Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Week With the Russians

From July 14th to July 22nd, a group of seven Russian women business leaders came to Washington, D.C. to study the practice and traditions of American businesses. This delegation was sponsored by the Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress ( The Open World increases U.S.-Russian understanding and exposes Russian leaders to American democratic and economic institutions. It enables emerging leaders from Russia and other Eurasian countries to experience American democracy and civil society in action. The week-long program allowed delegates to participate in lectures and discussions with women business leaders about obstacles and opportunities.

The weekend the Russians arrived, we toured American University, Arlington National Cemetery, the Smithsonian Museums, and the National Mall. The week started with lectures and discussions related to women’s equality in the workplace. On Tuesday delegates were given a comprehensive overview of the intersection of women and business in government. The day started with a breakfast hosted by Women in Government Relations ( and Women Under Forty Political Action Committee ( that honored Representative Gabrielle Giffords. From there, we went to the U.S. Capitol and spoke with Senator Paul Strauss (D-DC). Senator Strauss gave us a tour of the Capitol and hosted lunch in the Senate dining room. On Wednesday, we went to the Russian Embassy for a tour and a meeting with the Embassy staff. The visit to the Embassy was followed by lectures on the American tax system, public private partnerships, and women and real estate. From Thursday to Sunday, the Russian delegation went to Martinsburg, West Virginia to learn about business growth and economic development on the local level. They met with representatives from the Small Business Development Center, the Economic Development Authority, and the Chamber of Commerce. Delegates also met with local small business owners including Brenda Casabana, Owner, DeFluri’s Chocolates ( who gave them a tour of the chocolate factory.

I enjoyed every second I spent with the Russians. I was able to speak English with some of the participants and learn about the cultural and professional differences between Russia and the United States. It was hard to say goodbye to our Russian visitors, but I did so in the appropriate Russian manner-- three kisses on the cheek. For more information on the program and to view the full schedule, please visit (