SEE’s Independent Professional (INP) initiative supports collaboration among U.S. and Russian social experts in Arctic and Environmental Conservation, Indigenous Peoples’ Empowerment, Disability and Inclusion, and Public Health. Past participants have worked to: 

  • Reduce violence against women in Seattle and Samara;  
  • Increase the capacity of mentors in Tyumen, Los Angeles, and Phoenix; 
  • Launch an educational course on volunteer fundraising in Richmond and Moscow; and  
  • Many more projects in the U.S. and Russia!  

Selected INPs travel individually to their host country (Russia or the U.S.) to collaborate for 2-3 weeks with partner organizations, which they have independently contacted and selected prior to applying, to seek new solutions for social challenges. Upon their return home, independent professionals implement activities to convey and apply their new knowledge and expertise for the benefit of their colleagues and local communities.  

The INP initiative offers a unique opportunity for applicants to expand their professional networks and gain international perspectives on their social projects. 

Our Impact

Increasing Educational Access
Increasing Educational Access

“When I did this fellowship, I was several years out of school and a Master’s program, and I was thirsty for new educational opportunities. There was no way I could have afforded to take off as much time for a degree because of student debt. Two weeks time off to learn from Russian colleagues was ideal.”

Catalyzing Strategic Thinking
Catalyzing Strategic Thinking

“After my fellowship, my professional life took an absolutely new turn. When I applied, my biggest passion was diversity and inclusion, namely providing equal employment opportunities to people with disabilities. With the knowledge I gained from the fellowship, I came up with a crystal clear and structured vision of how D&I efforts should be implemented properly to make sure I’m moving in the right direction.”

Developing Practitioner Capacities
Developing Practitioner Capacities

“During my fellowship, I saw good examples of how to train volunteers effectively and, moreover, that this job is quite feasible- I can do it too. This gave me great inspiration to implement what had been missing in Samara- a volunteer training course.”

Current Fellows, 2019-2020 Cohort

Elena Bobrovskaia is the Director of Krasnoyarsk Regional Non-Governmental Organization for Non-Formal Education and Intercultural Communication “INTERRA.” Ms. Bobrovskaia’s project seeks to explore existing approaches in youth engagement in the US through the exchange of best practices with representatives of New York City-based NGOs, Henry Street Settlement, and Camba. By holding training sessions and events for young people and practitioners working with youth in New York, Ms. Bobrovskaia aims to share Interra’s experience in running similar activities in Russia. Upon her return from the US, Ms. Bobrovskaia plans to disseminate online articles on non-formal education and social engagement approaches for working with youth and to create an environment for participative art and social change in the city through follow up events in Krasnoyarsk.

Angelina Uzhova is an environmental education specialist from Irkutsk, Russia. Ms. Uzhova will collaborate with the Earth Island Institute from Berkeley, CA, to learn about various tools that promote forest conservation and engage local communities in environmentally-friendly practices. Ms. Uzhova will hold a series of workshops to help children in villages around Irkutsk acquire learn about the critical ecosystems surrounding Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia. To share best practices explored during the meetings with U.S. specialists, Angelina will offer a number of seminars and training sessions with representatives of environmental organizations from Irkutsk and beyond.

Olga Loeva is the Director of the charitable foundation “Act Now” in Moscow, Russia, whose mission is to support people with disabilities and advocate for disability rights. Olga will collaborate with Helix Opportunity from San Francisco, CA, to learn about best practices in employment for people with disabilities in the U.S. Drawing from her U.S. experience, Olga will hold a series of training sessions for Russian professionals, disability advocates, and private sector representatives on how to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities and create more inclusive workplaces.

Olga Kuzmina is an educator at Arboris School of English and Art, a private school located in Izhevsk, Russia. Through participation in the Independent Professionals Initiative, Ms. Kuzmina aims to develop a local guidebook with information on services and activities for families with children with disabilities in Izhevsk. During her visit with the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Ms. Kuzmina will learn about inclusive education and modern assistive technologies for people with disabilities used in everyday life. Drawing from her US experience, Ms. Kuzmina will hold several seminars for educators, private sector representatives, and parents of children with disabilities on creating more accessible learning environments for children with special needs.

Irina Pudovinnikova is a co-founder of the Little People Camp in Moscow, Russia. Ms. Pudovinnikova will collaborate with Camp Nugget based in Long Beach, CA, to develop new programs in occupational therapy and adapted physical education for children with muscular dystrophy at her camp. Ms. Puddovinnikova also plans to conduct a series of webinars on the benefits of adaptive therapy for staff members, parents and local community members based on the information obtained from the Camp Nugget team and interviews with US specialists.

Past Fellows

2018-2019 Cohort

Anastasia Baradacheva is co-founder and president of the Moscow-based Children’s Disabled Hockey League and focuses on  increasing the capacity of Russian and US organizations and professionals to support youth with disabilities in adaptive hockey programs. As part of her SEE project, Anastasia traveled to Tampa, FL, for two weeks in early April, where she attended the 15th annual USA Disabled Hockey Festival. Upon her return to Russia, Anastasia led a webinar and two in-person seminars for Russian sports professionals in June 2019. 

Ekaterina Grishunina is project manager at the Need Help Fund in Moscow, Russia. Her project focuses on increasing the capacity of Russian organizations and professionals to implement crowdfunding campaigns for social projects. Ekaterina traveled in June to the US to study volunteer fundraising practices. After returning to Russia, she conducted a seminar at the 2019 Moscow Innovation Forum and launched an online educational platform featuring crowdfunding lessons. Ekaterina held a volunteer soccer tournament in September to raise awareness of fundraising activities for Russian NGOs.

Anastasia Ruppel is project manager at Stellit, a non-profit social work organization in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Anastasia’s project aims to increase the capacity of Russian professionals working with at-risk youth. In August, Anastasia presented at the “First Things First” Childhood Summit and visited local organizations in Phoenix, Arizona. After returning to Russia, Anastasia conducted a seminar for Russian professionals at NGOs in Saint Petersburg, a webinar for Russian professionals, and two in-person seminars for social work students from regional universities and other interested parties.