WASHINGTON— On Tuesday, November 8, 2011, the Woodrow Wilson Center honored Drew Guff, Managing Director and founding principal of Siguler Guff, and Senator Mikhail Margelov, Chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, with the Woodrow Wilson Awards at the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Awards Dinner. The dinner was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C., and benefited the Center’s Kennan Institute.
The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Awards Dinner was established through a generous donation from Kathryn W. Davis and her family, recipients of the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in 2006, and is intended to raise public awareness of individuals demonstrating outstanding and enlightened corporate citizenship and public service in connection with the U.S.-Russian relationship.
Drew Guff has a 20-year record of service and accomplishment in the U.S.-Russian trade and investment relationship. In 1994 he was instrumental in the formation of one of the first private equity funds to invest in Russia. Guff’s firm now manages over $1 billion in private investment across Russia. Drew has personally led the firm’s successful investment track record in some of Russia’s best known consumer and industrial companies, in fields as diverse as television and radio broadcasting (MTV Russia and Radio-7), software engineering (EPAM Systems and Parallels), pulp and paper production (Syktyvkar Pulp & Paper), e-commerce (KupiVIP) and banking (MDM Bank). Most recently, he has committed to invest $250 million into information technology projects in Russia. Guff’s commitment to deepening the overall U.S.-Russian commercial and civic relationship is also manifest through his leadership in organizations such as the U.S.-Russia Business Council and the Eurasia Foundation.
In accepting the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, Guff reminded the audience of the tremendous changes that have taken place in Russia over the past twenty years since it became an independent state. Those changes, he predicted, will be more than matched over the next twenty years by a new generation of Russians who are digitally savvy, hardworking, and who are demanding honest jobs and less corruption. “As this new generation of Russian managers and leaders steps up, the forces and institutions that transformed the country from disorganized to stable will also need to adapt and change. I am hopeful for this progress. I believe we will see a kind of “Russia 2.0” during the next six years. Today’s Russian system can tolerate a great deal of progress without diminishing either social stability or security,” Guff said.
As Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, Senator Mikhail Margelov is one of Russia’s leading politicians who shape and implement Russia’s relations with the world. He has played a particularly important role in promoting Russian-American negotiations over Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization and has traveled across the United States advocating Russia’s positions and priorities in that process. In recent years, he has emerged as one of the key leaders in the “reset” of relations between Russia and the United States. He has been a tireless promoter of closer U.S.-Russian ties on a broad range of issues, while always expressing the Russian position in a clear and direct manner.
In accepting the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service, Senator Margelov declared that the current reset policy between Moscow and Washington must not be hostage to political games, because this policy is in the interests of both states. “We need each other. Russia is experienced in dealing with one group of countries and fields, and the US with another. We should combine our experience and our efforts whenever possible," Margelov said. He added that the reset is not limited merely to Afghanistan, or anti-piracy and anti-drug projects, but includes co-operation on a wide range of international problems.
The Kennan Institute was founded as a division of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in December of 1974, through the joint initiative of Ambassador George F. Kennan, then Wilson Center Director James Billington, and historian S. Frederick Starr. Named in honor of Ambassador Kennan’s relative, George Kennan “the Elder,” a nineteenth century explorer of Russia and Siberia, the Kennan Institute is committed to improving American expertise and knowledge about Russia and the surrounding states.
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is the national, living memorial honoring President Woodrow Wilson. The Wilson Center provides a strictly nonpartisan space for the worlds of policymaking and scholarship to interact. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world. Created by an Act of Congress in 1968, the Center is a non-partisan institution headquartered in Washington, D.C., and supported by both public and private funds.
The Kennan Institute also thanks the many individual contributors to this event.