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KAEF would like to thank all of the businesses, organizations and individuals who have contributed to KAEF. Through their donation they have proven that they possess a long-term dedication to Kosova and all its people.

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Posts Tagged ‘KAEF Alumni’

Alumni Profile: Dastid Pallaska

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Dastid Pallaska (KAEF 07, Yale Law School 08) took a different path than most KAEF graduates. Whereas many fellows on the KAEF program arrange for post-degree Practical Training with U.S. companies and organizations, Dastid decided to look a little closer to home.  In spite of offers for positions with New York, Washington DC, and Chicago law firms as well as with the Northern District of Illinois District Court, he took a position of Counsel with Wolf Theiss, a Vienna based international law firm, where he coordinates cross-border litigation for the firm’s 10 offices in SEE/CEE and handles white collar crime cases as well as arbitration.

The Practical Training program allows KAEF fellows to stay in the U.S. for up to a year after their graduation to get work experience in their chosen field. Typically it’s done in the United States, but Dastid wanted to work in a legal setting that would give him experience useful to his future plans in Kosovo.  Vienna was, in this context, a much better fit.

Dastid is also involved in building and strengthening the firm’s litigation practice group in its SEE/CEE offices. Moreover, he is engaged in business development by facilitating the firm’s expansion into the Kosovar market. According to Dastid, this position enables him to build bridges between foreign investors seeking to enter the Kosovo market and local businesses that need the investment and the know-how. While describing the economic potential of Kosovo, Dastid says that Kosovo can serve as a hub for an emerging joint market that includes Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia. In this respect he notes that “interest is growing as companies learn more about Kosovo and as we slowly combat the myths surrounding the country – the myths of instability and ineffective institutions.”

Prior to joining Wolf Theiss Dastid built his own law firm in Kosovo, Pallaska&Associates, which has since been on the forefront of the emerging field of intellectual property law.  “Before, international companies registered their trademarks in Belgrade. Following the declaration of Kosovo’s independence, most, if not all, of the ten to fifteen thousand trademarks have been transferred to Kosovo”. According to Dastid, due to the lack of intellectual property rights protections in Kosovo until 2008, the degree of trademark infringement is very high, which is why he now expects international companies to begin enforcing their intellectual property rights. In this regard Dastid (Pallaska&Associates) initiated the first, and the only, trademark infringement litigation case in the history of Kosovo’s justice system.

Besides intellectual property law, Dastid’s firm is also specialized in commercial law as well as regulatory law with a specific focus on telecommunications and energy.

Dastid’s ultimate goal is to return to the public sector and help usher Kosovo into the stream of Western democracies by strengthening its justice institutions.

KAEF Alumni Profile: Seb Bytyçi

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Seb Bytyçi (KAEF ‘07, Indiana University) is managing the Kosovo Transparency Initiative (KTI) project of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Kosovo. “This project focuses on supporting the Kosovo institutions, civil society and media to work for a more transparent administration,” says Seb.  “This is key for the Kosovar economy because corruption causes many losses to the private sector and damages the whole economy.  KTI has had a direct impact in terms of developing capacities of young Kosovars who are willing to make a change in their society.”

Seb was always interested in working on the pressing issues facing Kosovo.  His time on the KAEF program sharpened his focus and advanced his career.  “The KAEF program helped me achieve some of my goals faster.  Having a graduate degree from a prestigious university in the USA is a great asset at a time when Kosovo needs young professionals to help build a functioning state, economy and civil society.  The KAEF program does not just mean you get top level education, it also means you get invaluable experience by living and working in one of the most dynamic places on earth. It gives you a chance to better understand the challenges it takes to succeed in your career regardless of the environment.”

Although he thoroughly enjoyed his time on the program, he did go through a period of cultural adjustment.  “The humidity during the summer surprised me at first. Kosovo has a more dry climate.  And I was also surprised by the fact that many parts of the US are very conservative.  Here’s one example:  in Indiana and some other states,  you can not buy alcohol on Sundays.  As someone coming from Kosovo where such bans don’t exist, I was surprised to find them in the US.”

Seb became the very first KAEF alumnus to return to Kosovo in the Spring of 2006.  He never had any doubts about coming back.    “Kosovar students have the highest return rate for these kind of scholarship programs.  I think that is because they feel more connected to their homeland, especially because of the special times that Kosovo is going through.”

Having been the “first” to apply to KAEF, the first to participate in it, and the first to return from it, Seb has some good advice for prospective applicants:  “You shouldn’t be afraid to apply. You should not worry too much about your level of English knowledge or about the difficulty of living in the States. You don’t have to speak perfect English and you don’t have to have lived in another country before to make it.”

We heartily congratulate Seb – our very first KAEF alumnus – on all of his success!

A KAEF Fellow departs for home

Monday, October 27th, 2008

KAEF Fellow Nebojsa Vlajic sent this message to his friends and colleagues in the U.S. on the eve of his departure home to Kosovo.  He graciously allowed us to share it.  I think it’s a great testament to the power of the KAEF experience – not only in terms of academics, but in terms of developing lasting friendships with Americans.  Congratulations Nebojsa on a successful program!

Dear friends

After more than two years in Missoula I’ll be leaving next week. I’m flying to Kosovo via Denver, Washington D.C. and Vienna. I can’t wait to be home again.
As of December I’ll be doing one of the two best jobs in the world (the other one is university professor). I’ll resume the work in my lawyer’s office if my partner didn’t sell my desk and chair. I hope that the clients didn’t forget me.

Missoula has been an interesting place to call home for the last two years. I was impressed not only at the breathtaking beauty of the city of Missoula and the State of Montana, but also the genuine hospitality and friendliness of its people toward the international students.
My personal experience in Missoula has been of great value: I’ve met supportive people and true friends, studied in the intellectually challenged environment, traveled more than most Americans, and fallen in love with the country from Mexican to Canadian border I was lucky enough to visit. I?ve had a chance to live as far away from home as I could have imagined. I’m now also sure that this way of life, with frequent moves and living in all the different places is definitely something I enjoy more than dislike. Yes, it is stressful to be moving all your possessions (although in three suitcases) from one place to another every couple of years, but it also brings new experiences and personal treasures.
I hope that the future will bring prosperity and peace to the many people I have made friends with and, as the country is approaching the crucial election, to the country in general.

I hope some of you will be traveling to Europe and will be able to visit me.

Please keep in touch and I hope to see you again.


Nebojsa Vlajic


Monday, September 1st, 2008

Luan Dalipi ‘07 received his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. As Managing Partner for Management and Development Associates, Inc. (MDA), and Board President of the American Chamber of Commerce Luan uses the skills he acquired during his KAEF Fellowship to build capacity in both the public and private sectors. “In the U.S.,” says Luan, “I took many practical workshops with people who in business or who have a relationship with the business world. I acquired many consulting tools that I started using immediately after returning. These tools have been acknowledged to be effective by the top management of [our clients].”

MDA works to develop capacity in three ways: through management training, in which MDA has developed over 60 training modules and trained over 2,700 people; through consulting for the private sector, in which MDA performs business and investment plan development, personnel recruitment, and market research; and through serving as a local implementing partner for donor agencies. As Managing Partner of this extremely successful company, Luan is able to play a key role in the economic development of Kosovo.

“Kosovo has been and still is in a transitional period from a socialist country to a new democracy. The methods of conducting business in the past were very different from what is needed today. We are decentralizing and liberalizing markets. There is a strong need for consolidation of businesses, and preparing for regional markets. There is a big gap between the skills that are needed to advance these companies and what they currently have.”

Luan places a high value on his U.S. graduate experience. “I appreciated that I was able to map out my own program. Another big advantage of the program was that most of the workshops and classes were business case oriented. Through case studies, I was able to develop my analytical and problem solving skills.”

Despite the fact that his excellent professional and academic record made him a very attractive prospective employee for any U.S. company, Luan had no trouble deciding to come back to Kosovo. “What it comes to at the end is the personal reward you get from doing work in your own country and being able to see the changes happening before your eyes. If you measure the impact of change you can have abroad with the impact you can have here, you can have a more positive impact in Kosovo. There are many problems in Kosovo. There is room for many, many more fellows than KAEF currently supports. Ultimately, there is no reason we cannot make the same life here as we could have in the U.S. We are doing it, in fact. It’s a matter of “how” rather than “if.”