|On Thursday, November 15, 2012, AJC (American Jewish Committee) honored Margaret Callihan, Chairman, President, and CEO of SunTrust, with its prestigious 2012 Civic Achievement Award at a gala dinner at Michael’s On East in Sarasota. Ms. Callihan received this honor in recognition of her personal and professional accomplishments and her contributions that have helped to uplift the shared life of our community. Since arriving in Sarasota in 2005, one of the ways Ms. Callihan has devoted herself to helping others is by serving on many non-profit Boards, and she is currently Board Chair of the Community Foundation of Sarasota. She has been a supporter of AJC both personally and professionally for many years.
Over 300 community leaders and distinguished guests packed the ballroom to celebrate Ms. Callihan’s civic leadership and support the important global advocacy work of AJC. The elegant dinner was chaired by Gerri Aaron, Flori Roberts, and Matt & Lisa Walsh, all AJC supporters and past honorees. The evening began with Anne Virag, AJC Regional President-Elect, joining with Reverend Art McClellan of First United Methodist Church, in an opening prayer, in recognition of an important cornerstone of AJC’s mission – interfaith relations.
A tribute video was presented in which Margaret Callihan, a country music lover, is featured with her family playing in a country band. In the video, Ms. Callihan highlights seven values that have guided her in her professional and personal relationships – kindness, service, accountability, teamwork, respect, communication, and integrity. The country theme was evident when fifteen-year-old singing sensation Maria Wirries surprised Margaret by singing two country favorites, decked out in her cowgirl regalia. As a finale to the entertainment portion of the evening, AJC Regional Vice President Flori Roberts brought down the house with her rendition of a Broadway tune, with original lyrics dedicated to the honoree.
Gregory L. Miller, Chief Economist of SunTrust, delivered the keynote address, a thoughtful and entertaining perspective on the current state of our economy. Gerri Aaron, AJC Regional Vice President, delivered compelling remarks explaining that now, more than ever, given the recent attacks on Israel by Hamas, AJC urgently needs everyone’s support. Both Regional Director Brian Lipton and Regional President Sue Jacobson echoed Ms. Aaron’s plea for support, stating that AJC would not be able to continue to be the leader in global Jewish advocacy without the generosity of donors. At the close of the festivities, Margaret Callihan accepted her award with pride and issued a call to action to support the important work of AJC, the oldest human rights organization in the United States.
For more than 100 years, AJC has sought to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel and to advance democratic values around the world. To learn more about AJC, please visit www.ajc.org.