Evening hosted by Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough
NEW YORK | Over 500 Seeds of Peace supporters attended the organization’s 2017 Spring Dinner to recognize the accomplishments of the expanding network of Seeds of Peace alumni committed to bringing about the social, economic, and political changes necessary for peace.
The celebration, held on May 9 at 583 Park Avenue in New York City, was hosted by MSNBC’s Morning Joe co-hosts, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough and honored NPR broadcaster Diane Rhem and Kiss My Face founders Bob MacLeod and Steve Bykowicz.
Mika spoke of the importance of investing in leadership that is based on respect, civility, inclusion and courage.
She also fondly recalled Seeds of Peace’s very first fundraiser, which was hosted by her father, former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, at their Washington home in 1993.
Joe Scarborough pointed to the thousands of young Seeds who have been profoundly impacted their Seeds of Peace experiences.
Seeds of Peace awarded Diane Rehm with the John P.Wallach Peacemaker Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to journalism during her 40-year career.
“You model our vision of effective dialogue by creating conversations that move towards resolution, understanding and respect, even when there is disagreement,” said Seeds of Peace Executive Director Leslie Lewin in presenting the award.
“You engage, you push, you speak, but you listen … and you teach us to listen.”
The 2017 Corporate Peacemaker Award was presented to Kiss My Face founders Bob MacLeod and Steve Bykowicz for their longstanding and deep commitment to the vision and values of Seeds of Peace.
Bob and Steve spoke of how their interest in sustainability and environmental causes led them to Seeds of Peace.
“What could be better for the environment, and the planet, than peace?” said Steve.
Three Seeds alumni described the profound impact the Seeds of Peace experience has had on their lives and how it has motivated them to work across lines of conflict to bridge divides and bring change to their communities.
Muna, a Maine Seed, noted that as a black, Somali, Muslim woman, there are very few places where she feels safe in America.
“There are few places that truly feel like home,” she said. “Seeds of Peace became one of those places of safety, of familiarity, and of home for me. Seeds of Peace is where I learned of the power to define myself.”
“Seeds of Peace has shown me, and thousands of other Seeds, an alternative … a path on which Israelis and Palestinians are talking and learning to respect one another,” said Israeli Seed Lior. “For those who have dared to take this road, it has made all the difference.”
Lior also noted that “in order to build a society that is tolerant, inclusive, fair, liberal and kind, we must cherish dialogue as a method of engagement.”
“At [Seeds of Peace] we learn that the way forward is to challenge ourselves, the realities around us and our pre-existing opinions and perceptions,” said Palestinian Seed Mahmoud, a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and an Economic Development Associate at the Office of the Quartet in Jerusalem.
“The values of Seeds of Peace have become part of who I am and form the basis for the type of leader I aspire to become,” he said. “Seeds of Peace has shaped my commitment to work relentlessly to create the conditions necessary to secure a just and lasting peace.”
The Spring Dinner raised $1.2 million in support of Seeds of Peace programs, including the Seeds of Peace Camp in Maine, leadership development programs in the Middle East, South Asia, and the United States, and the GATHER initiative that accelerates the impact of alumni and other changemakers.