NORTH PORT, Fla. – The Ukrainian National Foundation, Inc. (UNF), organized and incorporated in August 1992, has as its primary mission the promotion and cultivation of the rich cultural heritage of Ukraine.

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable corporation, the UNF is governed by a seven-member Board of Directors, which reorganizes at the beginning of each calendar year. Traditionally, the Board has worked to provide a structure for the growth of Ukrainian cultural resources within the Ukrainian-American and Ukrainian-Canadian communities. The following is a review of what the UNF does and has done:

  • Approved funding for the publication of a colorful Ukrainian children’s storybook called “Ivasyk Telesyk”;
  • Sponsored the English Teachers for Ukraine Program, to teach conversational English to students in Ukraine;
  • Promoted and organized fundraising efforts for the Lviv-based Vasyl Stefanyk Scientific Library of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine;
  • Continually aided in fundraising efforts for the National University of Ostroh Academy;
  • Managed a Publications Endowment Fund for the benefit of Svoboda and The Ukrainian Weekly;
  • Has owned the Soyuzivka Heritage Center since January 2015.

At present, the UNF Board includes President Roman B. Hirniak, Treasurer Gerald (“Slavko”) Tysiak, Secretary Bohdana Puzyk, as well as Directors Valentyna Tabaka, Andrij Cade, Volodya Krul and Ariana Babczenko.

Collectively, the members of the Board have vast experience in the business world and the greater Ukrainian community, with each member bringing to the table a wealth of knowledge and expertise in philanthropic work.

An attorney who has handled myriad legal matters regarding insurance, financial institutions and corporate law, Mr. Hirniak is also the president and chief executive officer of the Ukrainian National Association, Inc. (UNA). He is an active member of the Ukrainian diaspora, having served in leadership roles in many Ukrainian organizations and assumed senior positions in schools and various youth organizations. He is also the former mayor of Randolph Township in New Jersey.

Mr. Tysiak is the founder of E-3 Financial Solutions, an audit services firm. He has provided both audit-related services to local governmental entities and economic impact analyses for commercial development projects. Mr. Tysiak has also served on the Audit Committee of the UNA and is a former first vice president of that corporate entity.

Ms. Puzyk is a long-time volunteer at the Soyuzivka Heritage Center with various camps, programs, the Adoptive Families Weekend and has been a judge for the Miss Soyuzivka Pageant. She is currently a member of the UNA’s Corporate Board of Directors and serves as its secretary. She is also president of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America (UNWLA) Branch 56 in North Port, Fla.

Ms. Tabaka is a department manager at RWJBarnabas Health’s Jersey City Medical Center, a comprehensive integrated health care system in New Jersey. She has been on the Board of the UNF for over five years and has been instrumental in organizing the Soyuzivka Festival for the past three years. She also serves on the Executive Board of the UNWLA.

Mr. Cade is an information technology specialist with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, where he develops and optimizes systems with corporate and consultative settings. He has an extensive knowledge of the Soyuzivka Heritage Center, having been a part of the previous management team. He is also a current member of the UNA’s Corporate Board of Directors and serves as one of its directors.

Mr. Krul, who has many years of experience in the hospitality and hotel management fields, has worked for the largest hotelier in the world. His expertise in digital marketing and e-commerce adds an extra level of knowledge to the UNF Board. He is also a former member of the band Svitanok, confirming his dedication to the promotion of Ukrainian heritage through music.

Ms. Babczenko is a manager at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) within the organization’s customer transformation practice. She is actively involved in the Ukrainian community and is passionate about promoting and preserving Ukrainian culture. In 2022, she drove awareness at PwC of the war in Ukraine, which led to nearly $3 million in donations to directly counter the effects of the war. She is an active member of the Plast Spartanky sorority.

At its core, the UNF is dedicated to ensuring the future of Soyuzivka Heritage Center, the UNF’s cultural gem. In their capacity as stewards of a nonprofit charitable foundation, the Board members strive to ensure that the Soyuzivka Heritage Center will expand beyond even what was envisioned by those individuals who purchased the property back in 1952. With the recent addition of Managing Director Stephen Barankewicz leading a revival at Soyuzivka, the course forward has been set.

The 15th annual Ukrainian Festival at Soyuzivka will take place between July 14 and July 16. All members of the UNF Board will attend the festival, participating in both the Friday evening gala and the weekend-long festival. They will each be available to answer any questions individuals may have.

source: The Ukrainian Weekly