On June 6, 2019 at a major awards ceremony attended by over 700 guests from the shipping industry and associated companies, the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) presented its prestigious Silver Bell Award to the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA). Each year, SCI confers the Silver Bell Award to an individual or group in recognition of outstanding leadership in the maritime community, significant commitment to merchant mariners and engagement with issues facing the maritime industry. The event, held at Chelsea Piers in New York City, marked SCI’s 42nd Annual Silver Bell Awards Dinner.
WISTA is an international member organization dedicated to promoting and supporting women in the maritime industry, especially in leadership and management roles. Through cultivation of a global relationship network, WISTA increases competency and encourages sharing of best practices, information and experiences in more than 46 national associations.
President of WISTA International Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou accepted the award presented by Kathy Haines, CFO at Heidmar, SCI Trustee and Silver Bell Committee Member.
In her acceptance speech, Theodosiou highlighted the importance of viewing the “larger picture of strengthening the workforce in an evolving industry; an industry forging ahead in an era of change. Empowering women in the maritime community is about creating the basis for a stronger, sustainable industry. And empowering others does not mean removing power from those who have it; it is about creating diversity in ideas and leadership, about fueling creativity and innovation. It is about positive growth.”
RADM Phil Greene, Jr. (US Navy Retired) of TOTE, Inc. was honored with SCI’s 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award. Fellow U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point Class of ’78 colleagues RADM Jack Buono, Superintendent of the US Merchant Marine Academy, and Jack Noonan, President of Binnacle Maritime LLC, SCI Trustee and Silver Bell Awards Dinner Co-Chair, presented the award to Greene.
In his introductory remarks, Noonan suggested that Greene’s personification of the Kings Point motto Acta Non Verba, Deeds Not Words, was already evident in early adulthood. “And it is that character,” said Noonan, “ along with his smarts – both book and street – and excellent leadership ability that propelled him through a 30-year active-duty Naval career“ and beyond. RADM Greene was privileged to command two surface combatants, a destroyer squadron and a combined joint task force. A highly decorated Navy veteran, he proceeded to serve as the eleventh superintendent of Kings Point. Greene finished his career as part of TOTE’s executive team being named President & CEO in February 2013.
“In my 40+ year career spanning the Navy, DoT and the private sector,” said Greene in his acceptance speech, “my actions have been guided by the foundation of ethical leadership and moral courage. As a ship’s commanding officer, a navy flag officer and in the private sector as a president of a company, I have confronted many complex and difficult leadership challenges, some even tragic. As leaders we must draw upon our leadership and moral courage. It is what defines us.”
A special Lifesaving Award was presented posthumously to Kendall G. Chen for his advocacy work on behalf of more than 2,000 refugees in the 1980s. Chen focused on resettlement after the initial rescue at sea. Lauren Vuong delivered a particularly heart-rendering personal narrative dedicated to Chen. As a seven-year-old child, she and her family were among those 2,000 refugees whose lives were touched by Chen’s good work. Vuong chronicles the experience and her efforts to find Chen as an adult in her documentary: Finding the Virgo: A film about compassion and gratitude (findingthevirgo.com).
“What many of you may not realize,” said Vuong, “is that it was Kendall’s tenacious work behind the scenes with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the Consulate in Osaka and ultimately his contacts with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that enabled Energy Transportation Corporation’s fleet to continue rescuing refugees. Kendall’s advocacy and unyielding compassion allowed many refugees – myself and my family included - to have this life.”
Perhaps most extraordinary, friends of Chen like presenter and former SCI Board Chair Richard du Moulin, first became aware of Chen’s humanitarian efforts at his memorial service. “I thought I knew Kendall well, but last year I discovered something incredible about my late friend that shocked me, but did not surprise me knowing Kendall’s character,” said du Moulin. “He had been a driving force in rescuing and resettling Vietnamese refugees in the post-Vietnam War era for over a decade.”
Chen’s award was accepted by his widow, Gale, who met Chen while the two of them served on the SCI Board together.
The Silver Bell Awards Dinner was preceded by the traditional Blessing of the Fleet officiated by The Rev. James Kollin, SCI's Port Chaplain, International Seafarers’ Center; The Rev. David M. Rider, SCI's President & Executive Director; The Right Reverend Mary Glasspool, Assisting Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of New York; and The Right Reverend Allen Shin Bishop Suffragan, Episcopal Diocese of New York.
The Silver Bell Awards Dinner generates vital funds to support SCI’s important programs including advocacy, continuing education and training, and chaplaincy for merchant mariners who arrive at America’s ports and work on U.S. inland waterways. The event raised $800,000 along with an additional $40,000+ in live pledges that evening.
2019 Silver Bell eJournal smschur.ch/2MGIDGd
Photos of the event available for public use from this link with the following notation: "Photos courtesy of the Seamen's Church of New York and New Jersey."