Skip To Content
The Schmooze

Appeal of Conscience Honors GM’s Mary Barra, Disney CEO and President of Mexico

The 2014 Appeal of Conscience Gala at the Waldorf-Astoria boasted more than 1000 guests and included a large contingent of exquisitely gowned women. Honored were Mexico’s president Enrique Pena Nieto Walt Disney Co. Chairman and CEO Robert Iger and General Motors CEO Mary Barra.

Cardinal Theodor M. Dolanoffered a prayer and Secretary of the Holy See Cardinal Pietro Parolin brought greetings. Prefacing president Nieto’s address, Henry Kissinger lauded Mexico’s president as having “in less than two years opened up a new and even better future for Mexico” which has “transformed itself into a dynamic, vibrant, modern democracy.” Kissinger touted NAFTA and urged the reduction of “trade barriers” and making “our borders smarter [to] enhance our common security.”

Accepting the Appeal’s World Statesman Award, “on behalf of my entire country Mexico,” president Nieto said that he shared the moment “with religious and corporate leaders committed to universal principles…human rights, peace among all peoples, tolerance and camaraderie.” His roster of statistics included: “Mexico is one of the few true bio-diverse countries with 10% of our planet’s species found there….our population is the world’s 11th largest and 50% of it is under 27 years. ” He concluded with the hope that Mexico be a “nation of tolerance and harmony, in which all Mexicans can fully enjoy their Human Rights, make their dreams come true and be happy.”

Apropos Disney’s message of optimism, Bob Iger declared, “It’s an essential part of our company’s DNA [emanating] from our founder Walt Disney who always looked beyond today to the possibilities of tomorrow, convinced our future could be brighter than our past…. We want good to conquer evil…peace instead of conflict…and who doesn’t want to live ‘happily ever after’?” Citing the global disasters, Iger said “Even people who believe in the same god are killing each other over the proper way to worship…. Our future will be determined by our ability to resolve this disturbing dichotomy…and it will take more than military might and diplomacy…. We’re here tonight because we’re optimists…we believe humanity can do better.”

Barra informed that “GM was Disney’s first corporate partner at EPCOT 1979… we’ve been with Disney ever since.” Recalling her recent meeting with President Nieto and his team in Mexico, she said, “Next year will mark the 80th anniversary of GM operations in Mexico.”

“The life I lead today was not remotely possible just a generation ago,” said Barra. “My father was a die maker at GM’s Pontiac Motor Division for 39 years. He retired from GM in 1980—the same year I started…. He saw GM elect its first woman board member… establish the industry’s first supplier and minority dealer programs…. And he probably never imagined a day when GM would employ more than 32,000 women around the globe…. and I doubt he ever imagined the GM would have a woman CEO.”

In his address, Rabbi Arthur Schneier — founder of Appeal of Conscience Foundation and Senior Rabbi at Park East Synagogue–addressed the plight of Christians in the Middle East, the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and articulated his oft stated mantra: ”The hijacking of religion by barbarians is the greatest crime against religion and humanity.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.