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For the Next Generation…

[ Читати на українській мові ]

The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation’s 2008 Youth Leadership Program was held from July 26 through August 1 in Washington, DC. 

The week-long program, organized by the Foundation since 2002, introduces college and university students, ages 16-29, to essential elements of leadership, civic engagement and the political process during meetings with key leaders in the U.S. capital.  The program has also been held in Kyiv during the past several years.


Thirteen students participated in this year’s Youth Leadership Program, among which six were from Ukraine, one from Canada and six from the U.S.   The mix of students offers dynamic learning and discussion regarding current issues affecting Ukraine.

The 2008 Youth Leadership Program participants were:

Anastasia Kovalska
from Kyiv, Ukraine
and studying
at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
Lydia Tomkiw
from Fair Oaks, CA
and studying at
Wesleyan University
Mikhaylo Szczupak
from Old Field, NY
and studying at the
University of Miami
Yarko Petryshyn
from Winnipeg, Canada
and studying at the
University of Manitoba
Steven Choma Thompson
from Annandale, VA
a graduated from
Wesleyan University
Iaroslava Tarabukhina
from Kyiv, Ukraine
and studying at
Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
Iryna Borodavkina
from Kyiv, Ukraine
and studying at National
Aviation University
Natalie Yaworsky
from Bensalem, PA
and studying at
Providence College   
Oleksandr Bondarenko
from Kharkiv, Ukraine
and studying at
Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
Iryna Koshulap
from Ivano-Frankivsk oblast, Ukraine
and doing her PhD at
Central European University
Ivan Antoniv
from Ridgewood, NY
and studying at
Regis High School
Vlad Galushko
from Kyiv
and now completing his PhD
at Old Dominion University
Sofia Sofia Zmurkewycz
of Philadelphia, PA
and studying at
St. Jopseph’s University



By interacting with leaders working in governmental and non-governmental areas, this year’s participants gained an understanding of U.S.-Ukraine relations and the issues, organizations and institutions influencing them. 

Students had the chance to meet with many important leaders involved in U.S.-Ukraine relations, including:

Oleksandr Alexandrovych, Minister-Counselor for Economic and Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Ukraine

Mark Brzezinski, a partner at McGuireWoods LLP

Orest Deychakiwsky, Staff Advisor at the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, better known as the Helsinki Commission

Jurij Dobczansky – Senior Cataloging Specialist at the Library of Congress

Eugene Fishel, Special Advisor for National Security Affairs at the Office of the Vice President

Bohdan Futey, Federal Judge from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims

Jim Gerlach, U.S. Congressman (R-PA) and Co-Chair of the Ukrainian Congressional Committee

Marcy Kaptur, U.S. Congresswoman (D-OH) and Co-Chair of the Ukrainian Congressional Caucus

David Kramer, Assistance Secretary of State for Democracy and Human Rights at the U.S. State Department

Mark Levin, Executive Director at NCSJ

Steven Pifer, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and now Senior Advisor at the CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program

E. Morgan Williams, President of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council


Vice President's Office

Students with Eugene Fishel, Special Advisor for National Security Affairs at the Office of the Vice President, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

White House

Youth Leaders in front of the White House

Embassy of Ukraine

Students with Oleksandr Alexandrovych, Minister-Counselor for Economic and Cultural Affairs, at the Embassy of Ukraine

 Embassy of Ukraine

Students in front of the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, D.C.


A number of special discussion groups and forums were conducted during this year’s program, such as:

Women as Leaders in Ukraine – A group discussion was organized with Vital Voices, a non-governmental organization which addresses women’s needs across the globe.  Women leaders from Ukraine, being hosted by Vital Voices, came to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation and met with the Youth Leadership Program students in a group format.

No Other Home: The Crimean Tatars - The students had the opportunity to attend a multi-media presentation by Maria Sonevytsky of Arlington, VA and an ethnomusicology Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University, who spent the first half of 2008 in Crimea with Alison Cartwright, an award-winning New York based photographer, on a project documenting the life of Crimean Tatars through recorded interviews, photographs, and video footage.

Special Interests, Lobbying and the Political Process – Realizing the interest, need and importance for good government practices in the U.S. and Ukraine, the Foundation requested Robert McConnell, Vice President of Armor Designs, Inc., to speak to the students about the need for proper public disclosure and effective laws that can rein in corrupt practices within the functioning of a democratic government and the political process.

Environmental Forum - Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and SUN DAY Campaign - both national non-profit organizations based in Washington DC, and Co-Director of the Ukrainian-American Environmental Association, organized a discussion on  energy and environmental issues in Ukraine.  He was assisted by Tanya Murza, Co-Director of EcoClub, an environmental group in Rivne, Ukraine.

Leadership Activity - Catherine McCall, an educator in leadership and civic engagement, led an interactive session on leadership. 



Many other interesting activities were planned for the students including tours of the Capitol Building and the Library of Congress, a pool party, and a concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. 

The program officially concluded with an evening certificate ceremony at the Taras Shevchenko Monument in downtown Washington.  The students paid tribute to the great leader of the Ukrainian nation, Taras Shevchenko, and sang the Ukrainian National Anthem. 



Some appraisals of the 2008 Youth Leadership Program:

Iryna Koshulap: “On the whole, it was great experience.”

Lydia Tomkiw:  “I really enjoyed the program and value the experience.”

Ivan Antoniv:   “I loved the program …The Youth Leadership Program of 2008 was a great opportunity to see the challenges Ukraine faces. It showed me that I should be part of the change that has to take place.”



Similar to past years, the program was free to participating students.  All program costs (except for an application fee) and lodging were borne by the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation.

The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation appreciates the major financial support provided by the following organizations and individuals in making the 2008 Youth Leadership Program possible:

Chopivsky Family Foundation

Dr. Murray Senkus

Heritage Foundation of First Security Federal Savings Bank (Chicago, IL)

Self Reliance (NY) Federal Credit Union (New York City)

Selfreliance Ukrainian American Federal Credit Union (Chicago, IL)

Sutaruk Foundation

The Maria Hulai Lion Foundation


The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation thanks Robert & Nadia McConnell for holding the opening event – Reception and Pool Party – at their home on Sunday, July 27.



The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation’s 2008 Youth Leadership Program was organized by:

Sofia Zmurkewycz, Summer Intern/Program Coordinator
John A. Kun, Vice President/Chief Operating Officer
Nadia K. McConnell, President



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