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American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation

The American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation (ARCCF) is an American nonprofit focused on the promotion of American-Russian cultural dialogue and cooperation. Founded in 1992 by a group of prominent Americans, including former Missouri Congressman James W. Symington, Pamela Harriman, former Chief of Staff and Tennessee Senator Howard Baker, and businessman Bill Marriott, the nonprofit has organized concerts, exhibitions, galas, and other cultural events that highlight the history of American-Russian cultural interactions. It is currently headed by Susan E. Carmel, a US real estate investor and philanthropist. Congressman James W. Symington and former US Ambassador to the WTO Eugene K. Lawson had previously served in that role. Former Soviet cultural attaché Alexander Potemkin served as the organization's executive director since its creation until 2018, when he was replaced by former US commercial attache in Moscow Maria Kontak (who had previously been the Foundation's Deputy Director in charge of fundraising). ARCCF is based in Washington, DC.

American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation
ARCCF logo.jpg
MottoStrengthening ties through arts and culture
Formation1992; 27 years ago (1992)
TypeCulture nonprofit
Chairman of the Board
Susan E. Carmel
Executive Director
Maria Kontak


ARCCF has arranged acclaimed performances by prominent Russian and American virtuosos and has produced major events at the Russian Embassy, the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, the Corcoran Gallery, and on Capitol Hill. It has showcased visual and performing arts and has celebrated the most important joint pages of American-Russian history. Among the Honorary Chairs of ARCCF's events were US and Russian Presidents as well as leaders of the US Senate and House of Representatives. Attendees at ARCCF's celebrations and galas have included First Ladies, the US Vice President, the Russian Prime Minister, as well as members of the US Cabinet, Senate, and House of Representatives.

The Foundation has held multimillion-dollar exhibitions from leading Russian museums, emphasizing the parallels in US and Russian history. These exhibitions included “Jewels of the Romanovs,” “Churches of Moscow,” as well as “The Tsar and the President: Alexander II and Abraham Lincoln.” They were held in fourteen major US cities and viewed by over a million Americans.

On the occasion of the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, ARCCF erected his monument on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, DC. This statue was presented by US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. In 2009, ARCCF, in collaboration with the Russian Peace Foundation, also placed a reciprocal monument of American poet Walt Whitman on the campus of Moscow State University, where it was unveiled by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. These two projects form a “Poetic Bridge” between the two capitals and emphasize the connection between the people of the two countries.

Over the years, ARCCF has proudly recognized many prominent American and Russian artists, writers, musicians and public servants with its Foundation Award For Significant Contributions to American-Russian Cultural Relations. Its past honorees include Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich, pianist Van Cliburn, Russian choreographer Igor Moiseyev, U.S. Librarian of Congress Dr. James Billington, Russian translator of American literature Tatiana Kudriavtseva, Artistic Director of the Mariinsky Theater Maestro Valery Gergiev, prominent Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, American jazz legend David Brubeck, President of the Kennedy Center Michael Kaiser, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Dr. G. Wayne Clough, jazz musicians Wynton Marsalis and Igor Butman, and Mosfilm director Karen Shakhnazarov.

In 2016, ARCCF celebrated Leo Tolstoy's extensive correspondence with Americans, among whom were such notable innovators and activists as Thomas Edison, Clara Barton, Jane Addams, Booker T. Washington, and William Jennings Bryan. The gala, titled "America and Tolstoy: A Dialogue from Quill to Tweet" featured an excerpt from Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 (performed by composer Dave Malloy), a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra's Last Stand Quartet, speeches by Tolstoy experts Andrew D. Kaufman, Vadim Polonski, and Galina Alexeyeva, an interactive reading of the letters exchanged with Tolstoy (played by actor Steven Carpenter), and pianist Yury Shadrin's rendition of Tolstoy's Waltz in F Major. President Jimmy Carter served as the Honorary Chair of the gala, while academic Joseph D. Duffey was the Gala Chair. Former US Ambassador to Russia and Bulgaria John R. Beyrle served as Master of Ceremonies.

The Foundation is currently chaired by Eugene K. Lawson, former President of the US-Russia Business Council (USRBC) and Vice President of the US Export-Import Bank. Its Board Members include John R. Beyrle, former US Ambassador to Russia and Bulgaria; Joseph D. Duffey, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities; Paul Rodzianko, Chairman Emeritus of the Hermitage Museum Foundation; and Donald M. Kendall, the former CEO of PepsiCo. For over twenty years, ARCCF founder James W. Symington served as the organization's chairman, having been a vocal supporter of détente as a House Representative from Missouri. The Foundation honored Symington's dedication to cultural cooperation during its “Knight of Détente” event in 2015.

In 2018, following the celebration of the Foundation's 25th anniversary, Chairman


Chairs of the Board
1992-2015: James W. Symington
2015-2018: Eugene K. Lawson
2018–present: Susan E. Carmel

Executive Directors
1992-2018: Alexander Potemkin
2018–present: Maria Kontak

Board of Directors
· Eugene K. Lawson, Chair
· James W. Symington, Chair Emeritus
· Sergey I. Kislyak, Honorary Chair
· John R. Beyrle
· Joseph D. Duffey
· James C. Dwyer
· Michael B. Goldstein
· George Hambleton,
· Donald M. Kendall
· Paul Rodzianko
· Arthur Schneier
· Jonathan Snare

Advisory Board
· Alexander N. Bourganov
· Anton Fedyashin
· Yuri Grigorovich
· Igor Oistrakh
· Dmitry M. Urnov
· Jamie Wyeth