Inductees – Europe

    Pat Dowd

    Pat Dowd

    Pat Dowd is the daughter of the late Tom and Millie Dowd and the oldest in her family of five siblings: Judy Wade, Kathy Dowd, Ginny Gaskill, Maureen Dowd, and Joe Dowd.  She attended St. Agnes and St. Aloysius grade schools in Cleveland, Ursuline Academy of the Sacred Heart, St. John College of Cleveland, and John Carroll University.  Pat’s Irish heritage, inherited from both her mother and her father, traces back to County Mayo, Ireland.

    Patricia Dowd is well known throughout the Irish American community for promoting the culture and her ongoing support for, and participation in, numerous functions and activities. She studied elementary education while at St. John College and eventually taught at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School in Wickliffe. She next moved on to a career in business at Snider Blake and later expanded her skills and career as a personnel and purchasing manager for 27 years. Pat's love of her Irish heritage took her into a new career as she became the founder and owner of Irish Moments, an Irish ceramic and porcelain gift-ware business. Many have received her gifts or seen her creations at craft fairs, Irish festivals, specialty shops and the East Side and West Side Irish American Clubs.

    Pat is a charter member of the Irish American Club East Side.  She has served as an officer for many years and served on numerous committees. She is also a member of the West Side Irish American Club. She was president of the Padraic Pearse Center which is the cultural arm of the Irish American Club East Side.  The center’s purpose is to promote Irish heritage and culture through such activities as its library, Irish dance and Gaelic language lessons, various lectures, theatrical productions and educational programs.

    Pat was also a member of the Famine Memorial Committee. The Irish Famine Memorial monument, and surrounding area on the East bank of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland’s Flats, is a memorial to the Great Hunger, the famine of the 1840’s. 

    Her work promoting Irish culture has been recognized by many. She was honored as the 2002 St. Patrick's Day Parade co-chair and the East Side Club's "Member of the Year".

    She was honored by the Irish American Archives Society who summarized: "Whatever needs to be done, Pat is there to lend a hand and loves to be involved. She is proud of her Irish heritage and does whatever she can to promote it and keep it alive."

    Pat was inducted by Gerry Quinn.

    Watch the video (below) of Gerry Quinn inducting Pat Dowd and then Pat's acceptance speech.

    Patricia Dowd

    Patricia Dowd

    Pat Dowd and Gerry Quinn


    Georgine Welo

    Georgine Welo

    As a young woman being raised in a Serbian Orthodox home, Georgine Welo  (maiden name Coso), would be spotted on Friday nights at Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral’s Cultural classes, attending Sunday School, reading the Epistle and working at all the Church banquets at Saint Sava Cathedral in Parma Ohio.

    Georgine and other girls would be serving the banquets and afterwards washing dishes and assisting in any manner her mother and other women at Serb Hall saw fit. As she grew older she followed the footsteps of many others in teaching Sunday School. She was an Assistant Teacher while in High School. In 1976, she would go each day after school to assist the Serbian Lodges in hosting the National Serbian Basketball Tournament in Cleveland Ohio.

    It was very important to her parents, Sam and Dorothy Coso, that she attend a college close to her home. They decided that Akron University would be a good fit as the church had a van that would pick her up at her Dorm Room to attend choir practice and church services. While attending the University of Akron, Georgine was very active with the Serbian choir and church.  She enjoyed traveling with the choir to different Serbian Communities throughout the United States and Canada, along with being active in the Serbian dances and events at Saint Archangel Michael Serbian Orthodox Church in Akron. It was during this time she became active in the Serbian Singing Society.

    While in college she loved being active with her Serbian Lodge and played in several Serbian Basketball Tournaments and worked many of the Labor Day Njegosh Days in which Baseball and Golf Tournaments were held. In 1977 she won the title of Miss Njegosh and spent the next years working any and all events.

    In 1978, Georgine returned home to Cleveland and became engaged to her husband of now 43 years Carter Welo. Besides becoming engaged she jumped right back into being active in her Serbian community. She immediately restarted the S.S.S. Njegosh Choir and enlisted her friend Michele Julylia to be the full time Director and recruited many of her family, Kumovi, friends and even her new fiancé to join! At the same time the Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese regained ownership of “Shadeland” a Serbian Camp in Pennsylvania. Word travelled fast throughout the Serbian parishes that the camp was very run down and that there was very little chance the camp would open for at least a year. Georgine’s husband was in the process of buying the True Value Hardware store where he worked. He had several friends who were in the trades and the two of them organized a team of people to work each weekend to repair, paint and bring back to life the old camp ground! It took not only elbow grease but a lot of coordination to raise the funds! That summer “Shadeland” opened and today has become one of the biggest Serbian Summer Camps in the United States.

    In the summer of 1979, Georgine married Carter and that fall became President of SSS Njegosh Choir and continued her involvement in the Serbian Singing Society, Lodge, and Church.  In the early 1980’s, her Uncle Steve Coso was President of Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral and her Kumovi Marlene Voinov approached her Uncle and others including Georgine about the idea of hosting a “Serbian Festival” at the Cathedral.  Georgine did not hesitate and jumped in with both feet. Both her and her husband Carter chaired the Children’s Games, Adult Games and Cevap Station. The two of them loved working with Svetozar Nikolic making the Cevaps and manning the booth. Over the years as her responsibilities have grown and she no longer chairs a committee but can be found working in the barbecue lamb and pig stand.

    Because of Georgine’s involvement with the Serbian Singing Society, she learned about the opportunity of Serbian parishes hosting the national Singing Festival each Memorial Day weekend and approached the Cathedral Board following a presentation to her fellow SSS Njegosh choir members. The Board gave Georgine and the choir the thumbs up to submit a bid and they won the 1983 bid! Even though Georgine had just had her daughter Nicole in December of 1982, she in no way was giving up the Chairmanship! Saint Sava Cathedral and the SSS Njegosh Choir hosted a very successful Festival weekend in which then Cleveland Mayor George Voinvovich presented the Serbian Singing Society President, Paul Belich and the organization, a resolution declaring Saturday May 28,1983, Serbian Singing Society Day in the city of Cleveland, Ohio.

    A hub for Cleveland Festivals of the past was Mall C in the heart of Cleveland’s downtown. It was flanked by the city’s major civic and governmental building and hosted the yearly Cleveland Nationality Festival. Each year Cleveland’s Cultural organizations hosted booths and sold both food and wares to raise money for their treasuries. Georgine chaired the Serbian booth for many years and worked alongside several groups to prepare the food, schedule booth workers and organize Serbian Entertainment for the main stage. The festival faded away until the Cleveland Cultural Gardens began, “One World Day” which has grown into a Northeast Ohio favorite in which each nationality opens and hosts their gardens for the day along with participating in the Annual Kick off Parade.  In 2019, the Serbian Cultural Gardens led by Chair Alex Machaskee, hosted the naturalization program on the mainstage and Georgine was honored to serve as the Mistress of Ceremonies.

    Under the urging of her Uncle Jon Malakar, Georgine joined the St. Sava Cathedral Board and by now  was the mother of 3 children. She was the Assistant Treasurer for several years and lead the committees to bring air conditioning to the church, paint the parish home and she became the editor of the Sunday Bulletin and Quarterly “St. Sava Herold” which was mailed to the Cathedrals membership and neighboring parishes. Each week Georgine would work with the priest and local organizations and Sunday School to prepare the Sunday Bulletin. She took great pride in having it translated each week in both Serbian and English. She worked hard to fill each quarterly Herold with an even blend of religion and culture, often writing pieces on Serbian traditions and Religious Holidays. To this day, many people come across old copies and enjoy her articles of the past.

    Anyone who knows Georgine knows that her passion has always been for the Serbian youth and people. Her mother Dorothy Coso encouraged her to follow her as a Sunday School teacher. When asked by Proto Vasko Sokolovic to become the Principal of the Sunday School, she did not hesitate. Georgine enlisted teachers, new and seasoned, to help her grow the school and assist the principal of the Serbian Cultural School to enlarge their dance classes and add a tamburitza teacher. Soon she organized an Annual Kumovi Day, Youth Group, Saint Nicholas Day and Sunday Luncheon to raise dollars for new Alter Boy robes. Her love for the children carried on for years.

    As everyone knows, Serbs love basketball! Each year the Serbian National Federation holds an Annual Basketball Tournament for the United State and Canadian Lodges. The cost to attend such a function and the renting of gyms for the players was becoming quite expensive for many families. Georgine and her husband Carter formed a committee to begin raising funds to allow all Serbian children and their families to attend the tournaments. The parents and coaches were embraced by the community and an annual raffle and other fundraisers were formed to provide resources for all. Little do many know, but Georgine played on Cleveland Baba’s Basketball team well into her 40’s!

    Over the years, Georgine, who is so proud of her Serbian heritage, has worked to share it with others by writing and securing an Ohio Arts Grant to bring a Serbian Tamburitzan Orchestra from Novi Sad, Serbia to Ohio. She secured Notre Dame College for a free concert.  The Main Library branch of the Cuyahoga County Library in Parma, with Georgine’s help, was the venue for a Serbian dance troupe from Switzerland.   However, the real excitement came when she teamed with Alex Machaskee, at Cleveland’s Severance Hall, for a performance by the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra.  All events were open to the public and truly showcased the culture of Ohio’s Serbian people.

    Georgine also helped Alex Machaskee raise funds for Hilander Serbian Monastery at Mt. Athos which was destroyed by a fire.  The concert by the famous Legende Orchestra of Belgrade was a sellout at Severance Hall and helped significantly with rebuilding the monastery.

    In 2019, Georgine was asked to speak at the Annual Eastern European Congress of Ohio’s Annual Eastern European Month Dinner Celebration which occurs each April. She spoke about her Serbian Eastern heritage and how it impacted her life and how grateful she is to have been raised by two loving parents and the Serbian community.  That year the Congress honored Elizabeth Ann Diles, Carpatho-Rusyn. Georgine was very honored as Elizabeth was the Vice President of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society and she had just returned from a civilian mission with the Ohio National Guard through a program with the State Department.

    In 2018 and 2019, Georgine assisted in two civilian missions to Serbia in which she organized book and art supply drives.  She brought hundreds of books to the city of Kraljevo’s Public Library and met with school children to speak about the Serbian heritage and traditions that continue in America. They really enjoyed playing basketball with her in the Elementary School Gym which was rebuilt after an earthquake by the Ohio National Guard and were surprised how well she could “Kolo” dance!  From Kralijevo she traveled by bus to Subotica Serbia to visit the Svetozar Markovic School. There she brought the students art supplies to allow them to paint, sketch and draw art work of their Serbian heritage.

    Georgine has received many awards including a 1995 Award from the American Professional Serbian Business Association in Pittsburgh.  She has also hosted many groups from Serbia including professors, students and government officials.

    In November 2003, Georgine Welo became the first woman elected Mayor of the City of South Euclid, a position she still holds.

    Professional positions include:

    Civilian Ambassador with the Ohio National Guard in conjunction with Sister Cities International
    Vice-Chair of NOPEC
    Chair of NOPEC Finance
    Current Member, International Cleveland Communities Advisory Committee, Cleveland Museum of Art
    Current Executive Member, Heights Regional Chambers of Commerce
    Current Member, Ohio First Suburbs Consortium
    Current Member, Euclid Creek Watershed Council
    Current Member, The Mayor’s Association of Ohio
    Current Member, Northeast Ohio Mayor and Managers Association
    Current Member, Council of Government, Community Partnership on Aging (formerly Tri-City Consortium on Aging)
    Advisory Board Member of the Center for Population Dynamics Maxine Goodman Levin College of
    Urban Affairs;
    Honorary Board Member, Hillcrest Meals on Wheels
    Past Board Member, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA)
    Past Chair of the GCRTA Operational Planning & Infrastructure Committee
    Past Chair of the GCRTA Strategic Governing Team
    Past Chair of the GCRTA Ad Hoc By-Laws Committee
    Past Chair of the GCRTA Nominating Committee
    Past Chair of the GCRTA Procurement for the GM Search
    Past Member of the GCRTA Audit, Safety Compliance & Real Estate Committee
    Past Member of the GCRTA External & Stakeholder Relations & Advocacy Committee
    Past Chair of NOPEC Gas & Electric Committee
    Past Chair of the NOPEC Demand Side Market Entry Advisory Services Committee
    Past Board Member, Auditor of State’s Northeast Ohio Regional Advisory Board
    Past Member, Regional Prosperity Initiative
    Past Executive Member of Northeast Ohio Mayors and Managers Association
    Past President of Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association
    Past Chair of the Government and Community Relations Advisory Council, Notre Dame College
    Past Vice-president, Suburban Council of Governments, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District
    Past Executive Member, First Suburbs Consortium
    Past Member, Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG)
    Past Board of Trustee, Ohio Municipal League
    Past Board of Trustee, University Suburban Medical Center, South Euclid
    Past Grant Member, NOPEC Powering Our Community
    Past Vice-Chair of the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation Board
    Past Vice-Chair of the Cuyahoga County Mayors and Managers
    Past Chairperson of the NOPEC Demand Side
    Past Chairperson, First Suburbs Consortium
    Past Chairperson, Euclid Creek Watershed Council
    Past Board Chairperson, Sourcing Office
    Past Board Member, Strategic Planning, Cuyahoga County Public Library
    Past Board of Trustee, Notre Dame College, South Euclid Ohio
    Past Board Member, Regina High School
    Past Secretary, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Suburban Council of Governments
    Past Member, SELREC Council of Governments
    Past Member, Cuyahoga County Planning Commission
    Past Member Cuyahoga County JABG Review Committee (Juvenile Accountability Block Grant funding)
    Past Member, District One Public Works Integrating Committee
    Past Member, Northeast Ohio Mayor’s Think Tank, Kent State University
    Administrative Bailiff, Judge Ann T. Mannen, Court of Common Pleas, Cuyahoga County, 1998-2003
    Member, Zoning and Planning Committee, City of South Euclid 1998-2003
    Council President Pro-Tem, City of South Euclid 1996-1998
    Council Person, City of South Euclid, Ohio 1992-1998
    Chairperson, Charter Review Commission, City of South Euclid, 1994, 2005

    Civic Activities include:

    Notre Dame College’s Centennial Steering Committee
    Global Cleveland Mentor
    Mistress of Ceremony for One World Day
    Board Member, Daily Dose of Reading (Dr. S. Senders and Associates)
    Host Committee Cleveland Rape Crisis Center 2010
    Cleveland Rape Crisis Center Sing Out Choir 2018
    Host Committee Cleveland Film Commission 2010 Red Carpet Event
    Co-Hostess 2009 S.H.O.W.E.R. Event, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center
    Host Committee – Cleveland Public Theatre Pandemonium 2008
    Host Committee – Regina Gala 2008
    Member, 2008 United Way Eastern Regional Market Committee Member
    Member of the League of Women Voters
    Member of the Stonewall Democrats Chairperson, South Euclid Home Days
    Member of Cleveland Cultural Gardens
    Member, South Euclid Garden Club
    Member, South Euclid Lyndhurst PTA
    Member, Charles F. Brush Athletic Booster
    Member, Regina High School Campaign Steering Committee
    Member, South Euclid Democratic Club.
    Member, Cuyahoga County Democratic Club, Precinct Committee person for
    The Cuyahoga County Democratic Club,
    Past Member, Serbian Arts Council
    Past Board Member, Loyola Society, St. Ignatius High School
    Past Member, South Euclid Ad-Hoc Committee on Recreation
    Past Vice President, South Euclid, Co-op Pre-School
    Past Assistant Treasurer, St. Sava Cathedral, Parma Ohio
    Past Sunday School Superintendent, St. Sava Cathedral, Parma Ohio
    Past President S.S.S. Njegosh Choir President

    Recognitions include:

    Recipient 2015 Silver and Gold First Responders for Greater Cleveland
    Nominee 2015 “Public Sector Leader” Award; Greater Ohio Policy Center
    Recipient 2014 “Northeast Ohio Visionary Leader” Award; Building One Ohio
    Recipient 2011 Outstanding Leadership Award; Euclid Creek Watershed Partnership
    Recipient 2010 Crain’s Emerald Award
    Recipient First Suburbs Consortium Hero Award, November 15, 2007
    from University Heights, Ohio.
    Recipient 2005 and 2006 Most Influential Person of the Year, Sun Newspapers
    Recipient: Award for Civic Service, 100th Anniversary, and December 5, 1996
    The Citizens League of Greater Cleveland
    Recipient: Award for Public Service, November 1995
    American Serbian Businessman’s Association

    Mayor Welo's immediate family consists of:

    Husband – Carter A. Welo Sr. (Owner South Euclid True Value Hardware)
    Daughter – Nicole M. Welo (husband Mark Mailler)
    Sons – Carter A. Welo, Jr. (wife Jackie, son – Carter A. III, daughter – Lillian Avery); and
    Miles P. Welo (wife Erin, daughter – Caroline Nicole, son – Miles Philip Jr.)

    Mayor Georgine Welo was inducted by Alex Machaskee

    Watch the video (below) of Alex Machaskee inducting Mayor Welo and then Georgine's acceptance speech.

    Mayor Georgine Welo

    Alex Machaskee and Mayor Georgine Welo

    Mayor Georgine Welo and Alex Machaskee

    Mayor Georgine Welo


    Michael D. Polensek

    Michael D. Polensek

    Michael D. Polensek, the "Dean" of City Council, and Councilman representing Cleveland’s 8th Ward, has served the neighborhoods of northeast Cleveland since 1978, making him the longest-serving Council member in the city's history. Currently he serves as the Chair of the Public Safety Committee and sits on the Utilities and Rules Committees of Cleveland City Council.

    For over four decades, Councilman Polensek has represented the Collinwood / Nottingham Neighborhoods. Today, he represents the ethnically and racially diverse communities of North Shore Collinwood, Collinwood Village, and the East Glenville neighborhoods.

    During his long and productive tenure, Councilman Polensek has been at the forefront of numerous development projects and issues and has been vigilant in creating grassroots community groups and helping business develop and grow in the community. He co-sponsored Cleveland’s first Fair Housing Law.

    He served as President of City Council from 1999 to 2002.  During this tenure he created the Neighborhood Equity Fund which targeted millions of dollars into neighborhoods for redevelopment projects and presided over the expansion of the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

    After working for years, he was instrumental in the construction of the $11.0 million Collinwood Recreation Center, located at 16300 Lakeshore Boulevard, in the community. It opened in November 2011 and was the first Gold LEED certified building in Cleveland’s history.

    Mike Polensek championed the effort to transfer the Cleveland Lakefront Parks to the Cleveland MetroParks System and continues to work on improving the infrastructure and public access to Cleveland’s lakefront. He was also instrumental in creating the Waterloo Arts & Entertainment District along Waterloo Road.

    He is presently working on the new streetscape for the East 185th Street business corridor, which is also home to the historic LaSalle Theatre, which in itself, has undergone complete renovation into an entertainment complex through the Councilman’s vison and financial support. He also sponsored legislation to create the new senior housing complex at the historic Henry W. Longfellow School located on East 140th Street at Darley Avenue.

    Polensek was born in the Glenville neighborhood on East 120th Street and raised in Collinwood and graduated from Collinwood High School.  He was also inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.

    He became involved in politics and in the community at an early age through the activism of his own late mother, Dorene.  Through her and his late grandparents he become very aware of the importance of faith and ethnic identity. It was this that laid the foundation for his involvement in politics and the Slovenian & Italian communities.

    As a former employee of the White Motors Corp. on St. Clair Avenue, Mike became involved in Local 32 of the United Autoworkers Union, which led to his first run for Cleveland City Council.

    He serves on the Advisory Committee of the Benjamin Rose Center, is a member of the NAACP and the Urban League. Councilman Polensek is also a member of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party’s Executive Committee and the Senior Ward Leader in Cuyahoga County.

    He has been honored as the ”Slovene Man of the Year” both by the Federation of Slovene Homes and the Collinwood Slovenian Home. He is a proud member of the Italian Sons & Daughters Lodge 192, the Lithuanian Club, SNPJ Lodge 142, KSKJ Lodge 169 and AMLA Lodge 6. 

    Mike lives in the North Shore Collinwood area and is an active member of St. Mary’s of the Assumption Church in Collinwood. He has five grown children and three grandsons.

    Mike is truly honored to be inducted into the International Hall of Fame, following in the footsteps of so many outstanding community leaders before him.

    Mike Polensek was inducted by Joe Cimperman

    Watch the video (below) of Joe Cimperman's induction of Mike Polensek and then the councilman's acceptance speech.

    Councilman Michael D. Polensek

    Councilman Mike Polensek and Joe Cimperman

    Michael Polensek

    Slovenians at the Hall of Fame inductions: Joe Cimperman, August Pust, Bishop Edward Malesic, Consul General Alenka Jerak,
    inductee Michael Polensek and Ray Marvar

    Mike Polensek and Joe Cimperman


    Joyce Mariani

    Joyce Mariani

    Joyce Mariani has a deep love for the culture of Italy handed down from her family which is of Florentine origin and Roman origin. Upon her return to Cleveland from Italy where she studied and worked, she founded the Cleveland Italian Film Festival in 2006 and the first independent film festival in Northeast Ohio to showcase Italian Oscar winning films at Cleveland area theaters drawing audience from all over Northeast Ohio.

    In 2007 she formed the Italian Cultural Garden Foundation spearheading a $1.5 million Renaissance Restoration Project for Cleveland's public cultural monument to Italy in Rockefeller Park and serves as its executive director.

    In 2008 she founded Viva! La Cultura Italiana cultural series presenting the cultural arts of Italy and revived the annual "Opera in the Italian Garden" after a sixty-five year absence presenting The Cleveland Opera and the Cleveland Ballet that draws over 3,000 people each year.

    In 2011 in an effort to highlight the culinary arts of Italy, she created an annual Pranzo presenting specialized cuisine from the different regions of Italy prepared by distinguished Cleveland chefs.

    She was presented the Italian Heritage Award in 2008 by Mayor Frank Jackson at Cleveland City Hall for her re-education of the public about the historical importance of the 1930 Italian Cultural Garden as a public cultural monument to Italy and for her dedication to the cultural arts of Italy. As a mezzo soprano she has performed with the National Orchestra of Italy, throughout Italy and Europe and at Severance Hall.

    She served on the Executive Board of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation, has lectured on Renaissance gardens, and is currently writing about newly discovered historical information pertaining to the creation of the Italian Cultural Garden.

    Joyce was inducted by Basil Russo

    Watch the video (below) of Basil Russo inducting Joyce Mariani and then Joyce giving her acceptance speech.

    Joyce Mariani

    Joyce Mariani

    Basil Russo and Joyce Mariani


    Joe Valencic

    Joe Valencic

    Joe Valencic

    Joseph Valencic is a dynamic and creative presence within Cleveland’s Slovenian-American scene. His enthusiasm for all things Slovenian inspires others to discover and celebrate the uniqueness of their own cultures. Joe sees the commonalities and synergies between Slovenian organizations in Cleveland, across the United States, and in Slovenia. He engages groups to build upon their strengths, attract volunteers, and develop programs and exchanges for mutual benefit. He believes culture, especially music, can build bridges between people of all backgrounds.

    Joe’s involvements have had a positive impact on the city’s cultural profile. He is a founder and past President of the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame, which showcases the style of American dance music that emerged from the city’s Slovenian and nationality neighborhoods. Joe is Vice President and directs the museum, music archives and promotions. He serves as the long-time President of the Cleveland Federation of Lodges of the Slovene National Benefit Society (SNPJ), America’s largest Slovenian organization, which operates SNPJ Farm in Kirtland, a summer music destination since 1939.

    Joe represents Slovenians in the United States on the international advisory board of Slovenia’s Office for Slovenes Abroad. When Slovenia declared independence in 1991, he led the national communications campaign of United Americans for Slovenia to lobby for U. S. recognition.

    He considers Slovenians in the U.S. a part of Slovenia’s history. His films, lectures and exhibitions document the Slovenian-American experience. Joe has been invited to speak to Slovenian communities in thirteen states, as well as in Slovenia and Slovenian regions of Italy and Austria. He wrote or co-wrote documentaries for RTV Slovenia, notably “Polka! The Movie,” about Slovenian music and sausages in America, and “100% Slovenian,” stories shared by Slovenian-American women. He directed “Many Voices, One Heart,” which profiles his parish of St. Mary of the Assumption in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood. He writes English subtitles for films from Slovenia.

    His events create connections between countries and cultures, such as the recent jazz concert in the Slovenian Cultural Garden and Slovenian-American authors at Cleveland Public Library with Slovenia’s Consulate General in Cleveland. He has been guest curator for exhibitions in Northeast Ohio, Italy and Slovenia. Joe’s exhibition on Slovenians in 21st century America for the Archives of Slovenia will soon come to the U.S. He has helped organize appearances by Slovenian artists at Severance Hall, Cleveland State University and Slovenian centers in the area.

    Every Saturday, Joe broadcasts in English and Slovenian with music and news from Slovenia at 1:00 on WINT 101.5 FM and 1330 AM, and streaming on Joe emcees special events, such as Slovenian Independence Day at Cleveland City Hall. He hosted the annual awards ceremony of the Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences for Slovenian television.

    Cleveland offered the Valencic family a new start after difficult years following World War I in the Slovenian lands. Then as now, more Slovenians lived in the city than anywhere outside of Europe. His parents, Josephine and Joe, raised their children, Mary Ann, Cecilia and Joe, in a bilingual home and encouraged their involvement in Slovenian activities. A summer stay with relatives in Slovenia at age five left a lasting impression upon Joe, as did membership in the Slovenian Junior Chorus, directed by his sister, vocalist and writer Cecilia Dolgan. The family sponsors a voice scholarship at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

    Joe attended Collinwood High School and Phillips Andover Academy and holds degrees from Kent State University. As a marketing professional, he worked with Penton Media, Thomson Corporation, and International Management Group, where he promoted the Cleveland Browns, the Cleveland Grand Prix and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as personalities and events around the world. At Cleveland State University, Joe was Director of Public Relations and Publications. He began his career as curator of exhibitions at the Western Reserve Historical Society. He served on the executive boards of the International Services Center and the Cleveland Bicentennial Commission, where he co-chaired the committee on communities and neighborhoods.

    As a lifelong Clevelander, Joe appreciates how the city offers its diverse communities the opportunities, resources and technology to express and uphold their cultural identities. That’s part of the spirit of Cleveland. Joe thanks the Cleveland International Hall of Fame for this honor.

    Joe Valencic inducted on June 7, 2022

    Covid-19 forced the always sold out induction ceremonies to be cancelled in 2020 and 2021. We tried to induct the 2020 class virtually but it was not the same. So once we were able to gather together again, we included the 2020 class in the induction ceremony for the 2022 class on June 7, 2022. The event at Windows on the River was a sell out and the 2020 class finally got their moment in the spotlight.

    On the evening of June 7, 2022 Joe was finally honored in person and was inducted by Cleveland City Councilman and fellow Slovenian Mike Polensek. Watch the video of Joe Valencic being inducted into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame by Councilman Mike Polensek.


    Councilman Mike Polensek inducts Joe Valencic into the CIHF

    Mike Polensek hands Joe Valencic his CIHF award

    Joe Valencic gives his Hall of Fame acceptance speech

    Congratulating the new Hall of Fame inductee Joe Valencic

    Congratulations Joe!


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