GKS Board

Mission

To promote Albanian education within our Albanian Community and provide academic scholarships to Albanian students seeking a higher education.

Overview 

The Gjergj Kastrioti Scholarship (GKS) Fund was founded in 1999 as an extension of the Albanian American Student Organization. Our goal is to provide scholarships to Albanian students that demonstrate a need and/or have maintained a history of a superior academic achievement. Since its inception, the GKS has awarded over $180,000 and hopes to continue awarding even more in the years to come.

After filing all the proper documents, on September 21, 2001, the Internal Revenue Service determined that our organization is exempt from federal income tax. Therefore, all donations to the Gjergj Kastrioti Scholarship Fund are tax deductible.

Every year we receive highly qualified applicants and the need and competition is greater than ever. Albanian students need your help in their pursuit of a higher education. We ask you to reach in your hearts and help Albanian students reach their academic goals.

We believe that our fund creates a foundation that offers more than just a financial support. It demonstrates that our community is willing and able to support all those that pursue a higher education. This ideal helps and motivates our youth and creates a great moral among our community. It epitomizes the bond between education and community advancement. You can feel confident that anything you do for this fund will be recognized. Our mission is to create a world-class scholarship fund with your help and support. We welcome your opinions and are grateful for you continued support.

Meet the GKS Board

Donald Demiri

Donald Demiri

Chair

Donald is an Engineer at DTE Energy, where he started as a student. Donald received his Bachelors in Electrical Engineering at Wayne State University. As a student, he was involved in multiple leadership roles in the Albanian American Student Organization including President. Donald focus has been giving back to the community that provides opportunities for him to succeed. He helped create Mother Teresa Service Day where hundreds of students have volunteered throughout metro Detroit with various organizations. In his free time he enjoys spending time with family, outdoor activities and volunteering.

Marina Lekocaj

Marina Lekocaj

Secretary

Marina is a recent graduate of Michigan State University and currently works at Gateway Pediatric Therapy where she gives direct therapy to children with Autism. She graduated from MSU with a Bachelors of Science, majoring in Kinesiology and minoring in health promotion. While at MSU, she was a teaching assistant under the Department of Education and taught second grade catechism for three years within the East Lansing area. She was apart of MSU’s AASO chapter and served as the public relations chair during her junior year and as president her senior year. She is passionate about working with students and helping them pursue their dreams through education. She is excited to start working with the other members of the board and helping Albanian students reacher their dreams toward higher education.

Kledia Xhelilaj

Kledia Xhelilaj

Treasurer

Kledia is a Project Manager at Techworld Language Solutions in Troy, Michigan. She graduated from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor in 2015, where she majored in International Studies and History. During her time at Michigan she was involved in the local AASO chapter and served as the Public Relations Chair. In 2014, she interned at the former Ministry of Tourism and Urban Development in Tirana, Albania and worked as a translator/interpreter. She’s passionate about strengthening the ties between the Albanian diaspora and Albanians in Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia. Kledia spends her free time practicing her Albanian through community interactions, Albanian TV and music.

Anijolta Kambo

Dr. Anijolta Kambo DDS

Scholarship Committee

Dr. Anijolta Kambo DDS, who goes by Dr. Ani, works for Great Expressions Dental Center in Woodhaven. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of Detroit Mercy, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biology with honors. She then went on to receive her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. Ani has been a longtime supporter of the Gjergj Kastrioti Scholarship Fund and has recently joined as a board member of this organization. Her strong attachment to her Albanian heritage and commitment to promoting higher education in the Albanian-American community further emphasizes passion for the organization’s endeavors. For this reason, she decided to join the board of the Gjergj Kastrioti Scholarship Fund in order to aid in the educational pursuits of young Albanians and have the opportunity to give back to the community as a whole. On a personal level, she is committed to promoting and living a healthy lifestyle for herself as well as others. She enjoys exercising frequently and cooking healthy meals for her friends and family.

Mark Berishaj

Mark Berishaj

Development Director

Mark’s serves as the President of DirectRx Speciality Pharmacy in Troy, MI. Before joining the family business, he served as Executive Vice President of Sales for a national mortgage lender for over 7 years.  Mark is one of the founding members of the Gjergj Kastrioti Scholarship Fund and served as it is first chairman. He received a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University with a major in finance and business economics.  He resides in Birmingham with his wife and three kids and enjoys spending all his free time with his family.

Rezarta Haxhillari

Rezarta Haxhillari

Marketing & Communications

Rezarta is a Marketing Manager at General Motors.  Prior to this position, she worked for a number of different non-profit organizations as well as a presidential campaign.  Rezarta received her bachelors of business administration from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and her MBA from Indiana University-Kelley School of Business. She was also the co-founder of the Albanian American Student Organization chapter at UM-Dearborn and served as its president for two years. During her free time, she enjoys traveling internationally, yoga, checking out new restaurants and spending time with family and friends.

Pjeter Vulaj

Pjeter Vulaj

Scholarship Committee

Pjeter is an Engineering Group Manager at General Motors. Prior to this position, he worked for EDS and BOSCH in various engineering positions, from Application Engineering to Senior Engineering Management. Pjeter graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Oakland University with a Master of Science in Computer Science Engineering. He is one of the co-founders of the Gjergj Kastrioti Scholarship Fund and served as its Treasurer for 14 years. He was also the co-founder of the Albanian American Student Organization chapter at Oakland University and served as its president for the first year. Enjoys traveling, sports, food, and spending time with family and friends.

Val Vulaj

Valbona Vulaj

Event Coordinator

Vulaj is a recent graduate of Michigan State University and currently in the Chrysler Institute of Engineering Program at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. This program is allowing her to rotate throughout various departments while getting her Masters in Electrical Engineering at Oakland University. Val interned with FCA starting in May 2015 and continued with FCA for the next three summer until she finished her BS in Electrical Engineering in December 2017. Val has always been close to the Albanian Community through her involvement as a dancer in Grupi Gjergj Kastrioti, where she spent 6 years traditional dancing throughout the country. In her free time Val enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family and friends.

Mike Gashaj

Mike Gashaj

Event Planner

Michael is a Project Manager at the Schaeffler Group in Troy, primarily focusing on valvetrain research & development. Mike’s past work has focused on electronics & seating at Lear & Faurecia, along with consumer goods at Unilever. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial & Operations Engineering. Mike was part of the Albanian American Student Organization at the University of Michigan, and took a deep interest in the GKS Fund after learning about it in 2015. He has taken on the role as board member starting May of 2017, and will be taking on various roles throughout his time as board member.
Laura M. Ivezaj

Laura Ivezaj

Recruitment & Outreach

Laura is a junior associate at Secrest Wardle. She will receive her Juris Doctor from Cooley Law School in August 2018.  Currently, Laura specializes in complex litigation, including, intellectual property, employment law, products liability and toxic tort law. Laura received her Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice from Saginaw Valley State University. She was a student-athlete on the women’s soccer team. Laura enjoys being an active member in the Albanian American community and helped developed a “Sister-City” relationship between her hometown, Rochester Hills, and her parents’ hometown, Tuz, Montenegro. In her free time she enjoys traveling, spending time with family, soccer, golf, and skiing.

Suzanna Shkreli

Suzanna Shkreli

Suzanna Shkreli is a first generation American of Albanian origin born, and raised in Michigan. She received her Bachelor's degree from Oakland University and her Juris Doctorate from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. In 2011, Suzanna became a Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor, prosecuting general crimes including homicide, dangerous drugs, assaults, and domestic violence. She served as special prosecutor for the Macomb County Mental Health court.  For nearly three years, Suzanna has been specially assigned to the Child Protection Unit, where she vertically prosecutes crimes against children involving physical and sexual abuse. Suzanna is an advocate for victim rights and has represented the United States Department of Justice in training law enforcement agencies on victim rights abroad. Suzanna is an alumnae of Emerge Michigan’s first inaugural class, and was the Democratic candidate for U.S.
Congress for Michigan's 8th district in the 2016 election. She received national
recognition and secured the  endorsement of President Barack Obama. Suzanna is a member of the Albanian American Bar Association and sits on the board of the Gjergj Kastrioti Scholarship Fund.