Int'l Institute of Akron, One of the Most Active Resettlement Agencies in Ohio, Loses its Leader

Dec 28, 2017

Elaine Woloshyn in 2015 with one of the first of the Bhutanese refugees who arrived in Akron.
Credit M.L. SCHULTZE / WKSU

Elaine Woloshyn, the granddaughter of Ukrainian immigrants who headed the agency that brought thousands of immigrants and refugees from around the world to Akron, died on Christmas morning. 

Woloshyn headed the International Institute of Akron for four years, following nearly three decades with other nonprofits and government organizations.

Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro says Woloshyn helped energize the 100-year-old agency at a time when it stepped up to resettle thousands of people from Bhutan, Burma, Afghanistan, the Congo and other of the world’s trouble spots. And she says the agency remained energized even when the Trump administration drastically cut the number of refugees allowed in the U.S.

“Even though it was a kick in the head, that team over there continued to pull together with their partners and provide the best possible services they could for the folks who are embracing our community as their home.” 

The normally bustling agency on Akron’s North Hill was quiet this week. Acting Director Madhu Sharma says the community is still adjusting.

“We cannot express in words what this loss means to the agency and all of the IIA family. Elaine was truly a pillar in the nonprofit community.”

Largely because of the institute, Akron and Summit County have officially become a Welcoming Community for refugees and immigrants. County Executive Ilene Shapiro says the work will continue.

“We may skip a beat, but it’ll get back in rhythm I would hope in very short term.”

Woloshyn, born in Youngstown, was 65. The cause of death was cancer. 

She is survived by her husband, Richard Stahl. Calling hours are today until 8 p.m. at the Kolodiy-Lazuta funeral home in Parma. A prayer service is at the funeral home tomorrow morning at 10:30 followed by a funeral liturgy at St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church at 11.