Getting back to our review of events for 2014, on January 2, acting on the request of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the UNA organized a roundtable discussion with leaders of New Jersey-based Ukrainian American community organizations at the senator’s offices in Newark, N.J. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, New Jersey has the fourth highest population of Ukrainian Americans in the United States, behind New York, Pennsylvania and California. The representative cross-section of community leaders who were able to attend prepared a comprehensive presentation for the senator.
In attendance as representatives of the UNA were Treasurer Roma Lisovich (coordinator of the meeting), President Stefan Kaczaraj and Fraternal Coordinator Yuriy Symczyk. Representing the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) were New Jersey residents Tamara Olexy, president, and Ronya Lozynskyj, external affairs director. Also participating were Dr. Alexander Motyl, professor of political science at Rutgers University-Newark, a well-known author and specialist on Ukraine, Russia, the Soviet Union and the post-Soviet order; representatives of the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA), Myroslaw Smorodsky, communications director, and Victor Rud, Foreign Policy Committee chairman; Dr. Christine Rohowsky-Kochan, chair of the U.S. National Board of Directors of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization; and Mark Howansky, president of the Organization for the Defense of Lemkivshchyna.
Sen. Menendez expressed his support of the Ukrainian people and their struggle. “We stand with the citizens of Ukraine who meet in Kyiv’s Maidan Square seeking their human rights and dignity,” he said as he greeted the delegation. He further stated that his purpose in initiating the meeting was to learn what the Ukrainian American community and his constituents in New Jersey felt about the current situation in Ukraine, and he expressed his desire to address the community’s concerns. Sen. Menendez said, “Ukrainians should be allowed to determine their own destiny.” He added, “That’s why I find Russia’s coercive trade, treatment and economic tactics against Ukraine reprehensible. I look forward to pursuing this foreign policy issue before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”
Sen. Menendez promised the group he would set up a full Senate hearing on the situation in Ukraine and indicated he would study and consider proposing Magnitsky-type legislation that would freeze assets and enact sanctions against the appropriate corrupt government officials in Ukraine. Furthermore, the senator said he would organize a fact-finding mission to Ukraine to observe the situation first hand. Sen. Menendez made good on his first promise almost immediately – a hearing was scheduled for January 15.
In March, the UNA announced the results of its 2013 organizing campaign, that is, the campaign to enroll new members, in a report authored by UNA National Secretary Christine E. Kozak that was published in The Weekly (March 9). The top organizers were: Advisor Lubov Streletsky (Branch 10), Pittsburgh District Chairman Nicholas Diakiwsky (Branch 161), George B. Fedorijczuk (Branch 162) and Second Vice-President Eugene Oscislawski (Branch 234), all of whom happened to be secretaries of their branches.
Just over two months later, it was convention time. Scores of delegates gathered for the UNA’s 38th Regular Convention at the Soyuzivka Heritage Center on May 14-18. Re-elected by acclamation, following overwhelming support in the primary round of elections, were the six officers of the Executive Committee: President Kaczaraj, First Vice-President Michael Koziupa, Second Vice-President Eugene Oscislawski, Director of Canada Myron Groch, National Secretary Kozak and Treasurer Lisovich. The three-member Auditing Committee – Slavko Tysiak, Eugene Serba and Dr. Wasyl Szeremeta – was also re-elected by acclamation. The convention also elected 11 advisors to the General Assembly: Nicholas Fil (New York), Ewhen Osidacz (Quebec), Andrij Szul (New York), Andrij Gavdanovich (New York), Gloria Horbaty (Connecticut), Maya Lew (New York), Julian Pishko (Minnesota), Lubov Striletsky (Pennsylvania), Luba Poniatyszyn Keske (California), Bohdanna Puzyk (Connecticut) and Maria Luba Walchuk (Pennsylvania). New to the assembly are: Mr. Gavdanovich, Mr. Pishko, Ms. Puzyk and Ms. Walchuk.
In his opening remarks, President Kaczaraj noted that this was the third consecutive time that the UNA convention was held at Soyuzivka. Mr. Kaczaraj noted: “I see many familiar faces, smiling faces, as the UNA celebrates its longtime service to Ukrainians and Ukraine, especially in these troubling times facing Ukraine. In those 120 years the UNA has worked for the good of its members and the Ukrainian community at large. Our work continues as do opportunities for new perspectives.” He added, “The Maidan revolution in Ukraine and the new elections are such an opportunity where our strength should be used to support the rebirth of Ukraine, not only its political development, but in cultural, religious and social spheres. In the UNA’s next four years, keep this in mind in shaping our work.”