Elmwood Park real estate broker Jonathan Zivojnovic stepped up to the presidency of the Columbian Club of Chicago at the organization’s annual installation gala.
“I have served as president and chairperson for many other groups, and I must say that this is a role I have been looking forward to for many years,” Zivojnovic says.
A member since 2008, Zivojnovic joined for the networking opportunity and quickly discovered that the club represented so much more. “The brotherhood and camaraderie among the members is like nothing else, and they do wonderful charity work,” he explains.
In addition to working his way up the ladder of succession as an officer, Zivojnovic has served as program director and chairperson of the club’s golf outing, Christmas party and bocce tournament.
The managing broker and owner of River Elm Properties, Zivojnovic is a Elmwood Park Trustee and president of the Grand Corridor Chamber of Commerce. He lives in Elmwood Park with his wife, Gina, and sons, Dominic and Carmine.
Joining Zivojnovic as 2016 officers are First Vice President Anthony L. Ambrose, Second Vice President Jack P. Cannata, Third Vice President Stuart J. Caravello, Secretary Vincent A. Maietta, Treasurer Mark M. Corrado and Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Russotto.
One-year directors are Frank Binetti, Daniel A. Corrado, John Curry, Frank Lucchese and Christopher Derks.Two-year directors are Marcello Gullotta, Robert Difiglio, Christopher Caponigri, Daniel Parisi and Ross Morizzo.
Foundation trustees are Gabriel Caporale, Vincent Morreale, Robert Trocchio, Robert DiSilvestro, John Ferrentino, Carmen Forte, Paul Gazzillo, George DePalma, Michael Spilotro, Peter Volpe and Jonathan Zivojnovic.
Zivojnovic made the following acceptance speech:
Thank you members, friends and guests for coming this evening to the Columbian Club of Chicago’s 77th annual installation dinner.
What is the Columbian Club about?
What does the Columbian Club do?
What does a person get out of the Columbian Club?
Are you guys from Columbia? (I heard that last night.)
My response is simple.
The Columbian Club is more than a business organization founded 77 years ago amonst prominent Italian American businessmen in the Chicagoland area.
The Columbian Club is more than a networking group amongst professionals.
The Columbian Club is more than a great charitable organization that gives back to the community.
The Columbian Club of Chicago is special and magnificent – an organization like no other that I belong to or am a part of.
A little over eight years ago, I was in my mid-20s and ready to tackle any opportunity that came in front of me. A few years into a new business venture and eager to grow, nothing was out of the question.
I was on the floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange and struck up a conversation with Russell Saletta, who owned a trading firm that we worked with.
He was also a member of the club at that time.
“You know. you would really enjoy this club that I belong to,” he said. You should join. I bet you will even get some business out of it.
Sure – why not – What could it hurt?
The next thing I know, I am sitting in the dining room at Casa Italia, amongst a room full of gentlemen, trading war stories over the best ossobuco I have eaten until this day, while getting introduced to a group of great friends that can never be replaced.
Several things were swirling through my mind.
How was I going to keep everyone’s names straight?
What If I offend someone?
Two remarkable people made that first meeting night special, and are a major part of the reason I am here today.
Dr. Ralph DelMonico Sr. and Anthony Sabbatino warmly welcomed me to their dinner table and shared a wealth of knowledge about the lub, its history, and also started working me over about how I was going to get involved.
“You have to step it up,” Tony said. “Don’t just sit here and do nothing and not show up – We do not need members like that”
“Don’t take any lip from anyone either,” Dr. Ralph said. “We all get up, eat, and go to sleep the same way each day.”
Fast forward to 2016, after numerous dinners, golf outings and Christmas parties: The wise words spoken were as true as the day is long.
You truly cannot appreciate the Columbian Club of Chicago until you are a part of it.
Whenever I push a membership application at a friend or colleague, it is because I want them to feel what I feel, experience the fellowship and friendships that can never be replaced, and become a part of an organization that I truly believe in.
The Columbian Club has taught me to realize you never join something or take part in an event looking for something in return.
If you are truly doing a fine job, and the organization is thriving and alive, that special something will indeed find you.
I have been privileged in my life to have already led some very fine groups and organizations, but I have not looked forward to any leadership role more than the honor bestowed upon me this evening.
I promise to fulfill my tenure as president proudly and loudly.
It is my mission to bring more exposure and attention to this organization than ever before, and preserve a legacy of 77 plus to follow.
I must also take this opportunity to acknowledge the people that support me and put up with me every day outside of the club as well.
First, my mother, Linda, who sacrificed everything so she could give to me the start in life that helped me get where I am today. Thank you and I love you.
My two beautiful boys, Dominic and Carmine, who are the reason I get up every morning. Daddy loves you.
And to the most patient, beautiful and understanding wife and sou lmate any husband could ask for. Gina Marie I love you.
Thank you for making this night special. Enjoy yourselves, be safe, and salute to an exciting and highly anticipated 2016 in the Columbian Club of Chicago.
Thank you and God bless.
Photos by Marshall Photographers