Introducing the 2019 Inductees into the Immigrant Heritage Hall of Fame
The IHHF Class of 2019 is a diverse group of remarkable individuals who embody the kind of perseverance, scholarship and achievement that have made our world a better place. Their noteworthy contributions serve to inspire and encourage future generations to excel. The IHHF Class of 2019 will include distinguished individuals who have been pioneers, leaders and scholars in education, science, law, and religion.
§ Rabbi Phillip Lazowski, philanthropist, spiritual leader and Holocaust survivor
§ Dr. Henry C. Lee, internationally renowned forensic scientist
§ Lucian Pawlak, former Mayor of New Britain and community leader
§ Dr. Zulma R. Toro, President of Central Connecticut State University, the first woman and Latino to lead the university
rabbi phillip lazowski
The remarkable journey of Rabbi Philip Lazowski from Holocaust survivor to spiritual leader has inspired countless congregants, families and communities for decades. Born in Poland in 1930, Lazowski was 11 in 1941 when the Nazis invaded his hometown, destroying his family’s home and possessions. For four years he survived in desperation, being saved by a stranger who claimed him as her son, narrowly escaping execution by being tossed by his mother from a second story window and living in the woods for two years. In 1947 Lazowski made his way to America to pursue a life dedicated to faith and to ensuring the horrors of the Holocaust are never forgotten. He attended Brooklyn College and Yeshiva University Rabbinical School and relocated to Hartford, where he married the daughter of the stranger who had saved him from certain death years earlier. Author of more than a dozen books, including his autobiography Faith and Destiny, Lazowski was Rabbi at Beth Sholom Synagogue in Hartford; is Rabbi Emeritus of Beth Hillel Synagogue in Bloomfield and Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford; was chaplain of the Hartford Police for 55 years; and remains Chaplain of the Connecticut State Senate.
Dr. Henry C. Lee
One of the world’s foremost and most widely recognized and admired forensic scientists, Dr. Henry C. Lee has fundamentally changed the way modern-day criminal investigations are conducted. Born in China the 11th of 13 children in 1938 and raised in Taiwan, Dr. Lee, who holds master’s and Ph.D. degrees in biochemistry from New York University, has worked with law enforcement to help solve more than 8,000 cases. He has been a prominent player in many of the world’s most challenging and high-profile investigations and criminal trials, including the O.J. Simpson, William Kennedy Smith and “woodchipper” murder trials, the Jon Benet Ramsey case, the suicide of White House Counsel Vincent Foster and the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. A former Commissioner of Public Safety for the State of Connecticut and the State’s chief criminalist for more than 20 years, Dr. Lee founded the University of New Haven’s Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science. He has taught at more than a dozen universities, law schools and medical schools; authored hundreds of articles and co-authored more than 40 books; lectured extensively around the world; and is the holder of numerous awards and more than 20 honorary degrees.
For three decades, Lucian Pawlak has been one of Connecticut’s most respected and beloved community leaders, a tour de force “man of the people” whose dedication to his New Britain community and those who call it home has known no bounds. Born of Polish heritage in Belgium in 1947, Pawlak came to New Britain in 1956 and distinguished himself as a star athlete at New Britain High School. His role as a city leader began with his 1987 election as City Treasurer, but it was during Pawlak’s term as Mayor from 1995-2003 that he cemented his legacy. Pawlak’s passionate leadership was vital to the revitalization of the city’s “Little Poland” corridor; the battle to fund a new city water treatment plant; and a successful city-wide effort to eliminate blight and bring new life to troubled neighborhoods. Pawlak is a leading figure in the success of the popular Dozynki and Little Poland Festivals; a director of the New Britain Institute, Trinity-on-Main and the Polish American Council of Greater New Britain Charities; a member of the New Britain Sports Hall of Fame; and a recipient of countless community service and leadership accolades. In 1998, Pawlak received the Cavalier's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for his outstanding contributions to Polish/U.S. relations.
Dr. Zulma R. Toro
In 2017, Dr. Zulma Toro became the 13th President of Central Connecticut State University and the first female and first Hispanic to hold the position in CCSU’s history. With a reputation as an extraordinary leader dedicated to making higher education more diverse and inclusive, Dr. Toro’s life has been one of overcoming obstacles and adversity to achieve excellence. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Dr. Toro chose an extraordinary educational path – she graduated from the University of Puerto in 1982 with a degree in industrial engineering, a traditionally male-dominated field. She earned a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to joining CCSU, she served as Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost of the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, and previously held leadership positions with Wichita State University, the University of New Haven and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. Dr. Toro’s extensive array of publications have testified eloquently about the national imperative of preparing women for careers in engineering and STEM, and she has spoken passionately about the challenges and opportunities for women of color in realizing their full potential.