Passing the Baton at Meridian International Center
Former President Walter Cutler and Newly Appointed President Stuart Holliday discuss the transition.
A Look Back
Career decisions are never easy. In retrospect, my decision to join Meridian some seventeen years ago, following a first career in the diplomatic service, could not have been more rewarding personally and, I hope, for Meridian's mission of strengthening international understanding. At the heart of Meridian's diverse operations, we have continued to work with the Department of State in organizing professional study tours for thousands of future leaders coming to our country from around the world. It is gratifying that some 150 of these visitors who have passed through Meridian's doors have in fact gone on to become presidents and prime ministers.
I leave Meridian with many inspiring memories: Hosting Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar as they explained their nuclear initiative; welcoming Iraqi journalists making their first visit to the United States; sitting in the back of a high school classroom as a Korean student from Georgetown University described his country; cutting the ribbon at the opening of a Meridian exhibition in Hanoi; hosting Katharine Graham as she spoke about her days growing up in one of our two historic mansions; and so many, many more. All these activities reflect my personal belief that in today's world of electronic sound-bites and headline news, true understanding is best achieved through sustained, face-to-face dialogue. This has been my inspiration and motivation.
WASHINGTON LIFE: What has been the
highlight of your career at Meridian
WL: Why did the Meridian Ball become
WL: Was there anything you hoped to
accomplish but never had a chance to?
WL: What does the future have in store?
A Look Forward
Meridian International Center is a venerable institution with an outstanding history in Washington. It has also touched thousands of people around the world including many international leaders whom we now call upon as friends and allies or key interlocutors.
Meridian is poised to move forward and rise to its challenge to play a key role in our nation's public diplomacy at a critical time. Using its bipartisan stature and its unique position at the nexus of government, the diplomatic corps, and the corporate community, Meridian will bring together the best minds to fulfill its mission of increasing international understanding through the exchange of people, ideas and the arts. Simply put, Meridian's mission, in partnership with the government and private sector, is vital to our national security. We live in a world where information is frequently shaped through the media and on the web. While Meridian will use these channels, it must continue to be a premier venue where people from around the world can meet face-to-face and shape the discussions about where we are heading together.
WASHINGTON LIFE: Explain a little about
Meridian International Center.
WL: What attracted you to Meridian
WL: What is the biggest obstacle for the
WL: You were not a career diplomat like your
predecessor. What are the advantages and
WL: What have you learned from Walter
WL: How will your wife be involved in the
WL: Any big surprises for the ball this year?