Where else but DCFR can a program accommodate duel topics such as global economy and peace. Last night, we received a global financial leader, Richard Fisher, and an international humanitarian and social activist, Cristal Montanez Baylor. In his keynote address, Mr. Fisher was optimistic about the U.S. economy’s prospects but cautioned members about the need for Washington to “do the right thing” (with references from Martin Luther King and Churchill). This may not be the popular thing to do, especially in light of upcoming elections. He suggested that the social unrest in the U.S. such as the “occupy” movements are the result of people being unemployed too long, economic unjustices from the recent financial crisis, and the feeling of desperation. But ultimately, Fisher is a believer in the American Dream. He is fighting the good fight for Americans.
Our special guest Cristal Montanez, executive director of Hashoo Foundation USA, was recognized for her work as a humanitarian. Cristal leads initiatives to promote women’s empowerment, particularly through a farming project, known as Plan Bee. This initiative was the winner of the prestigious BBC/Newsweek World Challenge Competition and a Clinton Global Initiative Featured Commitment. The project empowers women in the most remote and isolated areas of Northern Pakistan by expanding employment opportunities and generating a stable source of income through the sale of high-quality honey. Girls from the families must also attend non-extremist schools as a condition.
This former Miss Venezuela is an international social activist. Cristal works in defense of Venezuelan human, political, and civil rights, and has been distinguished as one of Latin American’s most prominent humanitarians.
Our annual holiday program kicked off the season of giving in a proper way for a foreign affairs organization: recognizing outstanding individuals overseeing the U.S. economy, and by extension the global economy, and someone on the frontlines of foreign policy. Cristal’s work impacts family’s lifetime opportunities, helps deter extremism in a practical way, and makes strides toward peace.
We also say a sad farewell to four directors that have tirelessly served DCFR: Patrick Jenevein, Ed Blessing, Lynne Novack and Tim Powers.