Appointment by Mayor Daley to co-chair of Moscow committee of Chicago Sister Cities

With Mayor Daley Last week, Russian Foundation of Chicago and Chicago Sister Cities International co-hosted an exciting reception at Russian Pointe Dance Boutique, for a delegation of leaders from the Moscow Mayor's Office. On that same day, Mayor Daley asked me to serve as co-chair the Moscow Sister Cities committee.

I'm both honored by the appointment and very eager to get started in this new role, which I expect to be wonderfully complementary to my work as President of the Foundation. I look forward to even more opportunities to reinforce, enhance and expand Russian-American events and relations, especially in the arts.

Chicago Sister Cities International is a program of exchange and cooperation between Chicago and 28 cities throughout the world, under the auspices of the Mayor’s Office. Moscow has been a Sister City since 1997.

Sister Cities programs have been close to my heart for many years. My relocation, as a teen, from St. Petersburg to Lansing, MI, was influenced by those two cities’ Sister City relationship. Twelve years ago, I traveled as an interpreter with a Sister Cities delegation from Milan, MI to Protvino, Russia. That experience was my first time observing cultural, political and business exchange and collaboration first-hand. It made a lasting impression on me, and I have enjoyed and observed many long-term friendships and collaborations result from that exchange. (Example of the meaningfulness of those lasting relationships: the former mayor of Milan, Alan Israel, often jokes that he should be issued a Russian passport!)

In Chicago, I’ve participated in a number of projects for the Moscow Committee, including fundraising for one of the Moscow Committee’s current major initiatives: sponsoring the travel of five Chicago public school children who study Russian to spend seven weeks at a language camp in Russia. I’m also involved with organizing “Moscow Days in Chicago,” a citywide event planned for 2011 or 2012, highlighting Russian culture, heritage and traditions through exhibitions, educational activities, trade meetings and the arts.

As co-chair, I look forward to more comprehensive involvement in existing projects, and to drawing on my experience in business, community service and the arts – as well as my Russian heritage – to create and enrich new areas of cooperation between Chicago and Moscow.

I believe strongly in the value of community service, and I’m passionate about contributing to the City of Chicago, and eager to explore further the many possibilities for enrichments of our cultural, educational, economic, political and environmental exchange with Moscow. With the infrastructure and resources of the Mayor’s Office, including the availability of concert halls and public spaces, and Moscow’s commitment to and support for this program, I am confident that our new developments will be exciting and successful.