The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD), the leading organization for Macedonians abroad, 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 280 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 UMD Chairman Argie Bellio.
“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
Biographies of Our Recipients:
Alexandra Dimitrievski is a native of Crown Point, IN, where her parents, Lydia and Cane Dimitrievski settled after moving from Bitola, Macedonia. Alexandra graduated in 2006 from Indiana University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. She first began her career in the sales industry, but quickly was introduced to the human resources arena, where she found her true career calling. In 2008, she made the transition into a human resources role, and since that time, with hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm, has advanced to her current role as a Vice President of Human Resources for a large financial services company. Within her current position, Alexandra is responsible for acquiring talent, successfully hiring and onboarding financial services professionals, and serving as the human resources point of contact for multiple departments and lines of business. Alexandra’s career has allowed her to lean into her desire for helping others match their talents, passions, and potentials to the perfect career opportunities and achieve their unique and distinct career objectives. Further, Alexandra is passionate about advancing women and minorities in business and leadership positions and is an active participant and leader in multiple diversity programs and initiatives within her organization.
Outside of her career, Alexandra is very enthusiastic about community service and partakes in numerous volunteer activities that give back to her community. She has been involved with business resource groups, financial literacy programs, homeless outreach activities, and career events geared toward underserved populations.
Growing up, I saw how hard both my parents and grandparents worked and the strong work ethic they demonstrated on a daily basis. This is something that is so key to our Macedonian heritage. Our people exemplify the determination and perseverance to build a better life, and watching my family work so hard to be successful and financially independent is what has pushed me to achieve my success.
Furthermore, while proud to be Macedonian for many reasons, I truly appreciate the sense of community that our culture displays. Our culture is rooted in kindness, generosity, and offering a helping hand, and these key traits unite us, even in our differences.
Blagojce Jovcevski was born in Wollongong, Australia. Both his father and mother were born in Bitola, Macedonia. Blagojce Jovcevski holds a Bachelor of Science (Honors) degree, majoring in Biotechnology and Molecular Biology, as well as a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from The University of Wollongong which also included a placement at the University of Oxford, UK. Blagojce is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide, Australia, where he is involved in a wide array of biomedical research projects that focus on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. In addition, Blagojce is also an associate investigator in a government-funded research consortium partnered with industry (Carlsberg Group, Agilent Technologies) to develop high-value products from bioactive molecules in agricultural and food waste. Blagojce is also heavily involved in numerous conferences and professional scientific societies serving on executive committees for special interest groups for the Australian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Australian & New Zealand Society of Mass Spectrometry. Outside of work, Blagojce enjoys playing amateur football (soccer) and spending quality time with teammates, friends, and family where food and coffee are plentiful!
Seeing how and where my parents were raised in Macedonia allowed me to gain invaluable insight and perspective on how we go about our daily lives. It also guided me on how I should push myself to go further and achieve my goals with humility, especially as I’ve seen the amount of sacrifice my parents made to allow me to achieve everything that I have so far.
Macedonian culture teaches respect and humility. That is what I have grasped so tightly and been proud to then be able to support others regardless of their background. It might sound cliche but our food is my biggest highlight. It brings people together no matter how we are feeling, we communicate and foster around food. It also brings me joy to see how much people that are not Macedonian enjoy our food!
I would say this to the next generation, keep going, and don’t let barriers stop you. Some hurdles take longer than others to overcome, but there are numerous solutions to a problem, take a breath, take a moment, and then take it one step at a time.
Born in the United States, Daniel is a first-generation Macedonian-American. His parents are from Selo Slatino and migrated to Fort Wayne, Indiana in the late 1970s. He graduated with a B.S. in Hospitality Management from Purdue University. Currently, Daniel is employed with East Allen County Schools as the Food Service Director. In his role, he has the responsibility of feeding over 10,000 children every day, and for some, this might be the only meal of the day.
My Macedonian heritage has impacted my life in so many ways. As a young boy, I watched my parents sacrifice so much to give my siblings and me an opportunity they never had. Although they worked long days and nights, they still made sure family was a priority. The determination that I witnessed within my parents is something that has impacted my life both personally and professionally.
My first trip to the village when I was 7 years old was an eye-opening experience that changed my life forever. I was finally able to connect my family values to a place that my parents called home and everything started to make sense. The passion, pride, and perseverance my parents instilled in me were right before me, in every person I met that day.
As Macedonians, we have so much to be proud of and so much to cherish. Although difficult to pinpoint just one part of the culture that is a highlight, I would have to say that the various traditions are top on my list with Macedonian cuisine coming in a close 2nd! Cheers to my mother who is an excellent cook and made sure there was always more than enough food on the table!
My advice for the next generation of Macedonians is to take pride in what you do, who you are, and where you are from.
Dejan Gavrilovski was born in Ohrid, Macedonia, in 1988 to father Antonio Gavrilovski and mother Nina Volkanoska Gavrilovska. He exhibited a great appetite for learning, and in parallel to his primary and high school studies, focused his free time on learning multiple instruments including the violin, the guitar, and bass guitar, as well as Information Technology and Computer Programming. At the age of 18, Dejan moved to Slovenia to pursue a bachelor’s, and later a master’s degree in Economics, and after graduating, pursued a career in Audit and Assurance at Ernst and Young. He later moved on to Consulting at Ernst and Young’s Transaction Advisory Services Department and finally combined both business and IT experience as a manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers IT consulting department. Dejan currently resides in Ljubljana, Slovenia, as Senior Manager in the Technology and Business Consulting department at A Tax International. He specializes in Business process management, Robotic Process Automation, Enterprise Architecture, and Digital Transformation of medium and large enterprises.
According to legends, Ohrid was founded by the Phoenician king of Thebes, Cadmus who, banished from Thebes, in Boeotia, fled to the Enchele to the north and founded Lychnidus on the shore of Lake Ohrid. The city resides in the middle of Via Egnatia, a road built by the Roman Empire in the 2nd century BC which was walked by many important historical figures including the Apostle Paul, Julius Caesar as well as Marc Anthony. Later on, a part of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, this pearl of a city so rich in untouched nature, situated by one of the oldest, cleanest, and deepest lakes in the world, soaked all these cultures deep into the local traditions.
I am very proud of my Macedonian heritage and extremely lucky to have spent my childhood in a city with so much history, untouched nature, and multi-ethnic culture, all of which have in some way contributed to what I am today. Regardless of where I end up in the end, Ohrid will always be my home. And for all of us Macedonians, out in the world today, I have one thing to say, never forget where you come from, draw on the strengths of your heritage, dream big, pursue your passion and the rest will follow.
Diana Jakimoski (Trajcevski)
Diana Jakimoski is a first-generation Macedonian-American from Syracuse, New York. Diana earned her Bachelors in International Studies from LeMoyne College. Upon earning her degree, Diana moved to Connecticut to expand her knowledge through her work with Newcastle Housing Ventures, which specializes in consulting developers in the Affordable Housing Industry. After 4 years, Diana moved back to Syracuse with her husband and continued pursuing her interests within the Affordable Housing Industry with Housing Visions Unlimited, Inc., where she is now Director of Development.
Diana leads a team and oversees multiple housing projects and a pipeline that will create over 500 new units of housing over the next 3 years within the State of New York. This work has earned her a “40 Under 40” recognition by the Central New York Business Journal.
She has been highly active within the Macedonian Community in Syracuse throughout the years. Diana was an active member of MOYANA, danced as part of Kitka, and is currently the co-chairman of the Syracuse Macedonian Festival at St. George, which recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary. Diana currently resides in Syracuse, New York with her husband Jane and two fabulous children, Nikola and Kristina.
Growing up as the daughter of immigrants, my family set a great example of hard work and perseverance by starting new lives in a new country. Listening to stories of my family coming to this country with a suitcase, the American dream, and wanting a better life through hard work and resilience was almost a predestined path to my ultimate career. Helping build housing that is affordable to help individuals and families to be able to reach their ultimate dream is rewarding, as this housing was not an option back in the 1960s.
I am proud to be Macedonian and the most important part of the culture to me is family. Family is the center of everything, and you work hard for your family to be able to provide for them. Although in today’s world there are many more opportunities to be able to provide for your children, it still goes back to the basics of hard work and resilience that my Dedo and Baba showed when coming to America.
My advice to the next generation of Macedonians – find a passion and pursue it but never forget where you come from, as this is what shapes you.
Elena was born and raised in Skopje, where both parents have roots in Veles. She moved to the USA at age 13 with her family and quickly adapted to her new surroundings. Elena lived in Illinois for an extended time and later attended Indian State University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and Journalism. She now resides in Sarasota, Florida with her husband and 3 young children. After dedicating several years to staying at home and raising her family, she eventually returned to the workforce and obtained a real estate license. Since then she has become a top Realtor and Director of Agent Development in the greater Sarasota area.
Being in a field where I am in constant contact with clients from all over the country and even out of the States, my heritage has helped me stay true to myself and still be able to connect with clients from different cultures. As much as I love meeting new people from all over the world; it’s refreshing when they find my background and history fascinating.
The importance of family and family gatherings along with the cultural traditions is why I am most proud to be Macedonian. I love the Macedonian kitchen and enjoy teaching my kids about traditional dishes.
My advice for any young Macedonian is to set goals and work toward achieving those goals. Always look for opportunities to learn and grow in any field that they might be in. As my mentor has taught me, strive to do better just 1% at a time, it will eventually lead to substantial growth and improvement.
Eleonora Gjorova Arnaudova
Eleonora was born in Gevgelija and raised in Stojakovo, a village in the municipality of Bogdanci. It is located close to the Greek border. Arnaudova started her secondary education at the local Josif Josifovski High School in Gevgelija. After completing her second year at Josif Josifovski, she transferred to the newly opened NOVA International School in Skopje, where she completed her third year before moving to England to do her GCSEs and A-Levels at the highly prestigious St George’s Boarding School in Harpenden. Arnaudova completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Kent in Canterbury, where she received a Master’s degree in International Relations and European Studies. In addition to her studies, she holds a PRINCE2 professional certificate in Project Management.
Currently, Arnaudova is a Project Manager at a Managed IT Services company in the financial London City district, where she has been recognized and praised for delivering the highest volume of Internet Service Provider (ISP) projects on a continuous monthly basis. She has worked in Project Management since 2015, for three UK-based companies. Fun fact: The first IT company Eleonora worked for as a Project Manager is now called XMA, but at the time was called Viglen, and was owned by Lord Alan Sugar. The headquarters in St Albans where she was based was used as the filming location for Alan Sugar’s world-famous TV show The Apprentice and the winners were offered jobs at Viglen.
I am from a mixed heritage background. My father was a Macedonian from Stojakovo where I was raised. My mother was an English Aristocrat, descended from the Levett-Scrivener, and Colquhoun lineages, and had mastered the Macedonian language whilst living in Macedonia, but she spoke multiple languages. Both my parents were determined that I and my siblings should be raised in Macedonia. However, we spent almost every summer in England, so I had an early exposure to two completely different cultures, and grew up embracing both cultures equally. Being Macedonian has equipped me with strong willpower and determination to succeed in all aspects of life. I am married to a Macedonian, and we both currently live in England but frequently travel to Macedonia. I have always felt extremely proud of my Macedonian heritage, and think it is important that as we are moving forward with the times to also keep in touch with our deep-rooted culture and history so we are able to preserve it for our future generations. Macedonians are warm, generous, and hospitable, and this is something we should feel proud of. I think the country has progressed tremendously since the early 90s, in spite of the enormous pressure and attempts to destabilize it, and I believe this is due to the nature of the Macedonian people who keep persevering no matter the enormity of the obstacles. My advice for the next generations of young Macedonians is to keep pushing forward and never give up on your dreams, and always try and stay true to your roots.
Filip Chichevaliev is a 38-year-old Immigration Attorney at OC Law Group, LLC. He started his journey in the USA in 2018 to master in Trial Advocacy at Chicago-Kent College of Law, Chicago, Illinois with three CALI Awards for Academic Excellence. Filip passed the Bar Exam on his first attempt and was admitted into practice in Missouri. He is a highly competent researcher and published author in reputable journals and books that are part of academic curriculums across Europe. Filip’s accomplishments have resulted in numerous distinctions: a Corporate LiveWire Legal Award for Excellence in Foreign Investment Law, and appointment to leadership positions for prominent international legal organizations. His smooth transition to practicing law in the USA was attributable to his early graduation in law in 2007 and Master’s degree in Economy in 2013 which led to eleven years of rich legal and business experience in the Law Firm Chichevaliev & Ilijovski, Skopje, Macedonia, as a Managing Partner. Filip’s current work with OC LAW Group LLC positioned the firm as a household name in Immigration law among the European community in the USA. His dedication and passion come from his humanity – his drive comes from people and goes to people, wherever they live.
I was born and raised in Macedonia. Therefore, maybe this question does not apply to me. Macedonia is a country of great beauty and rich cultural heritage. In modern times Macedonia has become a symbol of diversity, tolerance, and peacefulness. Macedonian hospitality and rich folklore and cuisine are recognized worldwide. To the young Macedonians today: whatever path you choose, never forget where you came from and follow your passion with dedication and perseverance.
Vesna Dejanovska is a proud Macedonian born in Kavadarci and raised in Kriva Palanka, Macedonia. She lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (USA) where she is a Career and Life Success Coach and previously, spent 15 years in Human Resources, with her last role as a Director – Global HR Transformation, at a global manufacturing company. Vesna has actively participated in events organized by UMD in Florida, and in 2017 she attended the Macedonian – American Leadership Conference (MALC) in Washington, DC. She uses her expertise in leadership development and community engagement to support other Macedonians to advance in their careers and to further promote the Macedonian culture.
My managers often commented that my Macedonian heritage had contributed to my career accomplishments – toughness, resilience, and genuine kindness – are the traits that the foreigners had observed while working with Macedonians. Also, I think that my friends in Florida recognize Macedonian hospitality and generosity when I host dinners in my home with home-cooked traditional Macedonian food, or when I like to give them bottles of Macedonian wine or souvenirs from Macedonia.
I wish for young Macedonians to be resilient leaders and passionate promoters of Macedonia in all their communities!
Viktor was born in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia. He received his bachelor’s degree in sociology at the Ss Cyril and Methodius State University in Skopje and continued his studies in graduate school for Human Resources Management. Viktor moved to the US in 2015 and currently works for the largest healthcare system in Illinois and the 7th Best Hospital in the US – Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, running training and quality control initiatives to improve patient care. Prior to that role, Viktor has been working in training and human resources for automotive and chemical industries, both in the US and Macedonia.
Ever since 2016, Viktor started developing a passion for photography that led him to travel across the US and capture scenes from one of the most photogenic places in the world – Denali National Park, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Navajo Reservation, Monument Valley, Arches, Rocky Mountain National Park, Pictured Rocks, etc. Viktor is an active member of multiple art and photography communities in Chicago. His work has been featured in different magazine outlets in the US.
Outside work, Viktor enjoys sports, biking, camping, and traveling. Viktor is a former pro-basketball player, playing for a local club from Skopje, and has been actively playing in basketball leagues around Chicago and Illinois.
Living abroad for seven years has put a different perspective on how I perceive my heritage. It definitely made me more aware about Macedonian tradition, culture, and even those little rituals that go with any event, whether it is a wedding, getting a new home, or starting a new job. I always cherish the time I’ve spent with my parents and grandparents who have given me an immense amount of stories that helped shape my identity as Macedonian.
There are many things that make me proud to be Macedonian. I believe one of the most underestimated cultural attributes we have as Macedonians, is hard work and discipline. Of course, there will be generational shifts because of technological advancements, but I do believe hard work is something I always will strongly look at. I was privileged enough to look at role models in my family – my mom and my dad – who paved the road for me by embedding values to always remain persistent and ambitious.
Living in Chicago has exposed me to many different food options, however, you can’t say good food without saying Macedonian in it. I do believe one of the best cuisines in the world is the Macedonian one. If you could only hear and see the reactions of my friends when I serve them with tavce-grance, ajvar, banica or wine. It’s great that there are places here where I can get ingredients to make Macedonian meals.