The National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) to Kickoff the 24th Annual Ellis Island Medals of Honor

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Reception to be Held at The Children's Aid Society on February 2; Richard R. Buery, Jr. Nominated

NECO to Present the 24th Annual Ellis Island Medals of Honor on Ellis Island, Saturday, May 8, 2010


Claire O’Connor/Claire O’Connor Public Relations, Inc.

NEW YORK, NY --The National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) will kickoff - and announce the first group of recipients of - the 24th Annual Ellis Island Medals of Honor at a reception at The Children's Aid Society, 105 East 22nd Street, 9th Floor (corner of Park Avenue South) on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 12:30-2:00 p.m. The 24th Annual Ellis Island Medals of Honor will be presented to approximately 95 outstanding individuals by NECO on Ellis Island, on Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. The ceremony will be followed by the annual Gala Awards Dinner in the historic Great Hall.

The following first round nominees are expected to attend:

• Richard R. Buery, Jr., President & CEO, The Children’s Aid Society
• Sarkis Bedevian, Community Leader
• Suraj Bhatia, President, Technology Consultants Service International, Inc.
• George F. Brown, Chief of Detectives (Retired), NYPD
• Lin-Chi (Jim) Chu, President, Mandarin Business Association
• Raymond Diaz, Assistant Chief, NYPD
• Lina Fang, Community Leader
• Denis McGowan, Chief, US Department of Homeland Security
• Hon. Rosemond Pierre-Louis, Manhattan Deputy Borough President
• Joseph M. Saponaro, President, Elite Investigations Ltd.
• Yen S. Chou, President, Chinese American Parent-Student Council
• Wing K. Ma, Community Leader

Also nominated for the 2010 award, but unable to attend the February 2nd kick-off:

• Thomas J. Donahue, President and CEO, US Chamber of Commerce
• Rod G. Gilbert, President, NY Rangers Alumni Association-Cablevision-NY Rangers
• E. Bulkeley Griswold, Managing Partner, Centripetal Capital Partners
• Wolf H. Hengst, President (Retired), Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
• Jerry M. Hultin, President, Polytechnics Institute of NYU
• Dr. Tak W. Kwan, MD, Chinatown Cardiology, PC
• Dr. William K. Lee, MD, President, Cardiac Associates of North Jersey
• Jeremiah A. Mullins, Executive Vice President (Retired), Morgan Stanley
• Michael J. Piazza, Former Major League Baseball Player
• Matt H. Yildizlar, President, Metalight Industries LLC
• Faryar Shirzad, Global Head/Office of Government Affairs, The Goldman Sachs Group
• Rao Anumolu, President & CEO, ASR International Corp.
• Michael Capasso, General Director, Dicapo Opera Theatre

According to Nasser J. Kazeminy, Chairman of NECO, “NECO is very excited to host the kickoff for the 24th Annual Ellis Island Medals of Honor, and announce the first group of recipients. I am confident this year's group of awards recipients will consist of the most ethnically diverse and outstanding American citizens to receive the Ellis Island Medals of Honor to date. NECO is about investing in the power of caring, whereas people from all cultures and walks of life stand together arm in arm to make a real difference in our world through shared compassion and philanthropy – not just for now, but to also inspire future generations who will continue to preserve and build upon the legacy that each of our cultures has contributed. With our Medalists, we will see America – at its best. We will see every color, every race from so many walks of life – together – celebrating – the magic that is America. Our Medalists’ influence and achievements truly inspire and touch the lives of people everywhere.”

Each year since 1986, NECO – whose mission is to honor our diverse Past, to advocate for positive change in the Present, and to build strong leaders for the Future – has honored our nation's diverse past by sponsoring the Ellis Island Medals of Honor. The Ellis Island Medals of Honor annually pays tribute to the ancestry groups that comprise America’s unique cultural mosaic. The Medals are presented on Ellis Island, in a dramatic ceremony, to American citizens of diverse origins for their outstanding contributions to their communities, their nation and the world. We are privileged to have among this year’s honorees, Rose Pierre-Louis, Manhattan Deputy Borough President, a Haitian American whose office has helped organize New Yorkers for Haiti.

Past Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipients include six Presidents of the United States, Nobel Prize winners, athletes, leaders of industry, artists and others whose work has made a lasting impact on humanity. They are awarded annually to outstanding American citizens, from all walks of life, who have distinguished themselves through their significant contributions to this country. The Ellis Island Medal of Honor ranks among the nation’s most prestigious awards. The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have officially recognized the Ellis Island Medals of Honor, and each year the recipients are listed in the Congressional Record. To date, more than 1,800 American citizens have received the Ellis Island Medals of Honor.

Some previous Medalists include: U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist; Generals Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell; Sen. John McCain; Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell; Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno; Lee Iacocca; Dr. Michael E. DeBakey; Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao; Rosa Parks; Joe DiMaggio, Elie Wiesel; Frank Sinatra; Bob Hope; Opera diva Renee Fleming; Yogi Berra; Muhammad Ali; Arnold Palmer; Tom Brokaw; Walter Cronkite; Barbara Walters; Mike Wallace; Quincy Jones; Gloria Estefan, Gary Sinise, Siegfried & Roy, H.E. Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, President – United Nations 61st Session General Assembly (International Recipient), just to name a few.

For further information about NECO and the Ellis Island Medals of Honor, please visit:

About NECO

NECO was created in 1984 on the conviction of its founder, William Denis Fugazy, Sr. that the diversity of the American people is what makes this nation great.

NECO's mission is simple: to honor our diverse Past, to advocate for positive change in the Present, and to build strong leaders for the Future.

NECO does this with one goal in mind: Unity through Diversity: Investing in the Power of Caring.

NECO is a non profit 501(c)(3) organization with strategic alliances that allow us to support a range of diverse programs and insure that every dollar we spend goes to creating a better world in the future for us all.

In addition to hosting the Ellis Island Medals of Honor, NECO is proud to have formed meaningful and lasting partnerships with some of the most revolutionary humanitarian causes in the world. In these uncertain and difficult times, our promise to make the world a better place and uphold the integrity of all contributions still rings true. Some of these include the Gift of Life International, Children In Need Institute (CINI), The Ellis Island Immigration Museum, The Peopling of America Center, National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, Boys Hope Girls Hope, Concern Worldwide and Haiti Relief Efforts.