Lifetime Achievement Award


Elena Diaz-Verson Amos

Human Rights Activist and Philanthropist

Elena Diaz-Verson Amos was born in 1926 in Cuba, the daughter of Teresa Bana and Salvador Diaz-Verson, an eminent journalist and author. She came to the U.S. in 1944 as an exchange student at the University of Miami. Soon after, she met John B. Amos of Enterprise, Alabama, whom she married in 1945. Both attended the University of Florida’s College of Law and, upon Mr. Amos’s graduation, moved to Fort Walton Beach, where he practiced law and became city attorney.

In 1955, the Amoses moved with their two children to Columbus, Ga., where Mrs. Amos has lived for more than 50 years. During this period, Mr. Amos founded American Family Corporation, now American Family Life Company (AFLAC), the world’s largest underwriter of guaranteed, renewable specialty insurance.

Until her husband’s death in 1990, the Amoses worked together in support of many philanthropic projects and were active in their church and the schools attended by their children and grandchildren. Since then, Mrs. Amos has been increasingly involved in human rights and higher education.

Mrs. Amos is a former director of the Cuban American Foundation in Miami and the Valladares Foundation Working for Human Rights and Rights of Political Prisoners and in 1990 became the intercultural ambassador for the State of Georgia Human Relations Committee. She is the founder of the School of the Americas Support Group in Columbus, Georgia and was a delegate at the 1993 United Nations Human Rights Committee meeting. Currently, she serves as advisor to the board of governors for the National Women’s Economic Alliance.

In recognition of her commitment to human rights, Mrs. Amos was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1994. She has also been awarded the 1992 Americanism Medal of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Commanders Award for Public Service of the U.S. Army, and the 1993 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Atlanta Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Mrs. Amos is the founding member of the International Board of Advisors for the Auburn University School of Human Sciences and is the recipient of honorary degrees from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia and Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama. In addition to Mrs. Amos’s ceaseless dedication to causes in education and human rights, she is also a devoted patron of artistic and cultural endeavors.

Elena Diaz-Verson Amos died on May 3, 2000. The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer eulogized her as “an angel to many in the community.” Her tradition of service continues through the John Beverly Amos and Elena Diaz-Verson Amos Foundation, which supports educational, cultural, and humanitarian causes in Georgia and beyond. In 2003, the University of Miami dedicated the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, which houses the university library’s Cuban Heritage Collection. Financed in part by Amos and the Atlanta-based Goizueta Foundation, the building houses a conference room named in her honor.