The Rene Moawad Foundation – USA (RMF-USA) held both their Annual Gala Dinners in the US in the fall. The benefits of these galas go for supporting RMF’s numerous projects and activities in Lebanon.
The first gala took place in Miami. It was organized and chaired once again by Rima Otrakji, board member at RMF-USA and President of the Foundation’s Chapter in Florida. The event took place on the very exclusive Fisher Island which is accessible only to members and cannot be reached except by a special ferry boat service.
Attending the event, the Mayor of Miami Beach, Philip Levine, (who is a potential future governor!) was delighted by the presence of – not only American citizens from Lebanese origins who are very deeply attached to their mother country – but also by the cream of Miami’s high society!
The whole audience applauded RMF decision of honoring Nadim Camille Ashi, who is a renowned and successful Miami businessman of Lebanese origin. Ashi, who received the ‘RMF Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award’, acts as CEO for a number of companies. He is also very active in real estate, business development, and the management of companies. The Four Seasons Hotel is the last gem in his collection.
Jacques Nasser, former CEO of Ford Motor Company and presently board member of 21st Century Fox and member at the International Advisory Board of Allianz, introduced the Honoree and offered him the prize.
As for the second Gala Dinner, it was held in Washington DC at the Mandarin Hotel. This Gala was the 24th Gala organized by RMF in the US capital. The large and enthusiastic crowd present at the event welcomed the honoring of two highly deserving ladies. Two women of whom Lebanon is very proud.
The first honoree was the late Mamdouha El-Sayed, wife of Elmer Bobst, a highly successful NY businessman. Mamdouha was the heart and soul of the very popular and respected Elmer and Mamdouha Bobst Foundation. This Foundation created the Bobst Library at the New York University. They also have been immensely generous with Princeton University, the American Cancer Society and the American University of Beirut.
The Elmer and Mamdouha Bobst Foundation supports also a number of Lebanese active NGOs from Tripoli, including RMF’s center in Bab El Tebbaneh that cares for around 200 working children yearly. Randa Haffar, Mamdouha’s niece who presently oversees the foundation’s activities, received a posthumous ‘RMF Outstanding Community Service Award’ dedicated to her late aunt, from the hands of Carol Mandel, Dean at the New York University.
The second honoree was Juliette Kayyem a very well-known figure in the American political circles as a frequent on-air National Security Analyst for CNN, with a responsibility at the ‘National Security Council’ as well as a lecturer at the Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, amongst a long list of other distinguished activities. Juliette received the ‘RMF Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award’ from the hands of Christian Marrone which allowed most of the presents to learn that He is also of Lebanese origins.
Nick Rahall, the president of RMF-USA, gave an address at the event in which he urged those present to provide help to Lebanon, especially during the delicate times that the country is passing through today…
The evening allowed many guests to discover the wonderful and world renowned Lebanese Soprano Tania Kassis. The Lebanese-American singer and pianist Leila Milki, entertained the whole evening.
At both events, RMF’s president H.E. Nayla Moawad, gave a keynote speech in which she first thanked the American people for the support they provide to USAID (United States Agency for International Development). She explained that the USAID is doing a lot in Lebanon and that RMF is their implementing partner in the ‘BALADI Program’. BALADI works all through Lebanon, enhancing Local Authorities who present their needs in Development. Mrs. Moawad announced proudly that, in the forth coming prorogation, RMF would be their only partner for the whole Lebanon.
And, to conclude, she stressed again the goals of the Foundation: Human Development – mainly through Education and different training programs – accompanied by a fair Economic Development which is the main prerequisite for a ‘United and Harmonious Lebanon’.