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About the Awards

The Atlantic Council Distinguished Leadership Awards celebrates the highest achieving individuals who embody the essence of the pillars of the transatlantic relationship. Each year, the event convenes an elite, international audience – including current and former heads of state, political and policy leaders, ambassadors, members of Congress and the administration, military commanders, international business leaders, and leading members of the media. The event is regularly featured by national and international media outlets, including the Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, POLITICO, Thomson Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, among others.

Distinguished leaders

2023 Honorees

The Atlantic Council recognizes individuals who best represent the pillars of international relations: political and policy leaders, business executives, military brass, and artistic and humanitarian champions. This year we will feature our first all-female honoree slate, inspired by the past year of remarkable accomplishments by women in the world. Aside from our usual list of honorees, the Atlantic Council will be calling attention to the game changing and rising role of women’s leadership in shaping a better world.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Distinguished International Leadership Award

Director-General, World Trade Organization

Introduced by American University President Sylvia Mathews Burwell

The Hon. Avril Haines

Distinguished International Leadership Award

Director of National Intelligence, United States Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Introduced by Atlantic Council Chairman of the International Advisory Board Stephen J. Hadley

Adena T. Friedman

Distinguished Business Leadership Award

Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Nasdaq, Inc.

Introduced by Co-Chair and Co-Founder of The Carlyle Group David M. Rubenstein

Gen. Laura J. Richardson

Distinguished Military Leadership Award

Commander, US Southern Command

Introduced by Atlantic Council Executive Vice Chair Adrienne Arsht

The Women and Girls of Iran

Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership Award

Introduced by Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security Ambassador Melanne Verveer

Accepted by

Dr. Mahnaz Afkhami

President & CEO, Women’s Learning Partnership

Azam Jangravi

Iranian women’s rights advocate and a Girl of Revolution Street

Dr. Mehrangiz Kar

Iranian women’s rights lawyer and writer 

Nazanin Nour

Actress, writer, and activist

2023 coverage


New Atlanticist

May 11, 2023

The 2023 Distinguished Leadership Awards: Honoring the women shaping the global future

By Katherine Walla, Daniel Malloy

Women play a leading role in problem solving, making a historic difference on battlefields, in protests, and in boardrooms. Our annual awards honored awardees embodying this role.

Africa Economy & Business

Sponsoring the Awards Dinner

Sponsors of the Distinguished Leadership Awards are supporting the Atlantic Council’s work in promoting constructive US leadership and engagement in the world based on the central role of the Atlantic community, working with its allies and partners, to meet global challenges.

Sponsors are also able to access benefits such as invitations to a reception with the honorees, recognition with their company logo in all printed and online dinner materials, and at the event, a two-page advertisement and/or congratulatory note to the honorees in the printed dinner program, and an acknowledgment from the podium during the dinner.

Recap past Distinguished Leadership Award events