Eurasia Foundation Celebrates Ambassador Oksana Markarova at Future Changemakers Forum

October 5, 2023
Ambassador Oksana Markarova, EF Chair Pamela L. Spratlen, and EF Chair Emeritus Jan Kalicki hold the Sarah Carey Award, a diamond-shaped glass trophy

On October 4, 2023, Eurasia Foundation (EF) hosted the Future Changemakers Forum at Ukraine House. The event celebrated Ukraine’s Ambassador Oksana Markarova and united three diverse Women Changemaker Fellows in cross-cutting conversation.

EF’s Chair Pamela L. Spratlen and Chair Emeritus Jan Kalicki presented Ambassador Oksana Markarova with the 2023 Sarah Carey Award. The Sarah Carey Award, named for EF’s long-serving board chair, recognizes leaders who strengthen civil society globally. Eurasia Foundation’s board selected Ambassador Markarova for her unwavering commitment to advancing transparent governance in Ukraine.

Ambassador Markarova delivers her award acceptance speech as EF Chair Pamela Spratlen and EF Chair Emeritus Jan Kalicki look on.
Ambassador Markarova delivers her award acceptance speech as EF Chair Pamela L. Spratlen and Chair Emeritus Jan Kalicki look on.

Ambassador Markarova has served as Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States since 2021. She previously served as Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister and Government Commissioner on Investment from 2015 to 2018 and as a Minister of Finance from 2018 to 2020. During her time at the Ministry of Finance, Markarova co-authored Ukraine’s macroeconomic revival program. She also created an ecosystem of government public finance portals based on open data that improved Ukraine’s rank in all major international transparency ratings.

“The reforms [Markarova] introduced—including development of public finance portals that allow civilians to track government spending, as well as the work she has done to attract investment to Ukraine—are squarely in line with the type of initiatives Sarah Carey worked so tirelessly to advance,” said Kalicki.

Ambassador Markarova addressed the audience to share her hopes for Ukraine’s future and to call for continued support. “The battle on the frontlines has not stopped us from a battle inside the country for transparency, for a better Ukraine. I am so proud that Eurasia Foundation and your daughter organization East Europe Foundation have seen from the very beginning that this is something you have to support,” she remarked. “A very important reason why we are fighting and winning is civil society. Please continue doing your excellent work and even do more.”

Ambassador Markarova addresses the audience. She stands at a podium in front of a large blue backdrop featuring Eurasia Foundation's logo.
Ambassador Markarova addresses the audience.

Next, two alumni of EF’s Sarah Carey Young Professionals Network (YPN) shared their experience in this program. “Just like the Sarah Carey Award, YPN was created to honor Eurasia Foundation’s late board chair Sarah Carey, who was an indispensable advisor to young people interested in the Eurasia region,” said Mark Temnycky, journalist and YPN ’22 alum.

“In the YPN program, I found a diverse group of young professionals as passionate as I was about Eurasia and about the critical importance of constantly learning,” shared Catherine Putz, editor of The Diplomat and YPN ’18 alum. “The world does not stand still and neither should our understanding of it.”

Finally, three Women Changemaker Fellows took the stage for a panel discussion moderated by Susan Reichle, EF trustee and president of IYF. These fellows are recipients of the Fellowship for Women Changemakers. With this fellowship, EF supports visionary women leaders advancing projects to cultivate vibrant, responsive, citizen-oriented civil societies globally. Fellows travel to Washington, DC to meet and collaborate with peers and partner organizations, discussing challenges and opportunities for growth.

Saida Alimova, Khalida Azhigulova, and Olha Nos are the first Women Changemaker Fellows to embark on their study tour. Alimova is a case manager at the International Organization for Migration in Uzbekistan who previously worked as a human trafficking hotline operator with a Eurasia Foundation project. Azhigulova is an activist and legal scholar leading the fight against domestic violence in Kazakhstan. She participated in EF’s Policy Research School, an initiative of the Social Innovation in Central Asia project. Nos recently concluded her tenure at Prozorro, Ukraine’s transparent public procurement platform. She was previously a member of DOZORRO, a citizen watchdog network in Ukraine, where she helped monitor and root out corruption. EF supported the Government of Ukraine to strengthen both Prozorro and DOZORRO.

From left: Saida Alimova, EF President Lisa Coll, Khalida Azhigulova, EF trustee Susan Reichle, and Olha Nos all smile at the camera.
From left: Saida Alimova, EF President Lisa Coll, Khalida Azhigulova, EF trustee Susan Reichle, and Olha Nos

The panelists spoke about the importance of a strong civil society in their respective fields. “Of course, positive changes will come. They are inevitable,” shared Azhigulova. “In my research in 2020, I realized that Ukrainian law is one of the best examples of current legislation against domestic violence globally. I always praise the people of Ukraine for their bravery, because it gives me the bravery to continue my work. I believe that one day we will win this battle.”

The evening closed with a celebratory reception featuring live jazz music performed by Latin Grammy Award winner Bienvenido Dinzey and catered by Ruta, DC’s first Ukrainian restaurant. All proceeds from the event will support Eurasia Foundation’s leadership and exchange programs like YPN and the Fellowship for Women Changemakers.