Marianna V. Vardinoyannis

United Nations Goodwill Ambassador


Marianna V. Vardinoyannis has been an unceasing advocate and campaigner for the rights of children and the family. She is a Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO since 1999, founder and president of the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation” and of the “ELPIDA Friends’ Association of Children with cancer”. 

Inspired by motherhood, as a mother of five children herself, she has built up an extensive record of humanitarian work towards disadvantaged social groups in Greece and abroad, as well as on education, peace and cultural heritage. She struggles against human trafficking, climate change and other issues of today’s concern.   She serves as board member at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the MENTOR Foundation, the “Light of Africa Foundation”, etc. She holds BA in History of Art and in Economics, MPhil in Archaeology as well as three Honorary Doctorates in Laws, Philosophy and Human Studies.

Thanks to her and to the work of ELPIDA Association, more than 670 children for Greece and the Mediterranean region suffering from cancer were given a new chance of life. She created the first Bone Marrow Transplant Unit in Greece in 1993 and the first Pediatric Oncology Hospital in 2010. More than 1000 families of sick children have been hosted for months at the ELPIDA Guest House (est 1999). She adopted the Greek village “Makistos”, reconstructing all the houses after their destruction by fire in 2007. She supported UNESCO programs for Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world. She funded the creation of the “Alexandria Center for Hellenistic Studies” at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in 2008.  

Indicatively, Mrs. Vardinoyannis has provided emergency relief to families whose lives have been affected by war.  She co-organized two benefit concerts for children with cancer given at the Athens Acropolis by UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Jean-Michel Jarre. She supported the intercultural dialogue among cultures through the exhibition Patterns of Traditional and Modern Jordanian Handcrafts in Athens in June 2004, she organised the “Breaking the Veil” Exhibition of  Islamic Women Artists at UNESCO headquarters, as well as the Exhibition “The Unity of a Unique Monument: The Parthenon”. She co-sponsored the conference “Athens Round Table of Business Community against Trafficking of Human Beings”, held in Athens in January 2006, she created a Multicultural Kindergarten for the children of Belgrade in Serbia, she funded the creation of a Surgery Center in Gracanica (Kosovo) and she supported the UNESCO program for the education of girls in Gaza.  

She is now working for the creation of the first “Bone Marrow Donor Bank” and the first National Center for transplantations for children in Greece.