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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 Abby Moffat.

Annual Gala Dinner

New York City | May 9, 2023

I want to reiterate my mother’s “thank you” to Catherine and everyone at the American Swiss Foundation for this recognition.

There is no one more fitting person for whom this leadership award should be named than Faith.

Those of us who knew her knew she embodied President Reagan’s quote:

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”

No one could say ‘no’ to Faith Whittlesey. And, as a result, she got things done.

As Ambassador to Switzerland (a role she served in twice), Faith demonstrated her skills as the consummate diplomat. In the early 1980’s, while negotiating the Memorandum of Understanding on Insider Trading, the talks reached an impasse.

Faith recognized there was no point in staying in a conference room with emotions elevated, so she took the brooding parties on a hike.

A loooong, exhausting hike.

When they balked, she encouraged. When they whimpered, she quickened her pace. The men complained of aching pinched feet in dress shoes while Faith forged ahead effortlessly…in heels.

She promised wine and cheese and chocolate to those who came to the negotiations with an open mind.

…if they could make it to the top of the mountain!

Faith had worked her magic. By the time the negotiators summited the mount, no one had the energy to quarrel, and—full of wine and cheese and chocolate—they reached an agreement.

…perhaps only to avoid another of Faith’s treacherous Alpine treks.

Faith’s legacy lives on at the American Swiss Foundation, not only in her brainchild, the Young Leaders Program, but in the very spirit of all we have done and will do. 

I am excited for the future of the organization. I know my grandfather and Faith would be amazed at how far we have come since their time and so proud of the path ahead.

Mom and I are truly honored to be recognized with this leadership award. If we deserve it, it is only because of the models of leadership we see demonstrated at ASF every day.

Our heartfelt gratitude

  • for the stewardship, determination, and persistence of our co-chairs Bob Giuffra and Markus Deithelm;
  • for the vision and dedication of our Vice Chair Ed McMullen; and
  • for the constancy and energy of our new Executive Director but longtime team member Vanessa Beary.

Looking forward to a great night! My thanks to you all.