Igor Jokanovic holds a B.A. in Business Management from Rockford University and a M.B.A. in International Finance from Loyola University Chicago. He served as a Senior Relationship Banker at LaSalle Bank before founding Arete Renovators with his family and friend in 2002. Igor worked as a financial advisor for Morgan Stanley before going full time as an entrepreneur in 2008. Arete Renovators evolved in 2014 to a design and build firm with a full design studio center in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago.
Igor is also the founder of the American Southeast Europe Chamber of Commerce whose goal is to promote charitable endeavors and meaningful relationships between the southeastern region of Europe and the United States. In 2016, along with his wife and brother, Igor formed the new Board Of Directors at Council Oak Montessori School in Blue Island, IL. The school is thriving today and helping to shape its local community for many future generations.
Arete’ Enterprise (Arete’) today includes Arete Fund Management - private equity fund, Arete Homes - buy and sell properties, and Arete Property Development - property management company. Arete’ is in a position today to provide clients a full real estate solution.
Igor lives in Blue Island, IL with his wife Lila, and their children Sara and Miles.
In his own words:
“We separate our business and personal lives but we shouldn’t separate our approach to life. Challenges present themselves no matter what is going on in our worlds. What makes the difference is the people, the family and community, you have built around you that will help you get through to the other side of any challenge. If I know anything it’s that as long as we stand together, we have already succeeded. That’s how I’ve led my life, and this company, and how I will continue to do so."
Davor received his first degree from Boylan High School in Rockford while successfully playing on their varsity basketball team all four years. He then completed his Bachelor of Science degree from DePaul University in Chicago with a major in finance and went on to tenure with Chase Bank in their finance and derivatives department.
In 2002, he co-founded Areté Renovators with his brother, Igor, to give their father Jovo an outlet to market his skills as a master carpenter. Davor left the finance industry in 2006 to focus on Areté Renovators full time as the Vice President. During the 2008 real estate market crash, Areté found opportunity and business by working with property management companies and clients who needed to complete mandatory repairs, such as drywall replacement or repairing a leaking toilet. Those clients have continued to support Areté throughout the years by becoming repeat clients.
Over the last 15 years, Davor has overseen the successful completion of thousands of remodeling and construction projects throughout the Chicagoland area. In addition to Areté Renovators, Davor has co-founded and oversees the daily management of the Areté group of companies serving as Vice President – Areté The Art of Design (showroom and design center), Areté Realty (in-house property management of investment properties), and Areté Investment Fund (real estate investment fund).
Davor also serves on the Board of Directors at Council Oak Montessori School in Blue Island.
As Co-Founder and Project Manager of Areté Renovators, Jovo has been managing real estate construction and remodeling for over forty years. In addition to Areté Renovators, Jovo is also Founder of Areté Realty, Areté Contractors, and Areté The Art of Design. Jovo, his wife, and his two sons, Igor and Davor, came over to the United States in 1995 and built a name for themselves from the ground up. His experience with carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and much more has helped Areté become what it is today. In his free time, he enjoys cooking for his family, watching sports, and relaxing.
Marina joined Areté Renovators in 2014. She graduated from economics school in Serbia and then worked for over three years as an Assistant Professor. She is a certified economist with seven years of experience in economics and accounting. As Senior Project Manager, she is responsible for daily reports and communication with clients and suppliers. She also creates project estimates for clients and controls project progress, materials, and deadlines. Her creativity and leadership skills continue to drive Areté’s innovativeness forward.
In her free time, she enjoys traveling.
Marina is a NARI Certified Professional as a Certified Remodeling Project Manager.
Steliana joined Areté in 2015. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Real Estate Economics from the University of Economics in Sofia, Bulgaria. After graduating, she worked for two years in one of the largest real estate agencies in Varna, Bulgaria before moving to Chicago permanently in 2014. Beginning as a Project Coordinator with Areté she now leads the Areté’s Property Development division and also heads Areté Homes having obtained her real estate license in 2023. In her free time, she loves to go to concerts, travel to sunny weather destinations, and spend as much time as she can with her three-year-old son, Evan.
Ivan is a NARI Certified Professional as a Certified Remodeling Project Manager. He started with Areté Renovators as a subcontractor before taking on the role of Project Manager in 2016. He has a strong background in construction and development having received a Masters in Engineering Management.
Ivan is responsible for overseeing all aspects of our larger remodeling projects from pre-construction through completion, including the management, coordination, and control of all financials, scheduling and negotiation of contracts, building approval and permitting, installation, punch list, and warranty. His responsibilities also include completing estimates, leading his production team, and assisting in the development of company strategies. Ivan acts as the direct liaison between clients, project engineer, architect, and designer.
Ivan has extensive experience managing residential and commercial projects and serving as a prominent resource for our clients and our project management team.
Ivan strives to always deliver his client’s vision and exceed their expectations through execution and education. Ivan makes sure every client knows the “how” and “why” and no question goes unanswered.
Gina joined the Areté Renovators and Areté The Art of Design teams in 2017 after moving to Chicago from Naples, Florida. She graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a degree in Communications and Public Relations. Prior to joining Areté she worked as Director of Corporate Administration for a community management company assisting with Human Resources and team culture, marketing, client onboarding, and managing upwards of 500 condominiums and single-family homes with operating budgets in excess of $5MM.
Gina is a creator and driven by change. She thrives on creating a client experience from first contact through project completion.
In her spare time, Gina enjoys travelling, staying on top of fashion and home trends, red wine, and experiencing the Chicago culture and food scene.
Ivana joined Areté Renovators 6 years ago as a Project Coordinator managing the construction process from initial client consultation through final punch list, before changing roles to join Areté The Art of Design as a Design Consultant.
With Ivana’s background in construction and 3 years of experience in design, she has successfully completed a wide range of projects from designing rental units to single family gut rehabs. She is communicative and detail driven. She finds her design inspiration through fashion, staying on top of the latest and upcoming design trends, and keeping an eye on what other designers are doing coast to coast.
Having immigrated to the United States in 2012, Ivana always remembers what it first felt like moving somewhere new and not feeling at home in her space. She finds value and the greatest fulfillment in creating a home for her clients.
Waseem obtained his Masters in Commerce in India in 2011. Since, he has worked in multiple industries such as accounting & auditing, food service, catering, healthcare, clothing/apparel and insurance. He's also held positions in multinational countries (India & Saudi Arabia) in various finance & accounting roles. He would describe himself as focused, reliable, as well as detailed oriented.
He Immigrated to Chicago in 2016 and began his career as a full-charge bookkeeper, and since, he has been developing his career within the world of accounting. Waseem is always eager to learn and grow within multiple business industries.
Currently, he has three kids, (which can be more than a handful) so he's always completing lots of chores and errands throughout his day. In his free time, he plays with his kids and supports his family through their day-to-day tasks.
Marija has always had a passion for creativity, so when she joined the Areté design team in 2019, she finally felt like she could incorporate that passion into her career. Originally from Serbia, she has lived all over the world, including Italy for 18 years before moving to Chicago in 2012. She speaks three languages and graduated from a tourist school where she fell in love with the idea of traveling and exploring new professions. Her time in Italy taught her about many different interior design and fashion trends and truly kindled her passion for the creative arts.
In her free time, she loves spending time with her son, writing autobiographies, and dancing any moment she can. She is looking forward to pushing her creative boundaries each day with Areté and reaching new goals that drive her success forward.
Vasilka realized early on that the most significant details make for an astonishing design. In Europe, she attended the Faculty of Design and Technology of Furniture and Interior and is a Certified Interior Designer (CID) from ITAcademy in Serbia.
Growing up in a family rich with artistic talents – writers, architects, carpenters, chefs, and seamstresses – her talent and skills brought her to Areté The Art of Design where she turns her clients’ homes into a luxurious living experience working as a Design Consultant. She is often inspired by ancient architecture and enjoys creating elegant designs with contemporary elements.
Her curious nature has led her on other creative avenues including social media marketing, logo design, incredible DIY fashion projects, and incorporating creativity and the right ingredients to make a killer good cocktail.
Nedzad joined the Areté team as a Project Coordinator in January of 2021. He was born and raised in New York City, where he received a degree in Industrial Electronic Technology from Technical Career Institutes. He worked for his father’s general contracting business until he became a property manager for residential and commercial properties. In 2016, he moved to Chicago with his family and decided to pursue a new career in construction and remodeling, just like his dad. He’s excited to be bringing his knowledge, expertise, and skillset to Areté.
Nedzad is a NARI Certified Professional as a Certified Remodeling Project Manager.
Brandon joined the team in the Spring of 2021. As transportation director, he is in charge of coordinating with the design consultants to ensure the correct materials arrive on job sites, organizing miscellaneous materials in our showroom, and maintaining an updated list of materials for each client.
Brandon is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and moved to the United States with his family in 2007. He has experience in many different areas including the restaurant and service industries. In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball, spending time with friends and family, and training his new puppy, Canelo.
Derek began his career in construction with his first property in 2003. Since then, he has purchased and renovated dozens of properties across the United States. Whether it be a gut rehab, full tear down, or smaller projects, the attention to detail and quality of the finish makes his properties very high end. With most of his work being done in the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park, merging his efforts with Areté was a natural pairing. Derek’s passion is helping clients build their dream home with a complete understanding of the process. He is there to walk you through every step of the way and help translate the client’s vision into reality. In his free time, Derek enjoys spending time with family and vacationing in his second home in Florida.
Derek is a NARI Certified Professional as a Certified Remodeling Project Manager
Patty is a born and raised Chicagoan who received her degree from DePaul University in Finance. Growing up in Chicago has allowed Patty to see how the city has changed over the years and boy have there been some changes. Before settling in, she took some time to live in California and Colorado. Always having her eyes on real estate and design has allowed Patty to be a natural fit for the company. She has participated in flipping a dozen projects on her own. Her combination of finance and her passion for remodeling has been invaluable to Areté. In her free time Patty and her husband love spending their time with their two wonderful girls, and the greatest dog on the planet, Frank.
Patty is a NARI Certified Professional as a Universal Design Certified Professional.
Amari joined Areté Renovators as the Digital Marketing Coordinator in 2022. Within this role, Amari is in charge of creating all marketing materials for Areté, as well as maintaining and updating all social platforms regularly. He is dedicated to both maintaining and promoting Areté’s standard of excellence. He graduated from Roosevelt University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Amari has an extensive background in freelance graphic and web design for individuals and small businesses alike.
Amari is a creative in every aspect. His priority is finding “the story” within all of his projects. He believes storytelling is the common thread that weaves together all of humanity.
In his free time, Amari enjoys singing and acting professionally, cooking, and curating his ever-growing collection of vinyls.
Grace Juracka joined the Areté team after working in the film industry. She graduated from DePaul University's School of Cinematic Arts in 2020 with a degree in Film and Television production. After graduation, she served as a studio coordinator and social media manager for a commercial production company and film studio based here in Chicago.
Grace’s experience allows her to excel in gathering on set footage and curating videos to draw people in and get them excited about the behind the scenes process.
In her spare time, Grace enjoys sitting on the beach, cooking new recipes with her boyfriend, and spending time with her triplet siblings and family.
Benjamin's passion and relationship with drawings, proportion, symmetry, and design began early and continues to grow today. He started studying technical drawings at 12 and continued for three years during high school. He continued learning and training in computer science when he applied to design and architecture school at the TecNM in Mexico. There, he specialized in the design of livable spaces.
His first architectural design accomplishment was at the age of 20 when he designed a custom single-family home from A to Z. Ever since, his determination to keep educating himself has played a significant role in his personal life and professional career and has brought him into this amazing team at Areté.
His mission is to provide a top design experience, create functional and harmonious spaces and develop meaningful relationships with every client he meets.
Dulio recently received his bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Wilbur Wright College here in Chicago. Although he is still very early in his architectural career, he is elated to have joined Areté as Architectural Assistant in our design studio. He became interested in architecture because he's always had a passion to create and build things with his hands. What better to create than buildings? He is originally from Acapulco, Mexico, but left his home (along with his family) in search of a better quality of life. They first moved to California but decided to settle down in Chicago. Some of his favorite things to do are watch movies and learn different skills, such as playing instruments or learning to fix different types of electronics.
Tabitha orginally joinedAretéRenovators as the Marketing and Operations Intern, then quickly transitioned to her current position as a Marketing Coordinator. She attends the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and is majoring in finance. She is dedicated to learning from her team and the company and producing a high standard of work.
Tabitha spends her time creating as much as possible. This includes furniture refurbishing, 2D and 3D art, and wants to use her artistic and creative inclination to make a positive impact.
Prior to joining Arete's business development team Scott Nielsen spent fifteen years as General Manager of startup Cellular Abroad, an international cellular and data services provider, where he brokered licensing deals with top tier brands including The National Geographic Society and Travelocity. Before joining Cellular Abroad he was a Director at the Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing community outreach and fundraising for the Downtown Women's Center and Los Angeles Youth Network, and later served on their Board of Directors.
He spent three years living overseas in the Kansai area of Japan working in the Foreign Education Department of the Aeon Corporation. Originally from Illinois he holds a Bachelor's of Philosophy from Rockford University and a Master's of Writing and Publishing from DePaul University.
Shannon, the newest design consultant, joined the team this past 2023 summer as a design intern. Growing up in Chicago's southwest suburbs, her design journey began at a young age, reconfiguring her friends and families’ rooms and crafting fashion ideas. Shannon's love for transforming spaces and furniture flourished through college, culminating in a degree from the Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design at the University of Arkansas. She studied furniture design in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she crafted her first original chair, which was featured back at her university on display.
Now, as part of the Areté the Art of Design team, Shannon brings a fresh, modern approach to her projects. Beyond design, she embraces city living with her sister and sassy husky Ralph, exploring new areas, and trying diverse cuisines. She tries to craft a unique blend of creativity and functionality that transforms spaces into captivating works of art for her clients.
Seth is a seasoned Interior/Exterior Design Sales Professional who joins us from the Greater Milwaukee Area. Seth graduated with a Double Major from UW-Milwaukee and thrives in the dynamic world of remodeling. Seth’s dedication to client satisfaction is what sets him apart -- Known for his exceptional attention to detail, customer service, and passion for turning houses into dream homes.
Outside of work, you'll find him enjoying quality time with friends and family, traveling and playing soccer.