About Ukraine Children’s Action Project (UCAP)

Joan Baez and UCAP – the back story!

UCAP founders Irwin and Karen Redlener have been working together since 1971. Dr. Redlener was the medical director of a federally-funded clinic in rural Arkansas providing health care to the children and families in the nation’s sixth poorest county. Karen arrived in Lee County just after graduating Pomona College and immediately established the county’s first child development and social services program.

By the second year of their work in Arkansas, the notorious U.S. President Richard M. Nixon began pulling funding from the nation’s poverty programs – spelling significant trouble ahead for all clinics that depended on the feds to support the only source of medical care for so many American families throughout the country.

With few options available, Irwin reached out to world renown Joan Baez, the iconic singer and social activist, describing in a letter the plight of his clinic – and how much the citizens of Lee County depended on him and his team for their only access to dependable, high quality medical care. To his absolute astonishment, Joan responded! And within six months, she raised enough money at a benefit concert in Memphis to ensure a relatively secure future for the Lee County Cooperative Clinic.

The Redleners and Joan have remained fast friends since. Irwin and Karen continued their work over the years to address the needs of children in crisis in Miami and New York and Joan was always supportive.

In the intervening years, Joan became an accomplished writer and painter adding to her reputation as the global superstar and activist.

Then, just weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Joan called Irwin to let him know that she had painted a portrait of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and wanted to use it to support the Ukraine’s extraordinary efforts to repel the invaders. That led to a decision to make prints of the beautiful portrait and sell them to the public. They sold out immediately, raising over $125,000!


“Now what”? Joan asked the Redleners. They had no idea – but said they would figure it out. By April they had arrived in Warsaw, Poland to meet officials and organizations caring for Ukrainian refugee families who were seeking refuge from the raging battles being fought in the east and south of their country.

By May of 2022, the Redleners established the Ukraine Children’s Action Project, UCAP, as a full incorporated tax-exempt organization working with the Entertainment Industry Foundation that serves as UCAP’s fiscal sponsor.

By the end of 2023, Irwin and Karen had visited Ukraine numerous times, established a regional headquarters in Lviv, run by the remarkable Yuliia Kardash and brought on Kevin McCabe to handle communications. In July, Joan accompanied the UCAP team to Poland and Ukraine to visit UCAP funded programs and speak publicly about what she saw in Ukraine and her concerns for the future.

Thanks to UCAP’s dedicated and generous supporters, the organization has had an amazing record of accomplishments in its first two years. UCAP has raised over $5 million for 35 different projects, directly benefiting nearly 51,000 children and family members, and has no intention of slowing down until the war ends and recovery starts in that beautiful country.

Our mission

Ukraine Children’s Action Project
Co-Founders Dr. Irwin Redlener & Karen Redlener

In the midst of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the lives of children are being disrupted and their future 
is increasingly put at risk. The Ukraine Children’s Action Project (UCAP) is working to ensure that all children in Ukraine have access to the vital resources they need to stay safe and secure in the face of war and devastation.

UCAP was established to assess and support the urgent needs of displaced children who have escaped from the full-scale Russian invasion that began on February 24, 2022. Since that time, nearly two-thirds 
of Ukraine’s children under age 15 have fled besieged areas in eastern regions of the nation. Many of these children have experienced severe trauma and face ongoing disruption to their education.

Our mission is to optimize the health, well-being, and education of children who have been impacted 
by war and separated from their families, homes, and communities.

UCAP works with local officials, non-governmental organizations, national government officials in Ukraine, and countries hosting Ukrainian refugees.

Our efforts extend beyond immediate war relief; we are dedicated to bolstering Ukraine’s future 
and reinstating normalcy for every child, family, and community affected by Russia’s illegal aggression. 
As a Ukraine children’s relief and support fund, we at UCAP hope you will join us in making a difference 
in their lives by donating now.


Dr. Irwin Redlener

UCAP Co-founder / President and CEO

Karen Redlener

UCAP Co-Founder / Executive Director

Yuliia Kardash

UCAP Regional Director

Kevin McCabe

Director of Communications

Dr. Irwin Redlener

UCAP Co-founder

Pediatrician, public health expert, president emeritus/ co-founder Children’s Health Fund, founding director of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness.  

Karen Redlener

UCAP Co-Founder

Co-founder & former executive director 
of Children’s Health Fund and executive director of Community Pediatrics of Montefiore Medical Center, with expertise 
in child health and development, as well as significant experience in program management and financial administration. Former member, NYC Board of Health

Yuliia Kardash

UCAP Regional Director

Based in Lviv, Ukraine, Yuliia oversees UCAP's regional office and maintains active collaboration with programs funded 
by UCAP donors. She has experience 
as a teacher, community resource, and humanitarian volunteer.

Kevin McCabe

Director of Communications

Before joining UCAP, Kevin served 
in various leadership roles in the public 
and private sectors, including Chief of Staff to NY's Battery Park City Authority, where he implemented policy initiatives while managing communications and stakeholder relations. Kevin is based in Warsaw, Poland

UCAP Advisory Board

Joan Baez

Singer, portrait artist, and social activist

John Cusack

Actor, screenwriter, and social activist

Harold Koplewicz

MD, Ph.D., founding president, Child Mind Institute


Senior lecturer, Harvard School of Public Health & co-founder, John Snow, Inc.

Oksana Matiiash

CEO at Teach For Ukraine & first Obama Scholar from Ukraine at Columbia University

Brad Paisley


Michael Keaton


Paul Simon


Timothy Snyder

Ph.D., Richard Levin Professor of History and Global Affairs, Yale University

Rafal Trzaskowski

Mayor of Warsaw, Poland

Nicolle Wallace

Anchor, Deadline White House

Randi Weingarten

President, American Federation of Teachers

Ongoing Projects