Press Release: Announcing the Meridian Global Leadership Award for Space Diplomacy Honorees

Meridian International Center Honors Space Diplomacy Visionaries Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., Michael T. Suffredini, Kam Ghaffarian and H.E. Yousef Al Otaiba

May 2, 2024

Washington, D.C. – Meridian International Center announced the selection of four honorees for the Meridian Global Leadership Award for Space Diplomacy. Recipients honored at the annual Meridian Diplomacy Forum in Washington, D.C. include: Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr. (USMC-Ret.), Administrator, NASA (2009-2017); Michael T. Suffredini, Co-Founder and CEO, Axiom Space; Kam Ghaffarian, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, Axiom Space; and His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States.

“The need for diplomacy in space has never been greater. As an institution that has been focused for over 60 years on developing international leaders to understand the global and geopolitical landscape, to recognize the value of international engagement, and on the need to work across borders to solve complex challenges, we are well-placed to advance space diplomacy. Our global leadership awards recognize visionaries committed to building alliances and promoting mutual understanding across borders, sectors and cultures in the same legacy of the international leaders that came before them at the intersection of space and diplomacy – I couldn’t imagine a better deserved group of individuals,” shared The Honorable Stuart Holliday, CEO of Meridian.

Throughout its eight years running, the annual Meridian Diplomacy Forum has gathered hundreds of American and international diplomats, military officials, business leaders, policy experts to explore trends and challenges in U.S. and international statecraft. Recent programs have explored diplomacy and foreign policy related to the emerging role of cities and states, space, the Arctic, the ocean, climate change, global health and disinformation.

On Monday, April 29, in a private dinner at the Embassy of Canada to the U.S. and on stage on Tuesday, April 30 at the historic Meridian House, the awardees were recognized for their contributions to space diplomacy, their visionary leadership and their demonstrated ability to strengthen ties between nations on Earth by forging camaraderie and advancing progress on a range of celestial issues.

Bolden was praised for continuing to build bridges and connections among American and international space communities long after he served as NASA Administrator through his role as a U.S. Science Envoy.

Suffredini was honored for his tireless efforts to make commercial space stations viable alongside his achievements on space democratization.

Amb. Al Otaiba was recognized for his championing of the UAE space program during its meteoric rise this past decade and for advancing the increasingly significant U.S.-UAE space relationship.

The April 30 conversations were livestreamed online and are available for viewing on demand here.

Meridian International Center is a nonpartisan, nonprofit diplomacy center with the vision that greater understanding and collaboration between the United States and the world leads to a more safe and secure future for all. Founded in 1960 and headquartered in Washington, DC, our mission is to strengthen engagement between the U.S. and the world to find solutions on shared global challenges across four core pillars: global leadership, diplomatic engagement, culture, and corporate diplomacy.

The 2024 Meridian Diplomacy Forum was held in partnership with C5 Capital.

For more information or statements from the awardees, please email

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