Not all visitors to Orlando head to the theme parks. If you’re a Romanian official, visits to a local food bank and an emergency operations center just might be on your itinerary.

Those are two of the stops being made this week by several dozen Romanian officials participating in a pilot exchange program coordinated by UCF’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Management, the American Society for Public Administration and the Romanian Magazine of Local Public Administration.

The Romanians are local elected officials and public servants interested in learning firsthand about the United States’ approach to public management, said Associate Professor Thomas Bryer, director of the center and a coordinator of the event.

“Romania is an emerging democracy seeking fresh insights,” he explained.

During the four-day program, the group is meeting with local leaders from government, nonprofit and school organizations; attending presentations on topics such as American governance and cross-sector collaboration; and visiting sites concerned with social services, environmental sustainability and education.

On Tuesday the group traveled to Second Harvest Food Bank in Orlando. Cristina Mita, managing editor of the Romanian magazine, thought Second Harvest’s work was “amazing.”

“The group was visibly impressed by the size of the food bank, the partnerships involved in supporting the food bank and the commitment to help hungry citizens in central Florida citizens,” Bryer said.

On schedule for today are morning presentations on citizen and community engagement and on public health, with the latter led by Dr. Kevin Sherin, director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County and a member of the UCF center’s advisory council. The schedule also includes an afternoon tour of the Orange County Emergency Operations Center, as well as time to reflect and asked questions.

“The center is very proud to host this distinguished delegation,” Bryer shared. “I look forward to strengthening these new relationships — and new friendships — in the months and years ahead.”

Learn more about the program at

For additional photos of the food bank tour, visit