image
Donald Leka
image
Donald Leka

A pioneer and innovator, Leka is the founder of TransMedia and the creator of the industry-leading and awardwinning cloud-computing platform, the Glide OS.

“It was July 20, 1969. I was 5 years old. I sat transfixed on the floor of the family den in front of our color television set as the lunar module Eagle of the Apollo 11 Spacecraft
approached the surface of the moon. Our family den was connected by two adjacent doors to
my father’s home medical office. My dad had office hours, but between seeing patients, he stepped out of his…

Read More
X
image
Agim Leka, M.D.
image
Agim Leka, M.D.

A man of many talents, Dr. Leka’s life-long dedication to education and service are his most meritorious accomplishments.

Dr. Agim Leka was born on January 25, 1924, in Delvina, Albania, a small town near the Greek border. His love for Albania was inspired by the historical events that formed the lives of his parents, grandparents, professors, and others who, through their sacrifice for the country,
made Albania a free state in 1912.
Dr. Leka’s father, Rakip Leka, was from the historical village of Borsh and was a summa cum laude graduate of the Imperial University…

Read More
X
image
Ariana Lecaj
image
Ariana Lecaj

Modern Day Refugee: Contemporary Albanian American Woman Helping Through Medical Education.

Ariana Lecaj had it all—a loving family, an affluent upbringing in the city of Prishtina, and
dreams of a successful career—until war erupted in 1998. At the age of 16, all she had left was what
little she could carry and uncertainty of where life would take her when she and her 17-year-old
brother escaped Kosova.

Read More
X
image
George Laska
image
George Laska

The military man masters teaching and becomes the first Albanian American high school principal in the United States.

George Laska has a rich military history— he was drafted into the Army Air Corps in 1946 and
served in World War II—but when he stumbled into teaching, he found his true calling.
Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, to Albanian immigrants Michael Laska and Efterpi Kotnami, Laska grew up practicing what his parents preached about getting an education. Having been incapable of doing so themselves, they were adamant about their four boys becoming something in the land of…

Read More
X
image
Drena Kusari Berisha
image
Drena Kusari Berisha

The first Kosovar to graduate from Harvard Business School, now leading corporate strategy at one of the most innovative infrastructure investment companies in the United States.

Drena Kusari Berisha was the first Kosovar to graduate from Harvard Business School, with a Master’s in Business Administration.
Born and raised in Gjakove, Kosova, Berisha came to the United States in 1999 to finish her final year of high school. After going through the Kosova War, she was awarded a Rotary International Student Scholarship to attend Southwestern Academy, a small boarding school in Pasadena, California. The beautiful…

Read More
X
image
Mark Kosmo, PH.D.
image
Mark Kosmo, PH.D.

Though he was born and raised in Braintree, Massachusetts, the doctor of economics found  himself living and working in his ethnic land and making lifelong connections.

Mark Kosmo grew up in Braintree, Massachusetts, but his professional life brought him to a world that his grandparents left behind on his behalf.
Kosmo’s grandparents left Korçë, Albania, for the United States in 1915, in search of a better life their grandchildren. They worked at various factories in several small cities, like Worcester and
New Bedford, Massachusetts, so that Kosmo and his brothers could be among the first…

Read More
X
image
Genc Kortsha
image
Genc Kortsha

The impressive story of Genc Kortsha, who documented his life story in his book, One Man’s  Journey to Freedom: Escape from Behind the Iron Curtain.

Genc Kortsha’s history begins with his father—the most influential figure in his life, and one whose footsteps he closely followed. His father was born in Korça, Albania, but he built a life in Shkodër, where he founded the first public high school in 1923. He had graduated from high school in Selanik, with a diploma in Turkish, and then enrolled at Vienna University in Austria. When the elder…

Read More
X
image
Gjergj Konda
image
Gjergj Konda

“Success is possible at any age and at any geographical location.”

Gjergj Konda comes from Tirana, a city renowned for its scenic position thirty minutes away from the mountains and forty-five minutes from the seaside. The drive for success and achievement was instilled in him at a very early age by his parents, and Konda pursued academic achievement in his native Albania. He obtained a Master’s degree in Engineering and a Ph.D. in Industrial Economics from Tirana University.

Read More
X
image
Ema Koja
image
Ema Koja

“I fell in love with my imperfections”

“During my travels and my life as an immigrant, I discovered that being Albanian was a great asset. We are so few and so mysterious to the world. My differences were the spice setting me apart from the rest. I did not want to fit any longer. I just wanted to own me, be more of me, express me, and create with me. I fell in love with my imperfections. This was like discovering a secret code to success—the world needed originality and was willing to…

Read More
X
image
Anna Kohen, D.D.S.
image
Anna Kohen, D.D.S.

Dr. Anna Kohen was born in Vlorë, Albania, after World War II. Her family had to go into hiding in
Trevëllazër, a village near Vlorë, when the Germans occupied Albania, and they were saved by the
locals in the village. Vera and Kadri Lazaj gave shelter to Kohen’s parents, grandparents, and little brother. They changed their names to Muslim names.
Everyone in the village knew, but no one betrayed them. “Albania was one of the only European countries that had more Jews at the end of the war than at the beginning of World War…

Read More
X
image
Florian Koci, M.D.
image
Florian Koci, M.D.

“When you don’t stop midway, you will eventually realize your dreams and reap the rewards.”

Florian Koci grew up in Albania. Some of his earliest memories are of families ringing their doorbell in the middle of the night asking help from his father, a pediatrician. His father’s example set him
on his future path. He took his cues from his mother, his role model in life, and strove to be one of the best students in school, which secured him acceptance into the Faculty of Medicine in Tirana, Albania.
By this point, Florian’s political views…

Read More
X
image
Stefan Kochi
image
Stefan Kochi

Born in Albania, Kochi immigrated to the States, launched two prosperous businesses, and became the Honorary Consul General of Albania for Massachusetts.

Stefan Kochi has innate talent when it comes to understanding math, but the Albania native credits his small-town high school in Sarandë with helping him hone his skills—skills that led him to Tirana University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electronics, and then to a job working for the Albanian Power Corporation. While Kochi thrived at the corporation, he was drawn to the United States to further his…

Read More
X
image
Merieme Klobocista, M.D.
image
Merieme Klobocista, M.D.

“My parents showed me that through education I could achieve anything.”

Merieme Klobocista, MD, was born in New York to Mensur and Nezaqet Klobocista. Her parents—originally from the region of Dibra, in Macedonia—immigrated to the United States in the early 1960s. The culture shock they must have felt when they arrived in the United States at such a young age is unimaginable to Dr. Klobocista. Her father settled in first, and her mother followed once
they were married. Dr. Klobocista appreciates the difficulties her mother transcended while living far from home in a foreign…

Read More
X
image
Adrian Ketri
image
Adrian Ketri

Ketri’s thirst for knowledge as a young boy in Albania catapulted him to his current role as General
Counsel for an acclaimed advisory firm in Boston.

Not unlike many first generation Albanian Americans, Adrian Ketri’s life consists of two distinct chapters: His formative years in Albania and his newfound adult life in the United States. Ketri’s childhood memories revolve around family gatherings, schoolwork, and summer breaks at his grandparents. His thirst for knowledge was strongly encouraged and supported by his parents, and despite the limitations imposed on him by the Albanian system, they made…

Read More
X
image
Veton Këpuska
image
Veton Këpuska

The Kosova-born scientist and engineer, who holds three patents in voicecommand software and teaches as an Associate Professor at the Florida Institute of Technology.

A scientist and engineer, Veton Këpuska has authored one book, fifteen journals, and twenty-five conference publications. He holds
three patents in voice-command software, and founded his own Wake-Up-Words Voice Commands Company, Zëri Inc., in January 2013.
Born in Vushtrri, Kosova, Këpuska’s scientific proclivities were noticed and cultivated by the visionary mathematics professors at Prishtina University,
who started a Mathematical Gymnasium, dedicated to teaching gifted children university-level math in additional to regular high…

Read More
X
image
Antoneta Kastrati
image
Antoneta Kastrati

Kastrati escapes massacre in Kosova to become an awardwinning documentarian who tackles provocative topics, from women’s rights to war.

During her ten-year career as a documentary filmmaker, Antoneta Kastrati has directed and produced dozens of powerful and controversial
award-winning documentaries about women, war, homophobia, and domestic violence. But now she’s embracing a brand-new genre that may
be her greatest challenge yet: narrative filmmaking. It is through this work that she is forced to relive the most difficult experience of her life—war.

Read More
X
image
Alma Kanani
image
Alma Kanani

The Tirana native, a World Bank expert, advises South Asia and Latin America on economic and fiscal policies.

When Alma Kanani graduated from the Faculty of Economics at the University of Tirana with a degree in Public Finance in 1987, she could not have predicted the impressive projection of her career.
Soon after graduation, in the early 1990s, Kanani landed the job of Director of the National Budget for the Ministry of Finance of Albania. This was within the first few years of one of the most fundamental transitions Albania has experienced—the transition from…

Read More
X
image
Faruza Kalaba
image
Faruza Kalaba

As an In-Flight Refueler for the Air National Guard, Kalaba traveled the globe and had the opportunity to defend her country of heritage during the
Kosova War.

From the Balkans to the United States, Faruza Kalaba’s family history is as culturally rich as it is vast. Her father, born in Kosova, and her mother, from Ukraine, met at a displaced persons camp in Italy after World War II, and together relocated to Syria, where Kalaba and her three sisters were born. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1959, where Kalaba proceeded to earn…

Read More
X
image
Bashkim Kadriu, M.D.
image
Bashkim Kadriu, M.D.

Witnessing the ravaging effects of a war inspired an Albanian student to study medicine and learn how to heal the mind and the body.

After living through the war in Kosova and witnessing the psychological fear and hatred it produced, Kadriu was compelled to help
those around him, using the skills acquired as a first-year medical student. He had an opportunity to research and work at a center sponsored by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention that screened returning refugees for posttraumatic stress disorder. Dr. Kadriu felt a kinship with his fellow survivors,…

Read More
X
image
Gjon Junçaj, ESQ.
image
Gjon Junçaj, ESQ.

A Federal Prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, Juncaj got his start as a small-town law student with supportive
immigrant parents and big dreams.

When Gjon Juncaj’s family left their home in the Malësia e Madhe region of Northern Albania, for Detroit, Michigan, they had nothing more than a good work ethic and strong family values to bring with them. But that’s all Juncaj needed to inspire his success.
“I have learned from two Albanian immigrants, my parents, that success is simply the act of combining motivation with opportunity,”…

Read More
X
image
William N. Johns
image
William N. Johns

Taught at an early age to treat everyone with love and respect, Johns now dedicates his life to raising community awareness and acceptance of cultural, racial, and religious differences.

William N. Johns and his parents, Nicholas and Olimbia, immigrated to the United States when he was 6 years old. It was by their example and their sacrifices that Johns learned the most important attributes a person should attain—a deep sense of duty to family, church, and community.

Read More
X
image
Rudina Jasini
image
Rudina Jasini

The Harvard University researcher and U.N. International Criminal Tribunal defense lawyer in pursuit of her passion for international and human rights law.

Rudina Jasini is a lawyer and scholar specializing in international criminal law and human rights law. Born in Albania and educated in the United States and England, she has sought to make a meaningful contribution to justice and scholarly understanding in the areas of human rights, international criminal law, and transitional justice in both her academic and working pursuits.
Jasini first moved to the U.S. as a Fulbright scholar in 2005. She…

Read More
X
image
Esmiana Jaho
image
Esmiana Jaho

The Albanian-born dancer is now America’s Classical Ballerina.

Jani brings to her professional life a broad spectrum of life experiences, including her happy childhood days in Albania. Jani’s career began with ballet classes in her homeland of Albania. With her natural talent and the support of her community, she stepped on stage at age 4 to perform the first of many ballet recitals throughout Albania. Since her childhood recitals she has lived in various parts of the world during the twenty-plus years of her life. Born in Albania, she moved to Greece with…

Read More
X
image
Ermonela Jaho
image
Ermonela Jaho

The Albanian diva with a “Balkan Temperament” conquers every stage on which she performs.

From her first debut until today, audiences have been drawn to Ermonela Jaho’s artistic personality and ability to touch every soul through her singing. The characteristics of her artistry have been cultivated from her Albanian roots and perfected through her education and ability to
synthesize the best of all the cultures into her interpretation.

Read More
X

Deluxe Publication – Documentary – Website – Gala Event

Celebrating Albanian American Achievements,
Leadership, Entrepreneurial Spirit, Community Impact, Inspirational and Human
Interest Stories, Influence in arts, business, education, science, politics, and more…

Deluxe Publication – Documentary – Website – Gala Event

Celebrating Albanian American Achievements, Leadership,
Entrepreneurial Spirit, Community Impact, Inspirational and Human
Influence in arts, business, education, science, Share your story politics and more…
Share your Story – Showcase your Achievements – Inspire Future Generations – Benefit a Good Cause


 



image

Buy The AASS Book!

Get your print version of the Albanian American Success Stories Book

image

Featured Video

Albanian American Success Stories Gala Trailer, Battery Gardens, NYC May 3, 2014

image

Gallery

Photos from Albanian American Stories Gala Dinner