The XXIX UNWLA Convention

Sunday, May 29, 2011
Morning Plenary Session

Sunday’s morning plenary session was opened by Convention Chair Lidia Bilous. Following verification of quorum by the Credentials Committee, Vice President for Membership Anna Macielinski took the podium. She recounted the scope of her responsibilities (recruitment and retention of members affiliated with branches and her cooperation with the Liaison to Members-at-Large, Roxolana Yarymovych and spoke about tools designed and implement for this purpose (particularly the bilingual paper and electronic Recruitment/Retention Campaign packet she designed and disseminated for use by individual branches).

Ms. Macielinski announced that 185 new members had joined the organization since 2009, illustrating in a PowerPoint presentation the breakdown of these new members by branch and region. CounterinN. Macielinskig this positive news with less sanguine statistics, Ms. Macielinski pointed out that the UNWLA, like other diaspora organizations, is losing members to age, infirmity, and death. Many of the members we have lost, she continued, are part of a history that we will not see again, reminding those present about a project initiated during her first term in office—a project that involved videotaping interviews with Honorary Members of the UNWLA. Ms. Macielinski then recommended several strategies to supplement the existing UNWLA Recruitment/Retention Campaign, among these—an intensive marketing strategy approach that will include a direct mail campaign as well as Internet social sites.

Chairwoman for UNWLA Members-at-Large (MALs) Roxolana Yarymovych described the similarities and differences between traditional branch membership and membership L. Yarymovychwithin the Member-at-Large base, an explanation that emphasized the same privileges and similar responsibilities, with the obvious caveat that MALs do not attend regular branch meetings and that MAL affiliation offers a degree of flexibility that is appealing to many professional women whose schedules cannot accommodate meetings. She also described the MAL demographics, noting that the number of MALs is fluid, “changing almost daily.” Ms. Yarymovych then announced that she had invited Renata Zajac to join her committee—“a young woman who can better relate to other young women, identify their interests, and focus on what might attract them.”

At this juncture, Ms. Macielinski returned to the podium and introduced Mariya Andriyovych, a memM. Andriyovychber of the new wave of immigrants from Ukraine, a founding member of Branch 125 in New York City, the UNWLA Recording Secretary in the previous administration, and now an Executive Committee’s Member at Large. Ms. Andriyovych told a personal and poignant story about her own UNWLA experience, noting that the organization had welcomed her with open arms and had provided a place to belong as she adjusted to life in a new country.

Following Ms. Andiyovych’s passionate and positive comments about her experiences with the UNWLA, those present were somewhat disconcerted at comments offered by a somewhat sullen and outspoken visitor who introduced herself as Olia Koloda and recounted a rather dismal experience with UNWLA and was the antithesis of that described by the previous speaker. She described running into Ukrainian women at church and elsewhere: “Nobody invited me. Nobody speaks to me. My mother-in-law keeps inviting me to her branch, so I went to one meeting and nobody even spoke to me. Ola MoychanSo I went home.” She followed up with a diatribe relating equally unpleasant encounters experienced by her female friends and relatives, who had all opted not to join the UNWLA. The palpable sense of discomfort and even resentment among the UNWLA members present at the session was dispelled by a laughing Vice President Anna Macielinski who announced, “This is really Ola Movchan. She’s a member of my committee.” Intermingled with the laughter that followed was an almost audible sigh of relief, but it was clear that an important point had been made. The next speaker, also a member of the Membership Committee, was Talia Taran-Lisowsky of Chicago’s Branch 85. Included in her brief PowerPoint presentation about recruitment was the mantra “Try. Try. Try. And don’t take no for an answer.”

The morning session continued with a segment devoted to commemoration of the Chornobyl disaster. Introduced by President Marianna Zajac, the session took place in the form of a SKYPE link with Professor Myron Stakhiv, who chairs the Fulbright scholarship program in Kyiv, and who has researched the effects of Chornobyl on politic, economy, and culture and, conversely, the effects of politics, economy, and culture on Chornobyl. His work has involved several ethnographic expeditions to “the zone” and the creation of a documentary entitled Chornobyl +20, which encapsulates data compiled from interviews, artifacts, and documents collected during visits to some 300 villages. The presentation concluded with an overview of ecological findings in the post-Chornobyl environment. While flora and fauna are returning to the affected area, scientific research on barn swallows have revealed anomalies in color and in the shape of feathers, decreased brain size, and various deformities, including tumors. O. Zinych

The morning plenum ended with a brief session conducted by the UNWLA parliamentarians on proposed changes to the UNWLA bylaws and an announcement that the Branches-at-Large had elected Orysia Nazar Zinycz as their National Board Liaison.

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