The Kyiv Post announces the winners of the 2020 Top 30 Under 30 award, an annual prize that recognizes young Ukrainian achievers.
The award ceremony took place at the newspaper’s headquarters on Nov. 27 and was streamed live. Watch it here.
The Kyiv Post established the Top 30 Under 30 award in 2016 and has been presenting it for five years, celebrating young Ukrainian leaders. This year, another 30 winners have joined the prize’s club, bringing the total number of the winners to 150.
The 2020 winners were picked from more than 250 nominations from around Ukraine by the Kyiv Post staff, past winners, and the International Renaissance Foundation, the award’s partner. UNICEF Ukraine also joined. The winners are achievers from all walks of life: startup founders, doctors, entrepreneurs, civic activists, artists, and athletes. Click on the photos to read their stories.
MEET THE 2020 WINNERS:
War veteran, traveler, writer and YouTube blogger
Valerii Ananyev is a veteran of the war in eastern Ukraine. During his service, he started a YouTube blog, which he now runs as an educational project. He authored a book about the war, in which he tried to reconstruct the real atmosphere of the battlefield.
Anastasia Apetyk is a lawyer teaching Ukrainian judges, police officers and children about the importance of digital security and data protection. She has created the first course on digital rights and security for children, teaching kids about the importance of strong passwords, two-factor identification and what should and should not be shared online.
Cofounder of pop-science media Kunsht
Kyrylo Beskorovayny is a science enthusiast. He publishes Kunsht, an online pop-science magazine, and produces educational videos that can be seen in metro and intercity trains. He also wrote a book that explains astrophysics to children.
Paralympic Games swimming champion
Yevhenii Bohodaiko had a dream of matching the achievements of his legendary U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps, who won eight medals in one Olympics. He ended up outperforming Phelps: In the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Bohodaiko claimed nine medals.
Lawyer and co-founder of an education center for teachers and schools
Liliya Borovets is a co-founder of Pro.Svit, an NGO that helps improve the way Ukraine’s education system works — from introducing innovative programs for Ukrainian teachers and principals to making schools work better.
Ukrainian language and literature teacher
Anna Chernyavska runs one of the first anti-bullying organizations in Ukraine. The organization allows kids to file a complaint about attacks from peers, helps children understand their strengths and provides support to those in crisis. It also helps teachers who suffer from bullying.
Halyna Chyzhyk is a lawyer and anti-corruption activist. She has dedicated the last five years of her life to combating and preventing corruption in Ukraine’s judicial system. She believes that, while the Ukrainian judiciary hasn’t changed much since the EuroMaidan Revolution, involving independent experts from the public will help break the vicious circle and reform the judiciary.
Aerobatic pilot, financier
At the age of 11, Fatkullin saw an aerobatic plane for the first time and found it magnetic. Years later, the young Ukrainian won the title of world champion in aerobatics. He dreams of making aerobatics more accessible and popular in Ukraine.
Founder of Guzema Fine Jewelry
Valeriya Guzema had a bumpy start on her path to her own jewelry brand. When she created her first collection, all the pieces were stolen. But just four years later, her brand Guzema Fine Jewelry is among the best-known in Ukraine, and everyone from Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska to Hollywood star Kim Cattral wears her jewelry.
Olena Herasymyuk is a poet and former military medic who spent five years documenting the stories of Ukrainians who perished in Soviet gulags, casting light on a chapter of Ukrainian history that many forget or choose to ignore. This year, Ukraine awarded her the medal “For Saving Lives.”
Sashko Horondi used to be homeless. But after he found out about the Emmaüs international charity community, joined it and learned to repair furniture and to sew, he started his own fashion company. Today he’s an entrepreneur with his own brand named after him — Horondi designs and sells his own backpacks and accessories.
Architect and paratriathlon athlete
Alisa Kolpakchy is a Paralympics paratriathlon athlete. Her talent revealed itself in 2015 — she was so promising that her coaches began preparing her to join the national team at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Kolpakchy took part and came sixth, a result she is proud of. Now she aims to win a medal at the next Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Deputy chief operating officer at Genesis, one of the largest IT companies in Ukraine
Artyom Kopanev is a top executive at one of the biggest tech firms in Ukraine, Genesis — at just 24 years old. He is tasked with overseeing the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of the company. After work, Kopanev teaches Parkinson’s disease patients to dance, a therapy that helps fight effects of the disease.
Roman Kravets is a journalist who’s interviewed most of the Ukrainian political establishment for Ukrainska Pravda, one of the country’s most trusted and respected media. Where other journalists struggle to get a hold of top officials and behind-the-scenes players, he finds a way to get exclusives. He was one one of the first journalists to interview Volodymyr Zelensky after he announced he’d run for president. Kravets was also the first to question notorious billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky upon his return to Ukraine after two years of self-imposed exile in 2019.
High jump athlete
Yuliya Levchenko is one of the most promising athletes in Ukraine. She achieved her first big victory at 16, when she won a gold medal in high jumps at the Youth Olympic Games. Just three years later, Levchenko was among the top adult athletes, when she won silver at the 2017 World Championship.
With his feature film debut, writer-director Antonio Lukić made something of a phenomenon in Ukrainian cinema — a profitable comedy loved both by the general public and more sophisticated viewers. “My Thoughts Are Silent” premiered in 2019, winning awards at film festivals in Karlovy Vary, Odesa and Minsk, and later was screened in Ukraine’s cinemas, eventually becoming profitable, a rare achievement for a Ukrainian movie.
Head of nonprofit U-Cycle
Trying to share her passion for bicycles with the wider public, Anastasia Makarenko became the head of Ukrainian nonprofit U-Cycle and now she’s trying to make the world a more bicycle-friendly place. Her U-Cycle promotes safe cycling and supports building facilities for bikes in Ukraine, which the country still lacks.
Cofounder of Ukrainian startup Reface
Ukrainian tech entrepreneur Roman Mogylnyi (С) and two of his friends — Oles Petriv and Yaroslav Boiko — developed a technology that blurs the distinction between fiction and reality. Called Reface, their mobile application allows users to try on the faces of celebrities in videos and make them look like their own. The app has gone viral with over 60 million people downloading Reface. Among them are stars like Snoop Dogg, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Elon Musk.
CEO and founder of Fuelfinance
Alyona Mysko is good at crunching numbers. She’s so skilled at this that some firms turn into profitable enterprises once they let Mysko sort out their finances. Her company Fuelfinance has worked with at least 120 companies over the three years of its existence, including Schneider, MacPaw, Petcube and Reface. By improving the turnover of small- and medium-sized businesses, Mysko believes her 14-member Fuelfinance team is helping Ukraine’s economy.
Cultural manager, lawyer, podcast host
Bohdana Neborak always loved reading but never wanted to be an author, so eventually, she fulfilled her passion for literature through working at the Ukrainian Book Institute, which, under the Ministry of Culture, has been promoting Ukrainian literature abroad since 2016. Neborak has developed the first state-funded translation program, “Translate Ukraine,” designed to connect publishers with translators and spread Ukrainian works around the world.
Primary school teacher
As a primary school teacher in the city of Kamianske in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, he uses creative techniques to spark children’s interest in knowledge. At his lessons, Oleynik utilizes Lego sets and animations, sings and even dances with kids. For his inventive approach, he recently won the annual national award Global Teacher Prize Ukraine in the category of “choice of Ukrainians,” receiving over 40,000 votes. He hopes to make the teacher’s profession more prestigious and become the principal of his school to lead and motivate other teachers.
He is a creative director and co-founder at Reprezent, a company designing presentations including for TEDx Kyiv. During the strict lockdown imposed by the government in March, which shut down public transport, he helped connect hospital workers who needed a ride to work and volunteers willing to give them a lift. Though not a programmer, he created an app, called Cometa, through which nearly 4,000 trips to and from hospitals have been organized.
CEO and co-founder at BetterMe
Her tech firm called BetterMe developed about 10 apps that help people live healthier lives. The apps have collectively been downloaded by 80 million people. According to U.S. analytical company App Annie, BetterMe was the fastest-growing app developer in the health & fitness category in 2019.
IT and aerospace entrepreneur
He is an engineer and entrepreneur who pioneered a new wireless 4G solution for laptops through his Nect startup. It crowdfunded $350,000 from customers in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Japan and beyond. He is also the CEO of startup Space Logistics Ukraine, which is making a new rocket to launch satellites from Ukraine.
Yana Shemayeva (Jerry Heil), 25
Pop singer, songwriter
It’s nearly impossible to live in Ukraine and never hear a song by Jerry Heil, whose real name is Yana Shemayeva. Starting by publishing covers of famous songs on YouTube, she grew into a nationally famous performer thanks to relatable and catchy hits. Aside from her own singing career, she writes songs for other Ukrainian performers.
For pediatric cardiologist Danylo Shypov, saving children’s lives is a daily routine. Having worked at Kyiv’s Center for Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery for six years, he conducted hundreds of consultations and heart ultrasound examinations, treating thousands of children with severe heart defects.
Community manager at InshaOsvita
Through techno parties and other cultural initiatives, he changes the image of his native region, the war-torn Donbas. After his hometown Sloviansk was liberated, Skrypnyk launched a series of techno parties, Shum, to provide local youth with entertainment. But the parties soon attracted party-goers from all over eastern Ukraine. During the pandemic, Skrypnyk films DJ sets in picturesque settings of the Donbas. He also plans to open his own DJ school.
Khrystyna Soloviy never sought fame. When she joined vocal TV show The Voice, her primary goal was to promote folk songs of the Lemko, an ethnic group that originated in the Carpathian Mountains and from which she has roots. But her extraordinary vocals and the show’s recognition paved the way for her future singing career. Today her schedule is packed with performances and her music videos have millions of views on YouTube.
Counsel at Sayenko Kharenko, expert with Reanimation Package of Reforms, former member of the Civil Oversight Council at the National Anti-Corruption Bureau
Criminal defense lawyer and legal expert Zlata Symonenko is a member of an expert group called the Reanimation Package of Reforms, which works on the improvement of the efficiency of law enforcement and prosecution agencies. She contributed to drafting the laws on the National Police, the State Investigation Bureau and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau. As a lawyer, she defends large businesses and foreign investors working in Ukraine. Her main focus now is the infamous case of a victim of torture and rape by police in Kyiv Oblast.
She is a star swimmer, who has collected almost two dozen medals from some of the most prestigious European and world swimming competitions in the backstroke. Among her latest achievements was a silver medal at the European Championship in 2019. Now she’s preparing to conquer the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in 2021.
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