The Ivanaj Foundations Committee for Imagining the Future (IFCIF)
As stated in the 'Concept' paper and Mission statement, the purpose of IFCIF is to incorporate into the Ivanaj Foundations the participation of a “Think Tank” of global expertise for imagining, and in support of, the future of culture and education for Albanian young generations by spearheading initiatives in these fields, by making suggestions for action, helping to find revenue streams, coming up with research topics, and guiding related research with the help of collaborating volunteers.
Altin Leka, is a professional in the scientific field who has served as researcher and manager in several multinational pharmaceutical corporations, in Europe and the US. He holds a MS in Chemistry and comprehensive experience in research and development of analytical testing methods for characterization of newly developed pharmaceutical formulations. Previous work experiences at Battelle Research Institute in Geneva and GH Institute in New York encompasses extensive research on gas and liquid chromatography incorporated with mass spectroscopy for identification of chemical structures and their related substances. Currently, he holds the Quality Engineering Manager position at Perrigo Pharmaceuticals in New York (PNY), where he has worked in several capacities for over 18 years. Among other achievements at Perrigo, he has designed several cost reducing projects including the elimination of redundant testing of “in process” and finished drug products, and has collaborated in several programs with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) related to shelf-life and expiration dating of pharmaceutical products. Altin is an active member of the Community Service Committee at PNY, which promotes science to youth in low income areas of New York City as well as sponsoring internships for students in related fields. He recently joined as Vice President of the Martin and Ivanaj Foundation in New York.
Arbi Rizo started his career at J.P. Morgan in the Investment Analytics and Consulting group, part of the investment bank. He worked with pension funds, endowments, and foundations, analyzing critical data about their portfolios. He left J.P. Morgan five and a half years later to continue his education in the UK and got a Master’s degree from Oxford University. During his studies, he was temporarily contracted by a venture capital firm, focusing on one of their biotech investments. After graduation Arbi moved back to NY and worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch as part of the team of Managed Account Advisors. He worked as an overlay trader for the first two years and, afterwards, joined the Investment strategy unit where he has been for the past three years. In his current role, Arbi helps build new overlay investment strategies and runs optimization techniques to implement portfolios.
Blerina Uruçi is a Director in the US Economics team at Barclays. She is responsible for writing thematic research and presenting her views to Barclays’ clients across asset classes and countries as well as policy makers. Her main responsibilities include forming the firm’s near- and medium-term inflation forecasts and assessing the housing market outlook. Before joining the US team, Blerina was acting Chief UK Economist for Barclays, based in London. She was responsible for developing the firm’s view on the UK economy, including monetary and fiscal policy. Prior to joining Barclays in 2010 Ms. Uruçi worked for Thomson Reuters as a European Economist in London, she was part of the Government Economic Services of the UK and worked as a development economist in Malawi. She holds an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics and a BSc (Hons) in Economics and Politics from the University of Bath.
Faton is passionate about applying Harvard’s renowned Adaptive Leadership framework across sectors to help individuals, teams, and organizations address challenges and solve difficult problems. Besides Adaptive Leadership, his work includes several other frameworks such as Public Speaking, Negotiations, Immunity to Change, Teaming, Design Thinking, Strategic Management, and Business Communications. Faton has taught and facilitated leadership courses at Harvard, across the USA, Europe, and Asia and coached hundreds of students, corporate executives, and young professionals in the leadership development field. Prior to Harvard, Faton has worked as a civil contractor for the US Department of Defense in different projects and has taught strategic management at the university level in Kosova, where he was also engaged in local politics, nonprofit, and private sector organizations in various leadership roles. He holds Master’s degrees in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School and in Economics/Management from the University of Prishtina. Faton is an Instructor and Advisor at St. Jude’s Graduate School of Biomedical Science, Graduate and Undergraduate Studies Coordinator at Harvard University, President/Founder of the Albanian School – Illyria, and a Founder/CEO of the Leadership Advancement Associates.
Ilir Zenku is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Healthsystem IT and a valuable member of the Leadership Team in the Office of Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs. Ilir has a Bachelor's of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Tirana, Albania, a Master's degree in IT Management from the Illinois Institute of Technology and Executive Leadership certificate from Booth School of Business at University of Chicago. Ilir holds also several active professional certifications and is an active member at EDUCAUSE, SIM Chicago, HIMSS, ACHE and CHEF. He is a first-generation emigrant from Albania where he designed and led a national project of expanding wireless high-speed Internet access and creation of the Albanian Research Network. He worked with international and US organizations to support the Kosova refugees in Balkans and also assisted in the first Internet connections of Kosova after the NATO intervention. Ilir fluently uses the majority of languages in Balkans. He is a recognized leader in the Albanian-American diaspora volunteering in immigrant onboarding activities, teen leadership mentoring, participating in helping Balkans dialogues from Albanian-American perspective, volunteering in supporting performance arts and sports activities organized for the community.
Olton is a thoughtful, strategic leader with over 25 years of experience providing consultative and best practices guidance on frameworks and methodologies, strategy development, target operating model, advisory services, risk & governance, large scale change management, business process management, transformation & program management & execution excellence. A collaborative leader with extensive experience in managing large & complex transformational programs. Olton focuses on people development while delivering strategic & transformational initiatives across enterprise. Olton expertise includes an excellent track record leading & provisioning strategic programs in large, complex, information intensive, service-based organizations with budgets greater than $25 million/year.
Olton was raised and completed his university studies in Tirana, Albania. He received a Master of Science in Electronic Engineering (Telecommunication) from the Polytechnic University of Tirana, Albania in 1995 and Master of Business Administration from Richard Ivey School of Business from University of Western Ontario in 2013. Olton, also holds a PMP certification from Project Management Institute, and ITIL certification from APM Group Limited. Olton also holds many professional certifications/ accreditations such as: Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer from Ryerson University, RBC Negotiation and Conflict Management for Project and Program Mgmt., RBC Management Excellence Program, RBC Certified Agile Practitioner etc.
Olton started his professional career in Albania, working as a program manager with Open Society Foundation, Albanian Education Development Program (AEDP), in 1995. His career in Canada started at Merrill Lynch Canada in 1999; then he was employed as project manager with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). In 2005, Olton joined Insurance Bureau of Canada and in 2007, Olton joined the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) as Sr. Project Manager. In 2008, Olton was promoted to Sr. Program Manager/IT Development Manager. In 2014 he was promoted to Program Director in Retail Applications for the Cross-Channel Sales Capability Optimization. In 2016, he was appointed Director in RBC, Strategy Transformation Services (office of CFO, CAO) and in 2017 he assumed the role of Director in Cyber Security, IT Risk & Security Services.
Olton has received numerous awards over the course of his professional career like: Open Society Foundation – AEDP, Award for Best Employee of the year, Merrill Lynch Canada Spotlight Award, CIBC Achievers Award, RBC Make a Difference Award, many team awards and twice the prestigious RBC Gold STAR Award.
Olton speaks Albanian, English, Italian and French. Olton served as a board member of Albanian Canadian Society, a non-profit organization providing a broad range of services to the community from Aug. 2017 to October 2018 and supported RBC Run For The Kids from 2016-2019.