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Olena Kovalova

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Dr. Olena Kovalova of Alexandria, VA passed away on 28 April 2021, following a courageous fight against cancer and other conditions. In her own words, she said she was a fighter and would not let the disease take her without a major battle, and she battled for almost 7 years. She was determined to beat the disease and she did longer than expected without missing a beat in executing her family and professional responsibilities.

Olena was born in Shakhty, Russia in 1962, the only child born to Oleksii Kovalov and Kira Kovalova (Glushko). Upon graduating high school, she attended Donetsk State University, Ukraine graduating with honors. She continued to excel in her pursuit of International Security Studies with distinction in Universities in Ukraine, Czech Republic, Germany, and the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. She completed her Doctor of Sciences in Politics in 2004 at the Institute of Politics and International Relations, National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine. From there she became a full professor of National Security Studies at the G. C. Marshall European Center for International and Security studies in Germany. After 7 years at the Marshall Center, she became a full professor at the National War College in Washington D.C. teaching in the department of National Security Studies with a focus on International Security Studies, Military Strategy, and critical strategic thinking. Speaking English, Russian, Ukrainian, German, and Polish added to her amazing capacity to research and impart knowledge.
During her career, she published several books and monographs, articles, and book chapters. Further, she received several awards to include scholar positions at Somerville College, University of Oxford; British Academy Fellow in Oxford-London, UK; Eastern Scholar Fellow at Yale University; and Senior Fulbright scholar at the University of Kansas. She was highly respected for her focused and concerned approach to education and policy development, always working to challenge and guide her students and colleagues with tremendous success. Where ever she taught or participated in high level discussions, she was always recognized for her ability to inspire critical thinking and difficult decision making.

What is most distinctive of Olena was her absolute dedication to meeting and supporting her professional responsibilities while simultaneously fighting an extreme form of cancer. She fought with tenacity and surpassed expectations of treatment. Even when enduring operations and chemo therapy, she never missed a deadline or an assignment. She could be found passing materials or instructions to her husband SLAVA to meet her responsibilities while lying in her hospital room weak and drained from treatment. Her determination to her students and their programs was inspiring to all who work with her and she truly led by example.

Olena met her husband Slava Malyarchuk in Ukraine and they married in Donetsk, Ukraine, in September of 1984. Olena’s and Slava’s marriage of 37 years brought them to the Alexandria area in 2011. When not working they both enjoyed serving the community, visiting museums, as well as sports and travels. Olena liked to read books, to grow flowers in her garden, and to cook.
Olena is survived by her husband Slava and her Mother Kira.

Due to the pandemic, a celebration will be planned with a Catholic Mass at the Good Shepard Catholic Church in Alexandria followed with inurnment at Mount Comfort Cemetery in Alexandria. In lieu of flowers, the family request that donations be made to Sibley Memorial Hospital, 5255 Loughboro Rd, N.W. Washington, DC 20016. Web page is:

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Olena Kovalova, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Mass of Christian Burial

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

10:30 - 11:30 am (Eastern time)

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Starts at 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

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