Romanians of Washington, DC Community Awards were established in 2019 as a way to recognize individuals (and organizations) who brought a significant contribution to the Romanian American community in the greater Washington, DC area. The Awards are also intended to provide added visibility to the accomplishments of some of the most active members of our community while at the same time encouraging further participation in civic, social and cultural activities.
The recipients of the 2021 Romanians of Washington, DC Community Awards were, for the first time, nominated by members of our community through an open process which took place in October and November of last year. The nominations received were reviewed and voted upon by the Members of the Board of Directors.
We are proud to announce that the recipients of the 2021 Romanians of Washington, DC Community Awards are: Mr. Gheorghe Florea for his outstanding shipping services, connecting members of our community with loved ones in Romania for over two decades; and Dr. Eliot Sorel for his crucial role in bringing Romania to the 1999 Smithsonian Folklife Festival and his continued service to the community.
Dr. Eliot Sorel
Dr. Eliot Sorel is a well-known global health leader, health systems performance expert, practicing physician, and Clinical Professor of Global Health, Health Policy and Management and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the George Washington University. He has served as a subject matter expert on projects implemented by some of the world’s most prestigious health bodies including the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, the U.S. National Institute of Health, the World Bank, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, to mention just a few. His work in the medical field has been recognized through numerous awards and honorary degrees including most recently the 2021 American Psychiatric Association’s Ronald A. Shellow Award.
Starting in 1997, Dr. Sorel initiated and provided stewardship for the so-called “Opening the Gates to Romania” project which culminated in 1999 with the participation of Romania to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This remains, to this date, the country’s most significant and most visible presence ever in the Nation’s Capital. The festival, which featured hundreds of artisans, folk artists, dancers and many others from Romania, attracted tens of thousands of visitors and centered on the construction of a wooden church from Maramureș on the National Mall – in the very center of Washington. For his role, Dr. Sorel was decorated in 2004 by the President Ion Iliescu with the Star of Romania in the Order of Commander. In his many decades in Washington, Dr Sorel has also been actively engaged in promoting academic and professional relations between Romania and the United States. However, his contribution to this most important event, in addition to his other work in support of Romania, is not well known and has not been fully recognized in our community, until now.
Mr. Gheorghe Florea
Mr. Gheorghe Florea, or simply Nea Ghiță, is a familiar face to many members of our community as the owner of Romania Transport, one of the longest running transportation companies serving the needs of the Romanian-American community in the Washington, DC area and beyond. In the over two decades of service, he has built a reputation of a reliable, caring and compassionate person. As Mr. Florin Predescu noted in a recent article, “Nea Ghiță has a sense of humor descended from the language of Ion Creangă. He never hides his smile. At the same time, he requires respect and requires the application of shipping rules. He works hard to ensure that packages always arrive on time.”
Through his hard work Mr. Florea helps bring joy to loved ones in Romania who get to open wonderful presents from family members who now live so far away, making them feel closer and more connected. Equally crucial, he brings comfort to those who often eagerly await much needed supplies or medicine. The many members of our community who nominated Mr. Florea, often noted his work ethic, his resilience and his drive to overcome hurdles always going above and beyond for those he serves.