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This profile was last updated on 5/6/14  and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.

Ms. Annette Laborey

Wrong Annette Laborey?

Board Member

MDIF
37 West 20Th Street Suite 801
New York, New York 10011
United States

Company Description: MDIF provides affordable financing and business assistance to independent news outlets in challenging environments, helping them to become financially sustainable....   more
Background

Employment History

  • Executive Director
    Open Society Institute
  • Vice President
    Open Society Institute
  • Executive Director
    OSI-PARIS

Board Memberships and Affiliations

23 Total References
Web References
MDIF
www.mdif.org, 6 May 2014 [cached]
Annette Laborey
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Annette Laborey: 1995-2013; Board Member Emeritus
MDIF
www.mdif.org, 6 May 2014 [cached]
Annette Laborey MDIF
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Annette Laborey
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Home > About us > Board of Directors > Annette Laborey
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Annette Laborey
Until December 2012, Annette was vice president of the Open Society Foundations, the executive director of the Paris office, and board liaison officer for all foundations and affiliated institutions.
Annette has been involved in Central and Eastern European issues since 1974, running the Foundation for Mutual Intellectual Support (FEIE), co-financed since 1978 by George Soros.
Media Development Loan Fund - About MDLF - Board of Directors
www.mdlf.org, 23 Aug 2012 [cached]
Annette Laborey Executive Director, Open Society Institute
Open Society News - Winter 1998/1999
server.soros.org, 24 May 1999 [cached]
At the time that OSI-Paris first got involved in the festival, the crumbling barriers between east and west needed a stronger push to in order to completely collapse, according to Annette Laborey, the director of OSI-Paris."People, and young people in particular, needed to 'get out' and see what the outside world looked like, to speak openly and freely with each other and with people from the West," she recalls.
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Since its inception, the festival has become an important role model for rural and community development both in France and the invited countries, according to Laborey.In addition to the artists and musicians who attended the 1998 festival, a group of Georgian scientists and farmers participated in a series of workshops with their French counterparts.This is a trend that Laborey thinks will continue in the future.
"We consider the festival a useful example of how a local, rural community can fight problems it faces with voluntary engagement rather than with official sponsorship-an example for the guests," she says.
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Days of Dissent and Dreams of Democracy | Open Society Institute
www.soros.org, 5 Nov 2009 [cached]
Annette Laborey at picnic after conferencein Krakow, Poland, 1991 (Photo courtesy of Annette Laborey [Adelheid von Bothmer])
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Annette Laborey at picnic after conferencein Krakow, Poland, 1991 (Photo courtesy of Annette Laborey [Adelheid von Bothmer])
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Open Society Institute senior writer Chuck Sudetic tells of the life and times of Annette Laborey, executive director of OSI-Paris, who in the 1980s helped dissidents behind the Iron Curtain survive and triumph.
Annette Laborey made many forays into communist Eastern Europe. She sometimes visited alone, carrying cash stuffed in her bra for her friends. Sometimes she traveled with her brother in his old Volvo, once with a small printing press he had concealed beneath her seat to smuggle to political dissidents in Hungary. On other occasions, she packed her kids, some of them infants, into a camper van with food and luggage, diapers and bottles, and books and candy, and set off eastward. They passed through border crossings along the Iron Curtain, without drawing the attention of glowering guards. They stopped wherever they wanted. They stayed, ate, and drank late into the night with friends, old and new. All along the way, Laborey expanded a network of writers, thinkers, and artists and helped chip away the totalitarian monolith.
Then, during a return trip to Paris from Poland in the summer of 1981, the halcyon days of Solidarity when there was nothing to eat except in hard-currency shops and restaurants for foreigners, Laborey realized that her mission would soon be accomplished.
"Les jeux sont faits," she said to herself.
"The game is over," she told her program officer at the Ford Foundation.
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Annette Laborey worked for a Paris-based organization that is now all but forgotten except by writers, academics, historians, and other Eastern European intellectuals.
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Laborey managed the foundation from 1975. She traveled into the East bloc developing contacts. She took care of visiting scholarship recipients who came to the West and rolled up in front of her office near Henry Miller's old haunts on the Boulevard Beaumarchais. She perfected the art of explanation and developed the stamina to endure smoke-filled nights and days and nights of vodka-fueled conversation. The vast majority of scholars were not hard-line anticommunists or people desperate to defect. They were, rather, young people who had gifted minds and who would, after exposure to the dizzying choices available in Western supermarkets and libraries, carry home a worldview that no longer squared with the warped image of the West officially propagated in their own countries.
"It was a lot about partying and trying to be normal under very abnormal circumstances," Laborey said. "I got a lot of credit for my capacity to drink vodka from morning to night."
Laborey began her career after graduating from the Sorbonne. Political dissent was growing in Eastern Europe, with individuals and groups in Poland and Czechoslovakia as the leading insurgents. The Helsinki Accords were signed.
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"Through him I had the best contacts in Poland," Laborey said.
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Still, Laborey visited Prague and other towns and cities in Czechoslovakia. Once, a Czech historian asked her to bring a specific book, Volume 3 from an important German historical encyclopedia. It had disappeared from every set in all of Czechoslovakia. "I wasn't caught," Laborey said. "I got to his kitchen and, when he saw that book, he literally cried."
East Germany, the East bloc's security and military lynchpin, was even more difficult to crack. "Even the East German opposition believed in the system, that the system was good, but badly applied. In East Germany, I could not avoid informers," Laborey said.
Laborey used émigrés in Paris to establish contacts in Romania, which was ruled at the time by Nicolae Ceausescu.
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Laborey and her friends once ate her notes after a suspicious phone call rang in the artist's studio where they were meeting.
"I met [Eugene] Ionescu, but did not work with him, even though the Securitate said I had. One of my great contacts was Andrej Plesu," said Laborey.
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Laborey eventually met Soros in 1981 and started to discuss financial support for the foundation.
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Soros answered, "Well, Annette, think larger."
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No more did Laborey have to spend time raising funds.
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Laborey now had new resources to expand her work into the Baltic republics and Bulgaria.
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In 1991, Laborey made a final journey from Paris to Poland for the foundation. This time she carried a cache of expensive French cheese to serve at a victory party in Krakow, a three-day-bash for a hundred members of the network she had nurtured during her years on the road. Members of Laborey's network had become leaders of their countries' new political establishment.
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