In mid-May, Nations & States had the special opportunity to interview Jonathan David Sanchez Leos, a 2015–2016 Fulbright-Clinton Fellowship recipient, on site at his workplace in Kyiv, Ukraine. The highly competitive fellowship, established in 2012 in honor of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, permits roughly 20 public policy specialists to serve in foreign government ministries throughout the world.
This year’s crop of fellows is serving in a wide variety of locations, including Timor-Leste, Kosovo, Samoa, Peru, Burma, Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, Malawi, and of course, Ukraine.
In 2013, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Kyiv’s Independence Square and overthrew former President Viktor Yanukovych after he reneged on a highly anticipated Association Agreement with the European Union. A year later, the Russian Federation illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula and continues to fund separatist forces in the country’s Donbas region, financially straining Ukraine’s new pro-Western government, led by Petro Poroshenko.
Mr. Sanchez Leos currently serves as special advisor to Ukraine’s Minister of Youth and Sports, in the Office of National Youth Policy. He and his colleague, Irina Belyaeva, Director of National Youth Policy, spoke with me about Mr. Sanchez Leos’s involvement at the Ministry, the current policy challenges facing Ukraine, and the state of U.S.-Ukraine relations.
Image: The Lach Gates, located on Kyiv’s Independence Square, is a monument constructed in 2001 commemorating the city’s medieval city entrance. The Archangel Michael sits atop the structure.
Luke A. Drabyn is a U.S. Fulbright Student based in Kiev, Ukraine, conducting research on transnational human trafficking policy. A former Blog Manager at Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, he has worked at the Council on Foreign Relations, U.S. Department of State, and American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. He is a graduate of Bowdoin College, where he double majored in government and legal studies and Russian language. Opinions are his own and do not reflect the views of the Fulbright Commission.