Former U.S. Senator Rob Portman will be a panelist at a Cornell University-sponsored event on the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine. The Cornell Program in Infrastructure Policy has brought together a distinguished panel of experts to discuss strategies for rebuilding Ukraine.

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Cornell program tackles Ukraine infrastructure needs

The Cornell Program in Infrastructure Policy (CPIP) will welcome the former president of the World Bank and an influential former U.S. senator at a Washington, D.C. event that will lay out a roadmap for infrastructure reconstruction in Ukraine.

Former World Bank President Robert Zoellick, former U.S. Senator Robert Portman, former Ukraine Minister of Finance Natalie Jaresko, and former high ranking U.S. Commerce Dept. official Matthew Murray are among the panelists at the April 6 event at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The gathering of infrastructure thought leaders is organized by CPIP, part of the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, in partnership with AEI and with support from the U.S./Ukraine Business Council (USUBC).

The panelists will discuss ways to rebuild Ukraine’s infrastructure. CPIP Director Rick Geddes, an economist, a member of Cornell’s Department of Economics, and a professor in the Brooks School, will moderate the discussion. Registration for the event, whether attending in-person or online, is available here.

Ukraine’s infrastructure damage is enormous and mounting. The World Bank estimates the cost to rebuild Ukraine after the war at $411 billion, including $135 billion to repair direct damage to buildings and infrastructure to date. The estimate covers the one-year period from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, to the first anniversary of the war on February 24, 2023. The cost of reconstruction and recovery is expected to stretch over 10 years and combines needs from public and private sources.

CPIP is uniquely positioned to assist in the rebuilding effort. Now in its eleventh year, CPIP is home to interdisciplinary research, public outreach, and academic programs to train the next generation of infrastructure policy leaders. It is a member of the USUBC and is consulting with Ukrainian government, academic and business leaders about reconstruction strategies.

Zoellick is Senior Counselor at Brunswick Group Geopolitical, an advisory service of Brunswick Group, and an adjunct professor and senior fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. In addition, Zoellick serves on several boards and councils.

Zoellick was the President of the World Bank Group from 2007 to 2012, U.S. Trade Representative from 2001 to 2005, and Deputy Secretary of State from 2005 to 2006. From 1985 to 1993, Zoellick served as Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury and Under Secretary of State, as well as White House Deputy Chief of Staff.

Portman, a Republican from Ohio, served in three presidential administrations as well as two terms in the United States Senate and six terms in the United States House of Representatives. 

In the George W. Bush administration, he served in two cabinet-level jobs, as Director of the Office of Management and Budget as well as United States Trade Representative.

Known for his civility, successful bipartisan policymaking, work ethic, and grasp of a broad range of complex issues, over 220 of Portman’s bills were signed into law by Presidents Biden, Trump, and Obama during his tenure in the Senate. He served as the lead Republican negotiator on the bipartisan infrastructure law that advocates predict will make historic improvements to U.S. roads, ports, rails, bridges, broadband and more.

Jaresko served as Ukraine's Minister of Finance from 2014 to 2016 at a critical time in the nation’s history when it was affected by a recession and foreign occupation. Educated at DePaul University and the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, Jaresko is the managing director of EY/Parthenon’s turnaround and restructuring strategy.

Murray, an adjunct professor at Columbia University, completed two assignments for the Obama Administration. He served as a Senior Advisor on Governance and Rule of Law at the Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance at the U.S. Agency for International Development and as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Murray developed innovative programs to build good governance and champion entrepreneurship in Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Tunisia, Kenya, and Nigeria.

AEI and CPIP have collaborated on other infrastructure-focused events. Most recently, AEI and CPIP sponsored by a speech by Mitch Landrieu, senior advisor to President Biden on infrastructure. Geddes is a nonresident senior fellow at the Institute.


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