2014 Outstanding American by Choice Recipients

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Photo of Alejandro Mayorkas
Event date and location: January 15, 2014, Washington, DC
Alejandro N. Mayorkas
Deputy Secretary, Department of Homeland Security
Washington, District of Columbia

Alejandro N. Mayorkas was sworn in as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security on December 23, 2013. Since 2009, following his nomination by President Obama and subsequent confirmation, Deputy Secretary Mayorkas served as the Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency charged with operating the largest immigration system in the world. In that position, he led a workforce of 18,000 members throughout more than 250 offices worldwide and oversaw a $3 billion annual budget. While at USCIS he oversaw a number of important programs and enhancements, including the implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Prior to his appointment at USCIS, Deputy Secretary Mayorkas was a partner in the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP. In 2008, the National Law Journal recognized Deputy Secretary Mayorkas as one of the “50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America.” In 1998, Deputy Secretary Mayorkas was nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate to be the United States Attorney for the Central District of California, becoming the youngest U.S. Attorney to serve the nation at that time. In addition to leading an office of 240 Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Deputy Secretary Mayorkas served as the Vice-Chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Subcommittee on Civil Rights and as a member of the Subcommittee on Ethics in Government.

Deputy Secretary Mayorkas is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and received his law degree from Loyola Law School.


Photo of John Lukacs
Event date and location: January 17, 2014, Philadelphia, PA
John Lukacs
Historian and Author
Phoenixville, Pennsylvania 

John Adalbert Lukacs is a Hungarian-born American historian who has written more than 30 books including, The End of the Twentieth Century: And the End of the Modern Age which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Mr. Lukacs was a professor of history at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA from 1947 to 1994, and held the chair of the history department for 27 years. He has also served as a visiting professor at several universities.

In 1944, during the Second World War, Mr. Lukacs was forced to serve in a Hungarian labor battalion. Two years later, Mr. Lukacs fled to the United States escaping from the emergent Communist Bloc. Because of his command of the English language when arriving to the United States, Mr. Lukacs was able to teach courses to returning service members at Columbia University. But when he was offered a position at Chestnut Hill College, Mr. Lukacs found a permanent home, where he remained deeply rooted in the institution and surrounding community.


Photo of Jose Andres
Photo credit: Blair Getz Mezibov
Event date and location: July 4, 2014, Washington, DC
José Andrés
Chef, Restaurateur, and Food Advocate
Washington, District of Columbia

José Andrés is an internationally recognized culinary innovator, advocate for food and hunger issues, author, television personality, chef, and owner of more than 16 restaurants in Washington, DC; Beverly Hills, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Miami, FL; and Dorado, Puerto Rico.

José Andrés was born in Mieres, Spain and began cooking at an early age. By 16, he was studying at the renowned culinary academy, La Escola de Restauració i Hostalatge de Barcelona. Mr. Andrés left Spain and moved to New York, NY in 1990, hoping to make a name for himself. After several years in Manhattan, he moved to Washington, DC to become a chef and eventual partner at Jaleo. It was the beginning of his venture with what would become the ThinkFoodGroup, the company behind Mr. Andrés’ restaurants, hotels, food products, media, educational initiatives, and philanthropy, employing nearly 1,000 people.

Mr. Andrés is renowned for his educational efforts and passionate advocacy for ending world hunger. He teaches a course on how food impacts civilization at George Washington University in Washington, DC and another on food and science at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. He is the Dean of Spanish Studies at the International Culinary Center in New York, NY. Mr. Andrés has worked alongside First Lady Michelle Obama for the Let's Move campaign to end childhood obesity. With the founding of his own non-profit, World Central Kitchen, Mr. Andrés is currently working on several food-based programs to improve conditions in Haiti and other communities.

Mr. Andrés has received dozens of awards for his culinary innovations, including the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef, the highest honor for a chef and named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine in 2012.


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