The Foreign Policy Association Annual Dinner’s Cultural Diplomacy With Daisy Soros And Others

June 8, 2024

The Foreign Policy Association hosted its annual dinner, chaired by Vice Chairman Sana Sabbagh at The St. Regis New York Hotel.

At the hotel where bestowing their medal on Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera, Sir Clive Gillinson, Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall, Susan Jaffe, Artistic and Interim Executive Director of American Ballet Theater, and Ian Wardropper, Director of the Frick Collection for their work in cultural diplomacy.

“… establishing the national discourse.”

Sana Sabbagh welcomed guests, announcing the FPA’s new initiative, “At a time when culture wars are dominating political narratives, I am happy to announce that the Foreign Policy Association is establishing a Center for Advancing Cultural Diplomacy to assist in establishing the national discourse.”

Noel V. Lateef, President of the FPA, explained “We celebrate this evening four individuals whose humanity and tenacity confer special meaning upon the enduring value of the arts. President Kennedy observed that ‘the life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, is very close to the center of a nation’s purpose.’” Noel also brought his honors students from Baruch College, asking them to stand in acknowledgment of their efforts.

“… elevating humanity through art and artistic exchange.”

Peter Gelb received his medal from the FPA Director and director of Lincoln Center, Daisy M. Soros. “I have devoted my career to cultural diplomacy and playing a role in elevating humanity through art and artistic exchange.” Peter explained how cultural exchanges can bridge political divides – “I was the 33-year-old manager of Vladimir Horowitz. I brought him to Moscow, an official recognition of the pending detente negotiated by Gorbachev and Reagan. He was the first event in the cultural exchange agreement signed by the two leaders.”

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Susan Jaffe received her award from Shelly London, a trustee of American Ballet Theater.

In receiving the award Susan recalled ABT’s performance this past November – “We were asked if we were afraid to bring our company to China, considering the tensions between our two countries.” Susan responded, “Ballet is a universal language, and it is for all people everywhere in the world.” She continued “That exchange reminded me of our shared values as humans. When we make room for our hearts and souls to connect, there is no better reminder that there are far more commonalities in our world than our differences.”

Sir Clive Gillinson, received his award from Sana Sabbagh, who in addition to the FPA role is a member of the Carnegie Hall Board of Directors. He remarked on the importance of cultural diplomacy recalling his initiation of the education program as the director of the London Symphony Orchestra. Clive described ‘The Lullaby Project’, explaining “We work with young mothers, many of them in terrible circumstances, where our musicians will work with each mother to create a lullaby to sing to their baby. It’s been so successful that Universal Music decided to record some of those singers, with the revenue going back to the mothers.”

Ian Wardropper received his award from Tai-Heng Cheng, FPA and Frick board member.   Wardropper iterated the importance of cultural diplomacy on today’s foreign relations, highlighting “Museums are now instrumental in cultural diplomacy. We send exhibitions, publications, and education programs internationally. We are an art museum first and foremost – it provides insight into other cultures, and understanding of other people.”

Supporters of the dinner included Sarah Arison, Mercedes T. Bass, Michael J. Dowling, Donna Dillon Manning, Michael J. Dowling, Elizabeth Segerstrom, Agnes Gund, Christian K. Keesee, Sheila Johnson, Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer, Franci Neely, Helen Nash, Joshua Nash, Joseph G. Mizzi, Jacqueline B. Mars, Joseph Neubauer, Emily K. Rafferty, Charles M. Royce, Laura J. Sloate, Jenna Segal, Keith Stock, Stanley S. Shuman, Peter K. Scaturro, Edward P. Swyer, Barbara Tober, Linda J. Wachner, Victoria Wyman and many more.

The Foreign Policy Association

The Foreign Policy Association (formerly known as the League of Free Nations Association) is a non-profit organization, founded in 1918, dedicated to inspiring the American public to learn more about the world. According to the Foreign Policy Association (FPA), the organization aims to spread global awareness and understanding of US foreign policy and global issues by informing, inspiring, and engaging with the public in community and educational forums. As of 2023, the organization’s current President & CEO is Noel V. Lateef, who is also the longest serving President of the Foreign Policy Association. For more information:

Photo credit: 1) Alice Kandell, Noel Lateef, Daisy Soros. 2) Elizabeth Segerstrom, Grimanesa Amoros. 3) Elizabeth Segerstrom, Barbara Tober. 4) Elizabeth Segerstrom, Sana Sabbagh. 5) Dame Jillian Sackler.

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