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.
Music Director - Hans Graf
The distinguished Austrian conductor Hans Graf is one of today's most highly respected musicians. He was chosen to be the Director of Music Programs for his contribution to the arts as the Music Director of the Houston Symphony. Hans Graf is a frequent guest of RCC and is the driving force.
Born in 1949 near Linz, Hans Graf earned diplomas in piano and conducting from the Musikhochschule in Graz and continued his conducting studies with Franco Ferrara in Siena, Sergiu Celibidache in Bologna and Arvid Jansons in Weimar and Leningrad. His international career was launched in 1979 when he was awarded first prize at the Karl Böhm Competition. Mr. Graf has been awarded the Chevalier de l'ordre de la Legion d'Honneur by the French government for championing French music around the world as well as the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria.
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.
Director of Film and Performance Series - Philip Berquist
Philip Berquist has been active in the Houston arts community for many years. Having served on the Board of Directors of the Greater Houston Youth Orchestra and the Board of Trustee's of the Houston Symphony. Philip also served for two years as the Treasurer and President of the Moores School of Music Society at the University of Houston. He produced the successful Shostakovich Festival at the Moores School in 2000, a major five day international concert series with ballet, chamber, orchestral, choral, opera and poetry.
In 2006 Philip produced a three day Sibelius Festival with chamber (including a world premiere), orchestral and choral music. Also in 2006, he was a delegate at the World Holocaust Foundation Forum, "Let My People Live", in Kiev, Ukraine, to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the massacre at Babi Yar.
Joining the Board of Directors of the Russian Cultural Center in Houston in 2007, Philip has been concentrating on board development and has established a successful monthly Russian Film Series. He has been invaluable in assisting RCC with its on-going performance series. With a degree in accounting and a former career in banking, Philip also holds the position of RCC's Director.
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.