UMD Announces Final 10 Winners of the 5th Annual Macedonian Diaspora’s 40 Under 40 List

The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is proud to announce the final 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.”

First 10 Winners (read HERE)
Second 10 Winners (read HERE)
Third 10 Winners (read HERE)

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 final 10 of UMD’s Macedonian Diaspora’s 40 under 40 Award Winners!!!!

THE FINAL TEN FORTY UNDER FORTY HONOREES:

Sasho Bitove
Michael Dameski
Kristina Ivanovska
Mishko Josifov
Kristian Korlevski
Madi Krstevski
Dragana Ognenovska
Cedi Osman
Kliment Stevoff
Adriana Trajkovski

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GROUP OF HONOREES:

Sasho Bitove, 36
Roots from Gabresh and Ohrid, Macedonia

Sasho Bitove works for CI Investments in the role of Vice President Sales in downtown Toronto. Sasho has his MBA from the Rotman School of Management as well as over 10 years of experience in marketing and promotions – originally with Molson Canada and then running the national advertising campaigns for both Land Rover and Jaguar at Young & Rubicam. During this time, he also started and operated his own event management company for several years. He has his BA in Political Science from Western University.

Heritage

From a very young age I was always taught to be very proud of my Macedonian heritage. My siblings, cousins and myself were brought up knowing about the hardships that our people had faced in the past and how they had persevered. I think this has always impacted me to feel there was more I could do, either professionally or personally, to be better or do better no matter what I task I was working on.

I am most proud of the advancements of our culture and our peoples over the past decade. I believe we were a true underdog in many ways and that through peaceful and political actions have changed the state of wellbeing for all Macedonians.

We have never let go of our identity or compromised it in anyway. This is a very respectable trait of our people and shows our determination, spirit and pride.

The advice I have for the next generation of young Macedonians is to get involved! Whether through the UMD or any other organization. Pick something and help out – whether big or small. The future of our culture and heritage lies in the hands of everybody younger than myself.

Michael Dameski, 23
Roots from Prilep, Macedonia

Michael Dameski was born on the 7th of November 1995 in Sydney Australia from parents of Macedonian origin Peco and Neda Dameski.

When he was 6 years old he entered in his first dance competition the Australian Dance Idol, making the top 10 without any formal training. After that he started training at Glenda Yee School of Dance where he stayed until the decision to move over to Brent Street Studios where he was given the opportunity to represent Australia in the world championships of Performing Arts in Los Angeles, and received gold in each category he entered and overall Junior World Dancer.

Dameski was a guest on the Zlatno Slavejce (Golden Nightingale) children’s singing festival in Macedonia in 2007, at which he recorded a song written especially for him entitled ‘One Dance’.

In October 2008, Dameski joined the cast as one of the five Billy’s in Billy Elliot the Musical, along with Joshua Denyer (Sydney), Rhys Kosakowski (Newcastle), Dayton Tavares (Sydney) and Joshua Waiss Gates (Hobart) in the Sydney production. His final performance as Billy in Australia was the next to last show there on 13 June 2009, in Melbourne.

Dameski departed Sydney 20 December 2009 to commence a season in the Broadway production of Billy Elliot The Musical. Dameski left the Broadway production on 5 September 2010 to join the BETM 2nd North American Tour.

Dameski was a Green Room Award 2008 joint recipient for Male Artist in A Leading Role for Billy Elliot the Musical; as well as an Australian Dance Awards 2009 joint recipient for Outstanding Performance in a Stage Musical for the same role.

Most recently, Michael was a finalist on NBC’s World of Dance 2018. His World of Dance 2018 performance compilation video has nearly 5 million views on YouTube.

Kristina Ivanovska, 29
Roots from Bitola, Macedonia

Kristina Ivanovska was born and raised in beautiful Bitola – Gradot na Konzulite – for the first ten years of her life. Her family immigrated to Fort Wayne, Indiana where her parents provided a wonderful life for her and her sister. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management and overseeing operations and strategy for a rapidly expanding specialty medical office called Parkview Physicians Group.

Heritage

From a very young age, my parents taught me the value of respect, dedication and dignity. Because of my Macedonian heritage, I am who I am today. My heritage has affected my life in knowing that I want to help others no matter where they come from. Healthcare in Macedonia is not advanced as it is in United States, so for that reason, I want to be a part of an organization (Parkview Health) that provides the best care in our region – since I know how it is to not have these services be available to those in need.

I am proud to be a Macedonian because of our religious beliefs, the value of family, and be born in a beautiful country. I can also share that where I come from is an area that has been talked about in the Bible and share pictures of our beautiful country with others.

For the future – Mali Makedonci – and our younger generation: Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot do something, listen to your parents – most of the time they are right. Stay true to your passion and what sets your soul on fire, treat everyone how you would treat your parents and grandparents, love everyone – no matter where they come from, visit Macedonia as much as possible. Moreover, learn how to cook/bake from your Baba!

Mishko Josifov, 37
Roots from Kavadarci, Macedonia

Born and raised in Kavadarci, Macedonia, Mishko Josifov is an experienced Hospitality/Finance professional currently residing in Miami, Florida. In 2000, Josifov finished high-school in his hometown and immediately after that, voluntarily joined the Macedonian army where he served his country for a year at only 18 years of age.

In 2006, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing Management from the Faculty of Economics in Macedonia, and a year later, moved to Orlando, Florida where he successfully completed the Tourism and Hospitality Management Program at the University of Central Florida.

He furthered his education at Florida International University, and spent his first year of graduate school in the Masters of Science in Finance program and his second year in the Chaplin School of Hospitality Program to complete his MBA in December 2014.

He returned back to Florida International University as a professor in January of 2016, teaching Financial Management for the hospitality industry.

After coming to the United States in 2007, Josifov held various management positions in Walt Disney World- Operations Manager, Barton G – Assistant General Manager, Loews Miami Beach- F&B Department Head, and currently at the Fontainebleau Hotel- General Manager of Bleau Bar, where he won an award for best leader in 2018 and Bleau Bar was chosen the No.1 Bar/Lounge in Miami Beach according to Trip Advisor.

Along with his hospitality, teaching and leadership passion, Josifov is very involved within the Macedonian-American community in Florida. Mishko founded and currently serves as the Florida Chair of the United Macedonian Diaspora Miami chapter. Mishko also holds the volunteer position of Director of Outreach for Dana Klein, the Honorary Consul of Macedonia in South Florida.

Since 2012, he has brought the Macedonian community in Florida closer together through a series of events that he organized such as Leadership Conferences, Macedonian art and culture festivals, movie premieres, picnics and networking receptions, where he has hosted ambassadors, ministers, government officials and high-profile businessmen.

Heritage

You can change the place you live currently, but you can never change the place you were born or where your family came from. It is our Macedonian DNA. Our heritage is known for genuine, hospitable and welcoming people. Growing up in Kavadarci in the Tikvesh wine region, it was an honor to host guests in our house, have fun, tell jokes and share good food and wine. Hence, today welcoming guests in the Iconic Fontainebleau Hotel from all over the World in “La Miami” comes naturally to me, and I really enjoy it.

I am most proud to be Macedonian because if you walk in Macedonia you cannot find a person that doesn’t know how to sing, dance or play an instrument. I am very proud of our rich music history. Through the years of wars and suffering the music and dance united our people and help us withstand the centuries of fight for freedom.

Being humble, caring and helping others is a highlight of our culture. That’s how my parents raised me, and that is the genuine leadership approach I have today with my teams.

The advice I have for the next generation of young Macedonians is that one is too small of a number to achieve greatness. We, Macedonians need each other to grow together and achieve success. Change your focus from receiving to giving. Keep bringing the best in our people, add value to each other and make a positive difference for our homeland and fellow Macedonians.

Kristian Korlevski, 26
Roots from Smilevo and Staravina, Macedonia

Kristian Korlevski was born in Trelleborg, Sweden, but originally from Macedonia. His father was born in Smilevo and his mother in Staravina. Both parents grew up in Bitola and that is where most of his relatives live today.

Currently, he lives in Malmö, Sweden and works as a Digital Marketing Manager at the influencer marketing agency, Winfluence, a company that he and three other colleagues founded three years ago. Kristian is an Instagram influencer with over 54,000 followers.

Heritage

It has had a good impact on my life and early childhood in Sweden. Since Macedonia have a good reputation, I’ve never had any issues with it during my childhood or professional career.

I would say that our history combined with our culture makes me most proud of being a Macedonian today. I could speak about it for hours.

Make sure never to forget your heritage, be proud of who you are and where you come from. Finally, always try to be the best version of yourself and set the bar high, after all, you are Macedonian! 🙂

Madi Krstevski, 19
Roots from Macedonia

Madi Krstevski, or sometimes referred to as ‘Madi K’ is a pop/contemporary singer/songwriter, dancer and actor from Melbourne, Australia. She is back as an All-Star on “The Voice Australia” as part of Boy George’s Official Team.

She is a born performer, starting dancing at 4 years old and singing lessons at 9. She has been writing music since she was 12, and since has written and produced several original tracks.

Last year (2018), Madi successfully auditioned for “The Voice Australia (Season 7 – 2018),” in which she turned 2 chairs (Boy George and Kelly Rowland), then claiming a spot on the show on Kelly Rowland’s team. Madi progressed to the ‘Knockout Round’ versing Sam Perry (Winner) and Emily Green, performing a rendition of ‘Shout Out to My Ex’ by Little Mix. Although she did not win her Knockout, Joe Jonas utilised one of his two “Steals” to take Madi onto his team, to then progress to the ‘Top 24’ of ‘The Voice Australia’. In the Battle Rounds, Madi performed ‘Uptown Funk’ by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson. This performance has racked up over 2 million views on YouTube. Unfortunately, Madi’s journey ended in the battle rounds. Therefore, Madi was officially part of the Top 24 artists of ‘The Voice Australia’ Season 7 (2018). As a result of this, Madi has performed at ‘The Mother’s Day Classic’, and participated in Channel 9’s ‘Footy Show Telethon’ amongst Australian celebrities. Madi’s debut single, ‘Leave My Heart’ released in September 2018. This track is just one of her many self-written and produced original tracks.

You can learn more about Madi and her Macedonian heritage by listening to this interview on SBS Macedonian radio by clicking HERE.

Dragana Ognenovska, 36
Roots from Kocani and Bitola, Macedonia

Dragana is a transformational coach and inspirational speaker.

Dragana works with high-achievers from all over the world, which come from different experiences and backgrounds, where she supports them in doing the inner work to live a more joyful and fulfilling life.

Dragana combines her current education and experience with her extensive experience from her days as a professional tennis player, UC Berkeley graduate and a finance professional that worked for a Fortune 500 company before transitioning to her current role in 2015.

Dragana’s training and experience focus on working with leaders in emotional intelligence, spiritual psychology, meditation, NLP and ancient wisdom.

Heritage

My Macedonian heritage has inspired me to always try my best and not give up. The Macedonian people I surround myself with are hard working, persevering and warm people, so this inspires me to be the best version of myself. I’m most proud that Mother Teresa was born in Skopje and has been such an important figure in history. I also love the fact that we have a lot of intelligent Macedonians in the country and all over the world. The advice I would give to the next generation of young Macedonians would be to focus on becoming the best version of themselves and being the best at whatever they choose to do. If they show up with positive attitudes, opportunities will open regardless of their geographic location.

Cedi Osman, 24
Roots from Ohrid, Macedonia

Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

A native of Ohrid, Macedonia, 6-foot-8 Cedi Osman was born in 1995 to an ethnic Turkish father and a Bosniak mother who is from Novi Pazar, Serbia. He grew up with his older brother, Dzaner, who is also a professional basketball player. Osman holds both Macedonian and Turkish citizenship.

At the age of six, Osman started off playing basketball with KK Bosna’s youth team. Following his outstanding success with KK Bosna youth team, he switched to Anadolu Efes’ junior team in 2007. After playing almost three seasons with the youth team of Efes, he was loaned out to Pertevniyal for the 2011-12 season. In the summer of 2012, Osman signed his first professional contract with the senior club of Anadolu Efes.

As his father is of Turkish ethnicity, Osman was immediately naturalized as a Turkish citizen and since then he represented the national team of Turkey. Osman was a part of the junior national team of Turkey has played in the various tournaments including “2011 FIBA Europe U-16 Championship”, “2012 FIBA Europe U18 Championship”, “2012 Albert Schweitzer Tournaments”, “2013 FIBA Europe U18 Championship” and “2014 FIA Europe U20 Championship”.

With Turkey’s senior national team, Osman made his appearance at the “2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup”, “2015 EuroBasket”, and the “2016 manila FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament”.

In June 2015, Osman was picked 31st overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. In July 2017, Osman joined the Cleveland Cavaliers, signing a three-year deal.

Find out about Cedi’s interests, including speaking Macedonian and spending time in Ohrid by listening to this video:

Kliment Stevoff, 38
Roots from Nakolec and Bolno Macedonia

With five certifications in the areas of fine wine and culinary services, Kliment Stevoff is the man behind the eclectic wine selection at Pier W restaurant. In charge of developing the entire wine list, Stevoff ‘s selection of fine wines resulted in Pier W winning the prestigious award of Best Wine List from Wine Spectator from 2005-2017.

Stevoff has spent his entire career in the restaurant hospitality industry. He has headed up top-level positions at one Ritz Carlton restaurant: Century Restaurant as the restaurant’s supervisor. He also worked at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Carolina Dining Room as the restaurant’s head captain. Throughout his career, Stevoff has received various awards including Ritz Carlton’s Five Star Employee of the Quarter, and maintained a AAA Four Diamond Award, going above and beyond guest’s expectations.

A veteran team member of the Pier W family, Stevoff has more than twelve years of service with the restaurant including the roles of Level II Sommelier, Service Manager and Assistant Service Manager. Stevoff describes his roles as “an opportunity to bring different cultural experiences to Cleveland through a delicious journey of fine wine and delicacies.”

At Pier W, Stevoff also handles staff training including daily tastings, monthly exams, service demonstrations, and educating the staff and public about food and wine pairings. He is also known for coordinating exceptional special events and wine dinners, most recently featuring the wine of France in April.

While at Pier W, Stevoff has participated in several exciting career opportunities. In May of 2012, he was invited by the Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia to coordinate an exclusive Wine Tasting Event in Washington D.C. The event, known as the “Wines of Macedonia”, featured wines and winemakers from eight up-and-coming wineries in the Southeast European region. Stevoff describes the event as “an honor and another career highlight through which working at Pier W has allowed me to experience.” Being a first-generation Macedonian-American, Kliment enjoyed working with wines from his parent’s homeland.

Heritage

My Macedonian heritage has impacted my life and profession in many ways. Growing up in a Macedonian household, Macedonian was the primary language we spoke at home.

My parents and grandparents taught me the value of hard work, trust, honesty and respect. As a wine sommelier, exposing customers to Macedonian wine has been an honor for me. Macedonia is one of the new up and coming wine regions in the Balkans that makes delicious wine.

I am most proud to be Macedonian because of our culture, heritage, music and food. Keeping up with the traditions is a big part of my Macedonian pride. Being able to showcase my heritage in a personal and professional environment is a great sense of joy for me. Teaching wine lovers about Macedonian wine allows me to give them a piece of Macedonia.

My advice for the next generation of Macedonians is to stay strong, united and dedicated to each other to preserve our heritage. Bonds you form in life will help you in the future. Give back to the community in any way you can, to help insure future generations of Macedonians can survive.

Adriana Trajkovski
Roots from Orovnik and Kumanovo, Macedonia

Adriana (Ance) Trajkovski is a Chicago based actress born and raised in Northwest Indiana. Her mother is from Orovnik, Macedonia and her father from Kumanovo, Macedonia. She frequently performs improv and sketch, and can be seen and heard in independent films and in national commercial campaigns for various brands.

Adriana was in the shorts Fertile Myrtle and Metaxis, and fun fact from UMD: you probably noticed her in the TurboTax commercial during this year’s SuperBowl, which were viewed by 98.2 million people nation-wide.

Heritage

My Macedonian heritage has taught me the value of work ethic and that family is the center of who you are. My grandparents and parents came to the states and had to start from scratch. My mother went to college for a second time when she got to the US all while learning English and raising two daughters. My dad worked a full-time job and started his own construction company, he is retired now and I think he works harder than ever. My Baba and Dedo did the same. My Baba and Dedo on my mother’s side lived in Macedonia while I was growing up, but I know they were the same way. They all did it without any complaint, even though no one would have blamed them if they did. But even with this emphasis on hard work, they know how to have fun. My parents are the king and queen of work hard, play hard. When I decided to pursue this profession, I knew it would be difficult, it’s still very difficult. But they taught me perseverance.

I am most proud to be Macedonian because I am proud to have a community. With community comes tradition, a sense of morality, and the feeling of people having your back. I don’t live in Northwest Indiana anymore, I live in Chicago and that is something I miss very much. It gives you a sense of identity. What I love most about our culture is how we celebrate. At any holiday or event or even a friend getting a new job there is a lot of food (I love our food), music and dancing. Everyone comes together and we’re all just happy to be there.

I am also very proud of the other young Macedonian Americans from our community in Northwest Indiana. We’ve got medical professionals, business professionals, entrepreneurs, engineers, creatives – a lot of hardworking young people doing amazing things.

I don’t feel that I’m in a position to give advice but I would just say embrace the community. You don’t have to agree with or like all of it, but it’s going to teach you a lot and help you navigate your way through life. And learn to make Ajvar! I’m still working on that.

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