SOURCE: X PRIZE Foundation

August 16, 2007 07:00 ET

X PRIZE Foundation Announces Appointment of Mahasti Afshar as Vice President, Alliances

Former Arts and Culture Executive Will Collaborate With Progressive Organizations and Thought-Leaders to Develop Future X PRIZEs

SANTA MONICA, CA--(Marketwire - August 16, 2007) - The X PRIZE Foundation, an educational nonprofit prize institute created to foster radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity, today announced the appointment of Mahasti Afshar as Vice President, Alliances. Afshar comes to the Foundation with immense project development, fundraising and strategic planning experience in the non-profit sector.

As Vice President, Alliances, Afshar will form relationships with visionary individuals and organizations that share the Foundation's goal of spurring revolution through competition. Leveraging the intellectual and financial capital of philanthropists and the public at large, she will help cement the X PRIZE Foundation's position as the leading prize philanthropy organization.

"Mahasti's many years of development experience on projects throughout the world will be vital to the X PRIZE Foundation as we research and launch several new prizes," said Tom Vander Ark, President of the X PRIZE Foundation. "Her international perspective will be invaluable as we seek to develop prizes that will have the greatest impact on the global community."

"My mandate is to create a 'Global Alliance for Innovation,'" said Mahasti. "We want to get leading philanthropists and millions and millions of ordinary people all over the world to adopt innovation as an approach to solving problems. The X PRIZE Foundation has grown from an inspiration to the world's leading prize institute. I hope to see the day when together with our Global Alliance we succeed in turning innovation into an institution -- a way of life. We aim high. Our goal is to raise $300 million over the next five years for 10-15 prizes."

The Archon X PRIZE for Genomics was launched in Oct. 2006 and seeks to award $10 million to the first team to map 100 human genomes in 10 days for less than $10,000 each, opening a new era of preventative medicine. Currently in the development phase, the Automotive X PRIZE will be awarded to the team(s) that win a stage race using clean, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 miles per gallon equivalent fuel economy, helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and stem the effects of climate change.

The X PRIZE Foundation is also exploring prizes in the areas of health and healthcare, cancer, poverty, education, energy and many others, and plans to launch two to three new prizes each year.


Afshar comes to the Foundation from the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association where, as Director of Endowment, she completed a $110 million campaign to secure the organization's financial future. Prior to that, she served as the Director of Heritage Recognition at the Getty Conservation Institute in L.A. where for ten years she helped raise public awareness and involvement in preserving the world's cultural heritage. Afshar has designed and executed award-winning exhibitions, documentaries, print and digital publications, virtual reality galleries, and other initiatives ranging in subject from 3.4 million-year-old hominid footprints in Tanzania to the 3,200-year-old tomb paintings of Nefertari and the Sphinx in Egypt, to Buddhist grottoes in Mogao, China. She also served as the Executive Director of ARCH in Austria, an operating and grant-making nonprofit dedicated to heritage preservation. Afshar holds a Ph.D. in Sanskrit and Indo-European Folklore & Mythology from Harvard.


The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. On October 4, 2004, the X PRIZE Foundation captured world headlines when Mojave Aerospace Ventures, led by legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan and Microsoft Co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world's first private vehicle to space twice in two weeks to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. The Foundation has since expanded its mission beyond space exploration to offer new prizes for breakthroughs in the areas of life improvement, equity of opportunity and sustainability. In October of 2006, the X PRIZE Foundation announced the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for genomics, which will reward the first private effort to map 100 human genomes in 10 days ushering in a new era of personalized preventative medicine. For more information please visit or email

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