NEW YORK—The Institute of International Education presented ExxonMobil with the Opening Minds Corporate Leadership Award at the IIE 90th Anniversary Gala in New York last night. The award recognizes the company's exemplary support of education worldwide through innovative global initiatives that foster mutual understanding and prepare tomorrow's workforce. ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO, Rex Tillerson, accepted the award on behalf of the company. Mr. Tillerson's distinguished international career has included leadership positions in numerous ExxonMobil overseas companies and operations, as well as prominent engineering and business groups. His philanthropic leadership includes board and advisory positions with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the United Negro College Fund, and the University of Texas at Austin.
In celebrating IIE's 90 year history and achievements, the gala also featured special awards to outstanding individuals who have participated in and supported IIE's work in international educational exchange. These included world-renowned conductor and Fulbright alumnus Lorin Maazel and three women leaders who worked together to found the Iran Opportunities Fund at IIE. Senior State Department official Mark J. Davidson also attended, representing Judith A. McHale, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. IIE administers the Fulbright Student and Scholar Programs for the U.S. Department of State. The evening concluded with a special presentation on Scholar Rescue Fund by HRH Prince Talal of Jordan and the former Director of Baghdad's National Museum, Professor Donny George. News anchor and Fulbright alumna Linda Vester was the Mistress of Ceremonies for the event. More than 300 business, education, government, foundation and policy leaders joined IIE in honoring the award winners.
The Opening Minds Corporate Leadership Award recognizes ExxonMobil's outstanding philanthropy, including initiatives that improve the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and their support for organizations that seek to improve career opportunities for minorities and women. These initiatives include scholarships such as the ExxonMobil Middle East and North Africa Scholars Program, the ExxonMobil Indonesia Geosciences Program, and the ExxonMobil Russian Scholars Program, which are administered by IIE on behalf of the company, and provide select student leaders from these countries and regions with the opportunity to pursue Master's degrees at U.S. universities in fields such as geoscience, engineering and business. Students from Indonesia, Lebanon, Morocco and Russia who are currently sponsored in graduate degree programs at universities across the United States were special guests at the gala.
According to IIE president and CEO Allan E. Goodman, "Through its programs, initiatives and partnerships, ExxonMobil demonstrates a long-standing commitment to promoting academic excellence and to developing future leaders who will tackle pressing international issues and strengthen their communities around the world."
At the gala, IIE presented Maestro Lorin Maazel with the Fritz Redlich Alumni Award in honor of his commitment to furthering understanding and goodwill during the more than five decades that he has brought people together across countries and cultures as one of the world's most esteemed and sought-after conductors. Maestro Maazel made his European debut as a conductor in 1953 after receiving a Fulbright grant to study baroque music in Italy. Speaking of this international opportunity, he has said quite simply "it changed my life."
After retiring to much fanfare as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic earlier this year, Maestro Maazel is currently Music Director of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, a newly created musical organization in Valencia, Spain. He has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to the Fulbright Program's goal of fostering mutual understanding during his long international career, conducting more than 150 orchestras around the world in more than 5,000 operas and concerts, including an unprecedented concert in North Korea in 2008. He has received the highest honors and decorations in many countries, and was awarded the title of Ambassador of Goodwill by the United Nations. Committed to sharing his experience with the next generations of musicians, he founded a major competition for young conductors and created a new festival/residency program for young artists.
This year, to mark its 90th anniversary, the Institute created a new Women's Global Leadership Award. The award was presented to Laya Khadjavi, Roya Khadjavi-Heidari, and Nazgol Saati Shahbazi to honor the many ways in which they and their philanthropy have helped to involve the Iranian community in the U.S. in improving cultural and educational relations between Iran and the United States. The Iran Opportunities Fund, established by these three women alongside IIE Trustee Maryam Panahy Ansary, is a unique public-private partnership dedicated to fostering mutual understanding between the U.S. and Iran through international exchange. To date, more than 25 students from Iran have benefited from this fund during their tenure as Persian Language Teaching Assistants at universities around the United States.
Special guest HRH Prince Talal of Jordan presented a feature on IIE's Scholar Rescue Fund, an IIE program that provides support and safe haven to persecuted scholars. Since 2002, the Scholar Rescue Fund has assisted more than 300 scholars from 41 different countries around the world. Prince Talal and his wife HRH Princess Ghida Talal, a board member of the Scholar Rescue Fund and honorary co-chair of the gala, have played a seminal role in launching the Iraq Scholar Rescue Project, which finds persecuted scholars safe haven at host universities within the Middle East region until they can safely return to rebuild their country. Professor Donny George, former Director General of the National Museum in Baghdad, spoke about how the Scholar Rescue Fund provided support for him to continue teaching and conducting archeological research activities in safety as a visiting professor at Stony Brook University.
In addition to Honorary Co-Chair HRH Princess Ghida Talal of Jordan, the Co-Chairs for the IIE 90th Anniversary Gala were: Mark A. Angelson (Chairman and CEO, World Color Press Inc.); Maryam Ansary; Denise Benmosche; Amy Brandt (CEO, Vantium Capital); George J. Donnelly (Managing Partner, Lilo Ventures); Peter M. Gottsegen (Senior Partner, CAI Partners); Jack M. Greenberg (Retired CEO, McDonald's); Ruth Hinerfeld; S.A. Ibrahim (CEO, Radian Group Inc.); Henry G. Jarecki (Chairman, The Falconwood Corporation); Thomas S. Johnson (Retired Chairman and CEO, GreenPoint Bank); Henry Kaufman (President, Kaufman & Company, Inc.); Michael G. Morris (Chairman, President & CEO, American Electric Power); Thomas A. Russo (Senior Counsel, Patton Boggs).
About the Institute of International Education
The Institute of International Education (IIE) is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. Its expertise enables institutions and individuals to build capacity in their home countries and regions. IIE designs and implements over 200 programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government and private sources. These programs include the Fulbright Student and Scholar programs, the Gilman International Scholarship Program, and the Humphrey Fellowships, administered for the Department of State, as well as corporate and foundation training and scholarship programs. IIE also conducts policy research, provides advice and counseling on international educational opportunities abroad, and provides emergency support to students and scholars in danger. The Institute of International Education has a network of 33 offices and representatives worldwide and over 1,000 college and university members.