Polish American Heritage League (PAHL)

Officers and Trustees

President:  David Kopala

  • Kathryn Kolek, Vice President
  • Thomas J. Kazalski, Treasurer
  • Teresa Rybinski, Secretary

President Emeritus: Dorothy Maziarz Sowchuk

Dorothy_Maziarz_SowczukDorothy Maziarz Sowchuk was born in Trenton, NJ to Polish parents, and resides in South River, NJ. She has spent a life-time dedicated to working for the American and Polish communities, including the following organizations:

  • Polish Falcons #59 Ladies Auxiliary, President.
  • Polish American Democratic Club.
  • Holy Cross-Catholic War Veterans Ladies Auxiliary.
  • Polish Arts Club of Trenton7
  • St. Hedwig’s Parish Choir.
  • Trenton Auxiliary Police, Vice-President.
  • Pulaski Parade Committee, Financial Secretary.
  • Polish Children’s Heart Line.
  • United Poles in America Z.P.A.
  • Polish American Congress, Trenton Chapter. 1st Vice President
  • Imperial Music Center – helped coordinate chorus and band trips to Poland and Ireland for concert tours.
  • Polish Heritage Festivals, Chairman in 1986 and 1996.
  • American Red Cross and many other organizations.

She was involved in organizing and shipping crates of clothing and food supplies to Poland, as well as working with the staff at Deborah Heart & Lung Center to schedule heart surgery for children from Poland.

Member of Governors Ethnic Advisory Committee and Education.

Honorary President: Chester Nadolny

Chester Nadolny

The late Chester Nadolny began his community service forty years ago as an activist and co-founder of the Lower Dundee Improvement Association – a neighborhood based organization focused on the quality of life, safety and neighborhood preservation. His years of service were recognized when in 1976 Mayor Gerald Goldman appointed him Business Administrator for the City of Passaic.

In 1968 he co-founded and became the first President of the League of American Poles, an organization whose major goals were socio-economic and focused on fostering cooperation, social and economic aid, and mutual respect in the Polish-American Community. The results were profound. Among other things, some of its members were instrumental in establishing the following:

  • “Nowy Dziennik”, currently a leading Polish newspaper in the metropolitan area;
  • The Polish American Republican Caucus;
  • The Polish Heritage Festival Committee at the Garden State Arts Center.

As one of the organizers, Mr. Nadolny was involved with the Polish Heritage Festivals since 1971. He served as Chairman of the 1975 and 1994 Festivals and in 1978 was the co-founder of the Polish American Heritage League (PAHL) which was founded to provide organization, structure and continuity. He served as chairman of PAHL and in 1975 he had the pleasure of serving as the first Chairman of the Heritage Festival Ball.

Mr. Nadolny held a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from New York University and a Masters Degrees in Systems Management and in Business Administration from the Florida Institute of Technology.

A World War II veteran, he was a member of the Rosol-Dul American Legion Post of Passaic and the Pavlick-Koster Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Wallington.

In 2000, he was awarded the Golden Cross of Service medal by President Kwasniewski of the Republic of Poland. Mr Nadolny passed away in February 2009.


Peter C. Eagler
Cezary Gawel
Iwona A. Karpeta
Christopher Koltun
David M. Kopala
Heidi J. Kopala
Chester (Kayer) Kuklewicz
Rita Kuklewicz
Danuta Sieminski
Barbara Janina Sikora
Dorothy Sowchuk
Les Zalewski
Bozenna Zelazowska
T. Robert Zochowski, Esq.

Read the Vision Statement »

About Polish American Heritage League

Until 1978 the Polish Heritage Festival Committee was a loosely structured organization. Following each festival the representatives of the supporting organizations met to elect a chairman for the coming year. There were no membership requirements and no special rules for election. On the first meeting of each festival year nominations were made from the floor and the nominee receiving the majority vote was elected. The general chairman then appointed his or her own committee chairmen who were responsible for the various organizational functions such as program, publicity, ticket sales, etc. Then after months of planning, the show went on.

All money earned from the ticket sales was turned over to the Art Center at the end of each festival. Profits were retained by the Center and were used to provide free programs for New Jersey’s senior citizens, disabled veterans, the blind and school children. The festival committee sponsored no other fund raising events and no money was ever retained in its treasury.

By 1978 it was apparent that the loose structure of the Polish Heritage Festival Committee presented serious problems. First, the committee was vulnerable to election manipulation. Anyone could be elected merely by bringing in a greater number of supporters to vote for them at the first meeting. Some would be onetime voters who were never seen again. Second, there was never any money on hand. Therefore, there could be no talent searches, scholarships, prizes or donations to worthy causes benefiting the Polish American Community. To mitigate these shortcomings the Festival Committee members voted to structure the organization; draw-up a constitution and by-laws; incorporate; and establish requirements for membership. In 1978 the By-laws were adapted and the organization incorporated under the name of Polish American Heritage League (PAHL).

Since then PAHL has served the Polish American Community well and has fulfilled its stated purpose. Through its elected General Chairman and the Festival Committee, it was responsible for the planning, coordinating and sponsoring of the annual Polish American Heritage Festivals at the Art Center.

There are no membership dues for membership in PAHL. One must attend at least five meetings during one year to qualify for membership. Members are entitled to participate in all general meetings of PAHL, the proceedings of the Festival Committee, and vote for the Festival General Chairman at the first post-festival meeting of the organization. The General Chairman, who reports to the Board of Trustees, must be a person of good character, outstanding accomplishments and of Polish heritage on the side of at least one parent. Marriage to one of Polish heritage is not a sufficient qualification.

The Polish American Heritage League is administered by its Officers and the Board of Trustees which consists of the past festival chairmen and four trustees elected at-large by the membership at PAHL’s annual meeting held each October.

PAHL has proven itself to be an altruistic organization. Using funds raised through banquets, ad books, donations and other extracurricular activities, it has contributed thousands of dollars to individuals, organizations, and worthwhile causes. For example, $2,000 was contributed to the Polish-American Congress Charitable Foundation; $1,000 each for the Pope John Paul II Monte Casino Project and the Cultural Center Campaign; $1,600 to the Orchard Lake Seminary; an additional $1,000 to the Garden State Art Center Cultural Fund; $1,000 to the Polish Cultural Foundation; $1,000 to the New Jersey Vietnam War Memorial Fund; and others. None of these donations would have been possible without PAHL and the generous support of the Polish American Community.

Most important, however, PAHL is a vast human resource of men and women who give freely of their time and energy to each year produce an interesting and entertaining program of Polish cultural diversity.

Your continued support of these programs is extremely important and essential for their continuation.