Our Board Members
Our Board Members comprise a dynamic team of leaders with very diverse backgrounds, all of whom are dedicated to enriching the culture of the Texas community.
The track record of Our Board shows its innate ability to lead and grow a non-profit organization by introducing creative strategies and winning support from individuals with varied backgrounds. In addition to our usual private sources of funding, we receive grants from educational and art-related institutions, as well as businesses that have Russian ties. As a result of our growth, RCC is now able to bring to the Houston audience the best independent films by Russian documentary directors and laureates of international and Russian cinema festivals.
President and Founding Director - Sophia Grinblat
Sophia Grinblat is the founding director and the president of the RCC. Mrs. Grinblat came to Houston in 1990 from Russia and since then has been deeply involved in the life of the local Russian speaking community. Working as an editor of the Russian newspaper Our Texas, she discovered that many brilliant talents from the former Soviet Union remain utterly unknown to the Texas audience. To fill this gap in knowledge of the Russian culture, Sophia decided to create a unique venue where Russian culture would meet the Texas community.
Through her previous business relationships with the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Van Cliburn Foundation, Alrlington Ballet, Kimbell Art Museum, Society of the Performing Arts and many other art organizations in Texas, Sophia founded the Russian Cultural Center and named it "Our Texas" after the already well known Russian publication.
Sophia is the integral part of our organization with supreme influence behind the diversity of Russian cultural events in Texas.
Educational Director - Lisa Whitaker
Lisa Whitaker holds executive positions in several civic organizations, including chair of Veterans Business Advisory Council, chair of Public Health, Community Services and Social Services Committees of Houston Rotary. Lisa is a multilingual, and she possesses extensive experience in fundraising and networking. Lisa joined the Board of Directors of the Russian Cultural Center "Our Texas" in 2012.
She is fluent in Russian and French and conversational in Spanish, German, Serbo-Croatian, Ukrainian and Polish languages. Lisa is a recipient of awards: Outstanding Service Award - University of Texas Health Science Center; City of Houston Civic Award - Office of the Mayor, Houston TX; Visionary Award - Greater Houston Partnership (GHP); Tsar ‘Peter the Great’ Medal - Office of the Mayor, St. Petersburg, Russia; Certificate of Recognition - Foreign Relations Committee, Parliament of the Russian Federation (Duma).
VP and Art Director - Igor Alexander
Igor Alexander is a director and the Vice President of the Russian Cultural Center "Our Texas." He is a journalist who came to Houston in 1977 to work for the Contemporary Arts Museum and stayed on to be the Development Director of KPFT radio (FM 90.1). He worked as the editor of the KUHT-TV station (Channel 8) monthly program guide, the public information director for Access Houston cable and has written for numerous publications here in Houston, in New York and in Germany. Most recently he was a columnist for the Houston Press weekly newspaper.
He is deeply involved in organizing annual documentary film festivals, art exhibitions and presentations for RCC “Our Texas”.
Director of Development Communications & Secretary - Victoria Filippov
Victoria Filippov is a director and secretary of the Russian Cultural Center "Our Texas." Growing up in St. Petersburg, Russia she has lived in Houston since 1990, and has dedicated much of her time to spreading cultural awareness in her adopted hometown.
Upon graduation from law school in 1999, Victoria volunteered her time as a pro bono attorney for the Russian community and became an avid supporter and sponsor of the Houston arts. Through her work with the Russian community, Victoria joined the Board of Directors of the Russian Cultural Center "Our Texas" in 2007. With an associate's degree in art, an undergraduate degree in psychology and marketing, and a law degree, Victoria brought a wealth of knowledge and training to this organization. Victoria is actively involved in a variety of fundraising events throughout the city. A full-time attorney, she is also a skilled and avid artist, photographer, and writer.
Movie Program Director - Lidiya Gold
Lidiya Gold was born in Lviv, Ukraine and moved to Texas in 1994. She attended St. Edward’s University in Austin. Currently Lidiya is vice president at Frost Bank.
Lidiya works with several non-profit organizations promoting business, the arts, and charitable endeavors. An active patron of the arts in Houston, she loves classical music and is a member of the Museum of Fine Arts.
Website Director - Igor Karash
Igor Karash is an illustrator and designer from the former Soviet Union. He grew up in Baku Azerbaijan, a city with rich multicultural traditions, a unique architectural style, and a vivid theatrical and artistic life.
Igor's professional career in the United States (since 1993) is mainly in concept design for retail development and architectural graphics. For many years he was one of the leading designers for Gensler studio 585 (Houston office) working on local, national and international projects.
Igor has played an active role in Houston's Russian community organizing art shows, designing Russian publications including "Our Texas", teaching art, and helping local businesses with their design needs.
His professional career path has taken him to St. Louis Missouri where he currently works for the multidisciplinary design firm Kiku Obata & Company. He has recently received two awards for his concept drawings from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
Igor maintains his connections with the Russian community in Houston and has served on the Board of Directors for the Russian Cultural Center "Our Texas" since 2007. His main focus is the ongoing art program and design coordination.
Public Relations and Grants Coordinator – Jay Gonzalez
Jay Gonzalez is a native of Houston, Texas, and a Georgetown University graduate. He is also a two-time recipient of the U.S. Fulbright Grant, teaching in Chelyabinsk and Voronezh, Russia, before moving to Moscow to pursue his professional ambitions. He has worked as a Russian-English translator in multiple fields, including IT and international trade. He has also worked as senior editor for the Documentary Department of the internationally-broadcasted television channel Russia Today (RT).
He is fluent in English and Russian and conversational in French and Spanish. Prior to joining the Board of Directors, Jay promoted and marketed the Russian Cultural Center “Our Texas” in order to expand its audience in Houston and the Greater Texas area. Jay resides in his hometown and enjoys classical music and ballet.