His eminence cardinal Audrys Juozas Bačkis
His eminence cardinal Audrys Juozas Bačkis, the Archbishop Emeritus of Vilnius and diplomat of the Holy See, was awarded for the life-time achievement in his sincere attempts to build strong structure of national and spiritual values for independent Lithuania and for constant attention to everyday concerns, troubles and joys of people.
People in need and people in trouble are in the center of his attention. In 1992 he established charity canteen serving every day 500 poor and lonely people. Another 100 children from low-income families regularly visit Caritas facility at archdiocese of Vilnius. In 1993 he reestablished St. Joseph Seminary and initiated the Department of ecclesiastical education at the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences.
From the first day of his life in Vilnius, he has actively supported the community of families with disabled children “Tikėjimo ir šviesos bendruomenė”. In 1996 the Cardinal founded the home for mother and child where women find shelter in the most difficult situations of their lives. In 2001 he established the Crafts Center where experienced workers share with young people the secrets of their profession, such as carpenter, jeweller, cook, dressmaker, constructor. In 2007, in response to frequent requests of families, he opened the catholic kindergarten.
Promotion of Lithunian exports
Angelė Kavak, founder and director of “Food Depot International”, was awarded for sincere efforts of promotion of Lithuanian produce in the USA through organization of international conferences and for the establishment of quality brand “Product of Lithuania” and its presentation in the US market.
She strongly believes in the quality of Lithuanian products and the potential of this country. Back in 2000, after numerous years of work at a US transportation company, she founded her own company in Chicago „Food Depot International“ and started to import Lithuanian food produce under newly established brand name “Product of Lithuania”. The number of products has grown up to 1500, they are sold in single individual shops as well as supermarkets Supervalue and Safeway in more than twenty States.
In order to stipulate growth of Lithuanian exports, she has taken active part in the organization of conferences, has made numerous presentations and has provoked active generation of ideas which would encourage Lithuanians to believe in themselves.
Attraction of investments
American Lithuanian Cynthia J. Pasky, founder and CEO of “Strategic Staffing Solutions”, was awarded for the promotion of positive image of Lithuania to the potential investors which effected their choice in search for favourable investment environment.
Great love to Lithuania was instilled in her by her grandfather, the immigrant of early 20th century. Her active cooperation with it began in 1999 when Strategic Staffing Solutions (S3) opened its European headquarters in Kaunas and carried out a number of promotion campaigns throughout the US persuading potential investors that Lithuania “has it all - talent, economic growth, education, art, culture, sports and location”. Barclays, Western Union, Intermedix are just a few illustrative success stories of her activities.
Moreover, in the past four years alone, more than 2,000 young talented Lithuanians have found rewarding professional careers at home in Lithuania. When former President Valdas Adamkus and US Embassy agreed that the single greatest thing the American business community could do was sponsor high school students to study in the US, S3 became a lead sponsor in the ExCel High School Exchange program sponsoring up to ten school students each year. In addition, her insights on Lithuanian investment climate and management of human resources are valued by the Government. She takes active part in the Foreign Investment Advisory and Supervision Council in Lithuania.
Augustinas, Kristijonas and Dominykas Vizbarai
Brothers Dominykas, Augustinas and Kristijonas Vizbaras were awarded for bringing international science experience back to Lithuania and establishing laboratory of semiconductor technologies.
Three talented brothers finished highschool and received their first degrees in science here in Lithuania. They settled for post-graduate studies and research of semiconductors at Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and Technical University of Munich. They developed and polished unique processes of molecular beam epitaxy foundry service for antimonides and arsenides as well as room-temperature mid-infrared laser diodes. These technologies enabled the brothers to crowd necessary funds and establish the company delivering world's only room-temperature GaSb laser diodes in the wavelength range for 2 µm – 3.8 µm and trading with more 160 clients around the world.
Milda Dargužaitė, director of “Invest Lithuania”, was awarded for promoting youth leadership in the public sector and for initiating project “Create for Lithuania” which brings back young talented people from abroad to contribute to the well-being of their native country.
Program of professional young people “Create for Lithuania” is the first program of professional development and meritocracy meant for citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who have graduated foreign institutions of higher education. It creates real opportunities for young professionals to take active part in the development of the country by sharing and implementing their qualification and ideas. The author and most active supporter of this idea Milda Dargužaitė graduated Princeton University where she studied applied mathematics and economics. After seven years in the position of vice-president of “Goldman Sachs”, she was invited by the Government of Lithuania to work as an advisor and later as director general of “Invest Lithuania”.
Professor Joseph Press, director of Schneider Children’s Medical Center, was awarded for tight relations with Lithuanian doctors and medical institutions, their professional partnerships and help to Lithuanian children in need for medical attendance.
Professor Josef Press, a Kaunas-site by birth and education, has made impressive career in pediatrics in Israel. In the position of director of the largest children’s medical center in Israel, he initiated the qualification exchange program for doctors and other medical staff of Lithuania. The qualified doctors of the Schneider Center empowered by the most modern diagnostic equipment has welcomed children from Lithuania for special diagnostics and treatment.
Promotion of Lithuania through professional activities
Martynas Levickis, outstanding accordion performer, was elected by public voting carried out by Delfi News Portal and awarded for the passion for music, for original interpretation of musical styles and for positive branding of Lithuania throughout the world.
Young performer – he is just 23 – has toured the world to all directions: from Berlin and London to the US, Japan, South Korea. At three years of age he made first attempts to play, at eight, he entered the musical school in his native city Šiauliai. He studied with one of his Lithuania’s leading teachers at the Saulius Sondeckis Music School before graduating from London's Royal Academy of Music. In 2009, he had superb performance at the competition organized by the American Accordionist Association in Memphis (USA). In 2010, he became the world champion at “Coupe Mondiale”. In 2013, his album released with Decca Records topped the play-boards of classical music in the UK.
Sincere friend of Lithuania
Jonas Ohman, Swedish translator, publicist, film-maker, was awarded for sincere belief in the uniqueness of Lithuania, the promotion of Lithuania through the produced and directed documentaries on the post-war history of Lithuania.
Jonas Ohman served in airborne forces of Sweden, studied theology, and became interested in all Baltic states in the heat of restored independence after 1990. Since 1993, he has spent more time in Lithuania than anywhere else. He translated to Swedish language the biographical book of Juozas Daumantas-Lukša „Partisans“, novels of Lithuanian authors Jurgis Kunčinas, Jurga Ivanauskaitė, Sigitas Parulskis. In 2009, he made his first documentary “Smogikai“ about special troops which had a task in Lithuania of 1940ies to suppress local anti-soviet movements. In addition, he took active part in creation of documentaries “(Ne)įmanomi Pabėgimai“ (“Impossible Escapes”), “Lietuva ir Švedija– amžius kartu“ (“Lithuania and Sweden – Together Forever”), “Raudonieji metai“ (”Red Years”) , “Laisvės Trajektorijos“ (“Trajectory of Freedom”), “Nematomasis Frontas“ (“Invisible Front”).
Young and unique global talent
Rūta Meilutytė, 16-years-old multi-record holder in swimming, was awarded as young global talent who has worked hard and has reached impressive results in the name of Lithuania.
3 minutes and 16.24 seconds was enough to turn a teenage swimmer into the star. Her style and speed at the Olympic tracks of London as well as warm-hearted personality charmed the competitors, the media and the public. She became the youngest Olympic champion in breaststroke style of swimming and the first swimmer to win an Olympic medal for independent Lithuania.
The bright Olympic start was just the beginning of her glorious way: three world records, four European records and twelve Lithuanian records followed in less then two years.
Her achievements encouraged equipment of swimming facilities and increased the popularity of this sport in Lithuania. In social media, Rūta has hundreds of thousands of followers. The charity fund of Rūta Meilutytė collected thousands of litas to support Lithuanian families in need. “I am proud to be a Lithuanian”, - says Rūta with Lithuanian flag in her hands.