As an example of how such an organization can play an important role in nurturing relationships around the world, Colombia’s former president Alvaro Uribe attended as a special guest. Before the evening was over, he accepted to join Mr. Young as an honorary chairman of the chamber.
In introducing Mr. Uribe, who has visited Atlanta in the past to meet with the local Colombian community, Mr. Shapiro was effusive in his praise, saying that Mr. Uribe had been instrumental in restoring “Colombians’ faith in themselves.”
During his two-term presidency with substantial U.S. financial and military backing, Mr. Uribe successfully countered the terrorism and narcotics trade and contained paramilitary and guerrilla forces.
After tracing Mr. Uribe’s political career from mayor of Medellin and governor of the department of Antiquia, Mr. Shapiro compared him to George Washington for deciding despite his extensive popularity throughout the country to restrain from seeking a third consecutive term.
Both Mr. Uribe and Mr. Shapiro encouraged Americans to take advantage of the new free trade agreement passed between their two countries after many years of delays and negotiations.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed also was honored with an International Hero Award. While the 300 or so invitees waited for his arrival, Mr. Young traced the accomplishments of the city’s mayors since William Hartsfield’s second term beginning in 1942 through Shirley Franklin’s term ending in 2010.
Once he arrived, Mr. Reed recommitted himself to Atlanta’s development as an international center and underscored the importance that the new international at Hartsfield-Jackson would play in promoting business ties across the world.
Additionally, former chamber president George Novak, the honorary consul general of the Czech Republic, and Craig Lesser, the former chairman, were honored for their contributions to the chamber.
New board members also include Roma Kicius, consul of Lithuania; Charles Kuck, an immigration attorney; Linda Blechinger, mayor of Auburn, Ga.; state Sen. Gloria Butler of Stone Mountain; state Sen. John Albers of Roswell; state Sen. Curt Thompson of Tucker;
Lucia Jennings, founder, Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast; Josh Belinfante former state of Georgia Counsel; Caroline Taylor, immigration attorney and Axel Leblois, United Nations Fellow.