Prominent Global Leaders Celebrated at IIE Gala: Casagrande, Dracopoulos, and Biden Featured Speakers

NEW YORK, October 16, 2018 – The Institute of International Education (IIE) held its 2018 gala at the Metropolitan Club in New York City on October 15. More than 300 distinguished members of the business, philanthropic, diplomatic, and higher education communities gathered to celebrate the work of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs (ECA); the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF); and Dr. Jill Biden.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Academic Programs Caroline Casagrande, representing ECA, spoke about the Bureau’s mission to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through educational and cultural exchange. International exchanges are vital and dynamic instruments of public diplomacy and foreign policy. Ms. Casagrande is responsible for overseeing ECA programs including the flagship Fulbright Program, the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, and Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, all of which IIE has the privilege to administer.

“Cultural and academic exchange between nations is critical to the strength of our democracy, and helps us build a more prosperous and forward-looking nation,” Ms. Casagrande said. “ECA is proud to support many such exchanges and initiatives.”

Ms. Casagrande is an alumna of exchanges in Nepal and India. Prior to her appointment at the State Department, she served as the Deputy Republican Leader of the New Jersey General Assembly, where she was the youngest woman ever elected.

To kick off the Gala, IIE trustee Calvin Butler announced a $500,000 commitment to send 100 students from Baltimore, Maryland to study abroad during 2019, IIE’s centennial anniversary year. These students will receive Gilman Scholarships. The Gilman Program enables U.S. citizens of limited financial means to study abroad, preparing them to thrive in a global economy.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation was presented with the IIE Humanitarian Award for International Cooperation in recognition of SNF’s commitment to advancing higher education and culture. SNF has given more than 4,000 grants to nonprofit organizations in 124 countries around the world, amounting to contributions of more than $2.6 billion in support of humanitarian causes since its founding in 1996.

In addition, SNF supports the Greek Diaspora Fellowship Program at IIE. Launched in 2016, the program has provided 49 fellowships to U.S.- and Canada-based academics born in Greece to conduct research and teach in Greek universities, contributing to the global circulation of knowledge.

“One of the most common and important denominators of a successful grant for us has always been the answer to the question of whether or not the grantee shares our overall values and vision, a common mission to do good and try to make the world, our world, a better place for all,” said SNF co-president Andreas Dracopoulos, who accepted the IIE Humanitarian Award for International Cooperation on SNF’s behalf. “We view our grantees as partners, and we could not be happier being partners with the Institute of International Education.”

Mr. Dracopoulos is a Trustee of The Rockefeller University, Johns Hopkins University, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and an Honorary Trustee of the New York Public Library.  He has been recognized and decorated often for his vision and leadership in making the world a better place, most recently in 2018, when H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic awarded Mr. Dracopoulos the rank of the Grand Cross of the Order of Honor.

Dr. Jill Biden, former Second Lady of the United States and a lifelong educator, spoke about the crucial role that community colleges play in creating opportunity for millions of students, building stronger local workforces and regional economies, and hosting tens of thousands of international students annually. She often has called community colleges “America’s best-kept secret.” As Second Lady, Dr. Biden hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges.

In addition to serving as Honorary Co-Chair of the Biden Foundation, Dr. Biden is a professor at Northern Virginia Community College and serves as honorary chair of the College Promise National Advisory Board, an organization dedicated to funding the first two years of higher education for hard-working students.

Funds raised at the IIE gala will strengthen IIE’s work in rescuing scholars, promoting study abroad, expanding access to education, and providing support to students in emergencies.

For nearly 100 years, IIE has protected and advanced scholarship, championed educational exchange, and kept the doors open for public diplomacy through education.

The gala was underwritten by the Angelson Family Foundation and SNF. Gala co-chairs include Calvin Butler, Colleen A. Goggins, Peter M. Gottsegen, Jack M. Greenberg, Henry G. Jarecki, Thomas S. Johnson, Henry Kaufman, Laya Khadjavi, Cathy-Ann Martine, Laurence C. Morse, Hartley R. Rogers, Thomas A. Russo, and John Sexton.

About IIE:

For nearly a century, IIE has been a world leader in international education. We work to build more peaceful and equitable societies by advancing scholarship, building economies, and promoting access to opportunity. As a not-for-profit with 18 offices and affiliates worldwide, IIE collaborates with a range of corporate, government, and foundation partners across the globe to design and manage scholarship, study abroad, workforce training, and leadership development programs. For more information visit



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