2023 Advocacy Awards: Celebrating the Contributions of Refugees

Refugees International’s annual Advocacy Awards brings together passionate defenders of refugees and celebrates the tireless efforts of refugee leaders and civil society activists who dedicate themselves to humanitarian causes. The event raises funds to support our shared work to advance the rights and safety of people seeking refuge. 

This year’s event will celebrate the rich contributions refugees and forcibly displaced people make when they can rebuild their lives in welcoming communities.

Save the Date

Tuesday, October 24, 2023
6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

More details on ticketing to follow. For questions, contact Bekah Meyerowitz at bmeyerowitz@refugeesinternational.org.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Explore opportunities to sponsor the 2023 advocacy awards.

2023 McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award: Oscar-winning Actor Ke Huy Quan

The McCall-Pierpaoli award honors individuals who have made significant contributions to advance the rights and safety of displaced people. The award itself is named for David and Penny McCall and Yvette Pierpaoli, all three of whom died during Refugees International research travel in Albania in 1999. David and Penny McCall were philanthropists who traveled the world to see firsthand Refugees International’s work and the challenges facing refugees. Yvette was a  staff member and a great humanitarian advocate.

This year, we are awarding Refugees International’s prestigious McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award, our highest honor, to refugee and Oscar-winning actor Ke Huy Quan. We at Refugees International were extremely moved by Mr. Quan’s powerful callback to his refugee experience at the Oscars earlier this year. As a former refugee and a beloved American icon, Mr. Quan has shown the world what is possible as someone whose “journey started on a boat.” He embodies the spirit of this award, and the importance of welcoming refugees in this country. 

2023 Richard C. Holbrooke Leadership Award

The Richard C. Holbrooke Leadership Award honors and recognizes those in local civil society who are so often the unsung heroes of displacement crises and who work tirelessly to improve community-based services for refugees. Richard C. Holbrooke was a great American statesman, a tremendous diplomat, and a true humanitarian who fought for justice through diplomacy. This is the spirit that he brought to Refugees International as Chairman of the Board from 1996-1999 and as a board member for more than a decade.

This year, we are awarding Refugees International’s prestigious Richard C. Holbrooke Leadership Award to South Sudan Women United (SSWU). SSWU is a women-led organization founded in 2014 by Ms. Nyakan J. Gile, Amb. Agnes Oswah, and Ms. Esther Sprague to respond to humanitarian crisis following South Sudan’s deadly 2013 civil war that claimed tens of thousands of lives.

SSWU envisions a unified, peaceful, and prosperous South Sudan where all citizens enjoy freedom, justice, equal citizenship, and the protection of human rights and where diversity is honored as it represents the cultures and traditions that make South Sudan unique. Since neighboring Sudan erupted into a civil war of its own in April 2023, SSWU has been responding to the urgent needs of South Sudanese refugees and Sudanese people trapped in the country. SSWU has evacuated more than 10,000 South Sudanese refugees and Sudanese citizens to safety in South Sudan and other safer parts of the country. SSWU calls on individuals and organizations to support peace and reconciliation processes and to respond to the needs of survivors of conflict and violence in South Sudan and Sudan—especially women and children.

Featured artwork: “Life Scenery” by artist and former refugee from Iran Nima Javan. His work is concerned with creatures and animals that have been identified in a new world and with issues concerning life and human resistance. His art is inspired by childhood memories of Persian miniatures and carpets.