Experts & Leaders

Experts & Leaders

Tamara Morris (Yumsunova) holds the Russian equivalent of a PhD degree in Linguistics. She is an expert on Old Believer dialects and the author of two monographs: Lexical vocabulary of the Semeisky – Old Believers of the Transbaikal (Novosibirsk, 1992), and Language of the Semeisky – Old Believers of the Transbaikal (Moscow, 2005). She also edited and co-authored Dictionary of the Old Believers of the Transbaikal (Novosibirsk, 1992), as well as multiple scholarly articles. 

In 2006, Dr. Yumsunova moved to Woodburn, Oregon due to her marriage to Dr. Richard Morris. There she continues to research the Russian Old Believers of North America, producing a number of articles and presenting at scientific conferences in the United States and Russia. Together with her husband, she contributed to a book, titled The Days in Romanovka (2012), which features an extensive photographic history and commentaries on the lives of former residents of Romanovka, a Russian Old Believer village in Manchuria. 
Dr. Yumsunova-Morris remains engaged in academic work through her current role as a Courtesy Professor at the University of Oregon. She can be contacted at:

Paul J. Wigowsky is a retired elementary and middle school teacher from Woodburn, with two masters degrees (in English and Russian) from San Francisco State University. He has lived and worked among Oregon’s Old Believers for most of his life. He has taught their children and worked closely with Old Believer families. 

Mr. Wigowsky’s major hobby has been the Old Believers’ history, religion and culture. He created a website devoted to this subject, and he wrote a novel depicting the journeys of an Old Believer family that flees from China to South America and then to Oregon. Titled Freedom for an Old Believer, the novel draws its plot from the real-life stories of Russian Old Believers.  With his extensive connections to the Old Believers and his knowledge of their history, Mr. Wigowsky provides information, facilitates contacts and gives talks about this fascinating Oregon community. 

Polina Olsen is a Portland freelance writer and regular contributor to the Jewish Review newspaper. She is the author of several books on local history including A Walking Tour of Historic Jewish PortlandThe Downtown JewsThe Immigrants’ Children: Jewish and Italian Memories of Old South Portland, Stories From Jewish Portland, and Portland in the 1960s: Stories From the Counterculture.  She is also the founder of the Oregon Jewish Folk Arts Society, and is a skilled embroiderer. 
Mrs. Olsen grew up in New York, and moved to Oregon to attend University of Oregon, where she studied computer science. She worked as a software engineer for two decades before turning to historical writings. Mrs. Olsen lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, Andy, and her cats, Baba Ghanoush and Koshka. For more information, please visit this page.

Vadim Riskin, a multicultural professional with expertise in education, nonprofit organizations, community affairs, program design and strategy development, has been a leader in the Slavic community for decades. One of the original founders and chair of the Annual Russian Speaking Youth Leadership Conference founded 18 years ago and a long-time employee of Portland Public Schools, Vadim Riskin has been given numerous awards and has gained much recognition for his work with the community. 

Mr. Riskin has been an invited speaker at various Oregon Universities on topics such as “Multicultural Education and the Minority Student” and “Cultural Diversity” and presented at the seventh annual Multicultural Symposium in Salem, Oregon as well as at the State of Oregon Governor’s Summit on Over-Representation of Minority Youth in the Juvenile Justice System. 

In 2010, Mr. Riskin, as a member of the Multnomah County library delegation, was invited to Washington, D.C. to receive the National Medal for Museum and Library Services award. The award was presented by White House officials and members of the US Congress. 

Vadim Riskin is a Founder and President of East European Coalition, a non-profit organization created to unite the Eastern European Communities in the Pacific NW and promote Eastern European culture.

Mr. Riskin has written and published two books. The “Language Resource Manual for Schools” which supports English speakers in communicating with those that speak Russian, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Spanish, Lao and Mien (Language Treasures, 2005) and can be found at both school and public libraries.  Mr. Riskin can be contacted at:

Galina Nekrasova moved to the United States in 2001. In Russia she worked as a high school principal in St. Petersburg for many years. Here in Oregon she has continued her career as an educator, although mostly on a volunteer basis. In the fall of 2012 she organized a Russian community school in Northeast Portland, which offers Russian literacy, history and culture classes to children whose parents emigrated from the former Soviet Union. Serving as the school’s only teacher, Mrs. Nekrasova often invites guest speakers to her classes and takes her students on educational field trips. Another major contribution that Mrs. Nekrasova has made to the local Russophone community in Oregon is putting together the annual Slavic Festival, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2013. Currently, Mrs. Nekrasova serves as president of the Oregon chapter of the Association of Slavic Immigrants USA. She lives with her daughter and two grandchildren in Beaverton. Mrs. Nekrasova’s e-mail: