2018 Signature Event

November 10: 6:30 pm

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2018 Signature Event

November 10: 6:30 pm

Join San Diego for an unforgettable evening celebrating the arts in diplomacy. From mid-century jazz to modern-day hip hop, explore how U.S. leaders and civic actors have used the transcendent power of music and dance to turn beats into bridges across the globe.

The evening will feature a tapas style dinner, drinks, entertainment, photo exhibits, and stories of impact. Join us and support the work of the San Diego Diplomacy Council. One beat. One note. One jam session at a time.

SDDC Members $100  •  Non-members $125  •  VIP $150

This year we have a limited number of VIP tickets that include a pre-event cocktail reception with speakers and performers that begins at 5:45 pm.


Keynote Speaker

Adam Clayton Powell III

Adam Clayton Powell III is President of the Public Diplomacy Council of the United States and Director of Washington Programs for the University of Southern California’s Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. He is also University Fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Powell will share the impactful story of his father, unapologetic civil rights activist and Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and his intrepid efforts to use jazz music to connect the U.S. with the rest of the world during the Cold War era.

At Powell Jr.’s prompting, jazz masters such as Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Benny Goodman were sent abroad as musical ambassadors on a series of short term cultural diplomacy tours that would last more than two decades. Powell’s stories, and his life’s work, underscore the diplomatic power of the arts to build bridges when traditional diplomatic channels have failed or are limited. Read more

Until the fall of 2010, Powell served as USC’s Vice Provost for Globalization, working with faculty and deans to advance the university’s global initiatives, expand USC’s international presence, increase USC’s leadership role in the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, and promoting the university throughout the world.

Powell comes from a career of two decades in broadcasting, serving as Vice President for News and Information programming at National Public Radio; Manager of network radio and television news for CBS News; Executive Producer at Quincy Jones Entertainment; and General Manager of PBS stations WHUT-TV in Washington and KMTP-TV in San Francisco.

Watch Adam Clayton Powell Jr. team up with Dizzy Gilespie in this PBS documentary clip

Artist of Honor

Amirah Sackett

Amirah Sackett is an internationally recognized hip-hop dancer, choreographer, teacher, and arts envoy who has used hip-hop to transcend stereotypes about women and the Muslim community in the U.S. and abroad. Amirah will share performance and stories about her experiences.

Amirah’s global dance diplomacy endeavors began when she was honored as one of the first female hip-hop artists to receive the Jerome Travel/Study grant in 2008 and travel to Rotterdam, Holland to study and train at Hip Hop Huis, a center in Europe for hip-hop artists. In 2014, Amirah traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh as part of “Next Level”, a hip-hop cultural exchange program by the U.S. State Department and University of North Carolina. In April 2016, Amirah was honored to be part of “Caravanserai- American Voices”, a Midwest tour of American Muslim hip-hop artists. In 2016, Amirah and her work “We’re Muslim, Don’t Panic” reached viral video fame, after being featured in videos online by PopSugar Celebrity, Huffington Post, AJ+, and Upworthy with millions of views each. 

Amirah has performed and given a lecture at Harvard University as a guest of the Graduate School of Education and she was chosen to be a Tedx speaker at TedxAmoskeagMillyard in New Hampshire. Huffington Post featured Amirah in their article, “17 Muslim American Women Who Made America Great In 2016”. In 2017 she traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii for a residency funded by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic arts, at a museum dedicated to Islamic art from around the world called Shangri La.

Most recently, in summer 2018 Amirah was invited by the U.S. Department of State to teach and perform in Malaysia with fellow hip hop dancer B-girl Mama on a cultural diplomacy tour across the country.

In addition to her international travel, Amirah continues to tour, teach, and perform around the U.S. and in her hometown of Chicago. Amirah believes hip-hop culture, as a whole, gives voice to those often unheard and is a way to uplift, inspire, and bring change to those communities that need it the most.

Artist of Honor

Todd Cochran

Todd Cochran is a jazz pianist and composer who has collaborated with Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, and other notable musicians. He wrote the film score for the movie “Keep the Faith, Baby” (2002) about Congressman Powell’s life. Todd will share his mastery of the keys with event attendees. Read more

The more avenues an artist can draw upon the more original their music will tend to sound. With years devoted to classical music study followed by the tutelage of American jazz masters, pianist and composer Todd Cochran’s music reflects a wide-ranging musical palette. In his art he has continued to build upon this foundation, incorporating diverse musical influences from the traditions of African and Asian diaspora, global pop, and contemporary art music culture.

Todd’s happenstance was to grow up in San Francisco during the civil rights era, a transformational time in America’s story. The city was multi-dimensional and the echoes of being a child of the cultural revolution have never left him.

Garnering attention at a young age his associations with legendary musicians began when he was 17, playing and recording with, or composing for John Handy, Bobby Hutcherson, and Rashaan Roland Kirk. And while classical art music was always the foundation of his interest, early in Todd’s career the rock band Santana re-recorded a composition from Todd’s first solo album “Worlds Around The Sun.” This became his entrée into the world of edgy electric underground and alternative music, ultimately leading to the formation of the innovative band Automatic Man.

Todd’s work as a pianist, composer and electronic musician has significantly influenced others. A short list of his collaborations include Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Maya Angelou, Joan Armatrading, Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Clarke, Stewart Copeland, Hubert Laws, Jeff Beck, Burt Bacharach, Stan Getz, Natalie Cole, Neil Diamond, and Rod Stewart. Todd sees the world of music as a village where different humanities come together. And correspondingly he explores creativity as a collective experience. In Todd’s words, “When asked what to call the music I’m now imagining and creating, I say it’s simply contemporary American Art Music. The music embraces all the things I believe in about the richness of a diverse and freely interacting culture; shared emotions, concerns for a healthy human condition, and hopes for the positive future of our world.”

Featured Photo Exhibit

Jam Session

The event will feature select images from a photographic exhibition entitled Jam Session: America’s Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World, curated by the Meridian International Center.

The exhibition contains more than 100 images capturing memorable moments from diplomatic jazz tours to 35 countries and four continents. Photos include Dizzy straddling a motorcycle with a famous Yugoslav musician; Louis meeting a revered national leader in Nigeria; Benny entertaining kids in Moscow’s Red Square and much more. The exhibition was developed in collaboration with University of Michigan professor Penny M. Von Eschen and drawn from collections around the United States.

Live Auction + Raffle

To be announced soon.


To be announced soon.

Location + Parking

Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) at Balboa Park
1649 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101

Minibuses will be provided from a designated parking lot at Balboa Park to the venue.


Our evening would not have been possible without the in-kind support of many individuals and businesses in the community including:

Many thanks to Sempra Energy for its sponsorship at the Platinum Diplomat Level


Chinyeh HostlerMany thanks to Chinyeh Hostler for her Gold Diplomat Sponsorship

Thank you to the Unified Port of San Diego for its Gold Diplomat Sponsorship

Thank you to Sureride for its Cocktail Hour Sponsorship

Thank you to the Bristol Hotel for its Cocktail Hour Sponsorship

Sponsorship Levels

Become a sponsor and support the critical intersection between the arts, diplomacy, and global bridge building. For companies and individuals interested to sponsor the 2018 signature event, please contact Executive Director Fabienne Perlov at Fabienne@sandiegodiplomacy.org

$10,000 – Diamond Diplomat

Featured as a presenting sponsor of the 2018 signature event, invitation to the VIP cocktail with speakers and performers before the event, complimentary tickets for eight (8) guests, five (5) raffle tickets per guest, one-year SDDC membership for eight (8), promotional acknowledgment on all social media and all other event publicity.

$5,000 – Platinum Diplomat

Invitation to the VIP cocktail with speakers and performers before the event, complimentary tickets for eight (8) guests, five (5) raffle tickets per guest, one-year SDDC membership for eight (8), promotional acknowledgment on all social media and all other event publicity.

$2,500 – Gold Diplomat

Invitation to the VIP cocktail with speakers and performers before the event, complimentary tickets for four (4) guests, five (5) raffle tickets per guest, one-year membership for four (4), promotional acknowledgment on all social media and all other event publicity.

$1,000 – Cocktail Hour Sponsor

Invitation to the VIP cocktail with speakers and performers before the event, complimentary tickets for two (2), five (5) raffle tickets per guest, one-year SDDC membership for two (2), promotional acknowledgment on all social media and all other event publicity.

We look forward to celebrating with you!




November 10
6:30 pm
Event Categories:


Museum of Photographic Arts
1649 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101 United States
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