Deborah Szekely (pronunced “Say-kay”), founder of the New Americans Museum in San Diego, and known worldwide as the founding “godmother” of the mind/body/ fitness movement, will speak at the Spouse Brunch on Saturday, February 6, 2010 at the 19th
Annual Leadership 100 Conference. She will be presented with the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Award for Achievement.
The museum is the first to recognize the shifts in population via the recent tidal wave of immigrants, and the importance of connecting these new immigrants with the values of their newly-adopted country and with their peers. Exhibitions and other programs at the Museum honor their journey and the culture of their country of origin. “The day will soon be upon us when many of them will become the mayors and council people of our cities. Their votes may well define the future of our country. It is essential that the new immigrants understand our country, our hard-won freedom, and the Bill of Rights. These are our goals,” says Szekely.
In 1940 she and her late husband Edmond Szekely founded Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico. In 1958 she alone established the world’s premiere spa, the Golden Door, in Escondido, California.
Distinguished as well in public service and philanthropy, Szekely founded Eureka Communities in 1991, a national leadership training program for CEOs of nonprofit organizations, serving as Eureka’s President through December, 1995, and is currently Chair Emerita. From 1984 to 1990, she was President of the Inter-American Foundation (IAF), an independent agency of the United States government created by Congress to support self-help efforts of the poor throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. As a U.S. diplomat with the IAF, she traveled to virtually all democratic countries in the Southern Hemisphere and authored program innovations that increased cost effectiveness and accountability of U.S. development efforts.
A publication conceived and launched by her, Setting Course: A Congressional Management Guide,leads a long list of visionary achievements. Now in its 9th edition, Setting Course continues as the basic training and reference manual for newly elected Senators, Congress members, and their staffs.
Board Membershipsinclude Claremont Graduate University; Ford’s Theatre, Washington DC; Center for Science in the Public Interest; and Partners for Livable Communities. Representing the United States, she was co-founder and co-president of the U.S.-Mexico Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange (Fulbright Commission) and served as the U. S. A. Principal Delegate to both UNESCO and the Inter-American Commission on Women (CIM).
Among her awards and honors was being named in 2002 by the Presidents of San Diego Rotary as “Mrs. San Diego,”;“The League of Women Voters Civic Award;” “The Committee of 200 Luminary Award for Philanthropy;” the “Morgan Award for Community Service” from LEAD; “Humanitarian of the Year” from The National Conference for Community and Justice; “Philanthropist of the Year” by the San Diego Chapter of the National Society of Fund-Raising Executives; and Alexis de Tocqueville Society of United Way, $1 million donor.