For Immediate Release
Washington, DC – The Open World Leadership Center today announced the grant recipients for its 2005 Civic Program for Russia. The 18 grantee organizations will develop and conduct professional programs for approximately 1,370 political, civic, and economic leaders from Russia, including regional officials, mayors, judges, NGO directors and entrepreneurs. The U.S. Congress established the Center’s Open World Program in 1999 to enable emerging Russian leaders to meet their U.S. counterparts and to experience American civil society firsthand.
Open World delegations experience American community and cultural life while learning about the responsibilities of and interrelationships among the three branches and three different levels (federal, state, and local) of the U.S. government. Program participants also explore how the U.S. private and nonprofit sectors help meet social and civic needs. The program’s six hosting themes for 2005 – economic development, environment, health and social services, local governance, women as leaders, and rule of law – were chosen based on assessments of the current political and economic challenges in Russia, suggestions from previous Open World delegates and broad consultation within the U.S. government.
In 2003, Congress authorized expansion of Open World to all of the Newly Independent States and Baltic republics. The Center’s Board approved expansion to pilots in Lithuania, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. The Russian Federation, with 9,015 participants from 89 regions, remains the largest component of the Open World Program.
This year’s grantees with prior experience hosting Open World delegates are from seven states and the District of Columbia:
· Academy for Educational Development (Washington, DC);
· American University – Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (Washington, DC);
· American University – Women & Politics Institute (Washington, DC);
· The Center for Safe Energy (Berkeley, CA);
· CONNECT US/RUSSIA (Minneapolis, MN);
· Friendship Force International (Atlanta, GA);
· ISAR: Resources for Environmental Activists (Washington, DC);
· Magee Womancare International (Pittsburgh, PA);
· Meridian International (Washington, DC);
· National Peace Foundation (Washington, DC);
· Rotary International (Evanston, IL);
· Russian American Rule of Law Consortium (Burlington, VT);
· U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School – International Institute (Washington, DC);
· Vital Voices Global Partnership (Washington, DC);
· World Services of La Crosse, Inc. (La Crosse, WI).
The organizations who will host for Open World for the first time are:
· Keystone Human Services (Harrisburg, PA), will focus on health hosting, particulary trauma and stress, and counseling, based on Keystone’s work in Beslan.
· League of Women Voters (Washington, DC), a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
· Tahoe-Baikal Institute (South Lake Tahoe, CA), established in 1990 to help preserve Lake Tahoe in California and Lake Baikal in Siberia, fosters preservation efforts through environmental education programs, research, and international exchanges.
“Each of our grantees brings extensive programming experience to this year’s hosting, from rule of law to women as leaders,” said Geraldine Otremba, Executive Director of the Open World Leadership Center. “A new theme for 2005 is local governance, selected in an effort to reach into smaller communities and rural regions. Effective local self-governance, and encouraging private initiatives to improve citizens’ welfare are vital to the future of Russia’s small and medium-sized towns.
“Many of this year’s visits will build on existing ties between American host communities and the home cities of our Russian delegates to add further depth to the Open World experience,” added Otremba. “Beyond the support that the Open World Leadership Center receives from the legislative branch, we are also very grateful for the support that American communities and families in every U.S. state have contributed in time, expertise, and hospitality to over 9,000 young leaders from all 89 regions of Russia that have participated in the program over the past six years.”
In recent testimony before Congress, Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress and Chair of the Open World Board of Trustees, explained the importance of the Open World Program: “Open World was created by Congress both to make a contribution to democratic developments in Russia and to combat negative and manipulated images of America fostered by long years of isolation from the West under Soviet power. Through Open World, emerging leaders in previously authoritarian countries experience short but intensive immersion in the reality of civil society and the rule of law in the United States. George F. Kennan summarized what an effective public-diplomacy effort like Open World is about when he suggested that our system is most persuasive not when we talk about it, but ‘when we show other people what can be done in a democracy, and nothing is more useful than that.’”
For more information, please contact George Felcyn at (202) 466-6210 or Donna Wilson at (202) 707-8943. For more background on Open World, visit http://www.openworld.gov.