American Friends of Georgia is pleased to announce that our Executive Director Marusya Chavchavadze was recently recognized as People's Ambassador by the Georgian Association in the United States of America. The award was granted during a reception hosted by the Georgian Association, in partnership with AFG and the America-Georgia Business Council, and celebrating the 105th anniversary of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia and the 91st anniversary of the Georgian Association in the USA on May 11, 2023 at the United States Senate.
The Georgian Association in the United States of America was founded in 1932 by Georgian immigrants to the US who escaped the Russian occupation and were dedicated to reestablishing an independent democratic state of Georgia. The Association granted the People's Ambassador award to Marusya and to Synetic Theater in Arlington, VA, to recognize "outstanding members of the diaspora whose work strengthens the relations between American and Georgian people" and supports Georgia's independence.
According to Association board member Valerian Sikhuashvili, "Marusya has not only committed her life to deepening the ties between Georgia and the United States in the most noble of ways, she is also an individual who embodies the best we have in us as Georgians and what we are taught to aspire.
"...I would argue, if [Georgians] really had to choose what’s most sacred, the most valuable [thing] we have to teach the world, it would be what is expressed in the words of our national poet Shota Rustaveli, who tells us that rasatsa gastsem shenia, ras ara dakargulia. In my imperfect translation: 'whatever you give away remains yours, whatever you keep is lost forever.' Because kindness, Rustaveli teaches us, is unique in that it brings joy to the one receiving it and enriches the one who gives it. And when you meet Marusya, you feel that she embodies that spirit of generosity, you feel that she has given out an abundance of kindness, and she has brought joy and smiles to people of all ages and needs. Marusya, although your family had to flee Georgia over a century ago, you have kept with you the most cherished values we have instilled in us in Georgia."
"In these 30 years, it has been my privilege to work with AFG and our Georgian partners to respond to the needs of the Georgian people," Marusya said upon receiving the award. "AFG is a people-to-people organization and we have worked closely with our Georgian friends to promote and encourage the development of Georgia as an independent, democratic country where people can live in peace and prosperity."
Marusya has served as Executive Director of AFG since its founding in 1994. Under her leadership, AFG has partnered with more than 60 Georgian non-profit organizations to provide a wide range of support and services for Georgia's most vulnerable citizens, including housing and support for homeless and orphaned children, hospice and home care for low-income elders, early education and art therapy for children internally displaced by war, improved care for children with leukemia and tuberculosis, and much more. Marusya will be retiring later this year after nearly three decades in her role, and will be succeeded by William Corcoran, former President/CEO of Anera.