Yushchenko's father, Mykhailo Chumachenko, was born in the village of Zaitsivka, Kharkiv Oblast, in 1917, to a large family of farmers. He was one of only a few members of his large family to survive the Soviet Famine of 1932–1933.
Chumachenko studied electrical engineering in Lysychansk, Luhansk Oblast. He served in the Soviet Army, and was captured by Nazi forces and taken to Germany in 1942.
Yushchenko's mother, Sofia Chumachenko, was born in Litky, Kiev Oblast, in 1927, and died 30 September 2012 in Kiev.
Along with many girls in her village, Sofia Chumachenko was taken to Germany at the age of 14 to serve as a slave laborer.
Kateryna Yushchenko’s parents met in Germany, married, and gave birth to her sister, Lydia, in 1945. Mykhailo Chumachenko became seriously ill with tuberculosis in 1945 and spent eight years in a tuberculosis sanatorium.
In 1956, the Chumachenko family immigrated to the United States on an invitation from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Chicago. Mykhailo Chumachenko worked as an electrician in Chicago until his retirement in 1984. The Chumachenkos moved to Florida in 1987. Chumachenko visited his native Ukraine three times, in 1991, 1994 and 1995. His dream was to return to his village and start a small farm. He died in 1998 and is buried in Kiev.
Kateryna Yushchenko was born Catherine Claire Chumachenko in Chicago to immigrants from the Left-bank Ukraine. She is a former U.S. State Department official. She worked as a special assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. She holds a bachelor's degree in International Economics from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University (1982), and an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business (1986).
She later worked in the White House in the Office of Public Liaison during the administration of Ronald Reagan. Subsequently, she worked at the U.S. Treasury in the executive secretary's office during the administration of George H. W. Bush. After leaving that position, she was on the staff of the Joint Economic Committee of the United States Congress. After Ukraine declared its freedom, she was a co-founder and the vice-president of Ukraine-USA Foundation. She was also the director of Pylyp Orlyk Institute. In 1993, she joined KPMG Peat Marwick/Barents Group as a consultant in its Bank Training Program and Country Manager, where she met Viktor Yushchenko, whom she subsequently married. She left her job in August 2000, when she was expecting her second child.
Yushchenko is now involved in numerous charitable projects with the Ukraine 3000 International Foundation that she chairs. The key priority of the Foundation is better health for Ukraine’s children. On the Supervisory Board of Ukraine 3000 Foundation, established in 2001, are some of Ukraine’s most prominent educational, humanitarian, cultural, literary and sports figures. President Victor Yushchenko served as Chairman of the Supervisory Council until his inauguration in 2005. Since then, its Chairman is Kateryna Yushchenko. All programs and projects of the Foundation are implemented within three major areas: "Ukraine Yesterday", "Ukraine Today" and "Ukraine Tomorrow". The biggest projects of the Foundation are the "Hospital to Hospital" program, the construction and support of the "Children's Hospital of the Future" and "The Joy of Childhood – Free Movements" program.
Opponents of her husband criticized her for remaining a U.S. citizen. During the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election campaign, she was accused of exerting the influence of the U.S. government on her husband's decisions, as an employee of the U.S. government or even a Central Intelligence Agency agent. She had earlier been accused by Russian television journalist Mikhail Leontyev of leading a U.S. project to help Yushchenko seize power in Ukraine; in January 2002, she won a libel case against him. Ukraine's pro-government Inter television channel repeated Leontyev's allegations in 2001, but in January 2003 she won a libel case against the channel as well. She became a citizen of Ukraine in 2005.
Kateryna has three children with Viktor Yushchenko: Sofia, Khrystyna and Taras. Viktor Yushchenko has two children from his first marriage: Vitalyna (b. 1980) and Andriy (b. 1985).Special award from Children of Chornobyl Relief and Development Foundation, April 26, 2006
Golden Pyramid Award, UNESCO, November 2005
Medal of Prince Vasyl-Kostyantyn Ostrozky from Ostroh Academy, October 2005
Distinguished Public Service/Public Sector Alumni Award from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, October 2005
Honorary Professor of the Kyiv Mohyla Kollegium Gymnasium, February 2007