2009 Garden State Woman of the Year - Global Impact
Aphrodite Tsairis – Co-Founder, Alexia Foundation for World Peace and Cultural Understanding
Aphrodite Thevos Tsairis is a truly remarkable woman. While many women experience tragedy in their lives, it takes a very special person to rise above the grief to turn personal pain into a catalyst for action for the better good.
Aphrodite’s daughter Alexia was a photojournalism student, returning from a semester in London, when she became a victim of the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pam Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. In 1989, Aphrodite co-founded the Alexia Foundation for World Peace and Cultural Understanding, to promote the power of photojournalism to give voice to social injustice and to understand cultural difference as a strength – not a weakness. Through grants and scholarships, the Alexia Foundation has supported photographers as agents for change for 20 years. In conjunction with seminars on photojournalism, the Foundation has exhibited award-winning photographs at the United Nations and at galleries around the world.
Aphrodite was a strong leader in the US demanding justice and improved airline security in the aftermath of the Pan Am 103 bombing. Through 2005 she held many leadership positions including chairperson of The Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Chairperson of the Terrorism Watch Committee, a contributing author of the Aviation Security Improvement Act of 1990 and family liaison to the President’s Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism of 1990.
Through her work with the Alexia Foundation for World Peace she is an inspiration for all women. This year the Alexia Foundation has commissioned last years award winner to develop a multimedia presentation about the plight of abused women in India to highlight violence against women as an historic and worldwide phenomenon, thus creating awareness about this injustice and its consequences to tens of thousands of women and girls.