POLICY Statement

May 19, 2023: American Task Force on Lebanon Annual Awards Gala Dinner: US Officials and Lebanese Americans Come Together to Support the Needs of the Lebanese People

May 19, 2023

Washington, DC, May 19, 2022 (ATFL) - The American Task Force on Lebanon (ATFL), a leadership organization of Americans of Lebanese heritage, hosted its annual awards gala dinner on May 18th at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, DC.

Once again, the event gathered together current and former US officials in Congress and the Administration, former leaders in the US military, current and former diplomats, business and civic leaders, and Americans of Lebanese descent who, together with ATFL, urgently call for Lebanon’s leaders to prioritize the needs of the Lebanese people above their own interests.

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs of the United States, Victoria Nuland, addressed the audience saying, “Secretary Blinken, all of us at the State Department are proud to be long-time partners of the American Task Force on Lebanon . . . You truly represent the gold standard in diaspora support.”

At the dinner, the following individuals were honored for their leadership and contributions to the US and to Lebanon: 

Congressman Garret Graves

US Representative, 6th District of Louisiana

Recipient of the Philip C. Habib Award for Distinguished Public Service

After accepting his award, Congressman Graves said, "I look forward to working with all of you to truly ensure that the great inspiration that I saw in my grandfather is able to be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Dr. Joseph E. Aoun
Seventh President of Northeastern University
Recipient of the Peter J. Tanous Founder’s Award

“In other places, the diaspora played a big role in launching higher education and launching industries. I believe that if it can be done in Bangalore, it can be done in Beirut. The Lebanese people will prevail,” remarked Dr. Aoun.

Mr. Ghassan M. Saab & Mrs. Manal Saab
CEO, Sorenson Gross Company & CEO, SGCS
Recipient of the Issam M. Fares International Leadership Award

“I will always preach about helping Lebanon to whoever will listen. Never ever, ever give up on Lebanon. No matter the weight, Lebanon will rise again,” said Ghassan Saab.

The Mayyas
Alternative Dance Crew & Winner of America’s Got Talent, Season 17 
Recipient of the Peter J. Tanous Founder’s Award

Lea Ghorayeb of the Mayyas said, “Dance has taught us discipline, hard work, and perseverance - these are the qualities that have helped us achieve success - not just as dancers, but also as people." She added, "We hope to continue to empower women to take control of their own lives . . . to create a world where women are appreciated for their talents, skills and contributions, where we are able to move freely not just on stage, but on the streets and in our homes as well." She concluded, "We promise to keep going, keep fighting, and keep dancing.”

The honorees highlighted the importance of ATFL’s leadership in fostering a strong US response to the urgent needs of the Lebanese people.

ATFL’s leadership noted the challenges that lie ahead as well. They emphasized ATFL’s continued commitment to encouraging the US and its allies in the international community to push for timely solutions to Lebanon’s most pressing problems so that the country can move toward recovery.

“[The Lebanese people] need urgent sustainable programs that guarantee affordable, clean energy and water, a banking system that protects their life savings, and education and health services that once defined the best of what Lebanon had to offer,” said Ambassador Ed Gabriel (ret.), President of ATFL.

The Hon. Spencer Abraham, Chairman of ATFL, remarked, “What the Mayyas and all of us in this room share in common is that no amount of adversity can stand in the way of a determined Lebanese.” He added, “Now imagine the heights the Lebanese people could reach with a functional government and stable economy. This is our vision for Lebanon. This is why we are here tonight.”

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