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation was established in 1975, a few months after the death of Aristotle Onassis, in accordance with the terms of his hand-written will. Aristotle Onassis bequeathed approximately half of his estate for the operation of the Foundation, which is based in Liechtenstein and bears the name of Alexander Onassis, who lost his life prematurely, at the age of 25, in an air crash.

The manifold activities of the Foundation are based on the general objectives contained in the will of this illustrious Greek shipowner. The members of the Foundation’s Board of Directors define these objectives and specify their application to programs, which refer, among other sectors, to culture, education, environment, health and social welfare, both in and out of Greece. The Foundation’s activities are continuously expanding in new directions, while their inspiration, the humanitarian ideals of Hellenic Civilization, remains unaltered.

In the past 25 years the Foundation has established a large number of institutional support and fellowship programs, addressed to Greek and non-Greek postgraduate students, university professors, research scholars, artists and translators of Greek literature, elementary and secondary school teachers of Greek as a foreign language, and to institutions of secondary and higher learning in Greece and abroad.

In a vain attempt to list even a fraction of its humanist and humanitarian endeavors worldwide, it should be noted that the Foundation supports University Programs in Hellenic Studies, ensures the reconstruction of schools and provides aid to victims in earthquake stricken areas, extends comprehensive relief to refugees and victims of conflict, initiates and supports the building of orphanages, libraries, hospitals, medical research centers, churches, and the organization of Special Olympics Games. Additionally, to honor individuals or organizations, whose services in certain fields of human activity are characterized by a dedication to human values as conceived by Hellenic culture, the Foundation has established and awards the Onassis International Prizes for Social Achievement, Letters, Arts and the Environment.

In 1998 the affiliated Onassis Public Benefit Foundation USA and Cultural Center was established in New York City, with former Ambassador of Greece, Honorable Loucas Tsilas, as its Executive Director. The Hellenic Community and the American public nationwide have been the grateful beneficiaries of its masterful and eloquent academic and cultural initiatives.

The administration of the Foundation’s assets is exercised by an eminent 15-member Board of Directors. President of the Board is the visionary and internationally honored Mr. Stelios Papadimitriou, a long-time close associate of Aristotle Onassis, in whose able hands the Foundation continues to fulfill its founder’s dreams for a better Greece and a peaceful, interconnected world.


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