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