Washington, DC – The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, in cooperation with the Embassy of Ukraine in the U.S., hosted Ukraine in Washington 2012, its second annual Conference and Gala Awards Dinner, on November 30th and December 1st. Through the Ukraine in Washington Conference, the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, seeks to provide a clear and open discussion regarding Ukraine on many topics. The date of the event was chose to commemorate the overwhelming vote for Ukrainian independence in 1991.
The conference, Leadership in a Global World, was a two day event attracting approximately 250 people to the Omni Shoreham Hotel and The Capital Hilton. (A story specifically on the conference follows below. The Gala Awards Dinner, Celebrating People of Ukraine and Their Achievements, attracted over 300 people).
The evening program included an awards dinner with Star of Ukraine presentations in several categories made to individuals from Ukraine or whose roots are in Ukraine. The event was emceed by the unique and gracious team of Ambassador Roman Popadiuk and Cynné Simpson, an Emmy Award and Edward R. Murrow Award winning anchor for ABC 7 News in Washington, DC.
The Reverend Volodymyr Steliac, pastor of St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Silver Spring, MD, led the prayer of thanksgiving in English and Ukrainian. A local area choir, SPIV-Zhyttia (Living in Song), provided a stirring rendition of the national anthems of Ukraine and the United States.
Welcoming remarks were made by U.S.-Ukraine Foundation President Nadia McConnell and Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States, Olexander Motsyk. Greetings were also extended on behalf the visiting Ukrainian delegation by Sergiy Arbuzov, Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, who was unable to attend in person.
In her remarks, Nadia McConnell stressed that the purpose of the evening was to celebrate the people of Ukraine and their achievements “because since Ukraine became independent there is much to celebrate about the people of Ukraine” and whose roots are in Ukraine – in contrast to the stream of negative news and images that have come to define official Ukraine and following the “dark decades of the Soviet Union when the Kremlin airbrushed Ukraine and her citizens out of existence, to the outside world they were Russians and Soviets.”
Star of Ukraine awards were made in the following categories:
Business and Technology
The QuadSquad – Winner of Microsoft Imagine Cup 2012, Sydney, Australia
The QuadSquad is a group of students, Maksim Osika, Valeriy Yasakov, Anton Pesternikov, from the Donetsk Computer Academy “Krok”. They were selected as Grand Prize winners from among 75 teams in Microsoft’s annual international IT competition, Imagine Cup. QuadSquad demonstrated briefly their winning design – a glove that translates sign language into audible speech using detection motion, finger flexes and many other variables. Bluetooth connects the glove to a Windows Mobile device and produces a synthesized voice. Thanks to this Ukrainian ingenuity, those with no voice will now literally be able to speak.
Dr. Lubomyr Romankiw – inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame
Dr. Romankiw, who has been with IBM for 50 years, is an IBM Fellow and researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center. He has been honored with many awards and is active in various professional societies and organizations, most notably serving as the Chief Scout for the Plast Ukrainian World Scout Organization, which this year celebrated its 100th anniversary in Lviv, Ukraine. Dr. Romankiw’s roots are from Zhovkva, Lviv oblast, Ukraine and he immigrated to Canada in 1948. After being accepted to MIT he then moved to the U.S. in 1957 and in 1962 began his work at IBM where he has been working in research for 50 years! He is a marvelous example of brilliance and perseverance.
He is listed as (co)inventor on over 65 U.S. patents, 150 papers and has edited 10 volumes of various technical symposia. Much of his work involves magnetic materials, reflective displays and copper plating. His accomplishments are too numerous to list. In March of this year, he was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame, one of only ten inventors (including Steve Jobs) so honored. Dr. Romankiw joins another inductee from Ukraine, Igor Sikorskiy, who at the time of his induction was misidentified as being from Kiev, Russia.
The list of everyday items, including computer elements, which we have and enjoy thanks to Dr. Romankiw’s enthusiasm and creativity is indeed impressive.
Space & Science Awards
Leonid Kadeniuk – Ukrainian Astronaut
Mr. Kadeniuk is the first of independent Ukraine to fly in space. He flew on NASA’s Columbia space shuttle in 1997 as part of the international mission STS-87. He holds the rank of Ukrainian Air Force Major General. After the STS-87 flight, Leonid Kadeniuk continued his Ukrainian space program career in the Ukrainian National Space Agency.
In 2002 Mr. Kadeniuk was elected to the Verkhovna Rada where he served until 2007 and was a member of the parliamentary Committee on Defense and National Security.
Mr. Kadeniuk expressed his warm gratitude for receiving an award in Washington not least because he views the U.S. as a second homeland that allowed him to fulfill his dreams of going into space. Mr. Kadeniuk’s award recognized his contribution to U.S.-Ukraine space cooperation.
Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper – NASA Astronaut
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, of Ukrainian-American heritage, Stefanyshyn-Piper is an American Naval officer and a former astronaut. She achieved the rank of Captain and is also a qualified and experienced salvage officer.
Capt. Stefanyshyn-Piper has received numerous honors and awards, such as the Meritorious Service Medal, two Navy Commendation Medals, and two Navy Achievement Medals. She flew on two Space Shuttle missions during which she completed five spacewalks. She ranks as 25th in the all-time list of space walkers by duration.
Her award recognizes her ongoing contributions to the positive image of Ukraine and active involvement in the Ukrainian-American community.
Volodymyr Horbulin – Founder of the Ukrainian Space Program
The Foundation also honored Volodymyr Horbulin who was instrumental in establishing the Ukrainian Space Agency and is generally recognized as the Founder of the Ukrainian Space Program. The Agency celebrates it’s 20th anniversary this year. Mr. Horbulin later went on to become President Kuchma’s National Security Advisor and a consistent advocate of Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration. He is currently working at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.
Arts & Entertainment
Taras Lewyckyj – Voloshky Ukrainain Dance Ensemble
As artistic director of Philadelphia’s Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, Mr. Lewyckyj oversees performances that combine Ukrainian and American dance aesthetics, culled from folkloric traditions and contemporary styles. His creative endeavors have included international fashion design, product design, advertising, brand development, and film and video production. Mr. Lewyckyj ’s designs have been exhibited worldwide and his artwork is displayed in numerous museum and private collections. He worked directly with Giorgio Armani as a designer in Rome, Italy.
Since Mr. Lewyckyj became Artistic Director for “Voloshky” their level of achievement and recognition has increased to such an extent that they are now cooperating with such masters of folk dance as Mark Morris. Mr. Lewyckyj’s travels to Ukraine involve working with Kryovchyzha and the Zoriany dance company to recreate the historic works.
Maksim Chmerkovskiy – Dancing with the Stars
Mr. Chmerkovskiy, a native of Odessa, Ukraine, worked through a serious injury handicap in his youth to reach success and achievement. Mr. Chmerkovskiy devotes much time and effort to charity work, which includes St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children, cancer charities and can also be seen visiting children’s hospitals in Los Angeles.
Mr. Chmerkovskiy started the Rising Stars Dance Academy and is currently a board member for the non-profit organization DanceTeamUSA, which aims to encourage youth to take up dancing and a Dance Sports school. He has a production company, “Maksim Chmerkovskiy Productions,” which organizes performances all over the world. Mr. Chmerkovskiy, a world renowned choreographer, has worked with famed director Franco Dragone revamping and updating the immensely popular performance show, Le Rêve, at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas.
Mr. Chmerkovskiy was honored for his support of charities and his achievements in arts and entertainment.
After the award presentations, there was a spectacular performance by the Voloshky Dance Ensemble followed by dessert & dancing to the music of the Hrim Band. The dancing went on until the early hours of Sunday, December 2nd.
The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation is deeply appreciative of the generosity provided in support of Ukraine in Washington 2012 by individuals, non-profit organizations, governments and commercial companies. We extend a special expression of gratitude to Ambassador Motsyk and staff from the Embassy of Ukraine in the United States.
The sponsors and partners for Ukraine in Washington 2012 included Bingham, Clinton School of Public Service – University of Arkansas, Coca-Cola, National Projects Agency – Invest Ukraine, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, IRASET Group LLC , McConnell & Associates, Monsanto, Natalie Shear & Associates, Open World Leadership Center, Orbital Sciences Corporation, Raytheon, Self-Reliance NY – Federal Credit Union, System Capital Management, The Bush School of Government and Public Service, The Heritage Foundation of 1st Security Savings Bank, The Livingston Group, Ukrainian American Coordinating Council and UkrAutoProm.