I'm sorry I can't be with you on one of my favorite nights of the year. I've made it to every Vital Voices event for the past 10 years. So even though I have to be in Turkey this evening, I hope you will consider this my 11th straight year.
Wherever I go around the world, I seem to meet new Vital Voices leaders and entrepreneurs who are eager to tell me about a new training program or about more women who triumph over seemingly insurmountable challenges to create lasting change. That is what this event is all about. These are the women and the organizations that have really made a difference, devoting their time and energy to uplifting and supporting women and girls as they navigate their lives.
Usually the global trailblazer award is given to an individual whose name and face you know. This year it goes to five extraordinary women, who you may not know, but will. They represent a rising generation of Arab women who are ringing in a new era of rights and opportunities.
To present these awards, I have the great privilege of introducing one of my oldest friends. She usually brings me up to stage, but I finally have the chance to reverse that and laud her with praise. She is our nation's first ever Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, a co-founder of Vital Voices and one of the most energetic people I know. In the last 3 years she has traveled the world to support and listen to the vital voices of change around the globe.
Please welcome to the stage one of America's great ambassadors and a dear friend, Melanne Verveer.