“It seems like just yesterday I was wet behind the ears, a 23-year-old running a State Department bureau,” Ronan Farrow, the son of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, told the 270 guests March 5, at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy’s gala. Held at the Plaza, the gala was co-chaired by Paul Volcker. “The problem was,” Farrow said, chuckling, “it was yesterday!”
Farrow has an impressive résumé: He was a Rhodes scholar, a senior foreign policy official at the White House and the founder of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Global Youth Issues. Recipient of the NCAFP’s 21st Century Leader Award, Farrow was dubbed Activist of the Year by New York Magazine in 2009 and ranked as No. 1 on Forbes’s 30 Under 30 Most Influential people in Law and Policy list —a list he made again this year.
Farrow graciously posed for photos with some of the evening’s guests, philanthropists, military brass and diplomats, including Ido Aharoni, Israel’s consul general in New York. He thanked award presenter Brendan McGuire, assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, and “the committee for making this award a reality, because, while we honor the legacy of our extraordinary forbearers and the old guard of the foreign policy world, I also believe that it is new thinking and fresh ideas from new generations that will allow us to break through the old and the new. I look forward to being part of this community.”
Following welcoming remarks by the NCAFP’s chairman, William Flynn, its president, George Schwab, read a congratulatory letter from President Obama in which he praised the NCAFP for its efforts in helping build a word that is “more just.” Schwab informed that the evening’s recipient of the NCAFP’s Hans J. Morgenthau Award, “former president of Finland Martti Ahtisaari, is only the third head of state after Margaret Thatcher and King Hussein of Jordan to receive this award.”
Accepting the award from Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Ahtisaari, who was born in Viipoori, Finland (now Vyborg, Russia), joshed: “I have been introduced as the David Beckham of diplomacy. David and I are desperate to try to find a way to retire gracefully.”
“At the beginning of the 20th century, Finland was one of the least-developed European countries,” Ahtisaari said. “There was no splendid history to make us proud. There were no cultural achievements…. But there was a national awakening toward the end of the 19th century…. In 1906 women could vote and stand for office on equal footing with men.” He concluded with a quote from Morgenthau’s book “Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace “ (Knopf, 1948): “’I might say… diplomacy is the greatest of national power, as national morale is its soul.’”
The NCAFP’s 21st Century Leader Award, presented to individuals under 40, was also presented to Nicholas Thompson, founding member of the National Committee’s 21st Century Leaders Council. Three years ago, Thompson became a senior editor at The New Yorker and is currently editor of its website as well as its tablet application.
“It’s nice to follow all these underachievers” joshed Global Business Leadership Award recipient William Johnson, chairman, president and CEO of H.J. Heinz Co. In his overview of the history of the global Heinz, Johnson informed that he was “only the fifth chairman and sixth CEO in the company’s 144-year history. I actually use the same wooden desk that Henry John Heinz used more than a century ago…. Henry Heinz opened a factory in Pittsburgh in the 1890s that was regarded as an industrial utopia. It had sanitary restrooms, running water, electrical lighting and ventilation, libraries, lunchrooms, athletic facilities with showers, and rooftop gardens where employees could relax and enjoy free concerts and refreshments.
“By 1910, Heinz was America’s largest international company. Russia, by the way, is now the third-largest ketchup market in the world. Those of you who have been to Russia will understand why.”
Award presenter Muhtar Kent, board chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, offered his congratulations to Johnson via video. At each place setting was a miniature bottle of Heinz ketchup.