NEF Celebrates 100 Years at its Centennial Gala!

New York City, New York—The Near East Foundation held its Centennial Gala Celebration this past Wednesday, October 28th. It was held at the beautifully restored Cipriani 25 Broadway location in Manhattan.

The event marked 100 years of NEF’s pioneering work in the Middle East and Africa. In commemorating the history of the foundation, NEF paid tribute to the many individuals who have contributed to its legacy throughout the years.  One of the more moving parts of the evening took place when descendants of genocide survivors presented a recreation of the NEF Workers’ medal to the descendants of NEF founders and relief workers who responded to the early calls to action surrounding the Armenian genocide.

Among the attendees were NEF’s Board of Directors and staff, long time partners and supporters, and various dignitaries from the areas that NEF serves. Traveling the farthest to mark the momentous occasion were NEF’s country directors and staff who were recognized on stage with a standing ovation from the audience for their heroic work in implementing NEF’s programs in Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Armenia, Sudan, Morocco, Mali, Sudan.

Two awards were presented during the evening. The Centennial Founders Award was presented to the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation for their ongoing support and commitment to NEF’s work and mission.  Accepting on their behalf was Dodge Foundation President, William Rueckert. Violet Jabara Jacobs was posthumously honored with the Centennial Citizen Philanthropy Award for her philanthropic spirit and exemplary record of treating vulnerable populations with respect and dignity.  Accepting on her behalf was Violet’s daughter and current NEF board member, Linda Jacobs, and her nephew Andrew Hapke.

Remarks were heard from NEF Board Chair, Shant Mardirossian, NEF Board Member, Linda Jacobs, and NEF President, Charles Benjamin. Guest speaker, Gillian Sorensen, Senior Advisor to the United Nations Foundation, asked the audience to, “remember, that most Americans were once refugees” when discussing the need for the global community to come together in response to the refugees crisis. Reflecting on NEF’s legacy Sorensen said, “NEF is a remarkable continuation of efforts over the decades.”

Armine Afeyan announced the 100 Lives and Near East Foundation Gratitude Scholarship Program. Valued at nearly 7 million dollars, the program is an eight-year educational scholarship that will provide 100 Middle Eastern children affected by conflict, displacement, and poverty the opportunity to study at the international co-educational boarding school, UWC Dilijian.

The recurring theme throughout the evening focused on NEF’s Centennial Initiative—to help Syrian and Iraqi refugees and vulnerable members of their host communities in Jordan and Lebanon build their economic resilience through small business development, financial literacy, conflict management, and social networking.

Over $30,000 was raised during  the evening for this initiative and donations and pledges are still rolling in.  Donations can be made here or to make a pledge text ‘Impact’, your pledge amount, and your name to 56512.

The Near East Foundation would like to thank the Gala sponsors, whose support made the event possible.

Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation and Johnson Garrett The Violet Jabara Charitable Trust and Linda K. Jacobs
Shant and Christine Mardirossian Nina Bogosian and Matthew Quigley
Robert and Nancy Solomon Armenian Assembly of America
Armenian General Benevolent Union Armenian Missionary Association of America 
in partnership with Stephen Philibosian Foundation
The Armenian Prelacy Carol B. Aslanian
Dadourian Foundation Elmer and Mamdouha Bobst Foundation
Alexander and Luz Maria Ghiso Mona Eraiba
Jacobs Family Foundation Jeff Habib and Jessica Lowrey
Haig and Connie Mardikian Marsh
Ronald E. Miller & Family 
in memory of E.C. Miller
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Stickley Audi & Co. and Aminy Audi

For more information about this event or the Near East Foundation, please contact NEF Communications and Development Manager, Kristin Sheehan, at or (315) 928-3453.

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