László Böjtös and Dr. Ágnes Fülemile Receive Coalition Awards at Mikulás Dinner
Dr. Péter Forgách is new Chairman of the Board
The Hungarian American Coalition held its Annual General and Board Meetings at the Cosmos Club in Washington DC and hosted its twenty second Annual Mikulás Dinner at the Embassy of Hungary in Washington, DC. The Coalition’s weekend activities began on Friday, December 6, with the annual White House Briefing, attended by a delegation of approximately 30 Coalition Board Members and guests. Representatives of the U.S. government included: Kyle Lierman, White House Office of Public Engagement, and Director of Ethnic Outreach; Sigrid Emrich, Deputy Director, European Bureau (EUR), Office of Central European Affairs, Department of State; and Richard C. Hinman, Hungary Desk Officer; Gregory Naarden, Serbia Desk Officer; and Marie Blanchard, Romania Desk Officer.
The following subjects were discussed: US-Hungarian relations; US Policy towards Central-Eastern Europe (especially given the developments in Ukraine and ongoing concerns about Russia’s expanding sphere of influence); concerns about the human rights of Hungarian minority communities. Areas of particular concerns in Romania included the Romanian government’s current attacks against Bishop László Tőkés; the weakening judicial system; and the proposed administrative re-districting that would dilute Hungarian communities and disenfranchise their future (collective) representation in local and regional elections.
On Friday evening more than 100 Coalition members and guests attended the traditional Mikulás Dinner hosted by Ambassador György Szapáry at the Hungarian Embassy. Master of Ceremonies Andrea Lauer Rice greeted the distinguished gathering and special guests, including: the Honorable Gergely Prőhle, Deputy State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hungary, Governor George E. Pataki, Ambassador Károly Dán, Consul General of Hungary in New York, Dr. and Mrs. Tamás Fellegi, President of the Hungary Initiatives Foundation, Ambassador April H. Foley, Ambassador János Csák, Hungary’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ms. Susan Hutchison, Executive Director, Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for the Arts and Sciences, Mrs. Anette Lantos, Chairman of the Board of the Lantos Foundation, Mrs. Annette Tillemann-Dick, Dr. John Lipsky, Distinguished Visiting Scholar of International Economics, John Hopkins University and Mrs. Zsuzsanna Kárász Lipsky, William Carter, Chairman, President and CEO of Hemispherx Biopharma, and Dr. Katalin Kővári, Mr. Stefan Fedor and Mrs Erika Fedor, Presidents Emeritus of American Hungarian Federation, and Mr. Richard Hinman, Desk Officer for Hungary, US Department of State and Mrs. Hinman.
Following the memorable musical performance presented by André Vásáry, the renowned Hungarian Soprano, Ambassador György Szapáry greeted those present. He stressed his wholehearted support for building a museum to honor victims of Communism in Washington DC, and he urged members of the Hungarian American community to participate in this worthwhile project.
After Andrea Lauer Rice’s remarks recalling the highlights of Coalition projects and accomplishments in 2013, President Maximilian Teleki presented two special awards. The first honored László Böjtös, for five decades of committed service and inspired leadership of the Hungarian American Community, and for his many contributions to the Hungarian American Coalition.
Next, Dr. Ágnes Fülemile was honored for her outstanding efforts that assured the success of the 2013 Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, “Hungarian Heritage – Roots to Revival”, and her remarkable tenure as Director of the Hungarian Cultural Center in New York.
After thanking guests for their support of the Hungarian American Coalition, Mr. Teleki introduced the evening’s Keynote Speaker, Gergely Prőhle, Deputy State Secretary of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Prőhle reaffirmed Hungary’s admiration for shared American values, beginning with a love of American culture, in particular jazz, and extending to democratic traditions. “We believe in a strong America,” he stated.
On Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, at the Coalition’s Annual General and Board Meeting Dr. Péter Forgách from Buffalo, NY took over the rotating chairmanship of the organization. The Board elected László Fülöp, former President of Minnesota Hungarians, as Rising Chairman.
The Board also elected Csilla Grauzer, from Minneapolis, MN, and Endre Szentkirályi, from Cleveland, OH to serve on the Coalition’s Board of Directors as individual Board members. The Board renewed the Board memberships of the following individuals: Anne Bader, Leslie Megyeri, Gabriella Nádas, George Pogan, Tibor Purger, Maximilian Teleki, Éva Voisin, and of the following organizations: Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Society, Hungarian Americans for Human Rights in the Délvidék, Minnesota Hungarians, Inc., Seattle-Pécs Sister Cities Association for the period of 2014-2016.
The afternoon session of the Board included a comprehensive review of the Coalition’s various activities during 2013 and discussing future plans for 2014, as presented by Chairman of the Board, Dr. Péter Kovalszki, President Max Teleki and Treasurer Zsolt Szekeres.
The Board also accepted Anne Lynch, Atlanta, GA, Mr. and Mrs. Stefan Fedor, Sterling, VA, Tünde Cserey, Boca Raton, FL, Magdolna Dunai, Palo Alto, CA and János Szablya, Reno, NV as new Coalition members.