The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is pleased to announce its 2015 UMD Macedonian Diaspora’s 40 Under 40 List.
UMD sought out nominations for forty rising stars of Macedonian heritage who are rocking their field of expertise as diverse as technology, business, real estate, medical field, fitness, finance, teaching, arts, law, and government. The process was done solely on nominations, and then a team of dedicated UMD members made the final selections.
UMD’s 40 Under 40 initiative, launched in 2014, was built to celebrate and promote the leaders that have excelled and endorse them as role models for our communities.
Launching the list, UMD Indiana Representative and 40 Under 40 Coordinator Argie N. Bellio stated: "These individuals are highly driven, productive and talented Macedonians. It's not only important to recognize them for what they've accomplished but to showcase them as leaders to learn from. UMD also believes this list will provide positive role models for future generations of Macedonians, especially our next generation leaders – Generation M."
UMD sincerely hopes this list will motivate these forty stars to continue making accomplishments in their respective careers and continue being proud of their Macedonian heritage and helping Macedonian causes.
Please enjoy reading UMD's 2015 Macedonian Diaspora 40 under 40 biographies, how their heritage has made an impact on their professional careers, and their advice for the next generation of Macedonians.
Please share the list with your social media contacts using hashtag #UMD40Under40
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Steve Anevski is the son of immigrant parents from Bitola, Macedonia. Steve’s working life started at age seven when he joined his father at construction sites during summer breaks. Over the next 12 summers Steve gradually moved from basic tasks and manual labor to running entire construction sites for multi-million dollar commercial projects.
At age 19, Steve obtained his real estate license and sold homes throughout college, while continuing to work construction over the summers. In 2007, at age 20, Steve had the unique opportunity to assist in the opening of a 350-seat restaurant and learned the nuances of the restaurant business, such as managing people, delivering excellent service, and keeping start-up costs low.
In 2009, Steve opened his first sports bar with his newly cultivated skills and worked long hours until he groomed a general manager, established an excellent staff, and ensured the locals had embraced the bar.
Over the next three years, Steve was instrumental in the opening of several more bars in the Greater Cincinnati area. He learned to delegate management and share best practices between his locations. During this period, Steve also discovered value investing and began buying special situation and distressed equities in the capital markets.
In 2012, Steve graduated law school and passed the bar exam, but quickly realized a legal career was not for him. At this time, Steve jointly oversaw the operations of 7 bars and restaurants and also established a long-only equity fund, managing his own capital.
In 2013, Steve teamed up with two veteran real estate investment brokers and began selling retail investment properties throughout the U.S. He also began managing outside capital through his investment fund, Aspis Capital, LLC.
Today, Steve is engaged in the operation of several businesses. He is President and Chief Investment Officer of Aspis Capital, LLC, a long-only equity fund focused on making value based investments in high ROE companies with competitively advantaged earnings managed by astute capital allocators; leveraged equities; pre and post-bankruptcy and reorganization companies, and companies involved in litigation, spin-offs or recapitalizations. Steve is also the managing member of TDI Hospitality Group, LLC, which is a seven-unit restaurant group based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Finally, Steve is an investment broker with Marcus & Millichap. He is a partner in a four-broker deal team that specializes in the sale of retail investment properties ranging from single tenant Net Lease properties to million square foot enclosed malls. His deal team has collectively sold over $700 million worth of properties in 23 different States.
Steve received his B.A. in economics and a minor in accounting from College of the Holy Cross and received a J.D. from New York Law School.
I grew up in an immigrant household with a very strong father and a very supportive mother.
My parents placed an emphasis on achievement and had little regard for time spent on fun. That orientation distinguished me from my peers. I operated under different rules and different expectations than most of my friends. Initially, that was difficult for me. I was not very adept at becoming one of the “in-crowd”. Eventually, I gained the self-confidence to trust my instincts rather than be influenced by my peer group or by conventional wisdom.
1) Don’t get lulled into a false sense of entitlement, and have a plan.
I see many of my contemporaries and younger people that have a sense of entitlement. They’ve been told how great they are by their parents, coaches and teachers. They’ve gotten into great undergraduate and graduate schools, but believe everything will easily come their way as they move out into the real world. Unfortunately, the world is very different post-recession. Too often, people do not think about the value they will bring to the business world or whether they have a competitive edge. They are too used to having the script written for them and confusing that with having a map to success. As Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Today’s environment is sure to punch you in the face. To be successful today, you have to be resilient and think a few steps ahead.
2) Find good mentors. Learn from them.
If you want to be a great at something, seek out the most successful person you can find and learn from them. Be gracious, offer something up in return, even if it is bringing them coffee; nothing in life is free. I am fortunate to have had several great mentors, I actively sought out those whose accomplishments I admired, and studied their path to success. Initially, you may feel you are mimicking their actions, but over time, you will fill in the blanks and add your own flare to the craft.
3) Find your passion and figure out how you can overcome adversity.
Your passion must exceed your threshold for pain. If you lack the passion, your drive and resilience will extinguish before you accomplish your dream. Passion is the engine that drives you, and your resilience is the armor to protect that engine. Love what you do and make sure your passion aligns with your character.
Tanya Atanasova is a finance professional with extensive international experience in the alternative investment industry. Tanya is skilled at supporting private businesses by providing their management with strategic solutions and at improving the investment operations process of investors and Fund Managers.
Tanya has six years of experience working as a Valuation and Portfolio Manager of Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF), investment management group that provides growth capital and business assistance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries. Her main responsibilities consisted of valuing/pricing international private equity investments, managing and monitoring the investment performance of multimillion deals, and setting and implementing investment and valuation policies. As Lead Member of the Valuation Committee and a primary support of SEAF’s Global Investment Committee, she played an important role in the structuring, due diligence, valuations and exits of hundreds of debt, equity and mezzanine investments operating in diverse industries and geographies.
Tanya’s experience includes working directly with the portfolio companies in Vietnam and Peru on improving their investment and economic performance. In her front-office role, Tanya assisted the companies on business development and strategic matters, financial controlling, technical assistance and planning, and provided access to new capital resources. With her demonstrated track record of combining financial leadership with sound business practices, she is able to position companies for long-term growth and profitability.
Tanya continued walking up the steep learning curve in her life and brought her leadership potential to a higher level - advancing her career as a part of a team that invests to fund the operations of a big global institution to increases and diffuse knowledge around the world. At the beginning of 2015, Tanya joined the Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Investment, where she conducts operational due diligence of potential managers, monitors the private equity portfolio of the endowment, and manages the liquidity and risk of the private portfolio in combination with the endowment’s funding sources.
On a volunteer basis, Tanya works as a Chapter Executive of the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association in DC, where she brings members of the alternative investment industry and policy makers together to share ideas, create a community of industry leaders, and enhance the educational spotlight on various topics in alternative investments. She also writes and grades CAIA exams and mentors members of the 100 Women in Hedge Funds Association. Through her volunteer activities, Tanya has been at the forefront of advocating high standards of professional ethics and competence for the alternative investment profession.
Tanya holds a Master’s Degree in Finance with specialization in Hedge Funds & Private Equity from the International University of Monaco (IUM), where she graduated with honors. She received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the Anglo-American University in Prague, Czech Republic in addition to a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in International Business & Languages in Thessaloniki, Greece. She holds the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designation and is also working towards other professional designations in the investment and valuation field.
My Macedonian heritage helped me find my passion and provided me with the academic motivation to turn that passion into a career. I learned from my family that education is the only shelter where I can leave everything with ‘true value’, the compass to the future, success and happiness. My ambition, competence, high work and dedication - those attributes that make me a proud Macedonian – have helped me cultivate my talent and maximize my potential to triumph as a finance professional in today’s challenging world. On a personal level, the exposure to different languages, diverse nationalities and races while growing up in Macedonia have provided me with incredible human skills that helped me adapt in every country I have lived, form everlasting relationships around the globe, and face all challenges that have come across my way. Striving for more and striving for better is what made every problem seem as an opportunity!
My message to young Macedonians pursuing a similar career path in the financial and investment industry is to stay committed to learning and achievement, to obtain a degree or professional designation that will help them stand out of the crowd and build ideas for developing more alternative investment products in Macedonia. The world is not that dangerous for anyone to risk a change in his/her professional goals or personal beliefs. Don’t be afraid to take challenges that may lead to opportunities. Believe in yourself and don’t give up on pursuing your dreams!
Multi-award-winning composer, Michael Bakrnčev, is one of Australia's most highly driven and successful young composers.
Michael's family migrated to Australia in the 1960's and brought with them a rich tapestry of Macedonian folklore, religion, traditional cuisine, dance and of course - music. Michael graduated with first class Honours in Composition, as a former student of Gerard Brophy. It was during that time that Michael's passion and understanding of Macedonian folk music began to intertwine with modern 20th Century Classical music practice. Since then, Michael's musical language has increasingly adopted this inherited musical landscape, so much so that it has become part of his musical DNA.
Residing in Melbourne, Michael is a current Masters student, tutor in Orchestration at Melbourne University and holds a highly coveted Australian Postgraduate Award (APA), studying with acclaimed composers, Elliott Gyger and Brenton Broadstock.
Bakrnčev's music has been performed extensively throughout Western and Eastern Europe, USA, Canada and Australia - including: Austria, Germany, Holland, Scotland, Serbia, Macedonia, Belarus, Ukraine, New York City, Toronto, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Past performances at festivals include: Macedonian Days of Music Festival (DMM), ITEC World Tuba and Euphonium Convention, 16th World Saxophone Conference, Australasian Clarinet and Saxophone Conference, Two Days & Two Nights Festival and will be featured at the 2015 ClarinetFest in Madrid, Spain, along with the Chamber Music Australia International Chamber Music Festival Competition, Melbourne, 2015.
Awards include, The Adolph Spivakovsky Prize for Music Composition, AG Francis Prize, Alan Lane Award, Harris-Peck Composition Prize, Chamber Music Australia New Works Award and a nomination for the Melbourne Prize for Music.
Bakrnčev's music has been performed by the Macedonian Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Contemporary Orchestra, Australian Youth Orchestra (NMC), Melbourne Metropolitan Sinfonietta and by some of Australia's best community orchestra's.
Michael has been invited and accepted into some of the best composer development programs that Australia has to offer, including: MODART (with Sydney's The Song Company), a commission by the Arts Centre Melbourne for the 5x5x5 composer development project, the Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp and CYBEC (commissioned by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra).
Michael's music has been recorded in Australia and abroad by ABC Classic fm, The Barega Saxophone Quartet, The Quartertones Flute Quartet, the Macedonian Philharmonic & Dare CD Project.
Current works-in-progress include new works for The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Cameron Millar (Saxophone - Netherlands), and Melbourne's Rubiks Collective.
In addition to being active as a composer, Michael is also artistic director and founder of the Melbourne Metropolitan Sinfonietta - which gives several concerts a year dedicated to the promotion of Australian composer's music.
As a contemporary composer, living in Australia, I believe I have identified the issue which is pressed firmly against the hearts and minds of other composers, and that seems to be the issue of personal style, or voice. How do we achieve our style, how do we leave an impression with our audience, and indeed, how does one leave their impression on the world. The question itself often raises more questions, than Answers. However, I recognized very early on in my career as a composer, that my Macedonian musical heritage would benefit my language and style. By channeling my Macedonian heritage through my music, (which is so natural for me that it is like breathing), I have been able to entice audiences, gain commissions and win many awards. Most importantly, to me, is that my music changes as I change, or grow, as a human being. After so many years, I can still find something new in Macedonian music which I find inspiring and manifests itself into many different ways throughout my own music. For those who would consider a similar career path as a composer, I would strongly suggest going back to your musical roots and discovering, or perhaps - re-discovering, musical elements found within our very own folk music, and after careful and considered experimentation and thought, try writing something that is inspired by that. For me - I can't seem to move beyond the Bufsko Pushteno, which still to this day has some sort of mystical hold over me.
Andrew A. Balalovski, 28, entered the real estate industry in June 2005 after graduating, as a junior, from Gahanna Lincoln High School. He went to study at Capital University from 2004-2008 majoring in the field of Spanish and Business.
During Andrew’s college experience, he had the privilege to intern at a commercial real estate brokerage where he developed his sales and marketing skills for commercial real estate. Concluding the internship, Andrew became the Commercial Real Estate Division Manager for Century 21. While there, Andrew sold a mixture of investment properties at various prices, including a 7 unit apartment over retail building in Johnstown, Ohio, Andrew’s first ever sold property, valued at $450,000.
From 2005-2013, Andrew continued his journey. He gained multiple designations: the Commercial Specialist and Property Management Specialist designations and joined a new company too. While there, he attended the CCIM Institute where he further honed his skills and later went to gain his broker’s license in 2011 to open Balalovski Real Estate, LLC.
As a business owner, Andrew’s roles vary. He is responsible for the growth and development of the firm, which is currently home to many staff members and agents. On top of administration, Andrew continues to sell a mixture of commercial and residential properties. Notable recent transactions include the sale of a Sonic fast food restaurant, a gas station, a 15,000 Sqft. church and many more.
Andrew A. Balalovski also believes in giving back. He is an active supporter and advocate of the Macedonian Orthodox Church where he sponsors fundraisers and donates to Macedonia 2025, a visionary group promoting the welfare of Macedonia.
Tradition keeps custom alive. Growing up was a routine. This was discipline. I went to school, came home, did my homework and watched my dad work real estate. Occasionally, I wore his Century 21 gold jacket! Saturday and Sundays spelled fun. Friends and family came over to share stories about Macedonia around a 12-foot table with seating for 30. People cared to know each other and how their life was. This is the Macedonian heritage! It teaches the balance between a career and personal family life.
Life is unplanned. The best plans may not work for future leaders. What helps in uncertain times is disciple, the dedication to your craft, approaching everything with an enthusiastic drive and support from friends and family. If you have balance, you will always be able to maintain tradition. The custom will live on. Heritage will go unforgotten.
Biljana Belamaric Wilsey, Ph.D.
Dr. Biljana Belamaric Wilsey was born in Skopje, Macedonia. She grew up speaking Macedonian and Serbo-Croatian, which spawned her early interest in other languages: English, French, and German. When she was 15, Dr. Belamaric Wilsey was awarded a grant to spend a semester in the U.S.A. She was able to extend her stay and finish high school at 16, college at 20, and to earn her first Master's Degree, in English as a Second Language, at the University of Memphis by the time she was 21. After spending a semester in the Czech Republic, preparing students for the TOEFL exam, she returned to her Slavic language roots and earned her second Master's Degree, in Slavic Linguistics, at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). She studied Czech and Russian, taught Russian and sociolinguistics, and translated Serbo-Croatian texts for a UN War Crimes Tribunal project and a Fulbright-Hays faculty research grant. She wrote her thesis on language changes in the Macedonian Constitution in response to the Ohrid Framework Agreement.
Seeing the breadth of online resources available for studying English and the comparative scarcity of online resources for Macedonian, Dr. Belamaric Wilsey realized she was uniquely equipped to do something about it. In 2007, she formed the non-profit organization Macedonian Language E-Learning Center (http://macedonianlanguage.org) and began creating online interactive multimedia tutorials for Macedonian language study, which are now the basis of an online Beginning Macedonian course for college credit through UNC-CH. In 2012, the Center won international recognition as the best website offering free language learning resources when it received the Access to Language Education Award, presented by the Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium, Lernu.net, and the Esperantic Studies Foundation. Dr. Belamaric Wilsey has also published three bilingual children's books: Животните и нивните омилени бои (Animals and Their Favorite Colors), Потреби и чувства (Needs and Feelings), and Спротивности (Opposites), which are available as paperbacks and iBooks (http://macedonianlanguage.org/Buy/Books.aspx).
Dr. Belamaric Wilsey earned a Ph.D. in instructional technology in 2013 from North Carolina State University, where she won the College of Education Dissertation Support Award. Her doctoral research focused on adult use of multimedia and online language learning resources for studying Macedonian and she published articles in various peer-reviewed journals.
In addition to acting as the executive director and principal instructional designer of the Macedonian Language E-Learning Center, Dr. Belamaric Wilsey is a full-time linguist at SAS Institute (http://www.sas.com), a global analytical software company. As a linguist, she is developing text mining and natural language processing resources tailored to the Slavic languages and is a regular contributor to the Text Frontier blog (http://blogs.sas.com/content/text-mining/2015/08/21/analytics-meaning-use/).
Dr. Belamaric Wilsey is married and the proud mother of three amazing girls. She enjoys volunteering at their elementary school and has represented Macedonia since 2011 at the school's annual International Fair, sharing Macedonian children's games, folk dances, artifacts, and resources with all the children at the school. She also enjoys presenting at conferences and getting others excited about learning and using Macedonian.
My Macedonian and Croatian heritage and experiences growing up in Macedonia shaped the person I am today. The Macedonian culture inspired in me a strong work ethic and ambition to be the best at what I do. My childhood's safe and encouraging social setting, made possible through the sacrifices of previous generations, made me a strong and confident individual who is proud of that heritage.
My parents, who had traveled and lived throughout Europe, instilled in me and in my brother an appreciation for many cultures and different languages. My father always used to quote a proverb that a person's worth is measured by the number of languages he or she speaks. I would like to add to that the number of cultures he or she can appreciate. Exposure to new cultures and languages can open your mind to alternative approaches, innovative ways of thinking, tolerance, and an appreciation for what you have.
The importance of that cultural connection also forms the basis of my message for young Macedonians interested in linguistics and computer-assisted language teaching and learning: broaden your horizons, always keep learning, and don't be afraid to innovate.
I definitely chose to take the road less traveled. In high school I participated mostly in gymnastics and cheerleading. The summer before my senior year I decided to try my hand at wrestling, I had watched my little brother Matthew wrestling for years and knew I could be good at it. After my very first practice, I knew that I had found the sport that I truly loved! I joined the boys wrestling team my senior year and before graduation I received several offers to be on the Women's Wrestling team from different universities around the country.
I ultimately chose University of the Cumberlands, a private Christian university in Kentucky and I couldn't be happier with my decision! My school goes on annual mission trips to Macedonia to help children there and also learn about the culture. Here I have received both an academic and athletic scholarship. I am a senior in college and the captain of the Women's Wrestling team. It make my heart happy that my coach and all of the girls on the team call me the Macedonian Princess. Our head coach, Donnie Stephens actually asked me if he could be Macedonian because he loves everything about my heritage. He's particularly a huge fan of the Macedonian food that my Baba makes and sends over for him.
I have very little free time and I love my busy life. We practice 11 times a week and I am also on the track and field team in the off season. I am currently graduating in May to receive my Business Administration Bachelors Degree, but I will be returning in September for my Masters in Business Administration. I will be marrying my best friend Brocky Leidecker after graduation, we will be having a Macedonian Orthodox wedding in Michigan, and he is thrilled to be a part of my Macedonian life.
My Macedonian heritage was instilled in me as a young girl and has been a huge part of who I am today. Growing up in Michigan about 5 minutes from my Baba and Dedo's home, we developed a very close relationship. It was always such a thrill to learn to make pita with my baba or help tend the garden with my Dedo. I loved to hear the stories of them growing up in Macedonia, some stories were so wonderful I could hear them over and over again.
Unfortunately, a lot of them were filled with struggles and hardships, but I learned even as a young kid that despite what circumstances you are faced you can overcome. It makes me appreciate my Macedonian heritage even more knowing the strides our people had to make to overcome obstacles in life.
One of the most outstanding things about the Macedonian people is their family values. I believe that this is the root of all happiness, if the closeness develops within the family first it overflows into everything that you put your heart into, from your spouse to your colleagues and friends.
When I was young I visited my family in Macedonia and I will never forget the experiences that I had. Everyone was so friendly and showed me how to truly love and care for one another. My uncle sat me on his lap and told me "taka taka" that's was my heart beat. The reason why is because he showed me that although we couldn't fluently speak the same language we still had the same heart beat and we still loved each other unconditionally. My family taught me that to be successful in any aspect of life you need to be able to love yourself and others. If you can love and believe in yourself then you are unstoppable.
Dr. Marina Christov
Dr. Marina Christov was born in Bitola, in the Republic of Macedonia, and migrated to Australia at the age of 14 with her parents and younger sister.
Her journey into the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) began as a passion fuelled by the desire to learn from an eastern system of medicine that allowed deeper insight into the essence of healing.
Marina was the first student to concurrently complete two Health Science degrees from the Victoria University of Technology in record time, where she later became part of the teaching team as a lecturer of acupuncture techniques and applications. She followed her studies with two clinical internships in China, at the Affiliated Hospital of the Liaoning College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where she was recognised for her determination and efforts and worked under leading specialists in the fields of gynaecology, internal medicine and oncology.
Marina returned to Australia to open her first private health practice in Melbourne, which was further developed across the years into a multimodality holistic clinic, offering a combination of different approaches to support the patient’s health.
Her commitment to Chinese Medicine was recognised in 2002 when she was unanimously elected national director of the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) Board.
In 2003 Marina was invited to represent Australia in the expedition to Chong Bai Mountain anti-cancer research program.
In 2004 Marina was elected Chair in Victoria’s AACMA committee. On a national level, that same year, she helped organise and host the World Congress of Traditional Chinese Medicine on the Gold Coast.
In 2007 she presented a revolutionary new method of facial acupuncture for the treatment of cosmetic conditions, as a safer alternative to Botox. This method was complimented by an Advanced Certificate in Cosmetic Facial Acupuncture at the prestigious College of Chinese Medicine in London in 2009.
Having such a strong passion for natural alternatives, Marina introduced in 2008 her own range of products with a premium organic and handmade tea collection for illness prevention and daily enjoyment, especially designed tea flasks and natural soy candles scented with 100% pure essential oils.
She also undertakes exciting collaborations with leading health experts and businesses, and has become a stockist of high quality brands such as Divine by Therese Kerr and Elle MacPherson’s Super Elixir.
The growing desire to increase the awareness for better health through TCM and natural therapies has kept Marina in high demand, conducting educational talks both in Australia and overseas.
On a personal level in 2012, she founded “WOMAN” – World Organisation for Macedonian Awareness and Networking for the purpose of uniting successful women of Macedonian origin to promote and preserve the culture, art and tradition of Macedonia while bringing energy and resources to complete projects of charitable nature.
Being of Macedonian heritage is my strength. As I reflect back on the qualities that I have inherited and learned, I see courage, self-respect, determination and perseverance.
As I look back on our complex and rich history, I cannot help but be inspired by those before me who held great visions and others who were brave enough to stand up for our freedom. I have great love and respect for my ancestors and feel the light of their spirits shine upon me. In this day and age, I know for certain that if my Macedonian “tribe”, irrespective of where in the world it is functioning from, can focus its energy on building a stronger foundation of unity, we can accomplish anything that we aspire to. My focus has always been to acknowledge and amplify the positive aspects of my culture.
The choice to learn from an Eastern philosophical system and study Chinese Medicine has helped me expand my understanding of life and its principles and adopt a holistic point of view.
The gift of this system of thought is that you can never stop learning.
If I could give advice to any young Macedonian pursuing a similar or any career path, it would be, first learn to tap into the deeper spiritual qualities of a strong inner self, then everything flows. Once these qualities are cultivated, then the thought “impossible” dissolves from the mind. Here are my top 6.
1. LOVE- The capacity to unconditionally love and care for oneself and others. Also, the capacity to show compassion and know how to forgive.
2. PEACE- A state of calm and ease, where you don’t take this personally, and blame or judge others for how you feel. A state that allows you to find balance and clarity as well as the ability to tolerate and adjust to the unexpected.
3. KNOWLEDGE- Knowledge of who you are and that you are worthy. Confidence that there are unlimited ways to find a solution of the highest good. Applying knowledge to transform negative situations into positive.
4. INTERGRITY- Being honest and truthful, not manipulating others for personal gain. Respecting and honoring oneself and others.
5. HAPPINESS- The natural expression of being alive is to feel joyful. When this is your state, you are grateful for every lesson and opportunity. You easily demonstrate happiness and radiate it outwardly.
6. FAITH- The inner knowing of what good can be there even though we cannot see it yet.
Risto Danailov born July 26, 1985 in Bogdanci Macedonia, where he learned at an early age that quality food was an essential ingredient to good living. As a child, he watched his mother, Lidija, and grandmother, Milica, prepare culinary masterpieces from scratch. In 2006, Risto decided to follow his dreams and moved permanently to the US. He worked several jobs in the hospitality field and re-discover his love for food. Risto has a degree in Culinary Arts from Escoffier Culinary Academy. He quickly joined the food department at Rivers Casino and was part of the original team that helped inaugurated in 2011. In 2013 he took over the role of production Chef. In August 2015 he became the Executive Chef for Ravinia Green Country Club. Risto’s culinary creations have been show cased on events such as The Grand Chef’s Gala, For the Love of Chocolate Foundation and Chicago’s Green Tie Ball.
His wife Bertha is an avid traveler and instilled in Risto the importance of experiencing the many diverse cuisines from around the globe. This journey has led Risto through different cities and countries, where he has visited local street markets and learned international food traditions from local cooks. Believing that food is one of the few common denominators linking all people, he loves providing a wide variety of customers with a mutually-enjoyable experience. To this day he remains excited and committed to creating unique and delicious food that encompass impeccable care for ingredients and harmony of tastes.
1. Growing up in Bogdanci, a small town in Macedonia, raised in a traditional family gave me the opportunity to learn the most important life core values: love, honesty, trust, integrity, respect – something that I’m really proud of and something that defines who I am today
2. Our culture encourage us to be better, to do better. Ever since I was a little kid this has been my moto. This has helped me personally and professionally to keep progressing and achieve my always growing goals
3. Never give up. The road to success isn’t an easy one. It is in our blood to never give up. Our predecessors were fighting for over 500 years to give us a better tomorrow. Keep working hard and be proud of what you do
Risto’s advice to aspiring chefs: “Jump in with both feet and never be afraid to make a mistake. There’s always something new to learn, and each day is a chance for you to strive to be better than the best.”
Jenny Davis is the Managing Editor at the Clinton Foundation, where she previously served as President Clinton’s speechwriter. Prior to joining the Clinton Foundation, she was the Program Manager at the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, and the Member Relations Coordinator at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Jenny earned a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Spanish from Lehigh University.
She and her husband live in New York City, and they are avid scuba divers who hope to see sharks on every dive.
President Bill Clinton often says, “Intelligence and energy are evenly distributed, but opportunity is not.” As a first-generation American of Macedonian descent, these words have deep meaning to me. My parents grew up in communist Yugoslavia, with limited access to even the most basic resources. After getting married, they moved to New York City (imagine the culture shock!) to start a family and give their children a chance to live the American Dream. They worked hard and made sacrifices to invest in our future. My mom took a night job cleaning offices, and my dad was the superintendent of the building we grew up in. Both were active union members, valued in their positions for more than two decades (my mom still works the same job). Through hard-work, determination, and because they were in a city filled with opportunity, they were able to give us so much, even though they started with so little. I’ve now focused my career on helping to advance social good so more people can have the same chances I’ve had. Young Macedonians interested in pursuing a similar career path should know that it’s exciting and highly rewarding. We live in a time of unparalleled ability to improve lives and strengthen the world, and this is unleashing ingenuity like never before.
Dijana Despodova Pajkovski
Dijana was born and raised in Macedonia but has spent most of the past 20 years studying and working abroad. She currently lives in Bangkok and is Communications Director at the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand. Dijana has previously worked as a researcher and author on the World Bank’s Doing Business reports on Southeast Europe, Nigeria, and Russia; on a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project for modernizing access to information in Ukrainian libraries; as a researcher for the Center for International Media Assistance at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC, and has held a number of positions at non-profits in four different countries. She has a BA degree in Communications from the American University in Bulgaria and an MA degree in Southeast European Studies from the Central European University in Budapest. She attended both schools on a scholarship from the Open Society Institute.
While living in Washington, DC in the mid-2000s, Dijana was an active member of the United Macedonian Diaspora and worked on communications, PR, and advocacy. She considers the experiences she gained and the friendships she made during that period formative and the source of her dedication to promoting and advocating for the Macedonian cause wherever she finds herself in the world. Dijana is a U.S. citizen and Michigander by marriage and has fallen in love with Northern Michigan where she spends her summers in the family cottage.
Being Macedonian has endowed me with resourcefulness and tenacity in overcoming difficulties that I find very useful in my professional and career path, as well as in dealing with Bangkok taxi drivers on a daily basis. Because of Macedonia’s turbulent history and uncertain times, Macedonians are seldom caught unprepared, always have a contingency plan, and never take anything for granted. We also frequently think outside the box and all these qualities allow us to do very well in high-stakes and risk-prone fields, such as business and humanitarian work.
Like most Macedonians I am a people person and the traditional Macedonian warmth, openness, and hospitality make me stand out in any crowd and allow me to gain people’s trust and confidence fairly easy. Coming from a culture of community over individualism it is in my nature to be a team player and a leader in rallying people to find creative solutions to everyone’s benefit.
There is a special sense of confidence and self-worth that comes from knowing that you have succeeded not because of your background, but in spite of your background. I urge young Macedonians to tap into this feeling and stop seeing their underprivileged background as an impediment and start seeing it as a motivator. We are a nation of sharp, innovative and resourceful people and we have a lot to offer to the world, so get out there and carve a role for yourselves. The biggest obstacle to success is in your head.
Maria Di Biaggio was born and raised in the Republic of Macedonia. After graduating with excellent results from the high school of physical education M.M. Brico in Skopje, she enrolls in the Faculty of Physical Education, Sport and Health, and graduates in the field of Physical Education. Her second studies at the department of English Language and Literature at the Faculty of Philology in Skopje have been discontinued due to her departure for the USA. Maria has been working as a personal trainer in one of the most elite sports centers on the 5th Avenue in Manhattan before founding her company Di Biaggio New York. It was there that she got the inspiration for the creation of her first sportswear samples, as well as for her key rule, to try out each new clothing item on herself before it has been released for sale. Maria is famous for her participation in numerous races with charitable character, as well as for being a fervent supporter of a vast number of charitable events both in Macedonia and abroad. She aims to establish her brand Di Biaggio New York as an “inspirational sports way of life and thinking.” This motto is reflected in the vivid and vibrant colors of the clothes, which is the main and most recognizable feature of the brand. Maria believes that each person is unique in their own way and that everyone can achieve their goals if they are persistent, dedicated, and focused enough.
“One should not only dream, but also set a goal, and focus their entire energy towards it, so that their dreams could come true.”
I have always thought that being Macedonian is a blessing. Coming from a working class family, I have always had what I’ve needed, neither too much, nor too little. My family originates from a small village, where we used to spend our summers working in the fields. That experience has taught me that I need discipline and hard work in order to achieve my goals.. Afterwards, at university, I dedicated myself to the field, which I’ve always wanted to study. Later on, I moved to New York City, the city that suits my temper and character perfectly.
I had never even considered to what extent my heritage influences me until I became an entrepreneur. First of all, I am an athlete who enjoys nature, and I get the inspiration for work while practicing sports. I am immensely inspired by the Macedonian nature and Macedonian people, so I decided to use my background as a starting point and combine my heritage with my work. I know that my success so far is based on my heritage, the values we share and the way we are raised as Macedonians. However, one is able to realize that only if they are far from their family, their comfort zone, and the people they love. It is essential to know and understand one’s background, so that one could offer the best version of themselves to the world and embrace the world as well. I take huge pride of who I am and where I come from.
Vasko Dukovski, is a New York based multidisciplinary artist and diverse stylistic performer of the highest caliber, one of the most-sought-after instrumentalist in his generation.
Even though classically trained at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music, Dukovski sees no boundaries in music and musical styles, but embraces all of it. An avid performer and advocate of Avant-garde Free Style Improv and Contemporary classical music, Dukovski has collaborated with some of New York’s most respected ensembles including Argento New Music Ensemble, Bang on A Can All Stars, Either/OR Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, Wet Ink, ECCE-East Coast Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble Pamplemousse, Lost Dog Ensemble, Ensemble LPR, Metropolis Ensemble and others. In addition of being a front man of his world music group Tavche Gravche, he is a member and a co-founder of Grneta Ensemble.
Dukovski has recorded for Naxos American Classics, Tzadik, Sono Luminous/Dorian, INNOVA Recordings, Nun Such, Deutsche Grammophon, Albany Records, New World Recordings, Evolver Records, Chicken Madness, Furious Artisans and Navona Records.
Born in Ohrid, in the Republic of Macedonia, Dukovski began playing with sound at age five and started his musical education at the age of eight. His dedication to music and the clarinet earned him a Fine Arts Award from the Interlochen Arts Academy, which he attended before earning a Bachelors and a Masters Degree from The Juilliard Schools of Music as a student of Charles Neidich and Ayako Oshima.
For more information please visit: www.dukovski.com
Having moved to the United States to study classical clarinet at seventeen, I quickly learned that I had been given an immense opportunity because of a culturally instilled sense of discipline, open-mindedness, and insatiable musical and intellectual curiosity. When reflecting upon this heritage, I can't help but acknowledge an amusing counterpoint of having evolved as both a byproduct of one's environment yet having chosen an isolationist, almost monk-like existence in order to develop this abstract language of sound. This goes without saying that I would not be where I am today--greetings from Nashville this week!--had I not sought out a few brilliant teachers, mentors, colleagues, and institutions that believed in my talent, artistic vision and integrity, and guided me through this beautiful, ever-in-flux journey we call life!
We humans are intelligently designed, flawed creatures of habit, whose success relies not only on our ability to cultivate our natural gifts, but to constantly identify and strengthen our shortcomings. I would encourage young Macedonians pursuing an artistic path to dream big, sleep less, and never stop developing your craft!
Mirjana & Nikola Dzodzo
Mirjana Dzodzo (nee Siljanoska) is a Founder and President of Woolino, a company that specializes in baby sleeping bags and sleepwear made of the finest Australian Merino wool. Since its inception in 2010, Woolino has become a well-recognized brand in US and Canada. It is valued for the premium quality products that continue to change the lives of families with children by helping their babies sleep better and safer and by giving the parents a piece of mind and a restful night of sleep as well. Woolino is currently distributed in several countries around the world. As it continues to grow, the company stays committed to their mission: “To provide sleepwear that is a safe and healthy alternative for our children as well as for our planet”.
Mirjana Dzodzo graduated from the School of Architecture at Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, Macedonia. After few years of practicing architecture in Macedonia and Berlin, Germany, in 2005 Mirjana received a full tuition scholarship for her graduate school at Kent State University and she immigrated to the US. Her graduate studies included one semester of European Studies in Florence, Italy.
She received her Master’s Degree in Architecture and a Certificate in Urban Design from the School of Architecture & Urban Design at Kent State University, Ohio. She also holds a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional Certification. She worked several years as an Architectural and Urban Designer at the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, and later at Middough Inc. in Cleveland, before starting her own company.
Nikola Dzodzo was born in Ohrid, Macedonia, in 1978. He lived in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina until 1992, when he moved to Macedonia as a refugee from the Bosnian war. He finished high school in Ohrid, Macedonia and moved to the United States with his family in 1998.
Nikola completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from University of Akron – Akron, Ohio, and a Master of Science in Management also from the University of Akron.
After spending 13 years in the corporate world, working in the IT and analytics field in the banking industry, Nikola is now a Managing Director of Woolino - a family business he and his wife Mirjana started in 2010. Woolino specializes in baby sleeping bags and sleepwear made with the finest Australian Merino wool. Since launching in 2010, Woolino’s signature product has quickly become and remained #1 rated baby sleep bag in U.S.A. and Canada, and a synonym for a natural wool baby sleep sack for parents. Today, Woolino is a fast growing company with its products sold on e-commerce giant Amazon.com, over 50 stores in USA and Canada, and international distribution in several countries.
They currently live in Rocky River, Ohio with their two children, Marko and Philip.
Nikola is an avid skier, an active volunteer and a former board member in the local Macedonian Orthodox Church St. Clement of Ohrid, from Avon, Ohio. They love to travel and they visit Macedonia every summer, so that their kids can experience and get to love their fathers’ land and also to further improve their Macedonian language.
Mirjana: Growing up in Macedonia, and particularly in beautiful Ohrid, was a blessing for many reasons: I could learn first-hand about the millenniums-old history of our people and how important our Macedonian tradition is to who we are as Macedonians. I learned to be proud of who I am and where I come from.
I was also fortunate to be surrounded by utmost beauty, both natural and man-made, which undoubtedly influenced my carrier path in Architecture and Urban design and it continues to serve me as an endless inspiration for any creative work I do.
At last, growing up in an economically and politically struggling country, I learned that as a Macedonian, I would always have to strive for excellence in order to be recognized, to work hard and be smart, to dream big and be brave, to always believe in myself and to never give up.
Nikola: Being an immigrant in this great country, I always thought that we were expected to work harder and give 110% to be able to compete successfully with others that were born here. That belief has given me extra strength needed to succeed. On the other hand, being from the old world and knowing how the new world functions, has given me tremendous advantage over the rest. To all the fellow Macedonians that are interested in the field of entrepreneurship and are looking to start their own business, my advice is - go for it, as you probably will have only a few chances in life to do it.
Olga Gacevska is a Los Angeles-based Consultant in FTI Consulting's Forensic and Litigation Consulting practice. Her project experience spans Ponzi scheme investigation, class action lawsuits, acquisition audit, financial and forensic investigations, data-driven strategy, and analytics. She helped clients solve data-related problems in a legal context. Performed complex analysis on a database with over 14 million records of information to identify and resolve gaps in historical data and mapping transfers and reversals within accounting systems, defending against a class-action lawsuit. Utilized SQL for claims analysis of claim groups for a $7 billion Ponzi scheme with the objective of reconciling filed claimed amounts to a net position of investments. Created and managed a database in a forensic investigation for misuse of corporate funds and assets of a publicly-traded staffing company. Assisted in preparing consolidated financial statements for a private company and its 20 affiliates, as well as fulfilling auditor requests related to the audits by Deloitte LLP of the consolidated financial statements in connection with a potential acquisition by a publicly-traded clothing retailer.
Prior to joining FTI Consulting, Ms. Gacevska worked in a Commercial Real-Estate Development company. As a project coordinator she prepared projects budget and financial analysis including discounted cash flows. She utilized excel analytics and pivot tables to determine variance analyses and risk assessments. She also developed estimates for cost analysis, building valuation and due diligence to support purchasing strategy. She also wrote business plans and proformas for the developmental projects.
Ms. Gacevska graduated with honors from University of Sothern California with a B.S. of Arts in Economics and minor in Accounting. While at USC, she was a member of TREA USC Real-Estate Association and ALPFA National Association of Accounting and Business Professionals. She has numerous honors and awards such as UCLA Scholarship Recognition Award for high academic achievement and outstanding promise, Stewart Marsh and Glenn R. Milner scholar for Economics, Frances-Benitez/Hernandez/Goffredo Scholarship for multilingual proficiency.
She has certificates in Business Plan Writing and Management of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises both presented by the Academic Training Association (ATA), Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She won a third place in the European Regional Business Plan Competition organized as part of an overarching project on Regional Private Sector Development in Western Balkans.
Her extracurricular involvement has included Real Estate and Retail BD work. In addition she is part of FTI's Women's Initiative committee, and organization that seeks to enhance representation of women in leadership positions; act as a conduit to develop relationships with female clients; and further position women to build successful long term careers.
She is passionate about giving back to the community, and is an active member of the Make a Wish Foundation in Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Food Bank.
Ms. Gacevska is competent in SQL, Access, Excel, Tableau, Gretl, QuickBooks, and has some limited experience with Python, Stata and Dreamweaver. She has language proficiency in Macedonian, Vlach, Spanish, Serbian, Croatian, Bulgarian, and German.
To be successful in a career, it takes commitment that doesn’t wane. I come from a small traditional family that taught me if you want something, you should go and get it. With hard work and right opportunities a lot can be accomplished. Growing up in Macedonia helped me build the strength and confidence I needed to overcome obstacles and move forward, helped me socialize and learn how to network with the right people, supporters, clients, and customers who share the same values and beliefs.
I encourage all the young Macedonians pursuing any career path to take initiative and do something out of their comfort zone, to surround themselves with great people who will make a supportive work team, learn to prioritize commitments, whether they are family dinners, business meeting or going to the gym. And most importantly, I would encourage young Macedonians who live in Macedonia or in the US, to be themselves because friends, colleagues and clients will appreciate the authenticity, since true success requires you to be yourself
Damian and his younger brother, Chris, were born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His mother, Vesna, was born in Bitola, Macedonia, to Kiril and Rodna Ivanovski, and immigrated to the United States in 1977. His father, Boris, was born in Elwood City, Pennsylvania, to Naum and Stephana Gosheff, who were both born in Macedonia and immigrated to the United States in the early 20th century. Damian obtained his undergraduate degree from Indiana University and his J.D. from the University of Toledo, magna cum laude. Damian is married to Jenny, and they have three children (Josephine, Katherine, and Theodore).
Damian is counsel in the Fort Wayne and South Bend offices of the law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP, one of the 75 largest law firms headquartered in the United States. He concentrates his practice in the areas of estate planning, business succession planning, estate administration and planned charitable giving. Damian advises clients on matters such as the formation of trusts, formation of business entities for estate and corporate purposes, buy-sell agreements, and asset protection planning. He structures inter-generational transfers such as sales to defective trusts, grantor trusts, qualified personal residence trusts and grantor retained annuity trusts. Damian is proud of Faegre Baker Daniels’ commitment to pro bono and public interest work and how the firm's lawyers, paralegals and other professionals seek to improve and expand access to justice for underserved individuals and communities.
My Macedonian heritage has helped my career and personal path in a way that is not unique among Macedonians: I am blessed to have a loving family who encourage me to be empathetic, humble, loyal, respectful, and studious. These virtues are naturally helpful in building good relationships with clients, judges, and other lawyers, which is the basis of a rewarding legal career. These are of course not solely Macedonian virtues, and to say that I and other Macedonians are faithful to these virtues at all times is an obvious over-generalization. Nonetheless, how many times have you heard someone say, “Oh, you’re Macedonian? I know some Macedonians,” and then proceeds to give a flattering description of those Macedonians, often using adjectives like friendly, funny, kind, and hard-working. We Macedonians are generally friendly, funny, kind, and hard-working people, and it comes naturally to us. I am very proud of my heritage because of this.
The message I give to young Macedonians pursuing a legal career is to repeat what my family taught me: be empathetic, humble, loyal, respectful, and studious, and you will have a good legal career. And a little luck and some good zelnik from Baba never hurts.
Suzette Ivanova, Esq.
Originally from upstate New York, I grew up in the tight-knit Macedonian community of St. George Macedonian Orthodox Church in Syracuse, NY, where I continue to be a member even though I now reside in Manhattan.
My parents practically raised me at St. George, bringing my brother and I along whenever they volunteered at the church, taking us to all the dances, festivals, and cultural events, and signing us up for the folk dance group as young children. That church, the community, and the years upon years of Macedonian heritage and pride they represent was the foundation of my youth, and every success I had that followed.
After graduating high school, I left upstate New York to attend Princeton University, where I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, with certificates in American Studies and Women’s Studies. Upon graduation, I moved to Washington, D.C., where I earned my Juris Doctor at Georgetown University Law Center.
After law school, I took to Manhattan to begin my career as an attorney at a renowned international law firm, where I practiced domestic and cross-border employment law and represented and advised clients in a variety of industries, including financial, real estate, hospitality, pharmaceutical, healthcare, broadcasting, fashion, and luxury goods, as well as not-for-profit organizations. While at that firm, I spent several months abroad in the firm’s Paris office and was a member of the firm’s International Labor Law Practice Group, where I collaborated on various cross-border employment law matters. I have lectured and published on a range of international employment law topics.
I subsequently launched my own legal practice, Ivanova LLC, through which I conducted multiple secondments at BNP Paribas North America, Inc., serving as seconded in-house employment counsel in their Manhattan office.
I currently serve as Vice President, Employment Counsel at Citizens Bank, N.A.
I was the first grandchild on both sides of my family who was born in the U.S., and the first to not only attend college, but an Ivy League institution and thereafter earn a Juris Doctor.
As a first generation American, some people see your accomplishments as being in spite of your background when, in truth, they are a direct product of that rich cultural heritage into which you were born and raised.
Growing up, my family infused the culture into my very being as a child - speaking to me only in Macedonian so that it would be my native tongue and exposing me to all facets of the culture, from the food to the history, to the traditional folk songs and dances.
That culture inspired me to do better, be better, and pursue my ambitions. Anyone who has ever met me knows I am Macedonian - not only because that is a fundamental aspect of who I am, but because it is, in large part, the reason I have come as far as I have.
We are the lucky few able to call ourselves Macedonian. The best advice for young Macedonians – whatever their career path – is to tap into that beautiful, strong history, culture, and heritage. Use it. Be proud of it. And it will fuel you with the inspiration to go further than you ever expected and with the strength and tenacity to pursue your dreams relentlessly, no matter the obstacle.
Kristina C. Ivtindzioski, Esq.
Kristina Ivtindzioski is a solo practitioner who is licensed to practice law in three States, including New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. She followed her passion by focusing her practice on personal injury and immigration law, where she eagerly fights for the rights of accident victims and zealously assists clients in resolving their immigration concerns.
By way of background, Ms. Ivtindzioski pursued a legal education at Pace University School of Law, where she graduated cum laude and earned her Juris Doctor degree and her Certificate of Concentration in International Law. During law school, Ms. Ivtindzioski served as a student attorney at the John Jay Legal Services Immigration Clinic, where she represented indigent clients with various immigration issues. Of further note, Ms. Ivtindzioski participated in the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot held in Vienna, Austria, where her team qualified for the semi-final rounds due to her own elevated score. Overall, Ms. Ivtindzioski was a highly accomplished student, receiving several honorary awards and recognitions for her hard work and outstanding achievements.
Notably, Ms. Ivtindzioski was selected from thousands of worldwide applicants to serve as an extern for the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, located in The Hague, The Netherlands. There, she assisted her fellow team in the prosecution of war criminals, including infamous international leaders. Since Ms. Ivtindzioski is fluent in English and Macedonian and can fluently read and write Cyrillic, she was able to utilize these multilingual abilities in her role at the Tribunal in addition to providing legal expertise. Ms. Ivtindzioski is forever proud of her contribution to the works of such a historic court, which was established to bring justice and which, ultimately, changed the fabric of international law.
Additionally, Ms. Ivtindzioski served as a judicial intern to the Honorable Donald H. Steckroth, United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey. It is particularly noteworthy that, as a result of her fine writing and legal analytical abilities, Ms. Ivtindzioski drafted a legal opinion which was later selected for online dissemination.
Subsequently, Ms. Ivtindzioski joined a prestigious law firm, which specialized in complex trial litigation and personal injury. She was later recruited by a large insurance defense firm, where she managed her own case load of litigation defense cases for popular big-box stores. During her legal career as an associate, Ms. Ivtindzioski was able to fine-tune her legal and analytical skills, cultivate her creative mind, and foster her innovative thinking. It is with these abilities, coupled with remarkable determination, that Ms. Ivtindzioski is successful in her own practice.
Ms. Ivtindzioski is married to her childhood sweetheart, Goran Matlijoski. Together, they have two beautiful daughters, Milana, age 3, and Valentina, age 2. Ms. Ivtindzioski is a firm believer that with hard work, perseverance and a dream, anything is possible.
I always embraced the fact that I am Macedonian. After all, my parents were born and raised in Macedonia. Even though they immigrated to the United States of America, seeking endless opportunity and the pursuit of happiness, they took with them the culture, the traditions, and the spirit that defines Macedonia. For fear their children would never know or appreciate their background, my parents made it their goal to introduce and integrate their American-born children with the Macedonian culture. I allowed that culture to shape my personality. I allowed the country’s history of struggle and strife to give me courage and strength. I allowed the music to enter my soul and connect me to a country so unique with legacy. I allowed the traditions to influence my daily routine and give me structure. I allowed all that is Macedonian to blend seamlessly into all that is me. I allowed Macedonia to help give me my voice. I always embraced the fact that I am Macedonian.
Throughout all of my endeavors, I have remembered this fact and used it to attain hallmark achievements. Simply, my biggest professional achievement is becoming a lawyer. To those fellow Macedonians who aspire, like I did, to become a lawyer, I give them these words:
Being a lawyer is a very demanding and powerful profession. It is a profession where you hold people’s lives and destinies in your hands. In this respect, it is not to be taken lightly. However, it is also an extremely rewarding career. The feeling you get when your client receives his or her much overdue green card, or when you reunite a family that has not seen each other in several years, or when an accident victim receives just compensation so as to make them “whole,” is indescribable. I would advise the younger generation that, if it is your dream and passion to be a lawyer, go for it. You will never regret it.
I would also encourage the younger generation to set goals and dream big. Then, work as hard as you can to accomplish those goals so that you could live your big dream. Once you decide and are committed to success, you will achieve it. It is that simple. Just decide to be successful and you will be.
Olivera was born and raised in Kriva Palanka, Macedonia. Despite limited resources, she managed to educate herself and her two siblings abroad.
She worked on projects for the British Council and Peace Corps before being granted a scholarship to Perrotis College in Thessaloniki, Greece, where she was Valedictorian for her graduation.
Olivera then completed a B.S. at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR and won the Wall Street Journal Award for Academic Excellence.
She then finished an M.S. in Applied and Agricultural Economics with an emphasis on international trade at Virginia Tech. She has since helped numerous other Macedonian students tackle the admission process, earn scholarships and academically succeed at American universities.
Olivera is now a Senior Market Analyst at Calpine Corporation, an independent power producer based in Houston, TX, where she performs quantitative analysis, conducts U.S. market research and supports business development in Mexico. She was awarded Calpine’s Commercial Impact Award for two consecutive years. She plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in Economics, which will allow her to work in international business development. Ultimately, Olivera hopes to become an ambassador for her small, but culture-rich country: Macedonia. She loves to travel with her India-born husband, an Electrical Engineer in the oil and gas industry. Olivera’s favorite hobby is learning and speaking foreign languages. She is currently working on mastering her 7th language: Hindi.
Every time I introduce myself at social gatherings, my Macedonian origin elicits curiosity from people who may or may not have even heard of this small Balkan country. To better explain my heritage, I will start drawing maps, enthusiastically describing the landscape and culture of Macedonia. In no time more and more people will join in the conversation, poised with questions. By the end of the conversation, everyone walks away with a beautiful and vivid image of Macedonia, as a place filled with ancient history and diverse culture. I am honored to say that, since 2005, I have inspired more than 30 different groups of family, friends and professional acquaintances, from almost every continent in the world, to visit our great county.
I am very proud of being Macedonian and this pride is easily noticeable. In my youth, I promoted Macedonian culture by performing in plays and folk dances in Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia. At a U.N. youth camp in the UK, I gave presentations and organized “Macedonian evenings”; I constantly expressed this pride while studying in college in Greece, universities in Arkansas and Virginia in the USA, while working at my job in Texas, at business meetings in Mexico, and at my in-law’s family gatherings in India. My passion for promoting my country not only exposed me to educational and professional opportunities, but more importantly provided me with personal growth, travel experiences and new friendships.
I believe that pursuing an international education is one of the most rewarding experiences in life, and so I encourage my fellow Macedonians to seek such a journey. No matter how great the obstacles may seem, if one has a strong will, there is always a way to achieve this goal.
I’m a Senior Manager of Application Development for CoAdvantage in Tampa FL, specializing in Web/Mobile Development and Business Intelligence. Received my MBA from Keller Graduate School in 2012.
Born in Skopje, at age 10 my family moved to Chicago because my dad was a General Consul for Yugoslavia. In 2001 I graduated from DeVry University with Bachelors of Computer Information Systems, which helped me land a job as a Programmer Analyst for AT&T.
In AT&T I worked for a team of 30+ (Programmers/QA/Business Analyst/DBA/Consultants). We build an online HR management tool that allowed union employees from AT&T and new applicants to search and apply for vacant positions, track work history, background checks and employment status. This system is/was used by AT&T HR throughout the US.
In 2004 my family and I moved to Tampa, FL where I have worked for multiple notable corporations such as VeriSign, WellCare, PMSI/Helios and CoAdvantage.
VeriSign we build a system that connects Verizon and Sprint wireless roaming users. Anytime a wireless call is made outside the subscribers region, our software allows the subscriber to register with the roaming company and make wireless calls.
WellCare a Medicare/Medicaid insurance company. As Development Team Lead, I lead a team that developed system that allowed hospitals/labs/doctors to submit electronic Medical Authorizations procedures for all insured members of WellCare. This system allowed business and nurses to do better care management for members.
PMSI/Hellios – Workers Compensation Company. Manager of 10 developers 5 onshore and 5 offshore. Architected and managed a team of developers to migrate clients from legacy eBilling (Electronic Billing) system (Rapid) to new billing system (EBO)/EDI. The eBilling solution is implemented across many different carriers such as AIG/Zuric/Stratacare/Pepsi/USPS. This system sends electronic bills bi-weekly average of 18 million dollars for worker compensation employees. Improved application performance by 200% and enabled business to get eBills much sooner.
CoAdvantage a PEO company that processes HR outsourcing and Payroll. Senior Application Development Manager, managing 10 developers. We build BI (Business Intelligence) solutions, new Portal Website along with iPhone and Android app.
My Macedonian heritage has taught me about perseverance, faithfulness and love, also being multilingual and able to understand different cultures produces many opportunities. Growing up with big family in Skopje taught me about dedication, integrity and to enjoy life.
I have always been intrigued in computers and business, which drives me to be the best at my career. Young Macedonians pursuing Information Technology career path should be prepared to work hard, never settle and always learn new technologies. Technology is always evolving and your skills and passion has to continue to evolve.
There are enormous career and business opportunities in IT, and the value of an application or phone app can make significant difference to society, business, non-profit organization or the world. However the best results are accomplished by working together in a team and learning from each other’s mistakes, every successful project I have worked on had great team and collaboration.
My name is Steven Josevski. I was born October 13, 1980 and am 35 years old. I am currently a US airline captain based in Chicago’s O’Hare International airport and have been with the airlines since 2012. I am a volunteer with my company’s New Pilot Mentoring Program and I sit on our Professional Standards committee. Passenger flying is definitely a passion of mine and I believe I will continue in this field indefinitely. Previous aviation experience dating back to 1999 includes flight instructing, small charter flying, and participation with China Eastern Airlines pilot development program. Besides my aviation background, I have 2 bachelor degrees in both Marketing and Finance and also have my MBA. All of my degrees were received from Purdue University.
As for my heritage, I am a first generation Macedonian American with roots from Utovo village in the Demir Hisar region of Macedonia. I have visited Demir Hisar at least once a year throughout my entire life and find it to be a most peaceful place that never ceases to call to me. Both of my parents, Slave and Slavica Josevski, were born in Macedonia and have been in the US since the 1960’s.
My Macedonian heritage has had a great influence on my life, both personally and professionally, and it really comes down to three aspects. As Macedonians, we have an incredible work ethic, a strong desire to succeed, and a set of very high standards in relation to our peers. Whether this is based on the traditional values of our culture or the underdog role we seem to feel from our small country, big world position…always present is that feeling to do something greater with the resources we are given. The picture that comes to mind is of our parents putting one foot forward, every day, and never complaining of the hard work and sacrifices that life requests of us. And that transcends generations. In my professional life, I naturally meet many cultures from many parts of the world and I can say, without a doubt, Macedonians have the biggest hearts.
For the young Macedonians who wish to pursue a career in aviation, I know that your love of flying began long ago and I know that you have always looked up at the skies with a sense of wonder and appreciation of this science. It is a common theme among every colleague I know. I would say, just as with any science, take a fundamental approach. Build a solid foundation based on mathematical and technical expertise. Understand the importance of patience, time, and experience. And then eventually turn this science into the art form it is truly. In the end, you will encounter people and places that enrich your life and you truly see that the world is a much, much, much smaller place than when you started down the path.
A lifelong Chicagoan, Tammie Josifovic grew up in Chicago politics. Since her early start she has been involved in local and national campaigns. She holds executive positions for the Young Democrats of Illinois and the Chicago Chapter of the U.S. National Committee for U.N. Women. In addition, she is a member of the Democratic National Ethnic Coordinating Committee and on the auxiliary board of Chicago Cares, a non-profit dedicated to mobilizing volunteers.
Ms. Josifovic graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with a Bachelor’s in journalism and political science. She has social media and community outreach experience in non-profit, corporate, and association industries.
Macedonian heritage helped you along your career and personal path, andwhat message would you like to send to young Macedonians pursuing a similar career path?"
My Macedonian heritage is in everything I do. Growing up with Macedonian parents and grandparents, they instilled our culture and traditions in me. I was propelled into politics when my Macedonian ethnicity was attacked and in defense, reversed state legislation. I draw inspiration from my ancestors whose trials and tribulations cannot compare to the hurdles I face – I have no excuse. Not only do I feel it is my duty to make them proud but it is also my duty to honor the lessons they passed on. My advice is to never forget where we come from, how far we’ve come, and how far we can go.
Adam Thomas Kormushoff, 32 years old. Born in Akron, Ohio on 2/10/1983. Grew up in Akron, Ohio. Completed three majors at Ohio University obtaining a BBA in Marketing, Management & Strategic Leadership, and International Business in 2006.
After 5 months participating in a study/intern program in Sydney, Australia, I moved to Chicago in October of 2006. My first job was an Account Executive doing Advertising Sales for Chicago Life Magazine (http://www.chicagolife.net/), which is an insert to the New York Times Sunday Edition for Chicago subscribers. I then spent 2 years at a publishing company selling Advertising for B2B trade publications.
From there, I stumbled upon Groupon in 2010 (www.groupon.com). I started with them on January 5th, 2010 as an Account Executive, launching their 12 largest market, San Diego. I was employee #151. The company now has over 12,000 employees WW and is present in 48 countries. After two years, I was promoted to Senior Account Executive, then Strategic Account Executive and just this July, promoted to Merchant Development Director.
Total Gross Billings I've generated with Groupon in Southern California is 18.1M (8.5M in Gross Profit). My job is to structure, manage and fully optimize custom ad campaigns for our business partners. Through these campaigns, I've helped grow 1,000's of businesses by increasing their customer base, expanding locations, gaining massive exposure and consistently delivering positive ROI.
I also recently visited Macedonia for the first time last year to not only learn more about my heritage and see all the beauty that is Macedonia, but to pursue any possible business ventures. As a young professional, I want to continue to create awareness for Macedonia. Below are 2 companies I'm involved with that are looking into import opportunities via Macedonia. We are currently working with a few businesses in Macedonia and helping them to bring their products to the USA:
I also am a Mentor with iMentor Chicago. I mentor a high school student from a low-income community in Chicago. It's a 3 year program with the goal being to help mentor/guide my mentee to enroll in college and graduate with a degree. I email with him at least once a week and meet with him once a month at iMentor hosted events: https://imentor.org/chicago.
I live in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago and am active in intramural sports yearly including beach volleyball, basketball and bowling. I also enjoy listening to music, attending concerts and going out with friends. I visit my family in Akron as much as possible and love to travel.
Pride. I think it starts and finishes with pride. Growing up, I was always told my ancestors were from Macedonia. I was always so proud to say what my heritage was when my friends asked. Usually, they never even asked, I would just tell them. It became an ongoing joke that everyone knew I was Macedonian. I'd say I became a huge proponent for Macedonia at a very young age. The people of Akron, Ohio are a very proud people and I believe the people of Macedonia are very similar, so that is where I believe my pride is innate.
Being prideful in what you do translates directly into having great pride in where you're from, I believe. I never want to let my family, where I'm from or my heritage down, because those three foundations have influenced me more than anything else in my life. They keep me motivated within my career path and help steer me on my way. Whether it's becoming more involved with programs outside of work or working at taking my career to the next level via a job promotion/enhancing my career skills, those three influences are always with me.
My message to young Macedonians would be to always remember where you came from. Be prideful in what you do. Network as much as you can and become involved in everything that you can. Keep your head down, your attitude positive and take advantage of all opportunities that come your way. Building connections and having positive relationships go such a long way in the workforce and I would not have made it to where I am today without them. Or without having the pride, respect and will to do well for my family/myself, where I'm from and my Macedonian heritage.
A global tracker, community innovator and a poet, Bistra spends my time inspiring, witnessing and supporting courageous steps made by humans, combining innovative tools for growth, learning and education. In 2008, together with a group of young progressive minds, she is one of the core drivers of a movement that resulted with today's most popular youth web portal in CEE Region: Mladi Info (www.mladiinfo.com), enabling hundreds of young people to get access to free education, mobility and grants in a fully transparent way.
Her passion for spreading knowledge took her on a journey in Slovenia, Sub-Sahara Africa, South-East Asia, and finally Austria, where she is now a regional program coordinator for two acceleration programs enabling social entrepreneurs in CEE region to scale their social start-ups. She has organized, facilitated and shared her experience at more than 60 international conferences and summits including TEDxDonauinsel, European Youth Awards, Social Impact Award Macedonia, Global Social Business Summit Vienna, Austria; Social Innovation Expo Slovenia, International Conference of Social Innovation - Lahore, Pakistan; Challenge:Future Summit 2012/2013, "Create Future with Creating Jobs" in Uganda, Rwanda, Turkey and Singapore.
Macedonia is the land where I got and grew my first wings, the metaphorical land of almost all my flights, of opening eyes to new skies, the place where I learned to cherish the small things and reach out for things that I couldn't see. I come from a small but very vast-hearted town in Macedonia called Struga, a town of poetry. Growing in a family of CFO mother and poet father, all my life I tried to combine entrepreneurship and poetry, business and art. And the passion for both I found in my country, in my people, surroundings, every street and corner of my youth and childhood in Macedonia. But I always knew that reaching your highest sense of purpose will drive you through many roads, people, and places. If you are lucky, you will be able to experience the desire for being of service. One thing I always tell people is that a human heart beats around 3 billion times in the average person's life. I strongly believe that at least a half of those beats are made to be shared. It is our duty to collaborate, to co-create, to never lose the delight in nature, and the delight in learning.
When asked for advises I only have one to share: every advice is autographical. So, I rarely give general advices to people. But I am good with questions. I would suggest every young Macedonian to answer these 4 questions: 1. What I love doing? 2. What are you good at, really? 3. What the world needs? 4. What the world will pay for? They say it's a blessing if you find something that can stand as an answer to all four. Whether that's the case for you or not: stay awake!
My given name is Nikola Ted Labudovski and I am 32 years old. Nikola after my grandfather and Ted after my father. My parents are born in Macedonia and I was born in the U.S. I am very proud of my heritage and help the local Macedonian community where help is needed. At our Macedonian Cathedral in Columbus I've been a Treasurer from 2013 to 2014 and Secretary from 2015 to 2016. One of the main focuses of the new administration is to bring the youth back into the church so the community is around for many years to come. We want the Macedonian Community to become closer together and help each other. We also want to keep the traditions, culture and language from our home land in this country forever!
I have Associate degrees in both Architecture and Construction Management. I got my Associates' degree from Columbus State Community College, Columbus Ohio. At Columbus state I was elected Treasurer of the Construction Specifications Institute Student Affiliate and inducted member of the Construction Specifications Institute parent chapter. This education led me to careers in the Construction Industry; however, I decided to part ways with the Construction Industry and get into Real Estate due to the volatile Construction time in 2008. I got my real estate license from Hondros College in 2009. During my time as a licensed Realtor® I was elected President of the Gahanna Area Realty Association in 2012. In 2013 and 2014 I was elected the Treasurer of Ohio Commercial Real Estate Exchangors. I've always had the love to build things so now in 2015 I'm doing some real estate, purchasing investment properties and looking the right Construction position for me.
My Macedonian heritage helped me along my career as a Realtor/Investor by being able to help the Central Ohio Macedonian community in their housing and other real estate needs. The language and behaviors from fellow Macedonians make working with them an enjoyment! Being a Macedonian has helped my personal path by always having a group of friends that closely associate with the issues I deal with day in and day out being a Macedonian. To the young Macedonians pursuing a career path as a Realtor or Investor the best advice I could give is never give up!! You'll make mistakes but the most important thing is to learn from them!
Milena Lazarevska is a 30 year old Macedonia currently living in London, UK, where she has lived for the last 11 years.
Milena grew up in the small town of Delcevo, where she excelled academically in both primary and secondary school. She was awarded a scholarship as an exchange student to an American high school, so she attended Culver Academies in Culver, Indiana, aged 16 to 17. After returning to complete the last year of high school in Delcevo, she was awarded a full scholarship to attend Cambridge University as (potentially) the first Macedonian to complete an undergraduate degree at Cambridge. Milena was passionate about science from an early age, and having been the Macedonian National Champion in Physics twice, at Cambridge she studied Natural Sciences focusing on chemistry and Molecular Biology.
Although Milena always found learning about science very interesting, working in a lab didn’t fulfil her expectations of a potential job, so she changed course and after completing a Master’s degree in science Enterprise also at Cambridge, she started working as a management consultant with Bain and Company in London. Working for one of the leading global strategy consulting firms took Milena around the world, from Europe to South Africa and South America, working on incredibly challenging and interesting problems for companies in the oil and gas, retail, pharmaceuticals, and private equity sectors. Wanting to specialize in the food industry, Milena is now in the strategy team of Sainsbury’s Supermarkets, the second largest supermarket chain in the UK.
While the Macedonian friends and connection to the Macedonian diaspora in London, which Milena has, are limited, she is incredibly proud of her heritage and is a great promoter of Macedonia. She has in fact been the host of over 30 friends who have visited her and her family in Macedonia over the last 11 years. She has also helped many Macedonian students wanting to study abroad with their applications and interview practice, and is looking forward to doing as much of that going forward as possible. And as the only Macedonian working at Sainsbury’s, she is educating a company of >160,000 employees how amazing Macedonia is!
I grew up in Macedonia and lived there in my formative teenage years, so Macedonian is really who I am despite being away for almost half of my life. Growing up in a supportive culture with strong family values has made me very grounded, confident, and determined, and gave me the roots I needed in order to be able to ‘fly’ and be a bit of a citizen of the world that I am today. I think it’s easy to underestimate just how strong and resilient growing up in a small country with lots of issues makes us, and that comes very handy later in life.
To others pursuing a similar path, I would say be brave, don’t give up, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re not on your own! (and give me a call if you’re interested in anything specific that I have done)
My name is Josip Lazarevski, born on 19th of August 1986.
I come from the beautiful city of Ohrid in Macedonia.
I finished my Computer Science bachelor degree at Institute of Informatics in Skopje in 2009 with focus in Information Systems.
I showed interest in solving everyday problems through computer applications in early days. My first web application was alive when I was only 14.
During my high school years I have been actively competing in the States competitions for young innovators, where I have won two times and being awarded with bronze plaque on the Macedonian Fair of innovations.
Motivated by the fact that people with special needs are neglected in many ways in Macedonia, I have developed web platform for people with special needs as a graduation work that I hope is still used and helped many times to those in best need.
Shortly after my graduation I started building my International life experience. I had the opportunity to live in New York and to work for one of the biggest media and financial-data firm in the world, which give me great experience and knowledge that will lead me to another great opportunity in Maltese company and be part of their big team that solves Health problems.
This is my fourth year that I live and work in Amsterdam.
While working in Cyber Security Company I am trying to make the world a better place for everyone.
Living a hard life where you barely have the basics makes you being a person satisfied with little.
Growing up in a family that knows what is the parallel in other countries motivates you and makes you work for more until you have that what you deserve.
By the time you go out of Macedonia, you are already used to working hard and smart, something the natives aren’t used to do in many cases. That is why it is easy for you as an individual to be successful and recognized in a country where your quality and effort are valued over other things.
I would recommend everyone who has dreams to follow the dreams, no matter what it takes. Think positive and positive things will happen to you.
Dimce Manev was born and raised in Veles, Macedonia. Earlier in life, and in his teenage years he worked on local radio and TV station. After finishing high school he went to Skopje and studied Ethnology and Anthropology at St. Cyril and Methodius University. Shortly after his study he had the opportunity to be part of his first work and travel experience in Greece where he discovered his love to travel and explore.
Dimce has been living in Los Angeles, for about 10 years. One of his first work experiences was in Urban Home, where he met the love of his life and discovered his passion for design, architecture and art. Shortly after that, they got married and had two beautiful children Eva Mira and Filip Giorgi. His entrepreneurship and unique ideas lead him to start his first company with his two good friends. With Dimce’s great communication skills and business mentality they managed to get their first “Big” customer Imagi Studios, well known for the Ninja Turtles Movie.
He now lives in Orange County CA and is a proud Co-owner of Imperial Tile and Stone in Anaheim. Known for being the industries most respected tile and stone company. Imperial’s natural stone and tiles can be found in luxurious homes, trendy boutiques, lavish spas and resorts around the US. Dimce’s next goal is to open a tile manufacturing company in his homeland.
First off, I'm proud of coming from a culture of many eager and ambitious people, both past and present. I take great pride in my morals and values that were passed down to me by my wonderful Macedonian parents. These morals and values that I'm now passing on to my 2 young children. I have learned to carry myself with great confidence and perseverance like the good people of Macedonia.
If you ever feel like life doesn't present you with opportunities, you create them for yourself. I'm always keeping in mind that I represent my heritage, family and the people of Macedonia. The opportunities that I have been blessed with give me the privilege of showing to the world who we are and what we are capable of achieving. With all of this being said I want everyone in the world to know who the Macedonians are! We are great people with a culture that never dies. To all of the young future successors, never forget who you are and where you come from." Always stay united Macedonia".
Aleksandar Mojsovski is a 28 year old Macedonian currently living in Melbourne – Australia. He is a passionate supporter of the Macedonian cause and has spent a good part of the last eight years serving the Macedonian diaspora.
Aleksandar Mojsovski was born in 1986 in Pirava (near Valandovo) – Macedonia and lived there until 1996. Aleksandar moved to Australia and completed primary school in Sydney. In 2001 Aleksandar moved back to Macedonia and settled in Gevgelija, where he completed high-school. In 2006, Aleksandar moved back to Australia and eventually settled in Melbourne, Australia. Aleksandar is married to his wife Ljupka since 2014.
Since an early age Aleksandar had a tendency for love towards all things Macedonian. Aleksandar often mentions how his young mind was fascinated by the cultural heritage and history, whilst archaeology seemed like the gateway to understanding all of that better.
Aleksandar often states how important moving between Macedonia and Australia was. He does not fail to mention that this exposed him to a variety of influences that shaped his perception of the world and the realities of it. He frequently alludes to the fact that this in turn lead him away from his passion of understanding the Macedonian past and towards the active contribution for the Macedonian future.
It is with this intention of contributing to the Macedonian cause that Aleksandar went on to obtain an undergraduate degree in International Studies (Major in Politics) and International Trade. Aleksandar enjoyed the challenge of scholarly life immensely and currently has plans to pursue further advancement in the field. At the present, Aleksandar is applying his knowledge to the advancement of his personal career and using it to benefit the Macedonian community.
Aleksandar, has been involved in the Macedonian community in Melbourne since 2007. Involvement with the Macedonian Community Council of Melbourne and Victoria (MCCMVic) came as early as 2009. MCCMVic is the leading body and acts as an umbrella organisation for all other Macedonian organisations in Melbourne - Australia. Aleksandar remained in the organisation and became a member of the executive in 2010. Aleksandar currently has the honour of holding the position of President of MCCMVic and has contributed in this capacity since 2014. It is a role that has come to define him and build upon his desire for involvement with the Community. Other involvements include the position of board member of the Macedonian Community Welfare Association (MCWA) since 2012, an organisation that is key to providing services for the vulnerable members of the Community. Both organisations are at the forefront of community services and community organisation and are essential to the functioning of the Macedonian diaspora in Melbourne – Australia.
Currently Aleksandar is working on multiple projects across both organisation that are focusing on community advancement, community comradery, various community awareness programs, cultural community development, community recognition and other community based projects.
My Macedonian heritage has been a defining and decisive factor in my career path. It was due to my strong ties with my Macedonian heritage that drove me down a career that will potentially contribute to the advancement of both my local and Macedonian communities. It is this heritage and the responsibilities that come with maintaining it, that drove me to complete a degree in International Studies (Major in Politics) and International Trade. Something that I am confident I can use to better myself and maintain with dignity our Macedonian heritage.
My advice to anyone pursuing a similar path would be to actively and without any compromise, devote themselves to the path they have set. Maintaining a strong local presence and understanding, irrespective of the country, is essential to successfully contributing to the Macedonian cause. In other words, be successful where you are, for only through that kind of success one can influence a favourable position for the Macedonian cause.
Makedonka Karagule and her two older brothers, Orfej and Henry Najdeski respectively, were born in Resen, Macedonia and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her Father and Mother, Petar and Ivanka Najdeski, were born in Macedonia and immigrated to the United States in 1970 with their eldest son.
Makedonka earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and minored in French language at DePauw University.
Makedonka is a Senior Healthcare Representative with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in their Specialty Division for the last 9 years. She consistently finishes in the top 25% and is currently ranked #1. She not only strives to maintain her own business but works with other representatives on their own development. This past year, she was selected to shadow Brand Marketing Leads at Headquarters in New York, New York.
Makedonka is married to Nikola Karagule of Ohrid, Macedonia. They were married last August at Sv. Kliment Plaosnik in Ohrid alongside their family and friends. They reside in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
My Macedonian heritage is at the core of the woman I have become. My parents have instilled in me over the years, unwavering character, confidence and tenacity. Today, I realize the sacrifice my parents made many years ago coming to the United States with a suitcase and forty dollars. I never knew a time when we didn’t have enough, not because it wasn’t a reality, but because they never wanted us to know their struggle. It’s through their love, guidance and dedication to their children that their struggle is now our success.
My Macedonian heritage is the true backbone of the career driven individual I am today. In a changing and challenging healthcare environment, it’s those individuals who are change agile, decisive and act boldly & directly that succeed in changing the lives of patients through education and medication. I’ve been extremely fortunate to work for a world-wide company in the business of treating disease and saving lives.
The message I would give to young Macedonians looking to pursue a similar career path is to reach out to individuals in the industry, understand the sales craft, gain experience through internships and exceed goals set before you.
Sinisha Noveski of Makedonski Brod is a sculptor currently living and working in Belgrade, Serbia, where he serves as the President of the Macedonian National Council’s Board of Culture and the Cultural Director of the Days of Macedonian Culture in Belgrade. Noveski’s work has been displayed in a dozen solo exhibitions and more than thirty group exhibitions. He has received numerous professional awards, both for his individual work and the work of his students, and has more than twenty sculptures on public display in Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, and the United States.
After graduating from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Skopje in 2002, Noveski spent two years working as an assistant to the professors of the Macedonian Academy of Science and Art. He earned his teaching certificate in 2004 and has served as a professor of fine art in both Macedonia and Serbia. In 2011, Noveski completed his Master’s Degree in Sculpture.
For Noveski, beauty is not what one sees when one looks at a work of art, but what one feels. Although focused on realism as a student, Noveski has spent most of his career creating pieces that are associative and abstract. Noveski’s earliest inspiration came from traditional Macedonian dress, dance, poetry, song, and history. While working on this Master’s thesis in 2011, Noveski transitioned to a more ecological focus, giving form to the cry of nature against its destruction through an installation of steel rods and plastic bottles in the cave Peshna, a famous historical and speleological site near his hometown. That same year, he moved to Belgrade, Serbia, to join his fiancé, Rebecca Strattan of Pennsylvania, USA, whom he married in 2012.
During his first year in Belgrade, Noveski began work on a series of pairs of stylized figures, often one male and one female, each symbolizing two characters or elements that are intrinsically linked, such as “Mother and Child,” “Peace and Unrest,” and “Wisdom and Curiosity.” This series was inspired not only by his new identity as a husband, but also by his experience as both a twin and brother of twins (he has a twin brother and twin sisters seven years younger). Noveski’s current projects are focused on his Macedonian heritage and new Serbian home. His daughter Lena, whom he and Rebecca welcomed in 2014, is also a rich source of inspiration.
More information on Sinisha Noveski and his work can be found at www.sinishanoveski.com.
Being Macedonian is one of the most important pieces of my identity. Macedonian culture, traditions, and history have been a key source of inspiration for me. I believe there is great strength in Macedonians working together, as I have experienced through the Macedonian community in Serbia. It is difficult in any large city to find friends, to build a network of contacts, to find space to work and galleries for exhibiting...let alone in a foreign country. Before I moved to Belgrade, I sought out and contacted Macedonians already living there through social networks. When I arrived, I met those contacts in person and became an active member of Macedonian groups like the Macedonian society Makedonium and the Forum of Young Macedonians in Serbia. Of all the friends I found in Serbia, my Macedonian friends offered me a special energy and constant support. With their help and encouragement, I was able to establish a strong artistic reputation in Serbia very quickly.
I want every young Macedonian to know that the path to success is very difficult, and requires a great deal of work, dedication, positivity, integrity, and love. Approach every goal patiently and confidently, take risks, seek and embrace new experiences, and do not quit until you have accomplished what you set out to accomplish. Reach out to other Macedonians when you need help and support, and offer your help and support where you can. As Macedonians, we have incredible potential to help one another in achieving our individual goals.
Hristina was born in Bitola, Macedonia, where she spent most of her childhood before immigrating with her family to the United States in 1989. She holds a Bachelors of Art degree from Columbia University, with concentrations in Architecture and Photography, and a Masters of Architecture degree from The Ohio State University.
In 2009, Hristina and her husband co-founded Aperture Photography, a company that specializes in event and lifestyle photography. In addition to being lead photographer, she oversees Aperture's client development, business planning, budget management and marketing. Hristina is also an Architectural Designer at Meyers + Associates Architecture, where she has worked on projects including the Hollister Flagship store in New York City, Historic mixed-use renovations in Central Ohio, and numerous U.S. Zara stores. In addition, she currently holds the position of Creative Director at the Illume Collective, a company she started with two partners in 2015, focusing on artfully curated spaces, installations and events.
Outside of her professional life, Hristina's personal work in photography and documentaries has been exhibited in New York City, Columbus and Los Angeles. One of her exhibits, titled “Doma” (Home), detailed her family’s trip back to Macedonia 15 years after emigrating from their homeland. Previously, she worked as an Auxiliary Professor/Lecturer at the Knowlton School of Architecture at The Ohio State University, teaching architectural design studio, landscape design studio, and a design course.
Hristina's contribution to the arts is also evident in her volunteer efforts, working on various art festivals and community events, proceeds of which have gone towards charities helping women in the arts. Most notably, Hristina's volunteer work was central in saving the Iconostasis of the original St. Mary's Macedonian Church in Columbus, Ohio, after a massive arson fire engulfed the place of worship in 2006. Her efforts brought notable professors and art preservationists from The Ohio State University to help clean and restore the icons, which are now serving the new St. Mary's Macedonian Cathedral.
Hristina lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, Paul Rentler. Her favorite things in life include travel, mid-century design and her amazingly supportive family.
My heritage has most definitely influenced my personal and professional path. Living a mere 10 minutes from the ancient Roman city of Heraclea and watching my father design and build our house on the base of Mt. Pelister have had a huge influence on my career as an architect. Additionally, being infused into a culture rich with sensory experiences – the colorful visuals of icons, the smell of fresh food every Tuesday at the Pazar (market) in Bitola, and the vast vistas of Mt. Pelister, Mt. Galicica, and the hillsides overlooking Lake Ohrid – all of these elements have made their way back into my life and work.
My solo 50-piece photography and documentary exhibit at the Mahan Gallery titled "Doma" (Home) focused on just that. The exhibit documented my return to Macedonia 15 years after immigrating to the United States. I wanted to not only capture the experience visually, but also through all of the senses. We prepared Macedonian food for opening night: homemade ajvar, feta cheese and olive appetizers, with homemade baklava as dessert. I also incorporated personal interviews of family members and ethnic Macedonian music into the event. The result was a complete immersion of the culture and heritage of my homeland, with nostalgic pieces of photography as the artifacts on the wall. (http://www.hristinapanovska.com/doma/)
I would tell young Macedonians pursuing similar careers to embrace their heritage. It shapes you and sets you apart from everyone else. Your personal journey carves a path in your own unique style that makes an impact on people.
Dr. Cara Poland
Cara Anne Poland is an American born Macedonian. She was born and raised in Metro-Detroit in a Macedonian family where she and her brothers enjoyed eating broiled banana peppers the way most of her American peers ate spaghetti! She has fond memories of learning to cook traditional Macedonian dishes with her grandparents. From chopping vegetables for a manja to roasting a leg of lamb, she fondly recalls hours spent smelling and tasting the food of her history. It was a proud moment – a rite of passage – when she made her first zelnik independently. Carefully rolling layer upon layer of phyllo dough, mixing the cheeses together, basting it with butter in the oven, it took twice as long, but that might be the moment her Dedo was most proud of her. Years of patiently acting as assistant, painting the butter between layers, mixing and pouring the interiors culminated in a culinary masterpiece that spoke of the love passed generation by generation through her Macedonian family.
Dr. Poland has two children of her own that she hopes to inspire through traditional cooking to learn the benefits of continuing to try, perseverance, love and a good set of cast iron pots. She hopes that as they grow, they will learn from their Macedonian heritage the same lessons of hard work and continued effort that led her to completing her first zelnik.
Professionally, Cara Poland, MD, M.Ed is a board-certified physician specializing in addiction medicine. Dr. Poland earned her medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. She completed her internal medicine residency at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and her addiction medicine fellowship at Boston University in Massachusetts. Throughout her training, her Macedonian heritage helped her remain focused and humble. Dr. Poland’s clinical interests include safe opioid prescribing, medication-assisted treatment of substance use disorders and treatment of female substance users. She also has a Master’s degree in education and is passionate about working with student physicians as a Clinical Assistant Professor at Michigan State University. She works with an underserved population of patients, providing them with care that they would not otherwise receive. She also sits on the Board of Directors for the Red Project, harm reduction program in Greater Grand Rapids that provides injection drug users with clean supplies and the antidote medication for an overdose. She also sits on multiple leadership boards of various professional societies including as Secretary/Treasurer of the Midwest Society of General Internal Medicine and on various committees for the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
Dr. Cara Poland is honored to be receiving recognition for the work that she does to serve patients and their families suffering from the disease of addiction. She credits her Macedonian roots as being one of the key factors providing her with the tools she continues to use to give a voice to the underserved patients she cares for daily.
My Macedonian heritage taught me that anything is possible through hard work and perseverance when you have the love and support of your family and culture. The schooling and training to become a physician required thirteen years of countless hours studying and working in the hospital. Workweeks are scheduled to be 80 hours long so the time you have away from the hospital, and not studying, is limited and needs to be rejuvenating. My loving Macedonian family and community helped provide me the strength to become a physician, wife and mother. Today, finished with training, it helps me care for a profoundly underserved population that many consider “undesirable”, just as my ancestors were by oppressive forces that conquered Macedonia.
My Macedonian grandparents taught me the importance of a strong Macedonian work ethic, while my parents taught me that no dream was too big to accomplish: obstacles are meant to be challenging, not overwhelming. If Alexander the Great conquered the known world, I could conquer academic barriers. As an academic physician, I use the lessons taught by my Macedonian heritage and family to persevere in the face of opposition and stay true to my dreams no matter the obstacles. As a wife and mother, my Macedonian heritage helps my husband and I raise our children knowing they have love, compassion and their Macedonian-American heritage to help guide them. I hope other young Macedonians will realize that their dreams are obtainable because of the tools our culture and heritage provide.
I was born Krste Ristovski, to immigrant parents who had just purchased a bakery in the year 1975. As a child I was raised in a traditional Macedonian household. My grandparents lived with us and the whole family worked the family business in shifts while baba stayed at home with the children. My artistic development began at an early age. In kindergarten I drew a cat and it got in the school newsletter. This little achievement gave me a sense satisfaction that has never gone away. I haven’t stopped drawing since then.
In the 1980’s my family Americanized our names and I became Kris Risto. I traveled to Macedonia several times and I caught glimpses of where my family was from. In 1986 my parents decided to move back to Macedonia permanently. This move lasted only two years due to a lack of economic opportunity. However this period of my life was one of the most magical experiences. I saw firsthand what it meant to be Macedonian. I went to the same tiny village school that my father and grandfather went to. I learned to read and write in Cyrillic. I was immersed in this culture for the first time. The vary landscape and mountains called to me in the most profound way. I felt a connection, a strange kind of familiarity, perhaps some kind of deep genetic memory. Ancient ruins, Byzantine churches, frescoes, folklore and superstitions filled my mind with a rich source of information. In hindsight I really had no choice in becoming an artist.
After returning to the United States I began to notice a sense of duality in my life. I felt incomplete in both cultures as I wasn’t truly a part of ether. I call it being an Inbetweener, or a hybrid something like an amphibian never truly at home in water or on land. I have struggled with this my entire life but it has given me a unique perspective. I always felt that I could defend one culture to the other because of this displaced point of view. In my art I try to express these themes of the past mingling with the present and influencing the future.
I have been painting for 15 years now and have exhibited in one-man shows and many regional group shows. This spring I was inducted into the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh one of this country’s oldest artist groups. I am currently Co-President of the Northwest Pennsylvania Artists Association a non profit organization of artists who provides exhibition opportunities for its members and 3 scholarships for university bound art students.
I have recently returned from a trip to Macedonia. I shot a total of three thousand photographs during this trip for reference material. I look forward to create a new body of paintings based on these photographs and experiences in Macedonia.
Culture is a manifestation of human achievement, and Macedonian culture has seasoned all aspects of my achievements, both as an artist and human being.
I was blessed to be born into a Macedonian family, we worked together towards a common goal of establishing a strong foothold in a new land. Old world ethics of hard work equaling prosperity were instilled in me at an early age. We worked in shifts at our family business Majestic Bakery; everyone did their part, multigenerational cooperation.
Macedonian culture has been a defining presence in my artistic development. Icons were my first introduction to paintings. I would stare at them as a child and try to decipher the symbolic language of the images. I adopted this rich visual language and symbolism to express my own ideas and struggles; dealing with themes of duality and alienation; coming from two very different worlds.
I remember thinking about the painters who made these images hundreds of years ago. They were people like me; smearing color on a surface to produce an image. There was a sense of continuity with the past that I could identify with. The culture was old and I was the end product of a millennia of knowledge. I was looking back at what came before me, but also looking forward to what I could add to it. To the younger generations I say be proud of your ethnicity; you are a part of the continuity of culture. Look for ways you can add your own special contribution to the world as a descendant of Macedonia.
Ivana Sedia (née Gentile) was born in Argentina to a Macedonian mother and an Italian father. Her Macedonian family is originally from Prespa and they immigrated two times (first to Argentina and then to the United States). She moved to the U.S. with her parents when she was a baby and is now an American citizen. She is fluent in Spanish, Italian, and English, and semi-fluent in Macedonian, and is proud for her origins. She received her degrees in communication and international relations and diplomacy with a minor in Italian from Dominican University in 2011. While at Dominican, she was the first student to launch the United Nations Association of the United States of America Chicago College Consortium Chapter. She is currently studying to receive her MBA in management. In the past, Ivana served as a reporter for Lyons Township Television and hosted an Italian-American music video show called “Ciao Chicago” for local channel 25. She also worked as public relations officer and writer for Latino Social Magazine. She currently works for the Illinois Secretary of State where she assists immigrants who do not speak English, including Macedonians, in obtaining the temporary visitor driver's license. She also serves on the board of directors of the Lyons Township High School Alumni Association. Ivana enjoys parties with family because she gets to dance to Macedonian folkloric music and eat “ajver,” “piperki,” “zelnik,” or “pecivo.” She also likes “café Makedonsko.” In her spare time, she sews, cooks, and explores recipes from around the world, takes dance lessons, and spends time with family and friends. Ivana now lives in Indiana with her husband, Adam Sedia, a prominent lawyer.
Thanks to Baba and Dede, I learned about my Macedonian heritage and the values that come along with it. They taught me never to forget where I come from and to be proud of it. Baba always reminds me that family is everything and that without family, I am nothing, while Dede always reminds me to work very hard because that is the only way to reach success in America. They helped me along my career and personal paths by reminding me to stick to these values.
As an immigrant, I never forget where I came from, and for that reason, my career goal is to do all I can to help immigrants in need to reach the American dream. My message to all young Macedonians pursuing a similar career path is to go to college and earn a degree. After all, education really is the key to open doors of opportunities. Learn another language or keep up with a hobby, because you never know when it will come in handy. Also, don’t forget to listen to your grandparents, because, as Pope Francis said, “Grandparents are the living memory of the family.”
Peter Simeon is an experienced corporate commercial and securities lawyer. As a partner in Gowlings' Toronto office, Peter focuses his practice on corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, and structured products.
Working closely with issuers, underwriters, and other corporate clients, Peter delivers practical, effective advice to help businesses move their transactions forward. He has acted for clients across a range of industries, such as mining, energy and technology. His expertise includes:
• Public offerings, including initial public offerings (IPOs)
• Private placements
• Reverse takeovers and qualifying transactions
• Bought deal financings
• Secondary offerings
• Share and asset purchase transactions
In addition to his work in private practice, Peter is also an experienced in-house lawyer. He spent several years as corporate counsel at a multinational technology company, and completed a secondment at the Ontario Securities Commission in its Market Regulation Group.
My Macedonian heritage has been crucial to my career path and personal life. My parents both immigrated to Canada with no knowledge of English and very little money in their pockets. They worked very hard and created a successful life for themselves. It is their hard work ethic and respect for others that I have embraced and has helped take me to where I am today. I learnt that nothing comes without a lot of hard work. You also need to respect others and their cultures. These life lessons have made be a better person and drove me to succeed. Macedonians also place a lot of emphasis on family and friends, and I have a great support network. No one can succeed without this support.
To young Macedonians I would say learn from your parents and grandparents. Take their stories and hardships and use that to strive for success. Also do not be shy to ask for help or mentoring from other Macedonians. We are always willing to help "nashi".
I was born and raised in Skopje. I finished elementary school in Jan Amos Komenski and high school in Nikola Karev. I was raised by my wonderful family from which I learnt all the things I know and use them in my everyday life. After high school graduation I moved to study in Prague at Anglo American University. I moved back to Skopje for a short time after finishing the UNI, to realize that I need to go back to Prague and pursuit my happiness. Currently I am 3 years with Oracle where I found this place to be the best for my future career development. I am currently leading a team for MEA Contracts Drafting, participating in international projects and will soon realize my MBA.
Growing up in Macedonia and living there until my 18th year has made me a really strong person. You do not get to realize this until the moment when you face serious challenges like moving abroad, searching for job, not having your family and childhood friends around. At the hardest moments I could reflect on all the values I have learnt grooving in Macedonia: family values, friendship, the willingness to help and the most important one is the resourcefulness. When you grow up in a country that you cannot easily find everything you need and does not have as much as regulations as in the west countries, you need to find ways in order to get what you want. This characteristic I believe is something that only people who are coming from Macedonia are having it, and should embrace it. So my message to other young Macedonians will be do not be afraid to go after what you want, you will find your way.
Michelle Srbinovich serves as General Manager of WDET 101.9FM, Detroit's NPR station, where she is driving the growth of the first working U.S. model of mainstream, major market, multi-ethnic public radio. Srbinovich is the youngest General Manager of a major market public radio station and has earned national respect for her work at WDET and her commitment to bringing new audiences to public media. Prior to this, she was responsible for engineering the bottom-up development of WDET’s marketing communication, digital and social media operations as the station’s Digital Director. Her previous professional experience includes building and moderating award-winning online communities and social media strategies for the U.S. Navy while working at Campbell-Ewald Advertising (now Lowe Campbell-Ewald).
Srbinovich is the co-founder of the Detroit chapter of Girl Develop It, an organization that teaches web development to women, the chair of the Belle Isle Conservancy's Emerging Patrons Council, and a United Way Emerging Philanthropist. She was recently named a 2015 Marshall Memorial Fellow, a 2014 Crain’s Detroit Business “20 in their 20s” and a 2015 Inforum Inner Circle Guest of Honor. Srbinovich completed her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Northwood University in 2007 with a triple major in marketing, economics and international business with honors.
My family immigrated to Detroit in 1967 from the villages of Vratnica and Belovsite near Tetovo. It's hard to imagine taking the type of risk that my grandparents took to come to a country they knew so little about in pursuit of a better life. Their story has served a reminder when I've made decisions about my own personal and career path, to not take the route that's safe and predictable. Macedonians, like most immigrants, are resilient and that resiliency is critical if you are working in a dynamic and stressful industry like the media. The opportunities I've had both personally and professionally are a direct result of the sacrifices they and my parents made along the way. When he was in his late 20s, my father decided to open a bakery and for over 30 years he and my mom have made a living by running a successful small business. Seeing how hard my parents worked instilled in me a strong work ethic and the qualities of loyalty and integrity that have led to much of my success. Like most Macedonian families, mine was very close and having that kind of support system has kept me grounded. My advice to young Macedonians is to embrace your heritage and chose how you want it to define you. Growing up with a foot in two worlds, exposed to two distinct cultures, can at times be complicated but it also provides you with the ability to stand out and to relate to a wide range of people.
Michael R. Stakleff is a Private Banker for FirstMerit Bank, N.A. in Akron, Ohio. Michael provides banking and financial advisory services to high net worth individuals, families, and business owners.
Prior to his current role as Private Banker, Michael was an Underwriter at FirstMerit Bank, N.A specializing in commercial real estate. During that time he underwrote aggregate loan totals in excess of $600,000,000.
Michael is also a real estate investor and entrepreneur. Michael is a partner in Multimex Americas, LLC which is an importing and exporting consulting firm assisting companies in the United States of America, the Republic of Macedonia, and others in the Balkans. Michael is a partner in Macedonia Importers, LLC which imports wine, food products, and other items from Macedonia to the United States of America.
Michael is President of the Macedonian Businessmen’s Club in Akron, Ohio (www.macedonianbclub.com), which strives to unite Macedonian Americans by recognizing and perpetuating Macedonian Cultural Heritage. The Club provides college scholarships to students of Macedonian ethnicity and to date there have been over 125 recipients. The organization is celebrating their 65th Anniversary in 2015. He is a proud supporter of United Macedonian Diaspora.
Michael graduated from The University of Akron in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Financial Services with a Real Estate Concentration.
Michael is a first generation American on his father’s side since his father, uncles, and grandparents arrived in Akron, Ohio in 1956 and have family origins from Tetovo, Macedonia.
Michael resides in Akron, Ohio with his wife and daughter.
My Macedonian heritage has inspired me personally and professionally to try to maximize my potential, help others, and also enjoy the journey we call life. As I have gotten older, I have appreciated more than ever the hard work and selfless acts that my Dedo and Baba (and other family members) made when they arrived in Akron, Ohio, USA in 1956 with my father and uncles. I have been instilled with a solid work ethic and the knowledge that anything can be accomplished if you put your mind to it.
I am proud that our Macedonian heritage and culture embrace strong personal relationships with family and friends. Our ability to connect with others will always make Macedonians special.
My advice to young Macedonians pursuing a career in finance or banking would be to be to continually educate yourself, think critically, embrace new challenges, respect others, be open minded to new ideas, and aggressively pursue your goals.
You must always believe in yourself and your abilities. Surround yourself with positive people who are genuinely interested in seeing you progress to become the best that you can be.
David Turkaleski is the Director of International Programs at AHT Insurance. David joined AHT in November of 2014, bringing with him 14 years of professional experience and is building out the firm’s global risk management practice. David’s background centers on developing and implementing global risk management programs that protect organization’s liabilities, property and employees.
David has traveled to over 42 countries on 5 continents providing global risk management services.
In addition to his overseas travel, David stays abreast with current industry trends through his involvement in the Northern Virginia Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) as the leader of their International Human Resources Special Interest Group and is active with the Northern Virginia Technology Council’s International Committee.
David’s passions include helping Macedonia and the Macedonian-American community to grow economically. David spoke about why American firms should choose Macedonia as a Foreign Direct Investment destination at the 2nd annual Macedonian-American Leadership Conference in Columbus, Ohio. He has successfully lobbied his Congressman, Representative Don Bayer, to join the Congressional Caucus on Macedonia and Macedonian-Americans. Recently, David hosted an event for the Northern Virginia Technology Committee where Ambassador Vasko Naumovski, Macedonia’s Ambassador to the United States, presented on why Macedonia is a destination for technology firms looking to expand overseas.
David is a graduate of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a minor in International Studies. He has a Certificate of Business Administration from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and is currently pursuing a MBA from the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University.
In his free time, David serves on the Board of The Ohio State University Alumni Club, Washington D.C. Chapter and is an active member of the United Macedonia Diaspora. He lives with his wife, Jessica, in Alexandria, Virginia.
As the son of a Macedonian immigrant, I was taught to embrace and be proud of my culture. My father taught me values that are typical of many Macedonians – work ethic, strong character, integrity, and discipline.
During my junior year of high-school, I gave a presentation focusing on my cultural heritage that included traditional food, music and costumes. My display caught the attention of a local television station and I was featured on the evening news. It was an emotional experience for my dad, who was extremely proud and it made me realize how important this was to my identity.
My ethnic background taught me to bridge cultural differences and propelled me in my international business career. I have a greater appreciation for how people from different cultures interact with one another and how overcoming these differences can lead to achieving a common goal.
Alex Vasileski, health advocate, personal trainer and life coach and T.V. personality is the founder of A Mind and Body Total Fitness, a Chicago based company that focuses on individually tailored health and wellness programs and corporate health and wellness implementations as well as motivational speaking. Alex believes in education as the way to create sustainability as he himself holds a doctorate in Psychology. It is his higher level of education that gives him the ability to analyze and assess the individual needs of his clients, team and corporations he works with and for. As a two-time survivor of cancer, it is his “never give up” attitude that has led him to be an advocate of health and wellness both here in the U.S., working with community outreach programs, as well as in Macedonia, where he championed a free clinic for those in need. Currently Alex serves as an advocate and volunteer for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as a public speaker, Imerman Angels where he is a one-on-one cancer mentor, and Bear Necessities as an auxiliary board member. Additionally, Alex has recently been selected as the Chicago representative for The United Macedonian Diaspora working with congress on immigration issues and cultural awareness. It is Alex’s mission to use his experience to help others lead happy and healthy lives.
My Macedonian heritage has been a foundation for the understanding of humanity and hard work. From a very early age my father set the tone of not taking anything for granted and creating success for others as I would achieve my goals. Additionally, my mother created an environment where comprehending myself as wells understanding what my effect on this world is and would be. My parents made sure I never forgot where I came from as far as my culture as well as family. Being a Macedonian American it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle amongst the larger more mainstream so untried in this world. That is why it has been particularly important for me to not only make certain that I create a world where my family is proud of me but one where I lead by example and set the stage to leave this world better than it was when I came into it. The Macedonian culture is know for pride, self respect, humanitarianism and resilience. Life hasn't been easy for me and everything I have achieved is because of the support from others. I am blessed to be able to represent the Macedonian culture with hope, inspiration and prosperity as well as kindness. This world needs great generations to come and with that comes a responsibility for me to not only be successful but to reach back, NOT to shut the door behind me but to reach back and grab the hands of others and bring them along for the journey! The world needs kindness. The world needs integrity. The world needs dedication....The Macedonians!
UMD is building the next generation of leaders in the global Macedonian community.
Help us achieve our important mission for Macedonia by becoming a member or renewing your 2016 membership by clicking HERE.