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Open World Program and Russell Family Foundation Bring Russian Environmental Leaders to U.S.
September 3, 2004

Washington, DC - A 27-member group of Russian environmental experts and practitioners arrived in the United States this week to participate in an Open World exchange supported by a grant from The Russell Family Foundation. The Open World Program brings emerging leaders from Russia and other participating countries to communities across the United States to observe American political and civic institutions in action and to exchange views and expertise with their U.S. counterparts.

The visiting Russian environmental leaders will travel in small, interest-focused delegations for a week of programming targeted to their professional development and joint work with host organizations of a similar profile. Each delegation will focus on topics tailored to its members' specific interests, including oil spill prevention, environmental regulation, recycling and waste management, and ecotourism.

Open World's host cities for these delegations are Augusta, GA; Kansas City, MO; Middlebury, VT, San Francisco, CA; South Lake Tahoe, CA; and Valdez, AK. In addition to professional interaction, the Russian delegates will also be treated to homestays, allowing them to participate in American family and community life.

The Russell Family Foundation is a Washington state-based philanthropic organization that awards grants in the areas of environmental sustainability, grass-roots leadership, and peace and security. Founders George and Jane Russell created it with part of the proceeds from their sale of the Frank Russell Company, which they had purchased from George Russell's grandfather and developed into one of the world's leading investment management and advisory firms. Mr. Russell serves as co-chairman of the EastWest Institute and the Kendall-Russell Centre for Corporate Competitiveness in Russia.

The visiting Russians will be hosted by ISAR: Resources for Environmental Activists, a nonprofit organization that works to address environmental threats faced by communities throughout the former Soviet Union by improving advocacy skills, garnering international support for environmental campaigns, and enhancing public participation in environmental policy issues. Working with local partners, ISAR will host a total of 45 Russians on environmental-themed exchanges through Open World this year.

Open World is a unique, nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress designed to build mutual understanding between the United States and Russia. Over the last year, Open World has also launched pilot programs with Lithuania, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. More than 8,000 participants from all 89 Russian regions and the pilot countries have been hosted in all 50 U.S. states since the program's inception in 1999. Delegates range from members of parliament to mayors, from innovative nonprofit directors to experienced journalists, and from political party activists to regional administrators. The program is managed by the Open World Leadership Center, an independent legislative branch agency that works cooperatively with the U.S. Department of State and other U.S. executive and judicial branch agencies.

For more information on this exchange, please contact George Felcyn at the PBN Company at 202-466-6210. For more information on the Open World Program, please visit Information on The Russell Family Foundation is available at, and information on ISAR is available at