24th Annual D.C. Benefit Gala (2017)
The René Moawad Foundation USA held its 24th Annual Washington Benefit Gala at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, DC where around 300 people from the Arab American and Lebanese American Communities, the Arab diplomatic corps and representatives from the State Department and NGOs that work in the region were in attendance.
The evening honored two very deserving individuals of Lebanese descent. The first honoree was Mrs. Juliette Kayyem a national leader in homeland and national security who is currently a CEO of Zemcar, a lifestyle company focused on connecting busy parents with qualified drivers to solve their family’s transportation needs. A frequent on-air national security analyst for CNN, Kayyem also serves as the Faculty Director of the Homeland Security Project at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where she is also the Robert and Renee Belfer Lecturer in International Security. Mrs. Kayyem received the RMF Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award. She was presented by Mr. Christian Marrone who it turns out was part Lebanese himself and CSRA’s Senior Vice President, External Relations and Chief of Staff, a company that provides information technology services to U.S. government clients in national security, civil government, and health care and public health. Additionally, he currently serves as a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council and the Aspen Homeland Security Forum.
The Outstanding Community Service Award was presented to The Mamdouha and Elmer Bobst Foundation. Mamdouha El-Sayed was appointed as a Lebanese delegate to the UN, one of only a few females to assume such a post. She married Elmer Bobst, a successful NY businessman and pharmaceutical executive who shared her interests in public health. Together, they created The Elmer and Mamdouha Bobst Foundation, which over the years has made significant and transformative donations to the fields of medicine and health, education, social justice and animal welfare. The foundation has given considerable amounts of money to some of the world’s most distinguished institutions, including New York University, Princeton University, and The American Cancer Society. But perhaps Mrs. Bobst’s most passionate mission was supporting her homeland’s numerous charitable organizations and her alma mater, The American University of Beirut. The Foundation also supports many other Lebanese NGOS through the René Moawad Foundation. Mrs. Randa El-Sayed Haffar, the niece of Mrs. Bobst accepted the award on behalf of the Foundation which was presented by Dean Carol Mandel, Dean of the New York University (NYU) Division of Libraries.
Farah Pandith, a diplomatic entrepreneur, foreign policy strategist and author served as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening. Both RMF USA Chairman Congressman Nick Rahall and HE Nayla Moawad spoke on behalf of the René Moawad Foundation. Mrs. Moawad thanked everyone for their continued support and highlighted the USAID Baladi project which RMF is undertaking in Lebanon. She stressed the fact that when ignorance, poverty and hopelessness prevail, it becomes the perfect recipe for a future terrorist. That is why RMF works so hard on human development through education as well as economic development to attain a harmonious and united Lebanon.
The evening also featured two entertainers, world renowned Lebanese Soprano Tania Kassis and Lebanese American singer and pianist Leila Milki.