Sophia Grinblat

President and Founding Director

Sophia Grinblat is the founding director and the president of the RCC. Mrs. Grinblat came to Houston in 1990 from Ukraine 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 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.

Igor Alexander

VP and Director of Film and Performance Series

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 her in Houston, in New York and in Germany. Most recently he was a columnist for the Houston Press weekly newspaper. He deeply involved in organizing of annual documentary movie festivals, art exhibitions and presentations of RCC “Our Texas”.
Piotr Galitzine, photo2

Piotr Galitzine

Financial Director

Piotr Galitzine is a former chairman and CEO of TMK IPSCO, the American subsidiary of TMK. Prior to joining TMK IPSCO, he served on the Board of Directors of TMK as an independent director and has an extensive international background and career, including senior positions with Mannesmann AG and BASF SE. He worked as a design engineer for ten years, last of all in Silicon Valley, before moving on to sales, marketing, and management. He has worked on three continents and ten countries and states. He is involved in rebuilding churches in Russia’s provinces, women’s microfinance and children’s rehabilitation in Russia. Galitzine has received many awards and distinctions, the last one being the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship.
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Lidia Gold

Music Director

Lidiya Gold was born in Lviv, Ukraine and moved to Texas in 1994. She attended St. Edward’s University in Austin. With Frost Private Bank in West University since 2008, she serves as a Vice President and Private Bank Relationship Officer. Lidiya is responsible for providing a focal point for clients as they work through complex banking, financial planning, investment, legacy and philanthropic plans. She loves classical music, literature, and travel adventures. Lidiya also works with several non-for-profit organizations in the Rice Village trade area 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. She has two daughters.

Julio Montano

Director of Development Communications, Secretary

Born in Bolivia, early life in Ecuador, Argentina. Grew up outside London.

Got BSc Geoogy and Geophysics, Durham University Durham, UK and MSc Geophysics New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, USA.

Works in oil and gas industry. First visited Russia with ConocoPhillips to work on LukOil joint venture software/data. Since than he was visited Russian ten times.

His interest in Russian art, particularly the avant-garde, and architecture and music, has broadened to history as these are more often than not related.
He has been studying Russian since 2007.

Personal photography of my families day downtown in Houston, Texas USA

Lisa Whitaker

Art Director

Lisa has been fluent in Russian since her education at Melbourne University, Melbourne Australia, but is also fluent in French and conversational in 5 other languages.

An experienced manager in international aid and development, she has been recognized for her achievements and service with many local, national and international awards.

Her last working position was Executive Director, Harris County Hospital District Foundation.

Apart from her duties on the board of RCC, Lisa has also served in other boards that focus on education, health and international relations with a focus on Russia. Currently she is chair of the Veterans Business Advisory Council and the Public Health and Community Service Committees of the Houston Rotary.

She enjoys languages, ballet and horseback riding.

Maxim Photo (sq)

Maskim Koloskov

Website Director

Maksim Koloskov is an architect and artist, born and raised in Russia until his graduation from the Moscow Architectural Institute in 1994. He then moved to Houston in 1995. Maksim’s professional career in the United States started in Gensler Studio 585, where he designed office buildings for consulting and legal companies. Having established himself as a more than capable designer after nine successful years, he moved to Rottet Studio, where he designed and oversaw the construction of hotels. Though he works full-time as an architect and designer, he is also a spectacularly talented sketch artist that can also be credited as the artist and designer of the wonderful murals on both sides of our building and as the sole designer and architect behind our planned renovations. He is also a devout fan of rock music.
d m collins

Donna Collins


Donna has been a member/supporter of the Russian Cultural Center for a number of years. She particularly enjoys the musical programs and art exhibits and had donated to help make a number of these programs possible. In 2018, Donna became a board member.

She has 3 degrees from Rice – BA, MA, & PhD in behavioral science, and a computer science BA from UH Clear Lake. Her dissertation topic was Houston’s Greek community.

Donna taught at University of St Thomas for 14 years, then moved to industry. She retired from Williams Gas Pipe Line 4 years ago, having worked as a technical trainer in Operations. In this job she traveled all over the US to work with field employees.

She has been traveling internationally for 20 years and has visited 123 countries, including 3 trips to Russia.


Karen Kossie-Chernyshev, Ph.D.

Education Director

Native Houstonian and fourth-generation Texan Karen Kossie-Chernyshev, Ph.D., is three times a graduate of Rice University, where she earned a dual B.A. in French and English, an M.A. in History, and a Ph.D. in History. She is the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in History from Rice and the first African American woman to earn a PhD in History from a Texas institution.

Dr. Kossie-Chernyshev has been awarded numerous fellowships and grants, including awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Texas Council for the Humanities, Humanities Texas, and Summerlee Foundation. She has taught for Rice University’s Language Programs, University of Houston, Oberlin College, and Texas Southern University, where she is a tenured professor of history.

She also serves as an outside evaluation consultant for the Young Women’s Initiative, an affiliate of the Texas Women’s Foundation, National Young Women’s Initiative Collaborative, Girls for Gender Equity, and the Earl Carl Institute (Texas Southern University).


2337 Bissonnet St. Houston, TX 77005
Phone: 713.395.3301



Monday – Friday 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Saturday 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Sunday 10:30 AM – 1:00 PM



2337 Bissonnet St. Houston, TX 77005
Phone: 713.395.3301


Monday – Friday 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Sunday 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM


© 2020 Russian Cultural Center – Our Texas. All rights reserved