Blytheville Courier

Posted by Blytheville Courier on April 21, 2017 in News Clips

article.pngOn Thursday, April 27, 2017, Arab American Greg Simon will accept the Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service at the 19th annual Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards in Washington, DC.

Jennifer Salan, Communications Director of said that Simon, originally from Blytheville and born into a long family history in the community, will be receiving a “major award” for his commitment to public service. He is currently serving as the Executive Director of the Biden Cancer Initiative. His family came from Georgia and settled in Blytheville and his grandfather (Ferris Simon) was especially involved in the community and gave Greg the desire for public service. Simon is a great storyteller who takes pride in his history and roots.

Simon began his career in public service as General Counsel and Staff Director of the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology before going on to become Legislative Director for then-Senator Gore. Simon has always had a passion for science, technology and new discoveries. These talents served him well when he joined the White House as Chief Domestic Policy Advisor to Vice President Al Gore.

During his time at the White House, Mr. Simon oversaw the development and passage of several key biotechnology initiatives at the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration while also helping to negotiate the US-Russia agreement on the International Space Station. Mr. Simon continued his dedication to advocating for and crafting forward-thinking policies even after leaving government service. In 2003, he was selected to serve as the founding president of FasterCures and led key programs that pushed for increased data sharing in the field of biomedicine and the quicker dissemination of life-saving medicines for deadly and debilitating diseases. He went on to serve as a Senior Vice President at Pfizer, developing crucial programs that increased collaboration with nonprofit research organizations; and CEO at Poliwogg, a crowdfunding firm for healthcare and science-focused startups. In 2016, Mr. Simon was appointed by Vice President Biden to lead the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force.

“Public servants are often the unsung heroes of our democracy and Greg Simon is no exception to that adage. For decades, he has worked quietly, collaboratively and successfully for the best interests of the American people. He has taken this commitment into his private sector efforts as well. Whether it be his work on the Challenger Shuttle disaster, our information infrastructure, the International Space Station agreement, the Human Genome Project or biomedicine he has dedicated himself to advancing our communities, our country and our shared future. As he picks up one of the greatest challenges of our time, advancing the fight against cancer, we are honored to recognize his contributions with the Najeeb Halaby Service Award said AAIF Foundation Director Maya Berry.

The Kahlil Gibran “Spirit of Humanity” Awards was launched in 1999 to recognize individuals, corporations, organizations and communities whose work, commitment and support make a difference in promoting coexistence and inclusion in all walks of life. The awards are named for the author of The Prophet, whose message of human endurance and triumph was so evident in his life and work. The awards further symbolize Gibran’s pride in his Arab heritage, respect for the freedom he found in the United States and his universal love of humanity. AAIF created the Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service in 2004. The only annual award offered exclusively to an Arab American, the Halaby Award recognizes not merely its namesake’s extensive public service career, but also his strong and visible pride in his ethnic heritage. Halaby, father of Her Majesty Queen Noor, served as CEO of Pan American World Airways in the late 1960s and early 1970s and headed the Federal Aviation Administration under President Kennedy.

Past gala participants and awardees include former President Bill Clinton, Her Majesty Queen Noor al-Hussein, actress Selma Hayek, former President of Poland Lech Walesa, former Sen. George Mitchell, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former professional boxer Muhammad Ali, actor and philanthropist Jamie Farr and recording star Sting.

The AAIF’s goal is to encourage, recognized, and celebrate Arab American participation in American civic life, and to cultivate and mobilize a strong, educated, empowered Arab American community that can play a meaningful role in developing and improving US policies. A not-for-profit affiliate of the Arab American Institute, the Foundation supports programs that promote greater awareness of Arab Americans in the United States, demographic research and international outreach. The AAIF serves as the primary national resource on the Arab American experience for the media, academia, government agencies and the private sector. Through its numerous outreach programs, the AAIF builds leadership skills among students and young professionals and informs the American public, government agencies and organizations about the contributions and concerns of Americans of Arab descent. 

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