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Russian President Putin honors APSU alumna

Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized an Austin Peay alumna recently for her contributions to the development of positive Russian-American relations.

Jane Slate Siena was one of only 43 U.S. citizens to receive the special honor, represented by a medal commemorating the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg, Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized an Austin Peay alumna recently for her contributions to the development of positive Russian-American relations.

Jane Slate Siena was one of only 43 U.S. citizens to receive the special honor, represented by a medal commemorating the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg, Russia.

The daughter of James and Sue Slate of Clarksville, Siena was honored March 23 at the Embassy of the Russian Federation, Washington, D.C. During an official ceremony, the prestigious medal was conferred on her by Russian Ambassador Yuri Ushakov on behalf of Putin.

Putin and Siena first met when he was deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, shortly after his election following the fall of the Soviet government in 1991. Nine years later, Putin was elected president of the Russian Federation, and was re-elected last month.

Siena visited Russia in 1989 while she was on the senior staff of the Getty Conservation Institute, a position she held from 1985-2001. In Russia, she was charged with directing cultural heritage conservation projects for the Los Angeles-based Getty Conservation Institute.

After working closely with St. Petersburg's leading museums and libraries for years, she established the St. Petersburg International Center for Preservation in 1995 and was named its founding president. It has become a consortium of more than 40 cultural institutions dedicated to strengthening the knowledge and practice of conservation, especially the extensive collection of art and historic architecture in St. Petersburg, which was designated a World Heritage Site in 1991.

Siena, who maintains offices in Washington, D.C., St. Petersburg and Amsterdam, has helped museum curators in St. Petersburg host such world leaders as President Bill Clinton, Vice President and Mrs. Al Gore and Crown Prince of the Netherlands William Alexander.

She has organized many high-profile cultural events in the United States for such Russian dignitaries as Nobel Laureate Zhores Alferov, St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra Conductor Yuri Temirkanov and St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev.

A 1976 graduate of Austin Peay and a 1978 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Siena returned to APSU in 1997 as keynote speaker for Commencement.

In 1996, she and art historian and writer Dr. M. Kirby Talley Jr. were wed in a traditional Russian ceremony in St. Petersburg's St. Nicholas Cathedral, which was built by Queen Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, in the 18th century.
—Dennie Burke