By Pamela Tsai
Epoch Times Staff
May 24, 2011

PHILADELPHIA— Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Colin Powell presented an award to Mr. Jeffrey Koo last week. It was the first time a person from Taiwan had won the Eisenhower Fellowships Distinguished Alumni Award.

Retired government officials are finding fulfillment working for NGOs that enhance international people to people relationships. Powell and former governor of New Jersey, Christine Todd Whitman attended a May 19 reception at Eisenhower Fellowships annual meeting in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Hotel.

With dozens of Eisenhower fellows from America and more than 20 other countries, the meeting featured a ceremony to honor the recipient of the 2011 award—Koo, 78, from Taiwan. He is a 1971 alumnus of the program.

Koo is chairman of Chinatrust, a financial holding company in Taiwan, and was ambassador-at-large for Taiwan and adviser to the president of Taiwan.

Accompanied by his wife Mitzi Koo, he humbly attributed the honor to all members of the Eisenhower Fellows Association in the Republic of China.

Recognized for his efforts to emulate the American spirit of freedom and democracy in Taiwan, Koo founded the Eisenhower Fellowship chapter in Taiwan in 1973. Known for his skilled personal diplomacy in government and the business community, Koo has elevated Taiwan’s standing in the international community. Koo came from one of Taiwan’s oldest and wealthiest families. Forbes magazine 2010 ranked him the 26th richest man in Taiwan.

Established in 2008, The Distinguished Alumnus Award of Eisenhower Fellowship seeks to recognize a fellow who has demonstrated leadership in activities that reflect President Eisenhower’s commitment to peace and productivity by working through direct personal contacts across boundaries.

Previous recipients include Eisenhower Fellows of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, Nezir Kirdar of Iraq, and Sister Mary Scullion of the United States.

Chaired by former U.S. Secretary Colin Powell, Eisenhower Fellowships is a nonpartisan NGO that seeks to foster international understanding through the international leadership exchange program.

The program was created in 1953 as a birthday tribute to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It has sponsored more than 1,900 fellows from more than 100 countries to travel and interact with emerging leaders from other countries and exchange ideas, broaden views, and expand knowledge.

Todd Whitman serves as the chair of the executive committee. She said the key to this program is to provide emerging leaders from different countries the opportunity to exchange views with their counterparts in other countries. “When they come from a variety of countries—very often they come from places where they don’t speak with one another, and yet they find out the aspirations of the other people are just the same as theirs: they want a better life, security, and that’s the way we are going to get over problems, that is by people knowing one another.”

President Eisenhower once called the program “possibly the most splendid birthday present I have ever received.”