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Slovak World Congress gets new president

An organization plagued with controversy and searching for a new direction may be on the right foot when the general assembly of the Slovak World Congress (Svetový Kongres Slovákov-SKS), held September 27-30 in Cleveland, Ohio, elected a wealthy California businessman as its new president. Pavol Rusnak, the new president, was one of three candidates vying with SKS president Leopold Danihels in the election, which takes place every three years. The other candidates were John Karch, an SKS executive vice-president and Imrich Zapletal, vice-president of SKS's chapter in Australia.
Before the election, Rusnak, a native of Liptovský Mikuláš and now chairman and CEO of PRM Corporation, a network of auto dealerships in California, hinted that he would shake up the 26-year old organization.


Defeated. Former president Leopold Danihels
TASR

An organization plagued with controversy and searching for a new direction may be on the right foot when the general assembly of the Slovak World Congress (Svetový Kongres Slovákov-SKS), held September 27-30 in Cleveland, Ohio, elected a wealthy California businessman as its new president.

Pavol Rusnak, the new president, was one of three candidates vying with SKS president Leopold Danihels in the election, which takes place every three years. The other candidates were John Karch, an SKS executive vice-president and Imrich Zapletal, vice-president of SKS's chapter in Australia.

Before the election, Rusnak, a native of Liptovský Mikuláš and now chairman and CEO of PRM Corporation, a network of auto dealerships in California, hinted that he would shake up the 26-year old organization. "I look to the future," Rusnak said for the Slovak press agency TASR. "We have to concentrate on SKS's reconstruction."

Rusnak's comments pointed directly at what many SKS members saw as a lack of navigation by Danihels. The defeated president came under heavy criticism for his failure to communicate with SKS members, to share information from them and seek input on charting SKS's new mission now that its mother country, Slovakia, gained independence, according to SKS member Albert Mishnik.

Karch indicated that SKS's new mission should revolve around Slovak international security, specifically toward lobbying the U.S. Congress and the White House for Slovakia's membership into NATO.

One Slovak-American not affiliated with the organization, though, doubts that even with new leadership, SKS can focus on and achieve its goals. "The organization is essentially a social group that has little real connection to Slovakia, no money and no political sway," said Tom Skladony, a Slovak-American who recently moved from Washington, D.C. to serve as an adviser to President Michal Kováč.

SKS is a non-profit entity founded in 1970 in New York City by Stephen Roman, a Canadian-Slovak. There are no figures on membership, though Mishnik said "it could be a few thousand" people grouped in a number of "fraternal" organizations.

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