Team and Trustees


Anna Kogan Nasser

Founder and CEO

Whilst on holiday in Russia in 2010, I was reminded of my youth there. I was surprised to see that not much has changed since Communist times: groups of stray dogs, one- eyed sick kittens on the street, various types of animal abuse. Something had to be done, and so Big Hearts Foundation was born. Here is an interview which sheds more light as to why I chose to dedicate my life to fixing this.


Nelly Mihill

Development Director

Ever since I was a little girl my biggest passion in life has been the fight for the animal rights and environment. I grew up in Russia seeing so many suffering animals and trying to rescue as many as I could. I hope that with the help from such dedicated organisations as Big Hearts we can achieve a better future for the animals where they don’t have to suffer anymore.


Ekaterina Kochegurova

Animal Welfare Director

“As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other.” Pythagoras  

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Volha Odarchenko

Marketing Director

“In my childhood I was determined that when I grow up I’ll build a shelter for homeless animals. But Big Hearts Foundation does so  much more than just a shelter for animals in need!” . Olga is responsible for our social networks and creates social ads for raising awareness in Russia. She is also in touch with humane education teachers, providing them our material and support whilst developing animal welfare contacts and volunteers in Belarus.


Maria Balandina

Biologist, Captive Wildlife Executive 

Despite my love for nature in its every expression, I try to be realistic. The problem of animal cruelty in Russia, overlooked for almost a century, is also a problem of the modern society. Establishment of animal rights or any other positive changes regarding animal welfare in Russia is unlikely to happen without the support from its very citizens. When the problem is recognised and widely supported, there is a greater chance to solve it effectively. Focusing on individual cases is great; however, getting all the big hearts together and targeting the whole system would let us save much greater numbers of animals across the country.

For me, raising awareness and funding for “Big Hearts” is the opportunity to meet similar-minded people and make a difference together.


Elena Matienko

Fundraising and Social Awareness Executive

Throughout all my life my nearest and dearest have been trying to make me care only about myself. That didn’t work.

From the comfort of my home and having access to living necessities, I cannot stop thinking about those who suffer from cold, hunger and inhumanity.

Animal welfare is one of fundamental truths which each child should be taught since birth.

Therefore I believe I’m lucky to meet this small but energetic team with clear vision of their mission and are as concerned about the animal welfare problem. The Big Hearts Foundation deals not just with overpopulation of unwanted homeless animals in streets of Russia and other countries, but also runs humane education projects for the younger generations.


Inna Kuznetsova

Сaptive Wildlife Executive

I’ve always loved animals, the most amazing, pure and sincere creatures. I have been thinking for a long time to join some charity due to desire to give something back to the world. For me it was just a matter of choice: animals or environment.

I have chosen animals. As they need real protection from us, people, with the help of us, people.

The Big Hearts Foundation has welcomed me immediately and I only regret that I didn’t join them much sooner.


Alexander Bogachuk,

Animal welfare and humane education expert

He has participated in many international conferences and seminars, has a number of publications on animal welfare and humane education in scientific journals.


Katya Orlova

Humane Education Project Manager

“The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give it way”. My loving family helped me to understand it and circumstances helped me to implement it in life. Education and teaching have been my life since I remember myself.

I am accustomed to long-lasting goals as knowledge investments without seeing the result immediately. Things take time, especially innovative ones. The Big Hearts Foundation is changing the way animal welfare perceived in Russia by regaining its moral compass. I think the educators must play vital role in changing it. I truly believe Russian people are the most altruistic people of all. I hope with the help of the Fond, we can improve the situation by raising new generation of children who take care of their environment and all god creatures/ furry friends. Cats and dogs are not wild animals and we should stop pretending they will survive on the own on the streets. “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed”. Everybody knows this quote so let’s learn to act on it as well!


Ana Tomsa

Project coordinator, Moldova

Strays are being poisoned, drowned and hanged in Moldova. Children are witnessing blood, gun shots and animal screams.

Upon joining Big Hearts Foundation I began working towards penetrating European practices on regulating the strays population, humane education and focusing on the importance of spaying/neutering strays.


Andrei Zhidkoff


Andrei is a CEO of the social company that renovates old buildings in Russia with non-budgetary funds, improving the living conditions of the needy tenants.

Previously he dealt with the non-profit sector in organisations such as UBS, PwC and the University of Bern. He lived in Switzerland for 13 years and one year in France. He graduated from SFU and the University of Basel with a degree in economics and law.

His motto is – develop Philanthro-capitalism or capitalism with a human face. He is particularly interested in large-scale, long-lasting and double/triple effects in philanthropy and social entrepreneurship.

AllaAlla Furmanova,


Growing up I often witnessed neglect and suffering of stray animals on the streets of my hometown – Moscow. My family and I did the little we could to help the strays and from the young age I wanted to find a permanent relief to their suffering.

4 years ago, I was lucky to have met Anna and am finally able to contribute to this problem on a larger scale and work on improving situation not just in one neighbourhood but across multiple cities and regions of the former USSR. I am truly thrilled to work alongside for the purpose so close to my heart.

JELENAHelena Fedotova,


I live and work in the financial industry and was disturbed by the amount of cruelty in my home country and surroundings when growing up. I used to have a dog as a child back home in Lithuania and was spending all my free time in the yard with lots of horses, cats and dogs. Every dog and cat deserves a loving home and the team of Big Hearts Foundation are 100% committed to their mission and are doing all they can and more to help animals in the region.

Russian office

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Anastasia Komagina

President of fund in Russia

When regions need legal support with prosecution of animal torturers, they call Anastasia. When there is no vet in their town who can neuter, they can arrange through her to get their charity minded vets trained in Moscow through the fund. Besides writing animal welfare laws and initiating their implementation in the Duma, Anastasia has a small efficient private shelter with 30 animals, where after treatment and rehabilitation a large percentage of animals are placed in good homes.


Vladimir Rybalko

Biologist / Scientist / Shelter director in Petrozavodsk

Analytic materials written by Vladimir are being used in developing the “Law on responsible treatment of Animals” in the Russian Government. Vladimir is also director of “Movement of realistic Animal welfare – 5 Freedoms” and runs an efficient animal shelter in his home town – Petrozavodsk. His combination of theoretical and practical knowledge makes him invaluable in creating effective stray animal practices.


Data Analyst

I am collecting and analysing valuable experiences in stray population management across Russia, the good and the bad. I am assisting in writing of ideas and proposals for pushing regional administrations to improve their animal welfare policies.

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Irina Alisova

Scientist and Teacher

Irina is a biologist, who is helping us with the development and lobbying of A ban on animal testing of cosmetics in Russia. She is an expert in alternative testing methods.
Irina is also a teacher and gives classes in our Humane Education programs in Moscow region schools, thereby promoting awareness and a kind attitude to all living creatures.