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Professional Internship Program

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Baltic-American Freedom Foundation Newsletter 2013

Peter Lacis - BAFF Professional Intern, Boatbuilder

NewsletterYacht312x180Among the crowd gathered on the dock in the early morning mist at Newport (RI) International Boat Show was Peter Lacis, BAFF Professional Intern. All eyes were on the show’s largest vessel—a 70’ Empacher complete with a GMT Composites carbon rig and boarding system. The boat, named Sonny, was built by Brooklin Boat Yard of Maine where Peteris, a wooden boat enthusiast from Latvia, has spent the last year utilizing his business skills and passion for boat restoration. Sonny was a featured attraction at the show, one of the largest in-water boat shows in the U.S.

The yacht is a lightweight, performance-oriented sloop with a traditional aesthetic above the waterline and a modern underbody below. The design was developed specifically for single- or double-handed sailing on New England coastal waters as well as occasional competitive racing in a range of classes. The materials and layout were chosen with respect for the owner’s favorite sailing haunts. Sonny was designed by Jim Taylor of Marblehead, Massachusetts in June.


BAFF BOD members had the unique opportunity to make a professional internship site visit this year to Brooklin to see the progress and to meet with the President of Brooklin Boat Yard (BBY), Steven White. While there, Peteris discussed his internship experience and showed off boats in various stages of restoration and construction.

“It’s been maybe 10 years since we last had a boat there. Sonny is a great showcase of a Maine-built wood boat, and she highlights the true craftsmanship of all those who worked on her,” White said of their most recent work.

“I had an amazing opportunity to join the crew sailing it down to Newport,” said Peteris. “Something I’d been looking forward to for a very long time, participating in the boat show there.” Peteris will finish out his internship in Brooklin in October.

(photo right: BAFF Board Members: Ambassador Michael Polt, The Hon. Mark Sullivan, Richard Sheridan, CFO Alan Griffin and BAFF Regional Manager Ilze Doskina speak with the President of BBY, Steven White.)

Estonian-American Innovation Award

To highlight innovation in Estonia—and the collaboration between U.S. and Estonian firms and individuals—the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation, the U.S. Embassy in Estonia, and the American Chamber of Commerce in Estonia established the annual Estonian-American Innovation Award for an Estonian individual or firm that has developed an innovation in cooperation with a U.S. partner.

In a highly competitive contest, the Java solutions company, Zero Turnaround OÜ was chosen as the winner of the second annual Estonian American Innovation Award. At a ceremony featuring Estonian Parliament Speaker Ene Ergma and U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey D. Levine, Zero Turnaround OÜ was presented with first prize of 10,000 euros.


Zero Turnaround was created as a solution to Java’s problems concerning “bottleneck code redeployment” which causes server downtime issues during updates. Thousands of companies now use JRebel and LiveRebel to eliminate this downtime and therefore keep productivity to its maximum potential.

 The company is led by a global team of over 90. Its commercial wing is based in Boston, Massachusetts, and its development team is in Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia, with a branch in Prague, Czech Republic.

The annual award seeks to recognize innovation and collaboration in the broadest range of areas including business and commerce, academic and scientific research, medicine and health, the environment, energy, the arts, media, education, and civil society. Applications for the 2013 award will be accepted until October 31, 2013. Specific details are available on the competition website

BAFF Alumni Association

Local chapter members of the BAFF Alumni Association in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania will soon evaluate the motivation and proposals of candidates for the office of local chapter president. Those elected will serve two-year terms and will be responsible for communication with local Alumni, and coordination of Alumni events and participation in BAFF outreach activities in their country. And, as might be expected of this networked, super-connected group, voting will be conducted electronically.

Are you a ‘wise guy’ or gal?

Startup Wise Guys in Estonia has an internship opportunity for an Alumnus/a who is interested in startup topics.

Startup Wise Guys provides seed funding and an intense mentorship program to early stage technology startups that are looking to launch their ideas off the ground. The program is hosted twice a year and up to ten new Wise Guys teams are accepted to each cycle of acceleration. for more info.

Informal American Alumni Gatherings in Latvia


BAFF Graduate Scholar Alumna Zane Culkstena is not only a successful manager of a contemporary arts gallery and governmental consultant in arts management, but also a great supporter and coordinator of a social event and speakers program. Every second month she hosts a group of speakers from BAFF and U.S. Embassy-sponsored programs. Attendees and speakers include BAFF Alumni and newly selected BAFF interns. Gathering starts with socializing, following with a series of 4-6 short presentations from different program participants and a Q &A session. In the past year meetings have featured presentations from very interesting BAFF Alumni and various well known Latvian representatives, including the Minister of Economics Mr. Pavluts, Harvard Graduate; Mr. Aigars Nords, founder of Riga Marathon; and Ms. Aiste Ptakauske, President of the U.S.-Lithuania Alumni Association. This is a great chance for Alumni to meet, to share their experience and future plans, make connections, and reintegrate in the environment.

BAFF Welcomes New Staff


Two new coordinators have joined BAFF staff in the Baltics. Eeva Kauba will coordinate Alumni and outreach activities in Estonia. Eeva brings strong organizational skills and experience achieving the objectives of various NGOs. She has served as managing director of Pelgulinna Maternity Hospital Foundation in Tallinn, where she has been responsible for developing partner relationships and managing events. Eeva has taken the lead in organizing several well-attended Alumni social events since starting her position in May 2013.

 (photo left: Eeva Kauba, #9371, at the Riga Marathon.)

In Lithuania, Ingrida Sidlauskiene has represented BAFF at the award of a Baltic-American Dialogue grant to Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas and organized Alumni events in Vilnius. Ingrida is an independent translator and was previously a cultural affairs specialist in the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania.


(photo center: Ingrida Sidlauskiene, front row, second from left, with BAFF Alumni in Vilnius.)

Find out more about BAFF!


Baltic-American Freedom Foundation Newsletter 2012

Members of the BAFF Board of Directors gather in the Baltics to honor BAFF alumni, June 2012

Baff-group496x302Left to right: Richard Sheridan, Andres Trink, Danguole Spakevicius Altman, Kim Davis (Chairman), Hughlyn Fierce, Randal Quarles, Mark Sullivan.

Letter from Kim Davis, Chair of the Board of Directors, Baltic-American Freedom Foundation


As someone with long involvement in the region and deep admiration for the people and institutions of the Baltics, it is my pleasure and privilege to inaugurate the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation Alumni Association. The culmination of decades of Baltic-American collaboration, the induction of the first BAFF Alumni marks an important new chapter in the development of Baltic entrepreneurship and professional experience for this distinguished group of BAFF Fellows.

On this congratulatory visit, which will take us across the Baltics, members of the Board of Directors will meet with government and educational leaders and members of the academic and cultural community. It is our hope that these exchanges will focus attention on the many contributions BAFF Alumni are ready to make to the economic and intellectual institutions of their home communities. In addition, we’ll share anecdotes of the value of the collegial relationships developed during their BAFF participation. We fully expect that hosting a BAFF intern or scholar will lead to increased opportunities for U.S. collaboration with Baltic enterprises. We also expect to see the benefit of increased American knowledge and interest in the region. No doubt, BAFF Alumni will receive many visitors in the years to come, as their U.S. colleagues renew their associations here in the Baltics.

Thank you for the warm welcome extended to members of the BAFF Board of Directors and for your welcome as well to the community of BAFF Alumni. This is an association with benefits for all, and the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation is proud of its ongoing participation and sponsorship.

Professional Internship Program Enrichment Trip


A highlight of the BAFF Professional Internship Program is the “enrichment trip”, which offers the opportunity to come together for three days of education and camaraderie. The Fall 2011 Professional Intern Fellows met in Nashville, Tennessee in March to learn more about entrepreneurship and creating an arts economy. The opportunity to renew acquaintances made during their predeparture orientation and to compare notes on their internship experience were valuable outcomes of the trip. As CIEE also administers Enterprise legacy programs for the Hungarian-American Enterprise Scholarship Fund (HAESF) and the Slovak-American Foundation, the trip included HAESF and SAF Professional Interns as well, presenting the opportunity for Fellows to develop many fruitful professional contacts.

In addition to participating in seminars led by Nashville leaders and entrepreneurs, the Fellows managed to have some fun. An excursion to a vineyard in the nearby countryside and line dancing lessons in a famous Nashville music venue created an atmosphere where the friendships that sustain professional networking relationships could flourish.

BAFF Education Fairs and Career Days

Spring 2012 has been an active outreach time again. To increase general awareness of BAFF scholarship programs and recruit the next group of excellent applicants, BAFF participated in 11 different education and career events and fairs – four in Estonia, four in Latvia, and three in Lithuania. BAFF staff covered three major education fairs held in all the Baltic states, attended six career days at universities, and participated in a career fair that focused on education in three countries – Netherlands, Switzerland and the USA.

Visitor activity has been great, with opportunities to meet many interested individuals with very specific questions about BAFF scholarships.

Professional Internship Impressions

A survey of recently-returned BAFF Fellows revealed some interesting perspectives on their U.S. experience. Here are some excerpts:

  • “The internship program has given me the opportunity to grow professionally as well as achieve my personal goals. I have interned in four different departments. Lately, I have worked in the Social Media field, and I have come to the conclusion that networking is one of the most important aspects in business as well as in personal life.”
  • “This one year significantly improved my communication and English language skills, self confidence and expanded my professional and personal horizons. The most important skill I have gained is confidence in providing services for international clients. Here I mean not just one skill, but the sum of practical, theoretical and personal growth. This was my major goal and I reached it.”
  • “I had a wonderful year while living in the U.S. and doing research. I had made friends at work and we continue to do research and while being friends, it is a lot easier to communicate and solve common scientific questions.”
  • “More than one year ago I started my internship in the U.S. Before that I had many doubts and fears about what was waiting for me. Now I can easily say that it was my best experience in my life so far. The internship is not only about learning things you will need in your future career, but also about learning a different culture, meeting great people and being among the greatest leaders. Therefore, I believe the most valuable skills I gained are leadership, communications and flexibility.”

Fall 2012 BAFF Scholarship Applications


A strong class of BAFF scholarship recipients for programs beginning Fall 2012 were chosen from an unprecedented 130 applications. All applications were first evaluated by members of the admissions committee, which includes both Baltic and U.S. program staff. Second-round applicants were interviewed May 7-15 in Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn. Sixteen Professional Internship applicants and four Graduate Scholar applicants were notified of their successful interviews and will have until mid-June to respond. The Professional Internship Program provides new graduates with entry-level training and experience with U.S. companies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), such as think tanks and research institutions.

Applicants chosen represent a wide variety of fields, including disciplines such as management, finance, and marketing, international relations and law, and engineering. The Graduate Scholar Program provides partial support for students pursuing terminal degree (master’s level and Ph.D.) studies at leading U.S. universities. Scholars are chosen for their excellent academic records and their potential to contribute to their country of residence upon completion of their degree.

Estonian American Innovation Award


In 2011 BAFF joined with the U.S. Embassy in Estonia and the American Chamber of Commerce in Estonia to present the first Estonian American Innovation Award. The award, funded by BAFF, highlights innovation in Estonia and collaboration between U.S. and Estonian firms.

The top prize went to GrabCad, an online community and marketplace that connects mechanical engineers with people and companies that need things built—everything from auto parts and motorcycles to custom furniture, toys, and mobile devices. GrabCad, headquartered in Boston with development offices in Estonia, received a plaque and 10,000 euros.

Second prize of 5,000 euros went to the University of Tartu Institute of Physics for its collaboration with the University of Michigan to develop two digital devices to diagnose and monitor cataracts and other eye diseases. Details on the 2012 competition will be available Summer 2012 here:www.balticamericanfreedom

Professional Internship Placement

As soon as new Fellows accept their BAFF scholarship, U.S. program coordinators Maggie Ivanova and Katya Neff begin working with each Fellow to identify their primary goals. These, along with the possible internship opportunities listed on their application, become the starting point for placement. Maggie and Katya coach individual participants through preparation of their resume, while simultaneously researching their chosen field. Maggie and Katya especially enjoy the challenge of finding a suitable internship opportunity in an unusual field. Recent placements have required them to learn about and develop contacts in gamification, cartography, and biofuels.

Once they have identified a possible host organization, they work to schedule an interview for the Fellow, providing further information about the BAFF program and the support it provides. In preparation for the all-important interview, they help the Fellow prepare by conducting mock interviews. Once a Fellow is offered an internship, Maggie and Katya follow up to obtain the required documentation from both the intern and the host organization.

Hosting a BAFF Professional Intern is a win-win proposition: host organizations gain a well-educated, highly motivated intern, and interns benefit from training and experience that they often could not obtain in such concentrated form at home. Hosting a BAFF PIP brings new perspectives and skills to the host organization, while fostering a long-lasting connection between colleagues, countries, and cultures. BAFF scholarships pay all costs of hosting an intern, including insurance and living expenses.

If a BAFF Professional Intern could contribute to your organization’s U.S. workplace, please contact us.

Find out more about BAFF!


Baltic-American Freedom Foundation Newsletter 2011

Spring 2011 was a very exciting time for The Baltic-American Freedom Foundation. After the first selection round in autumn, we were tasked with the challenge of finding the best host organizations for our interns. We also focused on organizing team-building activities, doing outreach work at universities and education fairs, and preparing for the second selection round.

We’re very happy that the selection process went smoothly and that we can now proudly announce BAFF have doubled the count of applications as well as the count of scholarships awarded for the Fall 2011 term!

BAFF interns, students and scholars will have the opportunity to experience the diversity of American culture and corporate environment. They will learn from the most authentic environments and case studies and apply this acquired knowledge to the business, academic and administrative environment in all Baltic countries.

Second group of BAFF scholarship awardees selected

After intensively evaluating 98 applications and conducting 51 interviews, the next group of BAFF scholarship receivers have been selected. Eighteen professional internships, one research and five graduate scholarships have been awarded.

We’re so amazed by the variety of professional fields BAFF participants represent! Financial consulting and investment, civil engineering and construction, “green” energy, communications, journalism and cinematography, architecture, and packaging design are just some of the professional areas our interns, students and scientists are interested in. We’re sure the experience they are going to get in the United States will serve them well!

BAFF interns from Latvia meet President Valdis Zatlers

NewsletterPresidentImage325x220On March 10, 2011, just several weeks prior to their trip to the United States, three BAFF interns from Latvia — Dmitriy Averyanov, Ilze Lagzdina and Ilona Markunaite had a meeting with Valdis Zatlers, President of Latvia. Judith Garber, Ambassador of the United States participated in the meeting as well as BAFF regional manager Ilze Doskina and Humphrey and Fulbright scholars.

President Zatlers expressed his gratitude to BAFF and emphasized the important role foundations play in offering valuable education opportunities for citizens of Baltic States. He was impressed at how effectively BAFF programs help to improve the connection between the United States and Baltic countries. Zatlers also encouraged other students and scholars to apply for scholarships in the United States as such an experience can have a positive long-term effect on the participant as well as one’s home country.

Baltic-American Freedom Foundation education fairs and career days


This past spring, BAFF was present at education fairs in Lithuania and Latvia. We received a lot of inquiries from prospective interns, students and scholars.

BAFF also continued to approach students at their universities. We participated in Riga Technical University Career Day, Career Opportunity Day at the University of Latvia and study Abroad Day in Tallinn University.

Participants gather for a pre-departure orientation seminar

NewsletterSeminarImage325x220On March 9th all BAFF program participants gathered in Riga for a pre-departure orientation seminar.

Here we covered topics such as; how to open a bank account in the U.S., what to do in case of emergency, and how to look for an apartment. Relocating to another country can often present challenges. This pre-departure meeting helped provide clarity and direction to these challenges. Our guest, Amy Storrow, Public Affairs Officer of the Embassy of the United States of America, also provided interns with her experience and valuable tips on acclimating and enjoying American culture.

BAFF interns meet in Tallinn

NewsletterTallinnImage325x220In January 2011, the first group of BAFF interns met in Tallinn to get to know each other, involve themselves in some ice-skating activities and share their stories at a dinner.

During the meeting a small video was captured and we invite everyone to get a glance of our first group of interns. Watch the first BAFF video!

Find out more about BAFF!