A few weeks ago, the President of Romanians of DC, Mr. Bogdan Banu, represented the organization at the Annual Meeting of the Federation of Romanian American Organizations (FORA). This significant event marked the first time the meeting was hosted at the residence of the Romanian Ambassador to the U.S., H.E. Andrei Muraru. The gathering coincided with several other events in Washington, DC, surrounding Romania’s National Day, including the Alianța Gala and Summit, the Madrigal Choir Concert at the National Cathedral, and the Celebration of the National Day of Romania organized by the Romanian Embassy at the Army and Navy Club.
Romanians of DC holds the distinction of being one of the founding member organizations of FORA, and Mr. Bogdan Banu is a Founding Board Member. Established in May 2022, FORA functions as an umbrella organization, seeking to unite the Romanian-American communities in a collaborative forum for mutual support. As a non-profit, independent entity, FORA has no political, business, or religious affiliations. Its primary objective is to represent the interests of member organizations and the Romanian American community in interactions with the American public, as well as officials from Romania and the Republic of Moldova.
During the event, Mr. Banu provided insights into the history, activities, and successes of the Romanians of Washington, DC community organization. He underscored ongoing efforts to promote and reward community volunteerism, particularly through participation in the United States President’s Volunteer Service Award. Emphasizing the importance of collaboration within local communities, Mr. Banu highlighted the goal of building stronger, cohesive, and more united local communities through partnerships with churches and other community organizations.
The Annual Meeting welcomed past and current presidents, board members, and honorary consuls of Romania accredited in the U.S. Notable attendees included H.E. Andrei Muraru, the Ambassador of Romania to the U.S.; the President of the Romanian Cultural Institute, Mr. Liviu Jicman; ICR NY President, Mr. Dorian Branea; and the National Coordinator for Romania’s Access to the Visa Waiver Program and State Counselor in the office of the Romanian Prime Minister, Mr. Valentin Vătăjelu.
The event served as a unique opportunity for FORA to engage with Romanian honorary consuls from across the U.S., as the organization seeks to expand its network. It was also a platform to introduce the various member organizations, showcase their programs and achievements, and discuss upcoming projects, expectations, and goals for the 2024 term of the new FORA President.
Ambassador Muraru noted in his opening remarks that “the Romanian-American associations across the U.S. act like a glue that brings together and unites the rich and diverse Romanian communities.” He also mentioned that the Embassy of Romania is proud to engage these organizations and to work together with them toward having Romania’s voice heard loud and clear in the United States, at both state and federal level. With the mission to build a stronger Romanian-American community and to speak with one voice for the interests and well-being of all members, he also noted the opportunity this meeting provided to honorary consuls to consider joining FORA.
Mr. Liviu Jicman presented the activities of the Romanian Cultural Institute and its key programs directed towards partners in the United States. These initiatives encompass the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship program, Translating and Publication Support, and the Cantemir Program, a funding initiative for cultural projects fostering partnerships between entities in Romania and abroad. Additionally, Mr. Jicman highlighted Romanian language courses, all contributing to the ambitious cultural agenda of the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York. Mr. Dorian Branea echoed some of the programs discussed by Mr. Jicman and outlined the main projects planned by ICR New York for 2024, with a particular emphasis on the continuation and expansion of Romanian film festivals in collaboration with local partners in various cities across the U.S.
Mr. Teodor Stan, the new President of FORA and Founder of the Immigration Research Forum, provided a historical overview of the Romanian community in the United States, drawing parallels to the present situation. He outlined key goals and objectives for the upcoming year, emphasizing the crucial role the Romanian American community plays in fostering stronger relations between Romania and the U.S.
Reflecting on the progress made by the Romanian-American community over the past 30 years, Mr. Mihai Lehene, the outgoing President of FORA, noted significant advancements in communication and organization among various Romanian groups throughout the U.S. Emphasizing the purpose of FORA, he highlighted community building, strategy formation, and democratic organization. In his role as President of the Romanian United Foundation – RUF (formerly Romanian United Fund), he showcased the Excellence Center and the various educational programs provided by the Romanian Community Center in Chicago. Mr. Lehene also shared resources available, including online platforms and curriculums (including the “Applying to DRP Grants” Document created by RUF for FORA members), and announced future programs, including a hospital building project and a large business fair.
In summary, the Annual FORA Meeting emerged as a great success, symbolizing a landmark moment for the Romanian-American community. Held at the residence of the Romanian Ambassador to the U.S., this gathering facilitated productive discussions, strategic planning, and idea exchange among leaders, diplomats, and organization representatives. Noteworthy figures, including Mr. Liviu Jicman, Mr. Dorian Branea, and Ambassador Andrei Muraru, emphasized the significance of cultural initiatives and collaboration between Romania and the U.S. The meeting’s triumph lies in its role in expanding FORA’s network, fostering connections among Romanian honorary consuls, and setting a promising course for future projects and objectives.