Celebrating Washington’s commitment to the importance of people-to-people exchange as a key element of America’s foreign policy, the International Student House of Washington, DC hosted its annual Global Leadership Awards on February 9, 2021 with live presentations from the historic Tudor Mansion at 1825 R Street, NW and virtual presentations and performances from participants from around the world.
2020 Global Leadership Awards Honorees
The Awards gala (originally planned for fall 2020) recognized Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) and Megan Beyer, as well as philanthropist and business executive Robert J. Abernethy, for their lifelong commitment to international education and exchange and celebrated the many supporters of ISH. To set the stage for the evening, the guests and sponsors had received a beautifully packaged Gala in a Box filled with wine and treats curated by the Gala’s Diplomatic Patrons from Portugal.
Co-Chaired by Governor Jim Blanchard and Janet Blanchard, and Lisa Barry and James Gale, the evening began with a virtual VIP reception that welcomed numerous notable Washingtonians, including including Mack and Donna McLarty, Ann and Tommy Korologos, Ed and Marie Royce, Stuart and Gwen Holliday, Ambassadors from Brazil, Bulgaria, Germany, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Singapore, Sweden, and Switzerland, and Members of Congress including Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA), among others.
2020 Gala co-Chairs
Highlights of the VIP reception included guests sharing their own personal stories on the importance of international exchange, including Ambassador Karan Bhatia, Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy at Google; Her Excellency Emily Haber, Ambassador of Germany to the United States; Philip Lauinger, Jr., a member of the Host Committee and Trustee of Global Ties U.S.; and Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA).
guests enjoy the reception
The Awards Presentation and Program opened with a welcome by International Student House students from China, Pakistan, Rwanda, the United States, and Peru who currently reside at 1825 R St NW. Eric Melby, President of the Board of Directors, then took the stage in the library of the International Student House, where he greeted guests and emphasized the importance of the organization and its mission.
The gala co-Chairs also took on the hosting duties for the evening, introducing musical performances by alumni, and exceptional resident scholars from Zimbabwe and the Netherlands, who presented the awards to the night’s honorees.
His Excellency Domingos Fezas Vital, Ambassador of Portugal, and Isabel Fezas Vital
2020 Diplomatic Chair
Ambassador Domingos Fezas Vital and Isabel Fezas Vital, the Diplomatic Chairs of the gala, shared remarks on the vital importance of exchange among students and the longstanding ties between Portugal and the United States. Ambassador Fezas Vital and Isabel led the guests in a toast to ISH and to strong ties between our two countries with a 2016 Dona Maria Amantis Reserva wine that delighted the guests.
Governor Jim Blanchard introduced Congressman Beyer and Megan Beyer by noting “Congressman Don Beyer is one of the most gifted public servants of our time.” He also highlighted Megan Beyer’s decades of service in building substantive international exchange programs. Congressman Beyer and Megan Beyer then spoke eloquently of their own personal experiences with international exchange sharing stories about Megan’s study abroad in Spain and Don’s times in Rome. The truly authentic nature of their commitment to international exchange and building relationships was dominant throughout the presentation.
Roy Randen, a student from Zimbabwe at Johns Hopkins SAIS and recipient of the scholarship at International Student House funded by Robert Abernethy, eloquently introduced Mr. Abernethy by noting, “I am a living testament to both Mr. Abernethy’s incredible generosity, and his commitment to promoting international dialogue”.
International Student House Resident Scholars Roy Randen from Zimbabwe, and Laura Hoogenraad from the Netherlands
Philanthropist and business executive Robert Abernethy then shared remarks about his life-long pursuit of higher education, dialogue, and international exchange, discussing the history of both ISH and the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies (SAIS) and his longstanding efforts to provide the much needed scholarship funds for ISH residents studying at SAIS. He then highlighted some outstanding former students who have been fortunate enough to have benefited from Mr. Abernethy’s generosity over the years, students who have gone on to pursue incredible opportunities all over the globe.
Closing remarks came from Abraham Akoi, an alumnus and Board Member from South Sudan, who is now a senior advisor at the World Bank and the guests were then treated to a special performance by a former ISH student who is a world-renowned classical pianist.