Major honour for Czech-American businessman Fred Malek

This year’s Václav Havel Award for the Advancement of Civil Society handed out by the Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation VIZE 97 has gone to Fred Malek, one of the most successful U.S. businessmen and philanthropists of Czech origin. The prize, presented by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recognises Mr. Malek’s outstanding contribution to Czech-US relations.

Fred Malek, photo: archive of Thayer Lodging GroupFred Malek, photo: archive of Thayer Lodging Group Frederick Malek grew up in a Czech community on the outskirts of Chicago. A graduate of West Point and the Harvard Business School, he served in Vietnam as an Army airborne ranger. His long career includes military service, business, investments, philanthropy, public service, politics and non-profit leadership.

Among other things, he was the president and CEO of Marriot Hotels and Northwest Airlines, and a partner with former President George W. Bush in owning the Texas Rangers Baseball Club. In politics, he advised four U.S. Presidents, including Richard Nixon, and served as National Finance Chairman for the 2008 McCain Presidential Campaign.

Since 2002, Fred Malek has been the chairman of the American Friends of the Czech Republic, which promotes Czech interest in the US and contributes to the development of Czech-U.S. relations.

Among other things, he helped to raise the funds to build the Woodrow Wilson Monument in Prague. He also led the rebuilding of the Sokol gymnasium in the town of West, Texas, after a disastrous industrial explosion in the town in 2013.

Speaking to the website Aktualne.cz on the occasion of receiving the Václav Havel award, he said:

“I have always been aware of my Czech roots. I grew up among Czechs, I went to school with Czech children and I am proud of my Czech origin.”

He also said his biggest success so far as the chairman of the American Friends of the Czech Republic was the unveiling of a bust of the late Czech president Václav Havel in the U.S. Capitol’s Freedom Foyer in November 2014.