Twelve years ago, a group of prominent Polish American community leaders founded the American Polish Advisory Council (APAC) as a 501 (c) (4), non-profit, bipartisan organization to fill what they perceived to be a void in the Polish American political arena. The organization's immediate goals included lobbying for greater military collaboration and investment into research and development in Poland. A year later, APAC drafted the Polish American Platform, a document signed by over 300 Polish American organizations and presented to both presidential candidates ahead of the 2004 Presidential Elections.
Over the past decade, APAC has remained a political voice for Polish Americans. The organization has worked with the Democratic and Republican parties, candidates and elected officials to educate them about key issues important to Polish Americans. The organization has lobbied for Poland's inclusion into the US Visa Waiver Program and continues to update and disseminate the Polish American Platform ahead of each Presidential Election. The annual Polish American conference presented by APAC attracts prominent speakers and community leaders from across the country to engage in dialogue and address pressing issues such as political engagement within the Polish American community and US – Polish relations.
The organization's success has always been its capacity to attract some of the most prominent community leaders, political activists and thinkers as well as high ranking elected officials. The bipartisan nature of APAC has allowed the organization to build relationships on both sides of the aisle and work closely with other Polish American organizations across the United States.
In the 2012 Presidential Elections, APAC board members served as foreign relations and policy advisers to Mitt Romney and chaired the National Polish Americans for Obama Committee. A number of APAC board members are currently working with 2016 Presidential candidates from both parties. These relationships are pivotal to the organization's ability to execute its mission and facilitate access to key decision makers in Washington and beyond.
Today, the American Polish Advisory Council is in the midst of planning its 2015 annual conference which will take place in Washington, DC on October 10th and focus on Polish Americans and the 2016 Presidential Elections as well as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP. Since the reintroduction of the JOLT Act in the US House of Representatives in March of this year, APAC has played a key role in mobilizing the Polish American community to build support for this and other legislative initiatives that would enable Poland to join the Visa Waiver Program.
In an attempt to strengthen relationships between Polish American community leaders and members of Congress, APAC hosted the first Polish American reception on Capitol Hill in May of this year and has committed to making this successful initiative an annual event. In the fall of 2015, the American Polish Advisory Council will launch PolishList.org – an online database of Polish Americans in elected or appointed office as well as political candidates.
As APAC's agenda has grown and diversified, its core mission remains the same: to promote the political interests of Polish Americans, to engage Polish Americans in the political process, to foster dialogue between Polish Americans and policy makers and to promote the US – Poland partnership.
With Poland's emergence as a key player on the global stage and over 10 million Americans claiming Polish heritage, the need for a stronger political voice and representation has never been greater. That is why the American Polish Advisory Council continues to position itself as a leading Polish American organization committed to building a stronger Polish American community; one which can timely and effectively address the challenges and concerns it faces today as well as tomorrow.