UNICEF today announced the appointment of world-renowned opera singer Maria Guleghina as Goodwill Ambassador.

“UNICEF is pleased to welcome Maria Guleghina to the ranks of its Goodwill Ambassadors,” said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director. “Ms. Guleghina’s acclaimed voice will deliver a truly powerful message on behalf of the world’s children.”

From the beginning of her career nearly 20 years ago, Ms. Guleghina, who is Russian, has been a tireless advocate for children, from organizing charity concerts to addressing the humanitarian needs of children, including boys and girls living on the street in Moscow. She supports various programs to help orphans and vulnerable children and their families, and with UNICEF she hopes to give even more as part of the UNICEF family.

“To make a real difference to all children we have to unite,” said Ms. Guleghina. “I am thrilled to be working with UNICEF to help the children of the world who are impacted by poverty, hunger or caught in conflict – and whose voices must be heard.”

Maria Guleghina has performed opposite such great tenors as Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Milan’s La Scala, London’s Royal Opera and the Paris Opera. She is the recipient of the Giovanni Zanatello Prize, the Maria Zamboni gold medal, the 1999 gold medal at the Osaka Festival, the 2001 Bellini Prize and the Arte e Operosita nel Mondo prize from Milan.

Maria Guleghina has also been awarded the Order of Holy Olga, the Highest Order of the Russian Orthodox Church by Patriarch Alexis II. In addition, she was appointed to the Honorary Board of the International Paralympics Committee.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.