Hungarian American Coalition Gala Evening Honors Dr. Charles Simonyi and Marks 15th Anniversary of its Founding

Washington, D.C. – On May 4th, the Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition) hosted a Gala Evening at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to honor the outstanding achievements of Dr. Charles Simonyi, software pioneer, philanthropist and future space explorer.


Mr. Bertalan Farkas, Mrs. Wendy Jagerson Teleki, Mr. Maximilian Teleki, and Dr. Charles Simonyi

Maximilian Teleki, President of the Coalition, opened the evening by greeting the distinguished audience who included Senator John Glenn and Mrs. Glenn; Senator Maria Cantwell; Congressman Tom Lantos and Mrs. Lantos; Admiral Edmund P. Giambastiani, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Honorable Roger Ferguson, former Vice-Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve; Dr. András Batta, Rector of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music; Dr. Peter Goddard, Director, Institute for Advanced Study; Bertalan Farkas, Hungarian Research Astronaut; Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar, a five time, NASA Shuttle Astronaut and President & CEO of the Museum of Flight; and Board Members of the Coalition.

The event was co-chaired by Ambassador-at-large to the European Union and President of the Hungarian Red Cross, György von Habsburg, and Mr. John N. Lauer, Chairman of Diebold, Inc., and Mrs. Edith K. Lauer, Chair Emerita of the Coalition.

Members of the Chairman’s Committee included: Mr. William Benter and Ms. Christina Stacey, the Honorable Nancy G. Brinker, Dr. Jeanette Grasselli Brown and Dr. Glenn Brown, Mrs. Ina Ginsburg, Ms. Susan Hutchison, the Honorable Aniko Gaal Schott and Mr. Nash Whitney Schott, H. E. Ambassador András Simonyi, and Mrs. Simonyi, Coalition President Mr. Maximilian Teleki and Mrs. Wendy Jagerson Teleki, and H. E. Ambassador George Herbert Walker III and Mrs. Walker.

Prior to the dinner a reception was held in the Opera House where guests and members of the media were able to meet Dr. Simonyi, and many Coalition friends and supporters.

As part of the Gala Evening’s Program, Éva Dúlfalvy, violinist and Aporka Bonnyai, pianist, played works by Ferenc Liszt, Ernest Bloch, Frederic Chopin, Camille Saint-Saëns and Béla Bartók.

Mrs. Edith Lauer, Coalition Chairman Emerita, recalled the historic circumstances of the Coalition’s founding 15 years ago: “…In 1989, when long-sought freedom came to Hungary, founders of the Coalition recognized both the need and opportunity to create a new kind of organization whose mission would reflect the historic changes that swept through Central and Eastern Europe.” She added: “…Right away we set up our Office of Information in Washington, and began developing a network of contacts – both in the U.S. and Hungary. We were committed to facilitate cooperation, create direct lines of contact from Hungarian leaders to their American counterparts, and secure effective assistance that served U.S. interests for stable democracies in the region, while meeting Hungary’s most urgent needs”.

Ambassador György von Habsburg delivered the keynote speech recognizing Dr. Simonyi’s many accomplishments and philanthropic work both in the United States and Hungary. Dr. Simonyi was presented the Coalition’s award, a silver medallion minted on the occasion of the 1100thanniversary of Hungary.

In his acceptance speech, Dr. Simonyi recalled the many challenges he faced after leaving Hungary, first studying in Denmark and later in the United States. Dr. Simonyi told the captivated audience details about the challenges in developing and creating opportunity in the software industry and his deeply felt commitment to excellence both in his scientific pursuits and philanthropic endeavors. He expressed his excitement as he described the next stage of lifelong exploration that will take him into space in the coming year. Dr. Simonyi praised the work of Susan Hutchison, Executive Director of the Charles Simonyi Fund for the Arts and Sciences, commended the Coalition for its important work, and thanked all participants for being part of such a memorable evening organized in his honor.

Former Hungarian President, Dr. Ferenc Mádl, saluted Dr. Simonyi in a letter, “…for contributing so much to the development of human thinking and technology both for America and the world.” Senator Maria Cantwell, Senator John Glenn, Congressman Tom Lantos, Hungarian Astronaut, Bertalan Farkas, and Ambassador András Simonyi in their toasts paid homage to the strong commitment to freedom, knowledge and inspired philanthropy of Dr. Simonyi.

President, Maximilian Teleki closed the evening by thanking all guests for supporting the Coalition’s Scholarship Fund, continuing to recognize the Coalition’s work, and for being part of this memorable event.

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