Historic Dubrovnik, Croatia, often called the pearl of the Adriatic, was the site for Thunderbird’s 41st European Reunion — a four-day extravaganza that brought more than 170 alumni together to network, learn and have fun. Old friends and classmates reconnected during a welcome BBQ at the beautiful Hotel Grand Villa Argentina and afterwards attended a World Cup Soccer viewing with Croatia vs. Brazil in the first game of the tournament.

Friday morning convened with a TED-style business forum. Prominent Croatian historian and academic, Dr. Tvrtko Jakovina, spoke on the thousand-year history of Croatia and the Balkan region. Unique for its impressive medieval forts, churches, monuments and palaces, Dubrovnik has established itself as an independent, powerful and influential city.

Thunderbird professors and alumni participated in a TED-style Business Dialogue on June 13, 2014 in Dubrovnik.

The forum included a wide range of interesting speakers including US Ambassador and alumnus Philip Reeker ’91, who spoke on US policy toward Europe and the Balkans, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Transatlantic Engagement, global stability and geopolitics. Alumnus-entrepreneur Lawrence Masle ’94 from “Up, There, Everywhere” addressed the growing trend, relevance and impact of cutting-edge, global, virtual, cloud-based organizations. And Thunderbird Professor Karen Walch, Ph.D.spoke on winning global negotiation strategies in a cross-cultural, multi-polar world.

During the event, alumni also learned of two success stories highlighting Thunderbird’s market-leading executive education: Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics of Norway, led by Rune Gisvold ’81 (Chief of Staff and CFO) and Hugo Devlin (Managing Director, Thunderbird Executive Education); and Zurich Insurance of Switzerland, led by Tania Cook (Global Brand Manager and Communications Strategy) andStephane Sinimale ’07 (Managing Director, Thunderbird Executive Education).

A highlight of the alumni reunion included a day cruise on a 16th century replica of a traditional Karaka boat on which they sailed to the Elphiti island of Lopud.

Lunch served as a perfect venue for President Larry Edward Penley, Ph.D. and Thunderbird Board of Trustees member Kelly O’Dea ‘72 to address alumni and educate them on Thunderbird’s current state of affairs. Afterward, a guided walking tour of Dubrovnik’s “Old Town” included a stroll down the elegant main street with visits to the Franciscan Monastery and its ancient pharmacy. The tour wrapped up with an exciting climb to walk atop the path which encircles the medieval city. Dinner was served at the Restaurant Klarisa where alumni were treated to a unique song and dance performance by the Folklore Ensemble Cilipi.

Saturday’s activities began with a day cruise on a 16th century replica of a traditional Karaka boat where alumni sailed to the Elphiti island of Lopud. While there, some alumni swam in the Adriatic sea while others visited shops or relaxed and took in the scenery. The evening concluded with a gala dinner at the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace with a performance by a Dalmatian-style a cappella singing choir “Klapa Subrenum” and dancing.

Reunion organizers toast the beginning of the reunion. From left are Charlie La Fond ’80Yael Coifman ’94Andrijana Culjak ’99Alka Uroda ’13, Terri Nissen, and John Cook ’79.


Not only were the alumni delighted to visit Croatia for the reunion, but Croatia was delighted to have T-birds from around the world in their country. Alumni guests received a letter from the President of the Republic of Croatia, Ivo Josipovic, personally welcoming them to the country and encouraging them to consider the rich resources and business opportunities available there.
Croatia resident Andrijana Culjak ’99 led the team of reunion organizers who worked tirelessly for two years to prepare for the event. She handed over the reigns for the next European reunion to be held in in 2016 in Majorca, Spain!