RICHARD S. LUKAJ
Richard (Rexhep) S. Lukaj is a prominent figure in the Albanian community, both in the United States and in Europe, as a result of his advocacy and philanthropic efforts. He has been recognized as a significant voice for economic development, stability and pro-democratic initiatives in Southeastern Europe. Mr. Lukaj was the Chairman of the National Albanian American Council (NAAC), the leading organization in the United States with offices in Washington and throughout the Balkans. He developed a reputation with diplomats in the US and abroad for pragmatic thinking and acting as a reliable bridge between the region and the international community. Mr. Lukaj was honored for his work by the Republic of Albania by being selected as the Honorary Consul to the United States and later confirmed by the U.S. Department of State.
Mr. Lukaj has also been active in philanthropic activities throughout the region, both as a significant donor personally and prolific fundraiser. He was a founder and Chairman of the American University in Kosova (AUK), which partnered with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Dartmouth University and other prominent educational institutions to deliver the highest quality accredited private education in Southeastern Europe.
Mr. Lukaj was also a founder of the Hope Fellowship program, an organization partnered with USAID which provides leadership training for women of the Balkans and arranges for executive exchange programs with the largest corporations and governmental and non-governmental agencies of the United States. Mr. Lukaj helped sponsor the Columbia University “Albanian Neighborhood” project which hosted a conference in Tirana and is hosting the leading minds in the region in Macedonia to assess and make recommendations on regional Albanian priorities and developing strategies to achieve such goals. He also led the Hands of Hope campaign which targeted multi-year fundraising initiatives which raised funds and collaborated with organizations such as Mercy Corps., Americares and many others to transform the standard of living for orphans and young people in the region. Mr. Lukaj also joined in founding the Foundation for Healthy Mothers and Children in Kosova in honor of his late daughter Adelina, which was later renamed Action for Mothers and Children, providing medical essential medical equipment and supplies to Kosova mothers and babies in crisis. Mr. Lukaj has also been a founder and/or supporter of APEN (Albanian Professional and Entrepreneurs Network), “Motrat Qiriazi”, the leading Albanian women’s organization, the Albanian American Cultural Foundation, the Albanian American National Organization and numerous other Albanian regional, religious, educational and cultural institutions.
In addition to his advocacy and philanthropic activities, Mr. Lukaj established the Lukaj Foundation and has been extremely active in promoting investment in the region and has led numerous business/investor delegations related to potential investments in the area. Mr. Lukaj has contributed to the development of investor conferences in the US and Europe related to potential investments in the Balkans, particularly focused on Albania, Kosova, Macedonia and Montenegro. Mr. Lukaj also led delegation visits by various congressional groups, OSCE observation teams, international election monitors, various ambassadors and orchestrated and participated in the visits of President William J. Clinton and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other such dignitaries to the region.
Mr. Lukaj has personally known and interacted with many of the pertinent leaders of Albania since the fall of Communism and is seen as a non-partisan activist for Albania and Albanian affairs. Similarly, Mr. Lukaj is well acquainted with the leadership in Kosova, Macedonia, Montenegro and more selectively within Greece, Serbia and Bosnia. Mr. Lukaj is also well known among the international entities that are engaged in the region, particularly the U.S. embassies in the region, UN, USAID, EBRD, the World Bank/IFC and NATO representatives in the area.
Mr. Lukaj has met with and/or maintains dialogues with the leading minds developing constitutional and corporate laws of the region encouraging and assisting them to bring them to international standards. In addition, Mr. Lukaj is well acquainted with the ministries of Finance and Economy in a number of these markets and has advised a number of companies who have explored potential transactions whereby Western corporations would seek to enter these markets via direct investment, acquisition, joint venture or privatization.
Mr. Lukaj is married to his wife, Viosa, from Korca and they have two daughters, Zana and Layla.
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Albanian Institute is a contemporary art and cultural institution supporting, producing, and presenting the full spectrum of performing arts, visual arts, and contemporary culture.