Meridian International Center Hosts 43rd Annual Meridian Ball

by Sophie Pyle · October 17, 2011

    [Lauren Knapp and Robert Shields boogey on the Meridian dance floor]

    The Meridian International Center, known for over 50 years as the nation’s premier forum for the advancement of the United States’ public and cultural diplomacy efforts, opened its doors for the 43rd Annual Meridian Ball.

    With Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama, Congressional Chairs Jill Cooper Udall and Linda Mays McCaul, Honorary Sponsor Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall, Chief of Protocol of the United States, Honorary Benefactor Mayor Vincent C. Gray of the District of Columbia, Ball Chair The Honorable Mary M. Ourisman and White-Meyer Dinner Chair Susanna Quinn, the high-profile event drew an equally prominent list of guests.

    [Meridian Ball chairs]

    Meridian President and CEO Stuart Holliday noted, “There is no other place in Washington or maybe the world where leaders from so many sectors gather for a night like tonight.  Functions like the Meridian Ball, along with the events we do throughout the year, are a crucial platform for building and strengthening relationships and international diplomacy.  We are honored to host such a remarkable event.”

    [Allison Prescott and Todd Fournoy via]

    The evening began with formal dinners hosted by 22 ambassadors at their embassies or residences, and a private dinner at Meridian’s White Meyer House.  Over 750 attendees from the public, private, diplomatic, and media sectors were in attendance, representing a powerful cross-section of the Washington, DC and international communities.

    Following dinner, guests joined at Washington’s historic Meridian House for a black-tie ball.  Luminaries such as Melanne Verveer, Raj Shah, Regina Benjamin, Fox News’s Ed Henry, CBS’s Nora O’Donnell, ABC’s Jake Tapper, John Hope Bryant, Ed Royce, Susan Blumenthal, Doris Matsui, Carlos Gutierrez, and more than 30 ambassadors enjoyed dancing, drinks and food stations representing more than 12 nations and regions, with signs noting Meridian’s history in each country.

    Other socials we spotted: Erika Gutierrez (and her parents), Rodrigo GarciaAllison Priebe Brooks, Allison Prescott, Todd Fournoy, Lauren Knapp, Robert Shields, Michael Woestehoff, Karin Tanabe, Nancy Reynolds Bagley, Rudy Barry, Elizabeth Ganshert.

    Additional photos by Joyce N. Boghosian