SoCal 24th Dutch American Heritage Event NAF Gala 2016

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The Netherland-America Foundation, Southern California, honored notable Dutch-Americans – General (ret.) David Petraeus and games/green tech pioneer Henk Rogers – at its 24th gala dinner, Saturday October 22 at the Ebell in Los Angeles. The honorees did not disappoint the 100+ Dutch-Americans and friends who gathered.

Gen. Petraeus, whose genealogy traces back to the Frisian region of the Netherlands, offered a heartfelt tribute to his father, who emigrated from the Netherlands as a young man and spent his life as a merchant sailor. The highly decorated leader who is now a senior executive at the investment firm of KKR, also shared some of the lessons he learned during his long military career, much of it spent in the global hot spots in the Middle East, during a thoughtful Q&A with the evening’s moderator, Marieke Oudejans. He was introduced by the Honorable Henne Schuwer, the Netherlands’ Ambassador to the United States.

Consciously avoiding commenting on the current election contest, he offered advice that world leaders so often seek from him. These include: “Las Vegas Rules Don’t Apply in the Middle East” – what happens in one country doesn’t only stay in that country, it spews out to the whole region; “Solving the Problems in the Region Require a Comprehensive Approach” – you can’t just send in the Delta Force and think that will fix the situation, it takes diplomacy, aid and more; and “This Is a Generational Struggle” – there will be nothing fast or localized about solving the problems, but rather it involves a long-term, multi-faceted approach requiring “blood and treasure.”

The evening’s other honoree, Henk Rogers, came to the gala from his home in Hawaii, where the entrepreneur and innovator who first made his mark as the video game pro who brought Tetris to the world is leading efforts to save the planet, through clean energy activism and hard work. Rogers is applying his distinctive mix of business savvy and dreamer’s passion in his effort to fix the world. He broke it down into four main goals in his own Q&A with Marieke Oudejans:

The first is to end the use of carbon-based fuels, first in Hawaii but ultimately planet-wide; next, he’s applying his energies and resources to finding a solution to war – a goal that Gen. Petraeus said he shares too; third, and perhaps because it’s not easy to solve the first two, he’s looking for a way to find a new home for Earthlings, lending support to efforts to colonize Mars. Finally, he’s looking to solve the riddle of how the universe ends, hoping to learn something useful from the exercise. Mr. Rogers was introduced by Johannes van Tilburg, Honorary Consul for the Netherlands in Los Angeles.

Both men received special, personalized Delft Blue plates – direct from the factory in the Netherlands – in recognition of their inclusion in NAF’s Hall of Fame. Previous honorees include filmmaker Paul Verhoeven, spirits executive Carl Nolet, Jr., businessman H. Wayne Huizenga, legendary news anchor Walter Cronkite and others.

The Netherland-America Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks to strengthen the ties between the U.S. and the Netherlands through exchanges in education, culture, business and public affairs.


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