On August 23, 2022, the Survivors of Torture, International (SURVIVORS) Board of Directors announced Etleva Bejko as the new Executive Director following the planned retirement of Founding Executive Director Kathi Anderson on September 30, 2022.
Etleva will be introduced to the SURVIVORS’ community at the 12th Annual Helping Survivors Heal Fundraiser event on September 15. The event will be available online at either Noon or 5:30pm that day and all supporters are encouraged to register for the event here: https://notorture.org/helpingheal/
Etleva is a highly respected immigration services leader with over 20 years of experience in the field. Throughout her career, she has responded to humanitarian crises, rallied community groups, and built programs and teams that have served generations of refugees and immigrants throughout the San Diego County.
Being a native of Albania, the arrival of ethnic Albanians fleeing Kosovo due to ethnic cleansing in the late ‘90s, presented her with the first opportunity to assist the refugee community in San Diego. Etleva began working with the Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement team in 1999. This role led her to join Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS) in 2005 and progress in her responsibilities, most recently as the Director of Refugee Services.
After 20 years, Etleva is a leader with an in-depth understanding of client engagement, strategic management and operations, and overall grants management. Throughout her professional career, Etleva has worked closely with local and federal partners to address the barriers immigrant populations face and collaboratively improve their health, safety, and overall well-being. She has developed successful strategies for providing services to clients, while representing them and the organization in the community. She has built and maintained partnerships with various stakeholders across the County to ensure genuine immigrant and refugee equity and integration.
During the border crisis of 2018, Etleva was a key leader in coordinating what is now an official migrant shelter, serving released asylum seekers and reuniting them with their families. As asylum seekers were detained and then released without coordination, leaving them stranded in San Diego with no resources, the need for a shelter grew overnight. Etleva began work on the ground, building systems to manage the influx of needy individuals, all while securing the resources required to support the newcomers.
Etleva completed her undergraduate studies in Albania, and in December 2022, she will complete a master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego.