Sunday, September 18, 2022

Extraordinary Event in Support of Ukraine Organized by the Kyiv School of Economics at the Harvard Club in NYC

A short while ago, we returned from NYC, where we took part in an event on September 17 at the Harvard Club in support of Ukraine that was organized by the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) with assistance provided by Razom for Ukraine and United24

The event included a conference in the afternoon on the theme: "The Independence War in Ukraine: Global Implications" followed by a charity dinner with the subtheme of: "The Present and Future of the Country."

The full program, which contains information on the conference sessions, with overarching themes of global security, resilience in war, energy security, as well as food security, can be found on the event page. The conference program was outstanding (it was tough to choose between the parallel sessions) with academics, executives, Ukrainian government ministers, an ambassador, thought leaders, representatives from the World Bank, and even the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine taking part.

Given the research that we have been doing for quite a few years on agricultural supply chains, I was thrilled to hear from the panel on World Food Security, which was moderated by Dr. Oleg Nivievskyi, an agricultural economist, who is Vice President for Economics Education at KSE.

High food prices were emphasized, along with the costs of logistics in Ukraine and the costs of fertilizer and fuel, plus how there is so much uncertainty now. Getting agricultural products out of Ukraine is essential to food security and just having the port of Odesa open (with the recent brokered agreement by the UN with support from Turkey) not enough. The port of Mikolayiv also is sorely needed.  In addition, the need for weapons to defeat Russia was emphasized along with sanctions. The extremely challenged farmers paid $40/ton to ship grain before the war and now the cost has risen to $200/ton.

There were opportunities to network and to chat in the elegant Harvard Club.

I'd like to congratulate the President of KSE, Tymofiy Mylovanov, and the Rector of KSE, Tymofii Brik, for the excellent organization of the conference and charity dinner, and for being incredible masters of ceremony of the event, as well as ambassadors for higher education in Ukraine and for the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine.

Even the Mayor of NYC, Eric Adams, came during the cocktail honor and gave a speech. We were delighted to see him with his entourage as he entered and exited the Harvard Club. He even shook the hand of my spouse, Ladimer S. Nagurney, who had accompanied me. Below is a photo taken by Mylovanov of Eric Adams speaking.

I have had a several year association with KSE and serve on its International Academic Board as well as on its Board of Directors. I was in Kyiv most recently in September, 2019, for a board meeting. After the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, on February 24, 2022, I was elected a Co-Chair of the KSE Board of Directors, an appointment I am deeply honored by. I continue to be deeply inspired by my colleagues at KSE for their extraordinary work, efforts, and accomplishments in wartime, which are heroic. 

I am also delighted that UMass Amherst signed a partnership with KSE and acknowledge the great efforts on this by our Director of  the International Programs Office and Vice Provost for Global Affairs Kalpen Trivedi. We expect to be announcing the first round of selected Virtual Scholars soon. More info on the partnership. 

The Chair of the International Academic Board, the Nobel laureate in Economics, Roger Myerson, gave a wonderful speech at the charity dinner.

The Nobel laureate Paul Krugman also spoke and noted that borscht is a Ukrainian dish and that Ukrainians are fighting for the freedom of the free world.

The President of Razom for Ukraine, Dora Chomiak, also spoke. Razom for Ukraine has been assisting in humanitarian relief in Ukraine for many years.

The Ukrainian National anthem was beautifully sung by the NYC Ukrainian chorus Dumka! The ambiance for the dinner was stunning and the food was delicious.

There were many additional speakers from the US and Ukraine at the dinner, who provided touching personal accounts and insights. 

It was great that several KSE IAB and BOD members could take part in the event, including Ambassador John Herbst and Yuri Gorodnichenko of UC Berkeley. Given that there were about 300 in attendance, I certainly may have missed someone from KSE! I also acknowledge how much I enjoyed speaking with Svitlana Denysenko from KSE, who has been behind the organization of many Zoom meetings that we have had with KSE colleagues during wartime.

It was heartwarming to take the photos below with KSE Rector Brik and the Director of the KSE Institute - Nataliia Shapoval.

Below are a few photos taken during the auction component of the charity dinner with Mylovanov and Brik featured below.

I especially liked the symbol of #resilience, a rooster, which was being auctioned off. The rooster figurine had survived a bombardment of a big apartment complex. It now stands for the amazing resilience of Ukrainians. Even a piece of the airplane Mriya, which has been shot down, was auctioned off.

I wish that we had had more time to chat with the many incredible individuals at this event, who came to support Ukraine, some of whom continue to be at the front lines. I look forward to a time, before too long, in which we can together mark and celebrate the end of this horrific war that Russia has been waging against Ukraine, without any provocation or reason, with global implications and suffering! As an academic, and as a daughter of refugees from Ukraine, I stand with Ukraine. Thanks to all those who participated in an event, that we will never forget! Kudos and thanks to the organizers.