Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Cleveland Hosts Event to Connect Croatia and Northeast Ohio

CLEVELAND, April 1, 2019 – The Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP)—Cleveland hosted an Evening with the Croatian Embassy — an event to connect Croatia and Northeast Ohio for economic empowerment — on Friday, March 29, 2019 at the American Croatian Lodge in Eastlake with support from the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia to the United States located in Washington, D.C. The black-tie event was also co-hosted by the American Croatian Business Association (Cleveland).

“Croatia has strength as a member of the European Union and NATO. Because of our deeply rooted connection to Cleveland, having around 50,000 Croatian Americans in the area, we would like to create ties between Northeast Ohio and Croatia for trade, joint business ventures, investment and to link companies on a global level,” says Pjer Šimunović, Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the United States in Washington D.C.

Ambassador and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson2.JPG

Ambassador Šimunović was accompanied by Mirna Vlašić Feketija, Minister Counselor, and Nikica Kopačević, Counselor, also members of Croatia’s diplomatic mission to the U.S.

The event engaged conversations around economic development, trade fostering and knowledge exchange in order to: establish an economic development pathway between Croatia and Northeast Ohio, encourage Croatian Americans to network within and outside of Northeast Ohio and promote Croatian culture and awareness.

Pjer Šimunović with Kevin Malecek.JPG

Not only is Croatia a business powerhouse on the global level, it’s also flourishing locally. Two local Croatian American owned businesses, and ACAP members, showcased their companies at the event: Secure IT Asset Disposition Services, specializing in IT asset disposal and recycling services, owned by Mario Jurcic in Oakwood Village and Matic Farms, a hops farm in Thompson owned by Luka and Nikola Matic.

“I’m proud of my Croatian heritage and to be an American,” says Jurcic who is also ACAP Cleveland Vice President. “It was an honor to be a part of this evening that celebrated my heritage and nationality. I hope my story can inspire someone in my community to combine their education and dreams to pursue their own business opportunities.”

Jerry C. Cirino, Lake County Commissioner, presented Ambassador Šimunović with a proclamation of the contribution of Croatian residents to Lake County and Dennis Morley, Mayor of Eastlake, presented him with the key to the city.

Embassy Event5.jpg

Earlier in the day, Ambassador Šimunović met with Cleveland Major Frank Jackson and Ken Filipiak, City Manager, Mentor, to discuss potential trade programs. The City of Cleveland also presented him with a proclamation as did Ohio Congressman Dave Joyce who co-chairs the Croatian caucus in Congress.

Embassy Event6.jpg

In addition to prominent Northeast Ohio business owners, distinguished attendees included: Kevin Kelly, City Council President, Cleveland; Kirsten Holzheimer–Gail, Mayor, City of Euclid; Dennis Morley, Mayor, City of  Eastlake; Mark Rantala, Executive Director, Lake County Ohio Port & Economic Development Authority; Ted Carter, Chief Economic Development & Business Officer, Cuyahoga County; David Bowen, President, Northern Ohio District Export Council; Bill Koehler, CEO, Team NEO; and Joe Cimperman, President, Global Cleveland.

Additional Information:
Embassy of the Republic of Croatia

The Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Washington. D.C. is the primary Croatian diplomatic mission to the United States. It operates 11 Consulates across the U.S. The Croatian Embassy represents the interests of Croatia and Croatian citizens in the and conducts the majority of diplomatic work on such interests within the U.S.

Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP)

The Association of Croatian American Professionals is a non-profit organization bringing together professionals, business leaders, academics, students and community organizers. Their mission is to foster leadership, collaboration and to promote the advancement of issues relevant to the Croatian-American community. In four years, ACAP expanded to 11 chapters, including Cleveland, in the United States and Croatia with 750 members — and growing — worldwide. 

American Croatian Business Association (ACBA)

The American Croatian Business Association is a non-profit corporation that formed in 1983 and consists of a wide variety of businesses in Northeast Ohio. Members include professionals such as architects, accountants, engineers, doctors, travel agents, bankers, realtors and management and financial consultants. The ACBAs’ goal is to unite all business and professional people of Croatian descent to develop, encourage, promote, and protect the industrial, commercial, professional, financial, cultural and general business interests of the Croatian community.

Proceeds of An Evening with the Croatian Embassy will benefit the ACAP national conference that will be held in Cleveland, Ohio from Sept. 19 through 22, 2019. The conference aims to bring together more than 500 professionals from all facets of the U.S. and international professional community, including a delegation from Croatia’s Chamber of Commerce. For more information, please visit

To read more about the Croatian diaspora, follow TCN's dedicated page

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

National Federation of Croatian Americans Announces “40 Under 40" Winners from USA

Washington, D.C. -- The NFCA is proud to announce the second group of “40 Under 40” Croatian Americans chosen for an award which celebrates the success and commitment of this generation. These selections recognize their talent, the accomplishments, the potential and the pride in their Croatian heritage of these forty honorees and all under the age of forty.

“We have had so much fun hearing about so many younger Croatians all over this country making their mark in so many uniquely distinct professional ways and within our community," says Andrea Novak-Neumann, “40 Under 40” committee member and NFCA Executive Vice President from Minnesota. “We looked nationwide for forty Croatian Americans who have demonstrated leadership within our community or even nationwide, with career success and many so extraordinarily successful with their dedication to Croatian causes," she added.

This new group of winners includes lawyer Marija Krpan Kuren, who was the original winner we announced last September to kick off this "40 Under 40" campaign. Marija, is one exceptional Croatian American activist who was the Croatian Fraternal Union's Guest Conductor in Zagreb in 2018 with over 400 younger Croatian Americans performing and even at Lisinski Hall in Zagreb. Marija when she's not teaching Croatian music and dance, has a day job as a General Counsel in the Pennsylvania Governor's office.

Next, let us congratulate Annie Bosko (main photo), the singer, songwriter and performer from Nashville. Annie's father is a third generation Croatian American farmer from California and this young lady has been singing since she was in diapers. Annie wrote her first song at twelve and sang with Disney Productions when she was only 14. She has had the high honor of opening for or backing up vocals with Darius Rucker, Adele, Josh Groban, Dierks Bentley and Josh Turner. Annie is one talented Croatian American singer who's very proud of her Croatian heritage.

The NFCA has chosen three other exceptional lawyers from within the legal field. Andy Kvesic excelled in Arizona's Attorney General's offices and even won "Counsel of the Year" in his department there and now is the General Counsel for The Quantum Group in the Phoenix area! Dominik Cvitanovich, a proud Croatian within the Greater New Orleans Croatian American community, joined the Carver Darden law firm in 2014 and his legal expertise is now most focused on banking, commercial litigation and also, with labor and employment issues. Dominik has recently served as a Project Leader with Youth Leadership Council which teaches members the basics of running a non-profit organization. Barbara Bijelic, is another lawyer and legal expert now working within the Responsible Business Conduct Unit (RBC) of the Organization For Economic Cooperation now based in Paris. Barbara has field experience working on governance and private sector initiatives in Cambodia, Croatia, Ethiopia, India and the Republic of Croatia.


Ana Ruzevic, firefighter and competing on the world stage too

Ana Ruzevic, another firefighter, wins this time as did Stipe Miocic two years ago. A Tulane graduate and All-American javelin thrower is a rising star, putting out fires, down in Alabama. Ana, after a stint in the insurance business and then volunteering as a firefighter, decided to make it a career and now even competes and wins at national "Firefighter Combat Challenges" competition taking 11th in the World.

Mara Oblak is a PhD expert and has studied and published about how to use "behavior analysis" to teach children with autism and behavior disorders. Mara is another Croatian American activist and in her spare time has been a longtime Board member with Seattle's CroatiaFest. Nikola Metes is another winner with many talents and a real Croatian passion and is a national officer with ACAP. Nikola has developed a marketing expertise and now works for the world renown marketing agency, Foote Cone and Belding in Chicago.

Alexander McArthy is making his mark down in Missouri and this St. Louis area resident has a joint interest in marketing and branding with a real focus on politics and digital interest group communications. Alexander has already run for the Missouri legislature and has been a nationwide advocate for the Americans For Prosperity organization.

The next winners noted are Croatian American activists. They have already made their mark in the community. First, Johnny Cvjetkovic stands out among Croatian activists of all ages in the Los Angeles area where he has excelled with St. Anthony's Kolo Club and with the Croatian Fraternal Union. He also created the St. Anthony's "Vatreni" Croatian soccer fan club. When Johnny is not busy with Croatian projects he's working as a technology professional in the entertainment industry with major Hollywood studios.


Ben Anderson, a multi-award winning executive and producer in Los Angeles

This next group includes three very talented individuals in the entertainment business including a television producer, professional dancer and a world class pianist. First, Ben Anderson is a multi-award winning executive and producer for feature film, television and virtual reality. Ben is the Executive Vice President of Phoenix Pictures where he oversaw the development of the films "Black Swan", "Shutter Island" and "The Promise." Anderson co-produced the Warner Bros, feature film "The 33" with Antonio Banderas and Juliette Binoche.


Maja Keres, world class dancer touring the world

Maja Keres is living her dream as a professional dancer touring with Justin Timberlake that included a Super Bowl performance and the Grammys in 2017. Keres is one of the dancers taking part in Justin's "The Man of the Woods" tour. Frane Rusinovic is a concert pianist who trained at the Levine School of Music in Washington, DC and then at the world renown Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. Frane, originally from Split, has performed globally showcasing his world class skills at Carnegie Hall in New York City and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. and really enjoys performing for Croatian audiences.


Anthony Piplica, CEO in the aerospace industry

The next group of winners includes seven successful rising stars from our community excelling in the business world. Anthony Piplica is an entrepreneur and engineer within the aerospace industry and the CEO and founder of Hermeus Corporation. He is focused on technology to build the fastest airplanes in the world known as the Mach 5 aircraft project. A.J., as he is known, has collaborated with the NASA Johnson Space Center and was previously CEO of Orbit Launch Services.

Next, let me highlight two talented females in uniquely different careers making their mark globally. Bernarda Pera, is a world class tennis player, currently ranked 82nd in the world, originally from Zadar.


Ottessa Moshfegh, award winning author of the book ''Eileen''

Ottessa Moshfegh, raised in the Boston area and a daughter of two musicians, an Iranian father and a Croatian mother has become a nationally recognized author. Ottessa's debut novel, Eileen won the Hemingway Foundation-Pen Award. Moshfegh has published six stories in the prestigious "Paris Review" too. Her latest novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation was published in 2018 by the Penguin Press.

From the medical world is Dr. Matt Anderson, a physician in New Hampshire working for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. He completed his training in anesthesiology at Loma Linda University Medical Center and his critical care fellowship at Dartmouth. Dr. Anderson has made several humanitarian trips globally. Melina Butuci is a scientist with a focus on immuno-oncology and leukemia research. Melina's busy finishing her PH.D at the USC's Molecular Biology department but still finds time to be active with the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP).

Alan Latkovic is currently serving as Vice President, Service and Retention for the Madison Square Garden Company. Specifically, he's in charge of all customer service initiatives and season ticket retention for the NY York Rangers and NY Knicks. He developed and executed the first ever Croatian Heritage Night for the New York Knicks on January 11, 2019 with 600 Croatian Americans there. Vedran Solaja, another New Yorker, now owns his own marketing firm. After attending college in Iowa, Vedran ended up in Los Angeles and has been active with the NYCLA-New York Croatian Los Angeles group before moving East

Nikola Matic is a commercial hop farmer with the biggest hop farm in Ohio. He is driven by the belief that his "Matic Farms" should lead the way in the East developing a hop farm to support the growing craft beer industry. Nick and his brother are partners in this venture and are both active with the ACAP chapter in Cleveland.

Davor Anic is making his mark in the New York City fashion world with his men's neckwear line called the DAVOR ANIC brand. Davor moved to the USA years ago after his training at the University of Zagreb College for Textile and Technology and has completed a master's degree in fashion design and has embraced some notable design collaboration with companies like Kenneth Cole. Tena Bugarin is an incredibly successful real estate broker with Sotheby's International Realty. Tena fell in love with New York City years ago and stayed and is active with the Croatian ACAP group.

Marino Patrk is a financial advisor and partner at the O'Rourke Group at the Oppenheimer & Company. Marino manages both private and institutional wealth for clients and still finds time to to be very active in the New York City Croatian Catholic community.

The Washington, DC area has three winners. First, Adam Radman is a digital advocacy and communications expert with the Americans for Tax Reform organization and is active locally with the Croatian community and serves on the National Federation of Croatian Americans Board of Directors. Leon Suvak from Virginia is a distinguished Army officer serving our country in the Department of Defense as a Cyber Security Expert and has quite a background from Osijek to high school at prestigious Gonzaga High School in Washington, DC to college academics at the University of Wisconsin.

Next, Angela Stepancic, a proud Istrianka, has excelled as an educational activist and principal at two schools in Washington, DC and earned an undergrad degree and Master's from Georgetown University. Angela is driven to make a difference in education and her background as a child of a Croatian immigrant and a black woman from Illinois seems to have given her an abundance of empathy and a diverse understanding of human nature that has bestowed her an extraordinary array of leadership skills.

The next four honorees are all from the state of Minnesota. The first two both worked for US Congressman Rick Nolan as congressional staffers. Justin Perpich, a political activist, has emerged as a prominent labor leader from the Iron Range. Next, Joe Radinovich, former state legislator, made a spirited run at a congressional seat and has made his mark in politics and government already with a bright future in Northern Minnesota politics.

Alex Schmidt, from the Twin Cities but now living in Dubrovnik, is the creator of the Mindful Mermaid blog, and has a growing Croatian-based specialized travel business. Alex's blog is a nuanced Croatian travel guide with all her cultural commentaries of life as a Croatian American living in Croatia and she's embracing her visions of international travel and diplomacy that she first created when in college at Loyola of Chicago. Tiffany Senkow is a PhD scientist student excelling with biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota. She has an expertise on "Dupuytrens disease" which is a deformity of the hand. Tiffany still finds time to continue her love for kolo dance in Minnesota and which she first started in Pittsburgh as a child.

Siblings Katarina Crnogorac and Petar Crnogorac, have both been selected and have demonstrated consistent and very creative leadership with Croatian folklore and dance groups in New York City. Back in 2012, Petar and Katarina formed Folklorni Ansambl Okret. Since 2016, Petar and Katarina have been teaching and choreographing for the Croatian Folklore group, Hrvatska Ruza, in Astoria New York. On January 11th, 2019 their group had the honor of performing on the basketball court at Madison Square Garden during halftime at the NY Knicks first ever Croatian Heritage Night in honor of Mario Hezonja. Katerina has been very successful in the textile design world and is working on her own artistic endeavor, studioNARONA, which is a platform for everything related to and inspired by the Croatian culture. Petar is busy career-wise within the hotel and hospitality world with an eye on Croatian tourism and is working to create an online repository of traditional Croatian folk music.

Several winners are from California. After university Ante Zoric started to work for his parents' family business, Ann & Mario Catering. Currently Anthony manages the company which has been successful for over 18 years in the film industry and has catered for so many Croatian Consulate events and many Croatian weddings. His passion for sports continues as he writes for and also collects Croatian sports memorabilia. Dragana Boras, a proud MBA graduate from St. Mary's College (CA) has developed a marketing expertise in the Northern California-Silicon Valley area and still finds time to be very active with Croatian groups. Dragana was a recent co-manager of the very successful 2018 ACAP Conference in San Jose.

Ariana Kosta, has spent twenty plus years as a tambura player and first with the American Zagreb Junior Tamburitzan group, to Zalena Polja and then to Zumbercani Orchestra. She has been active in the Croatian folklore and the Croatian Fraternal Union her whole life!

There a few more honorees from the New York City area including Diane Kolanovic-Solaja, a Croatian activist for a long time in the area. She is the proud owner of Dee Kay Events and an accomplished wedding and event planner. Diane was a key co-founder of the New York- Croatian-LA group (NYCLA group) and creator of the amazing "Croatian cruise" for professionals. Anna Nejmasic, another activist from the Big Apple area, has been singing since age six and continues today at Croatian special events and with the Catholic Manhattan Church Choir. She now excels within the world class hotel industry with the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City and is active with several Croatian American groups.


Michelle Lucic, author at age fourteen

The Committee decided again with this program to honor two extraordinary activists who have yet to graduate from college, Andrew Ciraci and Michelle Lucic and who, at such a young age, have both demonstrated exceptional commitment to excellence in their academic careers and studies. First, Andrew Ciacci, is an honor student with extraordinary experience with the Model UN competition and with a congressional fellowship in Washington, DC and already is writing for the Claremont Journal of Law and policy and excelling at Claremont McKenna College in California. Andrew has his sights on law school next year and is a real Croatian national soccer team enthusiast. Next, Michelle Lucic is an amazing young woman from Cleveland Ohio who published a book on Bullying at age 14. She is a true Renaissance woman with success and passion for music, sports, academics and writing. Michelle is now studying in Germany on an academic scholarship and has big plans for the future and college soon. She has been active with St. Paul's Croatian Catholic Church in Cleveland.

The National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation (NFCA) is a non profit 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to promoting the interest of the Croatian people and to enhance the relations between the United States and Croatia through educational advocacy, public policy and political projects and overall media relations. The NFCA is a national umbrella organization established in 1993 for the Croatian American community and the Croatian Fraternal Union (CFU), Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP), the Croatian National Association (CNA) and twelve other metropolitan groups are active member groups.

For further information, please contact NFCA President Steve Rukavina at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More diaspora news can be found in the dedicated section.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

President Meets with Croatian Community in New York

ZAGREB, March 13, 2019 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović has met with representatives of the Croatian community in New York, thanking them for preserving the Croatian community and presenting the best of Croatia in their new homeland, her office said in a press release on Wednesday morning.

She presented Charters of the Republic of Croatia to the Croatian Parish of Saints Cyril & Methodius and Saint Raphael, the Croatian Catholic Mission of the Blessed Ivan Merz and Croatian Radio New York for their contribution to maintaining and promoting ties between the Croatian community in the United States and Croatia.

Earlier in the day, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović assumed the chairmanship of the Council of Women World Leaders from her Lithuanian counterpart Dalia Grybauskaite in New York on Tuesday, the President's Office said in a press release.

Grabar-Kitarović is currently in New York where she attended the UN conference "Women in Power" and met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday.

The Council of Women World Leaders was established in 1996 by Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the then President of Iceland, and Laura Liswood, the Council's Secretary General, to encourage present and former female heads of state or government and ministers to participate in joint activities of key importance to women.

Grabar-Kitarović said she would continue working on all issues concerning gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all her future activities.

The two presidents exchanged views on bilateral relations, common policies within the European Union and globally, and the position of women in high-level politics.

They said that Croatia and Lithuania have close bilateral relations, with shared interests and a desire to intensify their cooperation in areas such as defence and security.

Grabar-Kitarović said that the high level of friendly relations and the common interest in long-term partnership was confirmed by the appointments of their respective resident ambassadors in Zagreb and Vilnius.

More news about Croatia diaspora can be found in the dedicated section.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

German with Croatian Roots Invests in Krapinske Toplice's Bellevue

One of the most famous symbols of Krapinske Toplice has been stood neglected and entirely abandoned for years, but could a young German who is partly of Croatian origin who moved to the area a couple of years ago be the solution this old continental gem needs?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 5th of March, 2019, David Krauss (35) moved to Croatia, more specifically to beautiful Krapinske Toplice in the continental part of the country, just over two years ago. He decided to invest in the renewal of the long abandoned Bellevue and restore its former glory. The technical review has been announced for March the 7th, after which, Zagorje will get a new face in its blossoming tourism story, according to a report from Zagorje portal.

A relatively short (at least by Croatian standards) fifteen months of construction work and two years of preparation of the project saw one of the most famous symbols of Krapinske Toplice, Restaurant Bellevue, get some new life breathed into it and a brand new beginning. A young German of the Croatian Roots, 35 year old David Kraus has been coming to Krapinske Toplice for years to the property once owned by his parents.

"My mother is Croatian and my father is a German, and we always said that we were so sorry that such a beautiful building is collapsing, so I decided to start investing," Krauss told the Zagorje portal, adding that they wanted to give the building a modern twist but remain loyal to the facility's old outlines.

The old facility, due to the very poor condition it has been in for a long time, unfortunately had to be completely demolished, even though that certainly wasn't the original plan. Namely, during construction, the walls they thought they would endure the process began to fail, so the decision to demolish everything for safety reasons was reached. Despite this, some of the old material and clay were preserved to fit into the new facility.

Restaurant Bellevue's investment was realised entirely by the Krauss family alone, and although the young investor didn't want to talk too much about the exact amount he invested, he noted that it was a large figure. He is not sorry for the move, having replaced his life in Germany for that in the beautiful rolling hills of green Zagorje, where he has been living for more than two years. He is also trained and experienced in the hospitality industry and is more than happy to work a job in the profession in which he was educated here in Croatia, too.

"For the time being, we have thirteen employees, mostly made up of the local population, which I think is very important if you're in the hospitality industry because they know the area you're in well, the customs, gastronomy, the people... The capacity is about 150 to 200 places, and we have a large outdoor terrace of almost the same capacity,'' Krauss said, astonished that people had already begun asking about their offer for weddings.

He is particularly pleased about the great reactions to the restoration of Bellevue the local population, with whom he communicates daily, have had. The older people remember that they once went to school right here.

"It's really nice when people tell me that they were once taught here, and now in their older days they intend to come here for a coffee or a beer," he said, pointing out that the project was supported by the municipal government.

When it comes to Bellevue's gastronomic offer, Krauss says the facility will offer dishes made from old Zagorje recipes, but crafted in a somewhat more modern way. They're planning and organising evenings full of live music performances, and access to their facility is specially tailored for the disabled.

"The Toplički pedestrian ring is near us for the people who are on rehabilitation to walk on, so we're glad to be here for when they're walking to come and have a bit of cake and some rest. I think we'll really have something for everyone,'' Krauss, who has always been madly in love with Zagorje, stated.

His only regret is that tourism in Zagorje and Krapinske Toplice is still not yet sufficiently developed, but fortunately, foreign tourists are increasingly recognising it as an interesting and different type of destination.

"Austrians and Slovenes increasingly choose rural tourism as a form of holiday, not just the sea. I'm sure that in a couple of years, our Zagorje will be dominated by such tourism,'' Krauss said, feel optimistic, announcing that the technical review of Bellevue will be on March the 7th, after which the grand opening will take place.

Make sure to stay up to date by following our dedicated business, travel and lifestyle pages.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Croatian Diaspora: Tom Rukavina, Happy Warrior From Iron Range of Minnesota

Thomas Martin Rukavina, 68, known as Tom or Tommy, of Pike Township, died on Monday, January 7, 2019, at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis after a battle with leukemia.

Just a few inches over five feet, Tom was short in stature but cast a big shadow in the political world in Minnesota (MN) for over 30 years. His good friend, State Senator David Tomassoni stated, "Tom had a passion for the little guy and was a giant in those fights." There was another journalist who said, "Tom was a common man with uncommon character" that made him so effective and many fellow legislators called him a hero of the working class. US Senator Amy Klobuchar shared that, "Tom understood the dignity of hard work and was a force for Iron Range workers and their families." Ken Martin the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party chair said that "there will never be another Tom Rukavina. He was smart, irreverent and there was no one more authentic."

On Friday January 18th over 375 family members, constituents and friends paid their respects to the family of Tom Rukavina at the Range Funeral Home and on Saturday January 19th over 550 attendees came to his funeral at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church, also in Virginia, Minnesota.

Many political figures still came to Virginia, Minnesota even with 40 below wind chill temperatures and almost 200 miles north of the Twin Cities to pay their respects to Tom Rukavina. This included current Governor Tim Walz, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, US Senator Tina Smith, US Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, former Rep. Rick Nolan and former Governor Tim Pawlenty, too and over a dozen Minnesota state legislators over two days.

At the funeral on Saturday, January 19th, Tom's son Victor and Tom's brother Mark shared stories about life with the dynamic Tom Rukavina. Victor, had the crowd laughing about a ten year old trying to become a political operative while still in fourth grade and the family phone ringing all day long. He did admit that all these political responsibilities at an early age gave him and his sister a unique and wonderful life.

Mark Rukavina brought laughter and tears, too as he shared a few humorous stories about the real Tom Rukavina and growing up as his younger brother. However, "hard work, honesty, integrity and social justice were our family's values and Tom internalized these values and devoted his life to fighting for working people and caring for all," said Mark. He finished by saying that he loved his brother very much and "really could not imagine life without Tommy."

The priest Father Brandon Moravitz eulogized how Tom's life was "so well lived" and that he was so successful because he had "a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone " that he brought to the political world. The Catholic priest went on to explain what made Tom Rukavina who he was and what he stood for in his career.

Gary Cervenik

Gary Cerkvenik eulogizing Tom at the funeral mass with the infamous "refreshingly honest'' underwear

Gary Cerkvenik, long time political associate of Tom for over twenty years gave a wonderful salute and eulogy at the funeral to the accomplished legislator. He talked about Tom's commitment to creating jobs, buy made in America and access to education for all. Mr. Cerkvenik had cited the amazing fact that Tom introduced 594 bills during his 26 years in the Minnesota legislature and served with pride and honor.

He also showed in church, the pair of underwear boxers made in the USA with the words "refreshingly honest" which was the campaign slogan for Tom's 2010 race for governor. Gary went on to cite ten plus major legislative accomplishments by Tom in the Minnesota House and stated that "We all have a duty to carry on Tom's work and passion for the common good."

Our immediate Rukavina immigrant story begins with our grandfather Thomas Rukavina coming to the USA on April 26th in 1900 from the Lika area of Croatia. He landed in Baltimore, Maryland then was off to Chicago on a train. Thomas married Lucy Basic from Perusic in 1913 in Chicago and after his saloon burned down later that year, he moved to Virginia, Minnesota where he became an iron ore miner and had a family of three sons and two daughters.

Tom was born to son Martin “Benny” and Martha Rukavina (Mordini) in Virginia on August 23, 1950. He grew up on the northside of Virginia, Minnesota, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood with a big extended family which positively influenced his life forever. He graduated from Virginia High School in 1968. He attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth campus where he graduated in 1972, magna cum laude in political science, with a minor in history. He met Lenore Lampi there in college and they married in September 1973. They lived for nearly 30 years north of Virginia where they homesteaded in Pike Township.

Tom and Lenore had two children, Ida and Victor. Tom later married Jean Cole in October 2012, adding three stepdaughters to his extended family.

Tom was proud to have been a steelworker and even a milk truck driver in the Tower and Soudan area, which he credits as one of the reasons a Croatian-Italian American could learn to speak Finnish. He also worked at Ironworld, where he recorded the oral histories of hundreds of early Iron Rangers, establishing a rich resource and legacy for generations to come.

He began his life as a public servant on the Virginia School Board and as a Pike Township supervisor. In 1982, Tom ran for the Minnesota House and lost by 12 votes. However, he did not give up his political dreams. In 1986 Tom ran again and was elected state representative to the Minnesota legislature, representing the 5A district of Virginia and the East Range, a position he held for 26 years.

Tom, like Governor Rudy Perpich, the only Iron Ranger and Croatian American Governor of Minnesota, was also completely committed to creating jobs and making college education available and more affordable for all Minnesotans. Tom's signature accomplishments included writing the unique Plant Closing prevention bill, led the fight for the MN solar energy incentives, won concessions so iron ore from Minnesota was used in sports stadiums all over the USA or that American flags were made in the USA, too.

Tom fought for union rights and for jobs on the Iron Range and he led the efforts to establish the Iron Range Engineering program at Mesabi Range College and found a way to create tax dollars to fund these type of educational programs to benefits all college students in St. Louis County. However, many say that Tom's leadership to get the minimum wage raised and passed with a Republican governor and with a Republican controlled-legislature could have been Tom's biggest accomplishment and he did it with a one vote margin.

Some called him the "Happy Warrior" like others had with Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Tom always joked that politically he was the "lovechild of progressive Paul Wellstone and the maverick Jesse Ventura," since he had his own independent streak. He ran for Governor in 2010 and some say his speech in Duluth at the DFL convention was one of the best ever made by a Minnesota candidate for Governor.

Tom Delia

Tom with his granddaughter Delia

After ‘retiring’ from politics to help with his first grandchild, Delia, he took a job with Congressman Rick Nolan on the Iron Range. Tom missed politics and in 2014, he was back as a candidate and elected as a St. Louis County Commissioner, a job he held until he passed away on his last official day in office and his successor was Croatian American Paul McDonald, son of Bob McDonald (Perkovich) the famous basketball coach from Chisholm MN.

Tom loved the Iron Range of Minnesota and in one interview stated, "I think I even have iron ore in my blood."

Tom was a devoted public servant, who answered all emails and all phone calls at all hours and doing his best to serve his constituents. He would sometimes joke and say "I work for the little fellers, not the Rockefellers."

Tom believed that as a politician and legislator it was his duty to improve people’s lives. Throughout his career, he defended workers’ rights and union rights, seniors, education, and youth. As testimony to his dedication and hard work, the building which houses the Iron Range Engineering Program at Mesabi Range College bears his name. Daughter Ida has joined the family business of politics and now works for Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Tom will forever be known for his quick wit, his intelligence, his hard work and effectiveness, his passion, his caring heart, his integrity and honesty, his humor, and his dedication to improving people’s lives. Tom with his warm eyes and disarming smile and as one legislator said, Tom had "it" and he had a gift about how to to connect with people. He was an master storyteller and with his uniquely infectious sense of humor .

Tommy Joey 

Tom with his "Uncle Joey" Rukavina (my father) - two incredible storytellers from the Iron Range!

Tom was a lifelong member of Croatian Fraternal Union Lodge 635 in Virginia, Minnesota like his Uncle "Joey" Rukavina (my father). Tom loved to travel and made special trips to meet his relatives in Italy and Croatia. He treasured the ethnic richness of the Iron Range and impressively Tom would speak Croatian, Italian, Slovenian and even Finnish with his constituents when he would go door-to-door campaigning.

In the fall of 2000, Tom traveled to Croatia with Minnesota Lt. Governor Mae Shunk, also a Croatian American as part of the Minnesota National Guard delegation. The Republic of Croatia and MN National Guard entered into a military partnership in 1996 and this relationship was an important element of the Croatia's ascension in the Euro-Atlantic community and with NATO membership. Tom was thrilled to return again to the homeland of his grandfather, Thomas Rukavina as part of this historic visit and to experience more Croatian culture firsthand.

Grandkids Ely Parade

Tom with daughter-in law Melissa, with Serafina, Delia standing with baby Lucia and daughter Ida

He loved his family and his greatest wish was to spend more years with his granddaughters and he told me in the summer of 2018, that he hoped he had 30 more years to be a "deda" to his granddaughters.

Tom is survived by his wife, Jean Cole; daughter, Ida Rukavina (Jesse Dahl), of Palo; son, Victor (Michelle) Rukavina, of Minneapolis; granddaughters, Delia, Lucia and Serafina; sister, Chris (Dennis) Rudy, of Washington, D.C; brother, Mark (Barbara McQueen) Rukavina, of Boston, MA, and their children Ben, Nate and Sara.

Tom was preceded in death by his beloved parents, Martin “Benny” and Martha; aunts and uncles: Louis and Helen Mordini, Laura and Bob Carlson, Gloria and John Folman, Michael “Mela” Rukavina, Catherine “Katie” Rukavina, Anne and Roy Thornton, Joseph (Joey) and Arlene Rukavina.

Ida Rick Nolan

Former Congressman Rick Nolan with Ida Rukavina who works for US Senator Amy Klobuchar

In late November, while in the hospital, Tom Rukavina sent a letter to the Editor of the Timberjay newspaper in Ely MN and he wrote that "Hate helps no one and love solves everything." In this letter, Tom salutes and details what immigrants have done for America and still do for this country. Tom as a proud Croatian and Italian American always believed in the promise and contributions of immigrants and "people are people no matter their color, religion or country of origin and they are good people coming to the land of the free for the same reason as our ancestors did." For Ida Rukavina, her dad's letter is all about the themes she's known all her life as one of two Rukavina children growing up among the Croatians, Italians and Finns on the Iron Range and "it was the story he told us our whole lives," Ida said. "The letter really is who he raised us to be."

Tom Paul McDonald

Tom with Croatian American Paul McDonald, his successor on the St. Louis County Council (Photo courtesy of ERIC SHERMAN IMAGES)

On Monday, January 7th, Tom Rukavina passed away and it also was his last day as an elected official. He left behind thousands and thousands of former constituents who adored him. There will never be another Tom Rukavina, and his wit and passion for life and causes will be greatly missed by those on the Iron Range who saw him in action for over thirty years as an elected official.

Tom's legacy will live on through the scholarship programs he has created and the family urges any remembrances to honor Tom may be made to: Tom Rukavina Scholarship Fund c/o Mesabi Range College Foundation, 101 West Chestnut Street, Virginia Minnesota 55792.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Croatian Inspired Advent in Boston: Croatian Traditions Cross the Atlantic

December the 11th, 2018 - The United States might be very far from Croatia, both in terms of geography and in terms of many customs, but how do we bridge the gap? A quick look at how the diaspora keep their ancestral home close to their hearts during the festive season with a Croatian inspired advent in Boston, USA.

Santa (Djed Mraz) gives out early gift bags filled with Croatian candy

Over 100 members of the New England Friends of Croatia (NEFC), a non-profit organization in the Boston area which fosters the preservation of Croatian culture in New England, has gathered to celebrate Advent (Dočašće) as well as to welcome winter.

This year, there were a few new members, some of whom arrived to the party from as far as north as Concord, NH. The guests were welcomed by the members of the board and they discussed the organizations' plans for the next year. In addition, both the menu and the music were ''Croatia inspired'', which made sure that everyone felt like they were celebrating with their families in Croatia. 

NEFC Board Members discussing next year's plans - from left: Dado Grabovac, Irena matulic, Dragomir Ralic, Bozo Polic, Irena Rasin, Biserka Ralic, Jelena Mustra and Mirena Bagur

The friends of Croatia were hosted by the Sabur Restaurant, known in the Boston area for its Mediterranean cuisine. As usual, the chef ensured that the menu included traditional Croatian Christmas dinner items such as roast turkey and pork, with mashed potatoes and "kiseli kupus". But, the most celebrated were in fact the desserts - from fritule, orehnjača and čupavci to snowflake sugar cookies, all brought in from the home ovens of the Croatian ladies. 

 Croatian-American students, Shanaelle Petty and Sarah Reilly, are first in line for the traditional Croatian cookies

Djed Mraz told the children he arrived early because of the cookies! He sang with the kids and gave them all small presents reminding them of their ancestral homeland.

Djed Mraz and Jolanda Keyneres-Pavlinic and Ariana Zelic, who have been instrumental in keeping the community together

All in all - this was a humble and warm celebration of Christmas and the festive season with great reminders of Croatian traditions and further inspiration for future accomplishments in connecting the United States of America with the Republic of Croatia.

Enjoying the seasonal festivities

Make sure to follow our diaspora page for more in the Croatian diaspora in the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and much closer to home in Europe.

Text and images by Mirena Bagur, President of the New England Friends of Croatia

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Croatian Emigrant at Pearl Harbour: How Petar Tomić Became American Hero

Ever heard of the Croatian emigrant at Pearl Harbour? His bravery not only saved many from certain death, but saw him sacrifice his own life during the infamous Japanese attack.

As Morski writes on the 8th of December, 2018, Petar Herceg Tomić was a Croat born in Prolog, a village in the Municipality of Ljubuški, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 1893. He became an American hero in World War II for his heroism and sacrifice during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on December the 7th, 1941, in which he lost his life. He was posthumously awarded the medal of honour, the highest American medal symbolising great courage, according to Novi list.

Just how did this boy from quiet, rural Ljubuški become a Croatian emigrant at Pearl Harbour?

Among the first victims of the sudden Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on December the 7th, 1941, which began the brutal Second World War on the Pacific, was the American Utah battleship. Hit with two torpedoes, the vessel began to turn over, and only the sheer courage and devotion of Officer Petar Tomić prevented more casualties. Paying the price of his own life, Petar Herceg Tomić saved the rest of the crew from certain death.

Tomić mainaged to maintain the part of the vessel hit by the two torpedoes until most of the crew left it. All this was done under merciless Japanese aircraft. As the ship began to fail, Tomić encouraged the crew to escape. During that terrifying time, he controlled the pressure so as to avoid a devastating explosion, as in such a case, even those who were rescued would also have been killed. Despite his brave efforts, Tomić and another 58 crew members, remained forever captured in the vessel.

In the official explanation of the recognition of his bravery and priceless sacrifice, it states that Tomić, upon realising that the Utah battleship was definitely doomed, remained in his position in the engine room until he was convinced that the boilers were secured and all the staff had departed from the doomed ship's engine room. By sacrificing his own life, he saved the lives of his crew, writes the Virtual Museum of the Emigration of Dalmatia (Virtualni muzej iseljeništva Dalmacije).

Tomić was born, as stated, in Prolog, a small village which consisted of just 120 houses, in 1893. His real name was Petar Herceg, and his family nickname was Tonić, which he later transformed into his last name, Tomić. He arrived in America in 1913 and joined the army. After the First World War, he joined the Navy, where he became the chief engineer on the Utah battleship. This fateful move was how he found himself in Pearl Harbour when a sudden attack by Japanese forces on the US Navy's main base in the Pacific led the US to enter the Second World War on the side of the Allies.

The remains of the Utah battleship still lie in Pearl Harbour, and along with it lies a memorial and a plaque honouring the Croatian emigrant at Pearl Harbour's heroic deed. The plaque was initially placed there to mark the 30th anniversary of the attack.

One year after Tomić's death, in December 1942, an escort destroyer named U.S. Tomić was built at the Brown Shipbuilding Shipyard in Houston. For thirty years, the vessel served in the American Navy, before being removed from the register, and eventually ending its military ''career'' in 1974. President Franklin D. Roosevelt posthumously awarded Tomić the Medal of Honour.

No matter the incredible turn of events the life of this Croatian emigrant took, nothing was so incredible as the search for his living descendants, to whom the medal was handed. After nearly a decade of searching, and even judicial proceedings, Robert Lunney eventually found Tomić's descendants, still living in Prolog, Herzegovina. After six and a half decades, the prestigious American medal of honour was awarded to Petar Herceg Tomić's living family back in 2006 on the deck of the largest carrier of the US Navy Enterprise aircraft, which was inaugurated near Split.

Croatian Television (Hrvatska televizija) produced a documentary film entitled "Heroes are not forgotten" which detailed this Croatian emigrant at Pearl Harbour's unusual life and heroic sacrifice on that fateful day. Made by Ištvan Filaković, its screenwriters are Vladimir Brnardić and Nenad Bach.
Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle and diaspora pages for much more.
Click here for the original article by Novi list
Sunday, 25 November 2018

Swiss Stage for Croatian Diaspora Performers in 2019

25th of November 2018 - That music is deeply rooted in the Croatian genes is a simple fact. Just look around a little bit, if you have never given it a thought, and you will realise that almost every village has its own dance and its own song. At least one, that is. This extends far from the country's borders and into the Croatian diaspora, and next year they'll have no less than a Swiss stage.

If you look alongside the coast, you can hardly find a hamlet without a ''klapa''.

And then all those festivals of all sorts (of music), everywhere. Folk, pop, jazz, new music, classical, experimental, you name it. However tiny, Croatia has given a noticeable contribution to the music of the world. Archives and museums can show you how music has been important over here since centuries. As an example, in the Museum of the Pharmacy in Dubrovnik, you can see a sheet of music from the early 12th century.

In the vicinity, just down the main street, you could find how Luka Sorkocevic, a local composer, wrote symphonies, a brand new music form, at the same time Haydn and Mozart were introducing it in Vienna.

Yes, we love music, and we love to sing. Don’t you?

There is quite a number of festivals of light music in the country, but there is someone who is not satisfied with the chances they offer to the Croats living abroad. His name is Zoran Škugor, and he has decided to organise a festival for all the Croatian diaspora on a Swiss stage, more specifically in Zurich.

Zoran is an ''old-timer'' in the field. He has been in the business for almost 50 years, has managed a long list of musicians and his musical productions are quite uncountable. You know, the festivals at home are hardly penetrable to a (Croatian) musician living abroad. Each festival has its own circles, quite locally oriented, somebody from abroad would have to jump over many obstacles in order to be recognised and valued as ''worthy''.

Zoran Skugor

''Knowing thousands of our people from diaspora, and having been asked by quite some talented Croats about how and why it is impossible for them to appear over here, I decided to organise a festival for all the Croats regardless of their residence, from Australia and both Americas to Europe. I joined hands with the Capo Music Production (CMP), established purposely and our first Music Festival of the Croatian Diaspora will take place in Zurich in February, 2019!'' says Zoran.

So good! Now what are the prerogatives to participate?

Any musician can apply by simply sending his new, still unpublished work to one of the two e-mail addresses: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The composition should be between 3 to 3,5 minutes long, and it should be submitted to us not later than the 15th of December this year. A professional jury will make a final selection and there we go. The Festival is going to have its awards and a Grand Prix, and all compositions will be released on a festival CD.

Any particular limitations in genres?

We will start with light, pop rock, tamburitza and klapa (vocal, a cappella). We think that those four genres represent the most popular kinds of music among the Croats all over the world, and, not less, our musical roots will be there as well. We do hope that the festival will become traditional and that by further promotion of the artists participating it will contribute to the Croatian name around the world and a welcome refreshment and joy of music and being together to the Croats around the globe.

With precise dates of the Festival to be announced soon, if you are a Croat anywhere in the world and write music, or know someone who does and want to make a career out of it, pass this on and do not miss this very special opportunity yourself! Even as a member of the audience as you will have your say as a part of the jury of onlookers of those on the Swiss stage. Get ready and sing along!

Make sure to keep up with more information like this by following our dedicated Croatian Diaspora page.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Croatian Emigrants Sent 1 Billion Euros to Families in Croatia in 2017

Croatian emigrants dotted all around the world sent a huge amount of money via private transfers to their families in Croatia last year.

As Jadranka Dozan/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 16th of November, 2018, one of the consequences of Croatia's ever-concerning demographic crisis caused by the mass emigration from the country is the growth of cash inflows through private transfers, which mostly relate to the cash flows that Croatian emigrants send back to their country of origin.

With some of this vast amount of money arriving from other European Union countries, as well as from outside the bloc, more than one billion euros have found their way from the rest of the world to various households across the Republic of Croatia in 2017, which, according to Eurostat's figures, stands at 627 million euros more than was recorded the year before.

As cash flow from other countries (by more than half from countries outside the European Union, mostly from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina) has also increased, a handsome increase of more than half a billion euros; from +245 to +823 million euros, has been recorded.

The largest surplus in personal transfers to the European Union has been recorded by just four member states, but most of them are larger countries, like Portugal (+3 billion euros), and Poland (+2.8 billion euros), followed then by Romania (+2.6 billion) and Bulgaria (+1.1 billion euros). When compared to 2016, Croatia overtook both Hungary and Lithuania last year in terms of cash inflow from abroad.

Otherwise, EU residents sent an enormous 32.7 billion euros back to their respective countries of origin last year, which is, as previously stated, nearly one billion euros more than was recorded as having been sent back in 2016, along with that figure, 4.3 billion euros (13 percent of total outflow) was sent outside the European Union. At the same time, inflows into the European Union from the rest of the world reached the huge amount of 10.7 billion euros.

Follow our lifestyle page for more.


Click here for the original article by Jadranka Dozan for Poslovni Dnevnik

Friday, 26 October 2018

Oxford Educated Returnee Owns Tourist Agency, Runs 3 Hotels in Croatia

''Changes in any system can't take place overnight and it takes a lot of patience and work to make the results visible'', states Matea Jerić, now running three hotels in Croatia.

Page 10 of 15