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Former Gov. Thomas Kean Keynote Speaker at Drew Gala

University recognizes Irish humanitarian and a Morristown organization at event this month in Mendham.

Former Gov. Thomas H. Kean (Contributed photo)
Former Gov. Thomas H. Kean (Contributed photo)
Former Gov. Thomas H. Kean will be the keynote speaker at Drew University's gala this month when an Irish humanitarian, author and film producer will receive the “Peace Through Truth and Reconciliation” award.

The award will be presented by Drew University’s Center on Religion, Culture and Conflict (CRCC) at the Monday, March 31 event that will be held at a private home in Mendham.

Award-winner Don Mullan was a teenager attending his first protest in Derry when he witnessed the tragic shooting of civilians by British soldiers in 1972, leading to what is commonly known as Bloody Sunday.

Mullan, who became a bestselling author, film producer and humanitarian, is widely regarded as the man who got the British government to re-examine the events of that day, which ultimately led to the British government apologizing for the massacre. He is also credited with helping to advance the Irish peace process.

Mullan will receive the CCRC’s first “Peace through Truth and Reconciliation” award from Drew Professor Christine Kinealy at the gala.

"Don has been tireless in his efforts to uncover the truth about distortions of history, and to much personal sacrifice,” Kinealy said. “He’s passionate about Ireland, but his work is universal. He’d say we can’t just argue our cause, because our cause is social justice everywhere.”

A second award will be given out that evening. “The Empowerment through Education Award” will be given to the Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund (AGFAF), a Morristown-based organization that raises money to provide college tuition for Afghan women to study at colleges around the United States.

AGFAF, which began in 2008, pairs Afghan women students with participating U.S. institutions, finds host families for the students and provides financial support. At least 30 students have already been assisted through the fund, attending institutions such as Yale, Rutgers, Mount Holyoke and Drew.

Shamila Kohestani, the former captain of the first Women’s Afghan National soccer team, graduated from Drew in 2012 through the AGFAF program. She will be presenting the award to AGFAF at the gala. AGFAF Founder Leo Motiuk will accept the award.

“AGFAF recognizes that education has the power to make not only Afghanistan, but the world a better place,” Kohestani said. “Investing in women’s education in Afghanistan will result in improving women’s lives, health, gender equality and reducing poverty.”

Individual tickets for the gala begin at $250, and VIP tickets and sponsorship opportunities are also available. The VIP reception, which begins at 6 p.m., includes the interfaith artwork of George Lewis, music and photo opportunities. The dinner and awards ceremony begins at 7 p.m. Call 973-408-3227 by March 21 to purchase tickets.

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