Lily Safra joined the Board of Directors of The Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2001. She is the chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, which was established by her husband, a well-known international banker, and philanthropist.
The Foundation supports hundreds of projects related to education, science and medicine, religion, culture, and humanitarian relief in over 50 countries, including a wide variety of programs in the area of Parkinson's disease research and patient care.
Mrs. Safra is honorary chairman of the International Sephardic Education Foundation (ISEF), which she established with her husband in 1977. ISEF is the largest non-profit organization promoting higher education for gifted Israelis from disadvantaged backgrounds. Mrs. Safra also serves on the boards of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. Among her most significant initiatives for brain science are the establishment of the $130 million Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; a cutting-edge neuroscience center and the Alfredo J. Monteverde School (which teaches science and technology to 1,000 disadvantaged children) in Natal, Brazil; and Parkinson's disease programs at dozens of hospitals and research centers around the world.
Mrs. Safra holds honorary doctorates from institutions including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Brandeis University, and Imperial College London. She is an honorary fellow of King's College London and of the Courtauld Institute of Art. In addition, she is a commandeur of France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and was named Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur by President Jacques Chirac.