UNICEF Ambassador since 2001
National Board Member of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF since 2006
Actress Téa Leoni, who has starred in a wide range of films, including Spanglish, The Family Man, Deep Impact, and Tower Heist, represents the third generation of her family working to help the children of the world.
Her grandmother, Helenka Pantaleoni, co-founded the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in 1947 and served as its President for 25 years. Additionally, Anthony Pantaleoni, Leoni's father, is currently the Board Chair at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Téa herself has memories of Trick-or-Treating for UNICEF as a child, so when she was appointed a UNICEF Ambassador in 2001, and later a National Board Member of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in 2006, she carried on her family tradition of supporting UNICEF's mission of providing lifesaving health care, clean water, nutrition, education, and emergency relief to children and their families.
In her unique role as both a UNICEF Ambassador and National Board Member, Téa has been heavily involved in most aspects of UNICEF. These significant contributions were recognized in November 2007 at the annual UNICEF Snowflake Ball, when she and her father, Tony Pantaleoni, received the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award for their family's dedicated service on behalf of the world's most vulnerable children.
UNICEF Field Visits
As a UNICEF Ambassador, Téa has traveled to Honduras, Brazil, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and most recently, Haiti in January 2012 and has witnessed a wide range of UNICEF's lifesaving programs.
On her first official field visit as a UNICEF Ambassador in 2004, Téa observed programs in Honduras that educated teens about HIV prevention and empowered young girls to stand together against sexual abuse and violence. She has visited Vietnam twice, once in 2005 to raise awareness of the toll of HIV/AIDS on women and children, and again in 2008, to learn about the needs of children living with disabilities. During a trip to Ethiopia in October 2009, Téa visited a UNICEF-supported therapeutic feeding unit where severely malnourished children were being treated with lifesaving therapeutic formulas. She also met with students at a UNICEF-supported primary school and talked to them about the importance of clean, safe water.
On all her field visits, Téa has seen first-hand just how crucial a difference UNICEF makes for children in developing countries.
UNICEF's Haiti Emergency Relief Efforts
After the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Téa played an instrumental role in raising funds and awareness for UNICEF's Haiti Emergency Relief efforts by conducting numerous media interviews, helping to mobilize the entertainment industry, and participating in the Larry King Live Telethon.
The Eliminate Project
Later in the year, she attended the 95th Annual Kiwanis International Convention in June to announce that Kiwanis International and UNICEF were joining forces for The Eliminate Project to eliminate maternal/neonatal tetanus (MNT), a disease that kills an estimated 60,000 newborns and a significant number of mothers each year.