Born in Kharkov, Ukraine, Irena Karshenbaum and her parents left the Soviet Union in 1978. They travelled through Vienna and lived for six months in Ostia, outside of Rome, before settling in Calgary, Canada in 1979.


Receiving bachelor degrees in English and Business from the University of Calgary, Irena has worked in corporate communications, as a regulatory analyst, in fund development and community building.


Simultaneously her creative portfolio has grown and has been about giving voice and bringing beauty to the world around her. She has accomplished this through her writing, organizing cultural and educational events, programs and tours, translation work and leading a project that gifted a lost synagogue — the 1916 Montefiore Institute — to Calgary’s Heritage Park Historical Village.