On Wednesday, May 1st, 2013, distinguished Meridian alumnus and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen received the 2013 Distinguished International Leadership Award from the Atlantic Council.
Secretary General Rasmussen is a past participant of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). His 1982 program was administered by Meridian International Center and was Secretary General Rasmussen’s first trip to the United States. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was a fellow recipient of the 2013 award for Distinguished International Leadership.
As a testament to the long-lasting impact of his U.S. exchange, Secretary General Rasmussen asked Meridian’s Senior Vice President Susan Cabiati to introduce him. While Cabiati currently overseas the Professional Exchanges department, she served as Meridian’s program officer during Rasmussen’s IVLP program. When they met he was a young member of Danish parliament. While accepting his award Secretary General Rasmussen said, “Some thirty years ago you introduced me to this great country. You started me along the path that’s led me here today, and for that I will always be grateful.”
As Cabiati explained in her introduction, Rasmussen’s 1982 program included stops in D.C., Minnesota, Chicago, and Dallas. During the exchange the Secretary General and other participants met with economists, farmers, politicians, and others to provide a better understanding of United States society and politics. In addition to learning about the U.S., Cabiati pointed out that “those encounters allowed some very, very fortunate Americans to get to know a rising global leader.”
Since then, Rasmussen continued to work in parliament and went on to serve as Prime Minister of Denmark from 2001 to 2009. In 2009 he was appointed to his current post as NATO’s 12th Secretary General and led NATO’s 2011 operations in Libya. While accepting his award, Rasmussen described NATO as “our collective life insurance” and said people, science and culture were key parts of his vision for this century. “Coming to America strengthened my personal bonds with families, colleagues and institutions across this great country. . . . That’s why strong exchange programs are the best way to keep us connected.”