Proud to Be a Copt & Egyptian? Here Are 3 Ways That One Award Honors Our Values

140830_LBE HH_new border for web pageYou may already know that His Holiness Pope Tawadros II is doing Coptic Orphans a huge honor by accepting the Leading by Example Award in person at our 25th Anniversary Gala in Canada on Sept. 28.

But the other day I realized that many people don’t know the whole story of the Leading by Example Award — the kinds of achievements and values it recognizes, and the many leaders who’ve received it in the past.

Here’s what makes the Leading by Example Award an embodiment of the pride we feel in being Copts and Egyptians:

First, it was established in 2004 to honor exceptional people — pioneers whose character and achievements make them role models in Egypt and around the world. Egypt is always at the center, because we honor those who’ve done something incredible for the motherland and her people.

Second, there’s something consciously Coptic and Egyptian about the values recognized by the Leading by Example Award. We look for candidates with traits treasured in Egypt and in the diaspora, including a spirit of volunteerism, a love of children and education, a commitment to giving back to the community, and a deep devotion to an Egypt of tolerance, prosperity, and peace for all people.

Third, there’s a unique way in which the award is both transnational and intensely Egyptian. It lifts up achievements regardless of geographic location, whether in the motherland or abroad. Moreover, when the award has been presented to exceptional non-Copts, it has been part of recognizing the growing global dimension of our people. No longer isolated, we Copts now thrive within a vast and diverse community of allies and partners.

The list of past recipients of the Leadership by Example Award is diverse, but each person was chosen in light of the considerations I mentioned. The list is as follows:

  • Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Liz Cheney received the Leading by Example Award at Coptic Orphans’ Second Annual Gala, “An Evening with Shakespeare” held April 24, 2004 at the Cannon Building of the House of Representatives.
  • Rev. Kathleene B. Card, an Elder in the United Methodist Church, teacher, administrator, and former Director of External Affairs at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, received the Leading by Example Award at the Coptic Orphans Gala at the Embassy of Colombia in Washington, DC on October 27, 2005.
  • Egyptian actress and celebrity Yousra, a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) goodwill ambassador, received the Leading by Example Award for her philanthropic and humanitarian work at the Coptic Orphans’ fourth annual gala and awards ceremony held April 28, 2007 at the William F. Bolger Center in Potomac, MD.
  • Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris and leading Egyptian philanthropist and humanitarian Ola Ghabbour were joint recipients of the 2008 Leading by Example Award during the Coptic Orphans 20th Anniversary Gala at the Marriott New York Downtown on Saturday, October 18, 2008.

To carry on this tradition, in 2014 we’re marking our 25th Anniversary by presenting Leading by Example Awards to the following honorees.  It goes without saying that we’re incredibly honored to celebrate our silver jubilee in the company of these leaders:

  • His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, will accept the Leading by Example Award in person at the Coptic Orphans 25th Anniversary Gala in the greater Toronto area on Sept. 28, 2014.
  • Renowned former NASA scientist Dr. Farouk El-Baz will accept the Leading by Example Award in person at the Coptic Orphans 25th Anniversary Gala in the greater Washington, DC area on October 11, 2014.
  • Nick Kaldas, APM, Deputy Commissioner of the New South Wales Police Force, will accept the Leading by Example Award in person at the Coptic Orphans 25th Anniversary Gala in the greater Sydney area on November 9, 2014.

Looking over this list of honorees, both past and future, I’m amazed at the history we’ve accumulated with the Leading by Example Award. Now that you know a little more about that history, I hope you’ll join us at the Galas, and become a part of this tradition of Coptic and Egyptian pride.

About Nermien Riad

Nermien Riad founded Coptic Orphans in 1988 after volunteering for an orphanage in Cairo. When she saw that most of the children had living widowed mothers who simply couldn't afford to feed them, she gathered family and friends to sponsor children in Egypt. Today Coptic Orphans works through a network of 400+ church-based volunteers in Egypt, who visit fatherless families in their homes and make sure they get everything they need to unlock their full potential. That way, they don't have to get married off as child brides, work as 10-year old family breadwinners, or go to live at an institutional orphanage.