Current Awardees

Each year at its Annual Meeting, PAHA bestows a series of award honoring individuals and organizations for their contributions to the Polish American cultural, artistic, and social life. The Oskar Halecki Prize honors the best books, the Miecislaus Haiman Award - distinguished scholars, the Amicus Poloniae - individuals not of Polish descent dedicated to the cause of Polonia, the Swastek Prize - articles published in the Polish American Studies, and the Skalny Civic Achievement Awards - contributions to Polonia's community. PAHA also bestows Creative Arts Prizes, Distinguished Service Award, and Graduate Student Awards. An exceptional achievement and contribution to the organization may be recognized by Honorary Membership.

Attendees with award winners or their representatives at the Awards Ceremony. Residence of Ambassador Wilczek, Washington. D.C.

At the 75th Annual Meeting on January 6, 2018, in Washington, D.C., PAHA awards for 2017 were presented by President Anna Mazurkiewicz and Executive Director Pien Versteegh. Details are posted on PAHA News Blog and on website pages for each individual award and prize. 

Awardees from the 74th Annual Meeting on January 7, 2017, in Denver, Colorado: L to R: Maja Trochimczyk, Aleksandra Kurowska-Sussdorf, Alicja Swica, Grazyna Kozaczka (PAHA President), Brenda Bruce, Alvin M. Fountain III, Tomasz Skotnicki, and Katarzyna Zak. The biographies of the awardees are presented on PAHA News Blog.

Amicus Poloniae Award
Creative Arts Prize
Distinguished Service Award
Oskar Halecki Prize (Books)
Skalny Civic Achievement Award

Swastek Prize (Best Article)
Student Award and Travel Grant



The Halecki Prize recognizes an important book or monograph on the Polish experience in the United States.  Eligibility  is  limited  to  works  of  historical  and/or  cultural  interest,  including  those  in the  social sciences or humanities, published in the two years prior to the award.  The 2017 Halecki Prize was presented to Joanna Wojdon for White and Red Umbrella: The Polish American Congress in the Cold War Era 1944-1988 (Helena History Press, 2017). The award was received by the publisher, Katalin Kadar Lynn, Publisher of Helena History Press and faculty member at Eotvos Lorand University. 

The White and Red Umbrella recounts the goals and everyday activities of the Polish American Congress under the presidencies of Charles Rozmarek (1944-1968) and Aloysius Mazewski (1968-1988) who shaped the organization's image in the Cold War era. It deals with the issues of both the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of the PAC in representing Polish American interests, as a coordinator of various Polish American endeavors, as a lobbying organization, and as an institution providing cultural and social unity for Americans of Polish descent in America. It discusses internal and external factors that influenced the Congress and portrays the personalities of it’s activists and examines the PAC’s achievements and failures.

Joanna Wojdon is an Associate Professor at the Institute of History, University of Wroclaw. The history of Polish Americans after World War II is one of her major research interests, alongside the history of education under communism. Her research in the Polish American archives was made possible thanks to a Kosciuszko Foundation Fellowship(2003) and a Fulbright Senior Award (2014).


The Miecislaus Haiman Award of the Polish American Historical Association is "offered annually to an American scholar for sustained contribution to the study of Polish Americans."  These Awards commemorate a historian, writer, journalist, translator and Polonia activist, Mieczyslaw Haiman (1888-1949), who was the first director of the Polish Museum of America, and the first historian of American Polonia. (For the list of past winners visit this page of PAHANews blog).

The Haiman Award Joanna Wojdon's seminal works on the Polish American Congress ["W imieniu sześciu milionów..." Kongres Polonii Amerykańskiej w latach 1944-1968 (Toruń: Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek, 2005) and "W jedności siła!" Kongres Polonii Amerykańskiej w latach 1968-1988 (Toruń: Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek, 2008)] have both been reviewed positively and are major contributions to the understanding of that organization. In addition, some of her other works over the years have also addressed with excellently documented research issues essential to understanding the Polish American experience. Not the least of these is “Polish Americans in the Press of the People's Republic of Poland (1952-1989) [Polish American Studies, Vol. LIX (2002), No. 2] which reverses the usual view of studying the Polonia press in order to see how Polonia was actually portrayed abroad, and “The Image of Tadeusz Kościuszko in Postwar Polish Education” (The Polish Review, 2014).

Dr. Marta Cieslak with Dr. Anna Mazurkiewicz. Photo by Marcin Szerle.


The Swastek Prize is awarded annually for the best article published in a given volume of Polish American Studies, the journal of the Polish American Historical Association. This award, established in 1981, is named in honor of Rev. Joseph V. Swastek (1913-1977), the editor of Polish American Studies for many years, and a past president of the Polish American Historical Association. (Read the list of past winners posted on this blog).

For the Swastek Prize for the best article in volume 73 (2016) of Polish American Studies, the Editorial Board nominated Marta Cieślak's "Crossing the Boundaries of Modernity: The Post-Abolition Journey of Polish Peasants to the United States." As some of the board members noted, this original piece is based on the author's 2014 dissertation and does not only reflect extensive archival research but also a thorough understanding of the social and economic conditions in mid-19th century Poland, of the transatlantic migration, and the social and economic situation of emancipated slaves in the postbellum South. Cieślak's argument is original and compelling, and constitutes a historiographically significant project.

Dr. Kozaczka with Dr. Mazurkiewicz and her Award, Photo by Marcin Szerle.


Given occasionally to a member of PAHA who has rendered valuable and sustained service to the organization, the Distinguished Service Award was renamed in 2017 to honor Prof. James S. Pula, a long-time editor of the Polish American Studies, PAHA's past president, current treasurer, awards recipient, and the editor of two PAHA flagship publications, the critically acclaimed Polish American Encyclopedia (McFarland, 2011) and PAHA: The 75th Anniversary of the Polish American Historical Association (PAHA, 2017). (For the list of past winners visit this page of PAHANews blog).

Professor of English at Cazenovia College in New York state, Dr. Kozaczka is a long-time PAHA Board Member, PAHA  President in 2015-2016 and a faculty member at Cazenovia College since 1984. She currently directs the college-wide Honors Program and took a leadership role in securing trademarks for PAHA's logo and name, organizing many PAHA conferences, and representing the organization at international events, especially in Poland. Dr. Kozaczka's research interests include ethnic American literature, women's literature, literature of the Holocaust as well as traditional Polish folk dress and adornment. She has published scholarly essays, short fiction and popular articles in both English and Polish. She is currently working on a monograph devoted to the representation of immigrant and ethnic women in Polish American literature after World War II.

Robert Synakowski (center) with Prof. Neal Pease. Dr. Ewa Barczyk, Prof. Grazyna Kozaczka, Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, Mr. Stanley Kozaczka. Photo by Marcin Szerle.


The Skalny Civic Achievement Awards honor individuals or groups who advance PAHA's goals of promoting research and awareness of the Polish-American experience and/or have made significant contributions to Polish or Polish-American community and culture. The two 2017 Skalny Awards were presented to Jerald Rachfal and Robert Synakowski. (For a list of past winners visit this page).


For many years now, Jerry Rachfal has been a recognized leader of the Rochester, NY Polonia. He has been associated with the  Polish Historical Society of Rochester, NY and currently serves as board member of this organization taking an active role in promoting Polish history and culture. As a close associate of Dr. Frederic Skalny, he has also been associated with the Skalny Foundation and Charitable trust. Jerry Rachfal's commitment to serving others goes beyond his involvement with the Polish American organization. He is a former member of Boler School of Business Advisory Committee at his Alma Mater, John Carrol University and together with his wife Janice Rachfal, works with the Flower City Habitat for Humanity in Rochester, NY.

Robert Synakowski discusses his award with Dr. Mazurkiewicz. Photo by Marcin Szerle.


Robert Synakowski has dedicated his life to promoting Polish American culture and serving Polish American communities in New York State and nationwide. As the President of The Polish Home in Syracuse, NY he works tirelessly to both secure the physical well- being of this historic home and to make it into a welcoming educational space for Polish Americans and their friends. Under the directorship of Robert Synakowski, The Polish Home became a new location for the Polish Heritage Society of Syracuse which Robert also leads as its president. His focus on education is also evidenced in his involvement with The Polish Scholarship Fund which annually awards college scholarships to students of Polish descent. Robert Synakowski also serves his second term as a PAHA board member and as the First Vice-president of American Council for Polish Culture, a national organization uniting groups and individuals in cities across the United States in promoting Polish culture, heritage and history, and intercultural understanding.

Therese Clarke receives Amicus Poloniae Award from Dr. Mazurkiewicz. Photo by Marcin Szerle.


The Amicus Poloniae Award recognizes significant contributions enhancing knowledge of Polish and Polish-American heritage by individuals not belonging to the Polish-American community.  (For a list of past winners visit this page of PAHANews blog).

Therese Clarke was born in Buffalo NY to an Irish Father and French Mother. Therese graduated from D’Youville College with Honors in Buffalo NY and Majored in French Education. She was a career French Teacher in the Williamsville NY School District. A founding member, (the only original member actively involved since 1990) of the 1990 creation of Pomost International, a local organization which has been sending volunteers annually to Rzeszów, Poland, Buffalo's Sister City. Therese went to Rzeszów alone (not knowing any Polish) to make the arrangements. She returned 15 times as leader of the program. Since 1991 more than 125 Americans (many non-Poles) have gone to Poland to facilitate a two-week Intensive English Language and American Culture. Therese regularly attends the Chopin Singing Society Concerts, UB Polish Student’s Association, Polish American Congress of WNY & Polish Arts Club of Buffalo Wigilias and Swieconkas. Dyngus Day, Paczki Day, Dożynki, Kosciusko Foundation of Buffalo, Orchard Lake Seminary Fundraising, Polish Businesswomen's Association, Casimir Pulaski Association, Polish Genealogy Associations.


PAHA's Creative Arts Prize, established in 1999, "recognizes contributions in the field of creative arts by individuals or groups who have promoted an awareness of the Polish experience in the Americas."(For a list of past winners visit this page of PAHANews blog).

Czeslaw Karkowski  philosopher, journalist, novelist and an academic, has been a prolific writer authoring novels, memoirs, collections of essays, and creative nonfiction. His long and distinguished career as a journalist began in the early 1980s in Berlin where he found himself with other political exiles of the Solidarity era, and was followed up by many years in the editorial offices  of the New York City's Polish language newspaper, Nowy Dziennik. His publications include contemporary interpretations of The Iliad by Homer , a historical novel entitled Drugi w Sztuce, as well as a novel of immigrant experience Kamienna Drabina. This immigrant experience returns in his Dziennik Jednego Roku and Na Emigracji. Czeslaw Karkowski using his own emigrant/immigrant experiences provides a sensitive commentary on immigrant identity and the immigrant connection to the home country.

Sarah Moxy Moczygeba receives Travel Grant from Dr. Mazurkiewicz. Photo by Marcin Szerle.


Established in 2008, the Graduate Student Research Paper Award recognizes outstanding research into Polish-American history and culture by a young scholar in the humanities or social sciences. In 2017, it was replaced by the the Graduate Student/Young Scholar Travel Grant. The winner receives a travel grant to present the paper at the PAHA Annual Meeting. (For a list of past awardees see this page).

Sarah “Moxy” Moczygemba is a Religious Studies doctoral student at the University of Florida. Her dissertation will focus on ethnic identity, historical memory, and Catholicism in the Silesian Polish Texan community. Ms. Moczygemba presented a lecture during PAHA conference in Washigton DC in January 2018 exploring the relationship between space and memory in the contemporary Polish American Catholic community in South Texas associated with the Panna Maria settlement, focusing on efforts to remember and commemorate the experience of immigration by emphasizing its historical and present-day ties to Roman Catholicism.