(Washington, DC) - The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) welcomes Anita Batarags as the newest member of its Board of Directors. Batarags was elected president of the American Latvian Association (ALA), one of JBANC’s three parent organizations, on May 4, 2012. She replaces outgoing ALA president Juris Mezinskis, who will now serve as ALA secretary. JBANC’s presidency alternates annually among ALA, the Estonian American National Council, and the Lithuanian American Council. It will be transferred to ALA in June 2012, and Batarags will then serve simultaneously as JBANC Board President.
Batarags has extensive experience in the Latvian-American community in the United States. She is the co-founder and Director of Operations for the Latvian American Shipping Line, and she has been heavily involved in the promotion of Latvian culture throughout the United States. From 1989 to 1999, she developed and directed “Ikskisi,” a Latvian summer camp in New York for two-to-six-year olds, and she served as Director of the Latvian Children’s Camp at the Latvian Lutheran Church of New York in the Catskills from 2000 to 2011. Additionally, she worked as both teacher and Director for the Latvian School of New Jersey, and she has served on the Board of Directors for the Latvian Lutheran Church of New York and the Latvian Foundation.
Her work as Director of ALA’ s Education Office from 2009 to 2012 and with Latvian schools across the country expanded Batarags’ interest beyond the more regional associations with East Coast establishments. Batarags said of her new role as ALA’s president, “[My past experience], along with insights gained from the strategic development plan that ALA is implementing to help steer us through the upcoming years, convinced me that greater attention to networking can increase cooperation between [our] various communities and organizations.”
JBANC is experiencing changes in its Rockville office as well. Peter Chereson, who joined JBANC as an intern in September 2010, has left his position as Program Manager in May 2012. Chereson assisted with the planning and execution of numerous projects during his time with JBANC, including JBANC’s biennial Baltic conference in April 2011 and three Advocacy Days held in conjunction with the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC). He also met with staffers and legislators on Capitol Hill to promote legislation concerning human rights and democracy in Central and Eastern Europe, represented JBANC at conferences and hearings throughout Washington, updated and maintained JBANC’s website, prepared monthly and annual JBANC Activity Reports, and served as ALA’s representative to the CEEC. Chereson will be enrolling in the Political Science doctoral program at the University of Illinois in August 2012, where he plans to study democratization and transitions from authoritarianism in Central and Eastern Europe.
JBANC Welcomes New ALA President Anita Batarags; Bids Farewell to Program Manager Peter Chereson