The XXIX UNWLA Convention

Saturday, May 28, 2011
Convention Banquet

Saturday Banquet

That evening elegantly attired ladies and gentlemen gathered for the cocktail reception that always precedes the UNWLA’s convention banquet. With pleasant and unobtrusive background music provided by violinist Valeriy Zhmud and beverages of choice provided by two efficient and accommodating bartenders, the reception was an opportunity for everyone to decompress after the day’s busy schedule, to socialize with old friends, make new acquaintances, and simply enjoy themselves.

Once O. Lukiwguests found their seats in the banquet hall, they were welcomed by New Jersey Regional Council President and Convention Committee Chair Olha Lukiw who spoke briefly about the strength of the UNWLA’s unity, symbolically represented by the wreath serving as the convention emblem. Ms. Lukiw then introduced the newly elected National Board members who were greeted with enthusiastic apRokowskaplause. She then turned the program over to Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening Ksenia Rakowsky.

Following an invocation by the Very Reverend Archpriest Mitrat Roman Mirchuk, Ms. Rakowsky invited UNWLA President Marianna Zajac to the podium. Elected that afternoon to serve a second term as president of the UNWLA, Ms. Zajac expressed her gratitude for having the honor to serve the UNWLA in this capacity for the next three years. She then spoke about another organization, Soyuz Ukrainok of Ukraine, which is commemorating its 90th anniversary this year. Looking to the past, Ms. Zajac described the organization’s founding meeting, a meeting spearheaded by the dynamic activist Milena Rudnytska. Musing about the women who responded to Rudnytska’s call for action, she noted how harmoniously and efficiently they transformed themselves into a political force for the good of women in Ukraine. “Four years later,” she continued, “Soyuz Ukrainok of Ukraine was stripped of its membership in the International Council of Women,” a political twist of fate that prompted the founding of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America. “These women,” she observed, “also understood the power of organized women. They adapted to a clear and present need. They responded. And it is in this tradition that we must follow.”

The president then spoke of current UNWLA endeavors that reflect this response to clear and present needs, citing the UNWLA’s commitment to Lviv’s beleaguered M. Zajacpediatric hospital and the organization’s continuing commitment to residents of various geriatric homes throughout Ukraine. Ms. Zajac then turned to the anniversary of the tragic events of April 1986—the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, an event that prompted the intrepid and well-remembered UNWLA member Mary Beck to leave a sizable bequest to the organization, with funds to aid Chornobyl’s victims. The president briefly touched upon attending conferences and meeting of the World Congress of Ukrainians and the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations; Our Life; the publication of A Candle in Remembrance, which has been mailed to numerous institutions of higher learning; the dynamic UNWLA website; and the strong ongoing commitment to support freedom of the press and human rights in Ukraine. She then turned attention to a matter that is of concern to all diaspora organizations—the problem of dwindling membership. But she noted that the same concerns had been expressed by her predecessors in early decades, even as long ago as 1932. Somehow, she concluded, “the organization has survived despite this concern; if we proceed with our convention motto in mind, we will not falter. “

Following the keynote address by the newly elected president, Mistress of Ceremonies Ksenia Rakowsky M.Shustread congratulatory messages and greetings from church dignitaries, numerous diaspora organizations, , and political figures (including New Jersey’s Governor C. Christie). Brief personal greetings were offered by Vasyl Zvarych (representing Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S., Ambassador Oleksandr Motsyk of WasM. Skambarahington, DC); Ihor Gawdiak (president of the Ukrainian American Coordinating Council), who commended the organization for its patient persistence; Maria Szkambara (president of WFUWO), who praised the publication of A Candle in Remembrance and the organization’s active role in the international women’s movement; Maria Shust (director of the Ukrainian Museum), who expressed gratitude for the

UNWLA’s active support of the UM; Bohdan Movchan (Counsel of the Ukrainian Consulate of New York), who commended the UNWLA’s efforts on behalf of new immigrants from Ukraine; Mrs. Christyna Balko (representing Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union of New Jersey); and Stepan Kaczaraj (Ukrainian National Association president and chairman of the board of directors of the Selfreliance New York Federal Credit Union Samopomich), whose heartfelt albeit laconic “congratulations and good luck” was met with appreciative applause and good humor.

The evening included the conferring of special awards, and titles. President Marianna Zajac personally presented a certificate of appreciation to Stepan Kaczaraj as the chairman of S. Kaczaralthe board of SelfreliaIhor Laszoknce NY FCU, for the credit union’s dedicated support of the UNWLA. Convention Committee Chair presented a certificate of appreciation to Chicago-based Selfreliance Ukrainian American Federal Credit Union (SUAFCU) and its Newark, Whippany, and Jersey City branches, which had provided generous support for the UNWLA convention. The certificate was accepted by Ihor Laszok, vice chair of SUAFCU’s board of directors.

M. Tomorug

A convention tradition that celebrates the achievements of accomplished young women in the Ukrainian diaspora was also included in the banquet program as Maria Tomorug and Renata Zajac presented the Young Women Achievers selected for this special award:

Oksana Buniak, Oksana Buniak

a physical therapist at the Somerset Medical Center who has volunteered her time and expertise to benefit the Children of Chornobyl Relief and Development Fund

MariaDr. Maria Dubas Dubas,
who has worked in pioneering areas of pharmacy practice at the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health and also helped provide medical assistance to disaster victims in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Tatyana Koziupa, Kosiupa Accepting for daughter
who is using her academic background in Educational Technology to contribute to research on the current paradigm shift in K-12 education in the United States. (Mr. and Mrs. Koziupa accepting award for their daughter).

Olena Palyvoda,
Dr. Olena Polyvoda
who earned her B.S. and M.S. from Ivan Franko University in Lviv and holds a Ph.D. in Medical Sciences from the Center of Oncology, Maria Sklodowsk-Curie Memorial Institute in Warsaw, supervised a wide variety of research projects, and has authored or co-authored 19 peer-reviewed scientific works.

Charita Petrina, who earned an M.S. in Strategic Intelligence from the Joint Military Intelligence College, has served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, and has supervised military and civilian acquisition intelligence analysts at the Air Force Materiel Command’s Intelligence Squadron.

After the presentation of these awards, Vice President for Culture spoke briefly about the hs. hewrykistory of the Kovaliv Awards and announced the winner of this year’s award presented for history—historian Professor Serhii Plokhy. Originally from Dnipropetrovsk and now Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University, Professor Plokhy is the author of Yalta: The Price of Peace.

Entertainment for the evening was provided by soprano Ludmyla Fesenko, baritone and guitarist Serhiy PSingersobedynsky, and violinist Valeriy Zhmud. Fesenko’s strong-voiced repertoire included an aria from “Natalka Poltavka,” a melancholy “Dniprovskyi Waltz,” and a humorous rendition of the popular “Handzia,” but it was the unusual and riveting guitar/violin “duel duet” performed by the gentlemen that earned a hand-clapping, toe-tapping standing ovation.

Friday, May 27,2011
President’s Welcoming Remarks
National Board Meeting
Reception and pre-convention program.

Saturday, May 28, 2011
Opening Ceremony and Plenary Sessions
Luncheon Program
Convention Banquet

Sunday, May 29, 2011
Morning Plenary Session
Luncheon Program
Afternoon Seminars and Evening Program

Monday, May 30, 2011
Morning Plenary Session and Convention Closing

Click here to view the pictures from the ХХІХ Convention