Runaway Spoon

Farewell to Hungary's Ambassador to U.S.

June 11, 2017

Washington Life's Kevin Chaffee, Rosemarie Pauli, Aniko Gaal Schott & Mary Mochary (Photo by: Michelle Belliveau) Washington Life's Kevin Chaffee, Rosemarie Pauli, Aniko Gaal Schott & Mary Mochary

Ambassadors, members of Congress and close friends honored the highly respected Hungarian Ambassador Réka Szemerkényi on Wednesday for her service to her country as well connecting favorably with U.S. officials.

She was appointed ambassador to the United States in mid-2014 and presented her credentials to then-President Barack Obama.

Marie Royce (left) and The Ambassador at the flag presentation (Photo by: Michelle Belliveau) Marie Royce (left) and The Ambassador at the flag presentation

Under her leadership, the embassy has strengthened the bond between Hungary and the White House “in not the easiest of times,” said several guests. Some 15 ambassadors R.S.V.P.’d, including those from Italy, Japan, Jordan, Finland, Croatia, Kosovo and Austria.

“We’re going to miss you,” said Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida. “I can tell you, because of you, our American relationship is much better.”

Rep. Ed Royce of California arranged for an American flag to fly over the U.S. Capitol Dome in the Ambassador’s honor. The flag was presented to her during the reception.  

Hungarian-American Federation’s President Frank Koszorus honored the Ambassador with a medal for all she has done to further U.S.-Hungarian relations.

The Ambassador and her family at reception (Photo by: Michelle Belliveau) The Ambassador and her family at reception

Former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary and TV producer Colleen Bell (“The Bold and The Beautiful) was among those who praised Szemerkenyi’s tenure as “bold” and who did much to strengthen the relationship with the United States.

Aniko Gaal Schott, a friend of Szemerkenyi, said the ambassador made it a point to travel to Hungarian-American communities across America to further deepen the ties between the two nations.  Schott, a D.C. public relations advisor, said the ambassador actively supported arts and cultural endeavors in Washington as part of her mission to successfully broaden the visibility of her own country.

La Meurmishvili and Ambassador Kurt Volker (Photo by: Michelle Belliveau) La Meurmishvili and Ambassador Kurt Volker

Schott and Mary V. Mochary hosted the event.  Among the 120 guests were Rosemarie Pauli, deputy chief of Protocol at State, and Kurt Volker, former U.S. permanent representative to NATO.  

One of the ambassador’s accomplishments was to move the Hungarian embassy from a relatively secluded area in D.C. to downtown near 16th Street, NW, a hub of diplomatic activity.   In the recently acquired historic mansion, Hungary sponsored policy seminars, musical events and informational functions that drew influential movers and shakers from the media and many governments.

Her successor is scheduled to be Laszló Szabó, Hungary’sdeputy minister for foreign affairs and trade. He is expected to assume the post later this summer.

Amb. of Finland KIrsti Kauppi and Amb. Szemerkenyi (Photo by: Michelle Belliveau) Amb. of Finland KIrsti Kauppi and Amb. Szemerkenyi

Amb. Szemerkenyi (middle) and her husband; far right Marie Royce (Photo by: Michelle Belliveau) Amb. Szemerkenyi (middle) and her husband; far right Marie Royce

Rep. Dennis Ross (left) & the Ambassador and her husband (Photo by: Michelle Belliveau) Rep. Dennis Ross (left) & the Ambassador and her husband


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Chelsea Clinton and Michelle Nunn Join Forces

May 24, 2017

With federal budget cuts looming for international and domestic aid to the poor and displaced, Chelsea Clinton, vice chair for the Clinton Foundation, and CARE CEO and President Michelle Nunn are lending gravitas to pleas for the Trump Administration and Congress to keep up funds for assistance to the poor.

The appeal was made at the CARE 2017 national conference at the Arena’s Mead Center for American Theater in D.C.  Conferees from most states and from as far away as Switzerland attended the nearly packed theater on Monday.

Chelsea Clinton greeted by Michelle Nunn, in background Amani Al-Khatatbeh (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Chelsea Clinton greeted by Michelle Nunn, in background Amani Al-Khatatbeh

The charitable organization CARE calls what is happening today the “largest humanitarian crisis since World War II.”

“This year’s conference theme, Now More than Ever,” underscores the urgency of action, particularly as we face deep and disproportionate cuts to the foreign assistance program,” said Nunn.

 “With more than 20 million people facing famine conditions in South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia, and tens of millions still displaced by conflict, now is the time for the United States to stand by its commitment to U.S. foreign assistance, which has served as the beacon of American leadership and stability for decades in the poorest communities around the world.”

More than 400 conferees met with members of Congress and their staffs during the week to advocate for foreign assistance and steps to combat extreme poverty worldwide. President Trump’s federal budget was sent to Congress on Tuesday.

Nunn lauded Congress for maintaining the assistance levels at the same in the temporary budget passed weeks ago.  Nonetheless, she said the proposed 2018 budget should be more mindful of the dire needs of the world’s starving and homeless people.

In her remarks, which centered on empowering women and girls, Clinton touched on the importance of hearing the voices of others.

But Clinton said that in listening, “We have to know that sexism is not an opinion, racism is not on opinion, Islamophobia is not an opinion, homophobia is not an opinion, jingoism is not an opinion … In our posture of listening, we have to stand up and speak out.”

She said she is “fiercely proud” that her charitable organization has helped more than 12 million people around the world.

Secretary of Transportation Taiwan-born Elaine Chao, among other topics, addressed the challenges of women and girls everywhere.  She recalled that she came to America on a freighter with her mother and two siblings when she was eight years old.

Participating in a panel was Barbara Pierce Bush, co-founder and president of the public health focused non-profit, Global Health Corps. She is the daughter of former President George W. Bush. Also speaking was Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founder and editor of MuslimGirl; Katie Meyler, founder and CEO of More Than Me, and Musimi Kanyaro, president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women.


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Kerry Addresses CARE Leaders: Chelsea Clinton and Barbara Bush Upcoming

May 9, 2017

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed new CARE Chief Operating Officer Heather Higginbottom at the home of board member Ranvir Trehan and his wife Adarsh in McLean, Va, last week. She will report to CARE CEO Michelle Nunn.

Former Sec. of State Kerry and Colleen Nunn (Photo by: Neshan Naltchayan) Former Sec. of State Kerry and Colleen Nunn
With more than 20 million people facing famine conditions and tens of millions still displaced by conflict, Kerry’s remarks were timely and urgent, said Higginbottom.  

"What we do with our charity, with our projection of universal values and our commitment to helping people, is not just altruism. It's helpful, it's charity, but guess what? It's serving the interests of our nation because there's no 'over there' anymore," the former Senator and longtime Georgetown resident said.

Deep budget cuts at the State Department which would greatly affect international aid and lifesaving work have been proposed by the current Administration.

CARE is holding it 2017 conference May 22-24 at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C. 

Kerry address gathering at the Trehans (Photo by: Neshan Naltchayan) Kerry address gathering at the Trehans
Chelsea Clinton, Barbara Bush of Global Health Corps, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and other leaders will join CARE CEO Nunn at the conference. More information is here: www.careconference.org.  

After returning from his military service in Vietnam, Kerry worked for CARE.  Higginbottom, who previously had been in the administration of President Barack Obama as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, started her early career as a key legislative staffer for then-Senator Kerry.

(left) Amb. Vlora Citaku, Laura Liswood, Fredrick Anyanwu, Michelle Kosinski & Beth Solomon (Photo by: Neshan Naltchayan) (left) Amb. Vlora Citaku, Laura Liswood, Fredrick Anyanwu, Michelle Kosinski & Beth Solomon
Among the McLean event greeters and guests were Veena Trehan (daughter of Ranvir); Kosovo Ambassador Vlora Citaku; Laura Liswood, secretary general of the Council of Women Leaders; CNN’s Michelle Kosinski; philanthropic activist Colleen Nunn; Fredrick Anyanwu, associate vice president, Resource Development at CARE; D.C. Democrat leader Christine Warnke; and Beth Solomon, CARE managing director of external affairs. 

Kerry and guest Christine Warnke (Photo by: Neshan Naltchayan) Kerry and guest Christine Warnke


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