The Marina's Kids Team

Board of Directors

Marina James

President and Co-Founder

Marina is one of the founders, whose relationships with children in Ukraine inspired our organization’s name. Marina lives in PA with her husband Sean and seven of their kids that are still under 18 years of age. Currently Marina is the president of Marina’s kids with a focus on overseeing all of our projects. She travels to Ukraine twice a year to check on the projects and to continue to develop relationships with the kids, orphanages staff, and our volunteers.

To read more about Marina see “Marina’s Story”

Sean James

Chief Financial Officer and Co-Founder

Sean and Marina James have been married for 20 years. Together they have five biological, four adopted children and have helped to raise several foster children over the years. Sean has worked with children in his local church and also in the community when he organized events for children at a hobby shop he owned until 2001. Sean earned his MBA in 2008 and his experience in the business world includes technology, people and program management.

Michelle Phillips

Director of Hosting Program

Michelle and her family adopted from Ukraine several years ago. When her family adopted their son and met so many beautiful children from his orphanage, they realized that there was more to the adoption than just going home and enjoying their new son.  They wanted to make the lives of the precious kids left behind better. There were so many great kids, older kids, worthy of a loving family. Michelle saw that hosting was the way to get these children noticed.  Michelle volunteered with several non-profits to help bring children to the US for hosting. After a year or so she met Marina and Sean, the founders of Marina’s Kids. Michelle was the person who brought Marina’s Kids Hosting program to be. She organizes volunteers and has helped numerous families find children.

Mike Johnson


Mike is one of the newest members of the Marina’s Kids Team.  Mike and his wife Kristy got involved with Marina’s Kids in late 2013 when they hosted their first child from the Ukraine.  They instantly fell in love not only with their host child, but also with the Marina’s Kids organization and purpose.  Mike and Kristy have three children and reside in Cary, NC.  In his professional life, Mike is the Director of Research and Development for the DataDirect business unit of Progress Software where he spends his days leading highly productive teams in producing world class data connectivity software.

US Volunteers

Melissa Covarrubias

Hosting Volunteer

Melissa has been with Marina’s Kids from the beginning of the hosting program. Melissa volunteered to set up and run the program along side of Michelle. Melissa has hosted and later adopted a son from Ukraine. She lives and works in TX , with her husband and four kids.

Ann Gladheart

Volunteer, Assistant of hosting program

Stacy Colbassani


Ukraine Volunteers

Julia Zadvorna

Julia Zadvorna

Host Program Facilitator

Julia lives in Ukraine. She has many children that love her from many orphanages and aged out. Julia travels all over Ukraine to check on the kids and bring them gifts and letters from host families and sponsors. Besides preparing most of the documents needed for hosting program, she comes to US two times a year with our hosting program and checks on all of the kids. Julia earns her living by assisting with adoptions which is how she met Sean and Marina. Julia facilitated their first adoption in 2011. Julia is very passionate with her work and volunteering. She is loved by everyone who meets her.

Yuri Safonov

Yuri Safonov

Yuri lives and works in Kiev, Ukraine. He is responsible for managing all the documentation in Ukraine for our hosting programs. He helps our volunteers with Airport pick-ups, a place to stay, rides, and anything else needed in Kiev. His primary occupation is as a liaison for adoptions and he has helped many Marina’s kids host families bring the children they love home.

Igor Dudka

Igor has a history of working with orphans before he began volunteering for Marina’s Kids. As the matter of fact, the orphans introduced Igor to Marina. Kids in one of the orphanages said to Marina: “Do you know Igor? He comes to visit us sometimes, he is great and we love him. He is a lot like you! You should meet! Here is his phone number!!!” Igor lives and works in Odessa region. He is married and has 3 kids. As a volunteer, he visits about 5 orphanages regularly in that area. Igor gets to know both the kids and the staff, teaches the word of God. He also looks for what is needed and figures out a way to provide it. Igor runs a puppet theater program with a group of volunteers from his church. For Marina’s Kids he is in charge of supervising projects, like the purchase of winter shoes. Igor is currently supervising one of our biggest projects, the shower houses in Location #12. In the summer Igor runs summer camps for orphans.

Angela, Igor, Yana and Sasha Berezinkie

Angela, Igor, Yana and Sasha Berezinkie

Angela and Yana are a mother daughter team, who live in Izmail. They started by developing relationships with the aged out orphans Marina introduced them to. Now they run the Izmail “you are not alone” clubhouse, mentoring and teaching orphans ages 15-21. The clubhouse helps young mothers and works with two local orphanages, providing aid, developing relationship with kids and staff, and teaching the word of God. They run an educational and support program for single mothers with Down syndrome children. In the summer, both Angela and Yana are involved in summer camps for orphans. Their husbands’, Igor and Sasha, help with mentoring older, aged out orphan boys. Marina’s Kids sponsors over 90% of the work that is done, the last few % is provided by their church in Izmail.

Kirill Miximov

Kirill Miximov

Kirill was an orphan who was impacted by Marina. They met during a hosting program run by an organization Marina volunteered with in 2009 when Kirill was just 15. Marina became a mentor for Kirill and maintained the relationship via phone calls and letters. When Kirill turned 18, he started to accompany Marina on her mission trips all over Ukraine. Kirill decided that he wanted to impact lives of orphans and young families that have little or no support in the area he grew up in, Crimea. At present Kirill works with a local church to impact the lives of the orphans in the orphanage that he grew up in, as well as improving life and be a support for the aged out orphans in that area.

Inna Pogorelaya

Inna was one of the first volunteers in Ukraine with Marina’s Kids. Inna lives and works in Odessa region. She is married with a one grown daughter, Olga. By profession, Inna is a nurse. Over the years Inna has helped with many medical projects. She takes kids to specialists from local orphanages and following though with many lifesaving surgeries and treatments. She also supervises projects at the Zatoca sanatorium for children, such as getting new pillows and the installation of windows in the orphan wing. She manages the distribution of donated items shipped from the US by Marina’s Kids

Olga Pogorelaya

Olga is a great asset to Marina’s Kids. She joined our team as a helper to her mother, Inna. But over the years became so much more. Olga does a lot of research of the local laws and helps with documentation for the orphans who have fallen through the cracks. She also helps Inna by taking kids to medical treatments, as well as checking on Marina’s Kids projects in local orphanages and providing aid such as hygiene products and clothing, on behalf of Marina’s Kids.