Learning the best think tanks’ practices across Atlantic: Office in the USA

During 14 – 22 September 2015, Olena Prystayko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels in the framework of the International Visitor Leadership Program, visited the USA, in order to learn the best practices from the most well-known American think tanks,  find out about the current state of the Ukraine – USA relations and establish contacts with the Ukrainian diaspora in the USA.

The visit of Dr. Prystayko was organized by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs .

One of the goals of this visit was to explore opportunities to strengthen the presence of the Ukrainian analytics in the USA. Among others, Ms. Prystayko presented current projects and achievements of the Office in informing international community, through Ukrainian think tanks – members of the Office, about the actual situation on the ground and the prospects for reforms and development of Ukraine. She also explored the level of interest of American think tanks in initiating, together with their Ukrainian counterparts, projects and publications on Ukraine and related topics. Ms. Prystayko discussed these topics with senior analysts and executive directors of:  The Heritage Foundation, The Atlantic Council, The Brookings Institution, U.S. Institute for Peace, McCain Institute, Institute for the Study of War, The George Marshall Fund, American Enterprise Institute, The Harriman Institute of Columbia University, Carnegie Corporation and National Endowment for Democracy.

An important part of the visit was learning the experience of American think tanks in engaging external support and finding ways to diversify their resources. Ms. Prystayko had an opportunity to get advises on how to strengthen think tank’s capabilities and find a sustainable development path for an organization, from the executive directors of the leading think tanks.

A special focus during the visit was paid to the topic of US policy in relation to Ukraine, in particular how is this policy being formulated, who are the main stakeholders, how is it being implemented in practice and what is the current state of relations between two countries. Ms. Prystayko was briefed on this topic by the representatives fromthe US Department of State, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, U.S. Department of Defense, and Pentagon.

In the framework of the visit, Olena also met representatives of Ukrainian diaspora and explored opportunities for a joint cooperation and action of the Office and Ukrainian diaspora organizations in the USA. Dr. Prystayko visited Ukrainian Institute of America, Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, RAZOM, and American Center for a European Ukraine.

When asked about the main lesson learned from the trip, Ms. Prystayko, said it was important to create permanent and active platforms for cooperation between American and Ukrainian think tanks and keep USA decision-makers and public informed about what is happening inside Ukraine.