On May 4, the American Councils for International Education hosted an event titled “Creating a New Kosovo through Education” at Battery Gardens in New York City to support the Kosovo America Education Fund’s (KAEF) efforts to provide graduate education for Kosovo’s best and brightest.
The night’s program, led by host committee member, Gazmend Gjonbalaj, emphasized the role of higher education in post-conflict countries generally, and KAEF as a specific example. KAEF was honored to host guests from Kosovo including Consulate General, Mr. Ylber Kryeziu, and representatives from the Kosovo Ministry of Diaspora, Director for Culture and Education Avdyl Lipoveci and Senior Advisor Kushtrim Sheremeti.
Wesley K. Clark, retired U.S. Army general, former Democratic presidential candidate and longtime supporter of the Kosovar people, delivered a keynote address stressing the importance of education for economic development and sustainable change in Kosovo. He praised the KAEF program, calling it the best investment that has been made in Kosovo’s future because it inspires Kosovo’s emerging leaders to work towards transforming their country. “The role of the Kosovo American Education Fund in providing scholarships to young Kosovars in some of America’s finest graduate schools is one of the pillars upon which the future of Kosovo depends,” said General Clark. He encouraged all KAEF supporters to keep working hard to "make Kosovo a bright shining star.”
Amy Manning of McGuireWoods LLP was awarded the inaugural David Gotaas Community Supporter Award. The Award honors an individual or organization that has demonstrated leadership in fundraising, Fellow support (for example, through internship opportunities or mentoring) or program enhancement for KAEF.
The award is named for Gotaas, a member of American Councils’ Board of Trustees for six years and champion of KAEF, who passed away in May 2015 at age 64. Gotaas attended Fellow graduation ceremonies, traveled throughout Kosovo and made significant financial contributions to KAEF. Gotaas believed in KAEF’s potential to make a difference for Kosovo’s future. Members of Gotaas’s family were on hand to present the award.
Ms. Manning and her firm, McGuireWoods LLP, were selected to receive the David Gotaas Community Supporter award for providing an internship for Arben Limani, during his fellowship at Chicago-Kent College of Law, and hosting a trade event with Kosovo’s former president, H.E. Atifete Jahjaga, in November 2015.
Manning remarked after receiving the award, “During the event with President Jahjaga, she shared the inspiring and memorable quote: ‘Americans should love America the way Kosovars love America.’ I have repeated it to many people – including my children. What a wonderful chance to see my country through the appreciative eyes of others!”
Event attendees also had the opportunity to hear from a current KAEF fellow, Fjolla Kondirolli (Cornell ’17), who shared her KAEF experience and her plans both for her professional future and for Kosovo. In addition, American Councils’ president, Dan Davidson, Ph.D., told attendees about the 40 universities that have hosted the 80 KAEF Fellows to date, including Brandeis University, Harvard University, Georgetown University, and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Newark. He also celebrated the success of the 69 alumni who now serve in leadership positions in government, business and media in Kosovo.
The event raised more than $50,000 for KAEF fellowships. These funds will enable KAEF to continue its aim to help rebuild Kosovo through graduate education.