Friends of Slovakia co-hosted the inaugural SlovakPro Summit in New York City on September 19, 2023. This historic event brought together a group of accomplished Slovaks from business, science, academia, arts, and technology. The summit was organized under the patronage of Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová by SlovakPRO in collaboration with the Consulate General of the Slovak Republic in New York and other partners, including BrainBoard SK, Slovak Global Network, and Leaf. Friends of Slovakia’s participants at this prestigious event included Martina Hrvolová (FOS Chair), Tom Skladony (FOS Treasurer), Bibiana Rais (FOS Executive Board Member), Peter Muzila (FOS Board Member), and Amb Radovan Javorčík (FOS Board Member).
The Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová provided her remarks on the challenges that Slovakia faces and the role successful Slovaks in America can play in shaping its future. Ivan Mikloš, a renowned economist and former Slovak Finance Minister, gave the keynote address where he shared his vision for the future of Slovakia and the important role of the Slovak diaspora. Previously, Ivan Mikloš delivered the 2006 Annual Freedom Lecture.
The panel discussion, led by Michaela Kršková, Chief Innovation Officer of Slovakia, focused on sharing the business and innovation success of Slovaks in America. Prominent panelists included Ivica Labuda, Director of Biotechnology Program at Georgetown University Medical Center, Jana Hranaiová, Chief Innovation Officer at Ernst & Young, Peter Gajdoš, Venture Capitalist and partner at Climate Tech, Ondrej Krehel, a cybersecurity expert and founder of LIFARS.
Martin Viecha, Vice President of Investor Relations at Tesla, delivered a TED Talk presentation focused on his journey from Slovakia to his dream job at Tesla. Peter Vereš, an astronomer at Minor Planet Center Harvard – Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, talked about his work with NASA on planetary defense and his discovery of 400 near-Earth asteroids.
The Summit also included additional panel discussions and presentations showcasing ways to share extraordinary Slovak achievements in America with Slovakia and contribute to its growth and development. Active brainstorming sessions, networking, and tailored group discussions served as effective ways to connect Slovak professionals in the USA and discuss how to support new Slovak diaspora around the world.