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Russian Local Leaders Examine Economic and Social Development in Palm Springs Through Open World Program
September 20, 2004

For Immediate Release

Washington, DC — Four emerging Russian leaders participating in the Open World Program are spending Sept. 18–25 in Palm Springs examining economic and social development. Jim Dowler and John Raymond are co-chairing this event for the Rotary Club of Palm Springs, which is hosting the delegation’s visit for Open World. Managed by the independent Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress, Open World enables emerging political and civic leaders from Russia and other participating countries to observe American political and civic institutions in action and to exchange views and expertise with their U.S. counterparts.

Highlights of the Open World delegation’s Palm Springs–area schedule include meeting with Mayor Ron Oden and City Manager David Ready, and with Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia in Cathedral City; discussing economic development with Palm Springs Community and Economic Development Director John Raymond; visiting the Salton Sea State Recreation Area and the Living Desert park; touring Murray and Andreas Canyons with an Agua Caliente Band tribal ranger; learning about how several area social services and environmental NGOs help meet community needs; joining KPSI radio talk show host Steve Kelly on the Desert Today show; and meeting with local developers and preservationists.

The Open World delegates visiting Palm Springs are Andrey Kalikh, program coordinator at the Center for Human Rights and Democracy Development nongovernmental organization (NGO) in Perm; Arsen Tkhazeplov, the deputy chair of the Urvanskiy Provincial District Local Government; Andrey Varlamov, program coordinator at the Russian Bird Conservation Union – Saratov Branch; and Tatyana Vsekhsvyatskaya, a researcher at the Center for Religious Literature and the Center for Youth Tolerance Education in Moscow. Among the topics of special interest to members of the delegation are ecotourism, land-use decision making, public/private partnerships for environmental protection, strategies for attracting investment, and volunteerism.

Homestays with local Rotary members will introduce the Russian delegates to American family and community life. Rotary International, the Rotary Club of Palm Springs’ parent organization, has played a major role in hosting Open World exchanges since the program began in 1999. The Rotary Club of Palm Springs also hosted an Open World delegation in August of 2000. One of the original delegates, at the time Vice Mayor of Omsk, Siberia, then chartered a new Rotary Club branch in Omsk upon returning from the U.S.

Open World is a unique, nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress designed to build mutual understanding between the emerging leaders of Russia and other participating countries and their U.S. counterparts. More than 8,000 participants from all 89 Russian regions have stayed in all 50 U.S. states since Open World’s inception in 1999. Over the last year, Open World has also initiated pilot exchanges with Lithuania, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Open World 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’s administering agency, the Open World Leadership Center, is an independent legislative branch entity 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 Jim Dowler at 760-320-7336 or George Felcyn at The PBN Company at 202-466-6210. For more information on the Open World Program, please visit