KAEF Program Overview

KAEF Program Overview

The Kosovo American Education Fund (KAEF) is dedicated to the long-term economic development of Kosovo through the education of its people. KAEF provides up to 8 graduate fellowships per year to promising Kosovars for top-level training at select U.S. universities.

To date, 44 universities have hosted KAEF Fellows, including City University of New York, Baruch College, Iowa State University, Pennsylvania State University, and Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Aside from providing KAEF Fellows a top-notch education, our university partners also provide tuition cost-sharing.

Without exception, KAEF Fellows have performed at a high academic level.   In addition, KAEF Fellows receive an opportunity for valuable practical experience, including:

  • Summer internships – KAEF Fellows are required to intern with a business or organization working in their field of expertise during the summer months. 
  • Practical training – KAEF Fellows are given the option of staying in the U.S. for an extended period of time after completing their degree in order to participate in a practical training internship. 

KAEF Fellows have served with, among other organizations, Dell Computers, the World Bank, Voice of America, the International Finance Corporation, the Duke Center for International Development, and the Xerox Corporation.

KAEF Program Origins

Shortly after establishment of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo in 1999, USAID created the Kosovo Business Finance Fund (KBFF) to foster economic development and growth in Kosovo. This fund was used to establish the American Bank of Kosovo, a commercial bank that in the following years built up a loan portfolio and a successful level of deposits. The sale of these assets enabled the creation of the Kosovo American Education Fund (KAEF). In open competition, American Councils for International Education was awarded administration of this endowment in April 2004.

Program Quick Facts

Here are some interesting facts about the KAEF Graduate Fellowship Program since it was established in 2004


Host Universities




Overall GPA

KAEF Program Administration

The KAEF Fund is administered by American Councils for International Education, a not-for-profit organization that believes by investing in outstanding individuals and their educational journeys, we can create long-term, equitable, and sustainable development for societies around the world. American Councils has nearly thirty years of experience in administering graduate-level educational exchanges between U.S. universities and the countries of Eurasia. The organization's expertise ensures the success of the program in the following ways:

  • Impartial Selection
    American Councils has unmatched experience in advertising and administering a fair, impartial selection of candidates for graduate-level exchange programs. Our selection efforts ensure that the KAEF Graduate Fellowship Program is a fair and transparent competition.
  • Cost-Efficient Program Administration
    Through our relationships with over 400 U.S. universities, American Councils generates tuition cost share from university partners exceeding 50 percent of total tuition costs. This affords us the ability to extend KAEF's financial resources even further.
  • Targeted Placements
    Because of our extensive experience in working with U.S. institutions of higher education and students from abroad, we have an excellent understanding of universities' strengths and weaknesses, and we place students in programs that match their goals.

KAEF Committee

KAEF is administered by American Councils with the guidance of an advisory committee consisting of individuals based in Kosovo and in the United States. The KAEF Committee is made up of academics, businessmen, civic leaders, and KAEF alumni, with knowledge of Kosovo and/or the American higher education system. The KAEF Committee oversees the general direction of the program, fundraising and the management of the KAEF endowment.

The KAEF Committee is comprised of the following individuals:

Atifete Jahjaga served as the fourth, and the first woman President of the Republic of Kosovo, elected by the Parliament of Kosovo for a five-year mandate (April 2011-2016). Jahjaga is Kosovo’s first non-partisan candidate, the first female head of state in the modern Balkans and the youngest female world leader to be elected to the highest office.
During her presidency, Jahjaga worked diligently to bring women to the forefront of Kosovo’s political, economic, and social life as a means of ensuring a long-lasting democracy. In this context, in 2012, she hosted the International Women’s Summit "Partnership for Change—Empowering Women," which was attended by 200 leaders from all over the world. This led to the creation of the ‘Prishtina Principles’ which affirm the rights of women to political participation and representation, economic resources, and access to security and justice and calls for actions to make these principles a reality.
President Jahjaga led institutional efforts to rehabilitate and reintegrate survivors of sexual violence from the war with Serbia. In March 2014, she established the National Council for Survivors of Sexual Violence During the War in Kosovo, a body consisting representatives of key ministries, civil society, and international partners, to provide legal remedies to survivors of war-time sexual violence.
Prior to her election as the President of Kosovo, Jahjaga had been the Deputy General Director of the Police of Kosovo from February 2009. She had served as a police officer since the establishment of the Kosovo Police in early 2000, and raised to the rank of General Lt. Colonel within Kosovo Police, progressing to responsibilities at a regional level and then to General Headquarters. She completed her studies at the Faculty of Law of the University of Prishtina, in 2000. In 2006-2007, she attended a postgraduate certification program in Police Management and Penal Law at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom and a Postgraduate Certification in Crime Science at the University of Virginia in the United States in 2007.
Jahjaga is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders since 2012 and is recipient of numerous honors and awards including the Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Durham (2013), the Leadership in Public Service Award from the Clinton Global Initiative (2014), and the honorary degree of Doctor of Law from the University of Leicester (2015).

Michael Hora is a University of Illinois Engineering graduate and holds an MBA from Chicago's Loyola University. Mr. Hora was a Senior Global Managing Partner of the international Management Consulting firm, A. T. Kearney and he is active on non-profit boards having served/serving on more than 15 over his career. Mr. Hora serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of the American Councils for International Education and he is the U.S. Co-Chair of the Kosovo American Education Fund. Mr. Hora and his wife are blessed with 5 children. He enjoys reading, running and hunting.

Jeta Zagragja is a technology entrepreneur, a startup mentor, and an education advocate. Jeta brings almost a decade of practical experience in successful startups, financial industry, and non-profit sector in Kosovo and USA. Currently, she’s a co-owner and Chief Operating Officer at UCX Kosovo, a global, innovative, and lean technology company. She’s formerly held positions as the former Chief Business Development Officer at Cacttus JSC and Chief Business Development Officer at Gjirafa.com.
With her passion for innovation and demonstrated management skills, Jeta is a natural leader who pushes for workplace development, operational excellency, and business growth. She sets stretch goals and organizes resources to achieve the commercial, operational, and strategic initiatives. She’s a successful networker and relationship manager who leverages contacts to support business and philanthropic initiative and produces strategic execution plans that align with engagement or client objectives. Understanding that great achievements require team effort, she loves to mentor and empower teams, companies, and individuals develop.
Jeta’s education background includes a B.A. in Applied Sciences from the Rochester Institute of Technology, NY, USA and an M.B.A. in Strategic Management from Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL, USA.
Jeta is the co-chair of the Board of the Kosovo American Education Fund, a mentor at the Innovation Center of Kosovo, and a mentor at Krypolabs in Abu Dhabi.

Dan E. Davidson, Ph.D., is the co-founder and president emeritus of American Councils for International Education and emeritus professor of Russian and second language acquisition, Myra T. Cooley Lectureship, at Bryn Mawr College. He has been the director of American Councils Research Center (ARC) since 2017.
He is the author/editor of 24 books and 65 scholarly articles in the fields of language, culture, and educational development, including a major twenty-year longitudinal analysis of adult second language acquisition during study abroad.
Dr. Davidson was named in 2015 to the Commission on Languages, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is an elected foreign member of the Russian Academy of Education, the Ukrainian Academy of Pedagogical Sciences, vice president of the International Association of Teachers of Russian (MAPRIAL), and past chair of the College Board World Languages Advisory Committee, the Joint National Committee for Languages, and the Alliance for International Education Exchange.
His most recent study, Assessing Language Proficiency and Intercultural Development in the Overseas Immersion Context, appeared in “Exploring the US Language Flagship Program. Professional Competence in a Second Language by Graduation (Multilingual Matters)” in 2016.
Dr. Davidson completed his Ph.D. in Slavic languages at Harvard University.

Blendrit is a class of 2017 KAEF alumnus. He has received his MBA degree at Syracuse University, and has extensive experience in providing technical and managerial support to businesses and startups regarding product and service development, growth/business development, and project management. He is currently serving as Commercial Manager at ContourGlobal Kosovo, and is the head of the KAEF Alumni Association.
Recently, Blendrit has supported the foundation and growth of Tactica, a Kosovar digital marketing and SEO agency catering to the needs of American mid-sized businesses. He has also led Business and Project Development for MDA, a recognized consulting firm in Kosovo, and provided technical support to several local and international clients across industries and business models.

Gazmend Gjonbalaj serves as VP of Development Systems at WeWork. He managed Research and Development for Bloomberg L.P., where he served as the Director of Product Applications for Bloomberg Law. Leading by example on multimillion-dollar projects, he managed to motivate his staff and excel at the toughest tasks his division faces. Gjonbalaj’s subordinates refer to him as “a friend,” “an excellent manager,” and “a rare engineer with a great business mind.” His successful career in the corporate world and financial success has enabled him to give back to the Albanian American community. Today, he works at one of the best companies in the world, and he lives on the Upper East Side of New York City, one of its most prestigious and influential neighborhoods. However, just a decade ago, things were very different.

Abol Jalilvand is a seasoned academic leader with over 35 years of global administrative experience, having served as dean of business and senior scholar at major public and private universities in both the U.S. and Canada. As dean, he has elevated business schools’ national and global profiles by establishing premier undergraduate and graduate programs, hiring world-class faculty, and fostering a strong teaching and research environment. Dr. Jalilvand has achieved successful fundraising campaigns, most recently realized by contributions exceeding $55 million for Loyola University’s Business School, and previously, a $30 million program for Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Management. In 2009, in recognition of his leadership in the field of business ethics, Ethisphere Institute, New York, selected him as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics. Professionally, Dr. Jalilvand is a financial and academic consultant to universities and private sector corporations in the U.S., Canada, India and the Middle East. He serves as trustee at the American Councils for International Education, Washington, D.C. Dr. Jalilvand received his Ph.D. in Finance from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, MBA from Oklahoma State University, and Bachelor of Arts from the Iranian Institute of Banking.

Diedon Kica is an entrepreneurial thinker who believes that when right people with right tools come around an ambitious goal with a positive cause, they can always create a marvelous future.
Diedon Kica has been involved for a long time in information technology, real estate, marketing and consulting sectors. He is a Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer at Fingermarket.com (US-Based company), an online B2B platform with a mission to get online all Albanian/Kosovar businesses and accelerate their efforts at local and international level to buy, sell, find investments, and export globally. In addition to that, he is a Chief Commercial Director at BP Home Invest LLC, a real estate investment company that focuses on innovative projects with great potential and economic impact in society.
He is a committee member of Kosovo American Education Fund and has been involved in many other non-for profit and volunteering initiatives. He holds a BSc. Degree in Computing and Information Systems (Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK), MBA Degree in Entrepreneurship and Marketing (Saunders College of Business, RIT, USA), and is a Certified Management Consultant (ICMCI, 2016-18), in addition to other professional certifications.

Ms. Kotori-Krasniqi is a banking executive with almost 20 years of experience in banking and financial sector of Kosovo.
Her career commenced in year 1999 in Pro Credit Bank of Kosovo, a development-oriented commercial bank. Ms. Kotori-Krasniqi served as Credit Division Manager in 2005 and later on assumed responsibility of Business Customers Division Head, in change of business clientele of the bank. In 2012, she took over Electronic Banking Business with the aim to increase efficiency via building alternative distribution channels such as e-banking platform, card business, mobile banking.
Ms. Kotori- Krasniqi joined FINCA Kosovo a global provider of financial and responsible services, in 2013 as Business Department Manager. In 2017, she become member of Management Board and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of FINCA Kosovo and oversees ongoing business operations and leads innovative digital financial solutions and implementation of institution strategies.
Ms. Kotori-Krasniqi has completed studies at Economics University of Tirana in Albania and obtained Master’s Degree in Science from the same institution in 1999. In July 2008, Ms. Kotori-Krasniqi completed her studies in ProCredit Academy in Fürth, Germany.

Jeta Krasniqi is a project manager at the Kosovo Democratic Institute (KDI), leading the project to strengthen the Assembly’s oversight role towards Government and increase the participation of citizens in the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue process.
Previously, Ms. Krasniqi served as Political Advisor to the President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga, where she was engaged in the field of foreign policy, economic development, promotion of human rights and gender equality. Ms. Krasniqi was the Coordinator of the National Council for Survivors of Sexual Violence during the War established by the then President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga. Mrs. Krasniqi has a long-standing commitment to civil society organizations in advancing the role of women in society in Kosovo and Albania.
Jeta Krasniqi graduated with an MSc. Degree in International Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and finished her undergraduate studies in International Relations at Eastern Mediterranean University in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Ms. Krasniqi is a board member of the Kosovo Women’s Networking Board and the Kosovo American Educational Fund (KAEF), as well as a member from civil society in the Governmental Commission for the Verification and Recognition of Sexually Abused during the war in Kosovo.

Mentor Latifi is the country manager of the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche in Kosovo and a. i. in Albania. He is a graduate of the University of Basel. Prior to his pharmaceutical career, he was active in the banking sector in Switzerland and Kosovo. Along with KAEF, Mr. Latifi also serves as a board member of the EIC, the European Investors Council in Kosovo and the PPSE project (Promoting Private Sector Employment). Mr. Latifi’s free time is filled with his dedication to his wife and three daughters and to his passion, trail running.

David P. Patton, PhD, became President and CEO of American Councils in August 2019, following his tenure as acting president since March 2019.
Previously, Dr. Patton served as an executive vice president, with primary responsibility for the oversight of American Councils' regional offices, higher education portfolio, and development efforts.
In 1993, Dr. Patton joined American Councils to serve as the New Independent States (NIS) regional director in Moscow. He was named the vice president for field operations in 2002, overseeing more than 50 field offices in 15 countries in Europe and Eurasia.
Earlier in his career, Dr. Patton served as deputy director of the NIS Exchanges and Training Project, a major USAID-funded program for short-term professional development for NIS citizens. He also worked as the assistant director of The Ohio State University Center for Slavic and East European Studies. Dr. Patton also serves as the president of the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research.
He has studied and worked in the NIS region and Central Europe since 1983. He completed his PhD in Slavic linguistics at The Ohio State University. His dissertation is on analytic development in the modern Russian language. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Russian studies at the University of Oregon.

Mr. Lulzim Peci holds an M.A. in International Relations from the University Institute Ortega y Gasset in Madrid (Spain) and B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Prishtina (Kosovo). He is principal founder and Executive Director of the Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRED).
Mr. Peci served as the Ambassador of Kosovo in Stockholm (2009-2013), Executive Director of the Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (1999-2003) and as a researcher at the Kosovo Center for International Studies (KCIS)/Foreign Policy Team of the late Kosovo’s President, Dr. Ibrahim Rugova (1995-1998).
Mr. Peci’s research interests are focused on foreign and security policy, inter-ethnic relations and political parties. He has published around 50 policy and scientific papers and articles in Kosovo, Great Britain, Netherlands, Switzerland, Singapore, Austria and Germany.

Bekim Sejdiu is a Judge of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Kosovo, since April 2015. Before his appointment as a Judge at the Constitutional Court, Bekim Sejdiu has served as a diplomat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo. He served as a Consul General of the Republic of Kosovo in New-York (2012-2014), and the first Ambassador and founder of the diplomatic mission of the Republic of Kosovo in the Republic of Turkey (2008-2012). Bekim Sejdiu also teaches at the Department of International Law at the Law Faculty of the University of Prishtina.
He finished B.Sc. studies in law at the University of Pristina, obtained his M.A. in Human Rights at the University of Sarajevo-Bologna and M.A. in International Relations at the University of Bilkent in Ankara. He conducted Doctoral Studies at the University of Bilkent in Ankara and the Graduate School of Government and European Studies in Kranj.