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George Zaharia honored with UCFE’s President’s Award

May 11, 2023 | Life, Community, Featured

Dr. Olenka Bilash with George Zaharia. Photo: Marco Levytsky

Western Bureau For NP-UN

This year’s President’s Award was presented to George Zaharia, a former President of the Ukrainian Foundation for College Education (UCFE) and a member of the Board of Directors for almost a quarter century.

The award was presented by current UFCE President Dr. Olenka Bilash at the annual Kyiv Konnection fundraising banquet.

“This year’s recipient can be described as an ever ready battery. Not only does he keep going and going, but he is often a few steps ahead of everyone else. His ability to take initiative keeps so many projects financially strong and with stable human resources. He knows how to build capacity and prepare for succession planning. No job is ever too big and no one is more ready to act on needed tasks. He is committed, community-oriented, reliable, and has a wealth of knowledge, and organizational and leadership skills, which he generously shares with many organizations,” she said.

Zaharia was born in Manville Alberta. He became a student at Saint Johns Institute in 1963, married the love of his wife, Gloria, and in 1968 at the age of 24 became director of St. John’s Institute. While there he made significant contributions most notably offering the nine employees a raise.

In the 1970s George worked at the University of Alberta in campus development. It didn’t take long for the university to recognize his skill in institutional research and planning and George was seconded to oversee administrative and non administrative staff in what today would be called the HR section of the university.

In the 1980s George continued in a variety of contract and mediation work where he developed a reputation as a hard negotiator. In this same decade his son Myron became involved in hockey, George took on the presidency of the Southside Athletic Club. He held that position for two years and acted as past president for another two years. During this time, he created an alumni association, and was able to organize the paperwork required to give that organization a casino license. Since then that award has generated over $500,000 in scholarships for male and female students who are active in any sport ad have a good GPA.

A few years after UFCE was formed in 1994 then President Bill Pidruchney approached George to join the board which he did in 1999. After about four or five years he became president, a position which he held for another five years.

“He has continued to be a very supportive board member and is responsible for spearheading the Kyiv Konnection Banquet that we are attending this evening,” noted Dr. Bilash.

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