Atlantic Council
2018 Distinguished Leadership Awards
Distinguished Business Leadership Award Presentation

Frederick Kempe,
President and CEO,
Atlantic Council
General James L. Jones, Jr.,
Interim Chairman, Atlantic Council;
Chairman, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security
Howard Schultz,
Executive Chairman,
Starbucks Corporation
David McCormick,
Chairman, International Advisory Board,
Atlantic Council
Medal of Honor Recipient Master Sergeant (Ret.) Leroy Arthur Petry,
Liaison Officer,
US Special Operations Command Care Coalition-Northwest Region
Location: Washington, D.C.

Time:  7:00 p.m. EDT

Date:  Thursday, May 10, 2018

Transcript By

Superior Transcriptions LLC

ANNOUNCER:  Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats.  The program is about to begin.  Please welcome back to the stage Atlantic Council President and CEO Mr. Fred Kempe.  (Applause.)

MR. KEMPE:  What an incredible buzz in the room.  I hate to interrupt your fascinating discussions, but it’s my duty to bring you back to the rest of our scheduled program and our last two awardees.

First of all, in my acknowledgments, one always doesn’t hit everything that one should have that was important.  So I would like to salute the member of Congress we did not mention in the first part and also the person who is accompanying him, who is quite important in her own right.  So Senator Dan Stevens (sic; Sullivan) of Alaska accompanied by Catherine Stevens, the widow of the great Senator Ted Stevens.  Thank you so much.  Please stand.  (Applause.)

I hope that wins just a few more votes the next time around.

Tonight would not be possible if not for our incredible community of supporters, and most notably the co-chairs of tonight’s dinner.  You’re not only supporting this dinner, you’re supporting our work all year long.  And so I’ll ask those co-chairs in attendance to stand and stay standing as I read out their names.  It’s an impressive list, but please hold your applause until I finish.

So please join me in thanking 21st Century Fox, Adrienne Arsht, chairman emeritus of TotalBank.  (Applause.)  Now, who can possibly hold their applause for Adrienne Arsht?  But thank you very much.  (Laughter.)

Airbus Americas and Jeff Knittel.

Alshaya Group and Mohammed Alshaya, represented by Mohammed Alshaya.  (Applause.)

The Blackstone Group, represented by Maria Pica Karp, our board member.

Dentons, represented by Karl Hopkins, our board member.

Edelman, represented by Richard Edelman ‒ (applause) ‒ also a board member.

Gelbard International Consulting, represented by Ambassador Bob Gelbard, also a board member.  (Applause.)

Georgetown Entertainment Group, represented by Franco Nuschese, a board member.

Hanesbrands, represented by Joia Johnson, a board member.

Hariri Interests, represented by Rafic Bizri, a board member.

H&A Group, represented by Adam Tan, an international advisory board member.  (Applause.)

Hunt Consolidated, Hunter Hunt.

Ihlas Holding, represented by Ahmet Oren, a board member.

KMW, represented by Robert Schulz.  (Cheers.)  Very popular.

Leonardo DRS, represented by William Lynn – Bill Lynn, a board member.  (Applause.)

Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Maroc Télématique, represented by Ahmed Charai, a board member.

David McCormick, who I’ll introduce in a second, co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates.  (Cheers, applause.)

McLarty Associates, represented by two board members, Nelson Cunningham and Rick Burt.

MNG Group of Companies, represented by their founder Mehmet Nazif Gunal, an International Advisory Board member.

Nestle USA, represented by Molly Fogarty.

Penguin Random House – (cheers, applause) – represented by Markus Dohle.  And please pick up the books at the end of the evening that he’s donated, that are in your bags – amazing books.  And they’re also listed in your program. 

Raytheon, represented by John Harris – (cheers, applause) – a board member.

Saab North America, represented by Michael Andersson, also on our board.  (Cheers, applause.)

SAIC, represented by Tom Eldridge – Thomas Eldridge, a member of the board.  (Applause.)

The Schultz Family Foundation.

SouthWest Holdings, represented by Tewodros Ashenafi on our International Advisory Board.

Starbucks Coffee Company.  (Cheers.)

Textron, represented by Mary Claire Murphy.

Thales North America, represented by Alan Pelligrini, also on our board.  (Applause.)

Thomson Reuters, represented by Kate Friedrich.  (Applause.)

Total Wine, represented by David Trone, founder and congressional candidate, a member of the International Advisory Board.

UTC, United Technologies Corporation, represented by Tim McBride, on our board.

Please join me in applause for the generosity of all of our co-chairs this evening.  (Cheers, applause.)

And while I’m on the topic of supporters, I have some news.  You may know that I’ve had something to do with the news industry in the past, and I like to break news.  I’m delighted to preview a forthcoming announcement that the Council’s innovative Digital Forensic Research Lab is launching a partnership with Facebook to support the world’s largest community in their effort to strengthen democracy, aiming to ensure that the tools designed to bring us closer together aren’t used to drive us further apart.  Our Digital Forensic Research Lab does counter-disinformation 24/7, all around the world.  It’s one of our most successful new ventures.  Thank you to Joel Kaplan and Katie Harbath of Facebook who have started this partnership and joined us this evening.  (Applause.)

Through the work of our Digital Forensic Research Lab, and we’re doing a major gathering in Berlin at the end of June of what we call a digital solidarity movement.  We’re not only doing it ourselves, but we’re also training activists and journalists in the skills of using open-source forensics to spot fake news, bots, trolls, and others trying to lead astray our information society.  We are building a digital solidarity movement, a community driven by a shared commitment to protect democracy and advance truth across the globe.  With that cat now out of the bag, it’s my pleasure now to introduce Dave McCormick, newly on the Atlantic Council leadership team, as chairman of our international advisory board. 

At a recent dinner in his honor, our chairman emeritus, General Brent Scowcroft, quite literally passed him the baton.  Dave is that unusual individual who can draw from rich military, government and private sector experience.  A graduate of West Point, he is a former Army officer, a successful entrepreneur, and how co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates, a global macro-investment firm and the world’s largest hedge fund.  Prior to joining Bridgewater, Dave served as U.S. Treasury undersecretary for international affairs.  And before that, as deputy national security advisor for international economic policy, and undersecretary of commerce for export administration. 

Indeed, he served the president we honored tonight.  Doing that, and serving President George W. Bush, he held the responsibility not only for coordinating U.S. international, economic, and energy policy, but also U.S. foreign assistance, humanitarian relief, stabilization and reconstruction efforts.  Dave, we consider ourselves lucky to have a person of such personal passion and commitment to join our mission in such a leadership position.

With that, please join me in welcoming to the stage our new International Advisory Board chairman, Dave McCormick.  (Cheers, applause.)

DAVID MCCORMICK:  All right, thank you.

Let me start by recognizing Senator Dan Sullivan from the great state of Alaska.  (Cheers, applause.)  Even though he’s a Marine, I want to make sure he gets the appropriate recognition.  (Laughter.)

I’m really delighted to be here.  Thanks, Fred, for that kind introduction.  It’s really such an honor to be in this room with so many distinguished business leaders and military leaders and public-service leaders, and many friends and people I’ve admired for many years.

As the new chair of the International Advisory Board – and thank you, others in the room who are members of that – it’s a real honor to be part of the Atlantic Council.  I’m just beginning to see how wonderful the Atlantic Council is in so many ways, with such an important mission.

And tonight we’re really here to celebrate leadership, the kind of leadership that’s fundamental to the success of our country and the global community, and the kind of leadership that’s really exemplified by our four honorees.  It’s strong leadership that others have said that’s really been at the core of the longstanding peace and stability that we’ve experienced over many, many decades.  And it’s that same kind of leadership that’ll be so critical to overcoming the challenges we face.

Now, if we all gave our definitions of leadership, I’m sure we’d have different definitions of people in mind.  But there are two examples or attributes of leadership that have really become more important in my mind as I’ve – as I’ve seen and experienced things over the years.  And that’s, as Condi said, the ability to have good humor and also the ability to build great teams.

And while I’m sorry he left – President Bush had an early bedtime; that’s not a new thing – (laughter) – I had the great honor of working for President Bush, and so did many other people in this room.  It’s great to see many of you here.  And these were the leadership qualities that he really had – great humor and a great ability to build a team.

And so when I was thinking about tonight’s ceremony, and then I was reminded of this with Condi’s remarks, a story came to mind.  And right now Fred’s sweating more than he already was sweating, because I’m going off script.  But the memory is one of the Asian-Pacific Economic Conference in 2006.

And as Steve Hadley will remember, I came into that job in the White House as the deputy for international that fall.  And one of the first important things on the agenda was to staff the president, which was part of my job, for the APEC conference.  And so that was in Vietnam in November.  And I was anxious about this, because there were big issues around trade and sanctions.  Does that sound familiar?  And I was really wanting to make sure I talked to the president about it.  And Steve kept saying, no, the president doesn’t have time; you’ll have a chance to update him on Air Force One.

And so I waited and I studied, and I had my binders with all the policy issues.  And I got onto Air Force One and I finally got my opportunity.  I walked into the conference room on Air Force One.  I said, Mr. President, I’m here to talk about APEC.  And he leaned back in his chair and said “sherpa.”  And that was the title.  (Laughter.)  And so that became my nickname, which, by the way, compared to some of the other nicknames, wasn’t so bad.  So I took that.  (Laughter.)

And he said, “Sherpa, this is not my first rodeo.”  (Laughter.)  And I said, well – I thought to myself, well, you know, it’s my first rodeo.  (Laughter.)  But I’m going to go with it, because he seems to know what he’s talking about.  So we landed in Hanoi, and he had a number of meetings.  And then it was my time.  I was the person that was going to be with him without anybody else.  I was the single person staffing him for the conference.  And so he and I drove together, and we walked into the big conference center.

And the APEC conference is 16, 16 or 18, world leaders.  And each of them has the person that’s staffing them, their sherpa.  And I had been told that the room was going to be set up where there was going to be all these big desks in a circle, and the sherpa would be sitting behind each of the leaders.  And we walked into the big room, and there was no place for the sherpas.  So it was just the leaders, and the sherpas were shuttled off into a hold room.

And so this became a little disconcerting, but I went along with it.  And we went to the hold room and we all sat there.  And there was a big scoreboard that said each country’s name.  And if your leader wanted to speak with you, then he could push a button and the buzzer would go off, and then you’d be brought into the room.  (Laughter.)

And so I had the headphones on where I was listening – (inaudible) – being translated, just early in, and I thought, well, it’s his first – not his first rodeo, so this probably – there’s not going to be probably any questions.  And then the United States of America.  Light goes on, buzzing.  And I’m thinking to myself, oh, here we go.  And all the other sherpas are looking at me like I have an issue, which is – which is also concerning.

So I get my binders – (laughter) – because I have all the policies in there, and I walk into the room.  And of course, it’s just all the world leaders.  And so it’s President Hu and it’s Prime Minister Howard and Prime Minister Abe and President Hu.  And I’m walking across the room, and I walk up behind the president and I lean up behind him and I say, Mr. President, did you have a question?  And he looked at me with a somewhat evil smirk on his face and said, I pushed the wrong button.  (Laughter, applause.)  And there’s still some question of whether this was intentional or not.  (Laughter.)  He insists that it really was a button, but he seemed to take so much pleasure in it.  (Laughter.)

So it was a walk of shame back past Prime Minister Abe and President Hu and President Putin – (laughter) – back out to the room, back to explain to the other sherpas that my world leader just pushed the wrong button.  (Laughter, applause.)  And we’ve had a lot of fun with that over the years.  And it was one of the many things that I loved about him, which is he was hard but he was always fun, and a great man to work for and a great man to honor tonight.  (Cheers, applause.)

And now it’s really my pleasure and an honor to turn over the stage to another, you know, incredible leader, really an incredible leader that I met for the first time tonight, and that’s Medal of Honor winner Master Sergeant Leroy Arthur Petry.  He’s our next – (applause) – introducer.

A recently retired Army veteran, Master Sergeant Petry was a liaison officer for U.S. Special Operations Command Care Coalition, where he’s worked on the noble, noble cause of providing oversight to our wounded warriors, of which he is one.  His impressive list of awards and decorations include the Medal of Honor, two Bronze Stars, and the Purple Heart.  So before giving him a loud ovation, please direct your attention to the screen.  Thank you.

(A video presentation is shown.)


ANNOUNCER:  Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage Medal of Honor recipient Master Sergeant Leroy Arthur Petry.  (Applause.)

MASTER SERGEANT (RET.) LEROY ARTHUR PETRY:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

I’m honored to be here with all of you this evening.  First of all, I’d like to thank the Atlantic Council for recognizing these inspiring – the inspiring leadership of all of our honorees tonight.  I am humbled to be given this opportunity to introduce a man who has earned my respect and admiration and inspired me.  He is a leader, a family man, and a champion for so many.

I first met Mr. Schultz probably around five years ago.  I had been invited by one of the veterans working at Starbucks to come visit the headquarters and meet some of the veterans.  I was only stationed a few minutes south of Seattle.  Starbucks had previously a poor reputation amongst some of our troops because of some bad rumors started early in the war that they did not support the troops, and so I made the trip.  I wanted to go there and see for myself, and talk with the veterans that were there, and hear their perspective.

They showed me around the building.  I was shocked to see they had a monumental wall in the heart of the building honoring veterans employed and ones that were deployed.  I learned of their initial initiatives to support their veterans and the troops deployed.

As we continued the tour, they asked if I wanted to meet Mr. Howard Schultz.  I said, sure.  I thought it would be a quick handshake and maybe a photo, the usual for so many high-profile people I get to meet.  But no, he invited me into his office.  We sat and we talked a while, and we ended up talking not only to the veterans, but to all of the employees.  They all loved working for Mr. Schultz.  They all loved the company, Starbucks.

Shortly thereafter Starbucks raised the bar, announcing the hiring of thousands of veterans and spouses.  A few months later the Schultz Family Foundation initiated a tremendous support for our troops and care for our veterans.  Mr. Schultz, a few months later, started a book to honor our troops and selfless service.  It included his father having served as a medic during World War II, another small group of people who I hold in high regard – no pun intended.  But the book released on Veterans Day that year.  At the same time, he teamed up with HBO and covered the National Mall, not far from here, with a Concert for Valor, free for all to attend, to honor the service and to show appreciation for our military and veterans.  He has continued to increase Starbucks’ support through many different venues, supporting transition programs, employment, education, only to name a few.

Having witnessed it myself from visited Starbucks, if most people knew – only knew the amount of care, precision, and effort that go into Starbucks products, they would realize what a bargain they are purchasing.  It is not only the quality of their products that Mr. Schultz has influenced; the diversity, the values, the ethics, and the morals, and high standards of its employees – or, as Starbucks calls them, partners – giving each of them a vested interest in the success of the company.

His support of his Starbucks family and his family’s foundation support of so many globally has impacted numerous lives.  His impeccable vision of what right should look like and his continued engagement to, like Starbucks, serve so many is the reason why, like an Airborne Ranger leads the way, he continues to lead from the front and set the example for others to follow.

Mr. Schultz, thank you for your inspiration, commitment, dedication, leadership, compassion and all the remarkable things you have done and continue to do.  We look forward to your continued success and your endeavoring effort to make a difference to humanity.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Howard Schultz.  (Applause.)

HOWARD SCHULTZ:  What a speech that was.  Other than my wife, Sheri, and my children who are here tonight, there is no one in the entire world I would have liked to have had the privilege to introduce me tonight.

Sergeant Petry represents all that is good about America, about our military, about our values, about our guiding principles and really the true promise of America.  (Applause.)

Let me begin by just acknowledging the three other recipients:  Obviously, President Bush, who was ‒ he was really funny, he was great tonight ‒ (laughter) ‒ Gloria Estefan and General Scaparrotti.  It’s an honor for me to share the stage and to receive this award with the three of you tonight.

To the Atlantic Council, let me acknowledge with great humility your extraordinary, critically important, bipartisan work in an age of polarization.  We are living at a very unusual time and I don’t think it would be an overstatement, especially this week, to say that the country is facing a real crucible.  And I think you can broaden that and kind of ask the rhetorical question about the crucible of leadership.

Twenty years ago, as a Jewish person, I had the opportunity to go to Poland and visit Auschwitz for the first time.  The closest I have gotten before that to any of the death camps was the Holocaust Museum here in Washington, D.C. and the museum in Israel.

It was a very cold, grey winter day.  And the two or three hours that had passed while we were there was a gruesome, gruesome visual understanding of what took place in these camps.  And to be honest with you, we were scheduled to stay four or five, six hours and visit another camp, but I just ‒ I couldn’t do it.  I just did not have it in me.

Somehow when we were leaving the camp, in the mud and in the sand, I reached into my ‒ into the sand and into the mud and I somehow found this stone.  And this stone has been sitting on my desk for the last 20 years.  (Applause.)  And I know it’s somewhat unorthodox and perhaps a little unexpected to put a stone on the podium, but I wanted you to think about this stone as something more than a rock.  I want you to think about it in terms of allied forces, the character of America, the valor, the bravery and what it took to liberate millions of people and to create freedom around the world and to literally save the world from tyranny.

I’ve had that rock on my desk to constantly remind me not only to never forget, but in an age of uncertainty, especially the last couple of years, to remind me of the best of America.  Now, it’s been 75 years since the end of World War II.  And I think many today, unfortunately, at home and many around the world – and I travel a great deal – are questioning the moral leadership of America, and the ideals of America and what this rock, not once but still, represents.

I want to try and face these issues of moral leadership and our ideals with you tonight through two lenses.  One, the personal lens of my life story.  And, second, through the lens of my company.  And I say straightaway that my company and what we do at Starbucks is not a proxy for the country or leading the country.  But our values and guiding principles I think are steeped in American values. 

From a personal standpoint, you are looking at a person who is living proof of both the promise of America and the American dream.  I grew up in public housing in Brooklyn, New York.  And if I took all of you there today, the odds of getting from that place to this podium is almost impossible.  But it can only happen in America.  (Cheers, applause.)  And it can still only happen in America. 

My life story, and the imprinting I had as a poor kid living on the other side of the tracks, presented me with lots of vulnerabilities and, to be honest with you, shame and insecurity of being that poor kid.  And with that, I dreamed about perhaps one day building the kind of company that my father – who served in the military and unfortunately came back and did not have access to the things he thought the company would provide him.

But the aspiration was to build a different kind of company, a company that would achieve the balance between profit and conscience, a company that would demonstrate that not every decision is an economic one, a company that would demonstrate success is best when it’s shared.  And do things that were unheard of – ownership for every employee, comprehensive health insurance over 20 years before the Affordable Care Act, free college tuition for every employee.  All of these things steeped not in marketing or PR but steeped in the understanding that we have to create opportunity for everyone.

Now, we are living at a time both at home and abroad where the challenges are significant and acute.  We have significant systemic issues – social issues in the country.  And as a result of that, I feel so strongly that today businesses and business leaders must understand that we are living at a time where the rules of engagement for a public company are very, very different than they’ve ever been, because we must pick up the slack and, unfortunately, the lack of responsibility of the political class. 

And what that means is that we must do more for our employees, more for the communities we serve.  And, regardless of the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, your ethnic background, your station in life, we want to welcome you as a customer and we want to welcome you as an employee.  And with that, we want to expand Starbucks all over the world.  And as we expand from one country to the next – and we’re almost up to 80 – we want to carry that American flag to every country and every community, demonstrating the pride, the love, and the humanity – and most importantly the values and character of dignity and respect – which has built the United States of America.  (Applause.)

We have over 3,000 stores in China.  We open a store every day.  People ask me, how have you succeeded in China?  We’ve succeeded in China in the same way we succeeded in the United States – by asking our managers and our leaders to do one thing: Exceed the expectations of our people so they can exceed the expectations of our customers, to demonstrate a deep sense of humility and respect in all the things we do.

I want to go back to this crucible.  There are a lot of important people in this room who have a great deal of influence on the future of our country and the future of our world.  In my view, as a private citizen who travels the world, perhaps more than many of you here, there are real questions and real concerns and real doubts about the strength and conviction and moral courage of the United States of America.

The Atlantic Council stands for relationship-building, trust and confidence among our allies.  This is not a time for isolationism, for nationalism.  This is a time, as we face this crucible, for cooperation.  This is not a time to build walls.  This is a time to build bridges.  (Applause.)

Over the course of the last year, I wanted to do a number of things that would give me exposure to the human condition here at home and abroad.  I wanted to understand the opiate crisis.  I wanted to go to the southern border in Texas and understand the immigration issues.  I wanted to go to Gettysburg and I wanted to go to Normandy.

It was in Normandy that something happened that I want to share with you.  I had never been there.  I didn’t know what to expect.  And, unlike Auschwitz, we couldn’t get enough of it.  We couldn’t get enough of the love and respect that the people in Normandy have for America and how they hold us so close to their heart.

But it was in the cemetery that really, really moved me.  I was walking and walking.  I couldn’t believe the, I believe, over 9,000 headstones.  About 150 yards away from where I was standing at the time, way, way off to the distance, I could see a man; didn’t know exactly what he was doing, but he was isolated.  And I just started walking towards him.

The closer I got, the first thing I noticed, he was wearing a uniform as an employee of the cemetery.  And then I got to about 10 yards, and he was on his knees, on his knees, with a scrub brush.  I kneeled down.  He did not speak a word of English.  And he was washing, washing, with great, great respect and honor, the headstone, one by one.  And I kneeled down and I said thank you.  Thank you so much.  And he stood up, no English, and he said, no, we thank you.

I started with a stone to remind us of who we once were and who I believe we still are.  And I finish with the headstone of a Frenchman on his knees, scrubbing the headstone of a fallen warrior out of respect for who we are, who we are.  And I think the call to action for all of us is to understand that we are a country that is not entitled to our success.  We have to earn it.  And it’s been earned many, many times by people who have come before us.  And we have an awesome responsibility not to be desensitized by the time we are living in, not to accept the status quo of a lack of dignity and a lack of respect, but to rise above it and to do all we can – like the man kneeling in Normandy – to once again respect and honor the history, the tradition, the valor, the bravery and, most importantly, the love of the United States of America.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)