Frequently Asked Questions

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The following Q & A is designed to provide general information about the program. Answers may vary depending on specific circumstances.

General Information

1. What is the LEAD Albania Program?2. What is the mission of the program?3. What type of individual is the program seeking to find?4. What is the Selection Commission on LEAD Albania Program?5. What is the program schedule and selection timeline?6. What is expected of a Fellow during the program year? 

Application and Eligibility

7. How do I apply?8. What are the eligibility requirements?9. Can I be a Fellow if I have dual citizenship?10. Are there age restrictions?11. Does a candidate need to be of the same political party as the governing majority?12. What is the best approach for handling recommendation letters?13. If selected, can I continue to participate in organizations in which I currently serve - such as corporate and government boards, or on local councils?14. Are applicants required to submit financial disclosures if selected? What happens if there is a conflict of interest with my investments and my assignment?15. Are applicants required to undergo a security and background investigation? 

Selection

16. How is a class of Fellows selected?17. What is the best approach to prepare for interviews?18. What is required of first round selected candidates?19. What is required of second round selected candidates? 

Interviews with the host institutions and placement

20. How are the interviews with the host institutions conducted the and how is placement determined?21. Can a Fellow remain in their placement after the Fellowship year? 

Education component

22. What is the Education component? 

Administration

23. Are Fellows provided with compensation and benefits - such as salary and health insurance - during the program year?24. Does the Fellowship provide housing during the Fellowship year?25. Can Fellows receive outside income from other sources - private or public - during the program year?26. How are special needs - such as disabilities - for Fellows handled?27. How are previously scheduled commitments - such as a vacation - handled during the Fellowship year?28. Where can I direct additional questions?

General Information

1. What is the LEAD Albania Program? 

The LEAD Albania Program (Leadership Experience And Development) is an initiative of the Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF) for leadership development. The concept of the program is derived from the White House Fellows Program in the United States. Its purpose is to provide gifted young Albanian professionals with first-hand experience in the process of governing Albania and a sense of personal involvement in the leadership of society through a one-year Fellowship placement attached to a top-ranking government position.
Fellows also participate in an Education Program where they will meet with a series of individuals including the Prime Minister, Ministers, Constitutional Court Justices, Advisers and other senior central government officials, Members of Parliament, military leaders, journalists, historians, business executives, leaders from non-government organizations, and foreign heads of state or diplomats as opportunities arise. There will also be a series of seminars on European integration, public policy, decision making, foreign policy, security policy, leadership, soft skills, etc.

2. What is the mission of the program?

Its purpose is to provide gifted young Albanian professionals with first-hand experience in the process of governing Albania and a sense of personal involvement in the leadership of society.

3. What type of individual is the program seeking to find?

The LEAD Albania program management and the selection commission is looking for individuals who are most likely to fullfill the mission of the program. The following criteria are considered when selecting the Fellows:

  • A record of remarkable professional achievement early in one's career.
  • Evidence of leadership skills and the potential for further growth.
  • A demonstrated commitment to public service.
  • The skills to succeed at the highest levels of the government, and the ability to work effectively as part of a team.

Other qualities include:

  • Exceptional writing ability
  • Foreign language skills 
  • Positive attitude
  • Strong management skills
  • Very good interpersonal skills 
  • Level of expertise in the proposed focus area.

These qualities combined with the strength of one's character are taken into consideration when selecting a class for the Program.

4. What is the Selection Commission on LEAD Albania Program?

The Selection Commission on the LEAD Albania Program is composed of two AADF representatives and three outstanding citizens who represent a different range of backgrounds, interests, and professions. The Commission interviews selected candidates from the first round and then recommends those individuals it finds most qualified to host institutions for appointment as Fellows.

5. What is the program schedule and selection timeline?

Interested candidates can apply online at the application section on our website. All applications must be submitted with supporting documents by March 15. (see application section for more details).

Calendar and Procedures

March/April
First round selection

Applicants are notified in March/April if they have been selected for first round interviews. If selected, they will receive a notification explaining the time and location for interviews.

May
First round interviews

First round interviews will be conducted by an AADF panel. The candidates selected to continue after the first round interviews will be notified of the time and location for continuing interviews with the Selection Commission.

June
Interviews by the Selection Commission

Candidates advancing from the first round of interviews will be interviewed by the Selection Commission. These interviews will determine which Fellows will be recommended to the host institutions.

July
Interviews with host institutions

The finalists recommended by the Selection Commission, interview with principals in host institutions, who make the final decision.

September/October
Final design of individual placements.

Fellowship year begins with an October launching ceremony.


6. What is expected of a LEAD Albania Fellow during the program year?

Being a Fellow in the LEAD Albania Program is an honor, a privilege, and a full-time commitment. Fellows are expected to fully engage in their work placement, which lies at the heart of the Fellowship. Work placements can offer unparalleled experience working with Government officials on challenging issues. The work often requires long hours and, at times, unglamorous duties that require as much perseverance as ability on the Fellows' part. The work placement may also require travel on behalf of the host institution.

The Education component augments and enhances the work experience. Over the course of the year, Fellows are expected to fully participate in the Education component, which includes seminars, workshops, roundtables etc.

Application and Eligibility

7. How do I apply?

Applications must be submitted online by March 15, 2014 at 5:00 PM. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that his/her application has been transmitted in its entirety.

8. What are the eligibility requirements?

  • Applicants must be Albanian citizens (dual citizenship is also acceptable).
  • Applicants must have completed their undergraduate education. Completion of graduate and postgraduate studies may be of significant advantage. 
  • Preferably, applicants will have a minimum of 5 years of post-graduate work experience. In case of a completed PhD, the preferred minimum is 3 years. 
  • Employees of the central government and the President Office are not eligible.
  • There are no age restrictions. However, the Fellowship Program was created to give selected applicants the experience of government service early in their careers.

9. Can I be a Fellow if I have dual citizenship?

Applicants must hold Albanian citizenship, dual citizenship is acceptable.

10. Are there age restrictions?

There are no age restrictions. However, the Fellowship program was created to give selected Albanians the experience of public service early in their careers.

11. Does a candidate need to be of the same political party as the current principals of the host institutions?

No. The fellowships are awarded strictly on a non-partisan basis.

12. What is the best approach for handling recommendation letters?

Applicants are asked to submit only three references. It is best to have recommendations from individuals who know you well and can fully answer the questions that are asked in the application. For example, a recommendation letter from a prominent person is not helpful if that individual cannot speak about your background and character.

At least one recommendation should be from an individual that can speak to your professional competence and accomplishments in your field. At least one recommendation should come from someone with knowledge of your community and civic activities.

In addition, one recommendation should be from your current supervisor, if applicable. A recommendation from a prior supervisor is acceptable, but a current supervisor is preferred.

13. If selected, can I continue to participate in organizations in which I currently serve - such as corporate and government boards, or on local councils?

LEAD Albania Fellows are considered full-time employees of the host institutions and are subject to the Albanian laws and regulations. These standards prohibit Fellows from receiving any salary or any contribution or supplementation of salary from any source other than the LEAD Albania program. If outside activity that is uncompensated conflicts with your official duties, then you will not be able to continue that outside activity.

Service on advisory boards and other types of committees is evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if Fellows may continue the outside activity based on the precise nature of the activity and the official duties performed while serving as an employee of the host institution in the program.

14. Are applicants required to submit financial disclosures if selected? What happens if there is a conflict of interest with my investments and my assignment?

Certain placements will require that a financial disclosure form be submitted.

Conflict of interest matters that arise will be handled on a case-by-case basis according to all applicable laws and regulations. If you have questions during the application process about potential conflicts of interest, please contact the LEAD Albania Program office to inquire.

15. Are applicants required to undergo a security and background investigation?

The winning Finalists recommended to the host institutions are required to submit comprehensive background information, as Fellows must be qualified to pass a security clearance. The winning Finalists must submit following documents: penal certificate, the respective certificates from court and prosecution and the bailiff office certificate. The host institution may conduct further background investigation and certify your security clearance by the Albanian National Security Authority.

If it appears that a security clearance will not be possible, a winning Finalist will be notified by the Program Director and will not be able to become a Fellow.

Please be assured that all of this information is carefully protected and kept confidential. Panelists and Commissioners do not have access to background investigation information. Information provided by candidates who ultimately are not selected will be destroyed.

Selection

16. How is a class of Fellows selected?

The selection process is very competitive. The LEAD Albania Program staff screen the applications to identify the most promising candidates. Approximately 50 of the most qualified applicants are selected to be interviewed in the first round by a panel of AADF. Based on the results of the interviews from the first round, the Program Management selects approximately 30 candidates to proceed for the second round. The Selection Commission, which is comprised of representatives of AADF and prominent personalities from academia, public and private sector then interviews the 30 candidates and recommends 10-15 outstanding candidates to host institutions for a one-year appointment as Fellows. These candidates interview with the respective principals of host institutions, who make the final decision.

17. What is the best approach to prepare for interviews?

The interviews are competitive. We recommend that the selected candidates carefully prepare as they would for any other type of interview. We also recommend that candidates:

• Know their application well, as each application is carefully studied.
• Study current events. One of the essential qualities of a LEAD Albania Fellow is that they are citizens of the larger world.
• Be current on key issues in your professional field.
• Develop a clear articulation about why you should be selected.

18. What is required of first round selected candidates?

First round candidates are expected to participate in an interview that determines the selection of the candidates for the interviews with the Selection Commission (second round). The interviews are scheduled during July and will take place in Tirana. Interviews are conducted by an interviewing panel created in AADF. Travel arrangements are the responsibility of each first round selected candidate.

19. What is required of second round selected candidates?

The selected candidates from the first round are interviewed by the members of the Selection Commission on the LEAD Albania Program. Travel arrangements are the responsibility of each second round selected candidate.
Interviews with the host institutions and Placement

20. How are interviews with the host institutions conducted and how is placement determined?

Approximately two or three finalists are recommended to every host institutions. The individuals who are recommended to the host institutions have to participate in a series of briefings and interviews with the principals of the host institutions to make the final selection and determine their fellowship work placements. Travel arrangements are the responsibility of each winning Finalist.

21. Can a Fellow remain in his/her placement after the Fellowship year?

The Fellowship year concludes in fall of the following year, and the program encourages Fellows to return to their communities and professions. The Fellow can be asked to continue at an agency, but not in their capacity as a Fellow.

Education component

22. What is the Education component?

The Education component augments and enhances the work placement experience. Fellows are expected to fully participate in the Education component, which includes seminars, workshops, trips, roundtables discussions etc. Each class meets with dozens of individuals including the President of the Republic, Prime Minister, Ministers, members of justice institutions, senior government officials, Members of Parliament, military leaders, journalists, historians, business executives, leaders from non-governmental organizations, diplomats in Tirana and high representatives of other countries visiting Tirana.

Administration

23. Are Fellows provided with compensation and benefits - such as salary and health insurance - during the program year?

The AADF shall provide Fellows with a full salary package, including health and social security, for the entire year. Their remuneration is equivalent in accordance with the pay scale of the government agency where assigned. The Program provides travel allowances for domestic and international travel, equipment for the workstations (if needed), and training allowances.

24. Does the Fellowship provide housing during the Fellowship year?

No. Fellows are responsible for their housing arrangements.

25. Can Fellows receive outside income from other sources - private or public - during the program year?

LEAD Albania Fellows are considered full-time employees of the host institutions, although they are registered with the AADF payroll and are subject to the Albanian laws and regulations. These standards prohibit Fellows from receiving any salary or any contribution to or supplementation of salary from any source other than the Program.

Fellows cannot continue any outside activity that conflicts with official duties. Service on advisory boards and other types of committees is evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if Fellows may continue the outside activity based on the precise nature of the activity and the official duties performed while serving as an employee of the Albanian host institutions in the program.

26. How are special needs - such as disabilities - for Fellows handled?

The program staff is available to work one-on-one with individuals to properly handle any special needs.

27. How are previously scheduled commitments - such as a vacation - handled during the Fellowship year?

The program year is a full-time commitment, with work, education, travel, and fellowship responsibilities. Almost all activities are mandatory. Only under special circumstances, and with approval by the Program Director, are Fellows excused from activities.

If this is a year when you have a multitude of personal commitments, vacations, or issues, we strongly encourage applicants to reconsider the timing of their application. Each Fellow and the entire class are most effective with full participation and engagement. It is unfair to others to accept the fellowship and then not fully participate.

28. Where can I direct additional questions?

The program staff is available to provide assistance and answer questions. The staff can be reached Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM via email to leadalbania(at)aadf.org.