About Us

The Polish American Congress is a national umbrella organization, representing at least 10 million Americans of Polish descent and origin. Its membership is comprised of more than 3,000 fraternal, educational, veteran, religious, cultural, social, business, political organizations and individual memberships. These include the Polish National Alliance, Polish Women's Alliance, Polish Roman Catholic Union, Polish Falcons and others.

The Polish American community prides itself on its deeply rooted commitment to the values of family, faith, democracy, hard work and fulfillment of the American dream. As such, the PAC promotes civic, educational and cultural programs designed to further not only the knowledge of Polish history, language and culture, but to stimulate Polish American involvement and accomplishments.

The Ohio division, founded in 1948, is one of 41 State Divisions and Chapters from 23 states. By 1953 membership in the Ohio Division of the PAC grew to 438 active participants. Each consecutive administration of the Division did their utmost to better the lives of the Polish people, both those living in the USA and those living in Poland.

It has always been the philosophy of the PAC to avoid interference with the Polish government, although the PAC has always tried to assist the people of Poland achieve their goals and objectives. During the period of Martial Law in Poland, a significant donation was sent to Poland to support the Solidarity movement.

Members of the Ohio Division of the PAC have always aided individuals in need in Poland, but special efforts were mounted to assist Poland in times of crises, such as the terrible floods in southeastern Poland in 1997 and in 2001.

Over the years the Ohio Division of the PAC has fostered the customs and traditions of Poland in many ways. The Ohio Division has supported the media, including the press and radio. Language schools have been promoted; celebrations for Pulaski Day, Polish American Heritage Month, Polish Constitution of May 3rd have been held. Programs have been held in honor of Adam Mickiewicz, Frederick Chopin, Maria Sklodowska-Curie. Concerts, exhibitions, banquets, movies, displays, theater and folk dance performances have been held to promote the Polish heritage.

The Ohio Division of the PAC has mounted full force support for a number of Poland's initiatives on the world stage, including admission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and admission to the European Union. Most recently the Ohio Division of the PAC took an active role encouraging in the United States Congress to grant posthumous honorary U.S. citizenship to Casimir Pulaski.

  • Fr. Eric Orzech: President
  • Tomasz Kacki: First Vice President
  • Michael Polichuk: Second Vice President
  • Mark Relovsky: Treasurer
  • Honorable Diane Karpinski: Recording Secretary
  • Patricia Rutkowski: Sergeant-at-Arms

    Dr. Mitchell Bienia
    Ligia Borkowski
    Cecylia Dyczko
    Elizabeth Ostaszewski
    Ewa Wiechec

    Dr.Mitchell Bienia
    Tomasz Kacki

    Cleveland Polka Association
    Cleveland Society of Poles
    Harmonia Chopin
    International Polka Association
    Polish American Priests Assoc.
    Polish Army Veterans Post 1
    Polish Army Veterans Post 152
    Polish Army Veterans Post 203
    Polish Legion of American Veterans
    Polish National Alliance
    Polish Roman Catholic Union of America
    Polonia Foundation of Ohio Inc.
    Union of Poles of America, Division of PNA

    Since the collapse of communism in Central Europe, when the dream of free and independent Poland was realized, new problems have developed and threaten the Polish American community. Therefore, the Polish American Congress continues to represent the interest of our community by:
  • Advancing the interest of Polish Americans at the State and Federal levels;
  • Supporting educational and cultural activities in the Polish American Communitythat help young people learn about Polish culture, history, and language;
  • Opposing examples of bigotry aimed at the Polish Americans - from crude Polish jokes to distortions of Polish history to oversight of Poles;
  • Sponsoring contacts between the U.S.; and Polish governmental, educational, healthcare, business, and community leaders in both countries to assist further Poland's transitions to the democratic institutions and market economy;
  • Helping to provide charitable relief to Poland during this time of profound economic change with special attention to the needs of children, sick, disabled, and elderly;
  • Promoting cultural, political, and religious dialogues with other ethnic and racial groups in the United States;
  • Monitoring U.S. legislation and policies on immigration reforms.

  • Our goals are very important. Therefore, we encourage you to join us in reaching them.

    Your active participation in the life of the Polish American Congress is a sign of your pride in your heritage and your concern about your community!

    In May 1944, the representatives of the Polish American community from around the country met in Buffalo, NY to create the Polish American Congress (PAC), an organization that would represent them, and continue the struggle for free, democratic and independent Poland.

    On September 1, 1939, Poland was brutally invaded by Nazi Germans, and sixteen days later, by the Soviets. Those fatal events ripped Poland apart sending millions of its citizens into forced labor, and concentration camps. Methodic killings became common. The Polish military forces were fighting bravely together with the Allies on all fronts while the Polish Underground Army continued the struggle on the Polish territories. By the end of World War II, after the Teheran Conference in November 1943, where Churchill and Roosevelt conceded to Stalin the Polish territories, it became painfully evident that Poland would not be a free country.

    Now that the dream of a strong, independent Polish nation has been realized, the PAC continues to represent the interests of the Polish-American community by:
  • Promoting cultural, artistic, and scholarly programs that help Polish-Americans discover their roots and other Americans understand the richness of Polish culture;
  • Advancing the interests of Polish-Americans at the federal and State levels on such issues as Poland's membership in NATO and immigration legislation;
  • Opposing examples of bigotry aimed at Polish-Americans, from crude Polish jokes to distortions of Polish history to oversight of Poles;
  • Helping to provide charitable relief to Poland, during this time of profound economic change, with special attention to the needs of children, the sick and disabled, and the elderly.

  • We think these goals are important. We hope that you do, too!

    Please join the Polish-American Congress.

    At the local level, the Ohio Division has succeeded with support the following issues:

  • Photo exhibition on Polish landmarks in Cleveland
  • Symposium on Polish immigration to the greater-Cleveland area
  • DNA testing for Polish roots
  • Casimir Pulaski's posthumous honorary U.S. citizenship
  • Poland's admission to NATO
  • Polish Constitution Day
  • Pulaski Day
  • Polish American Heritage Month
  • Polish Cultural Garden in Cleveland's Rockefeller Park

  • Working closely with the U.S. Government, The Polish American Congress succeeded on the following issues:

  • Support for the Radio Free Europe;
  • Establishment of the Displaced Persons (DP) Program which allowed 150,000 Polish immigrants to enter the U.S. after the WW II;
  • Setting up the U.S. Congressional Commission to investigate the Katyn Forest Massacre;
  • The U.S. legislation giving the American Veterans' benefits to the Polish Veterans of the World War I and World War II;
  • Permanent U.S. recognition of the Poland's western border of the Oder/Neisse line;
  • The U.S. assistance through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to Solidarity underground and during Martial Law;
  • Establishment of the multimillion-dollar program of economic assistance through the establishment of the Support to East European Democracies Act (SEED Act);
  • Establishment of the Polish American Enterprise Fund (PAEF);
  • Establishment of the Polish American Freedom Foundation (PAFF);
  • Political asylum in the United States for refuges escaping from the Communist Regime in Poland;
  • Amnesty for undocumented aliens who entered the U.S. before 1979;
  • Poland's full membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), in May, 1999, giving our families in Poland a strong sense of personal security;
  • Partnership with the Swiss Fund for the Needy Victims of the Holocaust to assist those interred in concentration camps;
  • Participated in the negotiations which led to the establishment of the German Forced Labor Compensation Program, which currently assist the International Organization for Migration by providing claims applications and processing to the living survivors of slave/forced labor. Other assistance involves participation in the American Holocaust Victims Assets Program and the German Property Loss Program;
  • Assistance to flood victims in Poland, in 1997, and 2001;
  • Immigration reform: 245 (I) legislation, H1-B Visas, and the Visa Lottery. None of these would have been possible without the consistent and substantial support of the PAC's members, member organizations, and the whole community.