On Friday, November 8, 2019, a day before UMD’s 15th Anniversary Celebration and Macedonian Diaspora 40 Under 40 Awards Ceremony, UMD members gathered on Capitol Hill for a day of advocacy. Led by UMD President Metodija A. Koloski and the first-ever Director of National Advocacy, Marija Georgievski, UMD met with offices of multiple Congress members from the House and the Senate.
In attendance were Ms. Mariana Venera Popescu, a Member of the Parliament of Romania representing Macedonian minority, Jim Pavle, UMD Advisory Council Member, Dr. Aleksandra Fortier, UMD Dallas Chair, and Argie Bellio, UMD Indiana Chair.
UMD’s Advocacy Day hosted Macedonians from around the world including the United States, Europe, Canada and even Australia. From District meetings to D.C., meeting with Congress and their staff face to face is the most powerful way to create impact. Within days of the meeting the Caucus has already welcomed a new member. Our meetings on the Hill reinforced our message of Independence, Freedom and Human Rights for the Macedonian people that they rightfully deserve.
The morning started with meetings with the offices of Senator Rob Portman (OH), Congressman Kenny Marchant (TX-24), Congressman John Ratcliffe (R-TX 4), and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C. Delegate). UMD members discussed the Macedonian-American Caucus, the Macedonian population in the U.S., and Macedonia-U.S. relations.
In the afternoon, UMD representatives met with the offices of Congressman Troy Balderson (OH-12), Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-8), and Congresswoman Val Demings (FL-10) to discuss these same issues.
In the afternoon UMD also held a powerful shared meeting with the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) and the office of Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN). Senator Klobuchar, of Slovenian Heritage sits on multiple committees including the Judiciary and Joint Economic Committees. Present at the meeting were representatives of Macedonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian heritage. Attendees discussed different existing Resolutions, NATO, China and combatting Disinformation in the Baltic Region and the Balkans.
UMD emphasized the sizable Macedonian population in the U.S., with an estimated 500,000 people of Macedonian heritage living in the U.S, with large Macedonian communities in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, New York and New Jersey. There are Americans of Macedonian heritage living in all 50 States including populations in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California. They also touched upon Macedonia’s support for U.S. overseas conflicts, with Macedonia sending 244 troops to support the U.S. in Afghanistan. UMD further discussed Macedonia’s NATO accession, the U.S.-Macedonia trade relationship, and a variety of other issues.
UMD also hosted a lunch with the offices of the Chairs of the Macedonian-American Caucus: Brendan Boyle (PA), Paul Mitchell (MI) and Steve Stivers (OH). At this lunch, the House staffers shared strategic advice for growing the Macedonian-American caucus and discussed future goals of the Caucus.
After their full day of meetings with Congress, UMD members toured the Capitol building and reconnected for a Happy Hour event at the W Hotel Rooftop. Thank you to all who came out on Friday for a great day of advocacy!