Jorida Zeneli, the 217th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, experienced a turbulent teenagehood that ultimately sparked a globetrotting life.

When Jori was born, her homeland, Albania, was a communist autocracy that was described as “the most isolated country in the world”; then it became a fragile democracy; and then it descended into civil unrest. Very turbulent.

When Jori was 18, she left Albania, moving to Germany and Italy to study, and then working in Washington DC and Geneva.

While in Geneva, Jori reunited with an old friend, who later became her husband. He was about to move to Australia to open a business, and she decided to join him. So in 2011, Jori moved again – this time for love – to Sydney.

Since arriving in Sydney, Jori has worked in healthcare, governance, economics and policy roles, in both the private and public sectors. During her time working for the New South Wales government, Jori played an instrumental role in work that led to the creation of an agency responsible for disaster recovery and preparedness.

Clearly, Jori is a high achiever. She’s also somebody with an enquiring mind, a fierce belief in equality and social justice, and a passion for impact investment, holistic health, foreign cultures and languages. 

Jori is currently teaching yoga, doing advocacy work for mental health and supporting the campaign of an independent candidate at the next federal election. She’s also working on a start-up that will support workers who face mental health challenges to not only recover but thrive.