Leadership and Legacy on Display at Gala 2016

Leadership and Legacy on Display at Gala 2016

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Christian Holm
September 27, 2016

The Washington Center paid tribute to leadership in higher education at this year’s annual Gala: Leadership and Legacy.


This year’s Gala raised more than $480,000 for student scholarships that will be offered for hundreds of students throughout the 2016-2017 academic year. Serving as master of ceremonies was Emmy award winning journalist and White House Correspondent for Univision, Janet Rodriguez


The Washington Center’s 2016 gala theme is Leadership and Legacy, recognizing champions of experiential education and honoring the legacy of retired TWC President Mike Smith.


Following an introduction of the board of directors and present university presidents, TWC President Chris Norton announced the establishment of the VET initiative, an academic seminar supported by Prudential Financial that will give returning veterans access to career and skills training. Joining Norton for this announcement was Prudential Program Officer Sarah Keh.

TWC alum Rep. John Katko (R-NY) ‘89 accepted the Pillar Award for Leadership. Katko had just passed his 15th bill as a member of the House of Representatives, one of the highest totals of any freshman congressmen in U.S history. Katko credited his success to where it all started: as a TWC intern on Capitol Hill.

“My experience as a TWC intern more than 30 years ago still serves me today. I went off into the world supremely prepared and I didn't even know it yet,” Katko said. Having a fundamental understanding of what our government does started for me as an intern on Capitol Hill, now I’m serving there. To think, it all started with an internship is incredible.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings received the TWC Pillar Award for Professional Achievement. Like Katko, Cummings reflected on his own experiences as an intern and how it led him to more than just professional achievement.

“In accepting this award, I couldn’t help but think about my own upbringing and how much of a role my internship played. Internships help you become the person you want to be, teaching you that the harder you work and become the best at what you do, life will reward you for it.”

Following diner, State of Sonora, Mexico Governor Claudia Pavlovich Arellano accepted the Pillar Award for Civic Engagement. Arellano was recognized for her efforts in investing in civil society in Sonora as a means of bolstering economic development.

Giving the evening an unexpected twist, it was announced that the Residential and Academic Facility has been renamed “The Michael B. Smith Residential and Academic Facility.” Building the RAF is one of Smith’s signature achievements as president, an endeavour that took years of fundraising and planning. Smith also received the Pillar Award for Lifetime Achievement.


“When TWC founder Bill Burke asked me to come on board 40 years ago, I knew it was a great idea with a lot of potential but I never knew it would be this successful,” Smith said. “I faced some of the biggest challenges in my life here, and I couldn't have done it without the amazing support of my family and colleagues. I have often been asked if all of this was worth it and my answer is always simple: absolutely.”


To view photos from Gala 2016, please visit the Flickr gallery


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