Elona is a doctoral candidate in Social Intervention and a Clarendon-Green Templeton College scholar. She was born in Albania, but has spent most of her life practicing legal migration in the United Kingdom, United States, and South East Asia. She completed her undergraduate studies at Princeton University at the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs. Prior to returning to academia in 2011, Elona worked on HIV prevention programmes among most vulnerable populations: men who have sex with men, female sex workers, people who inject drugs, and migrant workers. Most recently, she has made South Africa her new home.
Elona is passionate about how we can learn from “best” and “worst” practices across programmes through rigorous evaluation, and particularly through process evaluation. Her favourite questions are “how?” and “so what?” Over the last decade, Elona has worked for bilateral donor programmes: USAID and CIDA, and NGOs such as Population Services International (PSI), Care International and the Mothers’ Programme in a variety of development projects. In 2013-2014, she was the Monitoring & Evaluation Advisor for the Paediatric AIDS Treatment for Africa (PATA), a South African based NGO supporting healthcare provider teams in more than 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
For the last 3 years, her research has focused on adolescent pregnancy in South Africa and most recently, in the sexual and reproductive health practices and needs of adolescents on long-term medication, particularly antiretroviral treatment. She spent most of 2013-2014 in the Eastern Cape province in South Africa, setting up and coordinating the baseline of a longitudinal survey of 700+ adolescents.
Elona works closely with a wonderful team of researchers which include colleagues at the University of Cape Town, Curtin University in Australia and healthcare providers and fieldwork staff in the Eastern Cape. When not coordinating fieldwork in rural and urban Eastern Cape, Elona enjoys helping her fellow research team members facilitate workshops on health issues with youth, which sometimes include sleeping in the back of bakkies.