We’re pleased to showcase Lionel Simons, a senior alumnus who’s contributions and lifelong connection to AIESEC set a fine example for all of us to follow. Lionel is also a proud donor to The AAI Seed Fund 10 X €10K Campaign, demonstrating his generosity and commitment to The AAI Transformation Project.
Among his many accomplishments, he was the founder of AIESEC in the UK and a founding member of AIESEC Canada, and has a lifelong track record as a successful entrepreneur.
From his early involvement in leading AIESEC in the UK and opening eight LCs, Lionel was convinced that AIESEC had global potential. He attended his first International Congress in 1955 and chaired three ICs over the next six years.
In 1958, Lionel worked with a team to found AIESEC Canada. They were pioneers in raising the organization’s first internship with Seagram’s Corporation, along with financial support. He traveled across Canada to establish local committees in Toronto, Saskatoon, Calgary and Vancouver.
Lionel then moved to Columbia University, NY and was a member of the AIESEC US National Committee responsible for extension of AIESEC to Latin America. In 1963, he had the opportunity to meet President John F. Kennedy as part of a team of delegates brought to the White House from the International Congress in Princeton. This meeting solidified Lionel’s belief in AIESEC’s ability to act as an instrument for peace and globalization.
With an MBA from Columbia University, Lionel decided that he was not a “corporate guy,” but more of an entrepreneur at heart. He joined a small import/export company and five years later, he bought the company. This led him to own and run Denby Pottery in the UK and set up its US and Canadian distribution, expanding its business thirty-fold over the next ten years. Lionel also had stints in computer and medical imaging businesses. Today, he is involved with KleenAir Systems, a company that is responsible for bringing old vehicles up to standard emissions, minimizing toxins in the environment.
Lionel maintains dual residences in Los Angeles, California and the UK and has continued to support AIESEC as an advisor to Local Committees. Lionel also served as an Executive Board Member of AAI in 2012-2014, providing key strategic support in the early phases of the AAI Transformation Project. He travels extensively throughout the world and loves to bring former AIESECers back together again. He attributes his career path and his success in large measure to his AIESEC experience.
Congratulations on your lifelong connection to AIESEC, Lionel, and thank you for your support!