American Council for Polish Culture

Board Meeting - April 12-13, 2013 in Tampa Bay, Florida


Barbara Lemecha


(l. to r.) Raymond and Cecilia Glembocki, Mary Ellen Tyszka, Debbie Majka, Camille Kopielski


Alicia Dutka


Debbie Majka receives surprise award


by Jo Louise Winters, PR Chair

The Spring Board Meeting of the American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC) in Tampa Bay, FL was generously hosted by its Affiliate, the American Institute of Polish Culture of Tampa Bay, Florida, April 12-13, 2013. Pres. Debbie Majka opened the meeting and introduced the President of the Tampa Bay institute Christina Markut who cordially greeted the attending members and announced the festive and cultural activities and programs that the Institute had prepared for our entertainment and information.

The ACPC Board began its business session with members expressing deep appreciation and thanks to Alice Lech-Laning, Chair of the Audit Committee and to Mary Ellen Tyszka, 2nd V.P. when they unhesitatingly volunteered to keep the minutes during the Board's meeting in the absence of Recording Secretary Marcia Lewandowski due to illness During the Board's business sessions Friday and Saturday, committee chairs reported on activities and progress within their respective programs since the Council's Fall 2012 Board meeting. Marion Winters announced that the Pulaski Scholarships for Advanced Studies had received a record number of applications for the $5,000 awards. The five students selected by the Committee this year are: Aleksandra Babiarz of Baltimore, MD; Marta Krajniak, Staten Island, NY; Krzysztof Lukasik, Carteret, NJ; Natalie Misteravich, Dearborn, MI; and Ann Hardt Williams, Lexington, MA. A full description of the accomplishments of these exceptional students was submitted to the Polonia press and listed on the ACPC web site (see Pulaski Winners page) Chairman of the Investment Committee Dr. Robert Dutka reported that $25,000 was available this year for the five Pulaski scholarships.

The Awards Committee Chair Mary Flanagan, reported the list of the recipients of the Distinguished Service Award and the Cultural Achievement Award. The ACPC Founders Award was voted by the Board. As is the usual practice, Mrs. Flanagan is waiting to hear if the awardees can be present to accept their award at the Annual Convention.

In the absence of the Nomination Committee Chair Jacqueline Kolowski, Mr. Marion Winters read her report, stating that 80 cover letters with nominations forms and current list of elected board members were sent in January. The nominees are being asked if they are accepting nomination. Additional nominations will be accepted from the floor at the Annual Convention in Baltimore, MD.

Camille Kopielski, Chair of the Summer Study in Poland, requested that ACPC Affiliates solicit applicants in their respective areas to apply for the opportunity to participate in a summer studies program at a university in Poland. Winners will be awarded $2,000 toward tuition and travel expenses. Please see ACPC website: Summer in Poland Scholarship Page for applicant requirements.

Ms. Kopielski also reported on her participation as a Representative of the Polish American Congress (PAC) and that of Mrs. Deborah Majka, PAC V.P. of Cultural Affairs at the annual meeting of the PAC's National Council of Directors last October in Rosemont, IL.

As a new business, ACPC Director Barbara Lemecha informed the Board of a project that is in progress at the Orchard Lake's Polish Mission. Ms. Lemecha read from the promotional colorful booklet: "The Polish Panorama a diorama representing over thousand years of Polish history and composed of 106 figures -- this automated historical figures have educated and entertained audiences, both young and old, for over thirty years. Several years ago the importance of renovating this unique pageant became apparent and the stage of fund raising began with the establishment of the Guardian Angel program for the figures." For a donation of $500 or more, a donor could choose a character from the diorama and become its patron." Ms. Lemecha proposed that ACPC become a sponsor for one of the figures. Motion was made and approved unanimously to support this project. The figure of Adam Mickiewicz was selected and approved.

Henrietta Nowakowski, who has undertaken research for several years of the contributions of Poles at Jamestown, VA., referred to the year 1619 when the Polish workers went on strike and won the right to vote in the colony. She proposed and the Board approved her motion to undertake the marking of the 400th Anniversary of the strike.

Business Manager Judi Tompkins was pleased to report that the latest issue of the ACPC's publication, Polish Heritage, edited by Dave Motak, which highlights the activities of this national organization, is being enthusiastically received because it is published for the first time in full color and special quality magazine pages.

Approval for a Historical Marker in Philadelphia, dedicated to Walter Golaski, inventor of the knitted vascular replacement, was obtained by Peter Obst. Date of the dedication to be announced. Mr. Obst also announced that he has acquired the use of 16 new Polish Circus (Cyrk) posters, which will be made available as travelling poster exhibits for ACPC Associate and Supporting organizations. Donations are welcome to help cover the costs of framing the new posters.

A very impressive report by Cecilia and Raymond Glembocki, Co-Chairs National Conference for the Social Studies, on the Conference held last fall in Seattle, WA. Board members were privileged to view photo displays of the outstanding posters designed by Carla Tomaszewski, which were on display at our Polish Perspectives Booth in Seattle. The next Conference at which our Polish Perspectives Booth will be displayed and manned will be held in St. Louis, MO, Nov. 22-24, 2013. Cecilia and Raymond devoted a very substantial part of the year soliciting and gathering books, pamphlets, audio and video materials, lesson plans as well as posters on historical and cultural data, which make the our Polish Perspectives Booth so outstanding at the Social Studies Conferences. ACPC members truly appreciate their dedication and devotion to creating and operating an outstanding program that enriches the true picture of Poland's and Polonia's contributions to society.

Music Committee Chair Alicia Dutka revealed that the Committee had received applications from soloists for appearance at the ACPC's Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Concert during the annual convention in Baltimore. Subsequently Mrs. Dutka advised that the Committee had selected Sarah Kate Walston, a soprano from Richmond, VA.

A project proposal to the National Board of Directors was submitted in the course of the business meeting by Debbie Majka and Dave Motak. In summary, it is proposed that the ACPC should investigate the possibility of sponsoring a traveling exhibition in the United States to celebrate and promote the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland. The Board moved that ACPC should become involved in the proposed project.

Carolyn Meleski referred to the ACPC Literary Competition Awards, which were generously established by the late Dr. Estelle von Wachtel Torres. Mrs. Meleski reported that the ACPC's Detroit Affiliate, the Friends of Polish Art received a donation from Dr Mary Pearlman in the amount of $5,000 for the purpose of funding Short Story Competitions. At the request of the family, the fund will be called the "Estelle Wachtel-Torres, MD Literary Competition Fund". This year two ACPC Affiliate Organizations sponsored short story competitions, which qualified for the ACPC Literary Competition program. The Polish Heritage Society of Rochester, NY awarded a $150 prize, which was matched by ACPC for a total award of $300. The winner was Elizabeth Elkins for her story "Jewish Krakow." The Friends of Polish Art, Detroit had a literary competition in process at the time of this report with a first prize of $125 to be matched $125 by ACPC. Affiliate organizations are encouraged to sponsor their own literary competitions, which will enjoy ACPC's financial support through the Dr. Estelle von Wachtel Torres bequeath.

After the Friday business session was finished, the members were treated to a variety of tasty aperitifs and wines. During the luncheon on Saturday, Board members were deeply impressed by an in-depth audio visual presentation of an important project introduced by the American Institute of Polish Culture, Tampa Bay, "The Wall Speaks", conceived and directed by Wojtek Sawa, film director and visual artist. It is based on stories of children and teenagers placed in extreme situations during and after World War II. The content is represented through an interactive installation-exhibit featuring short artistic documentary films, large format photography, and especially designed artifacts, that are shown at American universities and museums. It is conducted with the participation of the museums, scholars, and students in Poland and the United States, and with the support of the American Institute of Polish Culture, Tampa Bay and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Washington, DC. "The Wall Speaks" stories are a gift from the story tellers, their lives, thoughts, senses, emotions, to all of us! Audiences are mesmerized by the courage, the beauty, and power found in these stories as they offer their heartfelt "thanks" and love.

For Saturday evening the ACPC Board members were graciously invited to participate in the Florida Institute's 31st Anniversary Ball celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of famous Polish composer and conductor Witold Lutoslawski. This was a splendiferous event that will be detailed in a well-deserved write-up of its own in the Polonia press.

Most of the Council's members remember well Wally West who was instrumental in finding and leading the outstanding development of the American Institute of Polish Culture and inspired its renowned activities. The Council expresses its deep appreciation and offers heartfelt thanks to the Institute's President Christine Markut for making the ACPC's Spring Board Meeting a wholeheartedly charming and memorable visit.

Earlier, Board Members were delighted to learn from Thomas Payne, President Polish American Arts Association of Washington, DC that the ACPC Affiliate will be hosting the Council's 65th Annual Convention in Baltimore, MD, July 31 -- Aug. 4, 2013. We'll be staying in the vicinity of Baltimore's famous Inner Harbor and the Katyn Memorial -- so much to see and do! Join us!

Please see ACPC website: ACPC Convention 2013, Baltimore, MD for full information.

Dziekujemy z calego serca I do milego zobaczenia w Baltimore, MD na roczna konwencje!


by Jo Louise Winters, PR Chair


Wladyslaw Poncet


(l. to r.) Wojtek Sawa & Pres. Markut


Krystyna Markut, President AIPC


Deborah Majka, President ACPC

The 2013 Spring Board meeting of the American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC) concluded with an invitation by the ACPC Affiliate, American Institute of Polish Culture, Tampa Bay, FL to participate in their 31st Anniversary Ball, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of famous Polish composer and conductor Witold Lutoslawski. ACPC members, formally attired for the prestigious event, as were all the guests, were very impressed by the very strong showing of the Institute's membership when the cocktail hour opened.

The Institute's President Mrs. Krystyna Markut greeted and warmly welcomed all of the guests. An ACPC highlight, which occurred at the start of the Anniversary Ball, was the presentation by Mrs. Markut, of the Institute's Distinguished Service Award to ACPC President Deborah M. Majka. The Institute's program book describes extensively Mrs. Majka's many years of service to Polonia causes. Mrs. Majka has served as president of the American Council for Polish Culture for fourteen of the last twenty years and serves as the Vice-President of Cultural Affairs of the Polish American Congress. In 2011 she was named Honorary Consul in Philadelphia of the Republic of Poland. The lengthy list of her achievements and honors includes the facts that her Saturday mornings are devoted to teaching Polish language to children and adults at the Adam Mickiewicz Polish Language School; produces and hosts a half-hour radio program, "Polonia Today" in English on Polish topics; and has received numerous awards and medals including Medal Zaslugi (Polish Army Veterans); Distinguished Woman of the Year (Polish Heritage Society of Philadelphia; Polish American World Newspaper Citizen of the Year; and Poland's Krzyz Kawalerski Orderu Zaslugi (Cavalier Cross of the Order of Merit).

The Institute presented the Achievement Award to Wladyslaw Poncet, Editor of the Polonian Echo in Sarasota, FL, and an outstanding Polish-American whose WWII experiences included serving in the Polish armed forces under Gen. Wladyslaw Anders in Italy. Together with the Anders Corps he was transplanted and demobilized in England. There he undertook serious studies in journalism, politics and technology. He became a radio reporter, specializing in Olympic and other important sports events. Residing in Florida since 1990 he became a very active member in Polonia groups serving in leadership roles. For over twenty years Mr. Poncet has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Polonian Echo. The Institute paid special recognition and appreciation to Mr. Poncet for his radio and newspaper skills in keeping the public informed of the many Polish-American cultural, political as well as historical accomplishments.

The Special Republica Award was presented to Dr. Timothy Snyder, author, historian, and Yale University professor. Dr. Snyder's work has served to shine new light on the story of peoples of Central Europe. Through books such as "The Reconstruction of Nations" and "Bloodlands" as well as through essays, editorials and lectures, Dr. Snyder has helped build a solid foundation for overcoming barriers and promoting understanding. This is an especially difficult task in an area where emotions run high and where scholarship has often been impeded by narrow national, religious and cultural interests.

The Institute's 31st Polonaise Ball was formally opened with a recital by Polish-American composer/pianist Jacek Zganiacz. Mr. Zganiacz delivered a breathtaking piano performance of some of Poland's most talented and world famed composers when he appeared in concert at the Institute's Anniversary Ball. Mr. Zganiacz's background reveals that he had continued his piano studies and earned his Masters Degree at the Juilliard School of Music. He was also granted Licentiate and Fellowship Degrees by Trinity College in London. Mr. Zganiacz's piano concert was majestic, filled with high energy. Appreciating his mastery at the piano, the audience was brought to its feet for a prolonged ovation.

A sumptuous four course dinner followed and then the Polanie ensemble lead the guests in a traditional Polonaise dance. As the guests returned to their tables, the Polanie dancers put on a spectacular performance of Polish folk dancing -- whirling, twirling, tossing, and stomping eloquently. The audience was thrilled and fascinated by the majestic performance.

Finally, the Christoph Olesinski's band "Renoma" featuring vocalists Elzbieta Juraszek and Ireneusz Juraszek struck up the music to everyone's delight. Some of the guests quickly took to the dance floor, whilst others relaxed at their tables excitedly recounting and reflecting on the outstanding happenings at the American Institute's of Polish Culture 31st Anniversary Ball.

The Board Meeting in Florida was indeed enjoyed by the attending ACPC members. The ride from the airport in Tampa Bay to the hotel in Safety Harbor was enhanced by the remarkably beautiful scenery. As we sat back and admired the lovely views on all sides, full of sparkling greenery and bright sunshine flashing over the water, we were enchanted to be in such a beautiful locality. A number of the ACPC members came from Chicago and other areas where spring was late in arriving as snow storms continued into April. Not only did the scenery and weather cooperate to make our Florida visit a pleasure to remember, but more importantly, the Saturday evening Ball was highly significant in that the guests were able to honor and appreciate the distinguished individuals chosen to receive highly significant awards; to enjoy an outstanding piano concert; witness the exciting performance of Polish folk dancers; take part in the traditional Polonaise dance; and finally dance away the rest of the outstanding evening to the merry tunes of a delightful orchestra.

ACPC Pres. Deborah Majka and the attending ACPC members salute the American Institute of Polish Culture of Tampa Bay for providing a first hand opportunity to witness the rich results of their outstanding work throughout the State of Florida and beyond for the past three decades in highlighting the highly significant contributions of Poles and Polish Americans to American society. We thank the Institute members for the Polish and Polish-American hospitality that lives on deeply in their hearts.