The Role of Nongovernmental Approaches to Business Development
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Rotary was established in the early part of the twentieth century by Paul Harris in Evanston, Illinois, as an organization to bring leaders from the business community together to share fellowship, friendship, and business strategies through the ideal of community service, that is, “Service Above Self.” Rotary has grown to be an international organization, operating in more than 90 countries worldwide. It contributes to projects ranging from polio eradication to fellowships for graduate students in peace negotiation and conflict resolution to group study exchanges bringing together business leaders from different countries to share strategies for business development and growth. All of these efforts are supported through private contributions and foundation monies raised from the members, not through any governmental support programs.
We, the communities of Livermore and Snezhinsk, have been working to bring Rotary to Snezhinsk, as an outgrowth of our sister city relationship. Livermore and Snezhinsk are the third U.S.-Russian nuclear sister city pair. Obninsk and Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Sarov and Los Alamos, New Mexico, have been sister cities since the mid-1990s. Livermore and Snezhinsk officially became sister cities in 1998. The objective of our project was to work with the city officials and business personnel in the city of Snezhinsk to establish a Rotary Club, promoting community service and service to youth in Snezhinsk. This effort was launched at the request of the Russian side and was included in an agreement signed by Mayor Oplanchuk and Mayor Cathie Brown in 1998, with the project to be implemented through the organization Women of ZATO (Closed Administrative-Territorial Zones) and the newly formed Snezhinsk Club
of Social Initiatives. Also involved in the project was the Livermore Rotary Club, whose members were to help the group in Snezhinsk to charter a new Rotary Club in their city. Community service is a cornerstone of Rotary, and citizens in both cities support the concept of promoting community service through the organization. Rotary is an international service organization that provides linkages for its members, leaders in their respective business communities, to the greater professional community worldwide. We, in both cities, believe that Rotary will serve as the cornerstone to foster greater relationship between the youth of both cities, as well as a foundation for other municipal activities.
In addition to forming the Rotary Club, we worked with the Women of ZATO to develop and deliver women's leadership and entrepreneurship training. Women in Russia, and in particular in the nuclear closed cities and the scientific community, have not had the opportunity to participate in leadership opportunities, either in the community or in the workplace. However, with the expected changing employment situation in the city of Snezhinsk, specifically the transition of workers from the Federal Nuclear Center to the private sector, there will be a great need for people, and particularly women, who are typically underserved, to be prepared for the transition. We envision that both efforts will encourage the citizens of Snezhinsk to help develop, strengthen, contribute to, and utilize local community resources to improve their quality of life and promote community stability.
It is important to understand that Rotary is not a missionary organization. In addition, the Russian Consul General in Seattle has stated that the Russian government supports the extension of Rotary into Russia, as they support the organization's ideals, believe in the goal of community service, and feel that Rotary will promote business exchange and understanding.
Sponsoring a new club requires approximately two or three years of effort. A Russian charter club president needs to be identified and a Russian city club needs to be selected for cosponsorship. Of course, e-mail is most helpful in this regard. In the past, U.S. clubs have sponsored their Russian counterpart presidents to attend district conferences as a way of getting better acquainted with the organization and its operations.
The next steps include identifying a friendship group, establishing a regular time and place for meetings, and registering the organization legally with the Russian government. Regular meetings should be held with new members to review the manual and related procedures. Sponsor training is also helpful in this regard. A club should have at least 20 members to be effective, and it also needs a worthy project on which to focus its efforts. Youth exchanges are one possible idea.
In the next stage the new club should develop a three-year plan, identifying key activities and setting deadlines for accomplishing them.
The plan should also aid in club fundraising efforts, possibly involving attracting local sponsors. Approximately $35 per year per member is needed, or about $3,000 per year total. These funds are used to send club presidents to conferences and to purchase books, pins, banners, a bell, and office supplies. Possible fundraising ideas include selling Russian arts and crafts, promoting tours, or holding children's art competitions or other events. A Rotary grant could be used for a particular project, and U.S. counterparts could provide advice on funding sources and help to develop plans for future joint projects.
Unfortunately, Rotary is still viewed in some circles in Russia as a “trade organization,” when it really should be considered a “humanitarian organization.” In addition steps need to be taken to ensure that the Snezhinsk Rotary Club is considered a charitable organization and thus has tax-free status. Any equipment being shipped for projects should be labeled as humanitarian supplies, with the local customs office alerted ahead of time.
We have achieved our objectives for this project and are proud to say that joint activities and projects for the upcoming year have been planned and are well under way, including the first youth exchange between Livermore and Snezhinsk, which is set for the late summer of 2001. The Snezhinsk Rotary Club is ready to be chartered (formal completion is expected in the fall of 2001). The Snezhinsk Rotary Club has established a leadership team and meets weekly. The new club is being mentored by both the Livermore Rotary Club and the Yekaterinburg Rotary Club, and the Yekaterinburg club has expressed strong interest in developing joint projects in the Urals, serving those in need in the region. In addition, the Yekaterinburg club was so excited by the leadership training provided by the team from Livermore in Snezhinsk that they have asked for similar training to be provided to their club and community.
The membership of the Snezhinsk club has grown from a core of 10 members in June 2000 to 24 members today. The club has diversified its membership from only 20 percent men to nearly 35 percent men. The city administration is supportive of their efforts. Finally, they have completed writing their formal charter and during the leadership workshop in January-February 2001, they finished their strategic plan as well as action plans for their first project. This is tremendous progress, and we are all proud to be partners in this effort.
Both communities have expressed strong commitment to this collaboration, as have the other social organizations in Snezhinsk that were brought in as partners through the leadership training to support the new Rotary Club.
The final activity for this project was the visit to Snezhinsk by a team from Livermore to conduct a leadership workshop for the Rotary Club
and other social organizations in the city, with a special emphasis on women's leadership in the community. Though the visit was postponed twice during the fall of 2000, the trip finally occurred from January 29 through February 6, 2001. Members of the team included Cathie Brown, the mayor of Livemore; John Shirley, former Livermore mayor, retired veterinarian, decorated World War II veteran, community business leader, and Rotary Club past president; Susan Gallinger, director of library services for the City of Livermore and Rotary past president; Lori Garcy, Livermore school superintendent and Rotary past president; Ladonna Robson, management consultant and workshop leader (and soon a member of the Livermore Rotary Club); and Eileen Vergino, Livermore Rotary Club member, Snezhinsk Rotary Committee chair, and board member of the Livermore-Snezhinsk Sister City Organization. Eileen was accompanied by her son, Adam Vergino, who served as the first student from Livermore to visit Snezhinsk. In addition to conducting the workshop, the visitors solidified the sister city relationship, planned future joint projects, and built new bridges of understanding between the schools, libraries, and veterans of the two communities.
Attending the workshop were 50 community leaders—40 women and 10 men—representing 12 community social organizations, along with representatives of the mayor's office and the charter president of the Yekaterinburg Rotary Club, Ibadulla Satybalov. Nearly one-half of the participants were from the Snezhinsk Rotary Club, and all 50 participants remained with the workshop for the entire four days of training. The purpose of the workshop was to bring together these disparate groups to identify the key community needs and goals as well as strategies for addressing these issues through Rotary (i.e., the private sector, rather than seeking resolution through governmental support). Next, participants strove to build consensus on the vision and mission of the Rotary Club for addressing these community concerns, establish a community constituency through collaboration among the varied community groups, consolidate community leadership, and, finally, unite the groups to work together on addressing community issues. This was an enormous task, yet even with the language barrier and some initial concerns voiced over turf, the group worked together and developed a shared vision, mission (adopting the Rotary International mission), values, and goals.
Snezhinsk Rotary is a club of trusted, dedicated, influential people supportive of the Rotary ideals who solve the problems of the city community through cooperation with nongovernmental, business, and government sectors in their personal, professional, and community life.
The mission of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster
the development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service
high ethical standards in business and the professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying of each Rotarian's occupation as an opportunity to serve society
the application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian's personal, business, and community life
the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service
Rotary is designed to help other people with responsibility and honesty who are committed to the goals of the organization. It values the ability to work in teams, listen to others, display flexibility, come to consensus, and exchange information freely. Rotary recognizes the ability of every member to give power to the club. Its members get great pleasure from working together. Every member observes ethics and recognizes the abilities of others.
The principles of the organization are to reward and encourage
application of knowledge and personal experience
growth of competency
increase of image
charity work for/from all
The following top-priority goals were set by the Snezhinsk Rotary:
- 1. youth
- 2. the elderly
- 3. health
- 4. international linkages
- 5. management
- 6. unificiation with and assistance to all community service organizations in the Snezhinsk community
The club went a long way towards developing action plans for at least three of the goals. First, the action plan for youth exchange is already under way, and there are currently two exchange students funded by the Livermore Rotary Club who arrived in Livermore on August 20, 2001, and will be staying with families in the community through June 2002. While in Snezhinsk, we met with more than 20 youth in the community, and they expressed interest in both youth exchange and development of an Interact (youth Rotary) club. Such a club would foster the expansion of community service from the adults in the community to the youth and build a bridge between the business community and youth, the future of these communities. Second, through the leadership workshop, a bridge was built between the Rotary Club and the other community organizations, and all have committed to working together rather than continuing to compete for scarce resources.
Action plans were developed for joint projects as a direct result of the leadership workshop held in Snezhinsk. These plans lay out our joint plans for youth exchange, joint fundraising, and membership recruitment. Members from the Snezhinsk Rotary Club, Livermore Rotary Club, and Yekaterinburg Rotary Club who have been assigned to the action plans have already begun their work. To support the joint projects, the Livermore Rotary Club has been auctioning craft items provided by the Snezhinsk Rotary Club. To date, more than $1,500 has been raised. Finally, the Yekaterinburg Rotary Club and the Snezhinsk Rotary Club have agreed to work together on joint recruiting strategies and communication of their successes.
It was energizing and gratifying for the American team to have the opportunity to participate, as the Snezhinsk Rotary Club was empowered to serve as the unifying nongovernmental organization that will play a central role in helping to prioritize and seek resolution through nongovernmental support for key social issues in the community. It was especially rewarding to watch the emergence of the Snezhinsk Rotary leadership in the community and to help enable this to occur. Two Rotary meetings were held, one with the current members of the Rotary Club and another with the Businessmen's Club for the purpose of recruiting new members. The three Livermore Rotary past presidents participating as part of the delegation (including a former mayor and retired veterinarian, the school superintendent, and head librarian) did an outstanding job of describing the value Rotary brings to the business community and the entire local community as a whole. At least six members of the Businessmen's Club expressed interest in joining the new Rotary Club.
However, it is not all a good news story: The Livermore and Snezhinsk Rotary Clubs were partnering together to acquire neonatal monitoring equipment for the hospital in Snezhinsk, which a joint U.S.-Russian medical team had identified as a community need. This project required that the Snezhinsk Rotary Club complete their formal chartering process. As of February 1, 2001, two cardiac monitoring units for the hospital in Snezhinsk were received: one for pregnant women and one for infants. Both six-bed units are served by state-of-the-art central monitoring stations. The cost of refurbishing, installing, calibrating, and purchasing the first supplies to operate the two units comes to approximately $40,000. Added to the approximately $9,000 cost of shipping the equipment to Snezhinsk, the total cost of the project is around $49,000. We had already begun the fundraising necessary to accomplish this project (including pursuing a matching grant with Rotary International), with the Livermore Rotary Club working to raise approximately one-fourth of the $49,000, or $12,250. The new Snezhinsk Rotary Club is working (with help from the Livermore Rotary Club) to raise approximately $1,000, and $9,000 has been committed from another source. However, because of the inability of the medical team to receive Minatom authorization to visit the city of Snezhinsk, not as nuclear tourists, but as members of an assessment team, this equipment has been lost for at least one year, and possibly permanently.
What are the key points to highlight from our experience?
This partnership was made possible by support from the Snezhinsk City Administration and the commitment of a leadership team within the city of Snezhinsk that supports this effort.
This effort is one mechanism that allows the community to leverage support from the business community to address community social needs while also providing support to the business community itself, that is, networking opportunities.
We heard a good deal about the need to target youth and link to youth in the communities, and this is one way to do just that.
Internship opportunities through the private sector are both supported and encouraged.
No government financing is required, just concurrence.
These programs are independent of the whim and whimsy of governmental funding and require only the commitment of the communities.
In the end, building a stronger social sector can only strengthen business and the environment for business to grow.
It's about people!