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Ron Brown Alumni Regional Conference in Opatija, 7th – 9th October, 2011

Ron Brown Alumni Regional Conference in Opatija, 7th – 9th October, 2011

Ron Brown Alumni participants at the regional conference in Opatija, Croatia, Oct. 7-9, 2011

Ron Brown Alumni participants at the regional conference in Opatija, Croatia, Oct. 7-9, 2011

The Ron Brown Alumni Regional Conference hosted 68 alumni from 9 countries and more than 20 guests between 7th and 9th October in the beautiful Croatian seaside resort of Opatija.  The conference, which was organized for the 4th time by the alumni themselves, and this year jointly by the Croatian and Slovenian alumni, was very successful.  The regional Ron Brown alumni association, which aims to connect alumni from all 16 countries that participated in the Ron Brown Fellowship Program, was successfully incorporated as the Ron Brown Alumni Network (RBAN).  RBAN is a pioneer USG alumni organization since it is the first USG alumni organization that spans country borders, both in its management structure and in its objectives.  RBAN’s board of representatives (representing countries that were in the fellowship program) was elected and five Ron Brown alumni were nominated into RBAN’s management board based on their area of expertise.  The alumni voted Pristina to be the location of the next conference in October 2012.
In addition to sessions on RBAN incorporation and the election of its bodies, some of the alumni presented  both their non-profit and for-profit activities. The special session panel on fundraising  was comprised of a guest speaker and two US Embassy contributors:  Angele Giuliano, an entrepreneur from Malta, specialized in finding and obtaining grants and funding, Sita Sonty from U.S. Embassy Zagreb, and Meaghan Monfort from U.S. Embassy Ljubljana.  The panel was extremely informative and useful for the future of RBAN, since it intends to engage in fundraising as an additional source of securing financial resources for its planned activities, which include a potential scholarship for studying in the U.S. and other “giving-back to society” activities.  Guest lecturer Miha Pogačnik, classical concert violinist, inspirational speaker and Cultural Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia had a very intellectually challenging lecture on how the arts can teach and inspire individuals about organizational development and implementation of change.  Conference participants also had a chance to listen to Ron Brown alumna Barbara Šurk, a Gulf Correspondent for the Associated Press, telling first hand stories from the Arab spring revolutions.
At the gala dinner their Excellencies, the U.S. ambassadors to Slovenia, Mr. Joseph Mussomeli, and to Croatia, Mr. James Foley, delivered speeches on the importance of the region and their expectations regarding RB alumni participation in regional development.
The Ron Brown Alumni Regional Conference was supported by a grant received from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Embassies in Ljubljana and Zagreb, and by a donation for the gala dinner by Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank d.d. Zagreb.