ON WINNING THE LIGHTHOUSE AWARD
“We’ll this is an interesting experience to have. Suddenly, you’re thinking, ‘I might know this person. I don’t know. …’
“I love you guys… . Thank you very much.”
July 12, 2017
These brief comments from Commissioner Meredith Broadbent of the U.S. International Trade Commission followed almost immediately this sentence from her friend and colleague, the Chief Trade Counsel for the House Committee on Ways and Means, Angela Ellard:
“So, without further ado, we’re presenting the Lighthouse Award tonight to Meredith Broadbent.”
But let’s back up a little bit. If there is a single event that brings the Washington trade community together each year, it is the Annual Awards Dinner of the Washington International Trade Association (WITA) and the Washington International Trade Foundation (WITF). It’s a tradition that has been going on for a while now. The Trade Prom that was held a little over a week ago, on July 12, was the 23rd. As for the men and women who are given awards, some of them are published in advance. Indeed, the fact that well known Congressional leaders are being given awards is part of the appeal, part of the advertising for the event. This year, for example, Congressional Leadership Awards were presented to Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, a Republican, and to Congressman Rick Larsen from Washington, a Democrat.
There is one award, however, that is a secret. Even the recipient has no clue. It is the Lighthouse Award. In years past the presentation was a joint effort between Walmart’s Sarah Thorn and Caterpillar’s Bill Lane. Together, they turned those ten minutes of the Trade Prom into a routine that would have made George Burns and Gracie Allen envious. Bill Lane has retired, however, and so this year Sarah Thorn was on her own. In the end, she decided to call in assistance from one of the trade world’s big guns, Angela Ellard. Before she did, however, Ms. Thorn offered a few thoughts worth noting. Among other things, Sarah said:
“The Lighthouse Award is my favorite part of the Prom. It’s wonderful because we get to honor one of our own.”
“That’s who we should be honoring — people who are doing the hard work, who believe in trade, and are there consistently.”
After quoting from the Declaration of Independence,
“This country actually went to war partly for the ability to trade. That’s why we need trade warriors. That’s why we need people in the trenches thinking about trade, doing the right thing, and thinking about how trade benefits consumers and workers around the world.”
And then, a few sentences later, Ms. Thorn asked Angela Ellard to come to the microphone, to say a few words, and to present the award. Both Ms. Thorn and Ms. Ellard noted some of the basic career facts of the person they were about to honor:
Now a Commissioner at the U.S. International Trade Commission, Meredith Broadbent is a former Chairwoman of the ITC.
She has held the William M. Scholl Chair in International Business at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
She served as the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Industry, Market Access and Telecommunications at a time when the world was still hopeful about the Doha Round.
She was on the staff of the House Committee on Ways and Means when Congress was writing the implementing legislation for NAFTA and the Uruguay Round.
And, from 2009-2010, she served as a volunteer Trade Adviser to the Global Business Dialogue.
Those are the bare bones of Ms. Broadbent’s biography. More important, in a sense, are the elements added by Sarah Thorn and Angela Ellard. Here is some of what Angela said:
“What is so impressive about [Meredith] is that, not only is she a very substantive person, very policy oriented, she thinks about all the people behind the particular problem she’s working on.”
“And she’s always worked on a very bipartisan basis, bringing excellence to the table and a lot of creativity.”
Your editor was not able to attend the Trade Prom this year. But we have been often enough to know what a fine event it is. WITA does a great job and provides a wonderful service to the Washington trade community. (And because we can’t always be there, we are awfully glad that portions of it are available on YouTube.)
So, we are not inclined to criticize the organizers — and certainly not for the choice of this year’s Lighthouse Award winner. On that score, they could not have done better. We do sometimes wonder, though, if there might be merit in giving the winners a day or two of advance notice and a little more time at the microphone. Yes, we would lose some of the fun of the surprise. But Lighthouse winners are people it would be good to hear from, especially in the setting of the Trade Prom.
In the circumstances, what Meredith Broadbent said was perfect: short, funny, affectionate, and sincere. Of course, we don’t know what she would have said if the setting had been a bit different. But we have heard her talk, and we suspect two themes would have emerged even more strongly, namely, the importance of trade and the importance of law — both the law of the GATT and other agreements and U.S. trade law.
But we are not quibbling. It was a wonderful ceremony, a wonderful award. Our sincere and heartfelt congratulations to WITA and to
Commissioner Meredith Broadbent!
SOURCES & LINKS
The Presentation is a link to the YouTube clip from the July 12 Trade Prom that includes the presentation of the Lighthouse Award. This was the source for today’s featured quote.
Highlights is the page from the WITA website with highlights from the Annual Awards Dinner, and
A Biography is a link to Commissioner Broadbent’s biography as it appears on the website of the U.S. International Trade Commission.
Originally published on July 21 as TTALK Quote No. 45 for 2017.
© 2017 The Global Business Dialogue, Inc.