The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is proud to announce the third 10 winners of its 5th Annual Macedonian Diaspora’s 40 under 40 List! With these Awards, UMD recognizes the talent, the accomplishments, the potential and the pride in their Macedonian heritage of these 40 honorees and all under the age of 40.
“Macedonians are hard working people and have and continue to make a mark in the societies we live in – it is only appropriate that UMD recognize our own as role models in their respective communities as well as for future generations of Macedonians,” said Argie Bellio, UMD Indiana Chair and 40 Under 40 Coordinator. “Including this year, UMD has recognized 200 talented and extraordinary individuals of Macedonian heritage making an impact worldwide, all dedicated to their Macedonian roots.”
For the first time ever, 40 under 40 Award Winners will be recognized during UMD’s 15th Anniversary Gala in Washington, D.C., which is slated to take place Fall 2019 or Spring 2020. All current and past winners will be invited to receive a special 40 under 40 recognition. In the future, UMD has plans to host an annual 40 under 40 awards ceremony.
Nominations for next year’s list can be submitted HERE.
Congratulations to the third 10 of UMD’s Macedonian Diaspora’s 40 under 40 Award Winners!!!!
THE THIRD TEN OF FORTY HONOREES:
LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GROUP OF HONOREES:
Yane Coceski, 31
Roots from Raca, Ohrid, Macedonia
Yane Coceski graduated from RMIT University with a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical) in 2011. During his career he has had the opportunity to work on projects around the world, including Germany for Continental Automotive and Port Headland in Western Australia for BHP Billiton.
Coceski is the co-founder of Boots for Balkans, a charity that takes new football equipment and donates it to underprivileged children in Macedonia. The goal of the charity is to provide all children equal opportunity to play sports, regardless of their socio-economic background.
Since its inception in 2016, Boots for Balkans has donated over 700 pairs of boots, 200 soccer balls and 100 soccer kits and uniforms to children all over Macedonia.
He is currently a sales manager delivering products and solutions for some of the biggest renewable energy projects around Australia and New Zealand.
Growing up in an immigrant family in Australia, I was shown early in life that hard work and dedication is requisite for success. My parents migrated to Australia with my brother and I in 1996. They were not deterred by the language barrier or cultural differences, and they worked tirelessly to create a better life for our family. They worked long hours and often multiple jobs to support our education. I was inspired by their work ethic to make the most of the opportunities I was provided, to excel in school, and forge a career of my own.
Our story is not unique; it is familiar to countless Macedonian immigrants around the world. Our culture instils in us the work ethic and family values required for success, no matter the obstacles that may lay ahead.
I am most proud of the way our community comes together in times of celebration. Whether it be Vodici, Easter, weddings or football games, the spirit, music, cuisine and traditions are second to none.
To the next generation of Macedonians, I urge you to work hard, set your goals and keep working towards them.
Susan Dutcher, 38
Roots from Orhevo, Macedonia
Susan Dutcher was raised in the United States near Detroit, Michigan. She is the daughter of Aleksandar and Elica Culevski, both from Orhevo, Macedonia. As a child, known for her charming disposition, she captured everyone’s attention. It was natural for her to become a marketing major. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wayne State University with a BBA and MBA in less than five years.
Introduced to the staffing industry while at her college job, she decided she would find a way to be a recruiter. After getting rejected by a few employers, she tried a new approach; joining a firm in an entry level role. Dutcher launched a career with JPMorganChase beginning as a staffing coordinator. Knowing that her efforts and dedication would lead her to her dream role as a recruiter. She worked hard and achieved the role of bank officer by age twenty-seven.
What could be better than staffing at an elite financial institution? Staffing within a brand where all we do is staffing! Dutcher took a chance at transitioning her skills to a staffing agency in 2014. She currently leads a team of recruiters at Bartech Staffing www.bartechstaffing.com.
Dutcher plays many roles in her life as a wife, parent, recruiting manager and youth coach. She brings energy and enthusiasm to each role. Dutcher shares her life with her husband, Alec Dutcher, and their two amazing daughters.
My Macedonian heritage contributes to my life and profession in many ways. I learned from my parent’s dedication and tenacity with which they made life work. They set goals for themselves: find work, learn English, raise a family, find better work, and own a home. My sister and I knew we were always part of a larger mission; that of our Culevski family. That mission included higher education. Our parents made it very clear; this was the key to elevate ourselves, and we knew that we would find a way to make it happen. This mission spanned several generations. My paternal grandmother did not have a chance to learn to read or write. Her youngest son, with his super sharp wife, raised two girls who both graduated from college. That’s pretty amazing! I like to reflect on this accomplishment, for example, on a bad day. If they could overcome those odds, my day or whatever I am working through at the time, is minor in comparison. I will figure out a way to succeed!
Immersed in the rich Macedonian culture, I always had a keen sense of who I was. My dad loved playing the accordion with his friends and family. Gatherings growing up always ended with them playing. I still have his accordion in my house as a loving reminder of my parents and those great times. My favorite part of Macedonian culture is the music and dancing. My sister and I learned to dance, read, write and became fluent in the language. We continue this tradition of celebration with music, singing, and dancing. I love to celebrate Friday nights with great food and music. We learned how to enjoy life as Macedonians and how to teach this to our children.
My advice to the next generation of young Macedonians is simply to go for it! If someone thinks you can’t do something, don’t listen to them. Your children will be okay, do not shy away from demanding careers or majors, and do not ever give up. Get as much education as you can. You are smart and talented, and you will figure out a way to make it work, and your children will thrive with you.
Kiro Ivanovski, 40
Roots from Skopje, Macedonia
Kiro Ivanovski was born in Skopje, Macedonia and so were both of his parents. They moved to the United States when he was eight years old. He finished high school in Wayne Hills High School, in Wayne, NJ, and then studied Computer Science at Rutgers University. He graduated from Rutgers in 2001 and initially started working for TPA Computer Corp, located in Hempstead, NY.
Ivanovski is the CEO of Fast-Pak Trading Inc., one of the largest food importers and distributors of Macedonia products in the United States. He is a hard working and creative entrepreneur, who has been leading the family business since 2004 focused on importing and distributing delicious, homemade Macedonian food, including ajvar, jams, honey, juice and many other products from all across the country. Kiro’s innovative ideas and dedication to working with Macedonian small, medium and large Macedonian businesses has directly helped the Macedonian economy and has helped to promote access to Macedonian food all over the United States. He works both with other Macedonian-Americans in the United States, as well as non-Macedonians helping to promote awareness of our food among those who may not be familiar with it. He has been responsible in the creation of several new brands and food products and supervised the formation of a new food production facility in Bitola, Macedonia, which has created numerous job opportunities for Macedonia.
Growing up in the United States, my Macedonian heritage was always an integral part of my life. Even though I was only eight years old when I left Macedonia, my family made sure that we not only spoke Macedonian at home, but also read and wrote in Macedonian as well. The home cooked Macedonian meals and beautiful Macedonian music were also a staple in our household.
I have always been proud my Macedonian heritage and our rich history. Even growing up among Americans, I never shied away from spreading our culture to those around me. As fate would have it, I now co-own and manage the largest import company in the U.S. for food products from Macedonia. Through this business, we spread our rich culinary delights throughout the United States. Products such as Ajvar, Lutenica, and Pinjur can now be seen and tasted in major national chains throughout the US. I urge the next generation of Macedonians to reach for new levels of achievements and to be at the forefront of all emerging academics, science, and technology.
I hope that future generations continue to build upon our rich history and strive to reach new levels of excellence.
Maksimilijan Kazakov, 28
Roots from Skopje, Macedonia
Maksimilijan Kazakov was born in Skopje, Macedonia. He finished his high school education at the Nikola Karev High School in Skopje. He furthered his education at the South East European University (SEEU) for Communications, Culture and Languages studying Communicational Sciences and Public Relations. Kazakov finished his degree with a 9.8 average as a valedictorian of his class. His thesis was Hierarchal Communications in Political Parties (with major focus on the main parties in Macedonia VMRO-DPMNE, SDSM, DUI and DPA). He participated in a student exchange program to the United States while still studying in SEEU to enhance his skill set.
After finishing his studies, Kazakov worked in Macedonia on several projects and campaigns for public figures in the Balkans such as Jelena Rozga, Nina Bardikj, Oliver Dragoevich, Vlado Georgiev, Dziboni and many others including some politicians.
In 2015, he moved to Malta where he worked in public relations for the International Police Association- Maltese section for about two years. His main job was to promote Macedonia to the Association and bring a forty-five person group to Macedonia. After his contract ended, Kazakov focused on opening a company that recruited suitable candidates from Macedonia to live and work in Malta. That company has been thriving for two years now. They brought over 1500 people that actively live and work in Malta. Parallel to this, he has been in charge of the Macedonian community here in Malta (10-12,000 Macedonians) and has been actively involved in multiple projects that are for the betterment of the standards and reputation of the Macedonians living in Malta. He is especially proud with their visit with the President of Malta, that reaffirmed their efforts and was pleased with their work.
To be a Macedonian is to be defined with all of the attributes of the people that are and have been Macedonian. To be Macedonian, for me, means pride. Pride that you carry that gene of honour, sacrifice, perseverance and unyielding spirit that we have inherited from our ancestors. The Macedonian-ness that I carry with me means that always, wherever i am, ‘i am proud to be Macedonian that has inside of himself pride, warmth and well intentions towards all my fellow Macedonians. Im my life and career I have encountered a lot of obstacles, hardship, temptations and challenges, but that has not broken my stride towards the future and self betterment.
When you find yourself on foreign soil, you try your hardest to represent your country, tradition and history in the best possible way. To me that responsibility brings great delight.
To the future generations I would like to recommend.. Further yourselves and accept change. But never lose what you are, don’t cut your roots, they are the thing that keeps you grounded, they are the vine that will grow with you and help you reach the sky.
Deanna Kozarov, 39
Roots from Capari and Mogila, Macedonia
Deanna Kozarov resides in the city of Chicago with her six year old daughter and husband. She received her Masters in Clinical Social Work at Loyola University Chicago and works as a Clinical Care Manager at one of the largest insurance companies in the country. She also is a Certified Health and Wellness Coach from the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute and a Wellness Advocate for a company which is the pioneer and leader of plant powders, oils, and vertical aeroponics. Her hobbies include spending time with her family exploring the city and traveling, yoga, biking, and cooking healthy meals.
My Macedonian heritage allowed me to choose a path where I help people that have been marginalized and vulnerable, just as the Macedonian people have been in the past, present, and even in the future.
I am most proud to be Macedonian for the fact that the hard working and unique capabilities of our people has allowed me to apply this into my own identity as I navigate this thing called life. It gave me the strength and endurance to handle anything that comes my way, just as our ancestors have. The highlight of our culture is the music, the food, the history, and of course, the language.
Never forget where your ancestors came from, and never follow the crowd. Be a leader, and find your own voice that showcases your own strengths and capabilities that makes up who you are as an individual. This may even mean not following the status quo of our own people as well.
Aleksandra Milosevska, 31
Roots from Ohrid, Macedonia
In her personal and professional life, Milosevska has worked diligently and taken the initiative for a better life by attending college in the United States. Her higher education was made conceivable by her strong academic and athletic capabilities as well as her high ambitions. Milosevska started her career as an Accountant, but that did not last long (not her cup of tea). Soon after her accounting career, Milosevska moved into consulting and worked on various operational improvements in healthcare. After receiving her M.S in MIS, her consulting career steered towards tech.
Currently, she works as a Partner Operations Manager at Google, working on Google My Business. Outside of work, she loves to travel and hopes to one day visit all 195 countries in the world. Besides traveling, she loves participating in different kinds of races (triathlon, spartan race, 5Ks, etc.), reading, and spending time with friends and family, to name a few!
Being raised in Macedonia has helped me see the world from a different perspective and has led me to where I am today. Professionally it helped me appreciate and understand diversity and inclusion … In today’s world and the products/services we build, diversity matters! It leads to more creative ideas! Personally has shown me that work-life balance matters and family is something not to be taken for granted!
Value of friends and family! Both are important so you can live a happy and self-fulfilled life — something I will always live by.
If you can, explore the world and explore yourself! Even if we don’t have the means to travel the world, with all the technology on our fingerprints we have the opportunity to learn so much about the world … Be open to other people’s opinions and views … Don’t believe something just because someone told you so! Make your own decision about you, your future and where you want to go!
Pece Sekulovski, 39
Roots from Arvati and Krani, Macedonia
Pece Sekulovski is a first-generation Macedonian-American, who was born and raised in the Metro – Detroit area in Michigan.
He has earned his Bachelor of Science in Information Technology – Information Systems Security in 2011; and has over ten years of experience in risk, compliance, and audit and security management. Throughout his career he has supported security, compliance audit and risk functions for multiple sized organizations including; automotive, industrial health, safety and environmental, and in healthcare.
He currently works as an Information Security Risk Analyst at Trinity Health; while designing, establishing and maintaining third party risk program that identifies, evaluates, and prioritizes risk to the organization. As well as, dealing with various programs like HIPAA privacy and security compliance, PCI, CMS and meaningful use.
He currently resides in Rochester Hills, Michigan with his wife, Sonja and two sons (Philip and Stephan). He likes traveling, playing tennis, and recreational biking.
My Macedonian heritage and culture who has been strongly implemented by my parents and grandparent at very young age, has had significant impact on my personal life and profession career today.
I am proud to be a Macedonian and be part of beautifully and rich history (Philip and Alexander, King Marko “Marko Kral”, Goce Delcev, etc.). As well as, religion, architecture, culinary and Macedonia folk dance. I have been honored to be part of the “Tance” dance group in Detroit for twelve years as a young child and during my adolescent years; which I have loved and enjoyed very much.
A few of my highlights when visiting Macedonia was hiking Mt. Pelister, big and small lake “Pelister’s Eyes”, beautiful monasteries like Bigorski Monastery, Sevti Naum- Ohrid and visiting the capital, Skopje, while enjoin different cousins from traditional to modern Macedonian cooking.
My fellow Macedonian, revolutionize your thinking and visions to build success. Stay the course and success truly follows.
Joe Speredon, 38
Roots from German, Macedonia
Joe Speredon is a real estate consultant for BHURDinUtah in Utah, and the Business Development Manager for Stroops – a unique fitness equipment manufacturer in Utah. A certified personal trainer and self-improvement adviser, he has been married for the past fifteen years, and has four lovely children, three boys, and a girl. Born and raised in Utah, he served a mission for the LDS church to Porto Alegre, Brazil. Prior to his current role, he worked in the electrical industry for fifteen years. He is also attending BYU-Idaho.
Speredon only recently discovered his Macedonian heritage, through a miraculous experience with ancestry.com. His great grandfather was born in German, Macedonia near Lake Prespa and is exploring his roots now.
I work in the health and fitness industry. It is quickly becoming a worldwide industry and I take great pride in my heritage as I share it with those I work with.
For the first thirty-six years of my life I didn’t know where I came from. I have been able to dive into my Macedonian heritage over the past eighteen months. It has been a heartbreaking experience as I learn of the pain my family has endured but I take great pride in their continued dedication to their heritage and I am passing that pride on to my children.
Learn the history of your people. It is a noble and courageous history. So many have sacrificed so much. It is our responsibility to continue their legacy.
Alexandria Srbinovski, 29
Roots from Ljubojno and Bitola, Macedonia
Alexandria Sribinovski’s dad was born in Ljubojno and her mom was born in Bitola, Macedonia. She graduated with a degree from DePaul university in 2011 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. She has had the opportunity to work as a marketing and public relations director for a top three law firm in the city of Chicago. As well as, doing digital marketing and social media for other well known organizations in the Chicago area. Srbinovski was a part of the Legal Marketing Association for many years while she did some paralegal work.
In more recent years, Srbinovski has done a lot of freelance work as a marketer and event planner. She is now teaching a course on marketing and social media, and working as a guest teacher in schools throughout Chicago. Also, she belongs to a Berwyn women in business group.
She would say that her hard work, determination and willingness to succeed comes from her background being Macedonian. Being the first person in her family to receive a college degree means a lot. Also, the hard work ethic her parents and grandparents taught Srbinovski has shaped who she is today.
She would tell future female Macedonians to never give up; to use their power as a woman to rise above the standards and pave the way for future generations by empowering other women.
My Macedonian heritage has been a big part of my life. My grandparents and parents raised me with the traditional customs and traditions of the Macedonian culture. Macedonian was my first language. I always felt so close to my heritage because of my close family roots. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother growing up and she taught me a lot of the traditional family recipes of the macedonian culture. I would spend hours in the kitchen baking bread, making zelnik and other delicious ethnic cuisine. I hope to pass these traditions on to my children in the future.
I am so proud to be Macedonian because Macedonia is such a unique and amazing country that has so much to offer. The fight for the independence of Macedonia for so many years has impacted my family and myself because my parents are both 100% Macedonian. My father was born in Ljubojno and he lived there with my grandparents until they came to America in the 70’s. My mother’s family also was born in Brusnik, Bitola and they came to America when my mother was a child. My grandparents came to America with nothing but a suitcase and they struggled so much to make a living in Macedonia and even more so in the U.S. Much of their life in Ljubojno was spent in a small village farming to go to the city to sell vegetables and wine just to make a living. When they came to America they worked several jobs and raised their children with the little that they had. This has shaped me into a strong person because of the strong work ethic and values that my family has instilled into me. I am the first person in my family to attend college and receive a Bachelor’s degree from DePaul University. Every time I would tell people at school in Chicago where I come from not a lot of them knew where Macedonia was or where it was even located. They would laugh and call me a “macadamia nut” or say I am from “Mesopotamia.” It makes me sad that Macedonians have not been as highly recognized as much as other countries and I always wanted to make a difference as a Macedonian female in the United States. I want to help people learn and grow and familiarize themselves with the different countries in the world and how we are all so different and carry so many amazing different traits. I have done a lot in my professional life such as working as a marketing director for companies in Chicago, and I am currently teaching at Chicago schools. I am a part of women in business group and I plan on furthering my education one day and uniting other Macedonian women to promote and try to bring our culture to the forefront of recognition.
A highlight of the Macedonian culture would be its wonderful folklore music and costumes. I practiced Macedonian dancing for many years and the intricate colorful costumes and traditional music is a cultural trait for Macedonians. I performed with my dance group at many church functions and events. The traditional folk dancing consists of music and poetry and it is a big part of the Macedonian culture. I am proud to say that it played a big part of my life as well as my mother’s life when she was a teenager growing up in Northwest Indiana.
My advice is to never forget where you came from and be appreciative for the “small things” that are done as traditions or customs because one day they will be the “big things” that we may have taken for granted that our parents and grandparents taught us. There is a reason for why we did these things growing up and it is important to stay close to our roots and keep these traditions alive for future generations.
Slavche Tanevski, 31
Roots from Sveti Nikole, Macedonia
Slavche Tanevksi was born in Sveti Nikole, Macedonia His parents moved to Skopje when he was one year old. Ever since he was a kid, Tanevski showed exceptional interest for cars and other vehicles and developed his artistic skills very early. He finished elementary and high school in Skopje.
In 2007, he moved to Germany to do his studies. He studied Transportation Design at the University of Applied Sciences in Munich (Hochschule München). During the studies, he worked with companies like Lamborghini, VW, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, and Mini on sponsored projects.
One of the notable results of this collaboration was the concept car Lamborghini Ankonian which got well known around the world. It appeared in top world magazines and blogs, was featured in “Batman Noel” as Batmobile, appeared as a toy, and got millions of views on Youtube. It was quite a start of his career even in his second term, the dream continued by getting a student job at BMW Design Center in Munich for nine months. Right after, he interned at the Mercedes-Benz Design Studio twice and finished his Bachelor Thesis “Mercedes Aria”. After Tanevski’s graduation in March 2011, he got the job as a professional designer of exterior at Mercedes-Benz in Sindelfingen, Germany.
Ever since, he works on production and concept cars, visualizing 2D and 3D forms and shapes as well as developing design strategies and generating creative visual and technological solutions for the future of mobility, corporate identity and customer needs.
He has signed already three production cars, the first being the 2016 Mercedes GLC Coupe, 2019 Mercedes CLA Coupe, and 2019 Mercedes CLA Shooting Break. The Mercedes Concept EQA was his first concept car, revealed on the IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany in 2017.
Tanevski has won dozen international art and design awards. Often, he is a guest to various design workshops and conferences, especially at Autostyle, held every year near Modena, Italy where car designers of the highest rank meet and communicate their newest design achievements, strategies and inspirations with design students. Being active in supporting and inspiring students and young people makes me happy, as well as giving back to society in general.
Every human’s perception about the world, art, the social interaction, wakes up or is learned at young age. Being raised up by excellent parents in Macedonian spirit, I got the foundations of values, honor, discipline, respect and kindness, for which I am endlessly grateful. Growing up with Macedonian TV (folk tales, movies, drama…), listening to Macedonian music, witnessing the Macedonian customs, folklore, festivals… influenced my feeling for beauty, had impact on my visual sense, which I use on a daily basis in my professional life hence creating forms and shapes. Being a fighter through life, on the other hand, helps me to sell my ideas.
I am most proud to be Macedonian because I have our persistence in my DNA. In ancient times it was uniting the world, rising up and falling down through the centuries, but never lose the honor, never forget our roots, always keeping the identity. No matter what challenges. I am proud to be “Pirej-couch grass.”
Proud of Macedonian Filigree, Ohrid pearl, 7/8, Ajvar, shumite, bukite, komitite…
Never forget where you come from! Keep the human values, be nice and humble! Follow your dream and work hard to achieve it.