The STROIKA Story
STROIKA was born of the urgent need to build an interconnected, intersectional grassroots movement confronting authoritarianism around the world.
Our team of two – Yelena V Litvinov & Tatyana Margolin – has watched with alarm the rapid backsliding into authoritarianism across multiple countries and continents, and the insufficient and fragmented philanthropic support to the dynamic grassroots movements rising up to challenge it.
We know the powerful potential of philanthropy when it’s done right. But we have also witnessed – and challenged – the risk-averse funders, slow-moving bureaucracy, and narrow funding criteria that leave movements struggling with insufficient resources. Activists with an intersectional outlook are often siloed in their own disciplines and geographies, due to inflexible strategies and donor funding rules.
We set out to find a better way. Our aim was to champion a more globally-connected and well-funded anti-authoritarian movement, able to take immediate action, with the resources needed to turn ideas into reality.
To meet the moment, we began to build from our roots.
We were both born under the former Soviet Union’s decrepit authoritarian regime, and we’ve understood from our earliest years that even under the most repressive and oppressive conditions, change begins with the people who resist. Raised in the United States, we know that hard-won freedoms are never guaranteed.
Together, we have over three decades of experience in international philanthropy, law, organizing, and non-profit consulting. We have been on the vanguard of multiple social movements and have successfully supported activists in the most challenging and restrictive country contexts, cultivating diverse networks along the way. We witnessed firsthand that resourcing driven pragmatists on the front lines of social change – whether formal organizations, informal movements, or individuals – can make the difference that alters history.
A passionate movement builder, strategist, and social justice coach. Arriving in the northeastern US on refugee status from Kyiv, he grew up amidst the contradictions of the “American dream” of the 1990s, cementing a life-long commitment to equity and fighting for justice. He brings to STROIKA a pragmatic idealism combined with a problem-solving mindset. He holds deep experience in the Americas and the Eurasia region, and a hope for the creative possibilities of abolitionist politics.
For over a decade, Yelena served as program manager at Open Society Foundations Eurasia Program and as interim co-director of the OSF Women’s Rights Program. He led diverse grantmaking and operational teams in advancing human rights, independent media, and civic engagement. He pioneered work on making the social justice ecosystem more professional and sustainable, while pushing for more feminist, anti-racist, anti-colonial, & equitable practices in the philanthropic field.
Yelena has brought his expertise as a consultant, executive coach, board member, and volunteer to non-profits and private foundations in the immigrants’ rights, queer, racial justice, and feminist movements. He has successfully worked with mission-driven professionals to maximize their impact and surmount management challenges. He excels at distilling complex ideas to diverse audiences and has a talent for quickly seeing the big picture, while maintaining an assiduous attention to detail. Combining analytic rigor with deep empathy, he is a skilled communicator who crafts strategic responses that appeal to both the heart and mind.
Inherently adaptable, Yelena’s professional trajectory has included academic book publishing, management consulting, and even organic farming. Yelena also enjoys contemporary theater, cooking with leftovers, and extolling the underappreciated greatness of NYC’s beaches. He has an M.A. in Literature from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in Social Innovation & Impact from the NYU Stern School of Business.
A visionary grantmaker, labor activist, and an attorney advocating for human rights in Eurasia, Europe and beyond. She began her career in Title IX and reproductive rights litigation, representing women athletes fighting for equity and Pennsylvania’s abortion clinics combating regressive laws in state legislature. From courtrooms to boardrooms to needle-exchange vans, Tatyana’s advocacy has made an impact at every level, and she brings a deft understanding of philanthropic and legal frameworks to STROIKA.
In her decade at the Open Society Foundations, she supported legal interventions for injection drug users, sex workers, patients seeking palliative care, and other marginalized groups. She continued the fight for equity while leading OSF’s Eurasia Program, where she supported grassroots activists in perilous locations where civil society was under threat.
Tatyana has testified, spoken and published widely on a variety of issues including resistance tactics against authoritarianism. Over the course of her career, she developed trusted networks across grassroots activism, legal empowerment, and international development. A gifted connector, Tatyana has created seamless ties between people and ideas from across the globe to generate strategic insights and create lasting synergies.
Her early experiences lay the foundation for her far-reaching activism and understanding of the global authoritarian landscape. She’s an expert protester and bullhorn chanter, seamlessly bridging street protests with sophisticated movement strategies. Tatyana also enjoys contemporary art, is a half-marathon finisher, and once crossed the United States by bicycle. She holds a J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and an LL.M. in Human Rights Law from the University of Nottingham, UK.
Partner with us
Consider giving to STROIKA’s Anti-Authoritarian Fund: your tax-deductible donations will provide critical support to the frontline groups working for a better future around the world. If you know of an organization or activist that would be a good fit for STROIKA’s global anti-authoritarian network, don’t hesitate to contact us. And seek out the progressive local organizations and civic movements that inspire you in your own communities, and find ways to give of your time and talents.