Our Team in Albania

Fiona McCluney_web

Fiona McCluney

Resident Coordinator
Fiona McCluney is the UN Resident Coordinator in Albania. Ms. McCluney brings over 30 years of experience in development practicioner and urban planner, including 12 years of service to the UN system. From 2015 until recently she served as United Nations Resident Coordinator in Montenegro, concurrently working as UNDP Resident Representative until the end of 2018. Prior to her appointment in Montenegro, Ms McCluney worked with UN-Habitat as Chief Technical Adviser and Head of their Country Office in Palestine (2012-2015), and in Iraq (2011-2012). From 2008 to 2011, she served with UN-Habitat in Iraq as Head of Urban Governance, Land and Housing. Before joining the UN, Fiona was Principal Consultant for employee-owned GHK Consulting Ltd, UK (now ICF International Ltd) where she undertook assignments for central and local government in UK (Cabinet Office, DEFRA, DFID), held long term positions on DFID funded urban and environmental programmes in India (Andhra Pradesh, Kolkata) and on the design of urban loans for ADB and World Bank (Pakistan, China). Fiona has held planning policy positions in local government (Southampton City Council, London Borough of Lewisham), for the Hong Kong government (Territorial Planning Dept) and in small island development (Anguilla, St Helena). She holds an MPhil in Urban Design and Regional Planning from the University of Edinburgh.

Alma Jani

Head of Office
Alma JANI joined the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in 2001. Ms. Jani has been the Head of Office for IOM Albania since 2012, Resource Management Officer during 2005 - 2020 and Chief Accountant from 2001 to 2005. Prior to joining IOM, during 1999-2001, Ms. Jani has served in international organizations in leadership and management roles. From 1993-1999, she acquired substantial experience in the public and private sector. In performing her role, she builds upon a combination of international experience and knowledge of Albania, which has played a vital role in development and growth of the mission and in leading of IOM Albania’s programs into the future. Alma’s 20 years of professional experience with the IOM also include work with missions in Montenegro, Kosovo, Iraq, Cyprus, Libya, and Washington D.C. Her achievements are built upon an extensive professional and academic background which includes an Executive Master’s in Business Administration, University Degree in Finance, diploma in International Relations and Diplomacy and various professional trainings. Most recently (Sept 2020 – March 2021), Alma successfully completed the IOM-Harvard Strategic Thinking and Management course. Alma is dual citizen of Albania and the USA. She is married and is the mother of a son and a daughter.

Ana Luiza M. Thompson-Flores

Director, Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe
Ms. Massot Thompson-Flores has 30 years of progressively responsible professional experience within the UN Common System. In 1987, she began her career in the Human Resources Department of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and joined the World Food Programme (WFP) in 1995. In 2004, she was seconded to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in New York, as Chief of the Human Resources Policy Unit, returning to the WFP in 2005. In 2008, she joined UNESCO as Deputy Director of the Bureau of Human Resources Management and in 2011 she was promoted to the post of Director. She held the post of Assistant Director-General for Strategic Planning in 2015 prior to joining this regional bureau.

Geraldine McWeeney

Representative to Albania
Prior to joining the WHO Office in Albania, Ms McWeeney was the WHO Senior Advisor at WHO Office to the EU, based in Brussels. She has studied at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London and Cork University, Ireland and has 25 years of experience in international health in both development and emergency settings. She has worked in numerous countries in South East Europe, Central Asia and Africa in the capacities of acting head of WHO offices, programme manager and technical officer. She has developed, managed, and coordinated many initiatives including programmes on health systems strengthening for universal health care, primary health care, health information systems, health workforce development, non-communicable disease, health and environment, health promotion, vulnerable and minority health, community participation and emergency response and preparedness. In addition, she has worked on global and regional health agendas and strategic relations with countries and donors. She has extensive experience on the EU from a health in all policies political, strategic, and financial perspective.

Jasek Cukrowski

Chief, Europe and Central Asia Division
Prior to joining the Regional Coordination Division for Europe and Central Asia in UNIDO’s Headquaters, Jacek Cukrowski was a head of the UNIDO Institute for Capacity Development. Previously, he worked for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the capacity of an Adviser on Millennium Development Goals and a Head of the Regional Center for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Earlier he worked in the Center for Social and Economic Research (CASE) in Poland and with the Economic Institute of Academy of Science of the Czech Republic. The academic background of Jacek Cukrowski includes MSc in system engineering, PhD in computer science, PhD and habilitation (senior post-doctoral qualification) in economics.
Ms. Lorena Pullumbi, Assistant FAO Representative in Albania

Lorena Pullumbi

Assistant FAO Representative in Albania
Lorena is an accomplished professional with extensive government and UN experience in Albania. She held various positions, including as Chief of Staff of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Albania where she collaborated closely with relevant government agencies, organizations, research institutions, and the private sector.
Lorena holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Bologna in Italy. She is a native Albanian and speaks fluently English, Italian, as well as knows French.

Manuela Bello

Head of Office
Manuela Bello, UNFPA Albania Head of Office started her work with UNFPA in March 1994 as Deputy Director of UNFPA Maternal and Child Health Programme and in 1997 she became National Programme Officer of UNFPA Country Programme. Manuela holds a bachelor degree in General Medicine from the Tirana Faculty of Medicine, a diploma on Intensive Care and Anaesthesiologist and a Master Degree on Gender and Development from Tirana Faculty of Social Sciences. Working for more than 20 years with UNFPA, Manuela brings high professionalism, commitment and dedication to UNFPA programmes and has proven to be a good manager of the UNFPA CO office, by acting for more than 15 years as Assistant Representative and member of the UN Country Team in Albania.

Michele Ribotta

UN Women
Representative and Chair of UN Albania Gender Group
Mr. Ribotta joined UN Women Albania in September 2019. Prior to this assignment, he was adviser to the Director of the UN System Coordination Division in New York. In his capacity, he has driven UN Women’s efforts to mainstream gender in the work of the UN Development System at global, regional and country levels. Before joining UN Women, Mr. Ribotta led the UN Coherence learning team at the UN System Staff College, providing training and facilitation services to UN Country Teams on leadership and strategic planning. Prior to that, he served with UNDP Egypt as Head of the UN Resident Coordinator Office. Mr. Ribotta has a master’s degree in law obtained at the University of Rome, La Sapienza.

Monica Merino Dominguez

Resident Representative
Monica Merino has been appointed as Resident Representative of UNDP for the Republic of Albania. Prior to this appointment, Ms. Merino was UNDP’s Deputy Resident Representative in El Salvador from 2017 to 2021. She also served as Special Advisor in the Regional Hub Panama (2016-2017), as Deputy Resident Representative and Resident Representative ad interim in UNDP Nicaragua (2014-2016), and as Deputy Resident Representative successively in UNDP Ecuador (2011-2014), UNDP Argentina (2008-2011), and UNDP Mozambique (2006-2007). She started her career as Assistant Resident Representative in UNDP Honduras (1999-2006). Ms. Merino holds a Master´s degree in International Economics and Finance from Brandeis University, USA. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Universidad Nacional de Honduras. She speaks Spanish and English.

Roberto De Bernardi

Dr. Roberto De Bernardi, of Italian citizenship, arrived in Albania in April 2018 to take up his functions as UNICEF Albania Representative. He has worked for UNICEF in various countries and functions during the last 30 years. Dr. De Bernardi is an MD, graduated from the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Genova, Italy. He subsequently obtained a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. After working for an NGO in rural Kenya for some two and a half years, at the end of 1988 he joined UNICEF as a JPO in Angola. He then worked in Sao Tome e Principe, Burundi, Cameroon, Somalia, Sudan and Mozambique, occupying positions in the areas of health and nutrition, programme, and deputy representation. Before moving to Albania, he was UNICEF Representative in Colombia for four and a half years. In addition to his mother tongue (Italian), he speaks English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Ki-Swahili. He is married and has two sons. He is also a great fan of his hometown soccer team, Sampdoria.
Sabine Kania

Sabine Kania

Country Manager
Sabine has worked for the United Nations since 2004. In 2008 she joined the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
She worked across several duty stations in different continents like Africa, Asia in countries like Chad, Sao Tome e Principe, Kenya, Somalia, Myanmar, and more recently in Europe, at the UNOPS HQ in Copenhagen, holding several senior leadership roles.
Prior to this assignment, she held the position of the Integrated Practice and Advisory Support (IPAS) Manager, leading a multidisciplinary team of over 80 professionals based in the UNOPS HQ in Copenhagen.
Sabine is a Swiss national, with a Master Degree in Social Anthropology and International Politics from the University of Zurich.
She speaks fluent English, German and French. She is married and the mother of a son and a daughter. In her free time Sabine likes music, hiking and running and exploring new places.

Toshitsuki Kawauchi

Toshitsuki Kawauchi is the UNHCR Representative in Albania, bringing over 25 years of expertise in protecting and assisting refugees, forcibly displaced persons, and stateless persons. Throughout his career, Mr. Kawauchi has held various leadership positions at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, including serving as Senior Protection Officer in Tokyo, Japan (2017-2022), Head of Sub-Office in Mashhad, Iran (2014-2017), and Senior Field Coordinator in Bunj, South Sudan (2013). Prior to these roles, he led UNHCR offices in Bulgaria (Representative a.i.), Timor-Leste, and Cambodia, and specialized in refugee protection and assistance in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Afghanistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. In these roles, he worked closely with individual refugees and engaged in policy discussions, while also coordinating with various stakeholders to find solutions for refugees and others. He holds a B.A. in Public Law from the University of Tokyo, a postgraduate diploma in International Relations, and an M.A. in Peace Studies from Lancaster University. Mr. Kawauchi is married and has a daughter and a son.

Zhulieta Harasani

National Coordinator for Albania
With over 25 years of experience managing development programs, Mrs. Zhulieta Harasani is the National Coordinator of the International Labor Organization (ILO) to Albania since 2016. Prior to joining the ILO, Zhulieta served as the UNESCO National Professional Officer in Albania and Director General of Strategic Planning of National Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture of Albania. Earlier in her career she was Co-director of the Education Division at the Albanian Education Development Mega Program (AEDP) and Inspector of the Department of High Education at the Ministry of Education and Science of Albania. She started her career as a university professor at the Agricultural University in Tirana in 1992-1993 and then at the Polytechnic University of Tirana (TU) from 2003-2008. She holds a master’s in business administration (MBA) from Nebraska University (USA) and Tirana University Faculties of Economics (2001) and completed an MA in Education Sciences from Tirana University (2003). She also studied education and law at Tirana University (2000).