Cohort 2023-2024

Cohort 2023 - 2024

Andrea Mazelliu

Andrea Mazelliu is a full time Lecturer at the Department of Law, University of New York Tirana and part time lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Tirana. As of 2021, he is pursuing his doctoral studies at the Faculty of Law, University of Tirana, focusing on "Open Governance in Albania and its impact on the integration process." Andrea completed his master’s studies in Law, graduating as Valedictorian of the Class 2016. Beside his academic involvement, he has been involved with various Albanian and international institutions.

His research interests encompass the fields of the rule of law and good governance, migration, justice reform, transparency, the right to information, and public consultation. Andrea is an accomplished professional with comprehensive experience in the EU and Albanian legal and institutional framework.

He has participated in several international conferences, published numerous articles, and organized various academic projects. His most recent articles cover a range of topics, such as the Migration Crisis in the Western Balkans, Individual Constitutional Complaints, Public Consultation in the Western Balkans, and more. His latest project, funded by the University of Lund and Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, focused on the desegregation of pupils in Albania and Kosovo: a human rights challenge.

Host Institution: Freedom House, Washington DC

Augusta Myftaraj

Augusta Myftaraj holds a Master of Science degree in Architecture from Polytechnic University of Tirana, Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism. Her passion for pushing the boundaries of architectural design led her to pursue a post-graduate professional master’s degree in Parametric and Architectonic Design at Polis University of Tirana.

In addition to her architectural expertise, Augusta demonstrates a keen interest in Energy and Sustainability, holding a certification as a Residential Energy Auditor. Her skills reflect a commitment to both innovative design and environmental responsibility.

Commencing her journey as an intern architectural designer since she was a student, she was dedicated and devoted to creating spaces that evoke emotions while seamlessly integrating nature with architecture. Over the course of her dynamic six-year career, Augusta has been deeply engaged in various architectural and design projects, starting with Atelier 4 Architecture Studio in Albania.

Having contributed to diverse projects beyond the confines of Tirana, Augusta's portfolio encompasses a wide array of projects, including residential /commercial buildings, Resort architecture - to mention projects like Green Coast Resort and Residences and even a stint in the aviation industry as a runway designer at the Civil Aviation Authority. Collaborating seamlessly with fellow professionals in the field, Augusta has taken on leadership roles in overseeing a multitude of large-scale architectural projects. Beyond her collaborative ventures, she has made significant contributions as a freelance architect, adding an independent dimension to her portfolio.

Her dedication extends beyond conventional roles, as exemplified by her voluntary work as a Youth Worker in Romania, where she was part of an international team in transforming an abandoned thermal power station in a quiet neighborhood in Timisoara into a vibrant youth center.

Augusta's rich background, shaped by both academic studies and hands-on experience, has not only propelled her professional growth but serves as the cornerstone of her approach, fostering a well-rounded perspective in navigating the dynamic field of architecture.

Host institution: Von DALWIG, Architecture Studio, Brooklyn, NY

Brijana Alla

Brijana is a passionate marketer and communications expert with a decade of experience shaping the industry landscape. She graduated from the University of Tirana, Faculty of Economics, with a degree in Business Administration. Her professional journey began as a client advisor in the telecommunications industry at Vodafone Albania. She transitioned to the marketing department of Coca-Cola, and while collaborating closely with their advertising agency, she fell in love with the agency side. She moved to an agency and from there, her marketing journey truly took off.

In her recent role as Head of Operations and Communications at a startup digital advertising agency, Brijana has been a key person since day one. Working in advertising agencies honed her skills in both traditional and digital media. This experience provided her with opportunities of working across various industries, including FMCG, telecommunications, construction, financial institutions, nonprofit organizations, both national and international, and public and private institutions.

Brijana's passion for enhancing her community and positively impacting lives not only led her to diversify her career but also to spearhead remarkable projects. A notable example is her project management of the first National Surveys for Euronews Albania during the 2021 General Elections. Through this initiative, Euronews created a platform for people to voice their opinions and needs, ensuring that Albanian citizens were heard by decision-makers. Another testament to her dedication and pride in delivering excellence was her management of the construction of Le Spot Group's impressive offices.

With expertise in leadership, project management, and marketing & communications, Brijana’s journey surpasses mere achievements. Her commitment lies in creating a lasting positive impact in her community. As an advocate for continuous personal growth, she utilizes it as a catalyst to uplift others and contribute to making every environment, and her country, a better place for everyone.

Host Company: Skanska USA , NYC

Dirseo Pasha

Dirseo Pasha currently serves as a Professional Fellow at the Democracy and Governance department at Chemonics International, a leading USAID consultant in international development. He holds a master’s degree in ‘’Political Economy of Europe’’ from the London School of Economics, and an undergraduate degree in economics. Additionally, he has completed several executive education programs such as the ‘’Swedish Academy for Young Professionals’’ (SAYP) at Lund University, and ‘’Emerging Leaders’’ at Harvard Kennedy School. His professional background encompasses roles in multinational entities and foreign missions, including Shell and the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, as well as positions within the public sector of the Albanian government. Dirseo's areas of specialization and professional interest include regional integration, economic transformation, and the political economy of emerging economies. In his spare time, he's often found playing football, trying to learn different languages, and getting lost in the narrow alleyways of old European towns.

Host Company: Chemonics International, Washington, DC

Dorisa Shehi

Dorisa Shehi is an enthusiastic web developer with extensive experience in the tech industry. She holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the University of Shkodra "Luigj Gurakuqi”, where she excelled and achieved outstanding results.

During her last year at university, Dorisa kick-started her career by joining a tech company. Since then, she has created numerous websites for companies and businesses worldwide, showcasing her skills and delivering high-quality results. She consistently seeks opportunities to expand her knowledge and stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in the industry. Her curiosity and desire for personal and professional growth led her to participate in the Master’s & Internship Program (MIP).

Driven by her passion for sharing coding knowledge, Dorisa pursued a master's degree at the same university, specializing in teaching informatics subjects in elementary and high schools. For approximately one year, she dedicated her time to educating and mentoring young students in her city.

Beyond her dedication to computers and technology, Dorisa enjoys traveling and exploring new places.

Host Institution:

Freskida Halilaj

Equipped with both a Bachelors and Master’s degree in Finance Freskida initially started her career in the sector gaining insights into the intricacies of banking.

Motivated by a passion for technology she took a leap nearly ten years ago by venturing into the telecommunications field. Joining a startup right from its inception, Freskida played a role in contributing to the company's growth story. This journey has evolved into a partnership where both she and the startup have thrived together.

In years Freskida assumed the position of Sales Director, which provided them with a multifaceted perspective on the industry. This pivotal role allowed her to engage deeply with tech products actively participating in their development and formulating marketing strategies. The hands-on experience gained while navigating the evolving tech landscape has become a cornerstone of expertise for her.

Freskida is known for their dedication to learning, constantly immersing themselves in staying updated on the technological trends.

By engaging in tech conferences, she makes it a point to stay updated with the latest advancements in the industry. This ensures that she has a rounded understanding of the evolving tech landscape. However, her passion extends beyond technology; it also encompasses the art of leadership. Over the five years she had the opportunity to manage large teams, which has not only sharpened her skills in organizational leadership but has also provided valuable insights on how to become an exceptional leader.

In her recent pursuits, Freskida seamlessly integrates her studies with her passion. This intersection is where financial acumen meets a fervent enthusiasm for innovation. Venture capital, with its blend of risk and reward, becomes the canvas for Freskida's expertise, as she navigates the dynamic landscape of strategic investments and finance reform.

Host Company: Plug & Play, Sunnyvale, CA

Miriam Shyti

Miriam Shyti is a communications and marketing consultant with a diverse background in arts management, sustainability, and innovation. With several years of experience as a marketing professional and sales representative bridging Albania and Italy, Miriam pursued her MSc. in Communications and Political Public Relations, while completing several training and extended education courses in Digital Marketing, Sustainable Development for Businesses, Sustainability Strategies, Strategic Communications, Art Market Economics, and lately Managing Innovation.

Miriam has been deeply involved in public information and communications for public institutions in Albania, infusing the connection between arts and creativity into their campaigns and programs. Simultaneously, she continues to provide consulting for major development projects in culture and tourism for businesses and organizations. She runs a small innovative Comms agency in collaboration with another tech agency in Rome, Italy. They exclusively promote and work with sustainable brands and initiatives, businesses and organizations across Europe. Their services include creative development, immersive consumer experiences, campaigns, experiential and digital events, AR/VR, and multimedia systems. Their mission centers around environmentally friendly practices, tech, innovation, and transformative partnerships.

Miriam is an art enthusiast who has co-produced an arts festival and curated several art events, performances, and programs between the two countries while working alongside different artists, educators, and professionals. Her current focus in the U.S. involves immersing herself in the latest happenings in the art world, with the goal of integrating artistic practice and innovation upon her return to Albania. She envisions revolutionizing creative fields through consulting, creating immersive experiences, and promoting sustainable practices. Miriam's goal is to merge her diverse experiences, fostering collaborations, and empowering her community. Upon completing her exchange program, she plans to contribute to the development of both the public and private sectors in Albania through her work. Her commitment to creative excellence and performance continues to drive her towards creating impactful projects and implementations where creativity and innovation thrive.

Hosting Organization: Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions

Neila Hoxha

Neila is an experienced HR professional dedicated to providing valuable services to international and local organizations in the realm of individual and organizational development. Her academic background includes a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Tirana and a master’s degree in Career Counseling. Her career began at World Vision Albania in the communication department, an experience that significantly influenced her perspective on education and capacity-building as crucial elements in approaching change and development.

Continuing her journey as an HR consultant, she has proven her effectiveness in supporting companies through solution-focused HR products, consulting services, and training, in her role at EPPC Albania, one of the largest HR consulting firms in the country, where she has been contributing for the past 7 years. Neila is certified as an "Extended DISC Facilitator" and is actively involved in delivering Extended DISC certification training and workshops.

With a diverse background, Neila takes a hands-on approach, actively engaging with a range of clients. Her expertise involves managing psychometric assessments, offering constructive feedback, and tailoring development plans to meet the unique needs of each organization. Her extensive involvement in various human resources projects spans critical areas such as employee satisfaction, engagement surveys, 360 feedback, and talent development.

She is passionate about her profession, continuously seeking to enhance her knowledge with the goal of attaining top-tier expertise in her field.

Host Institution: Anew Climate, Houston, Texas

Olta Dedej

Olta is a confident and results-driven software engineer with a rich history spanning 7 years in full-stack application development. Armed with a Master's degree in Information Technology from the University of Tirana, and has consistently demonstrated her expertise across various domains.

Currently serving as a Senior .Net Developer at Flutter Entertainment Plc, Olta is deeply involved in designing and implementing functionalities for a high-stakes betting project focused on Horse Racing. Her role extends to running simulations to optimize pricing strategies and ensuring a seamless experience for winning members. Working within a microservices .Net environment deployed on AWS, [Your Full Name] is at the forefront of cutting-edge technology in the industry.

In her role as a Senior Full Stack .Net Developer at SKANKSA IT USA, based in Boston, Olta has contributed significantly to internal systems. Noteworthy achievements include upgrading projects from .Net 4.6 to .Net 5, implementing robust security measures using Azure Key Vaults, and designing and implementing various APIs for streamlined internal communications.

Earlier in her career, Olta worked with Sitel Albania/Alten Italia, where she honed her skills as a .Net Software Developer. Her responsibilities included building software applications from scratch using a diverse tech stack, participating in the design and implementation of a validation project for Volkswagen Group Italia

A dedicated professional, Olta has also contributed as a Teaching Assistant at the University of Tirana, Faculty of Natural Sciences, where she prepared teaching materials, designed systems for programming courses, and presented research at international conferences.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Olta has actively participated in various training programs and events, showcasing her commitment to continuous learning. Her certifications include "Leading More Effective Teams" from Harvard Division of Continuing Education and "Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals."

With a robust skill set encompassing technologies such as C#, .Net, .Net Core, SQL, React JS, and more, Olta stands out not only as a senior software engineer but as a dynamic individual eager to contribute to innovation and growth. Outside the realm of technology, she finds joy in participating in entrepreneurial and innovation initiatives, reflecting her commitment to community impact. Olta balances her professional achievements with a love for outdoor activities, travel, social networks and exploring diverse cultures, making her a well-rounded and impactful presence in any setting.


Orjela Bajo

Orjela is a dynamic professional with a rich background in Business Intelligence, Project and Product Management. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Informatics and a Master’s of Science degree in Information Systems in Economy from the University of Tirana, Faculty of Economy.

Her journey into the tech world began at ICTSlab, a regional educational and innovation center, where she served as a Programming Instructor and Curriculum Content Developer. Orjela taught coding and robotics to students aged 6-15, developed curriculum content for various subjects, and organized educational events like bootcamps and regional competitions. She transitioned to Vodafone Albania as a Business Intelligence Analyst in January 2021. In this role, she managed and analyzed data relationships in relational databases, utilized advanced Oracle SQL to query data, and visualized findings using the Oracle Data Visualization Tool by creating interactive reports and dashboards. In her second role at Vodafone Albania as the Prepaid Commercial Lead, she took charge of designing and requesting reports at different data granularity levels for stakeholders to monitor products, campaigns and make data-driven decisions, analyzed historical data trends ensuring data accuracy, and managed the launch of new products and campaigns, highly focusing on revenue-driven initiatives and customer satisfaction.

Beyond her professional achievements, Orjela actively contributes to her community and network with her involvement in the Junior Achievement Albania Alumni Network as a volunteer for nine years now, where she also served as the Project Manager for two years. She has been a mentor of the Junior Achievement Albania Company program for four years and the developer and presenter of the curriculum content 'Assessing & Developing Digital Competences for Teachers in Albania' for the educational platform.

Orjela's journey is characterized by a blend of technical excellence, leadership, and a genuine passion for contributing to her community. With a practical skill set and a commitment to continuous learning, she stands as a professional dedicated to personal growth and impactful contributions. She enjoys exploring new cultures, outdoor festivals and hiking.

Host Institution: IXL Center, Boston, MA

Samanda Sulaj

Samanda has a master’s degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Tirana. She has over 5 years of experience working as a Field Services Engineer in the private sector.

Her career is focused on aviation and screening equipment. In her roles she has been responsible for the on-site configurations, testing, troubleshooting, upgrading and maintenance of different systems. She is known for her calm and focused demeanor when tackling high-pressure on-site emergencies and resolving technical issues efficiently.

Outside of work, Samanda enjoys being outdoors for mountain biking or hiking with friends and cherishing time with her family.

Host Institution: ALTAEROS, Boston, Ma

Ani Hoxha

Ani is a distinguished young doctor dedicated to helping patients from the outset of her journey in health care. She holds a Master’s degree in General Medicine from the Medical University of Tirana, General Medicine faculty, and is currently specializing in ‘Diagnostic imaging and Nuclear medicine’ at Mother Theresa University Hospital Center. She has always been passionate about medicine in every dimension and has also pursued studies in Psychosomatic medicine in Verona, Italy thus deepening her understanding how human body works.

Ani started her professional journey as a doctor in American Hospital, a private institution in Tirana. There she fostered her skills and demonstrated compassion while working in the emergency department, taking her initial steps toward becoming a proficient and empathetic healthcare provider. Each day, she proved unwavering dedication to contribute to and improve the health of her patients.

Ani served in the frontline throughout COVID-19 pandemic, continuing to fulfill her duties as a healthcare worker and providing essential medical care to those in need. After gaining several years of experience as a general doctor, in 2022 she started her residency in the field of Radiology and Nuclear medicine at Mother Theresa UHC. With this career decision her profound commitment to patient care shifted to gaining expertise in medical imaging to ensure accurate diagnoses that pave the way for optimal treatment pathways.

Ani is a keen healthcare professional, seeking transformative opportunities for professional and personal growth. She has a strong interest in research within the field of radiology, actively engages in publications in international journals and frequently participates as a speaker in medical conferences and webinars. In addition to the dedication in her profession she enjoys traveling, practicing sports and participating in diverse cultural activities of the city.

Host Institution: University of Massachusetts, Worcester, MA

Anxhela Mucollari

Anxhela is an accomplished and driven data scientist with 5 years of experience in the field.

She holds a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Mathematics and Informatics Engineering from the University of Tirana, Faculty of Natural Sciences.

Her journey in data science commenced in a vibrant startup environment, where she refined her expertise in crafting machine-learning models to forecast football match scores. Transitioning to the telecommunication industry at Vodafone Albania, she embraced the role of Business Intelligence Analyst, engaging with databases and excelling in creating automated reports and dashboards using Oracle Database. Following a successful year of deep immersion in data and gaining a profound understanding of Vodafone's operations.

Anxhela seamlessly transitioned into Data Science role. At the same time, she started a 6-months Data Science Program at Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey.

During her job at Vodafone as a Data Scientist leveraging tools such as Python and SQL, she has developed impactful models including Churn Prediction, Customer Segmentation, and graphs algorithms like Household Model, which have significantly influenced the company's success. Beyond her full-time role, Anxhela has also shared her expertise through teaching, serving as a private course lecturer, delivering applied mathematics lectures at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, and most recently, as a data scientist trainer at SDA by Protik.

This diverse experience underscores her commitment to both professional excellence and knowledge sharing within the field of data science.


Besmira Pelushaj

With a deep passion for journalism and an unwavering commitment to societal advancement, Besmira Pelushaj stands out as an outstanding journalist and an inspirational community leader. She completed her Bachelors and Master’s degrees in Albanian Language and Literature at the University of Tirana and embarked on her journey in Ora News television where she started as a Culture Editor and Journalist, helping deliver accurate and compelling news. As she progressed into anchoring, her dedication to ensuring a polished and impactful news presentation became evident, as did her capacity to keep pace with the demanding speed of the newsroom. Despite the stretched resources and cash-strapped conditions that often plague the media, she leads with an eager professionalism and a genuine care for delivering value to its audiences.‌ In her capacity as a TV Host and Anchorwoman on “Report”, Besmira orchestrates lively discussions of all of the issues effecting the society – from education and health to economy and public administration – five days a week. Her balanced and skillful moderation has made the show an example of transparency, accountability, and informed decision-making for all viewers. Beyond the screen, Besmira has had a significant impact servicing her community and developing her profession.

As an active Member of the Union of Albanian Journalists and a proud recipient of the Albanian-American Development Foundation Master’s & Internship Program scholarship, she exemplifies the virtues of leadership and dedication to progress.

Her volunteer work as a training coach demonstrates her belief in the responsibility to do more than inform: to empower, in order to leave to the next generation a vocation that is more than just a job and more than just a business. Besmira Pelushaj’s story serves as a shining beacon of journalistic excellence and civic engagement, reflecting the values through which the AADF enrich the media, and all of Albania.

Host Institution: XYZ Films, LA

Denisa Kryeziu

Denisa’s passion for architecture was evident from her early years, leading her to pursue a Master’s Degree at Epoka University in Albania. During her time at Epoka, Denisa distinguished herself as a diligent and talented student, graduating with honors.

After completing her education, Denisa embarked on a successful professional career as an architect in Albania. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to excellence, she quickly became part of the architectural community not only in the architectural firms in Albania but in her own private architectural project too.

Seeking new challenges and opportunities for growth, Denisa ventured into the realm of remote work, collaborating with Schuco Company based in New York. Despite the distance, Denisa proved to be a valuable asset to the team, bringing her unique perspective to project all around the world, especially on Apple Project Design in China and Spain. Her ability to adapt to diverse environments and seamlessly integrate into remote work settings demonstrated her versatility and adaptability as an architect.

In pursuit of further professional development and exposure to international design practices Denisa seized the opportunity to intern at Archetype architecture in New York City.

As an intern at Archetype Architecture, Denisa has embraced new challenges, expanded her skill set and gained invaluable insights into cutting-edge design methodologies and industry best practices. During her time as an intern at Archetype Architecture Denisa was responsible and took part on different project starting from the residential to commercial project in Manhattan, Queens and Long Island City. Being part of these types of projects made her understood more the New York’s laws and construction phases of the different projects.

Her passion for creativity, coupled with her dedication to excellence, continues to drive her forward as she seeks to create spaces that inspire and delight.

Outside of work, Denisa demonstrate a natural talent for painting exploring various mediums and techniques to express her artistic vision. Threw her dedication to both artistic and professional pursuits, Denisa exemplifies the importance of perusing passions outside of work and embracing a holistic approach to personal development and fulfillment.

Host Institution: Archetype Architecture, New York, NY

Fatjon Balla

Over the past 15 years, Fatjon has dedicated himself to becoming an expert in communication, sales, and marketing. His academic journey includes a bachelor’s degree in Finance and a Master's in Marketing Management from “Albanian University” and “Aleksander Moisiu University” Durres in Albania. Through these educational pursuits, he has developed a deep understanding of these industries, allowing him to effectively contribute to their growth and success.

Currently based in New York, Fatjon is completing an internship as a Project Manager at Luminary. His role involves leading projects that require careful planning and execution. Collaborating with a diverse group of individuals, they strive to generate new ideas and excel in the ever-changing business world.

Fatjon had many different experiences that have helped him in his professional journey. Before, he worked as a Sales Manager at Infosoft Office in Tirana, Albania, where his primary focus was on building good relationships with clients and supporting his team’s performance. On the other side he works as a Freelance Hiking & Climbing Guide. He advocates for eco-friendly travel practices and educates others on the importance of preserving nature.

Fatjon is deeply dedicated to sports. Engaging in activities like half marathons, marathons, and triathlons is his way of constantly pushing himself, both physically and mentally. But what really gets him going is sport climbing, bouldering, and camping, experiencing nature's awesome vibes. There's an indescribable magic in reaching the peak of a mountain

Driven by a fervent desire to empower individuals, Fatjon is a certified ESD (Empowerment through Self-Defense) trainer and teacher trainer. He has conducted training sessions for 60 teachers from elementary and high schools in Albania, equipping them with valuable self-defense skills to ensure the safety and well-being of their students.

Currently, Fatjon is undergoing certification as a Pad instructor from Impact Personal Safety Global. Through this effort, he aims to contribute to ending the cycle of violence worldwide by employing virtual and verbal techniques.

Host Institution: Luminary, New York, NY

Klaudia Malutaj

Klaudia Malutaj is a skilled architect with an extensive experience in the design of mixed-use residential and commercial buildings, schools, kindergartens, as well as working alongside the government and municipalities for the design and implementation of Mandatory Local Plan in case of Emergencies.

She holds a Master of Science degree in Architecture from the Polytechnic University of Tirana, Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism. On account of her passion for architectural heritage and to further hone her abilities in working for its preservation, she was steered towards a second professional masters’ degree in “Restoration of Cultural Monuments”, where she has had the opportunity to work in the first line of work, visiting and studying endangered buildings. Further broadening her horizons, Klaudia has completed the XIII International Training Summer School led by the International Committee of Architectural Photogrammetry in Italy, specifically focusing on Survey for Planning with an emphasis on new technologies and land protection.

In her recent role as Chief Architect, Klaudia has led the architectural charge on the ATTI project, a high-standard, high-rise building in Tirana's center. Collaborating with distinguished international architecture studios, Klaudia not only embraced but actively sought out innovative solutions to elevate the project. Her responsibilities extended beyond conventional architectural duties, involving the seamless integration of new technologies to enhance project organization, collaboration, and stakeholder engagement.

Currently Klaudia serves as a Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) Engineer at Skanska, dedicated to redefining the boundaries of construction through the lens of virtual design. Klaudia’s interests include being an advocate for the transformative power of technology in construction, driven by a profound interest in leveraging cutting-edge innovations to reshape traditional construction practices, through embracing the power of BIM, AR and VR, drone and aerial imaging, and automation processes in construction. She believes in pushing the boundaries of what is possible, embracing new technologies to create smarter, more efficient, and sustainable construction practices that redefine the future of the industry.

Host Institution: Skanska, NYC

Marko Xhango

Marko Xhango graduated in 2019 with a master’s degree in chemical Processes Engineering from University of Tirana, Faculty of Natural Sciences. With four years of professional experience in international companies, Marko has proven himself as a capable and knowledgeable individual in his field.

His career started at Titan Antea Cement, where he served as a production supervisor, overseeing operations related to Kiln, Coal Mill, and Alternative Fuel's treatment. His dedication to professional growth led him to pursue specialized training programs in hydrocarbon waste treatment from oil and gas industries.

Currently, Marko holds the position of Health and Safety Manager at Coca Cola Bottling Albania, where he brings his wealth of experience and proactive approach to ensuring a safe work environment. In his latest role, he developed a platform for safety hazard notifications, demonstrating his innovative thinking and dedication to improving safety protocols. He also implemented and monitored health and safety programs aimed at preventing unsafe working conditions. Additionally, Marko holds the NEBOSH International General Certificate, further highlighting his proficiency in safety management in the workplace.

In addition to his professional endeavours, Marko also has a strong interest in computer sciences, where recently he completed the course on Java Programming Language from Software Development Albania.

Host Institution: Skanska, NYC

Melisa Tusha

Melisa is a young professional in logistics and supply chain management with the focus on planning, analyzing, and monitoring company’s supply chain distribution to ensure products make it to their destinations in a timely, cost-efficient manner.

She completed her Bachelor and Master studies in Business Administration at the Faculty of Economics, University of Tirana.

Working for internationals brands and companies as Coca-Cola Bottling Albania and recently for Sews Cabind Group, has prepared her to efficiently face global supply chain disruption and launch in an international carrier.

Currently Melisa is focused on sustainability supply chain, which refers to the efforts to consider the environmental and human impact of products’ journey through the supply chain, from raw materials sourcing to production, storage, delivery and every transportation link in between.

She is driven by being curios and having an insatiable quest for knowledge and continuous improvement.

Host Institution: ABB, Raleigh, NC

Merxhan Daci

Merxhan Daci is an experienced journalist with 7 years of experience in the media. He has had experiences not only at the national level but also at the regional level.

Merxhan began his profession with the Investigative Journalism Laboratory, where he was trained in quality investigation techniques, and then continued with a three-year experience in the first fact-checking service in Albania, Faktoje. With one of the articles in this medium, Merxhan won the second prize in Albania for investigative journalism in 2020 from the European Union. He later participated for several months in a whistleblowing project at the Albanian Center for Quality Journalism, where journalists received material through a signaling platform to produce in-depth articles.

Merxhan also has had two experiences on television with Euronews Albania and Top Channel with in-depth documentaries mostly regarding corruption and other important affairs in the country. Additionally, he has collaborated on articles with BIRN Albania, BIRN Hub, the official Euronews outlet in Lyon, and also been a correspondent from Albania of Kosovo2.0, an alternative media with a focus on human rights.

Merxhan has participated in prestigious and well-known journalism conferences in Europe and around the world and has received training in data journalism, mobile journalism, journalists' personal data security, etc.

He has two prior experiences in the United States, one of them was shooting a documentary together with a Tv Klan crew in 2017 and in 2022 he was part of a Fulbright program of Eastern European journalists which had to do with reporting complex issues.

Merxhan holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Communication and a Master's degree in Marketing, both from the University of Tirana and is fluent in English.

Host Institution: Integrity Initiatives International, Boston, MA

Migel Shehu

Migel Shehu is an architect who holds a master’s degree in Architecture and Urban Design, at Polis University, Faculty of Architecture. Following the completion of his studies, he embarked on his professional journey as a teaching assistant, immersing himself in the academic realm.

He is ideally suited to develop solutions that take into account the many variables included, but always stressing the primary importance of the human beings that will inhabit and make use of these spaces, creating designs that are inclusive.

His academic career at Polis University and at other schools and public institutions, where he has participated in various workshops and projects, have given him a very sound holistic and interdisciplinary attitude towards architecture, sustainability and design. Now he is very determined to expand his knowledge regarding sustainable design in architecture, to learn how to reduce the negative impacts on the environment, create healthy and comfortable spaces and improve building performance.

Interrelation between teaching and research on one hand, and practical work with wide-ranging experience on the other, is his ideal balance in maturing as an Architect and Designer.

Host Institution: Skanska, NYC

Ornela Shkurtaj

Ornela Shkurtaj is a dedicated professional with a solid academic foundation and extensive experience in the dynamic world of finance. With a bachelor’s and master’s degree in finance from the University of Tirana, Faculty of Economy, she has spent the past five years honing her skills and expertise in the banking industry in the risk management and credit analysis area working for two major banks in Albania.

Passionate about learning and driven by a relentless pursuit of excellence she constantly seeks opportunities to expand her knowledge and skills set. Ultimately, she has earned a certificate from the Corporate Finance Institute in Business Intelligence and Data Analysis to remain agile and adaptable in the fast-paced and ever evolving industry and counts several certificates of trainings in risk management and financial valuation from reputable institutions.

Her host institution is a global private equity firm where Ornela has the chance to bring back home the best international financial practices and further contribute to the development of Albanian financial market.

Host institution: The Riverside Company, NYC

Sindi Kokomeci

Meet Sindi Kokomeci: a dynamic marketer, project manager, and communications expert. She graduated from Epoka University in 2019 with a degree in International Marketing and Logistics.

Sindi's journey in the professional world began at an early age of 12 as a TV host for a teen show.

From there, she ventured into various media roles, primarily as a TV host, occasionally taking on production assistant and casting coordinator duties. However, Sindi's path took a turn when she transitioned to work for an international corporation in Albania, igniting her passion for marketing and revealing her inclination towards the business side of the industry.

Driven by a desire for versatility and understanding of diverse industries, Sindi embarked on a journey to work across different industries, such as B2B, B2C, Media and Agency - gaining invaluable insights into market challenges along the way.

For over three years, Sindi has been part of Le Spot Group, where she held roles such as Senior Account Manager and Head of Digital. With a strong conviction in the potency of communication strategies, Sindi views effective communication as a driving force for positive transformation.

Having grown up amidst shooting setups, Sindi thrives in agency life, relishing the excitement of large-scale campaigns and challenging events. Currently, she is embracing her 'New York Girl' era at Elegran Forbes Global Properties, bringing her wealth of experience and passion to the vibrant New York City scene.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Sindi's love for travel and adventure knows no bounds.

Fueled by doubts cast upon her young age, she has determination to conquer any challenge she encounters. Her favorite saying, "In this great big world, I don't want to be just another girl," encapsulates her drive for ambition and personal growth.

Host Institution: Elegran Forbes Global Properties, New York, USA

Viola Xhafa

Viola Xhafa is a forward-thinking professional with a passion for driving positive impact, particularly in the intersection of energy, business, and innovation.

She holds a double Master's degree in International Business and Banking and Finance from a joint program of the University of Applied Sciences, Mainz, and Epoka University, where she was an excellence scholarship holder.

Driven by the "Kaizen" ideology of continuous improvement, she strives to excel both personally and professionally.

In her current role as an Innovation Consultant, Viola develops action plans to aid businesses expedite the commercialization of ideas, improving their operations, easing change management and ensuring sustainable impact. Her responsibilities also include university relations, student mentoring and facilitating training programs on innovation.

Viola has priorly worked across diverse industries, including manufacturing (cement), tobacco, oil and gas, energy, and education. She has gained exposure to different business departments from accounting to trading, contract management, fundraising, project management, and external relations. However, she has a special interest in renewables and academia, which is why she has done some tailored research on the development of RES for the Albanian and Balkan landscape.

Driven by a desire to create meaningful change, Viola embodies resilience and a strong work ethic. She thrives in dynamic environments, embracing challenges as opportunities for growth. Her natural networking abilities aid in lead generation as well as in event design and management.

Outside of her professional pursuits, Viola is an active volunteer, involved in various initiatives aimed at sustainability, entrepreneurship and youth and women empowerment as key to making meaningful contributions to the community. Some examples include her involvement with AIESEC, organizing projects based on UN Sustainable Development Goals, Rotaract, and Start Up Live Tirana. In her leisure time, Viola enjoys hiking, photography, cooking, and indulging her passion for perfumes.

Host Institution: IXL, Boston, MA