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The Thinker

The Thinker

Ukrainian ties run deep, and despite leaving his homeland at the age of 20, Bohdan Hawrylyshyn was always thinking of home. An almost latter day John Maynard Keynes figure, he would rise to prominence and become known as a Canadian and Swiss economist, thinker, benefactor, and advisor to governments and large companies worldwide before returning home to impart his wisdom, knowledge, and experience on a freshly-minted independent Ukraine

Active up until his death just days after his 90th birthday in October 2016, Bohdan Hawrylyshyn has ensured his outstanding achievements and legacy will resonate in Ukraine and beyond from now and well into the future. It is a legacy that will be celebrated in Kyiv next month.

Leaving his Mark

His focus was clear, to educate new generations of active Ukrainians interested in public affairs in a still fledgling, sometimes faltering democracy. It is a programme he spearheaded that is devoted to helping Ukraine become a truly European democracy.

Did Hawrylyshyn imagine when he left Ukraine just what an illustrious career he would have and how he would influence economic and political processes worldwide? The answer is possibly not, yet the wealth of experience he gained away from socialism (communism is the ultimate stage of socialism, one which Soviet politicians never claimed to have reached, even though that was the goal) meant that’s what happened.

During WWII he ended up in Germany, after which he emigrated to Canada. From 1968 to 1986, he lived and worked in Geneva, Switzerland where he chaired the International Management Institute (IMI), received a doctorate in economics from the University of Geneva, and later became a fully-fledged member of the Club of Rome. Home beckoned in 1988 as the Soviet Union began unravelling. Creating an IMI in Kyiv which he chaired, he also chaired the International Centre for Political Studies. The move proved prophetic: upon Ukrainian independence in 1991 he was ready to further share his knowledge and philanthropy with his home country, especially in light of difficult political and economic situations. Hawrylyshyn acted as an advisor to first President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk, and also advised four successive chairmen of the Verkhovna Rada and three prime ministers.

To impart knowledge on future generations, in 2010, Hawrylyshyn set up the charitable organisation – the Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Foundation. This has evolved into the Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Family Foundation (BHFF).

Charting a Future Direction

According to the foundation’s charter, it is focused on “professional patriotic Ukrainians who are concerned about the public good, participate actively in political and public life, can cooperate with others, and form a critical mass of people capable of transforming Ukraine in the future”.

In late 2012, the foundation launched a long-term programme dubbed “The Young Generation Will Change Ukraine”. Naturally, the concept makes sense: educated and active young people can solve problems besetting the country and undertake the task of making Ukraine a truly European society, characterised by political freedom, transparency and efficiency, with a high level of economic wellbeing and social justice.

Since it’s been established, participants and alumni of the programme have set up an association which consists of more than 600 young people who work in the Verkhovna Rada, ministries, city councils and administrations, manage grand-scale social projects or go on to develop their own businesses.

Other Initiatives

Over time the foundation’s focus has broadened. “Ukrainian Youth Delegates to the UN” is a programme that enables official representation of Ukrainian youth with the Ukrainian delegation at the UN General Assembly, as well as implement projects for Ukrainian youth throughout the year. The programme was founded in October 2014 and the first Ukrainian youth delegates took part in the 69th session of the UN General Assembly.

While there is a definite ‘think globally’ focus to the foundation’s work, ‘act locally’ is a concept that does not get neglected. Through local development projects, training and educational courses are held across regional Ukraine, designed to improve the activity and participation of local young people in community development with an aim to develop practical knowledge and competencies such as project management and resource management, civil and political education, strategic planning, and communications.

Hawrylyshyn’s legacy is assured and will be further cemented in Ukrainian minds in November with the first charitable gala dinner and silent auction of the Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Family Foundation.

The Event

The gala evening will bring together national and international leaders and personalities from the corporate, diplomatic, and cultural spheres, friends and supporters of Hawrylyshyn and his family. The event will be held in the presence of Hawrylshyn’s wife of 66 years Leonida, and his children and founders of BHFF Christine Batruch-Hawrylyshyn, Patricia Schmorhun Hawrylyshyn, and Leslie Hawrylyshyn.

The programme includes a cocktail with members of the honourary committee, silent and live auctions, a dinner prepared by gastronomic maestros, a fashion show of bags by designer Alina Kachorovska, and musical entertainment.

First Charitable Gala Dinner and Silent Auction of the Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Family Foundation
14 November at 18.00
Lavra Art Gallery (Lavrska 1)
5 000 UAH – can be purchased directly from the website of the Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Family Foundation: or at
black tie or vyshyvanka

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