Peace & Dialogue Awards 2007


Each year, the Niagara Foundation recognizes individuals and organizations in the Chicago community who have demonstrated strong commitment to serving their community while maintaining a global mindset.

Founded in 2006, the Peace & Dialogue Awards seek to encourage leaders in the Chicago community to continue to be forces for positive change, to inspire thoughtful dialogue about the issues facing our community and our world, and to bring together the best and the brightest in the city to work together towards a more peaceful future.

Chicago 2007
6:30 – 9:00 pm

Cathedral Hall, 9th Floor

Niagara Community Service Award: Frank M. Clark
Chairman & CEO, ComEd

Niagara Community Service Award: Philip J. Cline
Superintendent, Chicago Police

Niagara Education Award: Arne Duncan
Chief Executive Officer, Chicago Public Schools

Niagara Tolerance Award: Elnora D. Daniel
President, Chicago State University

Niagara Commitment Award: Dennis H. Holtschneider
President, DePaul University

Niagara Outstanding F. Gulen Award: Scott Alexander
Associate Professor of Islam, Director, Catholic-Muslim Studies

Niagara Media Award: Larry Wert
President & General Manager NBC5 Chicago

Allison Rosati
Anchor, NBC5 Chicago

M. Fethullah Gulen
Honorary President, Niagara Foundation

M. Fethullah Gulen was born in the small village of Korucuk, in Erzurum Province, Eastern Turkey, in November 1938. Known by his simple and austere life style, Mr. Gulen has been from his earliest years a gifted Islamic scholar and thinker, and a creative writer and poet. His father taught him Arabic, and initiated in him his profound love of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and his Companions. Later he continued his studies under the guidance of some of the most prominent Islamic scholars in Eastern Turkey. He received further training in the religious sciences.

Mr. Gulen, so distinguished himself that he was asked to begin teaching when he was only fifteen. He did so while continuing his studies in the religious sciences. Blessed with extraordinary oratory skills, even at young age, Gulen was recognized as one of the more accomplished Islamic preachers in the early 1950s, mentioned in the same breath with some of the more learned scholars, many years his senior, in Eastern Anatolia. Gulen devoted his life trying to solve society’s ills and spiritual sufferings, and inspired the establishment of many charitable organizations to serve the welfare of the underprivileged. He published a number of well-known books, most of which remain on the best seller list in Turkey, and have also been translated into English. These include The Infinite Light, Questions, Towards the Lost Paradise, and Truth through Colors. At a time when humanity is in a desperate need of leaders and role models, we find a true innovator and an inspirational leader as well as a deeply good man in M. Fethullah Gulen.

When he retired from formal teaching studies in 1980 he had inspired a whole generation of young students, many of whom are leaders in their communities today and of course, Niagara Foundation itself, especially they are the purpose of this evening, all based upon the work of this man

Mehmet Ali Guzeldere
President of Turkish American Chamber of Commerce

Dear Honorees of Tonight,

Their Loved Ones and Valued Guests, Consul Generals, Commanders, Agents, Community and Faith Leaders, Educators, Professors, Dignitaries, Guests, and Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of Niagara Foundation I want to welcome you to Niagara Peace & Dialogue Awards 2007.

We have come a very long way through the rocky paths. We have worked days and nights, weekdays and weekends in patience and determination. Because, we have believed and decided to make tonight unforgettable and a life time experience for the Honorees.

Our purpose is simple and worthy: Honoring and recognizing those individuals whose untiring efforts in working toward peace, community service, education, tolerance, dialog and understanding exemplify the true meaning of the word, “Hero”. We have gathered to applaud these Heroes of love and award them, for they aspire to be of service to Chicago Community.

They neither seek nor expect recognition or praise in their lives. Yet, it is their example and work that is steadily laying the groundwork for peace on earth in the foreseeable future. They stand for the highest ideals, bearing burdens, and bringing hope to us all in Chicago.

Having this opportunity, I would love to congratulate those who are being honored, those who have taken their time to nominate them, and those who have taken their time to come here to celebrate their achievements and to highlight our future role models.

Having this opportunity, I want to thank my staff, and event planning committee,

Mr. Koseli for his great multimedia work (that we will enjoy his work as the program goes by),

Ms. Yasemin Uslu for her great invitation design (unfortunately she is not together with us at the moment, she has just landed at O’Hare from Turkey)

Mr. Cinar, my associate director for his tough work,

Interns and volunteers of Niagara Foundation…

I want to thank Laura Rodriguez from Exelon, Michelle Engstrom from CPD, Tia Borders from CPS, Joy Hearn from CSU, Phyliss Steward from DePaul, and Deborah Brown from NBC5 for their great cooperation to make this event come true.

I want to thank Allison Rosati to agree to become tonight’s Master of Ceremonies.

I want to thank Matt Guzeldere, President of Chicago Turkish American Chamber of Commerce to become the co-chair .

I want to thank our patron, Exelon Corporation for their full sponsorship and McHenry County-FCC, Harold Washington College, and Chicago Turkish American Chamber of Commerce for their supporting our Awards.

Finally I want to thank Governor Blagojevich, Mayor Daley, Lt Governor Quin, Conressman Emanuel, Congresswoman Sachakowsky, Congresswoman Bean, Congeressman Roskam and Congressman Johnson for their sending a letter of Proclamation commending Niagara Foundation’s works and paying tribute to tonight’s honorees.

Thank You and Enjoy the Night!

Kemal Oksuz

Executive Director, Niagara Foundation

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The views and opinions expressed on The Falls are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Niagara Foundation, its staff, other authors, members, partners, or sponsors.