Wednesday, March 5, 2014

José Andrés and Forest Whitaker to Receive Refugees International's Highest Honor | Washington, DC

Refugees International (RI) announced today that José Andrés, renowned chef and advocate for sustainable solutions to combat hunger worldwide, and Forest Whitaker, Academy Award winning actor and distinguished social activist, are this year’s recipients of the McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award. The award recognizes those who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and commitment to humanitarian action.

Founder of beloved restaurants such as Jaleo, Zaytinya, and Minibar, Mr. Andrés is a Washington, DC legend. His philanthropic work is equally impressive, as he has devoted the past two decades advocating for innovative and creative solutions to hunger and poverty both in the U.S. and abroad. In 2010, he started the World Central Kitchen, which is now focusing its efforts on Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and will soon expand to Central America and Africa. He was named by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be the Culinary Ambassador of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves whose mission is to “save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions.”

“I am very humbled to receive this award,” said José Andrés. “As a chef, I believe in using the power of food to help find solutions to many of the issues we face around the world. This is what my organization World Central Kitchen is about; we believe in investing in solutions instead of throwing money at the problem. In the years to come I believe chefs will only be more and more involved in becoming part of the solution.”

Forest Whitaker is one of Hollywood’s most accomplished actors. He starred in last year’s critically acclaimed Lee Daniels’ The Butler and has received numerous awards, including an Academy Award for his performance in The Last King of Scotland. Mr. Whitaker is also a dedicated humanitarian. He is the founder and CEO of The Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative, co-founder and chair of the International Institute for Peace, and is the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation. The Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative is currently working with UNESCO in South Sudan to bring together young people across the country that are motivated to be leaders in peace-building and act as agents of positive change within their communities.

“When civil unrest forces some 865,000 South Sudanese people on the roads, when so many lives are threatened and lessened, we are reminded of what Refugees International stands for: a cause that must unite us across distances and continents. Their work matters a lot to me since I have been involved in South Sudan with my Foundation for two years; we are in the process of building a network of young peace leaders. South Sudan is a country struggling for peace and normalcy – for hope. It is this hope that we must first restore among these hundreds of thousands of refugees. Anytime you hear of armed conflict, there will be refugees to shelter and to heal. Their plight is to have lost everything but their lives and to be often forgotten for having lost their homes. I am honored to receive the McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award. It is a recognition I will carry with conviction and determination.”

“It is an extraordinary privilege to be able to honor not one but two such leading humanitarians,” said Michel Gabaudan, President of Refugees International. “José’s passion and creativity have helped transform Washington, and he has carried that same spirit into his global humanitarian efforts. And Forest’s ongoing commitment to help build peace and strengthen communities in some of the world’s most fragile nations is truly inspiring.”

Mr. Andrés and Mr. Whitaker will be presented with the 2014 McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award at Refugees International’s 35th Anniversary Dinner. The dinner will be held on Wednesday, April 30th, at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC.