Refugees International Commemorates 34 Years of Lifesaving Action

Farooq Kathwari, Jacques Sebisaho, Eileen Shields-West, Mimy Sebisaho, Robin West

Farooq Kathwari, Jacques Sebisaho, Eileen Shields-West, Mimy Sebisaho, Robin West

And after the party, there’s the after party, or so the song goes… well, before we get to that, there’s the cocktail hour and the dinner and the program. Thursday night, hundreds attended the 34th Annual Refugees International Anniversary Dinner at the Mellon Auditorium. The usually star-studded evening was more serious, focused and sedate this year and as I took a guest temperature post-dinner at the After Gala, the votes were unanimous. “The speakers were really good, I listened intently  and got a lot out of them (i.e. they were short and to the point, something some presenters and award receivers have yet to learn is a GOOD thing in this town).”

Kristen Olson and Mariella Trager

Kristen Olson and Mariella Trager

Douglas Smith, Donna Edwards, Nels Olson

Douglas Smith, Donna Edwards, Nels Olson

Actor and activist as well as RI Board Member Matt Dillon took on the role for year two at Master of Ceremonies replacing again the traditional long standing Board Member, Sam Waterston (who seems have passed on the mic to a new generation) and welcomed us from the stage. After our first course, Eileen Shields-West, RI Board Chair and Dr. Michel Gabaudan, RI President introduced Ambassador of Indonesia, His Excellency Dr. Dino Patti Djalal and his wife Dr. Rosa Rai Djalal, both dressed in bright gold and red finery, all of which you could spot throughout the table setting and decor within the dinner.

Matt Dillon as emcee

Matt Dillon as emcee

RI Chair Eileen Shields-West addresses dinner

RI Chair Eileen Shields-West addresses dinner

Then the awards began: The Congressional Leadership Award honoring Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards of Maryland was presented by Farooq Kathwari. Her words were touching, moving and meaningful and we noted, she didn’t have to read from notes nor a teleprompter.

Ambassador of Indonesia Dino Djalal and Rosa Djalal - honorary chairs

Ambassador of Indonesia Dino Djalal and Rosa Djalal – honorary chairs

Next was the Richard C. Holbrooke Leadership Award, honoring Dr. Jacques Sebisaho, presented by Kati Marton, whose husband for whom this award was named. Some of Dr. Sebisaho’s Board had come in from New York to support him and sat at our table. It was uplifting to see their reactions so close up.

Jose Ramos Horta receives McCall Pierpaoli award from Governor Bill Richardson

Jose Ramos Horta receives McCall Pierpaoli award from Governor Bill Richardson

After the entree, came the McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award presented by The Honorable Bill Richardson to Mr. Jose Ramos-Horta for his work in servicing the people of Timor-Leste.

Lastly, Kristen and Nels Olsen, the Benefit Chairs introduced two music finales, the best of which was the Angklung performance by young Indonesian girls seated at the back of the hall. Later, as we exited, we witnessed the girls all a giggles surrounded by Matt Dillon in the foyer posing for group photos. I Wiki’ed “Adorable” and that photo came up. Not really, but it could. Eventually.

Many luminaries attended as usual and it was cool to see several of them coming out the to FujiMar for After Gala, which was hosted by the RI Young Humanitarian Circle.

To learn more about Refugees International and the work the Board, Advocates, Staff and Advocates do around the world as an NGO representing the voice of refugees and stateless persons, please to go http://www.refugeesinternational.org.

All photos by Russell Hirshon and Ministers of Design

About Pamela Sorensen:
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.
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