Saturday, September 17, 2011

Profile: Helen Pantaleoni – Founder of UNICEF

Helen Tradusa "Helenka" Adamowska-Pantaleoni (November 22, 1900 - January 5, 1987) was an American silent film actress and humanitarian who was the founding director of the U.S. Committee for UNICEF, a role that she held for 25 years. Pantaleoni was the daughter of Polish musicians Jozef and Antonina (Antoinette) Adamowski, who with Jozef’s brother Tymoteusz (Timothee) Adamowski made up the Adamowski Trio. Helenka's mother was also the sister of Helena (Helene), the second wife of Polish pianist and diplomat Ignacy Paderewski.

After serving in the fund-raising arm of Polish War Relief, Helenka Pantaleoni helped found the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in 1947, and served as the organization’s president from 1953 until her retirement in 1978. Her service as president of the U.S. Committee for UNICEF was unpaid. The Executive Director of UNICEF, James P. Grant, wrote in 1994:

 “For 26 years, from 1953 through 1978, Helenka Pantaleoni served as volunteer president of the U.S. Committee. While she headed the Committee more than $113 million was turned over to UNICEF in the name of the American people. . .”

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