THE UNITED MACEDONIAN DIASPORA (UMD) IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THE FOURTH ANNUAL MACEDONIAN DIASPORA’S 40 UNDER 40 LIST.
For the fourth year in a row, UMD is congratulating and recognizing forty Macedonian leaders that have excelled in their respective fields, endorsing them as role models for our community’s heritage and cultural values. The fourth annual 40 Under 40 List is built through a process of nominations, in which the final honorees are chosen by a selection committee.
The UMD Macedonian Diaspora 40 Under 40 list was launched in 2014 to celebrate the accomplishments of Macedonian role models. UMD will be releasing honorees in increments of 10 to allow for proper recognition of each honoree’s achievements. UMD plans to recognize the honorees at an event this year.
UMD hopes this program will recognize the achievements of the honorees, encourage them to continue positively impacting the world in their respective careers, promote the Macedonian culture and continue contributing to the global Macedonian community.
Congratulations to all honorees!
Learn more about our first, second, and third set of honorees!
THE FINAL TEN OF FORTY HONOREES:
Martina Grasheska-Daskaloski – Bitola, Macedonia
Blagoj Delipetrev – Novo Selo (Shtip), Macedonia
Deana Janceski – Beloviste and Krusevo, Macedonia
Vladimir Kotevski – Resen, Macedonia
George Mazevski – Bukovo and Gorno Orehovo, Macedonia
Nino Milenkovski – Dolcevo, Macedonia
Trajko Papuckoski – Krivogastani, Prilepsko and Mogila, Bitolsko, Macedonia
Evan Perelekos – Rahovo, Smurdesh, Dambeni, and Gabresh, Macedonia
Cr. Emilija Lisa Sterjova – Prilep, Macedonia
Angelique Soklev-Tasevski – Klabučišča and Lagen, Aegean Macedonia
LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GROUP OF HONOREES:
Martina Grasheska Daskaloski, 30
Roots from Bitola, Macedonia
Martina Grasheska-Daskaloski was born in Bitola, Macedonia. She received her bachelors degree at the South East European University in Tetovo and continued her studies in Public Relations at the South East European University in Skopje.
After completing her degree, Martina moved to the United States to start a family and a company at the same time. Four years later, she returned to Macedonia to complete her Masters degree.
Martina is currently the mother of two lovely boys, Darian and Martin, while simultaneously working as the General Manager of Daskal LLC, a construction and real estate holding firm, which she founded with her husband. Over the past seven years, the company has been doubling sales every year and continuing to prosper.
Macedonians are known for hard work dedication all around the world. I have followed these principles since I was taught them from my parents who were taught from their parents and so on, going back generations. We have a long heritage of culture that conquers. I work hard to conquer my dreams and make them a reality.
The history of Macedonia is one of a kind. Some countries have only a specific type of history they are known for. We, Macedonians, are rich in heritage, religion and historical experiences like no other nation. I think that is what helps us adapt more easily in many environments.
My advice for the next generation of young Macedonians is to read as many books as you possibly can, to educate yourself, and utilize your brain to think when it is time to do the necessary work, but do not let it stop there. Expand your mind and explore a variety of topics because it may help you find a hidden passion of yours.
Blagoj Delipetrev, 38
Roots from Novo Selo (Shtip), Macedonia
Blagoj Delipetrev is a project and scientific officer at the B6 Digital Economy Unit, Joint Research Center, European Commission. He holds two PhDs, one from Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technologies, University Ss Cyril and Methodius, Skopje in 2011 on the topic of cloud computing applications and platforms, and another in 2016 from TU Delft and UNESCO IHE, Delft, the Netherlands on machine learning/AI and optimization algorithms.
Blagoj was a vice-dean and associate professor at the Faculty of Computer Science, University Goce Delcev and a visiting professor to University St. Paul the Apostle and University Ss Cyril and Methodius.
Blagoj is a member of the management committees COST Action IC1406 High-Performance Modelling and Simulation for Big Data Applications (cHiPSet), ICT COST Action TD1403 Big Data Era in Sky and Earth Observation (BIG-SKY-EARTH), COST Action TD1408 (INTREPID).
He was a management board member of MarNet (Macedonian Academic and Research Network), advisory board member of hydro-system Zletovica.
Blagoj is founder and former CEO of BITT Solutions Unlimited, consultancy and software outsourcing company.
He is a recipient to two Open Society Scholarship Programs Global Supplementary Grant Program (GSGP) Europe in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, The Netherlands Fellowship Programme (NFP) The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for PhD scholarship 2010-2014 and HYDROAID Fellowship, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Postgraduate specialization course in 2008.
Both my parents are from Macedonia, and my father’s bloodline and surname Delipetrov goes deep into history of Novo Selo (Shtip) for at least 3 centuries. My accentors were primarily traders, craftsmen and freedom fighters in VMRO, Bulgarian, Serbian army and my grandfather Blagoj, which name I proudly bear in Macedonian uprising in 1941. My mother side are mostly farmers and Protestant by religion. As in my family, Macedonian heritage is diverse and rich, in religions, customs, etc. making us more accepting, adaptive and open minded in the globalized world.
The best advice that I can give to the next generation of young Macedonians is to READ, LEARN and WORK HARD. Only by personal empowerment will you prosper and defend the Macedonian cause in the cultural Olympics games between nations (rephrase of Goce Delcev).
Patriotism, not nationalism, should lead us, as it did our ancestors, in making Macedonia part of the European family.
Deana Janceski, 32
Roots from Beloviste and Krusevo, Macedonia
Deana Janceski is first-generation Macedonian-American. She lived most of her life in Michigan until she moved to New York to study. Deana earned a degree in Fashion Design and was awarded the opportunity to work behind the scenes at Fashion Week in New York.
Upon earning her degree she moved back to Michigan and used her fashion skills to create her own clothing line with numerous collections and showcased them at her own fashion shows throughout Michigan.
She continues to create and design in her spare time. Healthcare has also be something she was interested in, as helping others is a passion of hers. As a result, for the last 7 years she has been a Field Account Manager for the largest health insurance carrier in the United States.
She currently resides in Macomb, Michigan with her husband, Dean and 2 year old daughter, Stasia.
I always love that I have a rich story to tell – about my beautiful culture, my unique language, and my amazing country. Not a day goes by that my Macedonian heritage is not recognized. My parents came to Michigan to start a family and for better opportunities for their kids, working 2 and sometimes 3 jobs, 7 days a week for many years. I have carried that mentality and work ethic to my adult life and I hope to pass it onto my children.
I am proud to be Macedonian for many different reasons. Being Macedonian symbolizes strength, pride, determination, and motivation. We have beautiful traditions and a respectful religion. My fondest memories are the ones I would spend summers in Macedonia traveling the country, embracing the rich history and seeing where my roots were grown. I would always ask my Baba to tell me stories about her childhood as we walked past my mom’s childhood home. She always had a story that would demonstrate their willpower and passion for life.
My advice for the young Macedonians is to have a voice and never shy away from it. Never forget where your roots are from, always respect them and tell your story. Continue to embrace our culture, our language, our music, and all that represents us, Macedonians. We may come from a small country but our Macedonian people are determined people and wonderfully made.
Vladimir Kotevski, 37
Roots from Resen, Macedonia
Vladimir Kotevski is originally from Resen, Macedonia. He came to the United States as an exchange student when he was 17 years old. After finishing one year of high school in Kentucky, he moved to Michigan and enrolled at Eastern Michigan University where he received his B.S. for Hotel and Restaurant Management with a minor in business.
He has acquired leadership roles in 3 major hotel groups throughout his career including Starwood, Wyndam, and Hilton where he is currently the Assistant General Manager at Doubletree by Hilton in New York Time Square.
When I came to the States as a 17-year-old exchange student, I knew very little English and was housed with a family in Kentucky. My strong sense of self from growing up in Macedonia surrounded by my loving grandparents, family and friends got me through the hurdles and challenges of living alone in the United States. I never forgot who I was and where I came from, although I was living a completely different lifestyle than what I was used to back home.
Fast-forward 20 years late, I’m still steadfast in who I am and where I come from.
The freedom I had as a child growing up in Macedonia is unparalleled. The emphasis on family values, friends, hard work and respect for others has greatly impacted my personal and professional life. Now that I am a father with two little boys, I want them to experience the same feeling. I make it a point to visit Macedonia with my family at least once a year so they too know whom they are and where their roots are from.
Macedonia’s rich history, warm people, beautiful land and passion for dining for 6-8 hours with family and friends like the world stopped are some of the aspects of Macedonia that I most love.
My advice for the future generation is that you must find a balance between the old world and the new. Don’t chase money, chase your passion and dreams and the money will come. Also, never forget where you come from.
George Mazevski, 40
Roots from Bukovo and Gorno Orehovo, Macedonia
Born in Syracuse, New York, George Mazevski represents the 1st generation of his family born in the United States. The son of Mr. and Mrs. Pando & Vera Mazevski, George graduated from Syracuse University with undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Economics and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
After a successful consulting career working for Deloitte and Grant Thornton, George founded Govsphere, Inc., a dynamic and rapidly growing consultancy that focuses on delivering secure information sharing and collaboration solutions to U.S. Government agencies. Govsphere’s client list includes the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the National Guard, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
George has received numerous awards and commendations for exemplary performance in successfully delivering government projects, including an award for the support that he provided to a visiting Military and Defense Senior Leader contingent from the Republic of Macedonia in conjunction with the National Guard’s State Partnership Program (SPP).
George is also the president and chief executive officer of Govsphere, Inc.
Currently, George resides in Northern Virginia with his beautiful wife, Liliana, and two wonderful children, Daniela and Christopher.
My Macedonian heritage completely transformed my career path, outlook, and perspective on life. In 1999, I was awarded a scholarship from the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Security Education Program to study economic policy at the University of Cyril & Methodius in Skopje. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to trace my Macedonian roots before returning home to finish my MBA/JD program and become a corporate lawyer. However, on the night of my 21st birthday, I found myself in Skopje as NATO commenced airstrikes against Serbia in conjunction with the Kosovo War and watched the riots and demonstrations firsthand. The experience compelled me to change course and pursue Public Administration so that I could dedicate my career to helping government agencies help people.
Macedonia has a rich culture, traditions, and customs that are brought to life by our traditional folk music. For 15 years, I enjoyed playing with the great Macedonian wedding band, Makedonski Melos, and have performed at functions throughout Macedonian communities in the United States and Canada. Those experiences, including performing at Toronto’s Ilienden Festival with Goce Nikolovski, multiple concerts with Vaska Ilieva, performing at multiple Macedonian conventions, and touring with Dr. Zivce Neceski and Draganco Kominovski “Pasata”, are memories that I cherish to this day as I enjoy sharing my love of Macedonian music with my own children.
My advice for the future generation of Macedonians is to, “always strive for perfection. If, however, perfection is unattainable, then only settle for your very best.”
Nino Milenkovski, 39
Nino Milenkovski was born in Macedonia but has lived in the U.S. since 2006. Because of his previous background in hospitality, he easily found himself in Miami, Florida. Currently, Nino holds the position of Beverage Director at Faena Hotel in Miami Beach. His path began as a server assistant, yet with hard work and dedication, he made my way through the ranks.
I come from a family in which food and wine are for far more than just filling up stomachs. Rather, they represent a cultural way of living, as in many Macedonian families. Since I was a little boy, when I was surrounded by great Macedonian food, I always knew that food and wine would be a big part of my life.
Coming to the U.S. and having the opportunity to learn about other people’s culture and food was a dream come true for me. I finished my Sommelier education with the Court of Master Sommeliers and started working for celebrity chefs, such as Jean Georges Vongerichten, Francis Mallmann, and Paul Qui.
In recent years, I have been involved in organizing “Wines of Macedonia” events all around the country, which have had a lot success in promoting Macedonian culture.
As a proud Macedonian coming from a culture where family values and traditions are one of the most important things in life, I would advise younger generations of Macedonians to keep them and nourish them everywhere they go in life.
Trajko Papuckoski, 37
Krivogastani, Prilepsko and Mogila, Bitolsko, Macedonia
Trajko Papuckoski was born and raised in Northwest Indiana and grew up in a Macedonian immigrant family. Trajko earned his Bachelor’s of Science at Indiana University at the Kelley School of Business. He is also the Director of U.S. Operations at UMD.
Trajko has developed his career in the financial services field, helping professionals and clients plan to meet their long term goals. His professional career in the financial and insurance industries has spanned several prominent institutions.
Currently, he trains agents on Life and Financial products for one of the largest insurers in the U.S. Before that, he consulted independent financial advisers for one of the largest broker-dealers in the nation. Previously, Trajko served as a relationship manager at two large retail banks, where he designed investment solutions and advised clients on how to meet their goals.
Outside of work, he enjoys visiting family and friends throughout the U.S. and Europe, biking, watching films. He also ran in the Chicago Marathon in 2012. Trajko enjoys giving back to his community by volunteering for the United Macedonian Diaspora. He is married and a proud father of 11-month-old twins.
Growing up as the son of immigrants in Northwest Indiana, the majority of my family and friends were immigrants from Macedonia. They set a great example of hard work and starting new lives in an unfamiliar place. This has helped me when I have moved for work and throughout my professional career.
Macedonian culture has given so much to the world, such as Philip and Alexander’s cosmopolitan approach to the world, Justinian’s Corpus Juris Civilis, and Sts Cyril & Methodius inventing Glagolica and translating the Bible to Macedonian. Not to mention the delicious food and endless songs.
My advice for the next generation of young Macedonians is to be proud of your roots and visit Macedonia. Walk the same footsteps of famous people. Enjoy the food, which will be fresher than anything you’ll buy at your grocery store back home. Learn some of the songs, and meet new people who will show you the art of drinking kafe for 3 hours!
Evan Perelekos, 30
Rahovo, Smurdesh, Dambeni, & Gabresh, Macedonia
Evan C. Perelekos is the Assistant General Manager for The Fillmore Detroit, a Live Nation theatre and concert venue in the heart of Detroit. Perelekos graduated from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, where he obtained his Bachelors of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management. More recently, he started his coursework to receive his Masters of Science in Human Resources Training and Development from Villanova University.
Over the past 12 years, Evan has taken what he has learned in managing Hilton Hotels, the MGM Resorts Casinos, and his education to bring new and innovative ways of increasing business ventures while working endlessly to inspire and impact those who work around him as well as the community in which he lives and works.
In his continuous efforts to inspire and lead those who are dealing with unfortunate circumstances, Perelekos started his own non-profit organization in 2012, Evan’s Elves, a local, Metro-Detroit-based organization that assists children, families, orphans, and veterans during the holidays. Each year, Evan, along with his mother, father, and his elves adopt nearly 200 individuals and provide them some Christmas cheer, providing Christmas presents as well as items that the families need, such as blankets, toiletries, food, and clothing.
Wanting to give more to his community, Evan returned to his roots in 2015. Having been born with severe club feet, he made several visits to the Children’s Hospital of Detroit and remembered how much the Children’s Hospital and The Ronald McDonald House of Detroit assisted he and his family during his difficult early years. So, in 2016, he reached out to the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit in search of finding a way to give back. That year, he joined the Board of Directors and became an active member of the board. With just a year under his belt on the board, in 2018, he was elected to be Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Detroit house.
What drives Evan to continue to invest his time in others, whether at work, school, or philanthropy, is an event that has been a piece of Evan’s life since day one, as well as his inspiration to make a change in the world he lives in. From a young age, he became fascinated with the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic. The loss of so many lives and the class systems that existed, were hard for his mind to comprehend at such a young age. Growing up, Evan was never sure what he wanted to be when he grew up, but he did know it would involve three things. One, breaking down class systems. Two, living each day to make others smile. Three, inspiring others to embark on his mission. Evan is proud to display that his characteristics embody both of his parents. From his mother, Darlene, he gained creativity and love and from his father, Christopher, he gained leadership and the ability to not back down when he is fighting for a cause he believes in.
On March 21, 2018, Evan turned 30 years old. He now reflects on his past accomplishments and utilizes them as the fuel to continue to stride for bigger and better things over the next 30 years. He says, “My theme for the next 30 years is to Make Each Day Count”.
My Macedonian heritage has impacted my life and profession by two key concepts. First, I know my family worked hard to achieve everything they owned and had. Coming to the United States and Canada, my family arrived as third class immigrants, there was no established wealth or careers for them when they left Macedonia. They used their own personal determination to learn the English language, receive employment, and save so that they could make a great life for their children. My parents and grandparents made me understand that it was better to work hard for something and earn it than to be given everything on a gold platter. I recall many conversations with my father and my baba, where both told me to never expect something that isn’t mine, and as I grew up, I understood what they meant. Thus, I have worked extremely hard for every accomplishment I have ever received.
Second, I realize that my family came to a new country not having friends, being scared, and hoping to make it. I feel like I am empathetic to others who struggle in America or are in a new environment all together. I wish that there were people around years ago who would have lent a hand to my family to make them feel welcomed in a new country, so I always try to make strangers, new team members, and new friends feel like they have been a part of my life for years, even if we have just met.
I am proud to say I am Macedonian because of the values I was brought up with by my parents and grandparents. When I say “I am Macedonian,” I feel like I am representing my mother, my father, my babas, and my dedos. My grandfather and great grandparents brought so many traditions with them from the old country, and our family values were ingrained throughout the generations. In simple, I am proud to be Macedonian because I am proud of my family.
I view the highlight of our culture as our weddings. I am never more excited than when I go to a Macedonian wedding. Our elaborate traditions, the over the top celebration, and having all of your family in one place – is something that I love. It is always a pleasure when you invite an American to a Macedonian wedding for their first time and see the reaction on their face.
For the next generation young Macedonians the advice I have is to never forget where you came from. Make your parents and grandparents proud, remember how hard they worked to make our lives what they are today, and never take anything for granted. Stand proud as young ladies and gentlemen, and do not be afraid to stand alone, if you know what you’re standing for is the right thing to do. Lastly, make every day count.
Cr. Emilija Lisa Sterjova, 21
Emilia Lisa Sterjova is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of International Relations and a Diploma of the Indonesian language at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. She was elected to represent the City of Whittlesea as a Councillor in 2016 at the age of 19, being the youngest in Victoria. She was later elected as the Deputy Mayor of Whittlesea in 2017 at the age of 20.
In Whittlesea, Emilia is a delegate on a number of committees that work to assist women experiencing domestic violence, youth homelessness, improving local road and transport infrastructure, and much more. Emilia has completed a number of internships for State and Federal politicians in Australia, including the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Treasurer in Canberra.
Emilia volunteers for the State Emergency Service and has a black belt in Taekwondo. She won a gold medal in Taekwondo at an inter-university competition in 2016. At her university, Emilia is the Vice President of the Bahasa Indonesia Students’ Association. She also established and became President of the LTU Macedonian Students’ Society.
In 2017, Emilia was invited to speak to Councillors in Tasmania about engaging young people in the local community. Emilia also competed nationally and internationally to become the sole Australian representative in the World Malaysian Prime Minister’s Public Speaking Competition and ranked in the top 10 in the world in Malaysian public speaking. In 2016 Emilia was invited based on her high university results to represent Australia at the Presidential Palace in Indonesia for their national Independence Day celebration. Later this year, Emilia will be traveling to Thailand for a United Nations Leadership Conference.
I am proud to have a Macedonian heritage that has taught me to fight for social justice and for people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities. I am so lucky to have a background with such a rich and beautiful culture. When I was younger, I danced for a local Macedonian folk dancing group called Tanec and studied at Macedonian school, graduating in 2013.
I am most proud to be Macedonian because of our beautiful culture and family-oriented lifestyle. I love our energetic dancing, our delicious and unique food, our strong bond to our family and community, and the incredibly peaceful and friendly nature of all Macedonians.
When people say you cannot do something, make it your mission to show them you can. Age, gender, and background should never be barriers, and as a young Macedonian woman I have focused on my passion of helping others and fighting for justice. It is our differences that makes us unique and valuable. I hope young Macedonians also consider getting involved in government and politics so that their voice can be heard loud and clear around the world. Vechna Makedonija!
Angelique Soklev-Tasevski, 39
Klabučišča & Lagen, Aegean Macedonia
Though her parents are originally from Aegean Macedonia, Angelique Soklev-Tasevski was born in North Central Victoria, Australia. She received a Bachelor of Creative Arts, with a focus on visual arts. Likewise, she is an award-winning artist and the Director of Project Balkanika, an art-centered advocacy group. In addition, she is the Co-Creator of The Macedonian Voice, or Makedonski Glas.
Most importantly, Angelique is a wife and the mother of two wonderful daughters.
Having a keen sense of my Macedonian Heritage has helped me understand, in part, who I really am. From a small child, my parents never allowed me to suffer any form of crisis in identity or heritage.
The information was clear: “You are a first generation Australian of Macedonian Heritage. It can only be lost or forgotten by a choice that only you make.”
I will continue to grow my small business, Project Balkanika, add to the heritage we leave to our children, and push the limits in the fight to expose the perpetrators of injustice to Aegean Macedonians. Some of us may not have money or property to give to our children when we die, but we can give a rich heritage to them that will enhance their lives in every good way.
I grew up within the Macedonian community of the multicultural suburbs of TEL, Thomastown Epping Lalor, Melbourne, and this will keep me forever grounded. I also grew up with Preston Makedonia Soccer Club.
Considering the many generations of Macedonians, I’ve been blessed to have a great-grandparent, grandparents, and parents that all migrated to Australia and have shown me what survivors the mighty Macedonians are. Just ask your elders; they, too, will tell you. Let’s not forget the Macedonian passion and our pride.
I believe the highlight of our culture is the music. Vaska Ilieva is my favourite artist; not only did she make fans dance, but she gave a message lasting beyond the end of each song: “I’m Macedonian and I’m proud.” Her music will forever stand in defence of Macedonia and its people.
My advice to future generations of Macedonians would be that, when trying to understand our culture, pay close attention to its quiet, sometimes hidden, manifestations, such as the side conversations in the hallways, the informal consultations behind closed doors, and the incisive guidance and incredible history that you will receive when you follow our Life Long Australian Macedonian Activists. They, together with their families, have sacrificed decades standing in defence of Macedonia and its people. It’s our turn. Don’t stop. Our name is Macedonia. Da Živeej Makedonija I Makedonskiot Narod. Peace out.