By C. Naseer Ahmad, Contributor (*)
The Portuguese American Leadership Council of the United States (PALCUS) which has been the prominent national advocacy organization for Portuguese-Americans in the United States for twenty five years (25) celebrated its 20th Annual Leadership Awards Gala in Bealton, Virginia at the Morais Vineyards and Winery. The landmark event had both style and substance.
Morais vineyard is a beautiful venue about an hour south-west of Washington, D.C. and provide picture perfect setting and Gala attendees, many travelling across the country, came prepared in tuxedos and smashing evening gowns. There is an elegant tasting room on the property as well as a small chapel for weddings.
Fernando Rosa, PALCUS Chairman welcomed fellow members and distinguished guests. Margareth De Jesus performed the national anthems, “ A Portuguesa” and “The Star Spangled Banner,” uniquely blending the Portuguese American heritage. Keeping the culture alive, the speakers spoke in Portuguese as well as English.
Dr. José Luis Carneiro, Secretary of State of the Portuguese Communities delivered the keynote address which recognized PALCUS contributions and of the Portuguese American Community. H.E. Domingos Fezas Vital, Ambassador of Portugal to U.S., who was also accompanied by his wife, expressed heartfelt appreciation of the contributions of the Portuguese American Community and the historic ties between Portugal and US. Ambassador’s Vital said: “I am particularly honored as this year is the 25th Anniversary of the Portuguese American Leadership Council and of its remarkable work in promoting Portuguese-American culture and identity in the United States of America.”
As part of PALCUS’s educational efforts, scholarship awards were distributed at the undergraduate as well as graduate levels. The graduate level scholarships were awarded for Community Mental Health to Gary Johnson Resendes, University of California and for Education to Jacqueline Andrea Ochoa Rodrigues, California State University. The undergraduate level scholarships were awarded for Molecular and Cellular Biology to Celina Caetano, University of Connecticut, for Nutrition and Dietetics to Alyssa Pinho, University of St. Joseph and for Theatre Arts to Partick Norris, South Oregon University.
Leadership awards were presented to David Simas for National Service Leadership, Natalie Matinho for Community Service, Professor Diniz Borges for Education, Dr. Antonio Cirurgiao for Scholarship and Antonio Amaral for Philantrophy. Founders awards were presented to Florentino Gregorio, Manuel Geraldo and Abel Morais (posthumously).
The program handout contained valuable information about the impressive contributions made by the awardees.
DJ Carlos Da Fonseca provided the music for entertainment and dancing for this memorable event.
In support of its mission – to create a singular voice to advocate for the Portuguese-American and Luso-American Communities – PALCUS conducts a wide range of activities and research on issues of interest to the community. For this purpose, PALCUS maintains an “increasingly active government relations efforts, the promotion of a greater awareness of ethnic accomplishments” and encourages stronger ties between Portugal and the United States.
According to the handout distributed, “to date, PALCUS has placed more than 140 young Portuguese- American university students from around the United States in positions in the Senate and Congressional offices, the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon, Portuguese Consulates in the U.S., Fortune 500 companies and several key governmental departments.”
To encourage community participation, PALCUS handout lists the members of the Portuguese-American Caucus in the U.S House of Representatives as well as the Friends of Portugal in the Senate. The handout also includes valuable tips for contacting Congress.
Also, recently in Washington, the Arte Institute, in cooperation with the Embassy of Portugal in the United States, the Camões Institute and Georgetown University – Department of Spanish and Portuguese, presented the beautiful performance “Sobre o Mar”(About the Sea).
Additionally, the International Club of DC with the cooperation of the Embassy of Portugal and His Excellency Ambassador Domingos Fezas Vital, the Portuguese Ambassador to the United States, as well as the “Arte Institute” of Portugal and the “Center for Music Connections” presented a rare delight of an evening featuring a delightful jazz and Fado concert which was followed by a dinner buffet feast of Portuguese delicacies prepared especially by the Ambassador’s chef.
Fernanda Paulo, Portuguese Fado singer and actress, and Dana Marcine, acclaimed U.S. jazz singer/songwriter, accompanied by the Portuguese pianist, Renato Diz, involved the guests in the captivating music of Fado and Jazz.
Recent posts by C. Naseer Ahmad
- Embassy Series: ‘A Year in Port’ documents history of Port Wine – Washington, DC
- Portugal: Minister of the Sea addresses the Atlantic Council – Washington,DC
- Historical Remembrance & Celebration at the Portuguese Embassy – Washington, DC
- Fado and Jazz: Júlio Resende at the Portuguese Embassy – Washington, DC
C. Naseer Ahmad is a Washington based writer. His articles have been published in the Washington Post, the Washington Star, the Orlando Sentinel, the Diplomatic Courier, the Washington Diplomat, the Washington Jewish Weekly, the Eastern Times and the Astana Times. Ahmad has also worked to protect the human rights of religious minorities of different faiths across the world. He has worked for the World Bank in Africa, in Egypt for US Agency for International Development and with NASA on the Space Shuttle and Space Station Programs as a consultant. In addition he has worked on a variety of projects for other governmental entities and the private sector. He has also served as adjunct faculty at Northern Virginia Community College. Ahmad currently works as a consultant in Washington, D.C.