History of the Chicago Chapter of the Kosciuszko Foundation
The founding of the Chicago Chapter of the Kosciuszko Foundation in the early 1980's should be credited to enthusiastic promoters of Polish culture in Chicago – Marion Winters and Mrs. Winters, Lucyna Migala, Witold and Jolanta Pawlikowski; along with the support of the late Wanda Paul, Marya Lilien, Tadeusz and Jackie Kozuch - all of them stars in art, music and volunteerism.
From 1984 to 1999, one of the main focuses of Chicago Chapter was the Annual Chicago Chopin Piano Competition (originally named the Midwest Chopin Piano Competition), where young talented musicians auditioned to compete in the New York finals of the Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition staged annually since 1949. During these 16 years Chicago competitions became an important music tradition. The competition finals - in concert form - were aired annually on WFMT - Chicago's fine arts radio station. More than 100 promising young pianists of many ethnic groups performed at the Rudolf Ganz Memorial Hall of the Roosevelt University to great acclaim – many of them winning not only prizes in Chicago but also becoming New York winners and competing in one of the world's most prestigious piano events: the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. For this we are grateful to numerous distinguished Midwest piano pedagogues and concert pianists who prepared their students for these demanding competitions and who served as judges for the auditions. In 1999, the winner of the last Chicago competition was a young Polish-American: Adam Chlastawa, a student of Polish-American pianist Pawel Checinski.
The Chicago Chapter also has a history of organizing and supporting many Polish and Polish-American cultural activities. The Chapter helps students from the Chicago area participate in the New York Kosciuszko Foundation Piano Competition and organizes Chicago area recitals for competition winners. The Chapter also organizes numerous other cultural events, including exhibitions and lectures, often featuring Kosciuszko Foundation Fellows teaching at Chicago universities, and other renowned scholars. An important Chapter task is recommending Chicago area students for Kosciuszko Foundation summer scholarships in Poland.
On November 22nd 2008, the Chicago Chapter celebrated its 25thAnniversary. The Annual meeting of the Kosciuszko Foundation Board of Trustees and National Advisory Council was held in Chicago to allow the Trustees and the Council members to be honored at the Gala. This turn out to be a historical meeting at which the Board of Trustees elected Mr. Alex Storozynski President and Executive Director of the Kosciuszko Foundation. He succeeds Joseph E. Gore Esq. who has distinguished himself in this role at the Foundation for twenty-one years. The presentation and the first public speech of the newly elected President and Executive Director of KF took place at the Polish Consulate in Chicago on November 22, 2008 at the 25thAnniversary Gala of the Chicago Chapter.
The Chapter is proud to play a role in helping the Kosciuszko Foundation mission to promote Polish culture in America and to foster understanding, cooperation and exchange of scholars, artists and scientists between Poland and the United States.