One of the great strengths of the Cascade Festival of African Films is the army of volunteers that keep it going year after year. These volunteers are motivated by love, a love of Africa and her people, a love of film, and a love of the community-building that underlies the festival. But organizing these volunteers and sustaining them over the long haul takes a very special person. Tatyana Dembrow is that special person.
It could be said that Tatyana’s attachment to the festival is in her DNA. She was brought up with CFAF, as her father, Michael, is one of CFAF’s founders, while her mother, Kiki, has been part of the festival’s extended family from the beginning in 1990. Growing up, February was always festival month, and in her home much of the rest of the year was spent getting ready for it or recovering from it.
While still in high school, Tatyana joined her parents on a semester-long Lewis & Clark College study program in East Africa, where she fell in love with the people, natural environment, languages, and cultures of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. As a Lewis and Clark College student herself a few years later, she studied abroad in Senegal, where she found herself working in a neighborhood health clinic in Dakar, discovering a passion for public health that has informed her professional life as a nurse practitioner.
Though she left Portland for graduate school and for work in a rural clinic on the other side of the country, Tatyana kept finding ways to return to Portland during February so that she could remain part of the festival community. When it came time for her to decide where to settle permanently, her dream of reconnecting with her CFAF family was a major part of her decision to return to Portland in 2008.
She quickly got involved as a volunteer and soon found herself on the executive committee as volunteer coordinator. She’s responsible for recruiting, training, and scheduling volunteers. She also coordinates the vendors and organizations’ information tables, as well as the raffle. Her work—and her infectious, upbeat attitude—is vital to the smooth running of the festival.
Thank you, Tatyana, from the rest of your festival family!!!