“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, born in New York City, graduating Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Accepting a 6 month project to work in Russia back in 1992, Kato ended up staying in Russia for 25 years as a business entrepreneur and volunteering with many charities while living in Russia. It was one of those opportunities to see a new dawning of a democracy, after 70 years of Communism, which was being erased. I was surprised to see and learn so much of the culture that seemed to be visible everywhere you would end up going to. From Museums to Opera Houses, Theaters and Churches, the Russians seem to embrace it all levels and to all people and ages. Holidays seem so festive and popular among all crowds.
And now back in Saint Petersburg, Florida, he took the interest of taking the lead role of the Russian Heritage Organization and making it a priority to share the heritage and culture, and to promote the goodness of preserving traditions. A heritage is rich with culture, and it’s something worth preserving and sharing.

Email: [email protected]

Vice President

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.

Finance Director

Tatiana Roney

Bio Coming Soon

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

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.

Irina Novikova

MA in Linguistics, PhD in Psychology, is the founder and the Chair of the Board of the Russian-American Association RAA (2009-2021), Director of the annual Russian-American Festival “Bridge over the Ocean” (2010-2021). She has founded the first private language school “International Training Center InTC” in Yaroslavl in 1991, which has been operating for more than 30 years since then, has organized and sponsored numerous cultural and educational exchange programs, music and dance festivals, scientific conferences, business missions, photo exhibitions.
Presently Irina is the Communication Director, member of the Board of Directors at the Russian American Club, St Petersburgh, Florida.

Maria Osokina

Masha was born in Pereslavl-Zalessky, Yaroslavl region. She graduated from Moscow State University with honors in Italian Language Linguist in 2008 and graduate school in 2011. She is a well-known simultaneous interpreter of the Italian language in Russia. 2017 – presenter of the international fashion TV channel “World Fashion Channel”. For several years, Maria worked as a journalist for the programs “Fashion Reporter”, “Streetstyle”, “Top Model”, filmed fashion weeks in Milan, Moscow, Sochi, as well as other social events. In 2018, Maria worked as an English-language presenter for the FIFA World Cup 2018, as well as for the Football Legends Super Cup (2018), the Naturban World Cup, the Moscow Stage of the Archery World Cup and other international sporting events (2016-2018). In 2017, Maria married Aron Smith in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 2018 she moved to the U.S.A. and mastered a new profession as a real estate agent.

Alexander Staruschenko

Sasha is originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, which gave its name to St. Petersburg, Florida. He earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degrees in physiology in 1997 and 1999, respectively, from the St. Petersburg State University, Russia, and completed his Ph.D. research in 2003 from the Institute of Cytology Russian Academy of Science also in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Following his graduating, he moved to the United States in 2003 to San Antonio, Texas, where he got postdoctoral training at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.  He joined the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, WI in 2007 and rose rapidly through the ranks till he was promoted to Full Professor.  In 2021, he took a new challenge and accepted a position as a Professor and Director of the Hypertension and Kidney Research Center at the University of South Florida. His wife is also from St. Petersburg, Russia, and she is also a faculty member at the University of South Florida. Their kids (boy and girl), while they were born in the United States, speak Russian and are good examples of Americans with Russian roots. He volunteered as a part of his academic job for several non-profit organizations, such as the American Heart Association, where he was involved in a variety of activities, such as organizing scientific meetings etc. He hopes that he will be able to apply his expertise and knowledge to help with many activities run by the Russian Heritage.

Victoria Apriamashvili

Bio Coming Soon

Svetlana Lantukh

Bio Coming Soon

Demid Vasiliev

Bio Coming Soon

Honorary Member: Margo Catsimatidis

Margo Catsimatidis is among the most recognizable women in the New York City. A ballerina-turned-business and philanthropy leader, Catsimatidis has cemented a legacy of influence that is known among many of our region’s most powerful, and plays an intangible role in the success of her husband, John, and the Catsimatidis family’s company, Red Apple Group. Born in Indiana, Margo’s first passion was the performing arts. At age 12, she was lauded by the dance community, and was invited to embrace her Russian roots at the internationally-renowned Bolshoi Ballet—the youngest dancer ever to be invited to perform at the hallowed program in America. In her teen years, as a life of dance began to flourish, she set her sights on New York City—the mecca of the performing arts. With her focus on the big city, she ventured from Indianapolis, Indiana to the Big Apple in 1971, in pursuit of her dream. Her ballet career was cut short due to a dance-related injury.  She took a job as an office clerk for a supermarket where she would meet John Catsimatidis the owner of the company.

John and Margo then began to build an empire that today extends to several different industries, including supermarkets, oil refineries and assets, gas stations, real estate and media, all beneath the Red Apple Group corporation. In the over four decades since her first position with Red Apple, Catsimatidis has been featured and profiled by countless high-profile publications, been recognized by organizations ranging from the Greek Orthodox Church of America to the Bowery Mission Society.

To name a few causes near to her heart, Catsimatidis is the vice chair of the Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund, a member of the Executive Committee of the New York Police Athletic League, on the board of the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Association and—perhaps most notable to her ethnicity and family origins—a board member of the Russian Heritage Foundation.

Catsimatidis received the coveted Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2000, for her work in heritage preservation.
Her family’s remarkable venture to the United States is, in many ways, the seed of her willingness to give back.
“My mother was from Poland, my grandmother was from Russia, and my grandfather was from the Ukraine. My father was an Army Intelligence Officer, and found my mother and grandparents in a concentration camp in Krakow. He rescued them and brought them to America, to Indianapolis, where I was born.

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