World Trade Organization Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Director of National Intelligence
Avril Haines to be honored with International Distinguished Leadership Awards

Adena T. Friedman, Chair and CEO of Nasdaq, will receive the Distinguished Business Leadership Award

General Laura J. Richardson, commander of US Southern Command, will be recognized with the Distinguished Military Leadership Award

Iranian activists Dr. Mahnaz Afkhami, Azam Jangravi, Dr. Mehrangiz Kar, and Nazanin Nour will accept the Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership Award on behalf of all Iranian women and girls

MAY 1, 2023 – WASHINGTON, DC – The Atlantic Council announced today the recipients of its 2023 Distinguished Leadership Awards, who will be recognized at an awards dinner at The Anthem on May 11 in Washington, DC.

The Atlantic Council will for the first time feature an all-female slate of honorees, with a program drawing attention to the game-changing role of women in shaping a better world.

World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will be recognized with the Distinguished International Leadership Award for her three decades of extraordinary public service and her historic appointment as the first woman and African to lead the WTO. American University President and former US Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell will introduce Okonjo-Iweala.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines will also receive the Distinguished International Leadership Award, saluting her many contributions to U.S. national security and her historic accomplishments as the first woman to oversee the United States’ intelligence community. Stephen J. Hadley, Atlantic Council International Advisory Board chairman and former National Security Advisor, will introduce Haines.

The Atlantic Council will honor Nasdaq Chair and CEO Adena T. Friedman with its Distinguished Business Leadership Award for her ground-breaking and stellar leadership of one of the world’s premier global exchange and technology solutions companies as the first woman to head any global exchange. David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chairman of The Carlyle Group, will introduce Friedman.

General Laura J. Richardson will accept the Distinguished Military Leadership Award in recognition of her remarkable army career with roles ranging from Black Hawk helicopter aviator to becoming the first woman to serve as commander of U.S. Southern Command. She is also the second-ever woman to achieve the rank of four-star general in the U.S. Army. Atlantic Council Executive Vice Chair Adrienne Arsht, a leading philanthropist and business leader, will present the award to General Richardson.

Iranian activists Dr. Mahnaz Afkhami, Azam Jangravi, Dr. Mehrangiz Kar, and Nazanin Nour will accept a special humanitarian award on behalf of all Iranian women and girls for their courage and resilience. The award will be presented by Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Atlantic Council board director, executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and former United States ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues.

“I am thrilled to recognize such extraordinary leaders in fields that include global trade, national security, business, the military and the front lines of the fight for freedom in Iran,” said Frederick Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council. “By honoring them, we also hope to inspire others to emulate their contributions to a better world.”

The annual Atlantic Council Distinguished Leadership Awards is among the most important gatherings of global decision-makers in Washington each year and has been dubbed by media as “the Washington Oscars.” It is recognized for its style, substance, star-studded international guest list, and recognition of some of the world’s most influential leaders. The event honors individuals who best represent the pillars of the transatlantic relationship: political and policy leaders, business executives, military brass, and artistic and humanitarian champions.

Past recipients include US presidents George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and then-Vice President Joe Biden; German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon; NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg; Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla; and illustrious artists including Dua Lipa, Lionel Richie, Bono, Gloria Estefan, and Renée Fleming. The event program will begin at 7:00 pm ET on May 11 and will be open to pre-credentialed media. To request a credential, please contact The event will also be livestreamed here.

To learn more about the Atlantic Council Distinguished Leadership Awards, please visit here. For general media inquiries, please contact