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American Councils Hosts Reception with Former President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga

February 28, 2023
Jahjaga with MIP Fellows


On Friday, February 24, American Councils for International Education has the distinction of hosting a reception to honor former Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga and address issues of strengthening the Western Balkans through education and youth leadership. The reception celebrated collaborative education programs in the Balkans like the Kosovo American Education Fund (KAEF). KAEF is a prestigious education program providing graduate Fellowships for master’s level study at leading U.S. universities to empower the future leaders of Kosovo with the knowledge and tools needed to promote the country’s economic development.

President Jahjaga served as the first woman and fourth President of the Republic of Kosovo. She was Kosovo’s first non-partisan candidate, the first female head of state in the modern Balkans, and, at the time, the youngest female world leader elected to the highest office. President Jahjaga participates regularly in initiatives aimed at empowering women and supporting survivors of sexual violence from the Kosovo War. She is the founder of the Jahjaga Foundation, a non-governmental organization that aims to support the democratic development of Kosovo and the wider Balkans through social inclusion and support for marginalized groups. President Jahjaga is also an Honorary KAEF Committee Member.

President Jahjaga at American Councils Headquarters During her speech, President Jahjaga emphasized the critical role education and youth development plays in building democracy in the Balkans, giving special thanks to the impact of KAEF. “Strengthening education is crucial for promoting democracy and prosperity as it empowers individuals with knowledge and skills, enabling them to make informed decisions and contribute to the economy,” said President Jahjaga. “KAEF gives young people from Kosovo the chance to learn from the American educational system and absorb the know-how which can be implemented to better the quality of life in Kosovo, to improve the institutional system, to provide more economic opportunities for marginalized groups, to receive a fresh reset of mindset, and simply be provided the platform to experience something extraordinary.”


KAEF is dedicated to the long-term economic development of Kosovo through the education of its people. KAEF provides up to 4 graduate fellowships per year to promising Kosovars for top-level training at select U.S. universities. After returning to Kosovo, KAEF alumni have served as government ministers, ambassadors, advisers, directors, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and civil society activists. Alumni have managed development projects valued at over $88 million and launched numerous successful new businesses. During President Jahjaga’s term, she trusted KAEF alumni’s judgment as her advisors and continues working with them through the Jahjaga Foundation.

“In sum, what KAEF and American Councils are doing is building blocks for a working democracy and economy. And building blocks for the Kosovo-American friendship,” President Jahjaga said at the conclusion of her remarks. 

American Councils and the Kosovo American Education Fund are grateful for President Jahjaga and her support of strengthening democracy in Kosovo through education. Learn more about the Kosovo American Education Fund.