Washington, DC – On December 4, 2010, the Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition) held its Annual General and Board Meetings at the Kossuth House in Washington, DC. Ted Horváth of the Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Society took over the rotating chairmanship of the organization. The Board elected Sándor Krémer, President of the Magyar Club of Chicago, as Rising Chairman.
The Annual Meeting elected Tibor Purger of New Brunswick, NJ as new individual Board Member.
The Board renewed the Board memberships of the following individuals: Anne C. Bader, Leslie L. Megyeri, George Pogan, Gabriella Nadas, Maximilian Teleki and Eva. E. Voisin as well as the following organizations: Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Society, Hungarian Americans for Human Rights in Délvidék, Minnesota Hungarians, Inc., and the Seattle-Pecs Sister Cities Associationfor a three-year period.
The Board of Directors also renewed and confirmed the following roster of officers: Maximilian N. Teleki, President, George Pogan, Secretary and Zsolt Szekeres, Treasurer, Andrea Lauer Rice, Jr. and László Fülöp as Vice Presidents for a two-year term. The Board also voted the following members of the Executive Committee to serve for a period of two years: Andrea Lauer Rice, László Hámos and Dr. Balázs Somogyi. The Board accepted Enikő Basa-Molnár, of Silver Spring, MD, Ilona Hooper of Richmond, VA, Desi (Dezső) Kegl-Bognar of Sarasota, FL, Széll Kálmán Foundation, Common Sense Society and Ilona Hooper Foundation of Budapest, Hungary as new members of the Coalition.
The afternoon session of the Board included a comprehensive review by President Max Teleki of the organization’s 2010 activities and plans for 2011. Mr. Teleki reported on his recent trip to Hungary, giving a full assessment of the current situation in Devecser and Kolontár, the two towns most affected by the recent catastrophic red sludge spill.
The Coalition’s weekend activities began on Friday, December 3, with the traditional White House briefing, attended by a delegation of approximately 20 Coalition members.
Later that evening, Coalition members attended the traditional Mikulás Dinner hosted byAmbassador Béla Szombati at the Hungarian Embassy. Coalition Vice President Andrea Lauer Rice, Jr. acted as Master of Ceremonies and greeted the distinguished gathering and special guests, including Zsolt Németh, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pamela Quanrud, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Mrs. Kucinich, (D-OH), Dr. Robert R. King, and Dr. Kay Atkinson King,Tomicah S. Tillemann, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State, Lee Edwards, President of the Victims of Communism Foundation, Pál Hatos, Director General of Hungary’s Balassi Institute,Annette Lantos, Annette Tillemann Dick, Ambassador Kurt Volker of the Center for Transatlantic Relations, Ms. Sally Painter, Chief Operating Officer at Blue Star Strategies, and Hungarian General and Honorary Consuls from all over the United States. Ambassador Szombati welcomed the Coalition’s distinguished guests to the Embassy and highlighted the role of the Coalition on issues affecting Hungarian-American relations.
Mr. László Hámos, President of the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation, presented the Coalition’s award to Dr. Kay Atkinson King, commending her years of service in the U.S. Congress, in particular her tireless work for the cause of Hungarian minority rights, Hungary’s accession to NATO and her role in the House Foreign Affairs Committee under the chairmanship of the late Congressman Tom Lantos.
Dr. King, in accepting the Coalition’s award said “my work to move forward Hungarian-American relations was from the heart. The last two decades have been remarkable for Hungary, and it has been a pleasure and honor to be a small part of the many great things that have happened.”
Coalition President Max Teleki summarized the Coalition’s achievements in 2010. In addition to carrying out ambitious plans, the Coalition also faced unexpected events such as the red sludge disaster.
Mr. Teleki then introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, Zsolt Németh. In his speech, Mr. Németh emphasized the special bond that links Hungarian Americans to their motherland: historically, Hungarian-Americans have displayed a keen sensitivity regarding minority issues, the state of democracy and economic development in Hungary. „We need to work together to advance these causes,” he said.
Mr. Németh thanked „our friends in Congress and the administration” who have been instrumental in strengthening ties between the two countries. „Hungary’s position and visibility in Washington depends very much on your personal contribution,” he said. „As Hungary sets out to implement bold changes, we need the friends of Hungary more than ever.”