Chicago, Illinois was the site of the 43rd annual International Achievement Summit, which took place from June 10 to June 12, 2004. Over the three days of the Summit, 250 outstanding graduate students from 50 countries gathered to discuss the pressing issues of our time with an extraordinary array of the world's leaders in the arts, business, industry, public service and the sciences.
During the Summit, 34 new honorees were inducted into the Academy of Achievement. Among the past and present honorees in attendance were the 42nd President of the United States, William J. Clinton; the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai; the former Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak; civil rights activist Coretta Scott King; two recipients of the Nobel Prize for Peace, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Shimon Peres, former Prime Minister of Israel; His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan of Turkey, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Prime Minister David Oddsson of Iceland, President Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia, newsman Sam Donaldson, Star Wars creator George Lucas, film producer Lord Puttnam of Queensgate, musicians Kathleen Battle, Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, Naomi Judd and Emmylou Harris; and authors A. Scott Berg, Maureen Dowd, Norman Mailer, N. Scott Momaday, Neil Sheehan and John Updike, all recipients of the Pulitzer Prize. The Host of the 2004 International Achievement Summit was Mayor Richard M. Daley. The Host Chairman was Catherine B. Reynolds, Chairman and CEO of The Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation.
Academy members and Honor Delegates stayed at the elegant Peninsula Hotel in the heart of Chicago's Magnificent Mile. Many of the Summit's panel discussions and symposium sessions were held in the hotel's ballroom. The proceedings began on Thursday evening in the hotel ballroom with the Host Chairman, Catherine B. Reynolds, introducing the Summit Host, Mayor Richard M. Daley.
The speakers of the first evening's Symposium included an authentic hero of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, Congressman John Lewis, who was inducted into the Academy by Mayor Daley. The former Prime Minister of Israel and recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace, Shimon Peres, addressed issues raised by the struggle against terrorism, the unfolding events in Iraq and the long-term prospects for peace -- topics he would return to in Saturday's panel discussion. In an atmosphere of rising excitement, Mrs. Reynolds returned to introduce the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, who spoke briefly of the tremendous price his people have paid for their freedom, and of the need to foster democracy in countries like his, that have known decades of war and dictatorship.
At the end of President Karzai's moving address, the entire group traveled to Chicago's world-famous House of Blues for dinner, where they were entertained by Chicago's Queen of the Blues, Koko Taylor; by Bonnie Raitt and her band; and by the King of the Blues himself, B.B. King, who held the audience spellbound from the first notes of his signature tune, "The Thrill is Gone." After his sizzling set, Bonnie Raitt returned to the stage to offer her own moving tribute to her longtime friend and mentor. After B.B. King was inducted into the Academy by Mayor Daley, B.B. and Bonnie rocked the house with an explosive duet of "When Love Comes to Town."
Friday morning's first speakers focused on issues raised by the latest developments in medical science, and the most recent findings concerning the origins of life on earth. The first speaker was Dr. Andrew Weil, a pioneer of integrative medicine. Dr. Ben Carson spoke briefly about the deep faith that empowered him in his ascent from a poverty-stricken childhood to his distinguished career as a neurosurgeon.
Dr. Carson and Dr. Weil joined the Deputy Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Susan Blumenthal, Nobel Prize recipient Sir Paul Nurse and stem cell pioneer Dr. James Thomson in a discussion of "Challenges in Health Care," moderated by the Director of the National Human Genome Project, Dr. Francis Collins.
Among other speakers on Friday morning, Dinosaur hunter Dr. Paul Sereno made a slide presentation of his extraordinary findings, and Dr. Meave Leakey shared her remarkable discoveries of the fossil remains of mankind's oldest ancestors, discoveries that have re-drawn the family tree of human evolution.
Over the course of the weekend, the Academy heard from many more distinguished scientists, including Dr. Peter Agre, who received the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of the protein that channels water to the cells, and Dr. Alexei Abrikosov, recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics for his pioneering exploration of superconductivity, and Sir John Sulston, recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Medicine, who directed the British component of the International Human Genome Project. America's first woman in space, Dr. Sally Ride, discussed her experiences as an astronaut, and her long campaign to encourage more young women and girls to pursue the study of science and mathematics.
Three of Friday morning's speakers, all from different fields, addressed the ability of the individual to make a difference in society in the face of institutional opposition. Lord Puttnam of Queensgate, the producer of such acclaimed films as Chariots of Fire and The Killing Fields, discussed the responsibility of the successful to give back to society. As Chairman of Columbia Pictures, he struggled to promote social responsibility in the mass media; today he serves as President of British UNICEF.
Aviation legend Burt Rutan, who designed the first aircraft to circle the globe without re-fueling, made a multimedia presentation of his latest venture, a new space program, independent of government funding. In view of the long decline of public sector support for space travel, Rutan asserted his belief that private individuals must step forward to fulfill mankind's historic mission of exploration. Within days of his address to the Academy, Rutan had made good on his plan and launched SpaceShipOne, the first privately funded space flight.
Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, recounted his long struggle to bring the first book in the series to print. After being rejected by every mainstream publisher in the United States, the series has become an international publishing phenomenon.
Dr. Collins led a second panel discussion Friday morning, focusing on "Science and Religion." Panelists included the Chief of Surgery of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Steven Rosenberg, theologian Martin Marty, and filmmaker George Lucas. Dr. Carson and Dr. Weil returned to the stage for what proved to be a profound and engaging exploration of the most fundamental questions of human existence. Some of these themes would recur later in the weekend, when Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Armand Nicholi discussed his renowned seminar comparing the world views of Sigmund Freud and the Christian essayist C.S. Lewis.
After luncheon with their sponsors, Academy Honor Delegates, along with Academy members and guests, traveled to historic Wrigley Field, where even Mayor Daley -- a well-known White Sox fan -- donned a Chicago Cubs hat. Pulitzer Prize-winning author N. Scott Momaday and his friend James Earl Jones took the occasion to read a poetic dialogue Momaday had written especially for the International Achievement Summit, "God and the Bear Talk About Baseball," a moving tribute to the enduring faith and loyalty of the long-suffering Cubs fans.
After returning to the Peninsula Hotel, Academy members and Honor Delegates welcomed the founders of Google, Inc., Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Only four years earlier, Brin and Page attended the 2000 International Achievement Summit in London as student Honor Delegates; in 2004 they returned to the Summit as honorees. They enjoyed a lively discussion with this year's Honor Delegates, although they scrupulously avoided any comment on their business or its eagerly awaited initial public offering.
Later in the afternoon, Sam Donaldson led a stimulating discussion, "Keeping the Peace," with two former NATO commanders, Wesley Clark and Joseph Ralston, joined by Shimon Peres and Vaira Víke-Freiberga, the President of Latvia.
The afternoon program ended in a fascinating hour of discussion with the 42nd President of the United States, William J. Clinton, who reaffirmed his belief that however discouraging the morning's headlines may be, the global trends toward democracy and international cooperation are irreversible.
Friday evening, the group gathered at Chicago's magnificent Civic Opera Building, home of the Chicago Lyric Opera, where they were treated to a concert featuring a number of the Academy's talented Honor Delegates and the internationally acclaimed tenor José Carreras. After the presentation of the Academy's Golden Plate to Mr. Carreras, Academy members and Honor Delegates dined on the stage of the opera house, dressed for the night as a magical Venetian garden. The evening concluded with the induction into the Academy of three new honorees: Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and a great benefactor of America's performing arts, industrialist and philanthropist Martha Ingram.
Saturday morning's activities began at the Art Institute of Chicago, where all were treated to a private tour of the Institute's world-renowned collection of French Impressionist paintings. The morning's symposium session took place in the Art Institute's Trading Room, an exact replica of the original trading floor of the old Chicago Stock Exchange, a beloved landmark of the city's history.
Much of the morning's discussion focused on the phenomenon of social entrepreneurship, the power of private individuals to exert a positive influence on society outside of government channels and political institutions. Having enjoyed success in their own careers, many of the morning's speakers chose to give back to society through philanthropy and humanitarian activities.
The first to speak was the stage and screen star Dame Julie Andrews, whose dazzling career as an actress, singer and author runs parallel to a distinguished history of service to the world's children through UNIFEM and Save the Children. The Governor of Puerto Rico, Sila Calderón, is the first woman to govern the island commonwealth. Governor CalderŪn shared a passionate account of her struggle to root out corruption in government and empower the people of Puerto Rico. The Chairman of Procter and Gamble, Alan Lafley, discussed his consumer-oriented business philosophy and the innovative techniques that have restored the company to its former eminence. Financier and philanthropist Warren Hellman introduced the legendary singer Emmylou Harris, who has been honored for her leadership in the international struggle to ban landmines. A special guest of the Academy, Internet financier Miles Gilburne discussed his Washington D.C.-based children's reading program In2Books. Entrepreneur and philanthropist Kenneth E. Behring discussed his latest project, Wheelchairs for the World, which provides free wheelchairs to the disabled poor in the most remote and underdeveloped regions of the earth.
The audience was thrilled to hear from civil rights pioneer Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who has continued her husband's struggle for justice and human dignity. Congressman Edward Markey concluded the morning's program, moderating a discussion of social entrepreneurship that gave the Academy's student Honor Delegates the opportunity to discuss their own contributions to their communities.
After luncheon, the gathering returned to the Ballroom at the Peninsula Hotel, where they heard from three recipients of the Pulitzer Prize. The first was the novelist, essayist and poet John Updike. His fellow Pulitzer Prize recipient, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, was inducted into the Academy that afternoon. Later in the afternoon, Norman Mailer, recipient of Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and non-fiction, offered an uninhibited dissenting view of the honors bestowed on the late President Ronald Reagan.
Europe's longest-serving leader, Prime Minister David Oddsson of Iceland, joined consumer advocate and presidential candidate Ralph Nader, Congressman Edward Markey and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, along with inventors Paul MacCready and Dean Kamen, for a discussion of alternative energy solutions. During the course of the weekend, Dean Kamen, creator of the Segway personal transportation device, also demonstrated his latest invention, the IBOT, a wheelchair-like device that can climb stairs.
Later on Saturday afternoon, the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, discussed the future of Africa with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace. Their discussion with the student Honor Delegates, which ranged among issues including the AIDS crisis, ethnic warfare, economic development and the growth of democracy, was moderated by the host of MSNBC's Hardball program, Chris Matthews.
Chris Matthews later led a panel discussion, "Building a Secure Middle East," with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Congresswoman Jane Harman, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan of Turkey, and the best-selling author and Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis.
David Gergen, who served as advisor to four Presidents and is Director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, led a discussion of "Media and Politics" with Ralph Nader, Sam Donaldson, General Wesley Clark, and Michael Deaver, a close advisor to the late President Ronald Reagan.
The 2004 International Achievement Summit culminated with the dazzling Banquet of the Golden Plate, held in the majestic Stanley Hall of Chicago's Field Museum. The Banquet was preceded by a reception in the shadow of a giant Native American totem pole from the Pacific Northwest, and the imposing bones of Sue, a reconstructed Tyrannosaurus Rex. The induction ceremonies began with a performance by the Pipe Band of the Chicago Police Department's Emerald Society. After the induction of the Class of 2004, the Academy heard brief remarks from the Host Chairman of the International Achievement Summit, Catherine B. Reynolds; the Host of the Summit, Mayor Richard M. Daley; and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City, a member of the Academy Class of 2004.
With the formal proceedings over, the musical portion of the evening began with a rousing set from the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, and his band. Brown brought the audience to their feet with the propulsive rhythms of "I Feel Good," "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," and "Living in America." The dancing continued, with a joyful welcome for America's Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, whose thrilling voice filled the majestic hall with a passion only she can deliver. At the end of the evening, an old friend of the Academy, Chuck Berry, took the stage. He cranked up the engine of the original rock and roll machine and let it roar until even the bones of Sue the dinosaur rattled in time.
Divisions of age, race, nationality and religion melted away as diplomats, scientists, students and statesmen, young and old, from all over the world, joined in a carefree celebration of their common humanity. The first dancers to leave the floor emerged onto the steps of the Field Museum and into the cool night air just as fireworks lit up the sky over Navy Pier, a vision that will remain forever linked to their unforgettable memories of Chicago and the International Achievement Summit.
Achievement Summit Host Chairman Catherine B. Reynolds with Academy honoree His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Academy of Achievement Awards Council members Ehud Barak, former Prime Minister of Israel, and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan.
Academy honoree B.B. King thrills the crowd at the House of Blues on the first evening of the Summit.
Dr. Susan Blumenthal, Dr. Ben Carson, Sir Paul Nurse and Dr. James Thomson discuss challenges in health care at the International Achievement Summit.
Singer Bonnie Raitt and Academy of Achievement Awards Council member Shimon Peres at the House of Blues.
Achievement Summit Host Richard M. Daley, Mayor of Chicago, dons a Cubs hat at Wrigley Field.
The Academy's international Honor Delegates listen to a presentation by Awards Council member A. Scott Berg at Chicago's Wrigley Field.
Academy honorees Sergey Brin and Larry Page, founders of Google, take questions from the Academy's student Honor Delegates.
Academy members Carlos Slim Helú and William J. Clinton at the International Achievement Summit.
Academy honoree José Carreras sings during the Academy's evening at the Chicago Lyric Opera.
Academy member George Lucas presents the Golden Plate award to new honoree Dame Julie Andrews.
Academy honoree Maureen Dowd, a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, addresses the Academy of Achievement.
Academy honoree John Updike speaks at the International Achievement Summit.
Journalist Chris Matthews discusses the future of Africa with Academy members Desmond Tutu and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
The 2004 Banquet of the Golden Plate was held at Chicago's Field Museum.
Academy members old and new prepare for the induction ceremonies at the Banquet of the Golden Plate. (Third from right, President Recep Erdogan of Turkey. Second from right, James Earl Jones. At right, Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan.)
America's Queen of Soul, Academy member Aretha Franklin.
International students and Academy members enjoy the music of Aretha Franklin at the Banquet of the Golden Plate.