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Jorge Gerdau and Muhtar Kent Honored at Americas Society 32nd Annual Spring Party

Photo: Mary Hilliard

May 23, 2012

New York, May 23, 2012 - Americas Society held its 32nd Annual Spring Party, the Society’s premier fundraising gala, on May 22 at Cipriani Wall Street. More than 600 guests attended from the world of business, philanthropy, government, diplomacy, arts, and entertainment in the Americas.

“Through your generous contributions this year, you have helped raise over $1.5 million—an impressive achievement. These funds will go a long way in support of our mission to increase public awareness of the economic, social, and cultural issues that define and challenge our hemisphere today,” said Americas Society President Susan Segal, addressing the audience.

The gala honored Gerdau Chairman Jorge Gerdau Johannpeter and Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company Muhtar Kent as the 2012 Gold Medal awardees. The Gold Medal is Americas Society’s highest honor, recognizing the recipients for their leadership and contributions to the worldwide business community, commitment to social and environmental responsibility, and active involvement with art and education initiatives across the Americas.

“Deeply committed to social responsibility and environmental sustainability, Jorge is a private sector statesman without a doubt. He leads his company with incredible business acumen and a true philanthropic spirit,” said William R. Rhodes, Americas Society Chairman Emeritus while presenting the Gold Medal to Jorge Gerdau Johannpeter.

A special message to Jorge Gerdau Johannpeter sent for the occasion by the President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff underscored the honoree’s outstanding achievements. “Gerdau has always distinguished himself by his elevated commitment to the advancement of economic and social development of Brazil,” said Ambassador Luiz Felipe de Seixas Corrêa, Consul General of Brazil in New York, who read the congratulatory message to the attendants.

The Brazilian businessman, whose visionary leadership and environmental efforts have made his firm one of the world’s major suppliers of special steel, as well as Latin America’s largest recycler, highlighted the significance of information exchange and integration in the Americas. “The region's potential is enormous both for its cultural aspects and for the natural resources we have. The Americas have common values, which facilitates their integration. It is a region built on entrepreneurship and a transforming attitude that is above governments,” said the honoree.

Americas Society Chairman and Ambassador John D. Negroponte presented the Gold Medal to Muhtar Kent, emphasizing the awardee’s commitment to public service. “A career that began in 1978 by answering a newspaper advertisement by The Coca-Cola Company has grown into a chairmanship that has encouraged environmental and social change across the hemisphere and around the world,” Ambassador Negroponte said.

Muhtar Kent joined The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta in 1978 and has held a variety of marketing and operations roles throughout his career. He became Chief Executive Officer of the Company in July 2008, and Chairman of the Board of Directors in April 2009. He is a fellow of the Foreign Policy Association, co-chair of The Consumer Goods Forum, a member of the Business Roundtable, a member of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors, a member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Board of Trustees, Chairman of the U.S.-China Business Council and Chairman Emeritus of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council.

“I don’t believe there’s ever been a more opportune or more critical moment to build lasting cooperation across our hemisphere,” said Muhtar Kent. “The Americas Society has helped promote the positive public policy steps now strengthening countries and communities across our hemisphere. In fact, the advancements being now made by countries, economies, and political systems are without historical precedent stretching back to Columbus and beyond. Cultural understanding and enrichment have a way of breaking down barriers and establishing new connections.”

Previous recipients of the Gold Medal, which has been presented annually since 1977, include William Rhodes, Roberto Egydio Setubal, Gustavo A. Cisneros, Paul Volcker, David Rockefeller, Paul Desmarais, Lorenzo Zambrano, Carlos Fuentes, Andrónico Luksic, Robert Henrikson, and Carlos Cruz-Diez.

PRESS INQUIRIES: Please contact Adriana La Rotta, Americas Society Media Relations Manager, at 212-277-8384 or alarotta@as-coa.org.

Photo L to R: William Rhodes, Jorge Gerdau Johannpeter, Susan Segal, Muhtar Kent, John Negroponte.

Americas Society, a sister organization of the Council of the Americas, is the premier organization dedicated to education, debate and dialogue in the Americas. Established by David Rockefeller in 1965, our mission is to foster an understanding of the contemporary political, social and economic issues confronting Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the Americas and the importance of the inter-American relationship.

Council of the Americas is the premier international business organization whose members share a common commitment to economic and social development, open markets, the rule of law, and democracy throughout the Western Hemisphere. The Council's membership consists of leading international companies representing a broad spectrum of sectors, including banking and finance, consulting services, consumer products, energy and mining, manufacturing, media, technology, and transportation.