2017 ACE EVENING WITH NOMINEES

Check out moments from 2017 ACE Evening with the Nominees!

    2017 ACE  AWARDS NOMINEES

    A – D

    Hon. LAURA ALBANESE
    Minister of Citizenship & Immigration, MPP York South - Weston
    Laura Albanese was born in Taranto, Italy, and moved to Canada in 1981. She has lived in the York South-Weston community ever since. Prior to becoming an MPP, Laura enjoyed a career spanning more than two decades in broadcast journalism. She was best known as co-anchor of OMNI News: Italian Edition, a one-hour daily Italian-language newscast. Ms. Albanese was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2007 as the MPP for York South-Weston, and was re-elected in 2011 and 2014. Laura Albanese submitted Bill 145 to the assembly to recognize November as the Albanian Heritage Month, which she says “is an opportunity to remember, celebrate and educate future generations about Ontario’s rich history”.

    HON. LAURA ALBANESE – 2017 ACE CONTRIBUTION TO ALBANIAN COMMUNITY AWARD

    JULIA MUNRO
    MPP (YORK-SIMCOE) Progressive Conservative
    Julia Munro was born in Hamilton and raised in midtown Toronto. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto. During her first career (28 years) as a high school teacher, she taught thousands of students. Elected in 1995, she is the longest-serving woman MPP in Ontario history. During her time both in Government and in the Official Opposition, Julia has been outspoken against the government’s continued trend of attacking individual rights and freedoms. She served as parliamentary assistant to the premier and the ministers of transportation, culture and management board, and deputy speaker of the Legislature and a legislative committee chair. She has served as opposition critic in numerous roles since 2003. Last fall, on October 6th 2016, when Bill 145 was being debated in the parliament, she gave an impressive speech in support of the Albanian Heritage Month and the importance of the Albanians to Canada as well as their contributions to this country. Ms. Munro has been recognized by many organizations operating in Ontario including ACE Society.

    JULIA MUNRO – 2017 ACE CONTRIBUTION TO ALBANIAN COMMUNITY AWARD

    ADRIANA MEMA
    MSc. Civ.Eng., MScCM., P GSC., PQ Professor, Humber College: Civil Engineering Technology Program President of Adriatica Safety Consulting Inc.
    Adriana has led and monitored students’ research projects aiming towards current critical issues in the field of construction. She has redesigned the content of many courses, specifically Method of Construction within Civil Engineering & Infrastructure. She acted as Program Advisor for the Construction Degree and she was chair of the CIQS Humber Student Chapter. Through adequate teaching methodologies, Adriana has been able to successfully deliver a wide range of courses in Construction, Health and Safety, and Codes. In September 2014 she was nominated as one of the distinguished Women in Construction in Ontario. She has provided her expertise in the field of Construction in Canada and internationally through her research papers that have been published in highly recognized journals in Canada, USA and Dubai. Adriana will be representing Canada this year at the: International Conference on Engineering Education 4th International Conference on Sustainable Development in Dubai; and Congress of Health and Safety in Singapore.

    ADRIANA MEMA – 2017 ACE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    AGAKO NOUCH
    B.Commerce, C.A., MBA Vice-President of Sales for North America at Volvo Construction Equipment
    Agako was born in 1961 in a small Turkish town in northeast Greece. He moved to Canada at the age of 8 with his parents, two sisters and his grandmother. Agako speaks Albanian, Turkish and Greek and learned English as the fourth language. Through hard work and determination, he was able to attend school, and graduated from University. He holds a Commerce degree, a Chartered Accountant designation and an MBA from Ivey Business School at Western University. As Volvo’s Vice President of Sales, Agako is responsible for providing leadership and coordination of all commercial aspects of the North American sales function. In addition, he was responsible for developing and implementing the sale strategy as well as monitoring and analyzing sales activity towards annual goals and targets. Agako was involved with the Canadian Albanian Relief Efforts in the 90’s and early 2000’s as Treasurer and one of the founding Directors of the organization, along with a number of prominent Albanians. The mission of the organization was: To help with the relief efforts by collecting funds and goods, and transporting them to Albania. Oneof their prominent contributions as an organization was building a clinic in Kosovo. Agako also supported Toronto’s 2000 bid for the 2008 Olympics by sponsoring the Albanian Flag and having it fly proudly at City Hall.

    AGAKO NOUCH – 2017 ACE PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    SHOQATA E BASHKESISE SHQIPTARO-KANADEZE ALBANIAN-CANADIAN COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION
    Manager
    Përpjekjet për të krijuar Shoqatën Bashkësia ShqiptaroKanadeze (SHBSHK) me qendër në Toronto e kanë fillimin shumë kohë më përpara se sa të themelohej kjo shoqatë. 11 Gushti 1989 shënon ditën e krijimit paraprak të kësaj shoqate mbarëshqiptare. Kjo arritje e rëndësishme e komunitetit shqiptar ishte fryt i punës së palodhur dhe të lavdërueshme të grupit nismëtar, i cili me përpjekje të mëdha arriti të mbledhë tok shumë bashkatdhetarë për një qëllim fisnik. SHBSHK-ja u regjistrua tek autoritetet kanadeze si organizatë komunitare pa përfitim në datën 4 Nëntor 1990 me emrin Albanian Canadian Community Association of Toronto, që njihet edhe si data zyrtare e krijimit të saj. Kjo ditëlindje shihet qartë edhe në logon zyrtare të Shoqatës, të krijuar me mjeshtëri e plotkuptim qysh në atë kohë. Ajo simbolizon të gjithë shqiptarët e krejt provincave kanadeze të përfaqësuara secila nga një gjethe panje të bashkuar përreth shqipes dykrenare, mëmëdheut. Komuniteti shqiptaro kanadez falenderon përzemërsisht grupin nismëtar por edhe grupet e tjera drejtuese në vite për arritjen e këtij misioni kaq fisnik e patriotik në interes të të gjithë bashkëatdhetarëve me banim në Kanada. ACE recognizes the Albanian-Canadian Community Association work and contribution to proclaim the month of November as Albanian Heritage Month, in the Province of Ontario. Special thanks goes to Dr. Ruki Kondaj, the Honorary President and Ramazan Kellezi, the President of the Association for their tireless effort throughout the three year process. We can all imagine how invaluable this is for our community. It is a recognition of the meaningful contributions Albanian immigrants have made in building Ontario’s communities and the social, economic, political and cultural achievements of Albanian-Canadians throughout the province. Albanian Heritage Month is an opportunity to remember, celebrate and educate future generations about Ontario’s rich history. In recognizing the Albanian-Canadian Community Association, we show our appreciation for the work of many Albanian-Canadians who dedicated their time and effort to make this happen.

    ALBANIAN-CANADIAN COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION – 2017 ACE CONTRIBUTION TO COMMUNITY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    DR. ALBAN MEREPEZA
    B.A Honors, DC. MSc Owner of Port Hope Health Centre
    Dr. Alban Merepeza is a graduate of Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College where he finished with distinct clinical excellence. Prior to enrolling at CMCC for his Doctor of Chiropractic Degree, he obtained an Honours Degree in Psychology from Trent University that he also finished with high achievements. Upon graduation, Dr. Merepeza completed The International Chiropractic Sports Program and has since worked with athletes at the local, national and international levels. He is currently completing the Sport Residency Program with the Canadian Royal College of Chiropractic Sport Sciences. Dr. Merepeza strongly believes and practices evidence-based chiropractic care, and to achieve that, he is truly committed to a multi-disciplinary clinical setting, which fosters inter-professional collaboration. His focus is on biomechanical analysis of movement and function. He specializes in improving function and performance by correcting aberrant movements through manual therapy. This is also the basis that he uses to prevent functional pathologies. Dr Merepeza contributes to the community and is an honorary board member of the Albanian-Canadian Community Association.

    DR. ALBAN MEREPEZA – 2017 ACE PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    Albana Luca
    MBA., Bachelor of Commerce Chief Financial Officer of Synergy Protection Group
    A highly experienced Financial Controller who has demonstrated the ability to lead diverse teams of professionals to new levels of success in a variety of highly competitive industries, cutting edge markets and fast-paced environments. Albana holds a Commerce degree from Tirana University, an Accounting Diploma from Humber College and an MBA degree from University Canada West. Throughout her career, Albana has demonstrated an ability to successfully analyze an organization's critical business requirements, identify deficiencies and potential opportunities, and develop innovative and cost-effective solutions for enhancing competitiveness, increasing revenues, and improving customer service offerings. Albana has an extensive interest and involvement in philanthropic initiatives.

    Albana Luca – 2017 ACE PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    ANA GOLJA
    Actress, Singer, Producer
    Ana was born in Toronto on January 31st 1996. Ana began acting at the age of 9, and landed her first audition by playing Lucy in "1-800 Missing". From there, Ana went on to play a variety of roles in a number of film and television productions for various networks such as: "Flashpoint" (CBS), "Vacation with Derek" (Family Channel), "Connor Undercover" (Family Channel), "How to be Indie" (YTV), "Life with Boys"(Nickelode- on), "Little Mosque on the Prairie" (CBC), her first lead as "Laney" in "What's Up Warthogs!" (Family Channel and Disney XD), "Max and Shred"(Nickelodeon), and "An En Vogue Christ- mas"(Lifetime), just to name a few. Ana most recently starred in a feature film called "Full Out", an inspirational sports drama, that aired on NBC, Family Channel and is now on Netflix (worldwide). Ana's work in "Full Out" earned her a Canadian Screen Award nomination in 2016. Ana also stars as the fierce and trouble-causing diva, "Zoe Rivas" on the Emmy nominated drama, "Degrassi", airing on MTV Canada and TeenNick. Ana has had the privilege of performing on stage as well as in front of the camera, having worked with Walter Bobbie in "White Christmas" and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber in "The Sound Of Music" (original Mirvish Toronto cast) on some of the most prestigious stages. When Ana is not busy on set or performing on stage, she is working on writing and recording her own music. She does a lot of volunteer work with various charities, including Free The Children, speaking at numerous We Days across North America. She, and the rest of the "Degrassi" cast, travelled to Nicaragua and Ecuador, where they helped build schools and water filtration systems.

    ANA GOLJA – 2017 ACE YOUNG ARTIST ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    ARDIANA GOLJA
    RBC Branch Manager
    Ardiana is a trusted leader and business professional within the ranks of RBC management team. She focuses on branch management operations including: revenue generation, leading retention and growth of existing clients’ business, as well as acquisition and anchoring of new clients. She is a great advocate and champions digital enablement . Her leadership has earned her the Leadership Circle of Excellence for two years in a row. Ardiana volunteers her time by participating in the RBC Race for the Kids Toronto to support youth with mental health issues. She has also contributed and is proud supporter of United Way, Dorothy Lee Hospice fundraising, Etobicoke Hoof-A-Thon and Junior Achievement.

    ARDIANA GOLJA – 2017 ACE PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    ARLINDA ABAZI
    MBA, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University M.Sc., International Business, Norwegian Business School Bachelor in Marketing, University of Tirana
    Arlinda is an accomplished leader in Sales, Marketing and Business Development, both nationally and internationally. She is a driven professional, with a wide horizon of skills and talents. She has worked in a management and/or executive capacity for the multi-national corporations such as Danone, Essilor, L'Oreal and Aldo group. Although she works in Marketing and has progressed to some very important roles within global organizations, she is also an artist. Arlinda has played violin since she was a child, is passionate about poetry, and is a strong proponent of human rights.

    ARLINDA ABAZI – 2017 ACE PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    AUGUSTIN CIN SIMONI
    B.A Music (Violin) with Honors Solist,Teacher, Toronto Faculty of Music
    Augustin Simoni was born in Shkodra, Albania, well-known for its cultural traditions. He was first introduced to piano when he was 9 years old, began studying violin at 11, and received his first award when he was 14 at the National Festival of Young Artists. He completed his studies in Music in Athens, Greece. At the beginning of his career he worked as a violinist with the Albanian Philharmonic Orchestra. He was later appointed concertmaster at the Symphonic Orchestra of the Albanian Radio and Television (OSRTSH), where he performed as a soloist in violin and in many recitals accompanied with piano, a position which he held for several decades until 1990. Augustin has been awarded many titles throughout his career, including the Naim Frasheri award for violin solo performance. Augustin and his family moved to Canada in 1998 where he actively continues his music career. He has played with the Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra and in several chamber music concerts and piano recitals, as well as recorded two CDs with works for violin and piano of international composers and one CD with violin piano pieces of prominent Albanian composers. The latest CD titled “Albanian Composers” was included in the collection of CBC Radio Canada.

    Mr. Augustin has been interviewed by a number of Albanian TV channels and radio stations which aired special programming, and has been featured in more than 10 Albanian newspapers.

    AUGUSTIN CIN SIMONI – 2017 ACE ARTIST ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    BENOIT DORAIS
    BA. Philosophy & Ethics City Councilor, Borough Mayor of Le Sud-Ouest
    Benoit Dorais is a city councillor from Montreal, Quebec. He also reserved as the borough mayor of Le Sud-Ouest since 2009. Member of Vision Montreal and former member of Coalition Montreal from 2013-2016. Monsieur Dorais was born and raised in the Saint-Henri neighbourhood. Benoit is a graduate in Philosophy and Social Ethics. He is an advocate of Social Development and Cultural Diversity. The following quote underlies Benois’ contribution to the Albanian community in Montreal as he played a crucial role in the placement of Mother Theresa’s sculpture in bronze at Monk subway station as part of the 100th Anniversary of Albanian Independence. “This gesture touches us immensely and we would like to thank all members of the Albanian Community of Montreal for this gift. This statue is a true enrichment to the neighborhood. Mother Theresa was an example of kindness and altruism and we are very happy to have this statue among us” - pointing out Benoit Dorais’ contribution this initiative.

    BENOIT DORAIS – 2017 ACE CONTRIBUTION TO ALBANIAN COMMUNITY AWARD

    BUJAR LLAPAJ
    B.A. Symphonic Conducting ,Academy of Arts, Tirana University Diploma: Gold Medal, Symphonic Conducting, Conservatoire National du Rueil Malmaison, Paris Principal Conductor West Coast Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver, Canada since 2004
    A multi-award winning conductor, Bujar Llapaj is a prominent figure in the Balkan classical music scene. He received his formal training at the Academy of Arts in Tirana and the Conservatoire National de Rueil Malmaison in France. He was appointed as the Principal Conductor of the West Coast Symphony Orchestra in 2008. Bujar has conducted concerts throughout Europe and he still travels abroad as a guest conductor. Bujar is known for his dedication to the pursuit of excellence in music and music education. He acted as the artistic director of the Albanian National Theater of Opera and Ballet where he featured performances of music by famous composers like Mozart, Rossini, and Verdi, as well as hosted world premiers of works by upcoming Albanian composers. Bujar also founded the New Philharmonic Orchestra where he acted as both the artistic director and conductor. Before his moving to Canada, Bujar was the department chairman of conducting and singing at the Academy of Arts in Tirana, where he developed new programs in conducting and pedagogy. Bujar was the artistic director and main conductor for "Hymn to Mother Teresa" Concert in Rome, September 3, 2016, an event broadcasted live by Vatican TV and had more than 100 million viewers globally.

    BUJAR LLAPAJ – 2017 ACE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    DENISA MERTIRI
    Juris Doctor, Osgoode Hall Law School Master’s of Art (Women’s Studies) Honours Bachelor of Arts (Double Major: Psychology & Women’s Studies, Minor: Philosophy) Juris Doctor, Lawyer at Thornton Grout Finnigan LLP
    Denisa is a junior lawyer practicing in the areas of commercial and corporate litigation. Denisa obtained her J.D. from Osgoode Hall Law School where she received the Charles Edward Woodrow Award for academic achievement. She then practiced at various firms, both national and international in prominence, in the areas of commercial and securities litigation prior to landing at the litigation and restructuring powerhouse, Thornton Grout Finnigan LLP. In law school, Denisa also practiced criminal law for a year under the supervision of practitioners. In addition to her work at TGF, Denisa is a passionate member of the legal profession. Denisa is a member of the teaching team at the Lawyer as Negotiator seminar at Osgoode Hall Law School where she teaches and coaches law students in negotiation. She has also written various articles that have been published in Lexpert, the Canadian Class Action Review, the Corporate Litigation Journal, and Keeping Tabs (the Young Advocates' Newsletter). In the Fall of 2016, Denisa was the recipient of the Participation Award from the Young Advocates' Standing Committee of the Toronto Advocates' Society. Denisa regularly volunteers for Pro Bono Law Ontario and is also a member of the Advocates’ Society, the Canadian Bar Association and the Ontario Bar Association.

    DENISA MERTIRI – ACE YOUNG PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    DHURATA IKONOMI
    Master of Public Administration, University of Kansas BA in English Language and Literature, University of Tirana Executive Director at the Community of Federal Regulators, Assistant Deputy Minister’s Office, Health Canada
    Dhurata is currently Acting Executive Director of the Community of Federal Regulators – a partnership of 27 regulatory departments promoting horizontal peer-to-peer collaboration, innovation and capacity building. She is also a board member of the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) Canada. Prior to joining the CFR, Dhurata led stakeholder engagement teams at the Office of Consumer & Public Involvement and the Natural Health Products Directorate at Health Canada. In Albania, she worked for international development organizations such as the United Nations and the US Agency for International Development on projects promoting good governance and gender equity. Dhurata holds a Masters in Public Administration from University of Kansas and she is a trained IAP2 (International Association for Public Participation) Practitioner.

    DHURATA IKONOMI – 2017 ACE PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    DRITAN TOPUZI
    B.Sc (Civil Engineering) Masters in Civil Engineering from Norwich University PhD in Structural Engineering (University of Waterloo) Lead Structural Engineer of Delta Innovating
    Dritan holds a Bachelor of Science Civil Engineering Degree from University of Toronto. Upon his graduation, He worked in numerous projects where he demonstrated his exceptional leadership and professional skills. His extensive knowledge in construction and design were used to monitor the project for the Mother Teresa Internal Airport in Albania. He settled in Canada where he received the title of Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) with a Certificate of Authorization (C.A) accredited only to members with full technical knowledge and who practice their profession following established parameters. Dritan has also worked as a Teacher’s Assistant of a few Civil Engineering courses. His research work has been published in Canada and USA, are a clear indicator of his hard work and passion.

    DRITAN TOPUZI – 2017 ACE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    E – Z

    ELFRIDA KORINI
    Everest College for Massage Therapy, Certificate in Contemporary Medical Acupuncture from McMaster University, Diploma in Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, College of Massage Therapy of Ontario (CMT) and Registered Massage Therapist Association of Ontario (RMT) Owner of Korini Clinic
    Elfrida Korini is a Registered Massage Therapist with over 10 years of experience, providing excellence treatment and outstanding patient care. A former registered nurse in Albania and Greece, she continued her journey as a Massage Therapist in Canada. She graduated from Everest College for Massage Therapy. Shortly after her graduation from Everest College, Elfrida has worked in many clinic settings. She obtained a Certificate in Contemporary Medical Acupuncture from McMaster University and is currently pursuing a Diploma in Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture. Her perseverance, hard-work and passion towards the well-being of others led her to open her first practice called Korini Clinic. Elfrida is an active member of the Albanian-Canadian Women’s Association who shows an immense desire to help others in the community. She has been invited by various organizations to share her knowledge and experience in her field of study. Most recently, Elfrida was a panel speaker in the war against depression. Elfrida is a registered member of College of Massage Therapy of Ontario (CMT) and Registered Massage Therapist Association of Ontario (RMT).

    ELFRIDA KORINI – 2017 ACE ENTREPRENEURSHIP ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    ERIC MARGOLIS
    Journalist and Writer
    Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other news sites in Asia. He is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Lew Rockwell. He appears as an expert on foreign affairs on CNN, BBC, France 2, France 24, Fox News, CTV and CBC. His internet column www.ericmargolis.com reaches global readers on a daily basis. As a war correspondent Margolis has covered conflicts in Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Sinai, Afghanistan, Kashmir, India, Pakistan, El Salvador and Nicaragua. He was among the first journalists to ever interview Libya’s Muammar Khadaffi and was among the first to be allowed access to KGB headquarters in Moscow. A veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. A native New Yorker, he maintains residences in Toronto and New York, with frequent visits to Paris.

    ERIC MARGOLIS – 2017 ACE PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISM ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    ESTREF RESULI
    Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE)., Seneca College in Immigration and Practitioner Program., Network Administrator and Security Professional Senior IT Professional, Fairleigh Dickinson University
    Estref Resuli graduated from University of Tirana in Electrical Engineering. He worked in energy sector covering the Albanian Southern Region and grew to become the Head of Transmission & Distribution Department of Bistrica Hydropower Station in Sarande. Estref moved to Vancouver BC in 1999. He graduated from Seneca College in Immigration and Practitioner Program as well as Network Administrator and Security Professional. Since 2011 he works as a Senior IT Professional at Fairleigh Dickinson University. On September 2006, he established the Incorporated Eagles Land Albanian Society of BC and became its first elected Chair, a position he held for two terms until 2013. He later served as Vice-Chair was appointed Treasurer on the Board of Directors. For the past 11 years, he has played an important role to bring Albanians together in social and cultural events such as: Established an Albanian school (25 students) under Heritage Language Partnership in Burnaby. West Coast Symphony Orchestra concert in collaboration with Vancouver Catholic Cathedral. Albanian Day in Whistler for 2010 Winter Olympics, a reception for Albanian Olympic Delegation in Vancouver Olympics 2010.

    ESTREF RESULI – 2017 ACE CONTRIBUTION TO COMMUNITY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    GENTI BEJKO
    Member of The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) Albanian-Canadian Actor, Director, Writer Top Media, TV Klan & Portokalli
    Genti Bejko, is an Albanian-Canadian actor, director and writer born in Fier, Albania. After 15 years of professional experience in theater, television and Albanian cinematography and having worked in the Albanian National Broadcasting and recognized televisions such as Top Media, TV Klan and Portokalli, he decided to move to Montreal, QC, Canada. An excellent artist with a profound love for TV and Cinematography, he very quickly became an important artist in the Montrealaise artistic Community. He has participated in 2 consecutive Fringe Theatre festivals, acted in several TV and film productions co-starring with famous Canadian comedians. Genti has recently been accepted as a member of The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA). He has more than 12 years in Television Comedy shows, 16 Theater Productions, 2 Serial Sitcoms, 1 Feature and 5 short Movies. Genti also plays a very important role in the Albanian Community of Quebec in Montreal as a Secretary General. One of his latest projects is the implementation of a new platform in the Albanian School Mother Teresa.

    GENTI BEJKO – 2017 ACE YOUNG ARTIST ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    GERTI DERVISHI
    Business Degree (Seneca College) BSc, Electrical, Electronics & Communications Engineering (University of Ottawa) Master’s Degree in IB at (Ryerson University), Master’s Degree in Finance (Harvard) Vice President of Operations and Finance at Flybits Inc.
    Gerti Dervishi was born in Tirana and moved to Canada in 1999. After graduating with a diploma in Business from Seneca College, he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Electrical, Electronics & Communications Engineering at the University of Ottawa. He later earned his Master’s Degree in International Business at Ryerson University and recently graduated from Harvard University with a Master’s Degree in Finance. At the age of 30 he ran for Member of Parliament for the New Democratic Party for the Eglinton-Lawrence area given that his family first settled there when they immigrated to Canada. Gerti has a wide range of experiences in the public and private sectors from managing a business transformation process with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Ontario Government to launching start-up businesses. Gerti is currently VP of Operations and Finance at Flybits Inc. Flybits is the first context-as-a-service platform, packaging service offerings to customers to deliver innovative cutting edge contextual/personalized mobile solutions catering to customers across the globe.

    GERTI DERVISHI – 2017 ACE YOUNG ENTREPRENEURSHIP AWARD

    GJERGJI HASA
    Attorney, Lawyer and Partner, Ferdoussi Hasa Attorneys (Montreal, Quebec)
    Gjergji is the first Albanian to graduate from McGill University Law School. He is a member of the Quebec Bar Association, and since September 2014, is a Lawyer and Partner with Ferdoussi Hasa Attorneys in Montreal, Quebec. He holds an honors degree in Political Science from Concordia University, a Bachelors of Common Law and Civil Law from McGill. Gjergji Hasa is an advocate and litigator who has successfully defended clients before the Immigration and Refugee Board, Federal Court of Canada, Court of Quebéc and Superior Court across Quebec, and Quebec Court of Appeal. He is member of various professional organizations such as the Quebec Immigration Lawyers Association (AQAADI) and Montreal Young Chamber of Commerce, and is an active member of the Albanian Cultural Association of Montreal. Gjergji is also a recipient of a number of scholarships and awards including Dean’s List, Concordia University Millennium Excellence Award by Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, Law Prize Winners Bursary by the McCall Macbain Scholarship Foundation, and Alexandra Dodger Award for Commitment and Leadership in the Fields of Law and Social Justice.

    GJERGJI HASA – 2017 ACE YOUNG PROFESSIONAL AWARD

    IGLI PANARITI
    Co-founder of the Canadian Sport Business Network Co-Organizer for Starters TO - Toronto’s Sports Tech Meet-up
    Igli Panariti is a very driven, accounting and entrepreneurship graduate with a zest for education, social innovation and sports. Igli holds a Commerce degree in Accounting and Business Management from Ryerson University and has extensive training in digital and marketing. He is the co-founder of the Canadian Sport Business Network with a community reach of 1500+ students and young professionals from various sport management programs and student associations from across Canada; the Co-Organizer for Starters TO - Toronto’s only Sports Tech Meet-up (800+ members) focused on showcasing up-and-coming sports technology startups in Toronto; a founding member of Sport Innovation Hub at Ryerson University. Igli is an avid volunteer with Right To Play Ryerson which helped set a Guinness World Record for organizing the largest exhibition street hockey game (103 participants).

    IGLI PANARITI – 2017 ACE YOUNG ENTREPRENEURSHIP AWARD

    ILDA FIDA
    Network Ambassador Team Lead for United Way Gennext Lead of Mentorship Program for ACE
    Ilda has been an active volunteer since the age of 14, and over the years has held more than 20 volunteer positions at Red Cross, Regional Chamber of Commerce, DayCares and Senior Centers and more recently, ACE Society. She contributes her time, energy and skill set to non-profit organizations, individuals and friends in need and always inspired others to follow her lead. Ilda was introduced to the work of United Way when she was assigned to chair the GenNext committee for CIBC. Since then, she has actively supported United Way by taking on various volunteer and leadership roles and help raise $1.1 million towards the United Way overall goal in 2014. She is truly seen as a model of inspiration for the younger generation of Albanian Canadians. She is motivated by a strong commitment to service, and as an active member of ACE since its creation, Ilda has volunteered her time to lead the ACE Mentorship Program, a new program for students of Toronto Universities with a goal of facilitating mentorship program.

    ILDA FIDA – 2017 ACE CONTRIBUTION TO COMMUNITY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    IRSIDA SHESHI
    Public Administration, Humber College BA in Economics and Geography, McMaster University College Diploma in Arts & Science, Humber College Policy Advisor, Toronto Youth Cabinet
    Irsida recently completed her graduate studies in Public Administration and currently works as a policy advisor at the Toronto Youth Cabinet, the city’s official youth advocacy group. She is a long-standing member and volunteer of Live Green, Toronto’s original environmental initiative in the city. Irsida is a member of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC), Project Management Institute (PMI), and Urban Land Institute (ULI). She volunteers her time to different causes and cares deeply about the environment, human rights, animal protection, poverty alleviation, and the arts. For the past five years, Irsida has been involved heavily in the social innovation community in Toronto, which prompted her to start her own non-profit, Get Conscious, in helping youth become more involved in environmental issues. She has recently joined the Center for Social Innovation as a member whereby Get Conscious can officially begin changing the lives of youth in the city. Irsida has worked with various organizations in the city over the years, such as Nature Conservancy of Canada, TTCRiders, Homeless Connect, Green Living Show, Golden Future Albania, Maker Festival Toronto, IPAC and Jane’s Walk; where she brought on three Albanian cities to join the last year’s festival.

    IRSIDA SHESHI – 2017 ACE CONTRIBUTION TO COMMUNITY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    DR. LORINA NACI
    Ph.D. Cooke Scholar from the University of Cambridge (UK) Post-Doctoral Fellow, Western University Assistant Professor, Trinity College Dublin
    During her Ph.D., Lorina took on a number of leadership roles. Most notably, she founded and ran the Psychology Postgraduates Society, and had great success in the roles of Managing Editor and Editor­-in-­Chief of the BlueSci Science Magazine, where she led a team of 20 editors to the successful production of the highly popular magazine, with 5000 copies in print. After her Ph.D., Dr. Naci was soon recruited by Western University to join the Brain and Mind Institute (BMI) in London Ontario, in 2011. Dr. Naci’s work has been published in high impact scientific, medical and medical ethics journals, and covered widely in the international media. For her exceptional leadership and scientific achievements, she has received numerous awards. In 2015, Dr. Naci received the Distinguished Person of the Year award, from the Albanian Diaspora of Canada. In 2016, she was named the Postdoctoral Scholar of the Year at Western University. In the same year, Dr. Naci was recognized as one of only two scientists in Canada to receive the L’Oréal­ UNESCO For Women In Science Research Excellence Fellowship, from the L’Oréal and UNESCO Canada organizations. In 2017, Dr. Naci will receive the International Rising Talents Award from the L’Oréal and UNESCO International organizations in Paris, France (one of 15 recipients from 250 candidates worldwide).

    LORINA NACI – 2017 ACE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    NEVILA ALITE
    Fellow, Life Management; Associate, Reinsurance Administration; Associate, Customer Service
    Nevila Alite is a business professional with extensive experience in the financial mortgage investment industry with companies like Manulife Financial. She is a third place winner of Manulife’s Hackathon Innovation competition. Out of 150 employees from all over Asia, Boston and Toronto, Nevila’s team ideas were selected as one of the three best. The newly invented product was proposed to Manulife’s CEO as a future potential product. Nevila is a humble human being who likes to touch others lives. She has been a contributor for the RH Scholarship events in support to Albanian students in Toronto. Since 2007, she participates in the Christmas Choir at St. Paul’s Anglican Church organized by Manulife Financial. She has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, The Yonge Street Mission supporting street involved youth, lonely seniors, families of recent immigrants, support to homeless people through ‘Out of the cold’ program organized from All Saints Kingsway church.

    NEVILA ALITE – 2017 ACE CONTRIBUTION TO COMMUNITY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    OLTON HYSENBEGAS
    MBA, PMP, ITIL Director, Strategy & Transformation Services at RBC
    A strategic leader with over 20 years of experience providing guidance and development, Olton focuses on people development while delivering strategic & transformational initiatives across enterprise. He has created an excellent track record leading large, complex projects. Currently as the Director in Enterprise Services, Olton is a key contributor to pushing RBC’s culture towards “a new way of thinking”. Olton was raised and completed his university studies in Tirana, Albania. He received a Master of Science in Electronic Engineering (telecommunication) from the Polytechnic University of Tirana, Albania in 1995 and a MBA from Richard Ivey School of Business from University of Western Ontario in 2013. Olton, also holds a PMP certification from Project Management Institute, and ITIL certification from APM Group Limited. Olton also holds many professional certifications/accreditations such as: Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer from Ryerson University, RBC Negotiation and Conflict Management for Project and Program Mgmt., RBC Management Excellence Program, RBC Certified Agile Practitioner, etc. Olton is a volunteer for RBC’s Race for the Kids, benefiting youth with mental health issues through Sunnybrook's Family Navigation Project.

    OLTON HYSENBEGAS – 2017 ACE PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    PETRO DHIMITRI
    BA in Language & Literature, University of Tirana
    A successful journalist who dedicated time and talent to his country Albania, Petri Dhimitri is an author of a few books. He completed his studies at the University of Tirana in 1962 at the Faculty of Albanian Language and Literature. A very active member against the communist regime of the time, Petro migrated to Canada in 2002 with his family. He has been a recipient of the Honorable Award for the Landscape from Don Valley Art Club in 2016, The MacMurdoch Award Excellence from Don Valley Art Club in 2014; Two Honorable Awards for portraits from Don Valley Art Shows 2005-2008, Solo Art Show in Tirana (Albania) 1985; Participant in some National and local Art Shows in Tirana (Albania).

    PETRO DHIMITRI – 2017 ACE ARTIST ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    REMKA HURUGLICA
    Degree in Literature, University of Pristina Director and Producer of Radio e Diela President of the Albanian-Canadian Women’s Association
    Remka Huruglica finished her studies at the University of Pristina in 1984. She worked as the Director and Producer of Radio e Diela and has been the president of the Albanian-Canadian Women’s Association. Another award recipient for many causes, Remka is a very vivid volunteer in her community. Her initiatives have demonstrated lasting results and impacted many people. She has organized numerous fundraising activities has been recognized for her significant contributions including: Honorary Award from Albanian Business Canada, 2015 Honorary Award from Mother Teresa Albanian School (Montreal), 2015 Honorary Award of Elite of Albanian Woman in the World, 2016 Honorary Award of Hope & Peace, 2016 CHIN TV INTERNACIONAL Award, 2016

    REMKA HURUGLICA – 2017 ACE CONTRIBUTION TO COMMUNITY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    TATIANA DACI
    BA in Education, University of Tirana Co-founder of the Albanian-Canadian Women’s Association Executive Director: Health for All Centre
    Tatiana is a passionate and devoted job developer that has the clients' interests at heart. An energetic, self-motivated and hard working settlement counselor with experience in all aspects of immigration services. Tatiana has extensive management experience in non-profit sector for international projects, focussing on community development project design, fundraising, volunteer implementation, monitoring and evaluation. She is a highly experience developer at the PTP Adult Learning and Employment Programs, gaining internal experience as a teacher, interpreter and a translator. She is also one of the founders of the Albanian-Canadian Women Association. Her contribution to the Albanian community is profound as she has welcomed many newcomers and have given them assistance into adjusting to a new life in a new country.

    TATIANA DACI – 2017 ACE CONTRIBUTION TO COMMUNITY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

    VERA N. HELD
    President of Toronto consulting firm VNH Communications. Vera holds a Bachelor's Degree in English, Certificates in Public Relations and TESL, and a Master's Degree in Education.
    A communicator, educator, and child of a Holocaust Survivor, in 2010, Vera researched Jewish life in occupied Albania during WWII. Her trip culminated in a 2-hour multimedia presentation entitled "Besa: The Albanian Rescue of Jews." She presented with an all-Albanian team to a 400- strong audience at Holocaust Education Week 2010. Vera handled media relations, and was the overall project coordinator, emcee and lead speaker. She compared and contrasted the preservation of all Jewish life in Albania to the near complete decimation of Jewry in neighbouring Greece. This 10-month project garnered local, provincial, national and international media support and exposure. Vera would like to acknowledge her invaluable project partners Saimir Lolja and Ilir Lena, and her sponsors and supporters in Toronto and Albania. Albania is represented at “Righteous Among the Nations” at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel www.yadvashem.org . Albanians recognized as "Righteous" for having taken risks to save Jews during WWII receive a certificate of honour and a medal, and their names are commemorated in the “Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations” on the Mount of Remembrance at Yad Vashem. Albania is the only country in the world to have had more Jews post WWII (4000) than prior to it (300). Albania and Israel have forged strong ties and their relationship continues to flourish today. Vera would like to pay tribute to righteous Albania, and its noble, brave and generous citizens. Shalom.

    VERA N. HELD – 2017 ACE CONTRIBUTION TO ALBANIAN COMMUNITY AWARD

    2017 ACE Awards Nominees, Ana and Gjergji, share a message about being nominated