The Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations presented the Global Citizen of the Year Award to Susan K. Neely of the American Beverage Association on Dec. 1, at the Global Leadership Gala, held at the New York Public Library.
John K. Menzies, ambassador and dean of The Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, said Neely epitomizes leadership and is a role model for students.
“Susan K. Neely is a superb choice for the Whitehead School’s Global Citizen of the Year,” Menzies said, “Her life is a model of service and dedication.”
In accepting the award, Neely said, “Those of you who know me will appreciate that seldom am I at a loss for words, tonight I am dangerously close.”
In her remarks, Neely spoke about two of the issues that she said are dear to her and “keep her awake at night,” immigration and world hunger.
She is the president and chief executive officer of the ABA, and she also serves on the board of directors for the Global Child Nutrition Foundation.
In the past, Neely served in the Department of Homeland Security as the assistant secretary for public affairs and in the White House.
The gala is the diplomacy school’s largest fundraiser and has raised more than $1 million.
“Because of contributions from this gala, we are able to host World Leaders Forum events that bring guests to campus, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair,” Elizabeth Halpin, assistant dean of external affairs, said.
The Gala also provides an opportunity for students of the Whitehead School to network with professionals in the field of diplomacy and international relations.
Sophomore David Kelly, who plans to study abroad in China next semester, had such an experience in meeting Lee Anne Shaffer.
“She studied at the university in China I’m going to be studying at in the spring,” Kelly said.
Kelly was able to get her business card and plans to have lunch with her over the next two weeks.
“I made the best of the unique opportunity I was given by socializing at the gala and meeting as many people as I could,” freshman Christina Minneci said. “I found it extremely valuable to have the opportunity to be in the same room as well-established individuals in the field I hope to work in one day.”
The 25 students who attended the Gala were able mingle during a cocktail hour in Astor Hall and at their respective assigned tables during dinner.
“I feel exceptionally fortunate that I was chosen to go to the gala, especially as a freshman,” Minneci said. “I am very (gratified) that I was given this opportunity, and it is something I will always cherish.”
Leaders present included Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, Former Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes and PepsiCo’s Tom Bené, along with Menzies, dean of the Whitehead School and John C. Whitehead, former deputy secretary of state, for whom the school is named.
Ridge was selected as the guest speaker for the evening.
“Governor Ridge was secretary of Homeland Security, Susan’s boss and dear friend, as well as co-architect of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, he was an obvious choice to introduce Susan and to be our featured speaker,” Halpin said.
“If you want a role model, if you want to make a difference in the world, I suggest you take a look at the honoree,” Ridge said to students.
Erin Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.