“Meridian International Center has distinguished itself for building bridges, for providing the neutral ground on which we can all come together at a time when there are too many excuses for global divisiveness,” said Sean O’Keefe, one of two honorees at the Meridian Global Leadership Awards last Tuesday night at Georgetown’s Four Seasons Hotel. “When I consider the Center’s vital mission, I am truly humbled to be singled out for whatever very modest contributions I may have made to the causes that so many of us believe in.”
A standing ovation greeted just two men, O’Keefe and Shafik Gabr, on this night when former Presidents, Senators, Ambassadors, Governors and other notables — to include General Colin Powell, His Excellency Václav Klaus (Former President of the Czech Republic), His Excellency Andrés Pastrana Arango (Former President of the Republic of Colombia), and His Excellency Mohamed Tawfik (Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the U.S.) — gathered to give them some well-deserved recognition as their friends and families watched personal and commendable videos highlighting their world service.
O’Keefe, regarded as a global leader in the aerospace and defense industry, took the stage to roars of approval and admiration as this year’s Corporate Leadership Award honoree for his leadership at NASA and the U.S. Navy. O’Keefe has served on four occasions as a presidential appointee, and gives back to the next generation with positions at multiple universities.
Who was his mentor? “Senator Stevens,” he admitted, “[a man who] would always conduct himself in great dignity.”
Accepting the Global Citizen Award, Gabr, a cultural diplomacy legend and Chairman and Managing Director of ARTOC Group for Investment and Development, spoke of his continued efforts to bridge the gap between the Middle East and the U.S. through cultural dialogue. One of the world’s leading collectors of Orientalist art, Gabr currently serves as the Chairmen and founding member of Egypt’s International Economic Forum and on Yale’s Presidents’ Council on International Actives.
His most impressionable mentee? His daughter Malak, who went on record to detail how proud she was to call him her father.