Conflict resolution and peace-building specialist, Redion Qirjazi, announced as CEO of Mary Ward Loreto

Redion Qirjazi, who served as Country Director for the British Government’s SOC Prevent programme in Albania, has been appointed as the new CEO for Mary Ward Loreto, taking over from founding CEO and anti-human-trafficking dynamo, Sister Imelda Poole. 


In an introductory interview with celebrated UK journalist and Patron of Mary Ward Loreto, Julie Etchingham, the Albanian-born CEO-designate set out his ambition for the organisation, telling viewers that his vision is to “see Albania on the map for good and positive reasons”. 


Discussing the opportunities of the role ahead, Redion identifies that success in Albania requires a continued global community effort. From a practical standpoint, I want to ensure that we remain at the heart of the communities that we are working with and where we make the biggest impact. But of course we need help from our friends – from home, from abroad – so that we can ensure to remain effective for the upcoming challenges ahead.” 


Reflecting on his professional experience in the field of conflict resolution and peace-building in both Albania and the UK, Redion told Etchingham that he believes “serious and organised crime is almost like a chameleon: it changes form but the nature is always the same. It’s the same systemic vulnerabilities that pull or push youth into serious organised crime in the UK; they are the ones that will do the same here in Albania. Tackling those issues needs to come from a holistic and joint approach.” 


Holding advanced qualifications across three continents, Redion was the first Albanian in history to graduate from the illustrious West Point Military Academy in New York – an institution which boasts two former US presidents, moonwalking astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and poet Edgar Allen Poe, amongst its notable alumni. 


From West Point, Redion was awarded a Chevening Scholarship by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to undertake a Masters in Applied Security and Strategy at Exeter University, UK. In addition to these formal qualifications, the incoming CEO has undertaken formative studies through the United Nations, Rotary International Peace Fellowship, and the Hague Academy. 


In response to Etchingham’s enquiries into the faith-based foundations of Mary Ward Loreto – named for the foundress of the Congregation of Jesus and IBVM female religious orders – Redion celebrated this heritage and what it has meant for the organisation through the immense success of his predecessor. 


Taking over the leadership of Sister Imelda Poole is a great honour. She has been rightly decorated for her services by the British Crown and the US State Department. These are very big shoes to fill and I feel very humbled to be taking over that position.” 


Imelda has brought with her an almost 500 year-long running period of incredible women who have fought for the education, freedom, justice, and progress in the lives of those would come after them. That’s a legacy we need to harness and [women religious are a] community with I hope we will continue to work closely into the future.” 


Redion stressed the importance of continuing to raise public awareness to “shed light on”the ongoing prevalence of human trafficking across Albania, noting that in the first 100 days of his leadership he would be unveiling a new strategy for the organisation. 


He praised strongly the accomplishments, resilience, and talents of the existing Mary Ward Loreto team and noted that he wanted to work with them to be able to convey some joy at the heart of the mission”. 


In closing the interview, Redion stated that he was “incredibly excited about taking over at this point in time” and signalled his ambition to continue working with the global partners behind Mary Ward Loreto, noting that the organisation has a “fantastic brand…superb people, we have the right mindset and values, and also the belief to realise our ambitions. These are all the right ingredients we need to make this organisation grow further and I’m really looking forward to ‘grip hands’ with all of our partners, all of our supporters and stakeholders, so that together we can advance the legacy and the mission of Mary Ward Loreto in Albania.” 


Founder and President of Mary Ward Loreto, outgoing CEO Imelda Poole, said of Redion’s appointment:  


Mary Ward Loreto is delighted with the appointment of Redion Qirjazi. He come to this mission with experience in managing diverse teams, strategic planning, international development, implementation of donor funded programs, and business development. He is a longtime advocate for social justice, human rights, and for making a positive impact on the lives of the most vulnerable. His experience as a Team Leader has been essential to improving his ability to motivate and inspire individuals towards a common goal. Mary Ward Loreto staff team and Board members were in one voice in making this announcement and for this we congratulate Redion and wish him every success and joy in his future mission with the Foundation.  

Treasurer of Mary Ward Loreto UK, CCLA Investment Management chief, Peter Hugh Smith, said: 


“We have started to see a more concerted effort in recent years to devastate the trafficking networks which bring so much pain and suffering into all of our communities. From here in the City of London to the countryside in Albania, the impact of Mary Ward Loreto has never been more vital and more necessary. The Trustees of MWL UK are thrilled to have such an ambitious leader stepping into this role who can help the organisation adapt to the immense challenges and opportunities ahead.” 


Mary Ward Loreto Patron and Catholic philanthropist, Sir Christian Sweeting KCSG, said: 


“Mary Ward Loreto has been one of the anti-human trafficking world’s most successful secrets. Imelda and her team have managed to bring so much hope and resilience to hidden communities and we hope that – through Redion’s appointment – we can educate and inspire more people to get behind this incredible organisation.” 


Redion takes up his role officially on 1 March 2024 working from the organisation’s headquarters in Tirana, Albania, and supported by Mary Ward Loreto’s partner charity based in the UK. 


For more information about supporting Mary Ward Loreto, please visit the charities online giving pages here.