On Saturday, November 9, 2019, the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) hosted its 15th Anniversary Celebration and Macedonian Diaspora 40 Under 40 Awards Ceremony at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C. UMD members and friends of UMD gathered to celebrate this momentous occasion for UMD and honor the distinguished members of the Macedonian community.
In a letter to UMD, Macedonia’s first Ambassador to the United States and Honorary UMD Advisory Councl Member, Ambassador, Ljubica Z. Acevska, highlighted UMD’s 15 years of accomplishments, saying: ”I am honored to have been involved with UMD and the remarkable people who formed this organization that has become international in scope.”
The evening was kick-started with Kalina and Nev Neskoska performing two beautiful renditions of the U.S. and Macedonian National Anthems.
UMD President Metodija A. Koloski gave opening remarks. He emphasized the importance of uniting the Diaspora and the continued commitment of UMD to the Macedonian people: “15 years ago, we looked around D.C. and saw no voice for our people, no one advocating for us. So, we decided, why not become that voice.”
He further touched upon the global nature of UMD and attendees who traveled from Australia, Canada, Belgium, Macedonia, Romania, and from throughout the U.S. to be there.
UMD presented a special plaque to Dr. Yalcin Ayasli, founder of the Turkish Coalition of America. Dr. Ayasli received this recognition for his long-time support of UMD and its mission over the past 15 years. During his acceptance speech, he praised UMD’s role in uniting Macedonians and fondly recalled his visit to Macedonia in 2012 when he received the UMD Macedonia Friendship Award in the presence of then-Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov.
Following some networking, UMD Indiana Chair Argie N. Bellio and the brains behind 40 under 40 began the Awards Ceremony. Bellio congratulated the 200 Macedonians who received the award over the past five years and highlighted the accomplishments of a few of the night’s awardees: Saska Gochevska, an OBGYN living in Brussels, Belgium; Andrew Damcevski, co-founder of a financial investment firm; Aleksandar Popovski, owner of a nationally recognized credential evaluation and translation company; and Allison Brager, U.S. Army Captain and Doctor in the field of NeuroScience. UMD presented awards to thirty 40 Under 40 Award recipients.
Following the awards presentation, UMD Co-Founder and Vice President, and one of the 40 under 40 recipients, Aleksandar Mitreski talked about the accomplishments of UMD over the past 15 years and the importance of unity in all of this: “As we have demonstrated over the past 15 years, unity is one of our core tenants. All of us tonight, we are responsible for how far UMD has come. And we are responsible for how far UMD will go in the future.”
Later in the evening, UMD Advisory Council member and Finance is Personal TV Host Elizabeth Naumovski spoke about the importance of donations to UMD’s critical missions, stating that “With more funds, we can send more students to Macedonia, provide more scholarships, and support more Macedonian cultural programming in the arts, literature, and music.”
Returning to the podium, UMD President Metodija Koloski presented a second special plaque to Keynote Speaker Judge Philip S. Naumoff – elected to the bench in November 2018. With his tears in his eyes, Judge Naumoff provided keynote remarks and talked about the significance of his own heritage, specifically how his father was a child refugee as a result of the Greek Civil War fleeing to the former Czechoslovakia and the trials and tribulations our people have gone through at the hands of Greek oppression. Naumoff recognized UMD for serving as the much-needed voice for Macedonians. The audience was captivated and inspired by his remarks.
UMD Chairman Stojan Nikolov concluded the evening’s speaking program about the future of UMD. He said, “We want UMD to keep being innovative and continue to be a leading voice for the Macedonian people and our interests. With this in mind, we have spent the weekend redefining our mission and our purpose to meet the challenges in the years to come. There will be obstacles, but with a clear vision, purpose, and drive, UMD will be able to overcome these challenges and continue working for our people.”
After these remarks, the dance floor opened and guests were treated to a special live performance from the Neskoska sisters and traditional Macedonian and international hits played by DJ Ravi. The 50/50 Raffle winner was announced, and this, along with the Stobi Wine and Rakija Grab, raised money for UMD’s educational and cultural projects. Dancing carried on into the night.
Click HERE to download the commemorative booklet.
Click HERE to view pictures from the evening.
UMD would like to thank everyone who came out to celebrate 15 years of UMD and the accomplishments of our 40 Under 40 honorees.
Thank you to our sponsors!
Association of Macedonians in Romania
Pope Contracting Inc.
Argie & Biljana Bellio
Bela Nok – Ema Brown
Anica Dimitrova & Anita Dimitrova
Wouter F. Germans Jr. & Elizabeth Naumovski
Blazhe Grozdanov & Divna Pesic Grozdanov
The Ilijevski Family
Dr. & Mrs. Gorgi Kozeski
George & Liliana Mazevski
Stojan & Marija Nikolov
Dr. Luben Todorovski
Stojan & Dusanka Trajkov
Balkan Wine Project
Thank you to our planning committee!
Ema Reskoska Brown
Monica Markovski Commerford