Galina was born in Moscow in 1940, the much beloved youngest child and only daughter in a family of six. Her family was very close, and she spent a great deal of time with her grandparents and cousins. Although her family was unable to observe most Jewish religious practices because of government restrictions, her parents taught her to be proud of her Jewish identity.
Galina earned a degree in mechanical engineering, got married, and bore two sons. She and her husband, both experiencing discrimination at work and concerned about their sons' futures, began to consider emigrating. In 1975, they applied to emigrate and were refused. Soon after, they became active in the refusenik community. Their son also became an activist, joining the Jewish underground.
Galina's in-laws introduced her to the famous refusenik, Ida Nudel. Nudel invited Galina to participate in demonstrations of Jewish women refuseniks. Galina, who at this time quit her job to focus on the quest to emigrate, was one of six women who participated in this new Jewish women's movement. Their first demonstration was held at the Kremlin Wall; they caught the guards unaware since no one had ever dared to demonstrate there before. Galina made a special t-shirt emblazoned with a blue Jewish star, and it became her activist trademark. The women held several other demonstrations, including one from an apartment, hanging flags and banners out of the windows, and one across the street from KGB headquarters. Three KGB agents began to trail Galina in her every movement, and after one demonstration, took Galina to the police station and confiscated her passport. The KGB also targeted her older son.
Finally, with the intervention of relatives in the US and Senator Edward Kennedy, Galina and her family received permission to leave the Soviet Union. With a mixture of joy and fear, they emigrated in 1978 and resettled in the Boston area. After her arrival, Galina spent ten years working with Action for Post-Soviet Jewry to help others leave the Soviet Union. She also worked with Jewish Family Services of the North Shore and founded an organization for resettlement called HELP. Among those she brought to the US were her brothers and their children. Galina wrote a memoir, The Courage of Despair, detailing her experiences in the Jewish women's movement in Russia. She also got divorced and remarried, and is now quite family-oriented, focusing on her three grandchildren as well as her extended family, which remains close.
Galina and her husband live in Peabody, Massachusetts. She works in the Business Office at the Germaine Lawrence School in Arlington.