CamRuSS Trustees


Ksenia Afonina

Ksenia Afonina

Ksenia holds an MSc and PhD in Economics (St Petersburg University of Economics & Finance), CIM Post-Graduate Diploma in Marketing, MBA (Georg-Ohm University), Diploma in Digital Marketing (IDM) and MA in Arts Policy & Management (Birkbeck College). She accumulated over 20 years of experience while working in marketing and business development and most recently has been actively involved in delivering services to the creative industries. For the last 7 years as an independent scholar and curator, Ksenia researched unofficial art of the Second World War and worked on cross-cultural exhibitions of art and memories conceived by the active participants and witnesses of wartime. In addition to her research interests she shares belief that artworks, conceived by unofficial artists during the war have a strong potential to serve as a vehicle of both individual and cultural memories, promoting empathy and better understanding between people and nations in our fractious time.

Ksenia took on the role of CamRuSS President in 2011 following in the steps of Tanya Yurasova (8 years) and previous President Marina Burrell (3 years).

Ksenia would like to continue applying her experience and knowledge of the field to further develop the Society into a successful and financially viable CIO and deliver support in the following areas:

  • External communications;
  • Attracting external funding;
  • Building new partnerships;
  • Generating new ideas and attracting contributors for cross-cultural events and projects;
  • Further increasing awareness about CamRuSS and strengthening its image in Cambridge, the UK and Russia.

YELENA KARL – Vice-Chair and Event Coordinator

Yelena Karl

Yelena Karl

Yelena currently works as a freelance translator, Russian Language tutor and exam invigilator. She holds an MSc degree in Mechanical Engineering from Moscow Power Engineering Institute and has many years of administrative work experience. Yelena was a trustee of the Cambridge Russian school from 2009 till 2012 and has been an active volunteer for CamRuSS since 2007.

She is keen to apply her knowledge, professional qualifications and experience to fulfil her role as a Trustee and Event Coordinator of CamRuSS with the following responsibilities:

  • Searching, coordinating & communicating ideas for future events;
  • Overseeing execution of the plan of events;
  • Convening meetings;
  • Dealing with correspondence;
  • Preparing agendas for meetings in consultation with other trustees.

ALONA GUNKO – Treasurer

Alona Gunko

Alona holds a BSc degree in Management, Economics and Finance from Riga Institute of Business Studies. She also studied for 2 years at the Baltic Russian Institute Faculty of Law. Her work experience is diverse as her role has continually changed over the years. This has provided her with the opportunity to gain experience in various areas such as sales and purchase ledgers, control account reconciliation, maintaining master data records, year-end accounts preparation and liaising with auditors. In the last 8 years she has been working for the non-profit sector in the Finance Division in the UK. Alona joined CamRuSS in 2018 and as a volunteer Membership Officer has been responsible for maintaining the membership database. She aims to support CamRuSS by maintaining accurate accounting records and monitoring the Charity’s financial position to allow trustees to make informed decisions. She will fulfil her role as a Trustee and Treasurer of CamRuSS and take a lead on:

  • Making sure the charity keeps accurate accounts;
  • Reviewing the charity’s financial performance;
  • Ensuring that the charity has effective financial controls in place;
  • Liaising with independent examiners for an audit on a regular basis;
  • Providing interim and end of year financial reports to the Board of Trustees, the members and the Charity Commission;
  • Making sure the charity’s assets are used only to support or carry out its purposes;
  • Protecting the Society from exposure to any inappropriate risks with the charity’s assets or reputation;
  • Submitting Gift Aid reports to HMRC;
  • Taking special care when investing or borrowing;
  • Complying with any restrictions on spending funds.

EKATERINA ONATSKAIA – Membership Officer

Ekaterina Onatskaia

Ekaterina Onatskaia

Ekaterina graduated from Moscow State Pedagogical University and also holds a degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, NY. While teaching at a number of primary and secondary schools, she also worked in Russian schools, first in New York City, and more recently in Cambridge. Ekaterina currently works at Newnham Croft Primary School during the week and at the Cambridge Russian Academy (CRA) on Saturdays.

She is keen to assist with strengthening relations between CRA and CamRuSS by promoting CamRuSS events in the academy, helping in organising joint events and concerts that are catered to families.

Ekaterina will assist in promoting public interests and strengthening the profile of CamRuSS within the wider community – both in the UK and overseas; searching for new partnerships and joint projects which help to fulfil its charitable objectives.

SAYARA THOMPSON – Membership Development and GDPR Officer

Sayara Thompson

Sayara holds an MSc in Computer Engineering from Tashkent State Technical University and a Postgraduate Diploma in Computer Science from Essex University. Currently, Sayara works as a Programme Manager in the Entrepreneurship Centre, Cambridge Judge Business School where she runs short-term entrepreneurship programmes. Her previous roles involved working in Alumni Relations and teaching programme administration.

Sayara spent two years working in a telecommunication company in the US. She also worked as an Information Officer at the British Embassy in Uzbekistan, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) in the United Nations Development Programme, and the United Nations Volunteers programme. In these organisations, she gained a broad experience of working with government departments, educational and cultural organisations, and the general public. She hopes that her experience, knowledge and expertise will be useful to CamRuSS.

Sayara has been a volunteer for CamRuSS for the past 6 years, involved in many projects with war veterans, has organised Treasure Hunts, a Quiz and the Russian Film Weeks.

Sayara can contribute to CamRuSS in the following capacity: to lead on Membership development; to plan a strategy for building cooperation with different organisations, events organisation and engagement with volunteers and general support and promotion of CamRuSS events.

OKSANA GERASIMOVA – Secretary to the Board of Trustees

Oksana Gerasimova

Oksana holds a professional technical qualification in Business Administration from Cambridge Professional College. She had been working in administration for the last 20 years, starting off as a Secretary for a small car sale and repair garage in Riga (her home town) and finally getting a job with the University of Cambridge, where she worked for various departments and is working for the Department of Geography as an undergraduate administrator.

She is passionate about nature, biodiversity and human-nature relationship, which has inspired her to study towards BSc in Environmental Science with the Open University. This is an interdisciplinary degree, which combines aspects of biology, ecology, geography, chemistry, technology and social science. Oksana thoroughly enjoyed 5 years of part-time studies and achieved a Diploma in Higher Education in Environmental Science. She has taken a few years out to concentrate on motherhood after giving birth to a beautiful little boy in 2018.

It is crucial for Oksana to keep her connection to Russian culture and Russian people and to help her Irish-Russian family to build and strengthen such connections. That is why she has volunteered her support to the Society in 2019 and recently accepted an invitation to become a member of the Board of Trustees. She sees it as a great honour and responsibility and will use her knowledge and experience to help CamRuSS in achieving their mission and objectives.

For the next two years she will provide support as a Secretary to the Board of Trustees, which mainly include taking minutes at Trustees’ meetings and AGM.

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