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Karel Velan was born in 1918 in Ostrava.  With a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering, he fled Communist Czechoslovakia with his wife Olga and their two young sons, arriving in Montreal in 1949 to find freedom and human dignity in Canada.  He founded Velan Inc. in Montreal in 1950 and is presently Chief Executive Officer.  Velan is currently the World leader in the manufacture and supply of industrial valves with 13 plants located throughout the World (5 plants in Quebec employing 900 or 50% of 1,800 worldwide).  In 2004, Karel Velan was named Pioneer in nuclear valve technology by the Dutch magazine Valve World.  His interests in Astrophysics and Cosmology culminated in Plenum’s publication of his book The Multi-Universe Cosmos in 1992 and Birth and History of the Cosmos in 2000.  Karel Velan was President of the Canada-Czech Republic Chamber of Commerce for 17 years and is now President of the Czech-North American Chamber of Commerce and Culture.  His family, the company and the Velan Foundation have contributed to countless charity projects in Canada and in the Czech Republic.  He was involved in setting up a multi-service canter La Rue des Femmes de Montréal including a women’s shelter called La Maison Olga, named after Karel Velan’s wife, and also Domov Olga in Blansko, Czech Republic.  To this day, Karel Velan is still very active in all his activities especially in promoting Czech culture and helping all those in need.


Otto Masek is the President of the Chicago Chapter of Czech North
American Chamber of Commerce, which promotes business relationships within its membership and the Czech Republic. The Chamber works in close relationship with the Czech Consulate General in hosting heads of state and governmental officers from the Czech Republic.

Mr. Masek is also a member of The City of Chicago’s Prague Sister Cities Committee that hosts and promotes Czech cultural and fine arts venues in co-operation with the surrounding Czech community of Chicago, Illinois.

As President of Transit Solutions, Inc., Mr. Masek, in conjunction with the State of Illinois and the Chicago Chapter of Czech North American Chamber of Commerce, led a Transportation Trade Mission to the Czech Republic to promote trade relationships between North America and the Czech Republic.

Mr. Masek has held executive management positions with major domestic and international passenger railcar and locomotive manufacturers. He has also served on transportation committees in Washington, D.C. Mr. Masek is also retained as an expert witness in litigation cases for personal injuries and death due to manufacturing processes and systems.

Mr. Masek is a member of the Union League Club of Chicago that has as its motto, “Commitment to Community and Country.”

Executive Director

Mr.Novotny, a graduate of the Prague Academy of Arts (AMU) has been working most of his life in development, organization, and management of theatre, film and television projects. In Czechoslovakia he worked in feature films & television. As a result of Soviet occupation in August 1968, he emigrated. He has been living in North America since 1969. In Toronto, he worked for the CFTO Television and established critically renowned "Black Box Theatre", the first black light theatre performances in North America.
In Vancouver, he produced an environmental film "We are Running Out of Time", which received the first prize in promotional films category, the Canadian film Award, "Etrog" in 1973. In 1991 he was one of the founders of the Canada-Czechoslovak Republic Chamber of Commerce and in 1998 in Boston MA, the Czech North American Chamber of Commerce, based in Atlanta Georgia, its Executive Director and from 1992 to 2006, the publisher of the publication "Gateway to Czech Trade".
He is an external member of the Czech Republic Senate Committee for Czechs Living Abroad.
He has conceived, developed and made reality the Czech Events Network

Corporate Secretary

Roman M. Plachý, LL.M. (USA) is a Senior Associate attorney in the Atlanta office of Bridgehouse Rueckel & Bolthausen, LLC focusing on areas of Corporate Law, International Transactions, Securities Regulation, and International Law. Mr. Plachý's practice primarily involves advising mid-sized corporate clients seeking to expand their operations within and between the United States and Europe. Mr. Plachý's work experience also includes an extensive internship with Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP in Prague, Czech Republic supporting the corporate practice as well as contributing to various articles published in the Journal of International Arbitration. As a member of the Board of Directors of the Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture, he hopes to increase the access of US and Czech businesses to the network, social, and cultural opportunities presented by the Chamber. Mr. Plachý is the first generation born in the US to Czech émigrés and native speaker of English and Czech with basic understanding of German. Mr. Plachý is admitted to practice law in California, the District of Columbia and Georgia. 


George A. Novak was appointed the Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic in Atlanta in 1992 and elevated to the Honorary Consul General in 2002.
George obtained his Master’s Degree in Architectural Engineering in 1956 in Brno, Czechoslovakia. From 1956 till 1968 George lead the legendary basketball team of Spartak ZJS Brno.
During the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 he fled to Austria. In December 1968 came to Georgia where he worked 4 years as architect for Southwire Company in Carrolton and then 12 years for Robert Company in Atlanta. In1983 founded a construction management consultancy providing services to mostly foreign and predominantly German industrial clients.
In 2002 George became consultant to Gleeds, a worldwide UK project consultancy firm with headquarters in London. As a member of the International Committee of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, George has participated in many seminars in Europe promoting Georgia. served as a member of the advisory board of the German American Chamber, led the founding group of the Belgian American Chamber, and served 4 years as the Attaché of the Czech Olympic Committee for 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. For long years Gorge has been the proud sponsor of many Czech artists performances in Georgia
George is married to Jana Marie Novak and has a son Michael. His interests are classical music, opera, big band jazz, tennis and skiing.


 Milan Kuzica was born on November 11th in the city of Martin in Slovakia. He studied the profession of shaping and design in the Academy of Arts and Industry in Kremnica, as well as the faculty of Sculpting. A year later he finished the faculty of pedagogy at the Komensky University in Bratislava. He was active in pedagogy in the years of 1996-97 at the TAFE University of Perth and the High School of Design at Claremont-Perth in Australia. He worked in industrial and graphic design. At this point in time he is concentrating on a free sculpting design. The art of Milan Kuzica appears to divide according to it's form to realistic and abstract, with both streams always expressing existential questions and problems created between humanity and its surroundings. He uses in his sculpting art-works classical techniques such as bronze-molding, but he also works with his own newly developed materials and technologies. He devotes himself to abstract paintings, computer graphics and light-graphy. The art of Mr. Kuzica is represented in private collections in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and other countries. He exhibited his works in Slovakia, Belgium, USA, Holland and Australia. Mr. Milan Kuzica is a member of the Slovak Union of Artists.


Dr.Stransky is the great-grandson of Czechoslovakia’s first minister of Commerce Adolf Stránsky, who also founded the country’s first newspaper Lidové noviny. Dr. Stránský’s grandfather Jaroslav was the country’s Minister of Justice and Education; his father was the co-founder of the Czechoslovak desk of Radio Free Europe. Dr Stransky is an Associate Professor of Neurology at Yale, Director of Alumni Development for St-Georges’s University School of Medicine and has founded multiple educational and exchange programs in medicine. In the Czech republic, he is the Health Advisor to numerous Czech officials, Founder of the Policlinic at Národní and on the Board of the Hospital pod Petřínem. He is also the publisher of Přítomnost and The New Presence and founder of several Czech Foundations that assist in journalism and in civil rights. He is a prominent commentator and has appeared in virtually every Czech media and publication.
He is also a permanent external member for the Czech Senate Committee for Czechs Living Abroad. For full information, go to


Presently President General and Artistic Director of theThéâtre Lyrichorégra 20, Alain Nonat, a Helden tenor and recipient of a First Prize of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, began his vocal studies with Maria Branèze at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris where he won a First Prize. He continued his vocal studies in Montreal, Canada, at the Operatic Workshop of the McGill University Faculty of Music with Luciano Della Pergola, Barry Wisenfield and Antonio Narducci. He also worked with Bernard Diamant and pianist John Newmark. He studied under the masters Jacques Jansen and Jean-Christophe Benoit in France; Boris Goldowsky in the United States; and in Germany under tenor Ernst Haefliger who became his mentor. He participated in several national and international competitions, including the Music Competition of Canada and the International Competition of La Mélodie Française de Paris. He sang for the most part in France, the United States and Canada, and participated in the first presentation of several contemporary lyrical works. He possesses a large repertoire of French melodies, lieder and oratorios, and has staged several lyrical productions. On his return to Canada, in 1976, he founded the Théâtre Lyricoregra 20, an organization which promotes opera for all ages and encourages young singers. He was also a dance critic for three years. In 1980 and 1981, he was responsible for the success of the Opera and Dance Pavillon at Man and His World in Montreal, which attracted more than 150,000 visitors each summer with its concerts and exhibits. In 1982, he concentrated his efforts on teaching and on managing the Théâtre Lyricoregra 20. He went on to create the Journées de la musique française and the Rencontres musicales tchèques et slovaques (two events combining interpretation competitions), and Si l’Opéra m’était conté, an introduction to opera for all ages. In 1994, he organized in Canada a new programme, Les Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques, whose aim is to facilitate the introduction of young Canadian singers to a career in Europe. He create the same programme in China in 2004. Since 1990, he has given Master Classes in Interpretation, specializing in the interpretation of French music, opera and melody, and the preparation for international auditions and competitions. In this function, he has been invited to Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Korea . Since 1991, he has been invited every year to be a jury member for International Singing Competitions in Belgium, China, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Korea , Portuga,l Spain, and Slovakia. He has instituted several exchange programmes between Canada and Europe for young musicians. Since 2005 he create with the Brasov Opera in Romania an international opera programme for young singers in Autumn of each year, Every year he also organized the Czech and Slovak Musical Rencontres in Montreal and has already invited some well known musicals like Radoslav Kvapil. Jarmil Burghauser, lena Vesela,Adolf Sykora, Jan Panenka, Ivan Zenaty, Bedrich Havlik Marian Lapsanky, Ida Kirilova, Julius Klein and others In 1993 he is a delegate for Canada at the first Olympic Arts charter in Paris Unesco In 1991, he was decorated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, in recognition of his involvement in cultural exchange between his country and Canada. In 1998, he received from the Czech Republic the Antonin Dvorak medal for his work in promoting Czech music in Canada. In 2002, he received the civil medal, Linden of Friendship, from the International Club of Slovakia for his cooperation in promoting cultural exchanges between Canada and Slovakia. He received also in Montreal City Hall from the Slovak President in official visit a decoration for his work to promote cultural exchange between Canada and Slovakia In November he will organized in United States and in Montreal the 10th international Czech and Slovak competition for singers.

altDr. Lucie Slavikova – Boucher


is a radiologist, having graduated from the Medical School at the University Charles of Prague. She has a postgraduate certification in Radiology from the Medical School of the University Paris V, in France. Since then she has been working as a radiologist at the University Hospital Saint Antoine in Paris where she lives with her husband, a son and a daughter.

Her children were the main reason for her creating the Czech School Without Borders in 2003, a school which offers bilingual children raised abroad a possibility of learning Czech language and literature, along with Czech history and geography, accordingly to the Czech Ministry of Education national school program. The Czech School Without Borders project caught the attention of numerous Czech speaking parents living abroad and the school in Paris became a model for other Czech Schools Without Borders established first across Europe and now around the world. In 2009, Lucie S. – Boucher was nominated, as the founder of the Czech School without Borders, for the Czech – French Chamber of Commerce prize. 

She is chairwoman of the Czech School Without Borders non-profit organization in Prague, the role of which is to represent the Czech schools Without Borders around the world, coordinate, supervise their activities, and to initiate common projects . 

She is also a permanent external member of the Czech Senate Committee for Czechs Living Abroad. 

altSuzanna ( Zuzana) Halsey



A native of Karlovy Vary, graduate of Charles University in Prague, and a New Yorker since 1978, Suzanna promotes cross-cultural understanding and enjoys bringing together smart, creative and positive people through her company Czechmatters.

She is a woman of many trades. Before she came to the United States, she worked as an editor in a publishing house in Prague. Later, she studied film making at New York University SCPS and worked several years as a film and video editor and managed an audio/visual department. In 1990s, she conceived and produced several cultural multimedia events at Symphony Space theater, and a reading series from Czech Literature for the Celebrate Prague! festival at the World Financial Center in New York City.

She teaches Czech at New York University where she is also developing an incipient program Czech House NYU. Her work includes translation, interpretation and Czech diction coaching for opera and theater.

Since 1995, she also administers a nonprofit organization Friends of Czech Greenways that promotes cultural and environmental preservation and cultural tourism along the Prague Vienna Greenways route in the Czech Republic.

As a Vice President and Event Producer at the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences, NY Chapter (SVU New York), Suzanna curates and produces lectures, readings and presentations at the Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan, promoting Czech and Slovak intellectual history.


altKytka (Kvetoslava) Hilmar Jezek



Kytka Hilmar-Jezek was born Kvetoslava Hilmarova· on August 1 in Prague. She is a descendant of Frantiöek Matej Hilmar, the Czech composer who is credited with composing the first polka.

Her parents came to the United States under sponsorship of Mr. Emil Wagner, co-owner of the Mount Airy Lodge in the Pocono Mountains and recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for his social, public and business life and involvement in ethnic activities in 1995. Kytka is a graduate of the Clayton College of Natural Health where she graduated as a Dr. of Naturopathy.

She has authored over 25+ books, and dozens more which she has ghostwritten for her clients. Kytka has speaks and teaches workshops on book writing, WordPress and marketing through the authorship of a book. In addition to her writing and speaking, she has worked alongside numerous midwives and Dr. Paul Fleiss as a Certified Childbirth Educator, Labor Assistant and Birth Advocate as well as becoming an Ordained Minister, and S.O.U.L. Clinic Counselor.

When her children were young, she was founder and CEO of Hedgehog Farms Catalog, Enchanted Fairy Dreams Toys, and creator of the Hip Hammock (a baby carrier). She sat on the Board of Trustees and Advisory Board of Three Cedars Waldorf School in Bellevue, Washington and founded Waldorf Homeschoolers, which she maintained for 20 years. She has been honored in the Alternative Education Hall of Fame since 1996 for her work on natural parenting and with children. She has also assisted numerous Czechs in their relocation to the United States by offering her help translating and getting accustomed to life in the United States.

In her spare time, she also enjoys preserving old photographs and adding to the archives at The Photo Vault. In December of 2016, she is launching and will continue to expand her tours taking Americans to the Czech Republic as well as showing Czechs the Americas. She is the Executive Publisher at Distinct Press where she is actively recruiting and publishing Czech and Slovak writers in the United States.

Her website,, which she runs with her two daughters, shares information about the culture, heritage, traditions, history, and civil society of the Czech Republic.


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