Paradigm Award Recipients
Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, and Business Leader
Mr. John Pappajohn is one of today’s most successful leaders in investing, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy. As one of the early venture capitalists and one of the most charitable Greek Americans in the country, Mr. Pappajohn’s life and achievements represents the importance of education in reaching one’s dreams.
Mr. Pappajohn immigrated from Greece with his family when he was just nine months old, and he grew up in Mason City, Iowa. His father passed away when John was only sixteen. After high school, Mr. Pappajohn worked his way through college, and it took him six years to earn his undergraduate degree in business. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 1952.
After graduation, Mr. Pappajohn became one of the preeminent, national venture capitalists when he founded Equity Dynamics, Inc., a financial consulting entity, and Pappajohn Capital Resources, a venture capital firm in Des Moines, Iowa. Since then, Mr. Pappajohn has been involved in over one hundred start-ups and over fifty IPOs, and has served as a Director in over forty public companies.
Mr. Pappajohn and his wife, Mary, are passionate philanthropists, and are dedicated to supporting education and the arts. Over the years, they have gifted more than $100 million to various causes, and have been particularly invested in promoting education. The Pappajohns have been integral to the support of business schools, entrepreneurial centers, universities, and scholarship funds across the state of Iowa.
Mr. Pappajohn has also been the recipient of many awards and sat on various boards. For many years, he has been associated with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; the National Gallery of Art, also in D.C.; and the Whitney Museum, in New York City. Mr. Pappajohn has also been a recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Award, Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award. The Pappajohns currently live in Des Moines, Iowa, and have a daughter and son-in-law, Ann and R.J. Vassiliou.
Mr. Pappajohn’s success in business, dedication to philanthropic endeavors, support for educational causes, and great respect for his Greek heritage make him an ideal example and an inspiring role model for our scholarship recipients.
“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”
JOHN F. KENNEDY