Elvana Shala advocating for development and equality in Kosovo

NY Elite: Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Elvana Shala: I was born and raised in the city of Peja while I started living in Pristina since 2010. I have graduated in BA of Political Science at the University of Prishtina and Mass Communication and Journalism at AAB College. Since I was 12, I have started working with various local and international non-governmental organizations, mainly in cultural and humanitarian projects and in the protection of human rights. In 2002 I first appeared to the public,by  playing the main role in the drama “We also want light”, aimed at recognizing the rights of people with disabilities. In 2003 I represented Kosovo for the first timeat the First World Congress for Disabled Children in Wells, England.

In 2004, I was elected a deputy of the Youth Assembly of Peja  an assembly founded to protect the interests and rights of the young people of Peja. As a writer of various literary essays, in 2006, I was awarded with the prize “Best Poet of the City of Peja”, a prize awarded on the occasion of the Peja Liberation Day. During 2007-2008 I have participated in many seminars, trainings and various cultural, social and humanitarian events. In 2009 I became a member of the research group of Trentino Con il Kosovo and Cooperazzione Colomba, together with many other young people from different ethnicities living in Kosovo in order to improve the relations between the youth of the Serbian and Albanian communities and creating the opportunity for peace and inter-religious stability. This year I was a special guest from Roberto Bazzoni to moderate the memorial academy of two Italian humanists who lost their lives during the war in Kosovo, Roberto Bazzoni and Antonio Sercana.

Photoshooting by Fadil Berisha in New York 2017

Photoshoot by Fadil Berisha in New York 2017

In 2012, I became the main image of  100th anniversary of the Albanian State Catalog on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Independence of Albania.

Meanwhile, in 2014, I am appointed as Ambassador of Goodwill for Kosovo from the International Human Rights Commission, an representative diplomatic non-profitmission with 4-year mandate. And after an intensive work and after a successful representation of Kosovo in various conferences, summits and various public diplomacy events in countries such as New York, London, Dubai, Geneva, Turkey, Morocco, Prague etc. a few days ago I was re-elected for a second mandate as Ambassador of Goodwill for Kosovo and now this title and mission will be exercised until 2022.

In 2015 I am rewarded with prize “Laureates in Social Welfare”.

NY Elite: What are you currently working on? 

Elvana Shala: Recently, I hold the mission of the Ambassador of Goodwill for Kosovo appointed by the International Human Rights Commission, an representative diplomatic non-profit mission through which I represent Kosovo at various conferences, summits and public diplomacy events in the international area. In addition, under the umbrella of this mission, occasionally I organize various humanitarian activities and initiatives for the protection of various marginalized categories. The International Human Rights Commission is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1988, which is registered in Europian Union and has a special consultative status in UN and part of ECOSOC of UN. Its mission is to Facilitate the creation of cooperative networks and economic development programs enlisting and involving financial institutions, traditional and alternative energy producers, private enterprises, diplomatic representations, universities, governmental bodies and other concerned parties;

Promote human rights peace, gender equality, health, equality, economic development and educational access, awareness regarding the rights of women, children and youth in developing nations and where ever needed;

Strengthen and support to all Nation’s capacity to engage in Sustainable Development through educational access, relief programs, ecological and bioethical reflection and action, while taking into consideration the traditional social and cultural values of each Nation.

NY Elite: What projects have been your favorites that you have been a part of and why? 

Elvana Shala: I have started to deal with various humanitarian activities and human rights issues, which mainly deal with the field of public diplomacy since I was 12 years old and since then I have been part of various  local and international organizations and part of many projects that have been realized for various social purposes. My favorites have been humanitarian and cultural projects. But the most important and most favorite project is the campaign against the discrimination of survivors of sexual violence during the war in Kosovo with the slogan “A ray of light” realized in November 2017 under my patronage in order to fight the discrimination of this category in our society. Knowing that women abused during the war in Kosovo are currently one of the most marginalized groups in society, campaign, has affected  the breaking of prejudices and fighting the discrimination by trying to secure an equal place in our society. I am happy that the video message realized with different personalities from the field of art politics diplomacy and civil society has had an enormous impact on our society. 

NY Elite: What three social issues are most important to you and why?  

Elvana Shala: The most important social issues for me are fighting the discrimination of marginalized categories, creating better living conditions for people with difficult economic conditions and creating new jobs for the youth of Kosovo.

I think that these three issues constitute the basis for respect for human rights and the possibility of a life with dignity.

NY Elite: What was the most significant change you brought about in a project / organization? 

Elvana Shala: The most important change in the organization was I myself for the fact that for the first time by the IHRC was appointed an Ambassador of Goodwill for a new state as Kosovo an internationally not well-known state. My uncompromising work and engagement made the name of Kosovo to occupy an important place in the organization and around the world where I exercise this mission. Above all, being a young woman who life has proved with many health challenges, I have been able to break many of the prejudices that even a woman with special needs can be a successful leader in any kind of position.

 NY Elite: What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?  

Elvana Shala: During Career on social issues and now in diplomacy. I  have already learned many things but the most important thing I learned is that a successful career is achieved only when we do not surrender before the difficult challenges road but continue the road striving for success.

NY Elite: What are the most important values and ethics of a leader? 

Elvana Shala: Sincerity, impartiality, and trust.

NY Elite: How can one improve their leadership skills?

Elvana Shala: Every leader can make mistakes during his life while deciding to lead something important but his leadership ability can be improved when he starts learning from his mistakes and does not repeat them.

NY Elite: What is your advice for those who would like to reach higher in their career?

Elvana Shala: My advice to those who would like to reach higher in their career is to put themselves a certain goal and fight hard for achieving it. Surrender never brings a successful career. 

NY Elite: What are you an advocate of? What are your life passions?  

Elvana Shala: My life passions are travels, and photography.

I think that different travels whether local or international in different countries of the world make you perceive life in a more beautiful way. Knowing culture, traditions and different customs (mores) creates an open mind, moving away from the possibility of prejudices for people. While the picture is the only thing that prevents time!

NY Elite: What/who inspires you?  

Elvana Shala: I can be inspired by everything that is positive and beautiful, for example. a good word, a good song and a nice place to visit. And the biggest inspiration comes from people who love me and appreciate me.

NY Elite: What are five characteristics that make successful leaders?  

Elvana Shala: Self-confidence, discipline, vision, dedication to work and correctness.

NY Elite: What are your future plans/goals/projects?  

Elvana Shala: While continuing to exercise the mission as  the Ambassador of Goodwill for Kosovo, I will continue to be very committed to the most dignitous representation of Kosovo in the international arena, and will also launch new projects aimed to protect and respect the human rights without leaving aside humanitarian projects. Since we are at the beginning of the year, I am still in the process of preparing an agenda where I will focus on this year.

NY Elite: What books would you recommend that have made an impact in your life, business, or success.

Elvana Shala: I read many books that deal with diplomacy and psychological books on positive thinking for life. Also books that deal with public relations.

From the field of diplomacy is the book “Diplomacy from Henry Kissinger” from psychological field Sigmund Freud’s “Beyond the pleasure Principle” book and from the field of public relations by Dale Carnegier “How to Win friends and Influence People “

NY Elite: What is your favorite hobby and why is this hobby important to you.   

Elvana Shala: As my passion my hobby also is photography.

I like to do a lot of photos in every event or place I go because I think the picture is the only thing that stops the time and turns it back. As a child I have liked many photos in the style of the model, like professional photoshoots  and now I now continue to make different photoshooting  with different photographers and for different purposes. In addition to this hobby I have literary writings, occasionally I write essays that have to do with a special event of my life or for some special social cause.


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