I was born and partially raised in Moscow, Russia. My grandmother, mother, and I came to the US when I was 10 years old and settled in Maryland. I attended middle school, high school, and university in Maryland, and moved to DC in my 20s. I remain deeply connected to my Russian roots yet consider myself an American.
Learning to straddle two cultures instilled in me a fond appreciation for a nearly constant search for what it means to belong.
Some of the best times of my childhood were spent at a country house owned by friends of my family. While it is common for Russians to have a secondary house in the country, we never had one of our own. For a child growing up in a bustling megalopolis, this house and the relaxed rules of the family I stayed with smelled of freedom: picking berries in the woods, riding bicycles to the lake to go swimming, climbing trees, and reading books in the hammock. Those are the sweetest recollections of my childhood summers.
I have always been interested in a child’s perspective and experience in our world. Too often, adults fail to treat children as equals. From a young age, I was interested in education, and for a while even wanted to become a teacher (and I might still do that at some point in my life). At the same time, I have always wanted to work in international development.
After trying my hand in various positions at large international development organizations, I came to the conclusion that community organizations possess the knowledge and expertise to make tremendous changes, but are too often overlooked and underfunded. I wanted to be part of an organization that tries to change this dynamic. GFC’s efforts to cultivate respect for the child’s experience is one of the things that made me excited to join the team. Children are valued and respected in everything the organization does, which also dictates how the team relates to our partners and each other.
The most satisfying part of this job will be the continuous opportunity to learn and evolve, both personally and as part of the team. GFC is an organization that values innovative thinking and adapting to change; there will always be an opportunity to try something new. I am also excited to be able to work with partners in different parts of the world and to learn from their vast experiences.
The opportunity to constantly try something new may also turn out to be the most challenging part of the job, because trying often implies making several attempts before finding something that works. GFC works all over the world in several thematic areas and eagerly undertakes initiatives that are new for the organization. For someone working on strategic learning, it is not always obvious how to bring all the different pieces of what GFC does together; thus, there is always a need to look for hybrid solutions. This is both challenging and exciting!
GFC understands that locally based organizations are the best experts on what their communities need. It is with this approach that GFC engages with partners around the world. The values it promotes and the respect it brings to its partnerships help empower individuals at the grassroots level to work towards improving the lives of children and young people.
I had a very unattractive doll named Dasha whom, for no particular reason, I loved dearly.
I wanted to be a theater actress. This sort of came true in a way. Since 2011, I have been acting in a theater group in the DC region.
Kholodets. It is a Russian dish with meat under a layer of an opaque jello-like substance, traditionally served with horseradish. It’s definitely an acquired taste.
I come from a very direct culture, so a pet peeve of mine is when people are passive aggressive. Oh, and spelling!
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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