On Friday, October 12, more than 800 of the world’s top corporate, government and diplomatic leaders convened at Meridian International Center for the 44th Annual Meridian Ball, making it the largest Ball in Meridian’s history.

The 44th Annual Ball was presided over by Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama; Congressional Co-Chairs Irene Hirano Inouye and Kristi Rogers; Honorary Sponsor Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall, Chief of Protocol of the United States; Ball Co-Chairs Jay L. Johnson, Chairman & CEO of General Dynamics Corporation, and Sydney McNiff Johnson; and White-Meyer Co-Chairs Loran and Robert Aiken and Ashley and Matt Bronczek. The 2012 Ball was also generously supported by Presenting Sponsor General Dynamics.

Renowned as an evening of cultural exchange, relationship-building and networking for the diplomatic, public, corporate, and social sectors, the Meridian Ball has become a highpoint on the calendars of leaders in the nation’s capital. The Ball’s audience is also expanding to include a dynamic group of young professionals, as well as cross-sector attendees from across the U.S. and around the world.

This year, the Meridian Ball deepened its mark as one of the most celebrated events in the Washington social landscape with a guest list that included – Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management at the U.S. Department of State; Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall, Chief of Protocol of the United States; Congressman Joseph Crowley, New York (D); Congressman Mike Rogers, Michigan (R); His Excellency François Delattre, Ambassador of France; His Excellency Arturo Sarukhan Casamitjana, Ambassador of Mexico; The Honorable Anthony Kennedy, Supreme Court Justice; Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); Howard Fineman, Editorial Director of the Huffington Post; Jonathan Capehart, MSNBC Contributor and Washington Post Blog Writer; and Michelle Kwan, Olympic Figure Skater.

As Meridian’s primary annual fundraiser, this year’s Ball raised a record-breaking $1 million to support the organization’s mission of promoting public diplomacy and global leadership through the exchange of ideas, people, and culture. As stated by Ambassador Stuart W. Holliday, President & CEO of Meridian – “Meridian is a place where information and ideas are exchanged, perspectives are expanded, and relationships are built, so better solutions to global challenges can emerge.”

The pursuit of these goals and the success of the Ball were also made possible through the support of Meridian’s sponsors. In addition to Presenting Sponsor General Dynamics, Meridian welcomed Lead Sponsors FedEx Express and Turkish Airlines, Benefactors Chevron and Gallup, and numerous additional corporate and individual contributors – all of which are available for view on our website.

According to Jay L. Johnson – “Global leadership and cooperation are more important today than ever. Our world is increasingly interconnected, and the speed and depth of that interconnection increases every year. As a corporation with customers and operations on six continents and in more than 40 countries, General Dynamics is proud to be the presenting sponsor of today’s events and to support the important work of Meridian International Center.”

The Ball was preceded by the Global Leadership Summit which was hosted by Meridian International Center, in partnership with Gallup and the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Co-Chaired by Jay L. Johnson and Sydney McNiff Johnson and generously supported by Presenting Sponsor General Dynamics Corporation, the Summit featured dynamic panel discussions which highlighted Gallup World Poll results and included insights from David M. Rubenstein, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, The Carlyle Group; Jay L. Johnson, Chairman & CEO, General Dynamics Corporation; Frederick W. Smith, Chairman & CEO, FedEx; Jim Clifton, Chairman & CEO, Gallup; Her Excellency Nirupama Rao, Ambassador of India to the U.S.; and His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the U.S.

 In conclusion:

I had a great time at The 44th Annual Meridian Ball! I enjoyed the dessert tray by Design Cuisine and dancing to Michael Jackson. The fun-tastic music set was provided by Patrick Mondjo (DJ Pitch One) The event was truly perfect! A great way to spend a Friday night.

Highlight of my night? Meeting a girl wearing the same dress as me! The dress was by Badgley Mischka. We joked and laughed about it. Who wore it best? Thanks to RentheRunway.com!

Christine Shepherd

Photos by Joyce N. Boghosian and Christine Shepherd

You can view more of Joyce’s photos here