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Annual Gala Dinner | May 2023

Ambassador Faith Whittlesey Leadership Award Acceptance Speech made at the 2023 Gala Dinner by inaugural awardee Diana Davis Spencer.

Annual Gala Dinner

New York City | May 9, 2023

Thanks so much, Bob. Abby and I are truly honored to be the first recipients of the Faith Whittlesey Award. Faith was such an inspiration and force that brought our two countries together.

Before I turn it over to Abby, I’d like to briefly share my parents’ Swiss story – a love affair with Switzerland that began in 1929 as a chance meeting of strangers on an express train from Paris to Geneva. It turned out they were headed to the same summer program.

Two years later, now married, they returned to Switzerland to pursue PhD’s at the Geneva Graduate Institute.

Forty years after their chance encounter on a train, my father was appointed US Ambassador to Switzerland.

A fulfilling six years. Together they built lasting Swiss friendships, which intertwined the business world (my father, the guru of insurance and investment banking worlds), the sporting world from skiing the Alps, swimming in the Ars, and participating in Canton festivities.

When they returned to the States in 1975, they kept their Swiss friendships alive.

They spent winters skiing the Alps.

Back in the States, they’d invite younger Swiss students and graduates to their home. Every meal was topped off with delectable Swiss chocolates.

These friendships deepened ties between our two countries and sprung the beginnings of the Young Leaders Program – a program we’re so proud to be a part of that’s come to be so associated with Faith about whom I’m sure Abby will speak.