The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is excited to release this year’s list of Macedonian Diaspora 40 Under 40 Award Recipients. UMD’s initiative 40 under 40 is a celebration of accomplished young Macedonians globally who impact their respective communities and professions.
The Award spotlights professionals in various fields and business sectors, including technology, business, real estate, medicine, finance, teaching, arts, law, and government. With this year’s list, UMD has recognized 240 individuals around the world to date.
“For over a century, Macedonians have been leaving our homeland for a better life. Our people are hard-working and are leaving a mark on society. 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 Board Member and 40 Under 40 Coordinator.
“On behalf of the UMD Board, I congratulate all of our 40 recipients this year and look forward to engaging them in the future to benefit the Macedonian community-at-large,” concluded Bellio.
As in previous years, UMD is releasing the Macedonian Diaspora 40 Under 40 List in groups of 10 weekly. For media interviews with any of the recipients, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submit your nominations for next year’s list HERE.
Please join the UMD community in congratulating our third ten UMD Macedonian Diaspora 40 Under 40 Award Winners!
THE THIRD TEN OF FORTY HONOREES
LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GROUP OF HONOREES:
Joseph Bucukovski, 31
Roots from Bukovo and Lazhec, Macedonia
Joseph Bucukovski was born and raised in Rochester, NY. He is currently living in the Rochester area with his wife, Vanessa, and daughter, Nevena. Three of Bucukovski’s grandparents were from the village of Bukovo, Bitolsko. His maternal grandmother was born in the village of Lazhec, Bitolsko. Bucukovski’s mother was born in the U.S., while his father came to the U.S. when he was 16. When he is not spending time with family, Bucukovski enjoys his two passions, science, and soccer.
Bucukovski received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical and Medical Engineering with a minor in Spanish from the University of Rochester. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree, Bucukovski continued at the University of Rochester to earn his Master of Science degree in Biomedical and Medical Engineering. Bucukovski is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program for Biophysics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry.
My Macedonian heritage has blessed me with a close-knit community of childhood friends with whom I share countless memories and common bonds and values. Furthermore, it has highlighted the importance of family, culture, and religion in becoming a well-rounded and contributing member of society.
I am very proud to be Macedonian because I know that our ancestors lived through many centuries of oppression and found a way to persist despite these circumstances. My favorite part of our culture is the language. It is incredible to think that Macedonian was the precursor to all the Slavic languages we hear today.
My advice for the next generation of young Macedonians is to stay involved with your local Macedonian communities. By that, I mean continue going to church, attending banquets, and volunteering at fundraising events. Without young Macedonians taking an interest in the culture, the future of our communities looks unclear
Viktor Grozdanovski, 30
Roots from Bitola, Bogomlia, and Gostirazhni, Macedonia
Viktor Grozdanovski is from Bitola, Macedonia; both of his parents were born in Bitola as well. His grandparents on his mother’s side are from Bogomila and Gostirazhni. Grozdanovski is currently working as a maintenance supervisor at Hanover property management. He manages luxury apartment buildings, supervising major contracts, building strong business relationships with multiple contractors, and managing them when needed. Grozdanovski is in charge of monthly budgeting ledgers, managing employees, and executing various maintenance operations.
My heritage taught me the value of a work ethic and that family is the center of who you are. I am very proud 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. Keep up a good and respectful community and be well!
Dean Janceski, 39
Roots from Tetovo, Macedonia
Dean Janceski was born in the city of Tetovo, Macedonia. He lived in the village of Beloviste until 10, when he moved to the U.S. in June 1992. He grew up in Macomb, Michigan, where he met his wife, Deana. Together they have a beautiful daughter, Stasia. Janceski has built a practice as a Financial Advisor with Merrill Wealth Management in Troy, Michigan, where he helps clients build wealth, retire on their terms, and leave a long-lasting legacy behind.
Janceski has worked in the financial industry for over ten years, including banking, lending, and investments management. Before joining Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, he started his career with Fifth Third Bank in 2010 as a Financial Center Manager, then transitioned into Investment Management within Fifth Third Securities. As a Financial Advisor with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Janceski has the privilege of helping individuals and their families overcome financial concerns by developing personalized investment strategies focusing on their specific needs. He works with entrepreneurs, executives, doctors, business owners, and other professionals delivering personalized financial services that his clients expect and deserve so he can help them retire on their own terms. Janceski holds the Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor® designation through the National Association of Plan Advisors, is a Retirement Accredited Financial Advisor, and a Senior Portfolio Advisor in the Firm’s Investment Advisory Program.
Janceski is committed to helping in his community. His family has been involved with the March of Dimes for Babies. He is a member of the Detroit Economic Club (DEC) Young Leaders program, educating students about career readiness and financial responsibilities. Janceski is also involved with the Better Money Habits, a program where they work with local non-profit organizations to deliver financial seminars.
Heritage is very important to my family and me. Our rich traditions and customs add to our history, and it’s something that my wife and I look to pass down to our daughter. Our Macedonian heritage reminds me of where I came from. We feel ecstatic when our daughter speaks Macedonian, knowing that our traditions will carry on.
I’m proud to be Macedonian because of our rich culture, history, music, art, and cuisine (especially the cuisine). Our culture defines who we are, and our history gives us the courage to pave a better path for ourselves and our future generations.
Spend time with your Grandparents because they have some of the most interesting stories to tell about your family and what they went through so you can have a better life. Never forget where you came from and continue sharing their stories and passing down our traditions to your kids.
Marija Kumbaroska, 38
Roots from Ohrid, Macedonia
Marija Kumbaroska started her career as a researcher at Phoenix Executive, an international executive search research firm, in 2008. She progressed to Head of Operations and became a Partner in 2012. Kumbaroska’s most recent position before joining Korn Ferry was Engagement Manager at Eric Salmon and Partners.
Kumbaroska is a trusted advisor to ExCom and Boards on strategic topics in executive search, talent management, leadership advisory, succession planning, and organizational effectiveness to international and family-owned businesses across the globe. Clients value Kumbaroska’s experience and insights which help to create sustainable, long-term human capital strategies. Based in Brussels, Kumbaroska focuses on Lifesciences, Fast Moving Consumer Goods, Financial and Professional Services, the E.U. affairs, as well as not-for-profit community, and communication positions in companies internationally.
Kumbaroska holds a Master’s Degree in Business Economics from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. She received a Bachelor of Applied Science in International Business and Management from Fontys University in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Kumbaroska also received a University degree in Management from the Faculty of Economics in Skopje, Macedonia.
A Macedonian/Belgian national, Kumbaroska has lived and worked in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Growing up in a traditional Macedonian family, throughout my childhood, I was constantly reminded of the cultural and historical heritage of my native country. My hometown Ohrid with its old town and churches, inspired me and gave me the confidence to always push forward in my career. I was lucky to pursue international studies, fully supported by my family, who believed in me.
While studying abroad at the University of Fontys and Catholic University of Leuven, where I graduated with honors, I realized that my Macedonian educational background gave me a solid foundation, which significantly contributed to my first success as a foreign student. Afterward, in a competitive market where I spent most of my career abroad, my acquired knowledge and Macedonian pride significantly helped me overcome many obstacles in challenging work environments such as Belgium and the Netherlands. I quickly realized that the private sector where I have been working for my whole career demands strong ethics, resilience, and resourcefulness, which I believe we all Macedonians possess. I was never afraid to say where I am coming from, and even today, I consider myself a strong promoter of my native country. I believe we should all embrace our heritage, but we also need to work together towards our future, the European Union.
My advice for the next generation is to believe in your strengths, work hard, make wise choices, and never forget where you are come from.
Ivan Lukaroski, 30
Roots from Skopje, Macedonia
Ivan Lukaroski was born and raised in Skopje, Macedonia. His family immigrated to Toronto, Canada, in 2003. Lukaroski joined the real estate industry in 2018, and in only a few years, he built a track record as a top-producing real estate broker in the Greater Toronto Area. In a short time, he has been awarded numerous industry awards and distinctions in the field.
Together with his father, Milosov Lukaroski, they co-founded Orion Platinum Realty, Brokerage in Mississauga, ON. The brokerage has since become a recognizable name in the new development and pre-construction industry in the Greater Toronto Area.
Lukaroski is wholly focused on selling new developments. He has aspirations to one day start developing real estate himself.
I frequently travel back to Macedonia, and during my trip, I regularly visit Skopje, Kicevo, Gevgelija, and Ohrid to visit family and friends. I believe upholding my Macedonian heritage while residing in a Western country has allowed me to experience many similarities and differences of cultures that have ultimately built my drive to succeed.
Through my involvement in the Macedonia community and maintaining a close connection to many traditions and customs, I have made many long-lasting relationships in both business and personal life. While attending “Slava” in Canada, a traditional Macedonian social gathering, I met my wife, who is also Macedonian. I often think that if I had not maintained my close connection to the Macedonia community, we might have never crossed paths.
I encourage the next generation to embrace our culture and pass on the traditions.
Katie Nickolaou, 24
Roots from Macedonia
Katie Nickolaou, born and raised in Battle Creek, MI, is the current Weekday Morning Meteorologist at Siouxland News in Sioux City, IA. Broadcast meteorology is Nickolaou’s vocation. After experiencing a tornadic storm at the age of 5, she began reading every book she could about the weather, particularly tornadoes and snow. Nickolaou graduated from Valparaiso University in Northwest Indiana with a degree in Meteorology and a minor in Digital Media in 2019. She then accepted her current position as a broadcast meteorologist in Sioux City, IA. Nickolaou has gained viral fame over the past year by creating weather-inspired videos on social media platforms in an effort to better educate people of the world around them. Nickolaou wants to improve everyone’s understanding of the weather, from children to senior citizens, to help keep them safe when severe storms or other impactful weather events occur. Her goal is to become a nationally recognized meteorologist who can help protect people across the globe when severe weather strikes.
My grandfather instilled in me the Macedonian mindset of hard work and family bonds. He immigrated to America and, through hard work, built a successful business to support his family both in American and Macedonia. His experiences inspire me to push through every challenge in my life because I’m not just working for myself but also my family.
The Macedonian culture is about family and hard work, which go hand in hand. My family means everything to me. They’re my most incredible supporters, my most trusted advisers, and my best friends. We all understand how important family is, and that’s something the Macedonian culture highlights.
My advice for the next generation of Macedonians is to ask your family members to tell you as many stories about Macedonia as possible. Their experiences will help guide you in your life and inspire you to be the best person you can be.
Sonja Pierson, 36
Roots from Bitola, Macedonia
Sonja Pierson has a connection to her Macedonian heritage through her father, who is from Bitola, Macedonia, and her mother is from America. She is an alumnus of Purdue University Northwest’s College of Business with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. Pierson is currently enrolled for a Master’s Degree in Education for Clinical Mental Health Counseling with the Addictions and Expressive Arts Therapy Certifications.
Pierson serves as a Board Chair for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Student Advisory. She is an active member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the International Business Honor Society for AACSB accredited programs. Pierson is also involved in the Psi Upsilon Chi chapter of Chi Sigma Iota, the International Honor Society promoting academic excellence and professionalism in the field of counseling. She was also selected as the representative on behalf of Purdue University Northwest for the Indiana Counseling Association.
She is well known as an active member throughout the university as well as a community advocate.
My Macedonian heritage impacted my life and profession by making me want to be someone I needed when I was younger. I am very proud to be Macedonian because of the strong familial bonds we are taught from a young age. A highlight to our culture is the music and dancing, something I will always enjoy. Some advice for the next generation is to value your heritage and know your worth. Be proud of who you are.
Tomče Runcevski, 33
Roots from Resen, Macedonia
Dr. Tomče Runčevski was born and raised in Resen, Macedonia. He did his undergraduate studies at the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, where he graduated with honors. In 2011, he moved to Stuttgart, Germany, to continue his education at the prestigious Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research.
In a record of 3 years, Dr. Runčevski defended his Ph.D. dissertation and was nominated for the Rampacher award for youngest Ph.D. candidate at the Institute. In 2015, he was awarded the Otto Hahn Medal for exceptional scientific achievements in Germany. The same year, Runčevski moved to the USA to join the University of California at Berkeley as a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Chemistry and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Starting in 2018, he established an independent research group at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where he remains an assistant professor.
Dr. Runčevski’s expertise is in physical chemistry and materials science. He maintains close relationships with several large-scale scientific national facilities, such as the Argonne National Laboratory and the National Institute for Standards and Testing. So far, Runčevski has published over 50 research papers in top-notch journals, such as Nature, Nature Communications, JACS, Angewandte, and others. His research group is currently funded by the SMU Dedman College, the Welch Foundation, and NASA. In addition to his academic work, Runčevski frequently consults for the pharmaceutical and chemical industry.
I was born and raised in Prespa; regardless of where I live at the moment, Prespa will always be home. Many immigrants will agree that it is very difficult to pinpoint how our heritage has impacted our lives and profession. My heritage has impacted every aspect of my life and will continue to do so.
There are many reasons why I am proud to be Macedonian. One part of our culture that is very close to my heart is how much we value family. One of the cornerstones of the Macedonian culture is strong family relationships, and I cherish that a lot. Also, my Prespan dialect adds to my love. The Macedonian language is alive, constantly changing, and evolving. My sister, who lives in Skopje, always says that my Macedonian is “stuck in the ’90s in Prespa” and becomes more “rustic” by the day. I can speak the Prespan dialect, with all of its nuances, and no one would ever guess that I left Prespa almost 15 years ago, and that does make me proud.
To the young Macedonians, if you have the chance, invest in your education. Travel as much as possible and constantly advocate for our heritage and culture.
Samantha Srbinovski, 24
Roots from Prilep, Macedonia
Samantha Srbinovski is 24 years old and has ties to Macedonia through her father, who was born and raised in Ljubljana, Macedonia. She graduated from DePaul University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Biology in 2018. Throughout her studies, Srbinovski has participated as an epidemiology team member for the DePaul University Center for Community Research and visited Esteli, Nicaragua as a medical volunteer on a global brigade trip. She then received her American Medical Technologists certification at Northwestern Clinical School in 2019. Srbinovski is currently working as a clinical healthcare professional at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. On Top of her work, Srbinovski is also on the path of pursuing her master’s degree in BioMedicine.
The Macedonian heritage is something I will value for a lifetime. It has taught me the meaning of endurance and sacrifice. I have learned the importance of being raised in a hardworking family and the significance of family values.
I am most proud to be Macedonian because of the rich history and the universal bond the community holds. The highlight of being Macedonian is the strength that comes with it.
My advice for the young Macedonians is to practice gratitude. Remember never to forget where you came from and use that knowledge to take you where you are headed.
Brandon Tanev, 29
Roots from Banica and Mokrino, Macedonia
Brandon Tanev, who is 29 years old, is a current player for the Seattle Krakens of the National Hockey League. He was born in Toronto, Ontario, and is the son of Mike Tanev and Sophie Meredith. Tanev has two brothers, Chris and Kyle Tanev. Tanev’s Macedonian roots can be traced back to his grandparents, who were born in Banica and Mokrino. His Grandparents were partisans who ended up in Uzbekistan, where they married. Tanev’s family moved to Skopje, Macedonia, and then later to Canada.
Providence College recruited Tanev after being cut due to his height and weight during his high school years. He played in over 30 hockey games his first year for the Providence Friars. Tanev, giving the Friars their first-ever national title, scored the game-winning goal against the Boston University Terriers. Tanev chose to further his hockey career after college by signing with the Winnipeg Jets of the National Hockey League. He played with the Winnipeg Jets from 2015 to 2019, when he signed as a free agent for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League. Tanev played with the Pittsburgh Penguins until 2021.
Tanev currently plays for the Seattle Krakens of the National Hockey League. He was the Seattle Krakens selection during the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, becoming an inaugural member of the new team.
My Macedonian heritage is something I am very grateful for. Growing up, our family was very close, and as children, we were taught to learn about and appreciate our heritage and to understand what our grandparents had to sacrifice in order to put our families in a position to succeed.
I am proud to be Macedonian because of the history of our country. Our grandfather was very proud to be Macedonian, and he instilled that same pride in us. He showed us the importance of sacrifice and hard work. I was raised in a family that observed Macedonian traditions and holidays, which instilled in me a great appreciation for the rich history of Macedonia.
My advice for the next generation of young Macedonians would be to learn about and understand our culture, be proud of who we are, and recognize and cultivate the importance of family.
BECOME A UMD MEMBER TODAY!
Your commitment to becoming a member today is necessary for UMD to make an impact globally while continuing the Macedonian struggle for justice and preservation of our name, heritage, identity, and language.
Your annual membership gift will go a long way towards our charitable programs in Macedonia and around the world, including funds for orphans, the needy, and furthering the education of our future leaders by providing annual scholarships.
UMD can continue to accomplish its valuable work only with the help of dedicated Macedonians and friends of Macedonia like you.