U.S. Diplomats Honored in Detroit as Arab Americans of the Year

By Casa, Kathryn | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June/July 2012 | Go to article overview
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U.S. Diplomats Honored in Detroit as Arab Americans of the Year


Casa, Kathryn, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


Ambassadors Selwa "Lucky" Roosevelt and Edward M. Gabriel accepted awards as 2012 Americans of the Year at the Detroit Marriott on April 28. ACCESS, the largest Arab-American human services nonprofit in the U.S., bestowed the awards on the former diplomats in front of nearly 2,000 supporters at the organization's 41st anniversary annual dinner.

"The ACCESS annual dinner celebrates the achievements of the community, its thousands of supporters and volunteers and hundreds of employees," said ACCESS executive director Hassan Jaber. "We honor Arab Americans whose success has improved the world in which we live."

In accepting the awards, the recipients-both children of Lebanese immigrants-said the strong values of their Arab heritage helped them achieve their success.

Roosevelt comes from the mountains of Tennessee. She graduated at the top of her class at Vassar College, where she studied international relations. In 1950, she married Archibald Roosevelt, Jr., grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, and balanced her busy career as a journalist with a demanding life as an embassy wife.

In 1982 President Ronald Reagan named her chief of protocol. For seven years, Roosevelt organized official dinners and state receptions, accommodations and entertainment for more than 1,000 delegations of world leaders. She traveled with President Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz, and was responsible for 30,000 members of the foreign diplomatic corps.

Ambassador Roosevelt also supervised a six-year renovation of the Blair House, the official Washington guesthouse for diplomatic visitors. In February, President Barack Obama recognized her unique contributions with a presidential commendation.

Ambassador Gabriel grew up in Olean, NY, where his family roots were planted firmly in the Maronite church.

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