Honorary Board Members:
Perteve (Domnori) Leka
Perteve Leka was educated at Shkodra’s ‘Pedagogic Institute’, graduated in Linguistics & History there and at the Faculty of Philology and Literature in Tirana where she was also an Instructor for School Methodology in Literature and Albanian Language, overseeing 14 night schools for this program. After retiring from the Albanian school system, she continued her pedagogical activities as an English Instructor at English-Albanian “Phoenix” School in Tirana, applying contemporary and Montessori methods for 5-6 year old children, and as a Trainer at “Lexo” School of young Teachers for pre-schooling. She has received an Award from Albania’s Ministry of Culture for her effective role in educational impact of pedagogical studies, and an Honorary Award as a Teacher from the “Order of Naim Frasheri”. For over a decade she has been a freelance Journalist for newspapers “Drita” and “Kosova” in Tirana, and Illyria in NYC, while being actively involved as Vice President of the M. & M. Ivanaj Foundation Institut.
Cristina Quaroni graduated in political science and international affairs at the University la Sapienza of Rome and holds a postgraduate diploma in international crisis management from UNED. She is currently living in Tirana as spouse of the Spanish Ambassador while continuing her professional activity as a consultant and entrepreneur within her family business.
Afërdita Prroni, graduated in the Faculty of Philology, Tirana and Faculty of Law. Ms. Prroni is the Founder and Executive Director of the Human rights in Democracy Centre (2002), a domestic NGO that promotes and protects human rights in Albania, with special focus for the promotion and protection of women’s rights. Prior to 2002, Ms. Prroni was engaged in several projects carried out by human rights organizations operating in Albania, and is a Board Member of the M. & M. Ivanaj Foundation Institut in Tirana.
Executive Board Members:
Drita A. IvanaJ
Drita Ivanaj, with BA’s in Science and Economics, is a Certified Systems Professional (C.S.P.), who had two, long-term, full time careers: in business management and large contracts administration for the international conglomerate of FIAT, and in information systems and large computer operations at Columbia University in New York City. Drita is the Founder and President of the “Martin and Mirash Ivanaj Foundation” in New York, and the “M. & M. Ivanaj Foundation Institut” in Tirana (Albania), since their inception in the mid 1990’s. These nonprofit institutions share the common mission of promoting Albanian education and culture within the country and abroad. Drita has been, throughout her life, an active member of many American professional associations, where she held different positions, and as an Advisory and Board Member of other Albanian American organizations, serving also as a Trustee of NAAC (National Albanian American Council) in Washington, DC. She took early retirement from business employment to totally dedicate her time and full support toward the development of the above two charitable organizations.
Dhimitraq Rizo was raised and lives in Tirana, where he completed his studies in 1978 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, issued by the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Tirana. After graduation he began working at the "Enver" engineering plant in Tirana, at the time considered one of the biggest and best-established engineering plants in the country. During his 10-year tenure at this plant, he held different positions as Unit Manager, Multi-unit Manager, Head Engineer and ultimately as General Director of such. In 1989 he held a position in one of the city hall offices overseeing Zone One of Tirana, as Head of the Industry department, and from 1992 onward he started, managed and worked with multiple private businesses. A few companies he managed throughout these years were "Abikon", "Arkon" and "VTE Trading". He was also a partner in companies such as "Telcom Albania" and "Arsire Al". Most of these companies are and have been focused in the construction business in Albania. Mr. Rizo speak English, Italian and Greek, and holds the position of Special Director as a Board Member of the M.& M. Ivanaj Foundation Institut in Tirana.
Ani Rizo graduated from the University of Tirana with a degree in Economics. She has worked and held the position as an Economist for several years at a private firm named V.T. E. Trading, and also within her family business. Mrs. Rizo has being a loyal supporter for a long time, on a voluntary basis, of a variety of activities of the M. & M. Ivanaj Foundation Institut in Tirana, where she now holds the position of Treasurer of such organization.
LAURA KONDA (SILIQI)
Laura Konda (Siliqi) is a graduate of Tirana University, where she studied “English Language and Literature”. From 1983 to 1990 she worked as an editor for the newspaper "Voice of the Youth". She was also visiting professor at the University of Tirana, teaching English as a Second Language at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and the Faculty of Philosophy. From 1990-1993 she worked as a High School Teacher at "Petro Nini Luarasi" High School in Tirana. From 1993-1995 she worked as fulltime professor of English, at Tirana University, Faculty of Foreign Languages, English Branch.
In 1995, Laura moved to the USA together with her family. Initially she worked as e pre-school teacher. In 1997 she taught Albanian language to American diplomats and military people, at the "Inlingua" School of Foreign Languages.
Gjergj Konda worked for 20 years at the International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank Group). He held different positions and, during the last 10 years, he was principal economist in charge of the Western Balkans, Turkey, Central Europe and the Central Asia regions. In his work, he focused on economic and business development analyses and provided market intelligence facilitating IFC’s (International Finance Corporation) investments in the region. As head of the Strategy and Economics team for the Europe and Central Asia region, he led the work on country and regional strategies, as well as private sector development analyses. Gjergj has coordinated with the WBG (World Bank Group) teams on private sector development issues and has advised investment teams and IFC management on country risk and business opportunities.
Early in his career in Albania, Gjergj worked as a researcher and later manager at the Institute of Economic Studies, with focus on cost benefit analyses. In the early 90s, when Albania started its transformation towards market economy, Gjergj held several key positions as deputy minister of finance and minister of economy with the Government of Albania. He led different teams to implement a set of reforms related to economic liberalization, macroeconomic stabilization, as well as institutional capacity building, that was much needed for a competitive market economy.
Gjergj has a PhD in Development Economics and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tirana University, Albania, as well as a Master’s Degree in the Economic Policy Management from Columbia University, New York.
FROST & FIRE CONSULTING
Frost & Fire Consulting offers unparalleled legal, organization development, human resources, and other business services to clients who operate or wish to explore opportunities in the Albanian or regional market. Its commitment is rooted in its members’ extended and distinguished experience in the private, public and international organization sectors. Frost & Fire Consulting takes pride not only in having deep insight into the existing issues and intricacies of the local business climate, but also in being intimately familiar with the expectations and mind-sets of their clients, whether they are foreign investors, multinational corporations, or governmental and international donor agencies. In merging the unique experiences of its team of professionals that has an extended and distinguished international and local experience, Frost & Fire Consulting can afford to offer superior quality services. Its members studied and graduated from the Schools of Law of the best universities in the world (Harvard, New York University, London School of Economics, Columbia, Lion III University, University of Maryland), have honed their skills inter alia by working with some of the most prestigious law firms in the world (Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Hogan Lovells US LLP), and/or held top executive positions with government institutions in Albania (Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy, Albanian Power Corporation). This Consulting firm is involved in pro-bono services for the M. & M. Ivanaj Foundation Institut in Tirana, and it is part of this organization’s Board.
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.
Ita Bonner is the Executive Assistant to the Executive Director of the Foundation. She holds a Bachelor’s in Biology and a Master of Science in Environmental Biology, graduated with the “Medal of Honor”. She is an experienced Project Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the public, private and non-governmental sector. Long experience as a Project Coordinator/ Manager, Consultant, Expert and Researcher. Ita has worked as an Assistant Professor at the Agricultural University in Tirana (AUT). She is fluent in English, Italian and French. Ita is now dedicated to put her experience and skills to the promotion and advancement of Albanian culture and education within the country and abroad.
Klevis Begaj is the Facilities/Logistics Superintendent. He studied Electrical Engineering from 2010-2015, at the Polytechnic University of Tirana (UPT). In 2013-2015 he founded, empowered, and performed as a Chairman of the Electrical Engineering Student’s European association of Tirana. There he got professional, administrative, and organizational skills through international workshops, exchanges and international congresses. After completion of his studies, he started a new career, working as an Electrical Engineer at FK Cement factory (2015-2017). In 2017 he become part of the M & M Ivanaj Foundation team. As a person that likes new challenges, he started also entrepreneurship life , founded in 2018 Greentest Albania, a company focused in biotechnology and food safety. In 2019 he started another path through Automation Industries Albania (AIA), the first company that deals in robotization of the heavy industry in Albania. AIA deals with world industry giants such as Siemens, Mitsubishi Electric, Rockwell Automation, Bosch etc. AIA is also the first startup that was legally created with the help of the MMIF incubation hub.
Klevis is focused in administration of MMIF estates and maintenance of the foundation facilities, being a handy-man, whenever and wherever is needed for accomplishing the Foundation mission.
Ilira Siliqi is our Administrative Assistant and Archivist. She has a degree in Economic Planning and a long professional experience of circa 40 years. Ilira has worked in public education and statistics institutions, as well as private banks. Among her soft skills, we can list her communication abilities, focus on details, and her ability to meticulously go through documentation while recording and archiving them. Ilira speaks Albanian, Italian, and English.
Geiv Tomço is the IT Support and Logistics Technician. He completed his studies at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Tirana for Computer Sciences, and has an extensive skillset on different ICT fields and electronics. Geiv is one of the most active individuals in the TV and online media and lecturers in the tech communities in Albania, with 10+ years of experience in Software and Hardware of various technologies and platforms. He was previously working as a Web Applications & Hybrid Apps Developer at Commit Sh.p.k. and during the recent two years his lecturing skills were also in use from NEPTUN Sh.p.k. as Sales & Product Trainer. Right now, he is closely involved in education and development of the digital technology culture, starting from small age-groups in kindergartens and elementary schools.
Jona Siliqi is the Project Planning Coordinator of the Ivanaj Foundation in Tirana. Bilingual in Albanian and Italian, she grew up in south of Italy and completed her studies in Milan, studying Linguistic Science and International Relations. Her work experience In Milan included working for companies such as Mondadori SPA, and as a Manager of Corporate Communications for ANCI, the official magazine of National Association of Italian Municipalities.
After coming back to Albania in 2014 and before joining the Ivanaj Foundation team in 2017, she worked in Tirana in the field of marketing, public relations and implemented her work experience as a junior financial controller for a private agency.
Elena Kodra has more than 20 years of experience in cleaning, maintenance and textile sector. She has worked in both, public and private institutions. Together with our other staff member, Elena shares the responsibility for Cleaning and Maintenance of our premises.