Refugees International Gala


This past evening, I attended to the 31st Annual Refugees International Gala at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium with many former Senate colleagues and advocates for those displaced by crisis or conflict. At the gala, I was honored to receive the McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award, which was named in the honor and memory of Penny and David McCall and Yvette Pierpaoli who died during a Refugees International (RI) mission to Albania in 1999. Refugees International was founded in 1979 and advocates to end refugee crises. For more information about this great organization and their work, please visit,
Ambassador Richard Holbrooke presented the award and spoke very kindly of my work in Africa, and helping to create and implement the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). He also spoke about David and Penny McCall, who he served on the RI board with. He talked about how instead of staying home and donating money, they chose to travel to Albania to test a newly designed radio receiver that could be used to help reunite exhausted and traumatized Kosovar refugee families. A fierce snowstorm hit the rugged mountain area where they were traveling, and they tragically lost their lives, along with Yvette Pierpaoli. Ambassador Holbrooke also spoke about Yvette, who was an RI staff member and legendary advocate for refugees who inspired John Le Carre’s bestseller, The Constant Gardener. Yvette undertook many aid missions to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and she continues to serve as an inspiration.
The evening reminded me how much more work we have to do to help those suffering, and I was glad to run into so many people interested in global health and humanitarian aid. The Capitol Hill publication The Hill posted a brief article about the events of the evening. To read the article and see some pictures from the Gala, please click here