Promoting friendship between the United States and Slovakia since 2001

About

Leadership

Officers

Board of Directors

Board of Advisors

Amb. Theodore E. Russell – Founding Chairman

 

Joseph T. Senko – Chairman Emeritus

 

Ingrid Kimianová Aielli

Amb. Adrian A. Basora

Kenneth Bombara

Amb. Peter Burian

Amb. Martin Bútora

Mary Ellen Callahan, Esq.

Dr. Pavol Demeš

Hon. Thomas A. Dine

Amb. Rastislav Káčer

Amb. Peter Kmec

Wendy W. Luers

Hon. John Mica

Katarína Mathernová, Esq.

Gail Naughton

Amb. Vince Obsitnik

Amb. Theodore Sedgwick

Julie B. Slavik

Amb. Ronald Weiser

Fergus Shiel and David Frankel

Sharon Wolchik

Prof. Sharon L. Wolchik

Sharon L. Wolchik is Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the George Washington University. She has served as Director of the Russian and East European Studies Program and the Masters in International Policy Program, and as Associate Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs.  She has been a Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow and Visiting Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy.  Dr. Wolchik’s teaching and research have focused on Central and East European, and Caucasian politics.  She had done fieldwork in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.  Dr. Walchik has held fellowships or been awarded grants from numerous organizations, including the International Research and Exchanges Board, the National Council for Russian and East European Research, the Macarthur Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Rockefeller Foundation.  She has also served as Adjunct Chair or Course Coordinator for courses on East Central Europe, Central Europe, the Caucasus, Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic, and breakout sessions on various combinations of Poland, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republics, the Baltic States and Romania at the US Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute since 1980. Additionally, she has served as a consultant to the Civic Education Project of the ACLS, the International Affairs Network of the American Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs, the Cold War International History Project at the Wilson Center, the Advisory Committee of Nations in Transit, and as a member of the board of the Penn Kemble Fellows Program at the National Endowment for Democracy.  She is the author of Czechoslovakia in Transition (1991) and has published over 100 articles and book chapters.  Sharon holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan, an M.A. in Political Science from Indiana University, and a B.A. from Syracuse University.

Madeline Vadkerty

Madeline Vadkerty

A native of Washington, DC, Madeline Vadkerty works at the Holocaust Documentation Center in Bratislava, Slovakia where she conducts Holocaust research. She is a Samuel P. Mandel Fellow in Gratz College’s doctoral program in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Previously, she worked at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, DC, and for Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (ASTT) in Baltimore, Maryland.  Vadkerty is the author of Your Honor, Mr. President: Letters to Jozef Tiso, published in 2020 (in Slovak).  The book received the “Book of the Year Award” from Panta Rhei in 2020 and an award from the Independent Slovak Writers’ Association in 2021. Madeline’s work has appeared in PRISM Magazine and Occasional Papers in Religion in Easter Europe (OPREE). Madeline is a Ph.D. candidate (2024) at Gratz College (ABD) in Holocaust and Genocide Studies and holds a BA in French and Russian from Georgetown University. She is fluent in Slovak, Czech, Russian, French, Italian, Spanish, and English (native).

Scott Thayer

Scott N. Thayer

Scott N. Thayer is a retired American diplomat who spent much of his career working on political and economic reform in Central and Eastern Europe in both bilateral and multilateral settings.  He was chargé d’affaires and deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Bratislava, Slovakia (2002 – 2005) and has been a director of the Friends of Slovakia for over 10 years.  

Jan Erik Surotchak

Jan Erik Surotchak

Jan Erik Surotchak serves as Senior Director for Transatlantic Strategy at the International Republican Institute (IRI), where he oversees regional programming focused on the key threats to the alliance of democratic societies in the Transatlantic space inclusive of state-sponsored disinformation efforts, weaknesses among traditional political parties and the rise of anti-establishment political movements and leaders, and growing engagement by authoritarian powers designed to drive the United States and its European allies apart.  He has lived and worked in Central Europe for over two decades and has taken part in election observation missions and political assessments worldwide for IRI, among others in Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, China, Haiti, Honduras, Jordan, Nigeria, Somaliland, and Turkey.  Surotchak is also IRI’s lead on relationships with political parties in the European Union, in particular with the European People’s Party (EPP), the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) party, and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), as well as with the International Democrat Union (IDU), the global alliance of center-right parties. He co-edited IRI’s Why We Lost:  Explaining the Rise and Fall of the Center-Right in Central and Eastern Europe, 1996-2002, and Why and How We Won:  Center-Right Parties in East-Central Europe and Their Return to Power in the 2000s.  Surotchak was elected to five terms on Borough Council in his hometown of Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, beginning in 2000.  Jan Erik holds a MA in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School, Tufts University, and a BA in international relations from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  He also won a Fulbright Fellowship in Kiel, Germany.  

Sabina Sabados

Sabina Sabados

Sabina Sabados is a dedicated professional with over 15 years of experience at the United Nations, where she currently lends her expertise to the Office of the Comptroller at UNICEF. Hailing from eastern Slovakia, Sabina embarked on a journey to the United States in the late 1980s. Beyond her distinguished career at the UN, Sabina is deeply committed to community service. She currently serves as President of the Slovak-American Cultural Center, passionately fostering cultural exchange and understanding. Additionally, she serves on the board of directors for the First Catholic Slovak Union and Friends of Slovakia. Sabina’s influence extends further as an engaged member of the NY Chapter of the Diplomacy Alumni Board, where she utilizes her diplomatic acumen and expertise to promote collaboration and networking among fellow professionals. Sabina obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Drew University and a Master of Arts degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from the School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University.

Cecilia Rokusek

Dr. Cecilia Rokusek

Dr. Cecilia Rokusek is the President & CEO of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She has held top academic and administrative positions at several colleges and universities since 1976. For the past 12 years, she has been the Slovak Honorary Consul for Florida.  Rokusek is a former professor of Public Health and Family Medicine. She co-founded the Center for Disaster and Emergency Preparedness at the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Nova Southeastern University, one of only five such centers in the US.  A native Midwesterner, she is fluent in Czech and Slovak. She has established many academic affiliations with institutions in the Czech and Slovak Republics and several other European countries, including Slovenia, Hungary, and South Korea.  Before arriving in Cedar Rapids, Cecilia served as Provost and Chief Executive Officer at Larkin University, she was at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine for 10 years, serving as Assistant Dean for Research and Innovation. Before that, she was a dean and professor at Winona State University in Minnesota, Florida Gulf Coast University, and Governors State University in Illinois. She served as Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine and as Director of Dietetics at Mount Marty College in South Dakota. In 2018, Rokusek received the Silver Medal for Distinguished Service from the Slovak Minister of Foreign Affairs. In 2019, she received the Woodrow Wilson Award for leadership in diplomacy, presented by the Slovak Ambassador to the US. In 2022, Cecilia received the prestigious 2022 Gratias Agit Award at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.  Cecilia holds a Ph.D. in education from the University of South Dakota, an MSc from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and two BA degrees in dietetics and communication from Mount Marty University in Yankton, SD.

Peter Muzila

Peter Muzila

Peter Muzila is an Honorary Consul of the Slovak Republic in all New England states.  He has 30+ years of experience combining business success, diplomacy, and technical expertise.  Mr. Muzila’s successful business career started shortly after he finished university studies in 1996 when he co-founded Allaire Corp., which later merged with Adobe Corporation. As a private investor, Mr. Muzila supported multiple startups and researched and analyzed seed investment opportunities in high-tech fields.  In addition to Friends of Slovakia, Mr. Muzila is actively involved with a number of non-profit organizations, including the Board of Advisors of the Czech and Slovak Association in Boston. He has a strong interest in Slovak art and organized a number of exhibitions in the Boston area. Peter received his education in Bratislava, Ilmenau and Vienna, obtaining a Master of Engineering in Information Systems from the Slovak Technical University in Bratislava. Additionally, he studied business information systems, management, and marketing at the University of Economics in Bratislava and two Austrian universities, including the University of Vienna.

Roger Kodat

Roger Kodat

Roger Kodat is President of American Friends of the Czech Republic (AFoCR) and Senior Project Director at a Washington, DC-based public policy institute focused on public administration.  He has 25+ years of commercial and investment banking experience with JPMorgan Chase in New York City and Europe. He served seven years in the George W. Bush Administration at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Roger holds a BS in Education from Northwestern University, an MBA in Finance, and an MA in Political Science from Indiana University. He and his wife Betsey live in Greenville, SC.  They have two amazing adult daughters and two grandchildren. 

Radovan Javorcik

Amb. Radovan Javorčík

Amb. Radovan Javorčík assumed his duties as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Slovak Republic to the United States of America in January 2021. He joined the Slovak Foreign Service in 1995, where he held several high-profile assignments, including serving as Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Department at the Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic on the North Atlantic Council (2017-2020), Ambassador to Israel (2011-2015), Director for North America and the Middle East & Director for Security Policy, and Charge d’Affaires at the Slovak Embassy in London (2005-2009). Prior to joining the Slovak Foreign Service, Javorcik worked at the Office of the President of the Slovak Republic in Press and later Foreign Policy Department. Radovan graduated from the Slovak Technical University, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, and completed his studies at the Institute of International Relations at the Comenius University in Bratislava.

Elizabeth Guran

Dr. Elizabeth Guran

Dr. Elizabeth Guran has over 30 years of professional experience in national security and international affairs at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), and at universities where she has taught in national and international security programs. At GAO she traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia, including to the war zones of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Balkans, to research, develop, and execute studies and reports for the U.S. Congress. Dr. Guran taught at the Elliott School of International Affairs as an adjunct professor and as a visiting assistant professor in the University of Akron’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security program. Currently, she is a professor with the Lutheran Colleges Washington Semester Program and specializes in terrorism and counter-terrorism issues. In her career she has written and/or co-authored over 50 reports, studies, and articles on international and domestic public policy matters. Dr. Guran has a Ph.D. in War Studies from King’s College, University of London, where she specialized in U.S.-Japan naval relations; M.Litt in Strategic Studies from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland; B.A. in Political Science and Communications from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.  She also is a graduate of the U.S. Naval War College.

Brian Green

Dr. Brian Green

Dr. Brian Green, a Professor Emeritus of Sociology from Keene State College in New Hampshire, currently supports a leading defense and aerospace manufacturer as a sales executive. In 2013, he embarked on a new entrepreneurial journey by co-founding Centeur Imports, a company specializing in importing Slovak wine and mead to the United States. Dr. Green’s exceptional accomplishments include being awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship and a teaching scholarship by the Slovak Academic Information Agency (SAIA). Additionally, he served as a consultant to the Slovak Ministry of Education for their Foreign Language Teacher Training program from 2008 to 2009. Dr. Green has also fostered close collaborations with faculty members from the Slovak Technical University of Bratislava.

Richard Marko

Richard Marko

Richard Marko is an inventor and Partner at KMMH Systems tax technology firm. He actively advocates for improving democracy and civil society in Slovakia. Richard earned his master’s degree from George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. In his free time, he volunteers with Civil Air Patrol.

Bibiana Rais

Bibiana K. Rais

Bibiana K. Rais is a Member of Friends of Slovakia’s Executive Committee. She is the President & CEO of Daxner Group, an advisory firm specializing in tailored procurement, training, consulting, and operational support services in challenging locations. She is a dynamic executive with a strong background in driving multimillion-dollar growth and revenue expansion for government contractors and international companies. Bibiana has worked extensively in conflict, post-conflict, and austere global environments across the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. She is an advocate for women’s engagement and inclusion in fragile environments, having obtained certification in Women, Peace and Security (WPS) from the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA). Originally from Slovakia, Bibiana obtained her BA/MA in international business from the University of Economics before moving to the United States. Her early career included managing a multi-year USAID-funded program in Bratislava and providing management, logistics, and operational support to US advisors deployed to the Slovak Ministry of Finance. She gained valuable experience in management consulting during her time at KPMG’s Policy Economics Group in Bratislava and Washington, DC. Bibiana also interned with MESA 10 and the Slovak-American Enterprise Fund. Bibiana holds an MA in law and diplomacy from Fletcher School, Tufts University. Throughout her educational journey, she participated in international student exchange programs at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv, and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.

Thomas W. Skladony

Thomas W. Skladony is a Friends of Slovakia founding member and has served continuously on the FOS board since 2001. He is a public-policy professional with more than 40 years of Washington, D.C. experience. He served in senior research and management positions at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and National Endowment for Democracy. Between 1996-1997 he was a public-relations advisor in the office of Slovak President Michal Kováč.  In 1997-1998 Skladony helped launch the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO), a leading Slovak think tank. He was co-editor with Martin Bútora of Slovakia 1996-1997: A Global Report on the State of Society, and edited other IVO publications in subsequent years. More recently, he worked for an international development firm assisting in the reconstruction of postwar Afghanistan (work that unfortunately stopped after the return of the Taliban in 2021). Skladony is a fourth-generation Slovak-American and travels frequently to Slovakia. He is fluent in Slovak, and also speaks and reads German. Tom earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, summa cum laude, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Andrew Rajec

Andrew P. Rajec

Andrew Rajec currently serves as Vice-Chairman of Friends of Slovakia.  He is also the Director of Independent Agents for the First Catholic Slovak Union (FCSU) and President of Cleveland-Bratislava Sister Cities, an organization established under the auspices of Sister Cities International (Washington, DC) to develop and promote the relationship of Cleveland, Ohio with its sister city Bratislava and other regions of the Slovak Republic.

Rajec is a licensed insurance professional in 9 states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Prior to joining the FCSU, he was an integral part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) where he served as the International Cooperation Specialist for Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, and Romania and as the Deputy Director for the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. He was awarded USAID’s Meritorious Honor Award for exemplary service and leadership in furthering the Europe and Eurasia Bureau’s Foreign Policy Interest and USAID programs. Rajec also participated as an international election observer for the crucial 2008 presidential elections in the Republic of Georgia, helping to enhance accountability and transparency and boosting domestic and international confidence in the country’s election process. Rajec began his career in Washington, DC as personal assistant to United States Senator Mitch McConnell, the current Senate Minority Leader, and eventually became Special Assistant to Secretary of Labor, Elaine L. Chao, and served as a member of the Secretary’s transition team. Andrew earned his MBA with High Honors (Magna Cum Laude) from the University of Notre Dame and was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honor Society. He received his BSc. in Business Administration from Marquette University, specializing in Finance, and was awarded membership into Alpha Sigma Nu, the honor society of Jesuit colleges and universities.

Martina Hrvolova

Dr. Martina Hrvolová

Dr. Martina Hrvolová currently serves as Chairman of Friends of Slovakia. She is a Senior Advisor at the German Marshall Fund (GMF) of the U.S. in Washington, DC. She has 18+ years of extensive experience with high-stake negotiations, policymaking, and program management in human rights, democracy, economy, and security.
Before joining GMF, Martina worked as Program Officer for Europe and Eurasia at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), where she focused on global strategic threats, economic misconceptions, corrosive capital, enterprise ecosystems, anti-corruption, and private sector leadership in advancing democracy and markets. Previously, she also served in the Slovak Foreign Service (2005 to 2015), including being posted to the Slovak Missions to NATO and EU in Brussels, Belgium. Before joining Slovak Foreign Service, she served as the executive secretary of the Slovak Chairmanship of the Council of Europe. Her volunteering included missions with the OSCE as an election observer in Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans. Martina holds an LLM in international and comparative law from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and a Ph.D. in civil law from Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. She is also a certified compliance & ethics professional with the U.S. Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics and a U.S. Chamber Executive-Level Institute for Organization Management graduate.