"40 Under 40" (Top 40 Rising Croatian American Stars Under 40 Years Old)
Ella Mische: New York City.
Ella is an under 30 year old actor, screenplay writer, movie maker,
musician and songwriter. This young Croatian American attended the Philadelphia High School for
Performing Arts and then attended the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City
to develop her writing and acting skills. Ella has made impressive strides within her career over the past ten
years, including writing an Off Broadway play and an appearance on Saturday Night Live in a skit with
actor Daniel Craig. Ella has written a romantic comedy entitled "Toute Le Vie" and her new company will
start shooting the movie early in 2107. She has another movie project now in consultations with a big name
Hollywood producer. She is a proud songwriter who has written 50 songs and loves creating music videos.
You can check her out on her website, within YouTube or click in the middle of Ella's
video below. Also, her mother, singer Tommi Mischell has helped her to navigate the music world and to
hone her songwriting skills. Also, She has an uncle who was with the Croatian Tutti Fruiti Band. This
committed musician and artist found a piano at an early age and is blessed with a family that truly has an
artistic flair and love for music. Ella is a proud Croatian who is a member and attended the first Association
of Croatian American Professionals meeting in Washington, D.C. in April, 2016. Her extended Croatian
family hails from Trogir and her early years were spent in Croatia. Ella credits her Croatian grandfather
Tome as being very influential and inspirational. She says her success comes from hard work and patience
and an overall commitment to excellence which has taken her to the Cannes Film Festival the past few
years. Ella loves the quote and thought about, be proud to be a Croatian and remember the strength we all
have learned from Croatia (and our Croatian families) and that "you are just one star in the open sky of a
million stars." The NFCA thanks Ella again for leading the way with this first ever "40 Under 40" program.
Los Angeles, California. PBS Television Executive-Producer. Emmy Award-Winning
TV Producer and Award-Winning Filmmaker. Father from Bogomolje, Hvar. Mother from Jezera, Murter.
Brenda Brkusic is a six-time Emmy Award winner and a seasoned television executive with over 10 years
of experience in program development and production. As the Executive Producer pf Program
Development and National Productions, Brenda directs the acquisition, development, production,
distribution and marketing of programs and series for national broadcast on public TV. As a filmmaker she
has been recognized on the Congressional Record of the US House of Representatives for her work promoting human rights through film,
and at the International Leader's Summit at the European Union in Brussels.
At the age of 21, while still a film student at Chapman University, in 2004 she took
on the arduous task of funding, writing, producing, directing, editing "Freedom from Despair" a feature
documentary film about the the Croatian people's struggle for independence which was screened in multiple
countries including Croatia won high critical acclaim and recognition. Brenda has continued in her mission
to tell the stories of her parent's homeland. She coproduced the film Mia, A Dancer's Journey, a biopic
about the famous Croatian ballerina Mia Slavenska which won Brenda her fourth Emmy Award. She won
her 5th and 6th Emmy Awards "China's Challenges: Can China Be Harmonious?" and "Variety Studio:
Actors on Actors", a series she Executive Produces, now in its 5th season, featuring acclaimed film and TV
stars such as Will Smith, George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, Ben
Stiller, Ethan Hawke, Mark Wahlberg Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Leonardo DiCaprio, Oprah Winfrey,
Martin Scorsese, Lady Gaga, Steve Carell, Keira Knightly, Reese Witherspoon, Michael Keaton, Cate
Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Lopez, John Travolta, Amy Schumer and more. Brenda is also an active
member of the Producers Guild of America and the Television Academy, where she serves on the L.A. Area
Derek Hohn: Pittsburgh/Cokeburg, PA.
Derek is currently employed by the Croatian Fraternal Union
as the Director of Fraternal Programs. Derek has many titles:
1) President Board of Trustees CFU Lodge 354 of Cokeburg, PA.
2) Delegate to the CFU Quadrennial Conventions.
3) Director on the Board of the CFU Scholarship Foundation.
4) Member of the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP).
5) Assistant instructor of the St. George Jr. Tamburitzans, member St. George Adult Tamburitza Ensemble.
6) Accomplished tamburitza musician, Tamburaski Sastav "Barabe" and Jerry Grcevich Orchestra.
7) Traveled to Croatia on eight occasions, mostly on tamburitzan concert tours.
8) Met with every Croatian President and other top officials since Croatia became an independent state.
He is the grandson of long time National President of the Croatian Fraternal Union,
Bernard Luketich and born into maybe the most active Croatian American family in the USA! Throughout
his entire life, he was submerged into the Croatian culture and participated fully in all activities of the CFU.
Being Croatian was never just a passing thought for Derek, it is woven into the fabric of his life.
As a child from ages 5 to 21, he performed the songs and dances of Croatia. He was so accomplished
and well-known he received the Founder's Award from the Tamburitza Association of America in 2014.
Derek participated in almost every fraternal program the CFU offers throughout his lifetime. He has
performed at every CFU junior and adult Tamburitzan Festival that is held annually; he participates
in annual CFU national sports tournaments which include: golf, bowling, skiing, softball and soccer;
he administers many humanitarian programs at the CFU Home Office. Derek has already proved to be a positive
force in motivating many younger (under 40) Croats to become active in some aspect of their culture and/or
the CFU. Derek is a very motivated leader and has a friendly and outgoing personality.
At St. Vincent's University in Latrobe, PA he received a Bachelors in Art in chemistry and a minor in biology in 2006.
Family is from Ogulin and Slunj.
Los Angeles, California. Television Producer, Host and Actress. Official Website
Family from Duga Resa and near Zagreb. Christina describes herself as a two time Emmy Award-winning
TV producer, host, writer, storyteller, adrenaline junkie and world traveler. Christina's amazing fifteen year
career in the entertainment business has encapsulated so many achievements and even twenty acting roles
in feature films and TV including: Desperate Housewives, Spider-Man 3, Boston Legal and many more.
She even had a stint as a news anchor in Boone, North Carolina. She's very proud of her work with the
show called "Private Islands" on AWE TV which attracted 25 million viewers and garnered seven Emmy
award nominations and and her two Emmy Awards. Christina has produced and hosted over fifty episodes
in over forty countries with some of the world's premier executives and CEOs across a multitude of
industries and from luxury, travel, real estate, and environmental conservation.
Having an incredible strong social media presence makes her a major influencer
with a high volume sizeable reach to bring inspiring messages and campaigns to international audiences.
She has worked with some of the biggest brands and organizations on the planet. Christina's impact is
growing exponentially by the minute, as she continues to bring engaging content through her own media
channels while impacting thousands globally in the process. Christina has developed a real expertise in the
realm of travel an educating folks about the beauty and best of locations from around the world. She is
hoping to do a major project with the Croatian Tourist Board soon. She was Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA
1999 and competed in the nationally televised Miss Teen USA Pageant in 1999. Raised in Pittsburgh, Pa. Total Croatia News Article.
Jennifer Rukavina: Chief Meteorologist WPSD-TV (Local 6-NBC). Raised in Canton, OH.
Currently lives in Paducah KY. Chief Meteorologist since 2007 overing the evening broadcast. Community
Service-National Weather Service. Family from: Small Village in Lika, Croatia. Jennifer Rukavina is
proud to have followed her dreams of becoming a meteorologist and working to educate through public out
reach concerning weather & climate. It was a goal she has had since she was a small child who was scared
of thunderstorms. Employed by the same television station for the past 13 years at the NBC Affiliate,
WPSD Local 6 in Paducah, Kentucky. Jennifer began as the weekend meteorologist and then promoted to
Chief Meteorologist in 2007 covering the evening broadcasts.
Jennifer's work has been recognized with one Edward R. Murrow Award, three
Emmy Nominations, 3-time Best Weather Award recipient by the Kentucky Associated Press, and One Best "Series/Documentary" Award
by the Kentucky Associated Press, and most recently the Glen Gerberg Weather & Climate Summit Awards
for Outstanding Accomplishment-Contribution. For the past three years, Jennifer has been recognized
as the most accurate forecast in the region by WeatherRate. Jennifer has been able to visit with
thousands of children and many civic groups to teach the importance of weather times preparedness and
climate change of the future. Jennifer proudly marched as a young girl several in the annual "Canton, Ohio
International Parade" with her Grandmother Theresa Rukavina with the Croatian and Hungarian groups.
Marko Paulic: Rocky River, Ohio.
Nutrition-Dietetics Professional. Croatian Folk Dance Instructor.
Marko plans on taking the state registration exam in the Summer of 2017 to become a registered dietitian.
He has built many professional relationships through his volunteerism and service within the dietetic
community. As secretary for the Student Dietetic Association in 2014-15, he arranged numerous events:
"Apple Crunch Day" and "Make A Difference Day" in and around the University of Akron (UA) campus.
He is just finishing his college studies and also, volunteers as the student liaison for the Greater Akron
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a professional organization that connects professionals and students in
the greater Akron area. He has maintained his full time student status while also collecting internship hours
in the Coordinated Program at UA.
In this unique 2-year program, he balances honors (3.5 GPA) along with clinical
rotations in hospitals, schools, government programs, skilled nursing facilities, and long-term care facilities.
He has collected to date over 400 clinical hours in the accompaniment of a dietitian. He earned a Spanish
minor and certificate for the health professionals so he is able to communicate with Cleveland's strong
Hispanic population. Marko teaches folk dance every Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm with the Cleveland
Junior Tamburitza (CJT). He enjoys working with children and the CJT has nearly 100 members now,
ranging from 4 to 21 years of age. He says that every child teaches him something new when that Saturday
practice comes along. He is still committed to expanding his knowledge in the art of folk dance, and
remains a member of Zelena Polja, an adult Croatian folk dance group, and attended Ljetna Skola
Hrvatskoga Folklora in 2012. He has been involved with the Cleveland Junior Tamburiza since 2010 as a
folk dancer. In 2013, he was asked to become an assistant dance instructor. He has been a member of the
Croatian Fraternal Union of America since 2010 and has participated in every annual junior tamburitza
festival since that year. While traveling and visiting family in Croatia, their own success in entrepreneurship
has actually inspired him to go into the food industry. It is a personal goal of his to attend
a culinary school as his father did in Opatija and he dreams of maybe opening a bakery, like the many he
has seen sprinkled across Istria. Marko proudly comes from a long bloodline of Istrijani and Kordunasi people.
His family originates from Butlug (a village near Pazin), Mutvoran (a hill top near Marcana) and Batnoga
(another village near Cetingrad).
Ana Vidovic: Baltimore Maryland.
World Renown Classical Guitarist. Official Website
Ana is truly an Ambassador for Croatia through her music and her performances all over the world. She has won first
prizes in the Albert Augustine International Competition in Bath, England, the Fernando Sor competition in Rome,
Italy and the Francisco Tarrega competition in Benicasim, Spain. Other top prizes include the Eurovision Competition for
Young Artists, Mauro Giuliani competition in Italy, Printemps de la Guitare in Belgium and the Young Concert Artists
International Auditions in New York. In Croatia, the guitarist has performed with the Symphony Orchestra and on Croatian Radio
and Television, as well as having been featured in three television documentaries by the eminent Croatian film director Petar Krelja.
Ana comes from the small town of Karlovac near Zagreb, Croatia, and started playing
guitar at the age of five, and by seven had given her first public performance. At the age of 11 she was
performing internationally, and at 13 became the youngest student to attend the prestigious National
Musical Academy in Zagreb where she studied with Professor Istvan Romer. Ana's reputation in Europe
led to an invitation to study with Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore from which
she graduated and then off around the world sharing her classical guitar talent.
Click in the middle of Ana's video below to view one of her many Performances on YouTube.com
Her international performance career includes recitals, concerto engagements and festival appearances in many of Europe's
cultural destinations including Budapest, Copenhagen, London, Oslo, Paris, Rome, Salzburg, Vienna, Warsaw and Zagreb.
In North America, audiences have seen her on the stages of Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Houston, New York City, San Francisco,
St. Louis, Toronto, and Washington, DC. During recent seasons Ana's prolific career has taken her to London where she has
performed at King's Place twice; Bordeaux and Paris, Carthage (Tunesia), Cuenca (Equador), Vienna's Musikverein, Avezzano and
Pescara (Italy), Aachen, Ansbach and Ettlingen (Germany), Japan, Sao Paulo (Brazil), Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney (Australia),
Hong Kong, Bulle (Switzerland), Uppsala (Sweden), Istanbul and Tel Aviv. Her concerto performances have taken place with the
West Virginia Symphony, Erie Philharmonic, Asheville Symphony, Illinois Philharmonic, Knoxville Symphony, Missoula Symphony,
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra; and with the Slovene Orchestra in Slovenia and Zagreb Philharmonic.
Washington DC. Librarian at the Supreme Court.
Alex is proud of his work as the Acquisitions and Government Documents Librarian
at the United States Supreme Court and supporting the important bench work of the Court and thus being
able to serve our Republic. Alex also worked at Trinity Washington University where he primarily
worked with first generation college students in teaching and supporting research skills. At the
Supreme Court, he was appointed to the Acquisitions-Government Documents Librarian in May 2016.
Previously, Alex had been named the Access Services Librarian at the Sister Helen
Sheehan Library as well as being the Acting Head of Circulation in the summer of 2015. He first started
working in libraries when he was a student at the University of Chicago because of his advanced studies
in Croatian, Modern Greek, Japanese and Latin. Alex is graduate of the Cleveland Junior Tamburitzans
Croatian Pride. Alex actively supports both Cleveland Junior Tamburitzans and Zagreb Junior
Tamburitzans, attending functions whenever able. Alex is a member of the Croatian Fraternal Union
and has recently performed with Zelena Polja, an adult Tamburitzan group.
Family is from Selo Salopek, near Ogulin, Croatia.
Peter Hazdovac: San Pedro, California. Owner: Adriatic Travel/ Real Estate Agent.
Activist, Croatian American Club of San Pedro. Family from Mljet and Konavle, Croatia.
Began working full time at his family's travel agency, Adriatic Travel that has been in San Pedro
since 1974. Working for a family business that has been in San Pedro for close to 40 years has provided
the opportunity to work with many Croatian Americans who reside in our area.
Peter Hazdovac: Peter now brings the trust and
integrity his family has built over the years in the
community to his work as a real estate agent. Over the past three years, Peter has become a multi
million dollar producer every year for Keller Williams of Los Angeles Harbor. Peter has been involved
with the Libertas Foundation of Los Angeles for many years. After being a member for many years,
in 2016 Peter became secretary of the nationally known, Croatian American Club of San Pedro.
Maria Sentic: Born and Raised in Chicago, Illinois.
Partner in Chicago Accounting Firm.
Graduate of Northwestern University. Maria is a Certified Public Accountant, and the CEO and Founder of
AccountingLeap LLC, a technology platform providing outsourced accounting and finance help, business
process automation, and strategic consulting. She was accepted into the second cohort of the WiSTEM
(Women in STEM) accelerator at 1871, Chicago's top technology incubator. In 2013, Maria had co-
founded Cloudsourced Accounting, a successful online accounting and cloud integration firm. After only
six months her company was nominated for Partner of the Year at the Xero accounting conference.
In 2015, Cloudsourced Accounting was acquired by a large CPA firm.
Maria writes a blog about accounting, technology, and business topics
at Maria Sentic.com
and was recently featured in Women in Adria online magazine. Maria is a member of the Illinois CPA
Society. Maria is the Treasurer of the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP) and one of
the founding members and currently President of the Chicago Chapter of ACAP. She is on the organizing
committee for the 2nd annual conference of ACAP to be held in Chicago on May 12, 2017. Maria is active
member in the Croatian American community and has been a parishioner of St. Jerome's Croatian Catholic
Church in Chicago her whole life. She is a member of the humanitarian organization Croatian Woman
Branch #1 in Chicago. Family from Ljubuski and Siroki Brijeg, Herzegovina.
Nicholas J Begich III Chugiak, Alaska.
Founder and President- FarShore Partners.
Nick has over a decade of business and information technology management experience, and has advised
global development teams for clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to startups.
Nicholas Begich III:
CEO and Founder of FarShore Partners a custom software development firm with a
Zagreb office; and co-founder of Dashfire a start-up enabler assisting companies with business
architecture & technology development where he has launched over 40 high- potential startups through
strategic application development services; multi- year Top Achiever in the Ford Motor Company
Information Technology Leadership Program; served as the Interim CTO of record to several
client-partners; was elected Co-Chair Finance, State of Alaska Republican Party.
Family from Podlapaca in Lika, Croatia.
Marina Masic: White Plains, NY.
Owner Lumina NY Company, Hypnagogic Light and Lucia
Light Technology. Marina Masic, Ph.D. is clearly an innovative philosopher and has worked in the fields of
art, education and wellness for over fifteen years. She received a Masters in Art Therapy from NYU and her
doctorate from The European Graduate School in Philosophy, Media and Communications. She also
pursued graduate studies in performance interactive media art and art and social change. Marina has
utilized and mixed all combined interests in philosophy, neuroscience, nonfiction and art into actual career
opportunities. She has worked as a Professor and also, a Therapist at Columbia University Medical Center
She has facilitated a Mindfulness meditation program in over ten public and private schools.
She was a journalist at the UN for Climate Change as a student. She has been a professor
of Media Art at Manhattanville College and College of New Rochelle and faculty in Art Therapy at
Columbia University Medical Center in the Developmental Neuropsychiatry Program. Marina is the
founder of a company called Lumina NY which brings new ways of envisioning the world in a praxis
combining revolution light technology, healing arts with consciousness and life coaching. Her future plans
include publishing a new book of philosophy that delves into more awareness about consciousness and
healing. Her research and new company explores consciousness, multi sensory experiences with healing
principles and a new means and pathway to envision the world through hypnagogic light. In her youth,
Marina was awarded cultural ambassador for Rotary International as a Croatian American young
professional in Germany. Marina has collaborated with Croatian artist Zoran Orlic and published a book
during the Croatian war years to address the arts and art therapy. She was also in a Croatian Folk Art Dance
troupe which toured Croatia in 1999. Family from Lika (Velebit) and Devcicgrad (near Starigrad) Croatia.
Ivana Masic: Scarsdale, NY. Valhalla High School Teacher.
Multi Dimensional Artist.
Long time member, Kardinal Stepinac Folklore Group Family from Lika, Croatia.
Ivana proudly teaches High School Art at Valhalla High School in New York. Ivana collaborates often with
various artists, musicians, producers, directors, writers, educators & healers. Notably, she also acted as art
director for the NY based company called The Last Automat Press and designed over 30 book covers.
Ivana also enjoys being involved with the Croatian community and various types of philanthropic work.
She currently acts as the Education and Arts Director for CNYLA, a non-profit
organization, which promotes education and culture among young Croatian professionals. Ivana has also
been added to The Internet Movie Database for her artful achievements in film production and acted as
Art Director for the romantic horror film, Affections, directed by R. Barrieles. She has also composed
and recorded her music on the award-winning feature film, Fatalis, directed by S. Mueller.
Ivana has enjoyed singing vocals for the new album by Ludvig & Stelar: Beyond Second Thoughts and
worked with music producer, Damir Ludvig from Zagreb on this project. Ivana's art has been featured
in over thirty exhibits and shows the past fifteen years.
Tom Forti: St. Paul, Minnesota. Owner of Sunrise Creative Gourmet.
Family from Baric Draga, Croatia. Tom is the proud owner of his family's 4th generation gourmet food
business. Located in Hibbing, Minnesota, the Sunrise Bakery was established in 1913 by his great grand
father, Guilio, an immigrant from Rome. Over time, their product line evolved from artisan Italian breads
to a wide variety of Eastern European ethnic specialty foods, including sarma and potica. Tom moved back
to Hibbing to help transform the family business from a retail deli/bakery to a gourmet food manufacturer.
Tom Forti: Their gourmet pastas are now sold in over
300 grocery stores in the Upper Midwest,
and their distribution continues to grow. Tom launched his own gluten free pasta line and also recently
opened a gourmet specialty market and restaurant called Sunrise Creative Gourmet in a trendy area of
St. Paul, Minnesota.
California, Maryland. Patuxent River Naval Air Station. Lt. Commander, US Navy
Flight Pilot. Daniel has currently achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander. After graduation from
Purdue, he was commissioned as an officer in the US Navy. It was always his dream to fly and
accomplished that when he became an F/A-18 pilot. Professionally he has been awarded four Navy and
Marine Corp Commendation Medals, three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals as well a
Humanitarian Service Medal. He has flown over 2600 hours and has spent over two and a half years
deployed onboard aircraft carriers during 6 deployments and done 600 carrier landings on 11 different
aircraft carriers. In 2009 he graduated from the US Naval Test Pilot School and thus, became a test pilot.
Dan was the first test pilot from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 to man the first
Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch system in 2010. He was the 2011 Naval Test Wing Atlantic Test Pilot of
the Year as well as 2011 NDIA Naval Tester of the Year. In addition he was recognized with the 2013
Purdue University Engineering Young Alumni Award. He had graduated in 2000 from Purdue University
with a Bachelors Degree in Aerospace Engineering and 2001 with a Masters Degree too. Presently, he is
finishing his Executive Masters of Business Administration in 2017. He's close to becoming the
commanding officer of an F/A-18 test squadron and help test and develop the next generation of aircraft
and weapons for the US Navy. In the long term, his biggest dream has always been to become an astronaut.
Daniel has applied with NASA in 2012 and 2016 and as of fall 2016, he's made it through the first round
of selection and will hear more in the spring of 2017. Daniel has attended a few NFCA meetings and did
attend the first Association of Croatian American Professionals meeting in April 2016. His father,
Mijo Radocaj is a long time NFCA officer and two time President. Dan was raised in Massillon Ohio. Dan has always enjoyed visiting his
Croatian family in the village of Generalski Stol near Karlovac.
Biljana Lovrinovic: EastLake, Ohio.
Successful Entrepreneur-Family Business. Active in St. Paul's
Croatian Catholic Church. Founder Cleveland Croatian Business Network. Family from Travnik, Bosnia
and Herzegovina, she left during the war in 1992. She lived in Croatia and Germany before moving to the
USA in 1999. Involved with Sound of Croatia Radio Program. Biljana has been very successful helping
her mother, friends and other startups get the marketing
and entrepreneurial business advice crucial in the start-up phase. Her expertise and focus is with the ever
important marketing and brand awareness consultancy and other effective communication solutions to grow your business.
Biljana hopes to someday advise clients in Croatia and Bosnia
and Herzegovina and to create global win-win connections via technology and exchange programs.
She has been a very active Croatian American activist with St. Paul's Croatian Catholic Church:
singing with choir, teaching the Croatian language and member of the Finance Committee.
She s very proud that she created a Cleveland Croatian Business network with over 125 members.
Biljana has been a member of the adult Tamburitzans group Zelena Polja. She has been
active with other political projects and even attended the NFCA convention in Cleveland in 2011.
Campbell California. Aaron has been incredibly successful over the past five years
as a sales executive with Expeditors International and now Paycom Software Inc. He has risen within the
ranks at Paycom from a sales consultant to Regional Sales Manager. He has won countless awards and has
broken many quota and business milestones. Aaron hopes to be the first under thirty, Sales Vice President at
Paycom within a few years. Aaron takes great pride in coaching kids and has a passion for mentoring the
youth. He has worked with several groups including: Best Buddies for mentally challenged individuals;
Associated Youth Student Body; Youth Counselor at Camp Kannakuk. He really believes that there are
limitations in regards to programs and schools that adequately train kids with the business knowledge as
well as the knowledge to excel in athletics and so personal volunteerism is essential to mentor the youth.
Aaron was the first person in his family to go to college and was fortunate to be
awarded a full ride football scholarship. He was his high school's "Athlete of the Year" his senior year.
His grandfather came from Croatia from the Island of Mljet and started his own business in America and
was extremely successful despite all odds and was responsible for providing and selling a large share of all
the palm trees in California. He was raised to be proud of his Croatian
heritage and really enjoys visiting Croatia and seeing his relatives on the Island of Mljet.
Aaron is an Ambassador for the Croatian American Foundation for Education in Training, created by
Institute For the Development of Education, a leading NGO in Croatia in the field of higher education and
with support of the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb. The Foundation offers a scholarship program for masters-level
study at U.S. Universities for Croatian nationals.
Ivana Peric White Plains, New York. Family Law Attorney.
Ivana is a partner in a New York law firm
practicing matrimonial and family law. Her stint in college with an internship with a non-profit law firm to
help victims of domestic violence sparked her interest and desire to go into family law. She worked full
time during the day to put herself through Pace Law School (now Haub Law School at Pace University).
She became an associate with Harvey Landau, Esquire and afterthree years became partner. She is admitted
to practice in the states of New York and New Jersey. Ivana is a member of the Family Law section of
various bar associations, and is a member of: New York Bar Association, American Bar Association,
Westchester County Bar Association, Westchester Women's Bar Association and the Croatian American Bar Association.
Ivana has been involved with the Croatian community in the New York City area her whole life and attended the Croatian school in
Manhattan and learned so much about Croatian history, the language and folklore. In more recent years, she was involved with the
Croatian American Bar Association, as well as the Association of Croatian American Professionals. It is through the ACAP that she
found the opportunity to potentially participate in Domovina Task Force which is a program to help establish a
Croatian "Birthright Program", which would enable Americans of Croatian descent to visit Croatia and learn about their country and
heritage. Family from Grebastica and Visoka, Croatia.
Filip Pirsl: Washington DC area.
Research Scientist at National Institute of Health.
Filip is a research fellow at the National Institute of Health (NIH). Filip has presented at a bio-medical
conference, published research articles in an academic peer-review journal and has a number of addtional
co-authorships. In Filip's field of biomedical research, he has collaborated with Croatian colleagues both in
Washington DC and Croatia. He even won the Outstanding Poster at the 2015 NIH Postbac Poster day
awarded, awarded to the best posters and judged by the graduate and postdoctoral students.
Above picture: Filip's mom Sanya and Croatian Ambassador Josko Paro.
Since 2012, Filip has been very active committee member of Hrvatska Ura (HURA) in Washington DC.
He has been very involved in the planning and organization of the HURA group which sponsors ten plus
events (speaker and vino) per year, and most are held at the Croatian Embassy in the nation's capital.
Filip is also a key leader with fundraising activities and being a webmaster for their website. Filip is a
member of the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP) and helped coordinate their first
conference in Washington DC. In addition to volunteering with HURA, Filip has been volunteering weekly
at a local hospital for the last two years.
Filip's immediate family is from Rjeka and also has family in Dalmatia.
Washington DC. Immigration Attorney.
Croatian Teacher-English Translator/Cleveland Students-Political Guests President-Founding Member of
Croatian Youth Club of Cleveland. Mark focuses his practice on employment-based immigration corporate
immigration law and his practice focuses on helping clients transfer and retain elite talent from around the
world. Mark represents clients in non-immigrant and immigrant visa matters before the Department of
Labor, Department of State, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Mark has particular subject
matter expertise with all permanent residency matters.
Mark Yelich: He has had a lot of success and enjoys representing small clients and start-up companies and
to help them grow and mature over the years. Unrelated to his legal practice Mark is very proud of his work
for the Croat Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2003 and 2004. Mark had the unique
opportunity to work directly with Dr. Dragan Covic and serve as a member of his Cabinet. Mark was
involved in numerous domestic and Croatian or BH Croat international projects, and would highlight the
international investment conference that was held in Mostar in February 2004. Mark is a proud member and
attendee of the first Association of Croatian American Professionals (CroAmPro) meeting.
Family from Zagreb, Knin, Marija Bistrica, Stolac, Croatia and Pozega, Herzogovina.
Jelena Rudela: Anaheim, California.
Director of Student Success, Concordia College (CA).
Past National Federation of Croatian Americans Officer-Treasurer. Currently, Jelena is back in California
and a Director at Concordia College and serves on the Admissions Committee and Women's
Leadership Task Force. Jelena finished her studies at UCLA in political studies in 2005 and moved to Washington, DC and had
Rudy Perpich Fellowship with the NFCA and continued involvement and was NFCA Treasurer for two years.
Jelena's thirst for more education and a MBA took her to Mexico City and completed it in Kiel Germany.
Her MBA experience brought her a consulting position with Speyside Corporate Relations and within her tenure,
exciting collaboration to produce in depth market reports and presentations for
multinationals seeking market entry into Latin America.
She is very proud of her work and their effort to successfully garner approval for a
prominent Hepatitis C drug with this consulting position Jelena has done due diligence about several
Croatian business opportunities and could end up back there as an entrepreneur. She even volunteered her
time for two months to help elect the first woman President of Croatia. Jelena comes from a very active
Croatian American household and during high school was a member of the Los Angeles Croatian Folklore
Ensemble. She remains an active member of the NFCA and is a member of the Association of Croatian
American Professionals. Famly is from Radovin, near Zadar and Zdrelac, Otok Pasman.
James D. Kresnik:
Omaha, Nebraska. Residential Real Estate Investor. Family from Kljuc, Croatia.
Lifetime Member of Croatian Fraternal Union (CFU). Treasurer of Croatian Cultural Society of Omaha.
Jim proudly comes from a family of serious long term Croatian American activists. Jim's professional
career after graduating from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, put his banking and finance major to
good use at Applied Underwriters, the Omaha World Herald Company and First National Bank of Omaha
before Jim decided to earn an MBA and make a move into the real-estate investment market.
Today he owns and manages a seven-figure RE portfolio and working with college students to retirees.
Jim has been such a dedicated and committed Croatian with so many groups and even with the Croatian
Catholic Union before it merged with the CFU.
James D. Kresnik:
Jim is the organist and leads the choir for the St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church
founded 100 years ago by his Croatian great-grandfathers. He remains active with the CFU Lodge #101
and has been the treasurer for the Croatian Cultural Society of Omaha for ten years now. Jim wears so many
hats and even cuts the lawn around the Omaha Croatian Hall which was the host site of the NFCA
convention ten years ago. Jim has been a leader with many Croatian charitable activities and loves to visit
his relatives in Croatia and continues to learn the Croatian language. Jim is the son of long time NFCA
Board Member, Jim Kresnik and the nephew of NFCA founding member Joe Cupich. And he is the cousin
of the new Cardinal from Chicago (Blaise J. Cupich).
Marko Buljan: Palo Alto, California.
Commercial Real Estate Associate, Marcus and Millichap Inc.
Executive Board, Croatian Scholarship Fund. Family from Imotski and a village outside of Dubrovnik,
Croatia. Marko is an associate at the elite commercial real estate offices of Marcus and Millichap.
Marko represents both buyers and sellers of investment properties in the Bay area and works with both
private institutional investors who own prominent properties in Silicon Valley. He provides an
extraordinary commitment to the clients he serves and takes great pride in helping his clients exceed their
Marko is active as the Secretary on the Executive Board of the Croatian Scholarship
Fund (CSF), a nonprofit organization based out of Northern California that provides college scholarships
to deserving students in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to serving as Secretary,
Marko helps organize an annual golf tournament fundraiser in Northern CA to raise funds for the CSF.
Marko recently became a member of the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP) and
attended the first conference in Washington D.C. in April 2016. He is currently involved in starting
a Silicon Valley ACAP chapter for this organization.
Kristin Vukovic: New York City.
Kristin is a very talented writer with a focus on travel and has real
passion for Croatian projects. She's working on a book of fiction based on her experiences on Pag island.
The Croatian National Tourist Board is sponsoring her 2016 individual Croatia trip (Istria/Kvarner/Zagreb),
where she will be writing a feature assignment for BBC's Good Food Magazine and an article about Pag
cheese chocolates, Paskinjice, for Culture Magazine. During her undergraduate years at Columbia
University, from 2002 through 2006, she was fortunate to study a year of Croatian language with Kansas
University's six-week summer program, "Language and Culture in Dubrovnik". Also, while pursuing a
Master of Fine Arts in Nonfiction Writing at Columbia University, she was elected editor-in-chief of
Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art (published annually).
Here's her wonderful literary essay about her
grandmother's Croatian cooking
which was published in Connecticut
Review in 2007. After graduating in 2009, she has pursued travel writing with a passion. She proudly has
written about Croatian culture and cuisine for print and online publications such as Conde Nast Traveller
India, Culture, Afar, Food & Wine, Wine Enthusiast. In 2011, Kristin covered the 6th Annual Croatian
Days of Cheese Festival, held at the Pag island cheese factory. In 2012, Ivan Miletic, a historian and
librarian in Zagreb and coauthor of From the Adriatic to Lake Erie: A History of Croatians in Greater
Cleveland, asked her to help edit a book project, Croatians in America: A Photo Monograph. In 2012,
Sirana Gligora invited her to work on a book project about restaurants on the island of Pag that highlighted
Pag cheese (Paski sir) in their dishes. Kristin has been a reporter for the Croatian Chronicle and some
highlights include: interview with President Ivo Josipovic in Dubrovnik during the 2011 summer festival;
wrote an article about the grand opening of the Croatia Club of Tampa Bay, Florida, attended by then
Croatian Ambassador Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. She has attended "Croatian Professionals in New York"
meetings and took Croatian classes at Saint Cyril and Methodius Croatian Church in Manhattan during her
college years. Family from Svarca Donja, Karlovac.
Chicago, Illinois. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney's Office for Northern District of
Illinois Office's Criminal Division and General Crimes Section. Family from Gorski Kotar plus villages
near Vrbovsko and Rijeka. Daniel is a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and investigates and prosecutes a
variety of federal offenses, including fraud, bank robbery and embezzlement, and illegal possession and
sale of narcotics and firearms. Prior to being the Special Assistant, Daniel was a prosecutor with the U.S.
Department of Justice and Assistant Inspector General at the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General.
Daniel was a PILI Fellow and worked in Zagreb, Croatia, where his work focused on implementing judicial
and institutional reform in a post-Communist country.
He was also involved in research related to creating a regulatory framework and
educating Croatian lawyers in modern legal practices. Daniel is a member of the American Bar Association
and the Chicago Bar Association. He was a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan law
school. He is also a former Indiana Junior Tamburitzan and very active over the years with St. Jerome's
Croatian Catholic Church in Chicago. He is been a member of the Croatian American Bar Association, Association
of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP) and the Croatian Fraternal Union.
Kelsey Aho: Anchorage, Alaska.
ORISE Research Participant at the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency. Resilience and Adaptation Fellow at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Environmentalist-
Intercultural Dialogue in South Eastern Europe. Family from Sisak and Zagreb, Croatia. Lifetime Croatian
Fraternal Union Member (Lodge 1014-Atlanta, GA) with Croatian grandparents that let to her interest in
the Croatian language, culture, music and then to the Croatian landscape. Professionally and academically,
Kelsey's environmental work has been focused on human communities along political boundaries and her
research and special initiatives have taken her to Croatia, BiH, Kosovo and Montenegro.
Her project, Balkans Peace Park project has involved managing and coordinating youth
programs and volunteers. These programs focus on the locally shared environment, as a tool for lessening
political tensions that cascade through borders and from higher levels of govt. Kelsey has had six years of
experience with the Balkan alpine ecosystem, specifically the Dinaric Alps. In the long term, she hopes to
return to Croatia as a legal advocate for the region's transboundary environmental features which have no
political boundaries. Winner of CFU-Rotary scholarships and the Davis Project-Peace Grant.
Mario Govic: Delray Beach, Florida.
Mario is the current founder and President of Govic Capital.
Family from Brodarica, near Sibenik, Croatia. Mario has a very interesting story and he was born in
Sibenik, Croatia. He moved to Germany at the age 5 and so was brought up and educated in Germany.
He met his future Croatian bride also from the Sibenik area while on vacation in Croatia and a few years
later together they moved to the U.S. from Germany. Within a few months of moving to the U.S, Mario
found a job on Wall Street in New York City and his successful financial career took off. In 2006, he joined
MetLife and made his first million dollars, in earnings, in one year at the age of 27, which was unheard of
at the firm. Mario was a member of the prestigious Chairman's Council for the 6 years he was with Metlife.
Mario Govic: In 2012 he started his own firm,
Govic Capital in order to be fully independent for his
clients and to start a hedge fund and other ventures, not possible working under a corporate umbrella.
Mario's firm specializes in wealth management for high net worth individuals & families. Mario currently
owns a handful of companies and involved in numerous business ventures and is excited about investing
in Croatia, in the not too distant future. Mario represents the American Dream and is an inspiration
for every young person with a drive to succeed.
Sam Miltich: Grand Rapids, MN. Gypsy Guitarist and Tamburitzan.
Family from Rtina and Miletici Croatia. Sam is a jazz guitarist born and raised in the woods of
northern Minnesota. He is a musician by profession and plays regularly in the Upper Midwest as a soloist
and with his band the Clearwater Hot Club. In addition to gypsy swing and traditional jazz his musical
interests include Brazilian choro, French musette, Eastern European tamburitza and traditional
folk music. After hearing the music of the late gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, Sam decided to
dedicate himself to the study of gypsy jazz.
By the time he was eighteen he was touring touring with the Robin Nolan Trio in the
U.S. and Europe. He would later join the Hot Club of San Francisco for two years before starting his own
band, the Clearwater Hot Club. In 2010, he fulfilled a dream he had since he was 5 years old & started the Big Dipper Jazz Band- a traditional six-piece jazz band.
Seattle, Washington. Family from Zagreb and island of Susak, Crotia.
Nancy is co-founder and CFO of Stay Alfred, one of the nation's largest corporate housing and short term
rental companies that has recently received recognition from Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 fastest
growing companies in the United States. In four short years, her company has grown to $25 million
in revenue without any outside capital or debt and employ seventy people in Washington State.
Prior to starting her own company, Nancy became Director of Investor Relations for American Capital
Group where in 2009 she received 'Employee of the Year' for outstanding performance during the Great
Recession. While working for American Capital Group, she earned her MBA from Seattle University,
then transitioned to law school and graduated summa cum laude from Gonzaga University.
Nancy is a member of the Washington State Bar. After college Nancy lived in Zagreb, Croatia where she was
a translator for the Department of Agriculture and the Croatian Ministry of Defense. She had the
opportunity to interface with Croatia's emerging leaders and European Union delegates. Currently,
Nancy is a member of the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP) and attended the first
annual conference in Washington, D.C. She has also volunteered for CroatiaFest in Seattle, an
organization that celebrates Croatian heritage.
Carmen Mikacenic, M.D. Seattle Washington.
Asst Professor, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.
University of Washington Hospital. Dr. Mikacenic in her current role, takes care of patients with interstitial
lung diseases and those who are critically ill in the intensive care unit. She is still actively involved in
biomedical research, focused on understanding how common genetic changes affect immune responses in
lung disease and critical disease. She was summa cum laude in BioChemistry at Tufts University. She went
on to University of Washington School of Medicine for medical school and had internal medicine training
at Brigham and Women's Hospital, a Harvard hospital. Dr. Mikacenic has won multiple medical honors,
grants, fellowships and professional awards.
Carmen Mikacenic, M.D.:
Her University of Washington Hospital laboratory is focused on the pathways
of critical illness which leads to an inflammatory reaction and to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.
She hopes to secure more National Institute of Health funding soon and for possible collaboration with
some Croatian academics with similar research. She is a proud Croatian with a "Zagreb"
license plate and
long time connection to CroatiaFest,
the annual Croatian heritage festival in Seattle. She is an active
member of the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP) and with the
organization's Health Sciences section. As a college student, she was an All-NESCAC Academic Team
Member, Soccer (1999) while at Tufts. Family from Zagreb and Susak, Croatia.
Joe Hovanic: Washington, D.C. Employer: Association of American Medical Colleges.
Senior Specialist, Enterprise Risk Management. Joe has been fortunate to have many different
experiences in the Washington, D.C. area that got him to his current position. He worked as an intern
on Capitol Hill and also, at a European think tank while in college at George Mason University. He says the
people he has met from all walks of life and backgrounds has been incredible, and has been a huge
influence on him. From there, he entered the nonprofit world, working first for an international development
firm and a trade association before landing at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
His current major project is the implementation of the COSO framework within their organization for the
Enterprise Risk program. Professionally, he had the privilege of being in a position of
facilitation of communication and projects between numerous private, public, and nonprofit entities.
He feels that a big part of his achievement in his professional career is the work he does with the
community, assisting the legal team with pro bono cases with the Washington Legal Clinic, working with
the homeless and vulnerable populations in the nation's capital. Joe believes it's such a rewarding
experience making tangible improvements on people's lives who truly need it. While working full time
at the AAMC, he has also taken the Virginia real estate exam in September. He's excited about a possible
new venture in the real estate world in conjunction with his day job. Joe's Croatian great grandparents
worked in the textile mills near Pittsburgh and then settled on a family farm in Warren County, PA.
These values and ethics of hard work from his grandparents really shaped him and his whole way of life.
He credits the faith of his family and ancestors (Catholic) for influencing him and his desire to help people
both in my professional and personal life. That's the pride he takes in his Croatian heritage, and which he
tries to exemplify every day. Joe is a current member of the Association of Croatian American
Professionals (ACAP). He proudly was active in promoting Croatian cultural awareness and other interests
at international student functions while he attended George Mason University.
Family is from Vrbova, a town in Slavonia and a family house is on Hvar.
Emily Halasha: Cleveland Ohio.
College Associate Management Position, Ohio Medical Mutual.
Emily is a recent graduate, just beginning her career with the largest health insurer in Ohio, Medical
Mutual. She was selected from a pool of 500 applicants nationwide for one of the six coveted positions in
the College Associate Program. In this program, the six graduates spend the first year of rotating through
each department of the company to learn all about the business of health insurance. Emily intends to go to
law school in the near future and become a general practice attorney who specializes in immigration issues.
She plans to continue her mother's work of providing high quality legal services to the Croatian- American
community. Emily graduated from Cleveland State University in May 2016, degree in Health Science.
During her pursuit of an undergraduate degree, she served in Student Government and
was elected Student Body President her junior year. As President, she represented over 17,000 students on a
variety of committees and councils, most notably the President's Council on Diversity and the Provost's
Council on Sexual Violence Prevention. She presented to the Board of Trustees and represented the
university at the Ohio State House and in Washington D.C. for various lobbying events. Emily has been a
member of the Croatian Fraternal Union of America for 22 years. Currently, she is the President of Zelena
Polja Adult Tamburica of Cleveland and is working to make it a 501(c)(3) organization in order to further
promote the preservation of Croatian culture. She is a proud graduate of American Zagreb Jr. Tamburica,
where she played the Brac and Prim. She was a member for ten years and says she was able to learn so
much about Croatian heritage and culture through this experience. She is also a member of the Association
of Croatian American Professionals. She has already volunteered for several non-profit organizations
including United Way of Greater Cleveland, and Susan G. Komen Northeast since joining Medical Mutual.
Family is from Donji Dragonozc (Turoplje region) which is now part of the city of Zagreb.
Peter Kosovec: Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Software Solution Consultant, Zycus Company.
Peter's entire career has been in the software space. The first major accomplishment was with his first
company, designing a deployment software tool for his customers. He next worked for a Company called
"Ariba" where he worked a variety of roles including Technical Support, Project Management, and
Consulting. He was an expert for contract management on a consulting team and he was instrumental in
converting hundreds of fortune 500 companies over to their software over for two years. He was recently
recruited by another company in the procurement software space called "Zycus" where now he's selling the
software as a Solution Consultant. Peter is a lifetime member of the Croatian Fraternal Union.
He started young as a member of the Start Junior Tamburitzans under CFU guidance
from ages 6-18. He was a member of the Detroit Tamburitza Orchestra under the direction of his father
Ken Kosovec for several years. He has been the Tambura director of the South Hills Junior Tamburitzans
with the CFU where he taught his own children how to play Tambura. He has played in a Croatian Tambura
band called "Momci" with his father. He started two more Tambura bands and one called "Otrov" and
performs with "Tamburasi Sastav Ponoc" now. Peter has always been proud to be Croatian and loves
sharing this fact with people that he meets personally and professionally. In 2001, he was the youngest
recipient to receive the Lou Cavic Founder's award given by the Tambura Association of America for
demonstrating an outstanding devotion to the preservation of Tambura Music and Slavic culture.
He has recorded and produced 15 albums since he started recording this music at the age of 17.
Today, he composes, arranges, and records Tambura music for professional Tambura artists and bands in
Croatia such as Stjepan Jersek, Slavonske Lole and has collaborated with Miroslav Skoro, too. In the
future, he hopes to record more Croatian Tambura CDs both with his band and maybe a solo project to
include a Croatian Children's album to help perpetuate Croatian Tambura folk music to our children.
Family is from Zagorje, Lika and more from the Karlovac region.
Julia Jaksic: Nashville, Tennessee. Executive Chef and Restaurant Owner.
Ten plus years in NYC. (Lower Manhattan West side).
"Employees Only" Official Website
Family from Skakavac, near Karlovac.
Julia Jaksic is a self driven professional chef focused on sharingwith the world her love of cooking,
Croatian heritage, and family values. Since graduating from culinary school and leaving Milwaukee, Julia
has been focused on traveling the world and opening restaurants in pursuit of sharing the best cuisine
possible. Always promoting her Croatian family story and morals and integrating Croatian culture and
cuisine to all she meets.
Former lifelong Tamburitzan player, Julia promotes the Croatian culture through food
and music. Julia is a constant supporter of the Federation of Croatian Societies of Milwaukee including
her parish and the Croatian Radio Hour there. Julia was head chef at Employees Only in the West Village
for ten years. At the moment Julia is working on opening a restaurant in Miami this year, and one in Panama
City, Panama set to open in January 2017 and one in Manhattan in March and in in Nashville, too in 2017.
Julia will also have her first cookbook being published by Penguin/Random House early next year.
It is a collection of recipes from the cafe Jack's Wife Freda in New York City where she had been the
Chef-Consultant for the last 4 years.
Stratford, Connecticut. Co-Owner and Director of Operations, Macron Sports Store.
Family from Skabrnja near Zadar and Bugojno in BiH. Tom is proud to state his life long love affair
for soccer and Croatia. He has found multiple ways to honor both these passions by his hobbies, sports
commitment via a college scholarship and now as a business career. Tom's Macron global brand store
provides high-end team-wear and athleisure wear to youth clubs, schools, colleges and pro clubs throughout
the USA. Macron is Italy's premier technical sportswear brand and the official supplier to English Football
League. His store provides a full range of direct team-wear products for football, rugby, volleyball,
handball, basketball and baseball. Tom's Macron store offers a one-stop shop and first class personal
service for so many types of sports team-wear.
Tom has been successful in blending soccer
with a Croatian connection. Tom founded the Connecticut Croatia, amateur soccer club and the team is
a recognized member of Croatia North American Savez. He even played for the Melbourne Knights in
Australia where Josip Simunic and Mark Viduka played for and after his successful college soccer career
at Fairfield University. Tom was on a full scholarship and was conference player of the
year one year in college. He played soccer for New York Croatia as a young child and attended school
at Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in New York City. He met his wife at a Mate Bulic concert in Canada
and actually submitted his "40 Under 40" information while he was still on his honeymoon.
Mario Talanga: Port Richie Florida.
Medical Student at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Bradenton, FL
Mario is currently a medical student at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in
Bradenton, FL. Mario was born in Sarajevo, but his family soon fled to Hamburg Germany to escape the
war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His family was offered permanent status in the United States and they
arrived in 1998. Since Mario didn't did not speak English, he was placed in an English as a Second
Language class. Within months, Mario mastered English and was placed in a gifted program. During High
School, Mario was enrolled in the International Baccalaureate (IB) & Advanced Placement (AP) programs.
Mario graduated from High School as the IB Salutatorian for having the second
highest GPA in his class. After High School, Mario attended the University of Florida in Gainesville and
graduated with summa cum laude honors. He was fortunate to have received a prestigious scholarship to the
University of Florida. Currently, Mario is a third year medical student in the middle of his clinical rotations
and has developed a real interest in cardiology. He has over 500 plus hours of community service primarily
from volunteering in the hospital setting. His father is President of the Croatian American Club of Florida
and his mother is very involved too. Mario is the webmaster for this active club based in St. Petersburg, FL.
Family from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Whitestone New York. Rutgers University.
With her outstanding and stellar high school achievements and coupled with all her Croatian activities
has earned her, the one spot set aside for a rising star Croatian American college student in the USA!
Throughout her high school career, she was part of science research program at her high school and
even conducted her own own original research project under the mentorship of a Rutgers professor.
Her research looked at the effects of bilingual memory when exposed to various music samples. It was a
four year commitment and her project was entered into a few STEM competitions and a few conferences.
During the spring of her senior year, she had the privilege of presenting her work at a competition in
New York City and a conference in Washington D.C.!
She even created a Croatian
Club at her high school, in which she was the President for three years. The club participated at various
school events such as International Night. She earned and gained the membership of three National Honor
Societies: The National Society of High School Scholars, The National Honor Society, and The Foreign
Language National Honor Society. Tatjana is now a freshman at Rutgers University in New Brunswick,
New Jersey and already is pursuing a double major in Cell Biology, Neuroscience and Psychology.
While pursuing a double major, she has already joined and is participating with a new research lab
studying children with ADHD and autism with eye tracking. She has already joined the Rutgers American
Medical Student Association (AMSA) and upon the completion of her Bachelors degree, she plans on
attending medical school and pursuing a PhD/MD in Neuroscience in hopes to become a Neurosurgeon.
Tatjana remains and has been an active member of the New York City Kardinal Stepinac Kolo Group,
teaching traditional Croatian folklore and performing and traveling throughout the United States and
Canada. She has been a teacher at Hrvatska Skola, and this year, she's the assistant kolo teacher for the
fourth graders, teaching traditional Croatian folklore for their annual performances. She has been a member
of the Robert Mann Dance Center Company, in which she has studied various styles of dance. She has also
participated in various community service activities including Drug Alcohol Prevention Team and has been
a helper at Dancing Dreams and which assists physically challenged students in their dance class. Tatjana's
commitment to Croatian American activities and community service is truly a role model for her age group.
Family from Labin and Barban near Pula and from Privlaka, close to Zadar.
Stipe Miocic: Cleveland, Ohio.
Mixed Martial Artist and the current UFC Heavyweight Champion of
the World, with an impressive 16-2 MMA record.
Official Website Professional Firefighter with
Oakwood and Valley View Fire Departments. Family from Cetinrad and Rtina. He prides himself on
his loyalty to his family and friends. Professionaly, Stipe looked up to fellow Croatian Mirko Cro Cop.
He won the title in May 2016 & Defended it Successfully in September in his Hometown of Cleveland, OH
Since entering the UFC in October 2011, Stipe has amassed 3 Fight of the Night Awards, three Performance
of the Night Awards, and one Knockout of the Night Award. He has main evented six UFC cards.
Well known for his accolades inside the Octagon, Stipe is also prominently recognized
for his work as a firefighter and paramedic and proud of his charity work with many groups including
the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. A full time UFC fighter, Stipe has noted numerous times
that "one of my proudest moments was becoming a firefighter". Saving and helping people, is just
something I always wanted to do. Stipe will participate in an event with the Toronto Croatian Chamber on
December 3rd. Stipe loves the Cleveland Indians, Browns and Cavaliers. Division I baseball player and
wrestler at Cleveland State University.
Total Croatia News Article
Mario Jurcic: Cleveland, OH. President: Ohio IT Security Firm.
Family from Batnoga and Tatar Varos, Croatia. Mario Jurcic is a 31 year old entrepreneur and has built
a very successful IT business. In 2008, StartupNation.com recognized as one of the top 20, best dorm based
businesses in America. Mario's company now Secure-Ohio is working with
national companies such as First Energy Corp.
He was also named fortune 5000 company and selected as
Impact 100 as a young 30
under 30 entrepreneur in 2012-2013. chievements also include: 2013 Inc 5000 and 630th on the list of
America's most rapidly growing privately held companies. He volunteers his time to mentor new business
owners and does hire Second Chance Employees and formerly incarcerated or in active in addiction
recovery programs and paying them above minimum wage with opportunity for advancement and growth.
Mario was active with Croatian soccer leagues for many years.
Teresa Scanlan: Gering, Nebraska Miss Nebraska 2010 and Miss America 2011.
Speaker. Teresa won the Miss America contest at age 17. Her beauty, intelligence and polished piano
talents with her Croatian charm won the judge's votes and the crown. This incredible accomplishment
launched her speaking career and into a whirlwind tour of America and multiple volunteer and speaking
opportunities. Teresa remains an active Board member of the Youth Service of America and has aided
orphanages in Haiti. She's happily married and a a proud mother of a beautiful son and plans to attend law
school when finished with her college studies with a major in government. Teresa has been extremely active
at Patrick Henry college and begin part of the Moot Court Team, College Chorale and Student Senate.
Please visit the Nebraska State Museum to see the Teresa Scanlan "Miss America"
exhibit. Her grandparents, the Jelich family hail from the tiny island of Ilovnik near Mali Losinj.
Her Croatian grandparents instilled in her, a real love of family, Croatia and for reaching for her dreams.
Teresa has visited Croatia numerous times and is in awe of the beauty of the Adriatic Sea and all the seaside
landscape. She was a guest speaker at the NFCA annual convention in 2013 and thrilled the attendees with her
inspirational story and commitment to worthwhile causes. She is a member of ACAP. Teresa's favorite motto's
include: "Beauty with a Purpose" and "True Confidence is to Let Go of your Fear of Failure".
Steve Rukavina: Hey, this guy looks over 40, get him out of here. ;-) LOL -
Dear Croatian Friends and NFCA Supporters!
Thank you for viewing the NFCA's "40 Under 40" winners from our Croatian American community.
We salute all the winners and their commitment to success and to our Croatian heritage!
We did not rank the winning candidates and they are in no particular order.
We would like to extend a big thanks to NFCA webmaster, Eric Gregrich for all of his invaluable
work on this project. Steve Rukavina, President NFCA Cultural Foundation, Twitter @StevenRuksj