When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, a massive incursion that would grow into an ongoing war, Salt Lake City-based Bruce Roberts had a fledgling nonprofit he realized would likely be able to help. After all, his organization, August Mission, launched in 2021 to provide aid in crises to people, as he says, “on their worst day.”
He wasn’t alone in this instinct to act. The Russia-Ukraine war brought images to television screens in the U.S. usually preserved for conflicts in the global south—places like Afghanistan, where Roberts had been deployed as an Army officer.
Roberts says bringing volunteers to see what was happening convinced people to help. And after several trips in the past two years, his organization completed the first-ever Utah delegation to Ukraine in May, helping solidify business connections into the future.
The May delegation brought 30 members of Utah’s political and business class to visit the Ukraine war zone. The trip started as a discussion between Roberts and World Trade Center Utah (WTC). WTC leveraged their contacts to receive an official invitation from the Ukrainian consul in the U.S.
Once on the ground, they managed to visit several officials in Ukraine, eventually orchestrating a meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“Success is us having this meeting for me because what I wanted to do was move the needle for Ukraine beyond what I could do,” Roberts says. “[The delegation] was hugely successful, and now, I have people at the state level that are saying, ‘Hey, we have to pay attention, we have to help.’”…