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A Weekend with Mikhail Gorbachev

Hosting a Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Client O'Neill Properties Group Provided Event Planning + Organization
Project A Weekend with Mikhail Gorbachev Year 2006
The Challenge

To uncover the most effective avenue to reach out to Nobel Peace Prize winner and former leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, and to attract him to participate in the Carnegie Abbey Club’s World Leadership Guest Series that had been inaugurated just eight months earlier with events hosting Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Identifying the right intermediary, coordinating potential dates for the visit, arranging private-jet transportation for Mr. Gorbachev’s domestic flights (as well as those for several dozen guests to be invited to the Newport event from Philadelphia), developing the minute-by-minute agenda for a multiple-day world-leader’s stay at the Club, coordinating security requirements, ground transportation for events at multiple venues miles apart (including Rhode Island State Trooper escorts)…the challenging “To Do List” was a very lengthly one.

Everyone who had the wonderful opportunity to participate in any of the events agreed that this was a weekend not soon to be forgotten. Bottom line: success.

The Process

Mr. Gorbachev accepted our invitation and planned to bring his daughter, Irina Mikhailovna Gorbacheva-Virganskaya, with him to the Club. Pulling it off smoothly became a daunting task. U.S. government officials, once aware of the pending visit, were eager to participate adding to and complicating the guest list. Ensuring that all dignitaries were properly acknowledged and given appropriate opportunity for access was an important component that required special handling. Three large-scale separate events were developed including a lavish private dinner at Mr. O’Neill’s Newport estate for 60, a press conference at the Carnegie Cottages followed by dinner for 600 guests under a tent on the shore of the Narragansett Bay (evening outdoor temperature about 35 degrees) that included the largest of all fireworks displays the Club had yet presented.

Problem Solved.

“President Gorbachev’s visit provided our members and guests a rare opportunity to learn from one of the 20th century’s most significant public figures, a man who shaped history in the struggle to spread freedom and democracy in the world,” said Brian O’Neill. “This event was a great opportunity for members to meet President Gorbachev in an intellectually stimulating, relaxed environment.”


From the time Rip had personally welcomed Mr. Gorbachev, his lovely daughter and his entourage on the tarmac of Quonset Point Air Station until he bid him farewell days later, events played out flawlessly. Everyone who had the wonderful opportunity to participate in any of the events agreed that this was a weekend not soon to be forgotten. Bottom line: success.

“This event was a great opportunity for members to meet President Gorbachev in an intellectually stimulating, relaxed environment.”

– Brian O’Neill