In the elegant surroundings of the Warne Ballroom at Washington D.C.’s Cosmos Club, CIA Director John Brennan, FCRH ’77, accepted the Fordham University Club of Washington, D.C.’s Brien McMahon Award for Distinguished Public Service from Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham.

Brennan spoke to a capacity crowd of 165 people on Sept. 23rd at the club’s annual event which brings together D.C.-area alumni and friends to benefit the Club’s scholarship fund. The scholarship fund helps deserving students from the Washington, DC area attend Fordham.

One day after his 59th birthday, Brennan paused from his hectic schedule to take a bit of time for nostalgia, recalling for his fellow Rams how Fordham’s Jesuits made a significant difference in his life by instilling a love of learning.

“They opened my mind to the wonders of the world beyond our borders and encouraged me to think deeply about what I believe, as well as why I believe it,” he said. “True understanding only comes from engaging with the world.”

“Education was more than turning us into straight A students, it was about guiding us on a journey,” he continued. “I didn’t realize it at the time […] but Fordham was preparing me for a life of public service.”

The Fordham Alumni Chapter of Washington, D.C. hosted the evening. Michael Sheeran, S.J., president of Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, gave the invocation. Chapter president Deanna Howes, FCRH ’07, introduced and presented Brennan with the award. US Representative Steve Stockman and Representative Paul Broun joined in the chorus of “Happy Birthday” along with author Alice McDermott and her husband David Armstrong; former trustee Mark Tuohey, LAW ’73; trustee Ed Stroz, GSB ’79; and President’s Council member Tom Kelly III.

The McMahon award was established in 1962 in honor of the late senator’s work to ensure civilian, not military, control of nuclear weapons development and to cultivate peaceful uses of atomic energy. Previous recipients include former news anchor Katie Couric, Mother Teresa, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Walter Cronkite, Colin Powell, and Joseph O’Hare, S.J., former president of Fordham.