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Help Ukraine 22 - Operation Palynytsya is a humanitarian aid effort to fill gaps in immediate assistance for Ukrainians in need. We are a team of American & Ukrainian experts who are putting everything we have into helping Ukrainians affected by the war.


NGOs & Medical Institutions Supported






Value of Aid Provided

Our Team

Brian Mefford

Managing Director, Help Ukraine 22

Mefford lived and worked in Ukraine for 22 years, and has been named by the Kyiv Post Newspaper as one of the 20 “Most Influential Expats in Ukraine”.

The Help Ukraine 22 project is administered by the Committee for Open Democracy (COD) as a humanitarian effort. COD is a US based not for profit 501c3 that has worked in the sphere of international election observation since 2010. Mefford is the Executive Director of the not for profit since its inception.

Mefford began his work in Ukraine in 1999 for the International Republican Institute (IRI) and worked more than a decade on democracy and governance programs. In October 2014, Brian was named a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center think tank. Since 2016 he is the Director of Wooden Horse Strategies LLC which is a government relations, communications and public policy analysis firm based in Kyiv.

Born in Barstow, California, he is a graduate of Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Arkansas with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in finance.

Matt Kriteman

Matt Kriteman, Head of Humanitarian Response, for the Committee for Open Democracy .

Matt is the Committee for Open Democracy’s Head of Humanitarian Response – delegated full time to

Matt has an extensive background in international development specifically in Ukraine ranging from Scandinavian NGOs to the United Nations, including in the Donbas. Matt has worked on a variety of projects in Ukraine as an international expert as well as having served as an International Election Observer 10 times for COD in Ukraine since 2015. Originally from the US, Matt worked for the US Congress, and has since spent the last 10 years abroad working between Sweden and Ukraine, specifically using tech for outreach and advocacy Human Rights, Migrant Rights and Social Inclusion. Before evacuation, Matt was working on a project for democratic engagement with youth in the Donbas.

As a career humanitarian with an extensive network within civil society in Ukraine, Matt works with providing strategic micro-grants to provide humanitarian aide to the most vulnerable. This involves vetting and supporting local NGOs in Ukraine who implement humanitarian aide.

Matt has a Master’s in International Development from Uppsala University (Sweden) on full scholarship from the Swedish government. Matt has a B.A. from the University of New Mexico in Russian Language where he graduated with high honors for his research on state-sponsored nationalism in youth groups, and the rise of the largest Neo Nazi movement in the world (in Russia). He has another B.A. in International Strategy & Policy, in a program co-funded by Lockheed Martin.

Matt speaks English, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. He started and funded the program Yogis Without Borders in Eastern Ukraine, training Ukrainian specialists to teach yoga for people with disabilities, which has been shut down due to the war.

Matt loves Ukraine for its tolerance, courage, and demand for the right to democracy. You can reach Matt at

Tetiana Kovganych

Dr. Tetiana Kovganych, Medical Adviser

Dr. Tetiana “Tanya” Kovganych is the Chief Medical Adviser for Help Ukraine 22 – Operation Palynytsya. Dr. Kovganych has practiced medicine for 23 years and currently works at the SI NSC Institute of Cardiology named after MD. Strazhesko NAMS in Kyiv. For 8 years, Kovganych headed the rheumatology department at #2 KNP Oleksandr’s Clinical Hospital of Kyiv. She began her work at the Oleksandr’s Clinical Hospital in 2001. Prior to that she was a rheumatologist at the polyclinic #1 in the (formerly) Leningrad district of Kyiv.

She has her PhD. in medical sciences and her higher medical education in the specialty of therapy with a specialization in rheumatology. Tanya graduated from the First Medical Faculty of the NMU named after Academician O.O. Bogomolets in 1998 with honors.

She has published more than 20 scientific articles and is the author of one patent for invention. She has been participating in international clinical trials since 2004 and from 2017-2020 was a member of the expert group of the Ministry of Health ofUkraine in the areas of therapy, general practice – family practice, occupational pathology, rheumatology, and neurology.

Also, since 2017 she has been involved as an expert in the Standing Working Group of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and DOZ in Kyiv on specialized support of public procurement for the treatment of patients with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Finally, since 2020, Tanya is a member of group of experts in the Kiev City Executive body for health care in general practice, professional pathologies, rheumatology, gastroenterology and allergology. She is a member of the Association of Rheumatologists of Ukraine, Kyiv, “SLEuro”.

Maryna Antonova

Maryna Antonova, Humanitarian Adviser

Maryna serves as Chairman of the Board of the Ukraine 3000 International Foundation, one of the oldest charities of Ukraine that together with its partners distributed over $50 million USD worth of medical equipment, supplies, grants over the last 17 years. She is also Vice President of Association of Charities of Ukraine, an NGO that unites 70 charities in all regions of Ukraine. In addition, Maryna works as Government Relations Adviser for the US-Ukraine Business Council. During the time of President Viktor Yushchenko (2005-2010), Ms. Antonova worked as Chief of Staff for the First Lady of Ukraine, Kateryna Yushchenko.

Prior to this, Ms. Antonova worked 10 years as Program Assistant/Consultant for Barents Group/Bearing Point/Deloitte projects funded by USAID under technical assistance programs for the government of Ukraine. She has MA in Linguistics from the National Taras Shevchenko University, and MBA from International Management Institute of Kyiv.

Operations Team

We have a team on the ground in Ukraine and bordering countries bringing supplies into Ukraine and facilitating evacuations out of Ukraine. This team is well connected and is making meaningful progress. Due to security risks and the safety of our people, we keep the names and faces of the operations team confidential.

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