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 is the Head of Office of the IOM Mission in Albania, since 2014. With over 30 years of professional experience, she brings strong and dynamic leadership skills and strategic management experience. She has extensive experience and knowledge in migration issues and IOM policies, programmes and operations. Ms Jani joint IOM back in 2001 and has served with the organization in various capacities, including 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 leadership and management roles in other international organizations. From 1993-1999, she gained considerable experience in the public and private sector. In fulfilling 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 IOM Albania’s programs into the future. Alma’s 23 years of professional experience with IOM also includes short term assignments with IOM missions in Montenegro, Kosovo, Iraq, Cyprus, Libya, and Washington D.C. Her achievements are built on a broad professional and academic background which includes an Executive Master’s in Business Administration, Diploma in International Relations and Diplomacy, University Degree in Finance, and various professional trainings. During the period Sept 2020 – March 2021, Alma successfully completed the IOM-Harvard course on Strategic Thinking and Management. In her free time, Alma enjoys spending time with her family, she likes singing, swimming, interior design and she loves to travel and explore new places. Alma is dual citizen of Albania and the USA. She is married and has a son and a daughter.

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.
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.
Murat Sahin UNICEF Albania

Murat Sahin

Mr. Murat Sahin joined as UNICEF Representative in Albania on 3 January 2024. Mr. Sahin has been leading UNICEF’s humanitarian response and recovery work in Ukraine since 2021. Prior to that, Mr. Sahin has led UNICEF programmes as Head of office in Kosovo (2018-2021), Deputy Representative in DPR Korea (2016-2018). Mr. Sahin provided strategic direction in the planning, design, formulation and implementation of the Country Programme and its activities in line with national development priorities and the UN Development Assistance Framework.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Sahin served the organization as adviser and specialist responsible for the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Education programmes at UNICEF Headquarters in New York (2009-2016) and multiple duty stations including the DPRK (2005-2009), Tajikistan (2001-2005) and Turkey (1999-2001) and has been with the organization since 1999.

Mr. Sahin has post graduate degree in business research methods from Edinburg Business School, Master’s degree in Business administration from Bilgi University in Istanbul and civil engineering degree from Middle East Technical University in Ankara.

Mr. Sahin is a Turkish national. He is joined in Albania by his partner, Ms. Nilgun Sahin from Turkey.
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).