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Apr 28, 2022

Our guests today are three women from the Central Coast of CA who share their Ukrainian heritage and the pain, fear and anger they are experiencing during the current, ongoing Russian invasion of their country of origin. Our interview was remarkable. You will hear strong emotions expressed; some of the stories and concerns will be troubling. There is death, famine, war and struggle in Ukraine’s history. But there is beauty, art, joy, resolve and strength as well.





Annie Doryk-Cappelli was born in Canada and raised in both Canada and South Florida. She moved to California in the early 1990's and continued her pursuit of painting, illustration, figurative sculpture and documentary filmmaking after attending art school in Toronto, Canada.  You can see her work at

Annie has deep Ukrainian heritage. Both her parents spoke and wrote Ukrainian, and her father played accordion in a Ukrainian polka band. The family spoke Ukrainian at home until her parents moved permanently to the USA. Upon returning to Canada for college, Annie lived in a Ukrainian dormitory that proved to be quite fun. With the support of a Ukrainian community she met in San Diego, Annie continued her art education studying editing, graphic design and animation.

Wherever Annie went, she took both her culture and her passion for art with her; after traveling extensively in North America, she eventually settled on the Central Coast of California. Since it was difficult to find Ukrainian friends here, Annie put in additional effort at home to practice Ukrainian customs and prepare traditional foods, teaching her son about their heritage. In addition to practicing her wide range of artistic talents, Annie began studying marine algae in 2010 and became a commercial kelp harvester in 2012. She now sells a line of commercial seaweed products. 

Since the war began in Ukraine, Annie has reached out to new friends she has met in the Ukrainian community in Santa Barbara. She continues to utilize her artistic skills to create posters, banners and items to sell at fundraising efforts in the Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach areas. Annie’s hope and inspiration are revived by her new Ukrainian friends with their poignant stories, resilience, humor and grace as they comfort one another at this difficult time.


Oksana Yakushko grew up in Kyiv, Ukraine, and immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s. She is a licensed psychologist, psychoanalyst, psychology professor, and scholar in Santa Barbara, CA. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, and in 2021, Oksana received the Women in Leadership award from the APA. Her scholarship and clinical work have focused on issues of social justice, including immigration, xenophobia, human trafficking, gender violence, and eugenics, the latter a discredited “science” that justifies prejudice.

Oksana is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles and book chapters. She has consulted and presented with such organizations as the U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum (Smithsonian Institution), the United Nations, Opera Santa Barbara, and many other groups. Because most of her family members and numerous friends reside in Ukraine and are facing both the currently ongoing, horrific Russian aggression, as well as the challenges of becoming war refugees, she has focused her clinical, scholarly and activist work most recently on aiding Ukraine and fighting the war.


Irina Malkmus came to the United States from Kharkiv, Ukraine in 2005, not knowing one word of English or even how to drive a car. Nearly 15 years later, she is extremely proud to have a career as both a permanent-makeup artist and a fine artist in Solvang, CA.

Although her dream from childhood had been to attend art school, Irina began her college education studying to become a nurse. After three years working in a hospital neonatal ward, she then attended the Ukraine National University of Internal Affairs where she earned a degree in social psychology, graduating in 2005.

During what free time Irina had while studying, she never gave up her passion for fine art. While still in graduate school, Irina met a woman who was a pioneer in the permanent makeup industry. She taught Irina about cosmetic tattooing, which was a new industry at the time. It was a form of art that Irina had not anticipated practicing.

In 2005, Irina met her now ex-husband in Ukraine. They moved to Lompoc and married in 2006. They began traveling and surfing all over the world, eventually returning to California and settling in Orcutt, where they remained for three years and started a family. In 2009, her twin girls were born, and in 2014, her son was born, but Irina always found a window for her passion—art. She started taking art classes at Allan Hancock College and Santa Barbara City College. Eventually, the family settled in Solvang.

Irina now practices the art of permanent makeup artistry in the Santa Ynez Valley. She is the first and only permanent makeup artist in Solvang. Irina also maintains her passion for fine art, showing her work in Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Valley galleries and teaching art at Solvang School. She also makes jewelry. Her plans include starting painting and art classes for children and adults, with a goal of building an art community in Solvang.

“I chose a career as a permanent makeup artist because of my passion for helping people improve their self-confidence, bringing their inner beauty to the surface through the medium of makeup,” says Irina. “I now am the artist I always wanted to be, I just changed canvases.” 



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People of Faith for Justice is a 501(c)(3) non-profit  organization.


The People of Faith for Justice Podcast is produced and edited by Jeff Manildi

Music for the People of Faith for Justice Podcast is provided by Andrew Gorman