RWCFI President and co-founder since its inception in 1993, Yevgeniy was trained and practiced pediatric surgery in his native Saint Petersburg, Russia. Since immigrating to Sweden in the 1980’s, Dr. Kesarev now practices Psychiatry in Stockholm and also serves as the President of the Raoul Wallenberg University for Families and Children in Saint Petersburg. Dr. Kesarev headed RWCFI-Russia's work in cooperation with Swedish Young Life to distribute approximately $ 3,000,000.00 customs value of humanitarian aid to children's hospitals and orphanages in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad). Dr. Kesarev’s RWCFI-Russia work includes participation in the establishment of the Raoul Wallenberg International University for Family and Child in Saint Petersburg. The University is celebrating its 20 year anniversary and is one of the top three private education institutions in their area of study. Dr. Kesarev, through the RWCFI, developed the University children’s communication program, ‘Basics of Communication’, and has provided scholarships for disabled students to study Psychology and Special Education.
The Vice President of RWCFI, Susan is committed to improving the lives and conditions of young children and their families. A graduate of Harvard University, and former Research Associate in Science on the faculty at the Yale University School of Medicine’s Child Study Center, Ms. Vater served for more than twenty-five years as Director of the Developmental and Behavioral Pediatric Clinic in the City of Hartford Health Department. She is also co-author of the Infant and Toddler Developmental Assessment (IDA), serves on the Board of the CT Association of Infant Mental Health, and is a consultant for early childhood developmental and behavioral services.
Member of the RWCFI Board of Directors, Craig is a lifelong innovative educator and Principal of the Mount Holly Vermont School, an exceptional elementary school balancing creativity with academic rigor; an approach that has resulted in students exceeding state averages for the New England Common Assessment Program (NEAP) exams by significant margins in all academic disciplines. The state of Vermont gives recognition to this school as one of a very few in the state whose students are at grade level proficiency or above despite facing the significant challenges of poverty. Mr. Hutt's work exemplifies the RWCFI mission to ensure that those who are disadvantaged have the resources for achieving optimal outcomes.
RWCFI Board Treasurer since its inception in 1993, Sydney has practiced law for fifty (50) years as of August, 2013, served in the United States Air Force from 1963-1966, and as Executive Director of Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc. Of Hartford from 1966-1974. While carrying on a general practice, he has specialized as a trial litigator in court, particularly in personal injury matters, representation in Workers Compensation matters and in representing small businesses. He has a special emphasis and area of practice in profit & nonprofit organizations. Attorney Schulman currently serves as Mayor of Bloomfield, Connecticut. In 1999-2000 he served as Council Chairman of the State of Connecticut for Multiple District 23, Lions Clubs International. In 1998-1999, he served as District Governor of Lions Clubs International District 23B. He is, until June 30, 2013, President of the Bloomfield Lions Club and has served the District 23B Lions Cabinet in many capacities. He also currently and until June 30, 2014 serves as Immediate Past President of Beth Hillel Synagogue in Bloomfield, CT. As a litigator, he has been involved in many cases involving improving the community, including La Casa de Puerto Rico, Inc. vs. the City of Hartford in the late 1970s, which led to Latinos being accepted as firefighters in the City of Hartford. Also, the landmark consent decree in 1973 ordered in the case of Cintron vs. Vaughan was a significant step in the promotion and hiring of Latinos and African Americans in the Hartford Police Department.
RWCFI Board Member since its inception in 1993, Elba has dedicated her life and career to helping children and families in need of support. She served as a social worker for the City of Hartford Health and Human Services Department for more than 25 years. She is a founding member and officer of the Hartford Multinational Lions Club and is also a Village for Families and Children Corporator. Elba also serves on the Board of Directors for Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford and the Hispanic Health Council.
Vladimir Bukovsky, writer, scientist, and human rights campaigner, was one of the founders of the dissident movement in the USSR which began in the fall of 1960 on Moscow’s Mayakovsky Square. He spent 12 years in prisons and psychiatric hospitals, was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1976, and has been at the forefront of opposition to the overwhelmingly powerful state. Mr. Bukovsky first exposed the use of psychiatry against Soviet political prisoners and wrote about his time in a succession of Soviet jails, gulags and lockups, His landmark book, To Build a Castle: My Life as a Dissenter (1979), is one of the 20th century's great memoirs. He is also the author of Soul of Man Under Socialism (1979), and Soviet Hypocrisy and Western Gullibility (1987). Settled in Cambridge, England, since 1976, he is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. In recent years he has repeatedly called for Russian liberals to stand up to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s unconstitutional behavior. Mr. Bukovsky’s friend, Alexander Litvinenko, calls him ‘a shining light in a darkening world’.
Dr. Kyle D. Pruett, Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry and Nursing, served as Director of Medical Studies at the Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center, where he recently received the Lifetime Distinguished Teaching award. As president of Zero to Three: The National Center for Infants, Toddlers and their Families, he headed America’s most prestigious multidisciplinary resource and training center for infant/family professionals. Award-winning clinician, author and researcher, Dr. Pruett conducted the nation’s only longitudinal study of the developmental outcomes for children when raised by stay-at-home fathers. His writings include 100+ original scientific articles, the classic Nurturing Father, (American Health Book Award), Me, Myself and I: The Child’s Sense of Self (Independent Book Publisher’s Award), and Partnership Parenting: How Men and Women Parent Differently. He serves on the PBS National Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of Sesame Workshop, and of the Performing Arts Medicine Board of Directors. He was chosen by Peter Jennings to co-host the Children’s Town Meeting on ABC News the Saturday after 9/11. With his wife Marsha Kline Pruett, he is co-investigator in the Collaborative Divorce Project to reduce the trauma of divorce in young children’s lives, and the prestigious 800 family, multi-site, multiracial abuse and neglect evidenced-based prevention study, ‘Supporting Fatherhood Involvement for California’s Department of Social Service, Office of Child Abuse Prevention, which is currently undergoing replication in Alberta, Canada and Hartford, CT.
Dr. Frank Vajda, trained as a Neurologist in Melbourne and London, is Clinical Professor of Neuropharmacology at Monmash University in Melbourne, Australia. Born in Budapest, he now lives in Melbourne and divides his time between doing research in Neuropharmacology and seeking the truth about the fate of Raoul Wallenberg. Dr. Vajda was nine years old when he was one of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews saved by Raoul Wallenberg. Dr. Vajda/s translation of Jeno Lavai’s book published in Hungary in 1948 and described by Diplomat, Per Anger, as “the most authentic and well documented description of Wallenberg’s work in Budapest” was published in 1988 and reprinted in 2002. In 2003 Dr. Vajda was honored by the King of Sweden who conferred on him the Royal Order of the Polar Star First Class for his work in the memory of Raoul Wallenberg. Dr. Vajda has been head of the Free Wallenberg Committee and works on other projects commemorating Wallenberg including naming the Australian Centre for Neuropharmacology after the Swedish Hero.
In over 100 hours of film captured during her late-90's, Sonja Sonnenfeld conveys the breathtaking stories of her life as a young Jewish woman living in Berlin during Hitler's rise to power and vividly recounts the enthralling scope of her work with the Official Raoul Wallenberg Committee, striving tirelessly for more than thirty years after "retirement" to find and free Raoul Wallenberg from the Russian prison system.
Along with her brother, Guy von Dardel, Mrs. Lagergren helped to form the Official Raoul Wallenberg Committee and dedicated her life to finding her brother Raoul and bringing him back home. We give special thanks to Mrs. Nina Lagergren for giving generously of her time and participation during the Stockholm interviews and events contributing to the research for our the documentary film “Rescuing Raoul Wallenberg”.
Miriam “Mims” Butterworth, now 99, has been a champion for civil liberties throughout her remarkable life, as an activist, educator, and public servant. She has been a faculty member of the Loomis Chaffee School and served as acting President of Hartford College for Women. In addition to serving on the West Hartford Town Council, Mims was a vocal peace activist during the Vietnam War, served as a delegate to the 1968 Chicago Convention, as well as traveled to Central America five times as both an election observer and in her capacity with the Center for Global Education. Amazingly, she was also in Nazi Germany in 1938 just months before Kristallnacht, in her pursuit to see firsthand what was unfolding into World War II. Mims has graciously provided RWCFI with her vivid firsthand account from the front lines of history, along with her reflections on the parallels she sees in troubling current events.
Orphaned by the Holocaust and a survivor of multiple concentration camps and the death march at the end of the Second World War, Gisela was a founding member of the Holocaust survivor movement in America and worked for decades as a Holocaust educator. RWCFI was extremely fortunate to have filmed one of Gisela’s final interviews. Like Sonja Sonnenfeld, Gisela dedicated much time to speaking to students of all ages in Connecticut and New York about her historical experiences and overcoming trauma with resilience and compassion.