Ukraine’s civil society continues to thrive and diversify. That was the major impression following US-Ukraine Foundation (USUF) President Nadia K. McConnell’s breakfast meeting with a diverse group of activists representing a broad professional spectrum. The meeting took place during Mrs. McConnell’s recent visit to Kyiv where she attended the annual Yalta European Strategy (YES) conference.

The breakfast discussion was organized by the Foundation of Ukrainian Women (FUW), a group offering various educational and learning opportunities for self-sufficient Ukrainian professionals. These include visits abroad to observe the work of international organizations and parliaments and help participants to develop a better appreciation of the cultural environment in which these entities operate. The FUW also publishes Hryshevskoho 5, an interdisciplinary journal under the auspices of the Verkhovna Rada.

Every quarter, FUW organizes an event for a limited number of invitees with speakers of note. Aimed principally at professional women, many of whom also perform voluntary work, the meeting with Mrs. McConnell was the first one ever to include male professionals and activists. The attendees were not limited to Kyiv.

Following an overview of how her commitment to Ukraine — which preceded independence — led to the creation of USUF, Mrs. McConnell described how different aspects of her broad experience in the public and non-profit sectors had helped to create and maintain the longest continually operating U.S. NGO in Ukraine.

The two-hour discussion covered a broad spectrum of questions and topics ranging from the specifics of NGO management to the strategic need for Ukrainian government to commit fully to the creation of a culture of philanthropy. Such a step would allow Ukraine’s civil society to contribute fully during what is a critical time for the country’s development. Kyiv-based USUF Vice President, Markian Bilynskyj, also participated in the discussion.

Among FUW’s upcoming destinations are London, Washington, DC, and Singapore. USUF hopes to enter into a long-term partnership with Foundation of Ukrainian Women to provide orientation and training visits to Washington for different categories of participants aiming to broaden their worldview and professional capacity.