A Glamorous Celebration of Success, Beauty and Talent

On November 4th, Council For Cross Cultural Affairs hosted one of the most significant events in the local Slavic community: The Best by Russian-Speaking Community Business Awards Ceremony featuring Miss Ukraine California Grand Finale

The purpose was to provide recognition experts from different industries based in California.

The event was organized with the kind support of the RAM, Slavic American Chamber of Commerce, Slavic Community Center of Sacramento, and Albedo Arts Community.

“Tonight’s celebration is bittersweet for me. On the one hand, we can honor businesses, that made it through tough times, and the individuals who helped make it happen. On the other hand, it is hard to celebrate knowing that my own people are killing and being killed; that the two countries I identify myself with – are at war. While I can’t stop this tragedy from happening, I can do what is within my power – to stand against tyranny and support of those being oppressed” – said Sergey Ivannikov in his opening remarks.
Sergey Ivannikov Event Organizer

“Sergey brought the whole community together”

according to California Senator Jim Nielsen, who attended the event. Nielsen said he admired how much Sergey Ivannikov did for the Slavic community. And he was not the only one who thanked Ivannikov for his contributions to the Slavic community. Congressman Ami Bera, Congresswoman Doris Matsui, Assemblyman Ken Cooley, Assemblyman and Sacramento Sheriff-Elect Jim Cooper, President of Epic Bible College Ronald W. Harden congratulated Sergey Ivannikov on his 25th anniversary of running a successful and unique media outlet.

“Some of the best of the best in the industries are here to be celebrated,”

Said event MC Mark S. Allen, a well known television producer and host. Allen described the entertainment of the whole event as “phenomenal”.

The event entertainment program started with musical improvisation by California rising star Neil Nayyar, who has two World Records and can play an astonishing 117 musical instruments.

An important part of the event was the recognition of various experts of the year, including cardiologist Doctor Teimour Nasirov from Stanford University. Medical Professionals of the Year Awards went to Oral Surgeon Alexander V. Antipov DDS, Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics Practitioner Yan Kalika DMD, General & Cosmetic Dentist Alex Klim DDS, and Family Medicine specialist Sergey V. Veretennikov MD.

The “Business Woman of the Year,” was received by Mila Zazhitskay, the Site Manager for Community Outreach Academy. The Non-Profit of the Year Award went to GENEROUS HEART CHARITY, which was received by CEO Olha Erlikh. Generous Heart Charity helps underprivileged children in the Sacramento region that come from around the world, including Ukraine.

The Woman Empowerment Recognition included: Larissa Gonchar, Director of Community Outreach Academy, Marta Guerrero, Mayor of the City of West Sacramento, Porsche Middleton, Mayor of the City of Citrus Heights, Linda Budge, Vice Mayor of the City of Rancho Cordova, Bobbie Singh, Mayor of the City of Elk Grove, Diann Rogers, CEO of the Rancho Cordova Area Chamber of Commerce, Azizza Goines Davis, CEO of the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce, Cathy Rodriquez, CEO of the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Rana Ghadban, CEO of the Roseville Area Chamber of Commerce, and Marina Botezat, Founder of Albedo Arts Community.

The hosts of the event were Mark S. Allen, Yelena Polyashenko (Layyzerr), Robi Quick, Kristina Menissov, and Bila Kintaudi, who brought their own individual special sparks to the event.

“I am proud of Sergey Ivannikov and the things that he does for the community. Not many people do that,”

Said Arman, who goes by DJ Essence.

According to Mark S. Allen, everything Ivannikov does starts with kindness and his big heart.

“You make the world a better place,”

Allen said to Ivannikov, during the event.

The entertainment program would not have happened without stand-up comedy by Bob Smiley, vocal performers Kristina Menissov, Ninelle, Moses Strizhaus and Marko Shvaikovskyi, dance performers Vladimir and Brianna Butov, and Aleksandra Korzh, musical performer Neil Nayyar, and music improvisation by famous DJ Essence.

The highlight of this gala was Miss Ukraine California, which spotlights courageous young ladies of Ukrainian heritage. Some of them just recently came to the United States escaping the war. This part of event was a tribute to the courage, strength, and beauty of Ukrainian women whose families went through separation from loved ones, suffering, deprivation and sometimes even worse. Twelve contestants proved that inner beauty is more important than outer beauty. In their interviews, almost all of them mentioned the words “courage,” “strength” and “heritage.”

The winner is Daria Avtukh as Miss Ukraine California 2023. First Runner-Up title received by Diana Osaulenko, Miss Congeniality is Daryna Omelchuk, and the Miss People’s Choice title was won by Tetiana Tarasiuk.

Miss Ukraine California contestant Aleksandra Korzh choreographed and performed a beautiful dance symbolizing freedom from tyrany and the message “Stop The War!”.

The atmosphere of the event was filled with unity. “After all we’ve been through and all we’re going through, everybody is coming together for love and recognition tonight,” Allen said. He shared that he loved this event because people from different communities gathered to celebrate the Slavic community and especially the Ukrainian community.

Delicious seven-course Ukrainian style dinner was served by Hannibal’s Catering, and NOROC East-European Restaurant served hors d’oeuvre during the VIP reception.

“It is excellent every year, always excellent,”

Said Mark S. Allen. Funny, as the same can always be said about him.

Thanks to all of your generous support, at the conclusion of this event we were able to send $15,680 to the children of Ukraine via UNICEF USA.


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