The Center for Research and Policy Making has been formed by a multi-disciplinary team bringing together people with different backgrounds and professional and research interests, including considerable experience of the way the Macedonian policy process works. The CRPM members are specialized in project management and policy research and analysis, training and capacity building, and policy advice.

Marija Risteska holds PhD in political science. She is the founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Research and Policy Making, number one think tank in Macedonia (Think Thank Index University of Pennsylvania since 2012 is ranking CRPM on the list of 100 most influential in CEE and SEE), which has received a Japanese Medal for Outstanding Research in development in 2016 and PASOS Think tank award in 2010 and 2013.

Marija’s research work is in the area of public administration reform, public management, good governance, policy transfer and European integration. She thought political science courses at FON University and New York College Skopje, currently she holds the title of Assistant Professor at South-East European University (SEEU) in Tetovo.

In CRPM Risteska has led the team to contribute to four specific public sector reforms in Macedonia. Marija is author of the public policy development system of the Macedonian Government that has been developed with Norwegian support; and ex-post policy evaluation system supported by OSCE. Since 2004 Risteska works on budgeting, and she has contributed to opening the budget planning to citizens with amendments to the Law on Budget in 2005 supported by USAID and Friedrich Ebert Schtiftung that introduced transparency and participatory budgeting functionalities in the PFM system. Since 2006 Risteska works with UN Women on gender responsive budgeting reform, as researcher, analyst, trainer, and mentor to government and municipal officials. Marija is now Regional Director of the Gender Budget Watchdog Network of 88 CSOs from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Moldova and Serbia. Marija Risteska has initiated in 2011 for Macedonia to become part of the Open Government Partnership and since 2012 facilitated the inclusion of civil society in the OGP co-creation process in Macedonia leading to Open Government Action Plans in 2014 and 2016. Marija instigated regional open government platform in six Western Balkan countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, supported by the EU. Since 2018 Risteska has focused on prevention from violent extremism working with Hedyah Center for Excellence in Countering Terrorism and the EU leading to development of the policy model Passage for Prevent: Mechanism for Referral of Persons Vulnerable to Radicalization and Reintegration of Foreign Fighters and their Families in the Community.

Dr. Risteska has written two textbooks: “Public policy, policy making and public value (2017); and Gender Responsive Budgeting (2013). She authored: “Sexual extortion as an act of corruption: legal and institutional response”(2022), “Gender and diversity impact of Covid 19” (2021); edited the book “Mapping the leaders in Macedonia and Albania: can elites promote positive social change?”(2010) and co-edited the books “The Macedonian Question: 20 Years of Political Struggle into European Integration Structures”(2012); “Ten years after the Ohrid Framework Agreement: Lessons (to be) learned” (2011) and “European Law for Small and Medium Enterprises” (2004). Marija Risteska is co-chair of the working group for chapter 19 of the National convention for the EU integration and Policy coordinator for the EBRD Western Balkan Women in Business Program.

Risteska has participated and spoke on numerous high-level events such as the Raisina Dalogue:

Marija loves to travel and regularly takes her family for adventures around the world.


Aleksandar Cekov holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Law Faculty of the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Skopje, Macedonia. He is Master of Science (120 ECTS) in European Affairs, from Lund University, Sweden. Expert in European studies and EU enlargement Mr. Cekov also holds Diploma in Advanced European Studies, from the European College of Parma, Italy.




Kristijan Aleksoski holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Before joining CRPM, he has gained more than two years of experience working as a tax consultant at PwC Frankfurt and Skopje. He has worked with companies such as Coca-Cola, Philip Morris, Gunnebo, Merck and others, providing consulting advice and assistance in aligning with financial and tax regulations. Kristijan joined CRPM team in June 2018 and has since been working as a project financial manager and analyst. He is also engaged as an expert in econometric research and statistical data analysis, especially in economic and labor market issues, sustainable development and public policies. He loves movies, great books and cooking.


Zarko Cvetkovski is the project manager at the School of Public Policy “Mother Teresa” and a finance assistant at CRPM.

Education: Economist – Banking Management, European University- Republic of Macedonia (ЕURМ) – Skopje




Starting as an intern and researcher at CRPM, Kristijan Trajkovski is currently a Program Coordinator in the Labour unit, mainly focused on the implementation of the reform for simplified hiring of seasonal workers. His previous professional experience is related to projects in the field of the informal economy, industrial relations, employment (new forms of work), digitalization, etc. He also has broader experience in data collection, data processing and analysis (use of SPSS, Stata, Excel, etc.) and coordinated many surveys including social mapping in several municipalities in the region. Due to his educational background (MA in Political Science), Kristijan has acquired knowledge in public policy, public relations, marketing, and implementation of research methodologies using and developing quantitative and qualitative tools for data collection. He also is part of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Scholar network.


Nikolina Janeva joined the Center for Research and Policy Making initially as an intern, and now is engaged in two regional projects, SMART Balkans – Civil society for shared society in the Western Balkans, and Strengthening transparency and accountability for gender equality in Western Balkans and Moldova (Gender Budget Watchdog Network).
She is a BBA in Management graduate from UACS, and a master’s degree candidate in Human Resource Management within the same university.
Nikolina has a strong experience in research, data processing/visualization, and is keen to expand her knowledge in that direction. Her core research interests are largely in the broad field of cybersecurity.


Ljupka Trajanovska is a Project Coordinator of the EU financed project Through gender lenses: appraising budgets and policies; watchdogging local action plans for gender equality implementation. Ljupka is part of the gender unit of CRPM and is specialized in gender mainstreaming, gender analysis, gender assessments and development of gender responsive budgeting policies. She is a Chevening scholar and got her Master of Arts in Gender, Violence and Conflict, department of Global Studies at the University of Sussex-Brighton, United Kingdom. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Security from the Institute for Security, Defense and Peace at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University St. Cyril and Methodius, Skopje, Macedonia. Ljupka identifies herself as a feminist and women’s rights activist. She is experienced in research, lobbying, advocacy, peer education and project implementation and management. In addition, she is specialized in working with youth, women victims of violence, kids with difficulties in studying and other marginalized groups of people. Ljupka has won the OSCE scholarship for Peace and Security and gained a UPEACE diploma focused on conflict prevention through arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. Her main fields of interest are Women and Security and Gender Based Violence.

In her everyday life Ljupka enjoys fitness, mountain climbing, dancing and traveling.


Biljana Matevska holds a PhD in Technical Science for Industrial Engineering and Management from Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. She is CEEPUS scholar for scientific research in the field of ergonomics at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. Biljana is very proud of being awarded for Best Paper from the World Association for Innovative Technologies at the In-Tech International Conference for Innovation and Technologies in 2017, Ljubljana.

She is an author and co-author of several scientific papers in the field of OSH and is co-author of the book „ERGONOMICS“. Her previous experience is in the field of occupational safety and health, environmental democracy, environmental protection, and climate change.

Biljana works as an expert, researcher, project developer, and project manager in the Center for Research and Policy Making and is currently involved in several projects related with gender responsive budgeting, climate change, circular economy, waste management, and environmental protection.

She is highly motivated person who believes in and strives for a better tomorrow: a healthy planet inhabited by healthy people who respect nature with all its living beings.


Bojana Krstevska has previous project management experience in a few EU-funded IPA projects through the roles of manager and coordinator in the field of youth employment and environmental protection. As a manager, she has over a decade of involvement in different industries and departments like fashion, marketing, communication, and media.
Bojana received a Master of Science in International Management from the Institute of Economics in Skopje. She is passionate about continuous improvement and innovation and constantly searches for ways to improve processes, performance, and herself.
With a passion for community betterment, she eagerly joined the team at CRPM. As a Grant Officer for N. Macedonia and Serbia under the SMART Balkans Project, she is looking forward to establishing a successful collaboration with all grantees and CSOs. Bojana is adept in facilitating the implementation process of the activities and will be on hand to support and advise the CSOs.
With her outgoing personality, she is easy to socialize with, in and outside the office. She enjoys outdoor sports, and spending time with her family and friends and her chocolate Labrador.


With over twenty years of experience, Maja Varoshlija is highly qualified and experienced working in the civil society sector. She holds a bachelor’s degree and Master of Art in Social work and Social Policy from the Institute of Social work and social policy, Faculty of Philosophy of the University St. Cyril and Methodius, Skopje, Macedonia. Ms. Maja possesses extensive knowledge in developing and leading programs and projects for the assistance of vulnerable persons, including victims of trafficking and sexual violence. She also has participated in major research projects and situation analyses regarding subjects of interest. Ms. Maja joined CRPM team to lead the project for adaptation and implementation of the Young Man Initiative (YMI) Program on a national level. Throughout her career, her mission has been to assist vulnerable people and to stand for their rights by giving them a voice. Her friends describe her as easygoing, a good listener and with a daring desire to sing.


Emilija Bumbaroska has joined CRPM recently as a Financial Officer in a continuation of her professional development in the field of Finance and Controlling.

She has several years of different working experience, especially in accountancy, and as well as experience in a few International Organizations in the EU countries.

Emilija Bumbaroska holds two Postgraduate degrees: Master in European Studies at the Faculty of Economics (SS Cyril and Methodius Skopje) and Master in Diplomacy at the Faculty of Political Sciences (FON-AUE Skopje).

Subsequent education is Controlling at the Heidelberg University (ABIT Skopje 2022).

Besides the professional development, she is interested in personal growth with literature, sports, music and travels. Moreover, her passion is learning foreign languages, as she fluently speaks English, Spanish, Italian; has working knowledge of French, German, Russian and basic knowledge of some of the local languages -Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, Bulgarian.


Ivana Petrisková finished her Master in European Studies at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. Most of her professional experience (+10 years) has been focused on civil society, working on youth empowerment within local and international projects (Erasmus+, European Solidarity Corps projects, Visegrad Fund and similar). Ivana was national coordinator of the international program Social Impact Award Slovakia, supporting young people to develop their start up ideas in social entrepreneurship. She is experienced in grants writing, qualitative research, capacity building and impact measurement of CSOs. As a consultant she has been cooperating with several CSOs focusing gender equality, youth and women’s education, empowerment, and employment.

Ivana initially joined the team of CRPM recently as Business Strategy Consultant, responsible for developing new projects and contributing to the growth and impact of the organization on the regional and global level. From June 2023 she took the position of Grants and Learning Officer for the Gender Budget Watchdog Network (GBWN).

Ivana is a life-long student, believing in ongoing self-development. Currently she is a member of Global Institute of Evolving Women and a student of Regenerative Leadership Academy. She is Earth lover, yoga and meditation enthusiast, an intuitive dancer, a poet, and a firm believer of transformational power of society starting on individual level.


Diellza Sula holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Ss. Cyril and Methodius and has gained valuable experience through internships in diverse institutions focused on psychological care. In addition to her hands-on training, she actively expands her knowledge in psychology by attending seminars, courses, and events. Recently, she obtained a certification in Human Resources, adding another dimension to her skill set.

Passionate about making a positive impact in her country, Diellza utilizes her expertise beyond her field. As a member of the Youth Council of The US Embassy in North Macedonia, she collaborates with fellow members to implement impactful projects. She also dedicated six months to the Mind the Mind campaign organized by EFPSA, where she conducted workshops on mental health as a volunteer, aiming to educate students on destigmatizing mental disorders.

Joining CRPM as a project officer, Diellza brings her practical experience and enthusiasm to contribute to the Young Men Initiative and the SMART Balkans projects.


Barije Durmish holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, which she earned from the Institute for Psychology at the Faculty of Philosophy, University St. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje. Beginning at a young age, she volunteered for NGOs, primarily focusing on supporting and improving the education of Roma children. Barije has gained experience as a facilitator and educator, specifically working with children and teenage refugees. Additionally, she has attended numerous trainings and workshops on antidiscrimination, education, human trafficking, and gender equality.

Recently, Barije joined CRPM as a program assistant, where she is currently engaged in projects that are focused on gender equality. She is a dedicated humanitarian and an advocate against discrimination, and firmly believes in the empowering potential of education. Additionally, she possesses a deep passion for books, deriving pleasure from reading and writing.


Stefanija Zmijanac holds a Bachelor’s Degree in European Studies from the Europa Universität Flensburg, Germany, an interdisciplinary program focusing on research of social and cultural studies in Europe. Moreover, as part of her academic journey, she completed a semester at the School of Communication and Media Studies in Lisbon, Portugal.

With a diverse background, Stefanija has engaged in a year-long international long-term voluntary service with Friedenskreis e.V. in Halle, Germany, where she gained valuable experience in the German civil society sector.  Before joining CRPM, she has been working on Erasmus+ KA1 and KA2 projects by successfully managing, organising and implementing project activities at national and international level. Over eight years she has been involved in the civil society sector in cross-cultural settings, both in Macedonia and Germany. Recently, Stefanija completed the comprehensive Training of Trainers (ToT) program in Bremen, Germany a program which adopts a holistic approach to developing high-quality youth workers and trainers, equipping her with the necessary tools to execute impactful workshops and activities at the local level.

Stefanija has joined CRPM as a Project Coordinator, taking the lead in the Young Man Initiative (YMI) Program on a national scale.

Outside of her professional pursuits, Stefanija finds joy in practicing pilates, immersing herself in nature, and cherishing meaningful moments with friends and family. She firmly believes in the potential of each individual to contribute to positive societal change, which serves as her motivation to return to Macedonia and continue her impactful work.