As Channel Raises Funds for Ukraine, Refugees Past, Present Keep Memories Alive

"Our parents didn't intend to emigrate," Razom president Dora Chomiak said. "They were displaced persons."

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

April 11, 2022

5 Min Read
Alex Danyluk (center) with his parents, Roman (left) and Marta (right)

CHANNEL PARTNERS CONFERENCE & EXPO/MSP SUMMIT, LAS VEGAS — The channel is rallying to the aid of Ukraine as refugees and residents of the war-torn country seek to preserve their way of life.

As of last week, a fundraiser led by Avant (a CP Expo Channel Champion sponsor)had raised more than $62,000 for the Razom nonprofit. Razom, which brands itself around “building a prosperous Ukraine,” has been providing on-the-ground support in Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion of the country.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that one-quarter of 44 million people in Ukraine have fled their homes. Moreover, more than 4.4 million of them are categorized as refugees fleeing Ukraine. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is already investigating widespread evidence of war crimes committed against civilians.

The Russian Federation’s latest onslaught, which began on Feb. 24, follows a series of aggressions in an ongoing war that goes back to 2014. And for Ukrainians at home and abroad, the humanitarian crisis is yet another in a long history of displacement.


Avant’s Alex Danyluk

Alex Danyluk’s 92-year-old mother tells him that she sees herself in the faces of the refugees on TV. Danyluk, Avant’s chief strategy officer, is the son of first-generation Ukrainian immigrants. But “refugees,” rather than “immigrants,” might better describe them, as they had been forced out of Ukraine.


Razom for Ukraine’s Dora Chomiak

“Our parents didn’t intend to emigrate,” Razom president Dora Chomiak said. “They were displaced persons.”

Building a Village

Chomiak and Danyluk’s parents have shared the stories of displacement. Ukrainians suffered during World War II at the hands of both Soviets and Nazis. The Nazis shipped out Chomiak’s father in a boxcar when he was eight years old. After the war, he could not return to to his home, locked out by the conquering Soviets. Danyluk’s parents spent five years in Germany in camps for displaced persons before they ultimately arrived in the U.S. in 1949.


Alex Danyluk (center) with his parents, Roman (left) and Marta (right) in 1963.

This generation built roots in the United States, founding credit unions, mutual aid societies, newspapers and performing arts groups. Nevertheless, they held closely to the Ukrainian culture. Chomiak and Danyluk both attended Ukrainian school on Saturdays, where they learned their ancestors’ history and language. Danyluk said that first generation of Ukrainian-Americans found these organizations in part because they had already seen their culture come under attack during the World War II.

“It was a survival mechanism in some sense to build up all this cultural community and infrastructure within the diaspora,” Danyluk told Channel Futures.

The efforts to preserve the cultural heritage have paid off. Many people close to Danyluk, including members of his wedding party and his cousin, had returned to Ukraine prior to the invasion. Although Ukrainian-Americans like Danyluk and Chomiak refer to the scattered Ukrainian community as a “diaspora,” they say …

… they feel closely connected to fellow country people all around the world.

“It feels like you’re living in a village within a city within a state within a country within a world. And it’s still the same village. No matter where you are,” Danyluk said.


Danyluk wears traditional Ukrainian dress in a community play.

Danyluk saw the village come together once again as he posted about Ukraine on his LinkedIn. Support from people in the channel and the larger technology industry poured in. A Ukrainian executive from a SaaS company reached out to Danyluk. Some of his previous companies employed Russian developers, and those developers stood in solidarity with Danyluk.

“Everyone that’s outside of the influence of the Moscow sphere is just appalled at what’s going on,” Danyluk said.


The people of Ukraine have advocated for independence from Russia for decades, Danyluk and Chomiak said. Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991 and later that year its people voted 92% in favor of independence during a referendum. But the movement to keep Ukraine a sovereign nation has not come without its challenges.

The Ukraine supreme court annulled the results of the 2004 presidential election (which Putin-endorsed candidate Viktor Yanukovych won), citing widespread voter fraud and intimidation. But first, the public engaged in mass protests known as the Orange Revolution. A decade later, protests erupted at the Ukrainian president sudden pivoted away from a deal with the European Union. Ukraine’s parliament ultimately exiled the president, but not before the deposed president encouraged Putin and Russia to invade and seize the Crimean Peninsula.

Now in 2022, Ukrainians have taken up arms to resist the invasion.

“Time and time again people in Ukraine have made a conscious choice for representational democracy. They made a conscious choice for sovereignty. They made a conscious choice to be able to call the shots on their own turf,” Chomiak said.

Chomiak encouraged readers to take an active role in stopping the war, rather than simply doom scrolling social media. In addition to donating to Razom’s on-the-ground support and materials, she encouraged to participation in sanctions. Chomiak urged the business community to join the list of companies that have pulled out of the Russian market. Razom on Sunday organized a protest against Nestle, a company whose long resume of complicity in human rights abuses includes its decision to continue doing business in Russia.

“You have to starve the war machine. The private sector community has a big role to play in freezing out the organizations that are funding Russian leadership’s ability to keep dropping these bombs on civilians,” she told Channel Futures.

Chomiak will conduct a video interview on the main stage with Avant at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo on Tuesday.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email James Anderson or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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