An elegant black tie gala in one of Washington, D.C.’s most beautiful historic buildings, the Organization of American States, on a lovely and warm September evening is virtually guaranteed to be a success. More than 150 guests had gathered in this beautiful venue on Friday, Sept. 21 for the 32nd Annual Council of 1000 Award and Fundraising Gala to celebrate the entrepreneur, thinker, and investor Peter Thiel as the 2018 Distinguished German-American of the Year. The spacious covered courtyard of the main OAS building with its fountain and live plants provided the perfect backdrop for a formal, yet relaxed cocktail reception. As guests mixed and mingled, sipping wine and German beer, while listening to a jazz trio of talented young musicians from George Mason University, they caught up with old friends and made new acquaintances.
Mr. Thiel, a native of Frankfurt am Main in Germany, not only brought his partner, but also his parents and brother who retain active connections to their homeland, and who all seemed to enjoy this evening that reunited them with their own German heritage. A photo opportunity with the GAHF Board provided the perfect moment to become a little more familiar with the honoree before the assembled guests moved up to the Hall of the Americas for dinner.
The opening ceremony included remarks by gala chairman Aaron Lewis who paid tribute to Mr. Thiel’s innovative and visionary spirit, and his courage to go down the path less traveled; as well as a greeting by Germany’s ambassador Dr. Emily Haber, who used the opportunity to introduce the Deutschlandjahr USA 2018/2019 project with its motto of “Wunderbar Together” as a symbol of the long-standing ties and the friendship between the United States and Germany. Andrew Adair, a well-known D.C. lawyer and jazz pianist played wonderful renditions of the national anthems before guests took their seats to feast on a three-course dinner with a Frankfurt touch. The dinner music included a special surprise tribute to Mr. Thiel who is a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”: The title music of the film version of the famous trilogy.
After the main course, GAHF president Hardy von Auenmueller presented Mr. Thiel with the award. Instead of a traditional acceptance speech, Peter Thiel opted for a scripted dialogue with his personal friend Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Germany’s former minister of defense. It touched upon transatlantic issues, but also the need for innovation in society, politics and the economy. In a fast-moving global world, we need to focus on our common Western values to overcome the challenges we are facing. Finally, the Berlin artist Michael Najjar presented Peter Thiel with a specially engraved book of his works. Mr. Najjar also generously provided his image “europa” – one of Jupiter’s moons – featuring a lone astronaut gazing into the distance for our 2018 commemorative gala program. The program can be downloaded as a PDF on our Website.
A heartfelt thank you goes to the many individuals who worked so tirelessly to bring this gala from the drawing board into the ballroom. Last but not least, GAHF thanks its many donors and supporters who made this event a tremendous success. Jeff Giesea and Morgan Stanley, Gudrun and Hardy von Auenmueller, Andrew Adair, Gary Lee Koerner, AGI, Erich Ast, Deutsche Telekom, Susan and Dr. John Manoyan & CarolJean Siegert King, RRMG/IMO, the Sacramento Turnverein with Hank Stoffel & Ray Catudal, Spitzberg Partners, and Albert Wurz – to name just a few! Please be assured of our gratitude!