Ilir Zherka


A long-time advocate of human rights, and an emissary of public policy and civic engagements.

Ilir Zherka’s proclivity to politics, particularly as they pertain to his fellow Albanians, surfaced at a young age. Born in Krushev, Montenegro, Zherka’s father, Ahmet, was raised in Tropojë, Albania, while his mother, Shpresa, was born in Vuthaj, Montenegro. Though he and his siblings immigrated to the United States with his paternal grandparents in 1968, settling in Bronx, New York, Zherka clung to his roots. As a teenager, he attended rallies and demonstrations against the Communist Yugoslav government at the United Nations and in Washington, D.C., and when he was an undergraduate at Cornell University, he led rallies, hosted panel discussions, and wrote opinion articles on the subject. But Zherka’s interest in Albanian activism soon expanded to include American politics. He became the President of the Cornell Democrats and interned with Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. As a student at The University of Virginia School of Law, Zherka helped organize a class boycott to increase campus diversity. After graduating from law school, Zherka and his now-wife, Linda Kinney, decided to make a big move: They relocated to Albania to help local officials and citizens alike in their transition to Democracy.

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