Ukraine Firsthand: Resistance, Resolve, Recovery - Commonwealth Club World Affairs of California
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Ukraine Firsthand: Resistance, Resolve, Recovery

Jan. 24—Connect directly with Ukrainians on the frontlines of the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II. Hear personal testimony of life at war and efforts toward laying foundations for peace and reconstruction.

January 24, 2024

12:00—1:15 PM PT

110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

Commonwealth Club World Affairs

Don’t miss this rare chance—right here in the Bay Area—to hear directly from Ukrainian heroes at the forefront of rebuilding their nation while under attack. Go beyond the headlines to truly understand how life in Ukraine changed after the brutal and unrelenting Russian invasion that began almost two years ago. Discover how the whole-of-nation response has unfolded: driving back Russian forces while stealing national resolve and overcoming the war’s destruction. 

Join us for personal insight as we host a distinguished Ukrainian delegation of parliament members, governing officials, civic leaders and cultural heritage experts. Hear the Mayor of Irpin’s experience of devastating attacks as retaliation for halting Russia’s advance on Kyiv. Be transported to Kharkiv, a city just 20 miles from the Russian border, where its citizens are rebuilding while on the frontlines of entrenched war in eastern Ukraine. Discover the inspiring story of Dobrobat, a volunteer builders’ brigade, leading the civil response to rapid response repair. Our resilient and inspiring guests will share their experiences and strategies for mending and rebuilding physical infrastructure, entire communities and cultural heritage vital to national identity.  

Stick around after the program to mingle with the community and enjoy delicious local cuisine from Leleka, a San Francisco-based and family-run restaurant serving Ukrainian food with a modern twist.

Co-presented by the Center for Innovation.


Konstiantyn Demenkov, Department for Cooperation with International Agencies and Financial Institutions, Kharkiv City Council

Mr. Demenkov serves as a chief advisor for reconstruction to the City Council of Kharkiv. This city, close to the Russian border, has been severely damaged during the war. In May 2023, it was estimated that more than 6,500 houses were damaged, and 500 multi-story residential buildings were so badly damaged that they could not be restored. About 80 hospitals and clinics were damaged, in addition to cultural institutions, museums, universities, subways, buses, cars, and garages. Some were targeted hits, others collateral damage.

Volodymyr Kreidenko, Member of Parliament, Ukraine

Volodymyr Kreidenko has been a member of Ukrainian parliament since 2019. He is a Deputy of Ukraine, Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Kreidenko is also project ambassador for Ukrainian NGO, Dobrobat.

Oleksandr Markushyn, Mayor of Irpin, Ukraine

Mayor Markushyn became the face of opposition to the Russian invasion early in the war when he ordered the destruction of the central bridge linking the city of Irpin to Kyiv, a mere 13 miles apart.  The decision to blow up this bridge prevented the Russian Army from reaching the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv.  In retaliation, the Russian army destroyed much of Irpin.  Today, Mayor Markushyn is actively rebuilding housing and schools in Irpin. With unwavering determination, he has actively defended the city of Irpin since the onset of the Russian-Ukraine war, garnering well-deserved recognition and accolades for his steadfast efforts in safeguarding the community.

Daryna Nedzelska,Culture Consultant at the UNESCO Kyiv Desk

Daryna oversees projects focused on damage and risk assessment, emergency restoration, and stabilization work in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Odesa, and Kharkiv under the Heritage Emergency Fund support and within the Project “Support for Ukraine in Culture and Education through UNESCO: Emergency Response for World Heritage” and cultural property: damage assessment and protection, funded through UNESCO. Daryna’s dedication and contributions to culture and arts were recognized in 2018 when she received an honorary award from the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine.


Ashley Archie, Partnerships Officer, US State Department Office of Global Partnerships