Layers of Leadership: Nevila’s Dedication to Art and Youth Activism

MCW Global
6 min readJan 10, 2024


Nevila Muka, a freelance artist from Albania and a keen painter with a degree in urban planning, has been engaged with MCW Global for several years. She is now living in the United Kingdom and working in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford- as a symbolic testament to her success, resilience, and adaptability.

Her diverse engagements in architecture, art, urban planning, and activities strengthening women’s inclusion give her a unique opportunity to speak about various layers of society, young activism, and community leadership.

In this piece, Nevila reflects on her upbringing, challenges, and inspiration for making her voice heard in a traditional society.

She also touches on people who influenced her and how her path was impacted by diverse experiences gained while living in Albania, then moving to Kosovo, and later on to the United Kingdom.

For Nevila, MCW Global remains an experience and a place that inspires and supports her in her journey as a young activist.

You grew up in Berat, Albania, a country where communism fell in the early 90s; how did that impact you?

Yes, I grew up in the beautiful town of Berat (which, by the way, I highly suggest everyone visit). I was born after the fall of communism at a time when Albania was going through many changes. I have my parents to thank for keeping me and my sister safe and doing their best to give us a wonderful childhood.

Like every Albanian family, we struggled financially. I did not realize it back then, but things must have been a real struggle for my parents. Nevertheless, growing up in this situation positively impacted me as I now know how to budget and am not particularly materialistic.

Who were some of your early mentors, and how did they impact your life?

It may sound cliché, but my first mentor was my mother.

She pushed me to do things and advised me all the time. As a result, and despite the patriarchal society I grew up in, I can hold myself in social situations and have confidence in my ability to achieve my goals. Another mentor I want to mention is my first art teacher, who was a great teacher and a great supporter of my art path and constantly pushed me to strive for success.

Throughout the years, you have had several engagements in architecture and urban planning, as well as a freelance artist, and recently, you were promoted within the Department of Education, University of Oxford in United Kingdon. What’s your ‘secret’ to balancing multiple engagements?

Thank you for saying that! I sometimes struggle to balance all of my interests, and my time management could improve. The key is often just to put more hours in, so there is no secret apart from loving what I do and finding time for what I love while taking regular breaks to recharge.

Living in Albania, Kosovo, and now the United Kingdom must have provided you with diverse experiences. How have these different environments influenced your growth and perspectives?

Moving from Albania to Kosovo was smooth, and I immediately felt at home and welcomed.

I lived in Kosovo for almost five years, and during that time, I worked in a few companies. I can safely say that Kosovo was the foundation of my career. Kosovo helped me grow not only as a person but also opened up new prospects for me. It was a good launch pad for where I am now. Moving to the United Kingdom was different.

Although I adapted well, it differs culturally, economically, and climatically. All these took me some getting used to! These three countries have helped me become who I am. And definitely, leaving my homeland and living in Kosovo, the youngest country in Europe, taught me that there is hope for the future. At the same time, the United Kingdom has made me believe that you can achieve anything you want, no matter the circumstances and obstacles.

You have worked on some beautiful art pieces. What inspires you?

There are lots of artists who I follow and study.

My most significant influence is the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. My art focuses mainly on (strong) women, the inspiration I get from people I meet daily. The beautiful countryside has inspired me to paint more landscapes since moving to the United Kingdom- the Cotswolds.

Check out some of her art pieces here.

Have you faced any specific challenges as a young leader, and if so, how did you overcome them?

I would be lying if I said no. I think every young leader faces challenges.

My biggest challenge has been influencing the older generation during particular projects. It isn’t easy to be heard by older men as a young woman in a society like Albania. I faced this frequently when working with young girls on female empowerment projects where I needed the buy-in of the parents to support the little girl. I think this is slowly changing, but there is still a long way to go. I did not let it stop me, and I hope the young girls who were part of the project now flourish without fear.

For instance, thanks to the MCW support, I carried on an initiative focusing on teaching youngsters, especially girls in rural areas in Albania, the importance of being economically independent. Hearing all those inspirational people MCW brought for us and their stories helped me better implement my project in my community. That is the beauty of MCW; you meet so many bright people from everywhere, and they help you unconditionally.

If you had to pick a book, a movie, or a quote that best represents your leadership journey so far, what would it be and why?

I think the quote that best represents my leadership journey is, “My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and push them and make them even better.” by Steve Jobs.

I think the mentors in my life have followed this philosophy because they have never been easy on me. Instead, they have always pushed me to be better and go further than I thought I would. They have helped me to overcome my fears and achieve my dreams.

You have been engaged with MCW since 2017 in several capacities, be it a mentee or a mentor. What has this experience taught you?

MCW Global has helped me better understand how to translate my ideas into real-life projects. I have met wonderful people from around the world. I hope to have impacted their lives as much as they have affected mine. Attending the program in both capacities you mentioned was the most beneficial as one gets to experience the magic of being part of a group of young people who all want to help their communities.

The leadership skills we learn from each other and our cultures and traditions.

As we say in MCW, a good leader is also a global citizen.

Check the following link to read more about how merging paths with MCW had a positive impact on Nevila’s mindset, work, and community activism:



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