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Refugees International's (RI) annual Anniversary Dinner is an exclusive awards ceremony and celebration honoring individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and commitment to humanitarian action. The evening includes the presentation of the McCall-Pierpaoli Award and special honors to those who labor to improve the lives of displaced people and remedy displacement crises across the world.
35th Anniversary Dinner | Wednesday, April 30, 2014:
At this year's dinner, RI will honor humanitarian and world-renowned chef, José Andrés, with the McCall-Pierpaoli award. As founder of legendary restaurants such as Jaleo, Zaytinya, and Minibar, Mr. Andrés is a Washington, DC legend. His philanthropic work is equally impressive, as he has devoted the past two decades advocating for innovative and creative solutions to hunger and poverty both in the US and abroad. Recently, he started the World Central Kitchen, which is now focusing its efforts on Haiti and will soon expand to Central America and Africa. Mr. Andrés is chairman emeritus and regular volunteer at the DC. Central Kitchen. He was nominated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be the Culinary Ambassador of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves who mission is to “save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions.” He is been an active supporter of first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative to combat child obesity. He occasionally teaches at Harvard University and has helped George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Washington’s School Without Walls create an interdisciplinary food curriculum. The McCall-Pierpaoli Award was established in honor of RI board members and staff who were killed during an RI mission in Albania, Yvette Pierpaoli and David and Penny McCall.
RI will present the Richard C. Holbrooke award, given annually to an outstanding civil society leader, to Dr. Seri Bakkar who courageously works to ensure those displaced by the Syrian conflict receive the medical care they so desperately need. Dr. Bakkar is Syria Relief and Development (SRD)’s Regional Director overseeing the organization’s operations in Syria, Jordan and Turkey. Dr. Bakkar, a practicing physician with a specialty in anesthesiology, was one of a handful of doctors treating the injured inside Syria when the civil war began in early 2011. After he and his family were forced to flee their home in Homs, he traveled to Jordan where he began treating Syrian refugees. Dr. Bakkar was instrumental in establishing SRD’s Refugee Health and Trauma Center in Amman, Jordan, where Syrian refugees receive advanced medical care free of charge. Dr. Bakkar earned his medical degree from Damascus University in Syria where he also worked in the University’s Cardiovascular Hospital. He currently lives as a refugee in Amman, Jordan with his wife and five children. Richard Holbrooke was chair of the Board of Directors of RI in the late 1990’s and a member of the board for more than a decade. His wife Kati Marton, will present this award to Dr. Bakkar. The Richard C. Holbrooke Leadership Award recognizes those in local civil society who are the unsung heroes of displacement crises. It is a tribute to Ambassador Holbrooke’s spirit as a great American statesman, consummate diplomat, and true humanitarian.
The Congressional Leadership Award recognizes Members of Congress for their support of issues that have critical impacts on refugees and displaced people. Past recipients include the Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD), late Congressman Donald Payne (D-NJ), Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ), the late Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR), Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
34th Anniversary dinner
On May 2, 2013, RI celebrated our 34th year of lifesaving work. The McCall-Pierpaoli Award was presented to Nobel Peace Laureate Mr. José Ramos-Horta. Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD) received RI's Congressional Leadership Award for her work on behalf of Afghan women. Dr. Jacques Sebisaho, founder of Amani Global Works and a medical doctor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was awarded the Richard C. Holbrooke Award.
33rd Anniversary dinner
On May 10, 2012, RI celebrated 33 years of lifesaving advocacy. The 2012 McCall-Pierpaoli Award was presented to Lauren Bush Lauren for her outstanding initiatives to fight hunger and malnutrition worldwide. RI honored Congressman Donald Payne (posthumously) and Congressman Chris Smith for their leadership of the Africa, Global Health and Human Rights Subcommittee. Colette Lespinasse, a formidable advocate for displaced Haitians, was awarded the Richard C. Holbrooke Award.
32nd Anniversary dinner
On May 5, 2011, RI celebrated our 32nd anniversary. RI paid tribute to the impressive contribution of Governor Bill Richardson, RI’s 2011 McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award recipient. Senator Patrick Leahy also received our 2011 Congressional Leadership Award and Amina Ali received the RI’s first Richard C. Holbrooke Leadership Award. The evening also included an on-stage performance by Sudanese musician and former child soldier, Emmanuel Jal.
31st Anniversary Dinner
On May 6, 2010, RI celebrated our 31st anniversary and our first-ever green gala. RI paid tribute to the impressive contributions of Former Senate Majority Leader and physician Bill Frist, RIs 2010 McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award recipient. The evening also included a touching tribute to RI's former president Ken Bacon.
30th Anniversary Dinner
RI's largest and most high-profile fundraising event ever took place on May 7, 2009, in celebration of our 30th Anniversary. We honored media visionary and humanitarian Ted Turner with RI's most prestigious award, the McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award, at the intimate and picturesque Embassy of Italy.
29th Anniversary Dinner
In 2008, more than 400 guests gathered to celebrate Mia Farrow and Ronan Farrow, Senator Ted Kennedy, and Senator Gordon Smith.