Vera StavroffChairwoman of the Board
Michael CklamovskiVice-Chairman of the Board
John I. BitoveCo-founder
Vera was born in Bitola, Macedonia. Her family emigrated to Ohio’s heartland, where she attended The Ohio State University and received her degree in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. She worked in the pharmaceutical industry (Abbott Laboratories) for 13 years. Vera joined Limited Brands as a member of the Executive Committee and head of Research & Development, Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs for the Bath & Body Works division. Vera is the recipient of two U.S. and international patents. She resides in Columbus Ohio with her husband Frank and they have two children, Jacquilyn and Jeffrey.
Michael serves as Managing Director and Market Manager with CIBC Bank USA in Chicago. Michael works closely with business principals, leading a team built to provide tailored banking solutions to strategic clients. He is attuned to client’s personal and professional interests and helps business owners, entrepreneurs, senior executives, and multigenerational families navigate significant crossroads in their financial lives, providing them with the resources and counsel required to make sound decisions.
Michael began his career practicing tax law and prior to joining CIBC, led a Private Wealth Management team at U.S. Trust, Bank of America in Chicago. Michael earned a B.A. with dual majors in Political Science and Communication from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as well as a Juris Doctor with Honors from the Northern Illinois University College of Law.
Mike Zafirovski is founder and president of The Zaf Group, a family office investing and advisory firm. The Zaf Group acquires and oversees well-run family businesses with revenues between $50-300 million, with intention of owning in perpetuity. In addition, Mike is an executive advisor to The Blackstone Group (since 2011) and he sits on the board of directors of Boeing (since 2004) and Stericycle (since 2012). For Zaf Group direct investments, Mike serves as chairman of the board for ACP, an IT solutions provider; and board member for evolve24, a predictive data analytics firm.
These activities build on a track record of respecting the heritage of market leading companies, while helping them achieve new levels of talent development, profitable growth, and operating performance. During the course of his corporate career, Mike served as CEO/president at Nortel, Motorola, and five GE businesses in the high tech, industrial, consumer, and financial services industries. In 21 years of P&L responsibility, revenue growth exceeded 8% per year, annual productivity gains averaged above 6%, and EBITDA margin increases averaged 350bps per year. In his first P&L role at GE, Mike acquired and successfully integrated 18 family-owned auto auction businesses.
From 2006 to 2010, Mr. Zafirovski was appointed by the President of the United States to the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC), providing recommendations to the president on a wide range of policy issues related to telecommunications, IT, cybersecurity, and other national security concerns.
The Zafirovski Family Foundation (established in 2005) activities focus primarily on education, healthcare, faith-based ministries, and economic development. A native of Macedonia, Mike is co-founder of Macedonia 2025 (www.macedonia2025.com), an organization dedicated to enhancing the country’s economic and democracy development. He established the Zafirovski Executive Development Program, where in partnership with the Kellogg School of Management, Macedonia 2025 is seeking to accelerate development of 100 future CEOs and CXOs in the country. Mike also serves as vice chairman of the board at the AUSL (www.ausl-chicago.org), an organization that is successfully driving education equity at 31 of the most challenged public schools in Chicago (each of these formerly failing schools has moved up in performance ranking, with 81% in good standing). In 2009 Mike co-founded the Faith at Work ministry at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Lake Forest, Illinois. His other involvements include: Council of Chief Executives (vice chairman), American Enterprise Institute (member of Midwest Council), The Halftime Institute (completed the Fellows Program in 2017), The Economic Club of Chicago (member, former director), and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs (member).
Mike holds a B.A. in mathematics from Edinboro University in Pennsylvania where he captained the soccer and swimming teams. In 2002, Edinboro University awarded him an honorary doctorate degree in public service. He is a visiting lecturer at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He and his wife, Robin are on Duke University’s Parents’ Committee (former national chairs).
He received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2004; the Distinguished Leadership Award from the NY Hall of Science in 2008; the Medal of Honor from the President of Macedonia in 2013; and the inagural John L. Bitove Philanthropy Award in 2018. Also in 2018, The Navy Seal Foundation bestowed on Mike and his wife, Robin the “Patriot Award,” in recognition of their extensive philanthropic contributions to society, commitment to the Navy Seal community, and spirit and example of Patriotism.
Mike and Robin, married for 36 years, have three sons, two of whom are married, and four grandchildren. Mike’s hobbies include anything with family, mentoring, friends, travel, and sports (he completed the Kona Ironman Triathlon in 2018).
John I. Bitove
John I. Bitove has a distinguished record of accomplishment in the corporate, sports and community endeavours. He is the sole shareholder of Obelysk, which has major investments in the wireless, satellite radio, real estate, restaurants and other businesses. He is one of the founders of alternative asset investment firm, PointNorth Capital. Recently Obelysk has obtained the right to develop the Canadian market for Bird e-scooters, and the franchise right to develop Dave’s Hot Chicken restaurants in Canada.
Mr. Bitove was the founder, Chairman and controlling shareholder of Canadian Satellite Radio Inc. which brought satellite radio service to Canadians, in partnership with U.S.-based XM Satellite Radio. XM later merged with Sirius to become SiriusXM Canada, Canada’s fastest growing media subscription business with over 3 million subscribers. SiriusXM Canada went public in 2005 and has now gone private with Mr. Bitove remaining as a shareholder.
Mr. Bitove was the founder, principal shareholder and CEO of KEYreit, Canada’s premier “small-box” retail property owner with over 220 retail real estate properties in eight provinces across Canada. He was also the founder of Mobilicity, one of Canada’s new entrant wireless operators, which was sold to Rogers in 2015. Mr. Bitove acquired Scott’s Restaurants in 1999. Scott’s was renamed as Priszm and grew to almost 700 restaurants across Canada under the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell brands, serving 2 million customers a week and employing over 10,000 people. Priszm was eventually taken public as an Income Trust.
A passionate Canadian, Mr. Bitove was the volunteer President and Chief Executive Officer of Toronto’s Bid for the 2008 Olympic Games (awarded to Beijing, China). He was the head of the organizing committees that brought the successful World Indoor Athletics (Track & Field) Championships and World Championships of Basketball to Canada in 1993 and 1994 respectively.
In 1993, he founded the Toronto Raptors Basketball Club. He led the NBA franchise-bid process, launched the team and created the Air Canada Centre (now Scotiabank Arena), Toronto’s major sports and entertainment venue.
A strong believer of giving back to the community, Mr. Bitove founded S’Cool Life Fund, to support public elementary schools across Canada. Since the launch in 2005, S’Cool Life Fund has raised and donated over $3 million helping to make school life more enjoyable for thousands of public elementary school kids.
Mitre Kutanovski is a Co-founder and a former Chairman of Macedonia 2025. Under the leadership of Mr. Kutanovski Macedonia 2025 opened a second office, started an annual golf outing and launched a series of business and professional networking opportunities for the Diaspora.
Prior to his involvement with Macedonia 2025, Mr. Kutanovski was the President and CEO of the Mitre Group Inc. a company that consists of: Crown Financial Advisors; Mitre Group LLC. Broker Dealer; Classic and Crown Mortgage Solutions; Crown Tax and Business Services; Crown Insurance Group; Crown Travel Agency; and the weekly radio program Voice of Macedonia.
Chris Pavlovski is a serial and global entrepreneur. On the heels of selling multiple businesses, and founding numerous successful companies, Chris became a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2010. Shortly there after, one of the businesses Chris founded, is a global IT business with offices in Europe & North America. The business was ranked as the 2nd best employer in Macedonia and has been the recipient of numerous awards.
Currently, Chris is the CEO and Founder of Rumble.com. Rumble is a video platform that has distribution partnerships with over ten established media companies, including but not limited to Microsoft, Yahoo, and Bell.
Chris also sits on numerous boards. He serves on the board of Every Day Child; a non-profit charity organization. He serves on the advisory board of Close.com; a social network for close friends and family, and also sits Macedonia 2025’s Senior Board.
Peter Simeon is an experienced corporate commercial and securities lawyer. As a partner in Gowlings’ Toronto office, Peter focuses his practice on corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, and structured products.
Working closely with issuers, underwriters, and other corporate clients, Peter delivers practical, effective advice to help businesses move their transactions forward. He has acted for clients across a range of industries, such as mining, energy and technology. His expertise includes:
Public offerings, including initial public offerings (IPOs); Private placements; Reverse takeovers and qualifying transactions; Bought deal financings; Secondary offerings; Share and asset purchase transactions
In addition to his work in private practice, Peter is also an experienced in-house lawyer. He spent several years as corporate counsel at a multinational technology company, and completed a secondment at the Ontario Securities Commission in its Market Regulation Group.
Jim Nikopoulos is the Founder and CEO of MJ Holdings Corp., an asset management company. Jim also serves as Founder & CEO of Core Data Centres Inc. (a data centre and connectivity services company), Vice-Chair of Triad Financial Services Inc. (the longest-standing manufactured housing finance company in the U.S.), and Vice-Chair of My Abilities Technologies Inc. (a smart health technology company focused on workplace injury prevention and resolution).
Jim was the former President of ECN Capital Corp. (TSX: ECN), a leading provider of prime credit portfolios to more than 90 US financial institutions, and was formerly the EVP and GC of Element Fleet Management Corp. (TSX: EFN), the world’s largest fleet management company.
Jim also served as Board Chair and SVP at TeraGo Inc. (TSX: TGO), a cloud, collocation and connectivity services provider to Canadian businesses.
Jim began his career as a Partner at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, a leading business law firm, where he practiced in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, and governance.
Mr. Nikopoulos currently serves as a Director on the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation Board. He also holds positions on numerous other charitable and private boards.
Mr. Nikopoulos earned an Honours BA degree (Economics & Political Science) from the University of Toronto and a Law degree (JD) from Osgoode Hall Law School. Mr. Nikopoulos was named one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 Lawyers by Lexpert in 2014.
Dr. Jana Marin graduated from the Faculty of Dentistry at the “St. Cyril and Methodius” University in Skopje, Macedonia. She attained a Master’s degree in International Healthcare Management, Economics and Policy at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. Dr. Marin obtained her first professional experience in healthcare management in the Quality Department of the German unit of Capio Group , Capio Deutsche Klinik GmbH.
She developed an important, formative part of her professional expertise while working at the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Macedonia. During her appointment as Advisor to the Minister of Health, Dr. Marin was personally involved in a broad spectrum of issues of concern to National Healthcare Policies and Economic Planning of Public Health in Macedonia.
Her educational background, coupled with the expertise she obtained in the last decade of independent, intensive, daily involvement in decision making processes, paved the way to Dr. Marin being holding key management positions. Due to her proven managerial capability and particularly her innovative approach to problem solving, she had been entrusted with management of key projects. Recently, she led the team, which successfully completed the prominently complex and important Joint Commission International Accreditation process and thus, brought Acibadem Sistina Hospital the title of First JCI Accredited Hospital in Macedonia.
Alek Icev is a Macedonian-American computer scientist and high tech executive based in Seattle, WA. Alek’s research background is in machine learning, data mining and bioinformatics. Alek’s industry experience spans designing core algorithms for life sciences startups, helping scale large enterprise software solutions and leading several engineering teams focused on making Google’s ads systems and platforms smarter. In his free time he is trying to find a sweet spot in his passion for techno-progressivism, stoicism and singularity while being below average soccer player and aspiring yogi. Alek and his wife Kati are blessed of being parents to two kids who share their excitement about skiing and the great northwest pacific outdoors.
Kati Iceva is computer science engineer and leader with over 17 years of experience building and shipping Microsoft products. As Group Engineering Manager, she currently leads the engineering team of Azure Stream Analytics, Microsoft’s real-time analytics service that is designed for mission-critical workloads and was named streaming analytics market leader by Forrester. She is responsible for product strategy, technical vision, architecture, development and operations of the product. Her previous contributions span data technologies including multiple versions of the .NET Entity Framework and Power Query. With her work, she hopes to contribute to advancing the quality of human lives and health.
Seeded in her experience of working on three continents, Kati has a strong passion for enabling and supporting diverse and inclusive teams and working environments. Hoping to see more women thrive in technology industries, she takes advantage of every opportunity to encourage girls to explore computer science.
Kati holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje and Master of Science degree in Computer Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
She resides in Seattle, Washington with her husband Alek and their two children. Outside of work, you can find her skiing, running, hiking or practicing yoga
Mihail Matevski is CEO and Partner in the company’s GREENTECH in Serbia and Macedonia, waste plastic recycling and processing industry. GREENTECH is member of GREEN GROUP, the largest waste PET bottle recycler/convertor in Eastern and Central Europe.
Highlights of expertise: packaging waste management, waste plastic processing, business development, sales, international trading, production management and team leadership. Working experience of 23 years: 16 years at position of CEO/General Manager, 2 years in business consultancy and 5 years in sales management.
Co-founder and Board President of the Serbian Association of Packaging Waste Recyclers, co-founder of the Macedonian Solid Waste Association (MASWA), member of CANSEE – Canadian-Serbian Business Association, member of the working group for recycling and waste minimization within the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), Macedonia2025 diaspora organization Board member.
Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering at State University of Macedonia.
Northwestern University-Kellogg School of Management, Advanced Management Program Certification since 2018.
Viktor Mizo is the Managing Director of Kostal Macedonia, part of the German family owned Kostal Group – global leader in design and manufacturing of advanced electronics and mechatronics products for the automotive industry. He is also President of the Association of foreign companies with technologically advanced manufacturing within the auspices of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia and an outside expert for McKinsey on various economic development, FDI and free zones projects around the World.
Mr. Mizo brings to Kostal a record of exceptional leadership and strategic vision, responsible for numerous greenfield investment projects by multinational companies that have located their production or service operations in Macedonia as a CEO of the Macedonia Free Zone Authority over a period of six year. Prior to that, he spent four years as CEO of Invest Macedonia, where he played a critical role in putting Macedonia on the radar of potential investors looking to expand in Europe and was a key member of the Government’s economic team.
He co-founded and managed a technology company specialized in digital file distribution for mobile phones in Japan, as well as an internet start-up in the media and entertainment space in London and New York. Preceding this, Mr. Mizo was a technology and financial services consultant at McKinsey’s New York office. He began his career as a design engineer at Magna International and a member of the esteemed Technical Leadership Program at General Electric where he worked on locomotive design that culminated in a Black Belt position in the Six Sigma quality initiative.
Mr. Mizo received his B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology, graduating summa cum laude. An alumnus of Harvard University, he holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Vasko Kronevski, B.Sc. Degree in Information Technology is an established entrepreneur and digital transformation strategist focused on the economic growth of organizations utilizing digital transformation solutions.
He has been developing his expertise in digital transformation and ICT business since 1996, being General Manager at software development companies. Vasko is CEO and co-founder of Nextsense, ICT company specialized in digital transformation solutions founded in 2001 and digital transformation leader in the CEE region. Vasko is responsible for shaping the vision, strategy, and directly involved in the digital transformation products strategy.
Vasko’s carrier development encounters more than 25 years of professional experience in driving digital transformation processes for prominent enterprises in the telecom and finance industry, as well as governmental institutions across Europe and wider. During his professional journey, he established a valuable partnership with business, government, and academia to generate opportunities and build capacities for sustainable economic growth, helping them build a stronger organization and improve their business opportunities. He is skilled at identifying key economic challenges of organizations and guiding them in implementing digital solutions.
His strong vision and expertise in ICT and sustainable economic development placed him among the most engaged experts and digital strategists on international projects and speakers on a wide array of high level (reputable) conferences.
As a strategist, strong analyst and mediator, Vasko has been a member (past and present) in many distinguished professional bodies: World Information Technology and Service Alliance (WITSA) Member of Board; MASIT – Macedonian ICT Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Assembly, President of the Board; Vice President; Steering Committee Coordinator; South East Europe ICT Forum Private sector board member; Member of EBA-European Business Association; e-Democracy Conference Chairman.