We welcome different nationalities in US, just like the way it is in UAE, Briganti says
Dubai: Meet 79-year old American Stephen A. Briganti at the United States Pavilion in Expo 2020 Dubai. Briganti, the former president and chief executive officer of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, is the man behind the restoration of the iconic Statue of Liberty near New York. He is currently in Dubai on an invitation from the organisers of Expo 2020 Dubai. In an interview with Gulf News, he said he was thoroughly enjoying his stay in Dubai and his time at Expo 2020 Dubai.
Briganti helped raise a record $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) during his tenure for the restoration of Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Briganti was hired in 1982 by the then government of president Ronald Reagan to work on the restoration work. “The brief given to me was rather vague, but with the help of the team at the foundation we turned things around.”
Under Briganti’s leadership, Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation raised $1 billion. “Part of the money raised went to the restoration work. Rest of the amount went into the development of Ellis Island and construction of museums on Liberty Island among others. There was no government money infused into the development project. The foundation raised the money for the re-development and restoration work,” explained Briganti.
Briganti’s other major achievements include coordinating the widely acclaimed Liberty Weekend in July 1986, which was viewed by a billion-and-a-half viewers around the globe. He was also responsible for overseeing the production of the opening ceremonies of Ellis Island in September 1990.
Before joining the project for the foundation, Briganti had served for 12 years at the United Way of Tri-State based in New York. In 1981, he oversaw the most successful single, annual United Way campaign in the US. He had also served as chairman of the Board of Trustees at Butler University from 1998-2001 and as a board member from 1992 to 2008. He currently serves as a trustee of The American University.
Briganti said one of the most interesting things he worked on during his tenure with the Statue of Liberty Foundation was to provide records of people who had entered the port of New York decades ago. “We computerised all the records, so much so, that anybody can now check from our archives the history of their family who had entered the port of New York.
He added that his visit to the UAE reminded him of how similar the culture of the UAE is to that of the US. “We welcome people of different nationalities to live and work in the US, just like the way it is in the UAE,” he said.
Briganti added: “The story of the Statue of Liberty has gone beyond the fact that it is a national monument. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island welcome people to the US, giving them opportunities to live what we call the ‘American dream’. I see the same here in Dubai with the Burj Khalifa as well. It is Dubai’s iconic landmark. In fact, it is the world’s iconic landmark. And this majestic building has a story to tell. It celebrates different cultures, making people feel they are welcome to the UAE.”
“I urge everyone to visit the USA Pavilion. There are many interesting things going on there. If anyone wants to talk to me about the Statue of Liberty, I am around [at the Expo],” he concluded.
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