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Mark Your Calendars For The 76th Annual AANO Convention — Held By The Naples Chapter. Learn more.

The Albanian American National Organization is a non-religious and non-political organization established in 1946 to perpetuate and celebrate those special things, which come with our Albanian heritage. Among our priorities is to support the academic endeavors of Albanian-American College Students through annual scholarships. Each year, the organization gives out thousands of dollars in Scholarships, and through the years hundreds of students have received assistance through the A.A.N.O. Generous contributions to this fund have been made over the years by the Albanian-American Community.

The A.A.N.O. currently has nine Chapters located throughout the United States and Canada. Each chapter conducts local ethnic events and participates in National functions as well. Individuals may become members at a chapter level, or Members – at – large if one resides in an area distant from established chapters. Membership entitles you to a subscription to the official Newsletter of the A.A.N.O., the Trumbeta Shqiptare, as well as discounted admission to organizational events. The A.A.N.O. has over the years proven a wonderful means for Albanian-Americans, particularly youth and young adults, from throughout North America to meet and develop close friendships.

About The Albanian American
National Organization

Image by Krzysztof Hepner

A story of connection

How It All Began

The seeds of the Albanian American National Organization were planted sixty years after the first Albanian, Koli Kristofor, arrived on the shores of the United States of America in 1886.

On Sunday, December 15, 1946, twenty-seven young men and women, coming from nine cities of the United States of America, gathered around in St. Nicholas Church Hall in New York City. They wanted to find out just what the Albanian-American youth most desired in the way of promoting unity among the Albanians of America.

They learned that the people were greatly concerned and interested in the following: (1) To promote good citizenship, good fellowship, social activities, and material benefits; (2) To stimulate cultural and educational relations and to maintain the Albanian traditions; and (3) Plan for greater unity and the betterment of the Albanian people in America. With these objectives, the groundwork was laid, and the A.A.N.O. was formed. The first A.A.N.O. Convention was held on October 18 & 19, 1947 at the Broadwood Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at which time the constitution was adopted (at that time the A.A.N.O. was called the American-Albanian Youth Organization). The first National President was Vincent Theodos of Bridgeport, Connecticut. In that one event, all of a sudden various and diverse Albanian-American groups from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Worcester, and other cities in the United States found themselves physically present at one function – committed to support the A.A.N.O.

The list of cities in which the annual Conventions were held grew: New York, Worcester, Bridgeport, and on and on. At each new Convention site the numbers grew; Albanians local to the Convention attended, participated and engendered their family’s commitment to the A.A.N.O. All Albanian-Americans, many with their own distinct religious heritage transposed from the Balkans to America, many with their various political points of view as to Albania and as to America, learned that the A.A.N.O. was the single, unique, Albanian ethnic organization that de-emphasized these differences and, instead, emphasized the sameness of a people, the Albanian people.

In 1950, four years after its founding, the A.A.N.O. extended a strong hand of support to the present and future generations of young Albanian-Americans by establishing the A.A.N.O. Scholarship Fund. Its founding principle was simple, yet expressive of this venture’s lofty purpose: “Sa me teper Shqiptar te edukuar jemi … Sa me teper Shqiptar jemi ne.” The more educated Albanians there are … The more Albanians we are.” Through this part of the A.A.N.O. experience, the dreams of Koli Kristofor and the thousands of Albanian immigrants who followed him have been realized. The scholarship dollars have served to place the young Albanians not in the factories, kitchens, and stockrooms of our struggling forefathers, but rather to have placed them in the halls of academia, law, medicine, science, and government. The first scholarships were awarded in 1955 to Nicholas Pano of Malden, Massachusetts and Dr. James L. Philips of Worcester, Massachusetts. The A.A.N.O. has truly served to not only meet its goal of assisting to educate more Albanians, but it has also served to strengthen America by its commitment to education. We acknowledge its successes at our 60th Convention and heartily anticipate the accomplishments that it will foster for generations to come.

The A.A.N.O., chartered in 1951 in the State of New York, currently is composed of nine chapters: Albany, Boston, Bridgeport, Chicago, Clearwater, Detroit, New York, Toronto, and Worcester. At one time, the following chapters were in existence: Dixie, Jamestown, Philadelphia, Rochester, Southbridge, Washington, and Waterbury. The A.A.N.O. is an organization that has had volunteerism its hallmark and its strength. From the National President, the National Officers, the National Board of Governors, Scholarship Fund Chairpersons, the National Queen, the Editor of the news publication, the keeper of the national files, local Chapter Presidents, Officers, and Members, thousands upon thousands of hours of unselfish volunteer effort have been invested in this national movement of ethnic reaction and pride. All have served without compensation, most without recognition, but the fruits of their labors have been the repeated successful Conventions, Basketball Tournaments, Queen Pageants, and local chapter activities such as ski weekends, dude ranch weekends, plays, dinners, dances, bingo events, bake sales, cultural events … and the list goes on and on. All of us have shared in their successes and at our 60th Convention, we applaud our A.A.N.O. leaders of the past and present and encourage our future A.A.N.O. leaders.

The Annual Convention has been the highlight of the A.A.N.O. year. Few loyal supporters could think of anything else to replace the activities for the first weekend in August. The sites have differed, from the large city hotels of the past with their grand ballrooms to the new city hotels and their contemporary facilities, including resorts such as the site of the 50th Convention – Cape Cod, and now we have celebrated our 60th Convention in the capital of our ancestral homeland – Tirana, Albania. The most common Convention complaint by most attendees is simply that the weekend flies by too quickly. Well, the 50th Convention was a 5-day Convention and now the 60th Convention is a 4-day celebration, and hundreds will extend their visit in Albania. In many respects, all Conventions are alike … old friends are seen again, new acquaintances are made and friendships are created, and new points of view presented and heard. The Sunday chit-chat at any Convention always centers around where the next Convention will be held. By the time the last piece of baklava has been eaten at the reception following the annual Convention meeting, plans have already been made for the next event, addresses exchanged with new friends, and old friends reassured that “we’ll meet again next year.”

The ’90′s brought us into a new era – the “doors” of Albania opened, and we saw a new influx of arrivals from Albania who are attending and participating in the A.A.N.O. activities. Many have entered colleges and universities, and the A.A.N.O. is assisting them in their endeavors to succeed by awarding them specific scholarships.

The A.A.N.O. is honored to be the first Albanian-American organization in the United States and Canada to go to its ancestral homeland, Albania.

Over four hundred conventioneers traveled from every major city in the United States and Canada to celebrate the A.A.N.O.’s 60th anniversary, to trace the footsteps of our Illyrian ancestors, to visit historical Kruje (the home of Skenderbeg, our National Hero), and to visit our own ancestral city, town, village, or hamlet.

As an organization, the A.A.N.O. continues to be in transition, awaiting the new arrivals’ establishment in America so that they may continue the fervor of our ethnic roots to preserve them in the 21st Century with the same goals and aspirations that were formulated sixty years ago.

May the A.A.N.O. continue to march forward towards its 100th Anniversary Celebration.

Our National President

Jana Foundos

Residing in New York with her husband, whom she met through the Albanian American National Organization, and their two boys, she has cultivated a life rich in family and community. Originating from Boston, Massachusetts, her journey with the organization began at 16, evolving through roles such as National Secretary and Scholarship Applications Chairperson. Leading as President for the past two years has been a profound accomplishment, driven by a deep pride in Albanian heritage. Their overarching goal is to ensure the organization's continuity, fostering empowerment and unity for the next generation of Albanian Americans.

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