FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Martha Patzer
April 1, 2010 202-263-1332


League of Women Voters Welcomes Fellows from Colombia and Brazil
Exchange Participants to Engage with Local Legislatures, Members of Congress, State Department Officials


Washington, D.C.
– The League of Women Voters begins
Connecting Future Legislators with Civil Society – Colombia and Brazil, a two-year Legislative Fellows Program (LFP) designed to
provide young professionals direct exposure to the U.S. political process and promote intercultural exchange and dialogue at the local political level, while strengthening the bonds between citizens in the Americas. The project is funded by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

“On behalf of the League, I’m pleased to welcome the first nine fellows in our exchange program,” said Mary G. Wilson, national President of the League of Women Voters. “From Colombia—Aura Ines Aguilar, Paulina Estela Guerra, Ingrid Janneth Alarcon, Ximena Poveda, Josefina del Carmen Carcamo, and Monica Andrea Arias; and from Brazil—Rafaela Marchiorato Lupion Mello, Michely Ribeiro da Silva, and Olivia Dias de Araújo. These young women are journalists, psychologists, nurses, economists, attorneys and elected officials—already on their way to the top of their fields back home; it’s an honor to welcome them to the U.S.”

“Our objective is two-fold: strengthening understanding of legislative processes in the U.S., Colombia, and Brazil, and deepening appreciation of the role civil society plays in the process,” Wilson continued. “The League and our partners on this project—Fundación Mujeres por Colombia, and Espaço Mulher—are committed to building strong relationships among these three countries.”

A total of 36 fellows will take part in this program during the course of two years.  Participating fellows are 25 to 35 years old and involved in local government in their home countries. The first 9 fellows arrive in Miamion April 7, 2010, for a two-day orientation, followed by a three-week stay with one of five local Leagues: San Diego, CA; Miami, FL; Johnson County, KS; Duluth, MN; and Houston, TX.   

“Fellows will intern with legislators, mayors, and county commissioners, while also working within hosting Leagues to learn the vital role community organizations play in ensuring an open democratic process,” Wilson concluded. “They will end their month-long stay in Washington, DC, to participate in the 2010 Fellows Congress organized by the U.S. Department of State.  This Congress brings together fellows from South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Nepal and Pakistan."

Those interested in learning more about Connecting Future Legislators with Civil Society – Colombia and Brazil and its partners should contact Zaida Arguedas (ZArguedas@lwv.org) or Cristina Atencio (CAtencio@lwv.org).

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The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.