“A successful and prosperous country will value its past. The people that wish to live in a country, needs to accept the traditions that it can share. I have full respect for Russia’s timeless heritage. We have some of the greatest Russian writers who have helped us understand the complexities of the human experience, and recognize eternal truths. From Dostoyevsky to Pushkin, Chekhov to Solzhenitsyn, to Russian Composers like Tchaikovsky and Rostropovich. Indeed, Russia’s Heritage has touched every corner of the world, and speaks to the humanity that we share. That includes my country here in the good ole United States of America, which has been blessed with Russian immigrants, for decades we’ve been enriched by Russian culture, and enhanced by Russian cooperation. The Russian American community has shown a concerted effort in preserving its unique heritage which is a vital link to our cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational, spiritual and economic legacies – all of these elements that literally make us who we are.”

— Kato Hetschinoff, Russian Heritage President —

Russian Heritage Board of Directors


Kato Hetschinoff

Kato grew up in a Russian American family in New York before going to Moscow Russia to work for 25 years as a business entrepreneur. Now back in St. Petersburg, Florida, he looks forward to celebrating his “heritage” on the R.H. board and in several other Russian organizations in the Tampa Bay Area. He believes in preserving culture, traditions and values which are important in a heritage, but also in the beauty and wellbeing of a great nation.

Email: [email protected]

Vice President

Victoria Peppard

Victoria came to America in 1993 to study at N.Y.U. and she has lived in Tampa since 1994. She is a professional interpreter. Victoria has been a member of Russian Heritage since its founding. In 2015 she became a board member and in 2019 a Vice President. Victoria serves as a liaison person for coordinating many R.H. and U.S.F. joint projects and has a special place in her heart for children’s programs. The New Year party “ELOCHKA” is one of them.

Finance Director

Corey Holt Merenda

Corey is not of Russian descent but is very interested in the people, history, culture and politics of Russia and has taught herself the language. She received a B.A. from the University of Iowa in German and Music (piano performance). She then received an M.M. from the Eastman School of Music. Aside from music and foreign language endeavors, she currently runs her own business, Studio B Design Concepts, Inc., designing hotel interiors.

Email: [email protected]

Board Secretary

Evguenia Davenport

Evguenia Davenport teaches at the University of South Florida with a special interest in Russian Language and Literature and Spanish Language and Culture She has been active in Russian Heritage book group, having facilitated the discussion of Russian literary classics. She has also led student groups to Latin America.

Board Members

Inna Ruefle

Inna is a cultured person who enjoys reading classical books. She enjoys having discussions about Russian writers and even composers. We look forward to her enthusiasm and her interest in making a contribution to our organization.

Janna Aleksa

Janna was born in Russia and moved to the United States of America in 2001 with her son Dmitri. She love cooking, hanging around on our beautiful Tampa Bay beaches and enjoys dancing. She loves the Russian culture, cuisine and folklore, and adds “I would love our Americans to learn more about Russia and its real offerings.”

Mary Stenov

Mary had a long and distinguished career as an art teacher in Saudi Arabia and St. Petersburg, Florida.  She has also been an active participant in Russian Heritage, the Russian American Club, and the St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society (SPIFFS), serving on the board of all three organizations for many years.  She has strong interests in Russian music and Russian cuisine.

Nicholas Sampsidis

Nicholas is of Russian descent and is well-introduced in the greater worldwide “White Russian” Diaspora, having lived a nearly equal amount of time in Paris and in Russia following formative years in New York. He is an integrative and functional nutritionist/biochemist – an authority on chronic and infectious inflammatory diseases. “I do what no physician does. That is, if a patient is not remedied of his ill, I don’t charge. In fact, in the Chekov country doctor tradition, people pay what they deem right or possible. They often consult me after their physicians advise that nothing more can be done.” Nicholas adds: “I taught at Ransom-Everglades school, way back when – years that taught me to appreciate Florida. My arrival in Coconut Grove on a sailboat after circumnavigating Florida from the Suwannee River was a tad unconventional. So was the success with the soccer team, making it to the Florida State final for the first time in the school’s history. But the paradise was missing something. People. It’s why my discovery that the St. Petersburg-Tampa area has a Russian Heritage society with folk who are audacious enough to hold a Russian Winter Ball in the middle of a pandemic, branded into me: ‘You’re in the right place.’” Nicholas plans to add his diverse contacts, organizational experience, plus energy to the association.

Natalya Halprin

Natalya was born in a small town in Uzbekistan that was famous for its concrete manufacturing factories. At the age of six, her parents and 2 of her siblings moved to Stavropol region in a resort town called Essentuki. That was a big change: from the pollution to the most pure region in Russia. After graduating high school, she decided to become an English teacher, that’s what helped her with a choice of Pyatigorsk Linguistic University. She graduated with psychology and English degree. In 1999, the university offered to the students an opportunity to travel to U.S.A. and she moved to St. Petersburg, Florida where she met her husband of 22 years. She has 2 beautiful daughters. Home design, architecture was her passion that she decided to pursue and became a real estate agent. By now, she has over 18 years of experience in real estate industry: selling, building, remodeling. Her work was featured on News Chanel 8, St Petersburg Times newspaper, local magazines and Netflix, “Selling Tampa Bay” a reality show.

Julia Meyerovich

She was born in Moscow, and grew up in Pushkino, a suburb outside the city. After finishing a Nursing School in 1992, she moved to USA to join her Father. Her first job was a CNA in Massachusetts and later on in Texas. As she was growing up, she took classes in several styles of dancing as a hobby. She restarted it by taking Salsa & Ballroom dance lessons at Arthur Murray Dance Studio in San Antonio, and that resulted in her career as a Dance Instructor in 1995. She moved to St. Petersburg, Florida in 1999 and became a U.S. citizen in 2005. She was the owner of 1st Dance Studio for 18 years 2002 – 2020 in St. Petersburg Florida. Thru those years she has made a multitude of networking connections and friendships with local business owners and entertainers. She is happily married to Troy Peterson, who runs a prosperous restaurant equipment company. Currently she is enjoying her semi-retirement teaching as an Independent Mobile Dance Instructor.

Zhanna Thomas

Zhanna is creative designer from Odessa who produces stylish clothing and fancy set designs. She is well connected to many groups in the Russian American community and has supported many Russian Heritage projects such as the SPIFFS Folk Fair and the Winter Ball.

Tatiana Roney

Bio Coming Soon

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