AHF Board Meeting: July 27-28 2007
7/28/2007 - AHF Board meets at the Bethlen Home in Ligonier, PA, confirms 2007 programs, declares July 15 "Justice for Hungarians Day." The AHF Board of Directors met for two days to discuss 2007 programs and the state of the Federation. Topics included increasing support for the Hungarian Scholarship Fund, supporting the October 23 Civil Defense Committee in Hungary (Civil Jogász Bizottság - Az Október 23 Bizottság Alapítvány az Ember Jogaiért), Congressional and media relations, support of the historic Hungarian communities in Vojvodina, Transylvania, Slovakia and Carpatho-Ukraine, and commemorating the Darr Mine diasaster of 1907 and the Federation's 100th Anniversary.
The two-day meeting started with an informal brainstorming session and dinner generously provided by the Bethlen Home. The next morning, Chairman of the Board Akos Nagy welcomed particpants and reviewed the tremendous successes of 2006 which included remembering Hungarian-American heroes at Arlington National Cemetery, the 1956 commemorations in New York, Washington, Texas and Florida where AHF unveiled memorials to our fallen heroes. The Federation had raised money for its scholarship fund and for the Hungarian Scouts, was an effective advocate on a number of issues such as minority rights and the Babes-Bolyai University, and began sponsoring a series of events where Hungarian political leaders could discuss important issues such as voting rights with the Hungarian American community.
The chairman also reviewed plans for 2007 which include commemorating the Darr Mine disaster which claimed hundreds of Hungarian lives and celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Federation. AHF President, Attila Micheller, also welcomed board members and expressed his shared vision for unity and reaching out to our community. Committees then reported on the State of the Federation.
Co-President and International and Public Relations Committee Chair, Frank Koszorus, Jr., presented his committee's plans and recent successes. He provided a brief overview of AHF's involvement in the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), the Committee's work on minority issues, and promotion of democracy in the region. He gave an overview of AHF's work with the Victims of Communism (VOC) memorial and the recent gala awards dinner where AHF had a table as a result of its support of the project. The Rev. Laszlo Tokes, the hero of the 1989 liberation of Romania from Ceaucescu's disctatorship, opened the Gala ceremony with a stirring and well-received invocation. The program included AHF's statement on honoring all victims of communism. He also reported AHF was invited to participate on the Enduring Strains of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe panel discussion convened by Hudson's Center for European Studies and that the Committee published numerous essays on various topics such as Trianon.
The Executive Committee Chairman, Bryan Dawson-Szilagyi reported that the American Hungarian Federation continues to grow, reaching nearly 300 members. He reported that the Federation's Website had 100,000 visits in October 2006 and that the eNewsletter now reached 8500 readers, more than doubling since reporting at last April's General Assembly. In addition, AHF's Amazon Store has sold nearly $1000 in books written by AHF members and other items. He encouraged all Board members and friends to help in recruiting efforts and reminded member organizations to send event updates so they are included in AHF's communications.
Treasurer, Sandor Murray, reported that the Federation is financially healthy. Its fundraising efforts, which includes its account for the New York Coordinating Committee for the Commemoration of 1956, raised over $200,000.00. AHF has allocated nearly $175,000 toward the 1956 Memorial planned for Manhattan.
Atilla Kocsis, Director of the National Office located two blocks from the White House in the National Press Building, gave an update on office affairs. He reported that public inquiries have increased significantly and expressed his concern that additional help is needed to meet our rapid growth.
Board Member and Chair of the Scholarship Committee, Prof. Bela Bognar ("Prof. Paprika") provided a detailed overview of the his work and the students supported. The Hungarian Scholarship Fund (HSF) supports students in the Carpathian Basin who demonstrate outstanding scholarship and financial need. AHF has been the strongest supporter of the fund and hopes to help it grow by adding eCommerce functionality. The HSF also recently gained its own tax-exempt status.
Zoltan Bagdy, Co-President and Chair of the Cultural Committee called attention to the various articles appearing on the AHF Website on such greats as Andre Watts and Ivan Fischer. He reminded Board members to reach out to him when they become aware of a cultural event or news relating to Hungary.
Discussions continued regarding the various reports and Board members expressed their concerns over various issues such as exit visa requirements and the harsh, discriminatory sentencing of ethnic Hungarians in former Southern Hungary, now the Vojvodina region of Serbia. These discussions led the Board to pass several resolutions, such as:
Bryan Dawson-Szilagyi commented: "AHF's strategy focusing on common-ground focus and reaching out to the 2nd and 3rd generations of Hungarian-Americans is paying off. Most of us born and raised in the United States are not burdened by the unfortunate mistrust that crept into our community as a result of war and communist oppression. We hope that as we focus on doing good work, and the unity, trust, and professionalism shown at this meeting will continue to spread to our national community. We must be an inclusive organization not divided on political affiliations or language preferences, but one that is focused on common ground issues. We must learn from others and we need a strong voice in Washington. AHF, with its 100 years of proud service and the community's support behind it, is the organization that can priovide that strong voice."
AHF extends a special thank you to the Rev. Imre Bertalan, Jr. and the Bethlen Home for their gracious hospitality.
Photos courtesy of Judit Zambo, HRFA Fraternal Coordinator
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www.hungary1956.com The American Hungarian Federation is sponsoring the Hungary 1956 Portal which serves as a central information resource on 1956 as our community prepares for this important milestone. Includes many photos as well as Audio and Video files!
Days of Freedom in Budapest" - "Budapest is in revolt. With
uncontrolled fury, crowds set fire to Russian flags... The impossible
has happened. A handful of heroes has shaken the communist world to its
foundations." (5.2 Mb)
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