In Chapter 9 of 21 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, New York City Council candidate and public relations executive Ken Biberaj tells the story of his family, starting with his grandfather and his work moving the family out of Albania to the Bronx in New York City. He shares how this blossomed into his father getting a world class Columbia University education and pursuing a public service career, his uncle running The Russian Tea Room restaurant at One Fifty Fifty Seven Corporation.
Erik: Where did you learn your work ethic? Ken: A couple of different places. My parents have just been tenacious workers. And it goes back even further I think to my grandfather, right? So he’s able to find a way to get his family out of Albania, you know, get them to Montenegro, get to the Bronx and come here with nothing. Basically find opportunity here through relationships and contacts and have 8 children in the Bronx. And you know fast forward to today where my dad went to Columbia, has a PhD, is still working for the government, my uncle is you know owns and operates the Russian Tea Room, I work for him and now I’m running for city council. In 1968, when he came here, I don’t know if he actually realized that was possible. I like to think he did because he knew that this was the one country where anything could happen and the opportunities were there. So my grandfather was always a source of inspiration, I think just growing up ‘cause he lived across the street from me where we can, you know, we saw him every day, he was up there first thing in the morning, whether it was in his garden or just out there kind of – you know, pushing us around and telling us we needed to get up and get to work and study hard, work hard and you know he always believed in service as well so you know between him and my mom who has her own small business and – you know my mom never graduated high school and started her own custom embroidery business in Northern Virginia and it’s been fantastic, you know, she’s a constant source of inspiration. I’m a big mama’s boy so – you know, she’s a – she’s been great and my dad with his work too, so – and my uncle who I work for now, I mean I’ve learned so much I think about public service and kind of diplomacy and government from my father, and then when I came to work for my uncle, he is you know just one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met. And everything he’s done in just real estate, and you know helping to you know buy the Tea Room, save it and so on has just been – you know, I’ve been very blessed to have such amazing kind of role models and mentors around me so…