Welcoming the Fourth Cohort of Ukrainian Emerging Leaders to Stanford

Welcoming the Fourth Cohort of Ukrainian Emerging Leaders to Stanford

After the program was postponed in 2020, the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of law is pleased to have Yulia Bezvershenko, Denis Gutenko, and Nariman Ustaiev join us on campus this year.
Photo of Nariman Ustaiev, Yulia Bezvershenko, and Denis Gutenko

Now in its fourth year, the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program hosted at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University is delighted to welcome three leading reformers and activists to campus for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Yulia Bezvershenko, Denis Gutenko, and Nariman Ustaiev will join the growing network of Ukrainian leaders to participate in the program. While at Stanford, they will work on projects to improve Ukraine’s education and innovation sectors, reform the civil service, and strengthen the self-governing institutions for the Crimean Tatars.

The Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program (UELP) is a 10-month academic training fellowship hosted at Stanford University. The program was founded in 2016 by the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute together with Oleksandr and Kateryna Akymenko (Stanford John S. Knight fellows) as an initiative to address development challenges in Ukraine and across the broader region.

UELP provides a unique opportunity to three mid-career practitioners working actively as policy-makers, legal professionals, entrepreneurs, and leaders of civil society organizations in Ukraine to visit one of the world’s leading research universities for an academic year. The objective of the program is to strengthen fellows’ leadership skills and bolster their academic foundation and is supported by a committee of leading Stanford faculty at FSI. The program is designed to facilitate capacity building for fellows through faculty mentorship, community engagement, courses, events, and site visits to Silicon Valley technology firms.

UELP has been funded with generous support from Astem.Foundation (Rustem Umerov), Believe in Yourself Foundation (Victor and Iryna Ivanchyk), Dragon Capital (Tomas Fiala), MacPaw (Oleksandr Kosovan), Luminate, Liudy Maybutnoho (Svyatoslav Vakarchuk), and the Western NIS Enterprise Fund.

Join us for a conversation about the UELP fellows' work and political development in Ukraine on Tuesday, October 26, at 12:00 pm. Learn More

Yulia Bezvershenko, Ministry of Education and Science

DYulia BezvershenkoYulia Bezvershenko is Director General of Directorate for Science and Innovation at the Ministry of Education and Science. The Directorate was created for policy development and implementation in the research, development and innovation sector.

Since the Revolution of Dignity, Bezvershenko has been deeply involved in the reform of science development and implementation process. Her mission is to build knowledge-based Ukraine as an economy and society based on knowledge, science, and innovation. She has contributed to the Law on Science, which was adopted by Parliament in 2015. In cooperation with scientists and reformers she developed and actively participated in the creation of two new institutions, the National Council on Science and Technology and the National Science Fund. Bezvershenko currently works on both the implementation of the aforementioned law and its future iterations.

Bezvershenko holds a PhD in Theoretical Physics from the Bogolyubov Institute for Theoretical Physics (National Academy of Science of Ukraine) and a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Governance from the Kyiv School of Economics. She has diverse experience in the research and development sector, having worked as a researcher at the Bogolyubov Institute as well as a senior lecturer on quantum theory at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Until 2019, Yulia was a Deputy Head of Young Scientists Council of National Academy of Science of Ukraine and Vice-President of NGO "Unia Scientifica" aimed to promote science and to advocate reform of science in Ukraine.


Denis Gutenko, State Fiscal Service/Ministry of Economy

Denis Gutenko
Denis Gutenko joins CDDRL after most recently serving as the head of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine. Holding this position from 2019-20 he was responsible for dismantling the large-scale State Fiscal Service into three accountable units: Tax Administration, Customs and Tax police.

Before joining the State Fiscal Service, Gutenko had worked in the Ministry of Economy since 2015. Gutenko promoted deregulation and improvement of business climate agenda. He initiated and successfully lobbied Parliament to adopt laws on the liberalization of international trade and currency, the transparency of scrap metal exports, and the reform of a corrupt ecological tax policy. Gutenko also led the removal of administrative barriers and outdated currency restrictions, resulting in the increased flow of services and payments for Ukrainian freelancers and small and medium enterprises.

Prior to this Gutenko began his career in the private sector as a banker, auditor, and agribusiness manager, experiences that sparked his interest in improving the Ukrainian state bureaucracy and fighting widespread corruption.

Gutenko’s focus while at CDDRL will be on good governance and public administration reform, both of which remain significant opportunities and challenges for Ukraine. He looks forward to being an active member of the Leadership Network for Change, and to continuing to challenge himself while at Stanford.


Nariman Ustaiev, Gasprinski Institute

Nariman UstaievNariman Ustaiev is co-founder and Director at Gasprinski Institute for Geostrategy. He is also an external advisor for the Committee on Human Rights, Deoccupation and Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories in Donetsk, Luhansk Regions and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, National Minorities and Interethnic Relations of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. 

His work explores the multiple dimensions of Ukraine’s foreign and security policy and their intersection with good governance based on human rights. His areas of expertise are foreign policy; political and security challenges in the Black Sea Region; and human rights and Crimean Tatar issues. 

Prior to this Nariman had worked for governmental institutions responsible for Ukraine’s security policy, namely the National Security and Defense Council, the Secretariat of the Cabinet Ministers, and the State Service for the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol for many years. 

Nariman graduated from the Diplomatic Academy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Academy for Foreign Trade, and Kyiv-Mohyla Business School.