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World Affairs Council of Western Michigan celebrates 70th Anniversary with inaugural awards

Jon M. Huntsman Jr. portrait
Wikimedia Commons
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The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan celebrating its 70th Anniversary honoring regional and national influential figures with inaugural prizes. WGVU’s was at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids for the ceremonies.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and China, Jon Huntsman Jr. received the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan’s first annual Vandenberg Prize named in honor of Michigan Senator Arthur Vandenberg who was a proponent of forming NATO and endorsing the creation of the United Nations.

“The world wants us united, with the exception of Russia and China sometimes, they want to see our values on display. They envy what we have built. They might not always agree with what we've done in the way we exercise and execute power, but by and large they respect the United States and they respect Americans. And when we're together and when we shine and when we recognize that politics ends at the water's edge, there's no weapons system that the Pentagon can produce that is more powerful than that sentiment and how it moves other people around the world. I have seen it is our nation's most powerful weapon.”

Birgit Klohs, President and CEO, The Right Place photo
Credit The Right Place
Birgit Klohs, President and CEO, The Right Place

Birgit Klohs, President and CEO of regional economic development organization The Right Place received the first annual Hilman-Orr Award.

“I wanted to be an ambassador for this community in other parts of the world to tell them about what it is we are all about and that in fact we will welcome foreign direct investment to our community. But I also wanted to spread the word in our region that embracing international, that embracing people from other parts of the world will enrich us, it does not make us poorer it makes us richer. And that in fact, your competition today is no longer in Iowa are Indiana, but it is in Mexico and it is in India and it is in China and the more we embrace that competition, we will be stronger as a region for it.”

In downtown Grand Rapids, Patrick Center, WGVU News.