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Meridian Center Hopes Ball, Summit Foster Cooperation

As foreign affairs continue to play a part in the political season, the Meridian International Center, organizer of the always spectacular Meridian Ball, hopes that its mission helps facilitate cooperation on sticky international issues.

“Meridian International Center sits at the nexus of government, business and civil society, connecting leaders to build a dialogue on issues which directly impact their work and their countries,” the center’s president, Ambassador Stuart W. Holliday said in a statement provided to Roll Call.

The Meridian Ball, which was held earlier this month and is one of Washington, D.C.’s most eagerly anticipated social events, was held in concert with the center’s first Global Leadership Summit. “This was a premier forum in which several of the world’s top leaders explored the importance of cooperation in overcoming the challenges which businesses and governments face every day,” Holliday said. The center plans on making the summit an annual part of the festivities.

Given how much President Barack Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney seemed to agree on Monday at their final debate, which focused on foreign relations, perhaps the two leaders were paying attention?

At any rate, the 44th Meridian Ball ball on Oct. 12 featured a who’s-who of Washington’s bow-tied, sequined, satin- and feather-clad elite from the diplomatic, political and business communities. The event is Meridian International Center’s primary fundraiser supporting its mission to foster international diplomacy and global leadership through the exchange of people, ideas and culture.

With more than 800 guests, this year’s “diplomat prom” was the largest to date, and boasted a younger crowd than in years past. About 100 more of the $150 young professional tickets were sold this year. Though many Members of Congress were on the campaign trail, House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) made appearances.

Fresh off oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy also made the rounds, as did former Olympic ice skater Michelle Kwan, who is now a public diplomacy envoy for the State Department. Kwan was there with her fiance, Lt. Clay Pell, director for strategic planning on the National Security staff at the White House, and grandson of the late Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.).

Attendees from the business community helped swell the ranks of the center’s first annual Global Leadership Summit. Capitalizing on the popularity of the ball, Meridian and co-host Gallup, Inc., convened policy makers, academics and international executives at the Ronald Reagan Building for panel discussions on global leadership and collaboration the day of the ball. Later that evening, executives from Barclays Capital Inc., General Dynamics Corp. and Boeing Co. mingled with ambassadors from around the globe and media personalities including MSNBC contributor and Washington Post blogger Jonathan Capehart, and Bret Baier of Fox News.

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