November 10 ceremony at Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC to celebrate exemplary leaders who have contributed to the Atlantic Council’s mission of shaping the global future together; awards mark Atlantic Council’s 60th anniversary

WASHINGTON, DC—October 21, 2021—The Atlantic Council announced today it will present the 2021 Distinguished Leadership Awards to H.E. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission; Dua Lipa, multi-Grammy Award-winning artist, founder of the Sunny Hill Foundation, and activist; Albert Bourla, DVM, Ph.D., Chairman and CEO of Pfizer; and Professor Ugur Sahin, M.D. and Özlem Türeci, M.D., Co-Founders of BioNTech. The awards gala will be hosted this year on November 10 at the historic Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in downtown Washington, DC.

One of the most anticipated annual events on the Washington calendar, the Distinguished Leadership Awards celebrates the highest achieving individuals who embody the essence of the pillars of the transatlantic relationship.

This event—dubbed the “Oscars of Washington”—will also serve to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Atlantic Council, which for six decades has worked with a consistent mission to promote constructive US leadership alongside its global allies and partners to create a better world.

“The recipients of the 2021 Distinguished Leadership awards represent the very best of the transatlantic relationship,” said Frederick Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council. “At a moment in history during which unprecedented challenges demand exceptional leaders, it is a privilege to salute such an extraordinary group of honorees.”

At a moment in history during which unprecedented challenges demand exceptional leaders, it is a privilege to salute such an extraordinary group of honorees.”

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Frederick Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council


The Atlantic Council will present its Distinguished International Leadership Award to President Ursula von der Leyen for her lifetime of accomplishment as a true European and transatlantic citizen, and for her positive impact advancing a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.

Pfizer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Albert Bourla will receive the Distinguished Business Leadership Award alongside BioNTech Co-Founder and CEO Professor Ugur Sahin and BioNTech Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Özlem Türeci for their ground-breaking development of the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine to be granted FDA approval — a transatlantic success story of historic proportions. Their effort to ensure a timely solution to a seemingly insurmountable challenge is saving lives around the world.

The Atlantic Council will honor Dua Lipa with the Distinguished Artistic Leadership Award for her career as one of the world’s most influential musicians and for her commitment to a range of philanthropic causes that include empowering the next generation of Balkan leaders and musicians. She will be joined by H.E. Dr. Vjosa Osmani, president of the Republic of Kosovo, who will provide special remarks.

The 2021 awards will welcome distinguished guests at the Mellon Auditorium—including current and former heads of state, foreign dignitaries, ambassadors, members of Congress and the administration, military commanders, international business leaders, and the media.

The event will be streamed live to a global audience through the Atlantic Council’s digital and social media platforms.

To learn more about the Distinguished Leadership Awards, including information about this year’s program and past honorees, please visit here.

The health and safety of Atlantic Council honorees, guests, and staff is paramount. All Distinguished Leadership Award attendees will be required to submit proof of vaccination and a negative test result within 72 hours of the dinner. For individuals unable to test ahead of the dinner via an at-home test kit provided by the Council, on-site testing will be available.

The event is on-the-record and open to press. To request more information or media accreditation please email [email protected]. Further details will be provided upon confirmation of accreditation.