The Chairman's Award is given to recognize persons who have made extraordinary contributions (monetary or service) to the AAPG Foundation, while calling attention to the role and value of the Foundation. The 2016 recipient is Donald A. O'Nesky.
O'Nesky has certainly met the qualifications for this award not only through his service, but through his monetary donations as well. O'Nesky joined the AAPG staff in 1978 after retiring from the U.S. Air Force as a lieutenant colonel. In 1985, he was appointed as deputy executive director of the Association and the Foundation and in 1997 was appointed executive director of the Foundation where he served until 1999. During this time, O'Nesky saw the Foundation through the process of becoming an Oklahoma non-profit corporation and the establishment of the Members of Corporation.
O'Nesky joined the Trustee Associates, the major donor group of the AAPG Foundation, taking an active role in the organization by regularly attending the meetings and serving as vice-chair in 2009 and chairman in 2012. O'Nesky continues to serve the Foundation as a member of the Corporation and member of the Fundraising Advisory Committee.
While O'Nesky never had a formal course in geology, the opinion of his friends and colleges is that he has earned "a degree by association" and in 2002, they established the "Donald A. and Mary O'Nesky Named Grant, as part of the Foundation Grants-in-Aid Program. This fund annually provides grants to graduate students whose thesis research has application to the search for and development of petroleum and energy-mineral resources, and/or to related environmental geology issues for their research projects.
Throughout the year's anyone who has stopped by the Foundation booth at the AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition has likely spoken with O'Nesky, who is ever present and enjoys sharing the benefits of supporting the geosciences through the Foundation programs.
When the Foundation established its newest program, the Military Veterans Scholarship Program, it turned to O'Nesky, a graduate of the Air Forces Prestigious Air Command and Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and 2000 inductee into "Who's Who in the Military in Oklahoma" to assist with the development of the program. O'Nesky's background provided him with the beneficial knowledge and leadership skills required to make the program a reality. He now serves as the chairman of the Military Veterans Scholarship Committee, which oversees the selection of the scholarship recipients on an annual basis.