Europe’s generation R - regeneration, recovery, resilience

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Europe’s generation R - regeneration, recovery, resilience


Building a more just, inclusive and sustainable society as Europe emerges from the pandemic was the central theme of the first in-person event in the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

Entitled “Europe’s generation R – regeneration, recovery, resilience”, the three-day seminar held on 9-11 September gathered a diverse group of young innovators with leadership roles in areas ranging from politics to entrepreneurship and human rights.

The 2020-2021 Class of European Young Leaders joined alumni from previous intakes of the EYL40 programme, which was launched by Friends of Europe in 2011 to bring together around 40 trendsetters under 40 every year.

Sessions ranged from Europe’s role in the renewed race to space, to designing feminist cities and forging a more constructive relationship between politics and the media.

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However, the COVID-19 pandemic and Europe’s efforts to recover from it loomed large during the event at Friends of Europe’s TownHall Europe centre in Brussels. “We are no longer in a business-as-usual scenario. COVID has shown us that we can get hit, that any person, anywhere, can be hit by a virus that is going to affect us all,” Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President of the Club of Rome, told the participants. “So, can we please use this as a moment to show that we can transform?”

Top virologist Marc Van Ranst lamented that, despite Europe’s success in inoculating citizens against COVID-19, the lopsided global vaccine rollout has left low-income countries unprotected.

That risks prolonging the pandemic and allowing new variants to emerge. “As long as we are not vaccinating everybody, that mutation carousel will keep on growing,” Van Ranst cautioned.

While 5.64bn doses of the vaccine have been delivered around the world, low-income countries remain vulnerable with just 1.9% of people having received a jab, explained Van Ranst, who heads the Laboratory of Clinical and Epidemiological Virology at the University Hospital Leuven.

“On this planet, there are second- and third-ranked citizens and that does not sit well,” Van Ranst said.

That theme was taken up forcefully by Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor and Co-Founder of the University of Global Health Equity, Co-Chair of the Africa-Europe Foundation Strategy Group on Health and former Rwandan health minister.

She said the “shameful” inequality in the distribution of vaccines around the world was a flagrant example of the failure of global solidarity.

“This notion of solidarity must be the backbone of an improved African-European partnership, challenging historical exploitation,” Binagwaho said in a video link from Kigali. “There is a win-win situation by mutual respect and solidarity.”

The inadequacy of established multilateral structures in dealing with contemporary challenges, was raised by Pascal Lamy, President Emeritus of the Jacques Delors Institute, former director-general of the World Trade Organization and Trustee of Friends of Europe.

“The traditional approach to global governance, tackling global issues and outcomes, is not really working now, if we limit it to what is called multilateralism,” Lamy said. He called instead for a “polylateralism” that brings in other players, such as NGOs, local authorities and businesses.

Europe’s ground-breaking Recovery and Resilience Facility designed to spur an economic rebound from the impact of the coronavirus was the theme of a session on the seminar’s opening day, with Gert Jan Koopman, European Commission Director-General for Budget, explaining his optimism for a successful application of the €723.8bn programme.

“I’m very, very enthused … We are in this together and we are doing this at a pace where Europe has traditionally come up short,” he told the group. “This time round, Europe has not come up short.”

Young leaders stressed the importance of transparency in the disbursement of the recovery fund. They highlighted the need to bring citizens on board in the implementation of climate targets within the plan and also called for a shift in the measurement of progress beyond economic growth to factor in social and environmental parameters.

Ulrik Haagerup, Founder and CEO of the Constructive Institute and Kirsten Brosbøl, Founder and CEO of 2030beyond, former Danish minister for the environment and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40), led sessions promoting a more constructive, values-based political and media culture.

Journalism needs a radical shake-up to break out of a downward spiral fixated on bad news and conflict in order to refocus on constructive narratives that bring a real benefit to society, Haagerup said.

“Why should journalism be the only profession that we don’t have to be critical towards?” he asked. “You need to be self-critical sometimes, otherwise you don’t change, and I think journalism needs to change.”

Brosbøl pointed to problems in modern politics, from the centralisation of party decision-making, to the demands of a fast-paced agenda dominated by social media. “Do we want to spend 70% of our time doing Twitter updates? No, that’s not why we entered politics.”

Media problems also featured in Van Ranst’s intervention. He underlined the danger of disinformation in hampering the fight against the virus.

“Fake news is not harmless, it is really devastating,” he said. “Free speech is extremely important, but if that evolves into hate speech or fake news, it is not harmless.”

On space, the seminar discussed how Europe needs to take a long-term approach and establish a more productive relationship between the public and private sectors in order to compete with the United States, China and other players.

Mònica Roca i Aparici, Founder and Director of isardSAT, a Barcelona-based R&D enterprise, and President of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, expressed hope about the “democratisation” of space that allows more players including smaller businesses and consumers to make use of space data. However, she said controls are needed to limit negative impacts.

“Democratisation is extremely interesting and is very exciting, but we need to put in some rules and some regulations so that we don’t damage space in the same way as we damaged our planet,” she said.

Günther Hasinger, Director of Science at the European Space Agency (ESA), said it was vital for European politicians to look to the future in developing science education as space becomes increasingly vital to the economy.

“If we don’t continue to develop the skills and if we don’t pass on the inspiration for our young generation to take up STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] professions, we will really lose out in the long run,” he cautioned.

Turning to more down-to-earth transport, the group held a session on the role of railways in solving Europe’s quest for more sustainable mobility solutions.

Jon Worth, political blogger and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40), highlighted three areas where progress is needed: infrastructure; increased services, particularly long-distance night trains; and enhanced ticketing for cross-border rail.

“What you have got to get right is the correct balance between public and private in railways,” he contended.

Speaking by video link from Vienna, Alberto Mazzola, Executive Director of the Community of European Railways and Infrastructure Companies (CER), underscored rail’s green impact.

“There are high expectations for railways and also high potential,” he said. “Railway’s credentials, certainly green credentials, nobody is disputing any more. We are 10 times more efficient than air travel.”

However, in order to make better use of that potential, incumbent rail operators need to open up to competition and develop a more cross-border mindset, argued Elmer van Buuren, Co-Founder and Managing Director of European Sleeper.

“Most railway companies are organised domestically, and they are serving their own markets,” he told the meeting. “It’s really a very closed sector. It’s very difficult to open these things up. There’s a lot of mistrust within the sector between the insurgents and the incumbents.”

The European Commission is taking steps to develop rail through regulation and funding. “Since December 2020, any rail company that wants to offer services in another member state can do so,” explained Kathrin Obst, Deputy Head of the Single European Rail Area Unit at the European Commission Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport.

The importance of reshaping urban landscapes and city administrations in ways that promote gender equality was the focus of another debate.

“We need a new narrative, a stronger narrative in terms of remodelling our cities from a feminist perspective,” said Marina Hanke, Councillor of the City of Vienna and Chairwoman of the Wiener SPO-Frauen. “It’s a fundamental question of justice, it’s a question of equal rights, a city for all.”

The gender perspective should be mainstreamed into decision-making at all levels of government and in the private sector and civil society, said Claire Fourçans, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the European Women’s Lobby. “It’s really about making sure that a woman’s perspective is taken into account in all policies,” she explained.

Jos Boys, Founding Member of Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative and Co-Author of ‘Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment’, emphasised the importance of working from the bottom up to bring about change at the grassroots level that can have meaningful impacts on peoples’ lives, even on a small scale.

“Meeting the access needs and inclusion needs of very diverse people is never going to be a … simple technical solution, it’s always going to be complex,” she said. “But what you need to do is be willing to have a commitment to a kind of collective care at an individual level right through to a state and a governmental level.”

The event also gave young leaders a chance to share their expertise and experience on issues ranging from reconciliation in the Balkans, tech investment in Africa, fighting racism and using film to promote shared values.



Regeneration has undoubtedly been one of the buzzwords of 2021. Post-COVID Europe will be characterised by regeneration, recovery and resilience. It is not only about recovering from the crisis, but regenerating and building back fairer.

Now more than ever, we need a new social contract fit for the 21st century. This has been an overarching goal at Friends of Europe since 2018. Through a whole economy, whole society approach that goes beyond economic prosperity, we want to foster a regeneration that works for everyone, so that we can achieve a greener, digital and social economy.

The European Young Leaders programme has been instrumental in connecting young talent throughout Europe, with the aim of encouraging new generations to foster a regeneration of a different kind of leadership, beyond borders.

In September 2021, for the first time since the pandemic hit, Friends of Europe is delighted to invite the European Young Leaders class for an in-person three-day seminar in the city of Brussels.

This European Young Leaders seminar will be unique in many ways. The first in-person seminar since the beginning of the pandemic promises to be rich in events and fruitful discussions. A series of thematic sessions on salient topics – from multilateralism, constructive politics and the climate and digital transformations, to feminism and the world of arts and culture – will be discussed, reflecting the work of Friends of Europe for the years ahead. We are looking forward to finally meeting you in Brussels: let the 2021 European Young Leaders autumn seminar begin.



Welcome Lunch
PLENARY — Looking at the stars: Europe’s ascension to space
Expand PLENARY — Looking at the stars: Europe’s ascension to space

Can’t travel? Join us on ZOOM

Mankind has always looked to the stars and is currently undergoing a renewed fascination for space. This fascination is however threatened by national aspirations and competitive values that threaten the cooperative approach that is essential to scientific advances. Europe’s collaborative approach and values of cooperation are a key element to dampen and fight back against the current climate of rivalry, using space colonisation rhetoric, instead promoting international cooperation for the good of humanity. It is with this mindset that Europe wishes to continue being a partner of choice for space-faring nations worldwide.

There is a real opportunity to use space exploration and space data to improve the quality of life for all EU citizens and to establish the EU as a strategic leader in the field. Europe should seize this opportunity to set the rules of governance in accordance with its values, while striking the right balance between encouraging innovation and private sector contributions to the field. There is a need to develop capacity and commercial capabilities within the EU, and ring-fenced funding for SMEs and newer organisations could not only stimulate innovation and push European space exploration ahead, but also increase the benefits of the space programme for members of the public.
A strong political mandate will ensure that projects maintain momentum that are not controlled by industry and for industry, but for European residents instead. Europe’s leadership of the race to space will shine through its adherence to its values and not simply through running the race to win it at any cost.


Günther Hasinger

Director of Science at the European Space Agency (ESA)

Mònica Roca i Aparici

Founder and Director of isardSAT

Coffee break
PLENARY — Matching words to action: Delivering on a just and inclusive digital and climate transformation
Expand PLENARY — Matching words to action: Delivering on a just and inclusive digital and climate transformation

National recovery plans speak of coherence of purpose amongst member states to do business in a new way. Will these plans guarantee a recovery that is just and inclusive, implementing a digital and climate transition right for their economies or are they a further evidence of the gap between rhetoric and reality, as has often been the case? Will recovery plans represent an opportunity missed or an opportunity created to redefine Europe’s values for the 21st century? How will member states reconcile the fatigue of citizens that simply want their leaders to restore normalcy – a job, a home, a good education and security – with the need for transformation in how we lead our lives?


Sandrine Dixson-Declève

Co-President of the Club of Rome

Gert Jan Koopman

European Commission Director-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)

PLENARY — Balancing values and relationships: Has multilateralism worked in favour of fairness or is it about balancing national budgeting?
Expand PLENARY — Balancing values and relationships: Has multilateralism worked in favour of fairness or is it about balancing national budgeting?

A key signatory of numerous global agreements and the world’s largest trading block, Europe promotes multilateralism, liberal democracy, fair and just trade, economic development, peace and security. Can it balance its role as a value setter and as a market maker for economic growth? Is the range of new trading regulations and standards a sign of a ‘protecting Europe first’ mentality? In its external relations, how does Europe ensure that it communicates mutuality, shared and common interests and a global perspective rather than continental self-interest? This session will consider various examples, including the new global tax framework, as well as Europe’s approach to vaccine sovereignty.


Agnes Binagwaho

Vice Chancellor and co-founder of the University of Global Health Equity and co-chair of the Africa-Europe foundation strategy group on health, former Rwanda health minister

Pascal Lamy

Vice President of the Paris Peace Forum, former director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Trustee of Friends of Europe and Member of the Africa-Europe Foundation High-Level Group of Personalities

Continue to Day 2
PLENARY — Values and constructive politics
Expand PLENARY — Values and constructive politics

Liberal democracies are facing dilemmas of legitimacy, with weakening centre-left and centre-right parties. Extreme partisanship has led to heightened gridlock and citizen disenchantment with overall democratic capabilities, spurring calls for change. At the heart of the crisis facing political leaders is the growing lack of trust in elected representatives and their ability to tackle current challenges. In order to re-establish trust in our democratic institutions, from the free press to the parliaments and governments of representative democracies, there is a need to promote a democratic dialogue and political processes that are more responsive to people’s needs and expectations of involvement and representation.

Exploring the need for constructive dialogue, we will look at the various challenges faced by the media, parliamentarians and political parties and how they can work differently to inspire trust and accountability.


Kirsten Brosbøl

Founder and CEO, 2030beyond, former Danish minister for the environment and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Ulrik Haagerup

Founder and CEO of the Constructive Institute

Coffee break
PLENARY — Re-inventing cities from a feminist perspective: How do we mainstream a gender-aware and inclusive approach to the city?
Expand PLENARY — Re-inventing cities from a feminist perspective: How do we mainstream a gender-aware and inclusive approach to the city?

Despite being vibrantly diverse ecosystems, our cities are designed by men and for men. The bias that limits urban design extends to all aspects of society. This is partly due to the lack of diverse and representative leadership at the top, the exclusion of certain groups and minorities from decision-making, and the reinforcement of outdated norms regarding the makeup of a community. This is a narrative of the last century. How do we empower a different narrative of inclusion, diversity and human rights? Can cities drive the change by rethinking and redesigning public spaces?

Friends of Europe launched on May 9th its “Capital of Europe, Women of Europe” project. Inspired by American writer Rebecca Solnit and geographer Joshua Jelly-Schapiro’s City of Women project in New York, it involves taking the Brussels metro map as a creative frame to tell a new story of Europe, celebrating women who have helped shaped our continent.


Dr Jos Boys

Founding Member of Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative and Co-Author of “Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment”

Marina Hanke

Councillor of the city of Vienna and Chairwoman of the Wiener SPO-Frauen (Vienna)

Claire Fourçans

Director of Policy & Campaigns at the European Women’s Lobby


I — The arts can heal, but can we heal the arts?: Working group on arts and culture

Creatives and artists around the world have unleashed their creativity and passion during lockdowns; arts and culture regenerated spirits during the pandemic. As we gradually return to semi-normalcy, how do we regenerate these sectors to be fit for the new economies we seek to build for the future? Mental health will be a key determinant of how we recover, so arts and culture have the potential to be as important to recovery strategies as creating jobs, improving services and building better economies. Has arts and culture made the business case for its role in recovery?

Introduction by

Mary Fitzgerald

Non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute, Trustee at Friends of Europe and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Comments by

Jan Goossens

Artistic Director of the Festival de Marseille and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Dr Makiko Hirata

Pianist and Consultant at the Center for Performing Arts Medicine at Houston Methodist Hospital

II — Breaking the mould: Working group on constructive politics

“Breaking the mould” focuses on diagnosing the problem of the current political moment. In this smaller session, an in-depth discussion and a series of exercises will help participants, including members of parliaments and the media, adopt a systems approach to the current political ecology and work out concrete and realistic diagnosis of the current processes.

This session will rely on European Young Leaders’ personal experience to sketch a way forward in constructive politics

Led by

Kirsten Brosbøl

Founder and CEO, 2030beyond, former Danish minister for the environment and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Ulrik Haagerup

Founder and CEO of the Constructive Institute

Coffee break
PLENARY — Connecting Europe better: Railways for a fairer and greener future
Expand PLENARY — Connecting Europe better: Railways for a fairer and greener future

Faced with the challenge of climate change, travel in Europe in the future is going to have to be more carbon neutral. Green air travel is a long way off, and while electric vehicles continue to improve and become more prevalent, cars are not viable for most long-distance trips and congestion remains a problem. As 2021 marks the European Year of Rail, Europe must drive the market share of railways, making trains the go-to for the long-distance travel across the continent. Can the idea of sustainable train travel be both a solution to our carbon reductions needs as well as European connectivity, whilst making sure that those who can’t afford mobility can experience the joy of being connected across Europe?


Alberto Mazzola

Executive Director of the Community of European Railways and Infrastructure Companies (CER)

Elmer van Buuren

Co-Founder and Managing Director of European Sleeper

Jon Worth

Political Blogger and Campaigner, #CrossBorderRail Project and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Kathrin Obst

Deputy Head of the Single European Rail Area Unit at the European Commission Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport

VISIT & DINNER — Evening at the Boghossian Foundation, the Villa Empain
Expand VISIT & DINNER — Evening at the Boghossian Foundation, the Villa Empain

‘The role of art is to make a world which can be tolerated.’ William Saroyan.

The Boghossian Foundation opened the Villa Empain in 2010 as a Centre of Art and Dialogue between Eastern and Western cultures.

In addition to hosting exhibitions, the Boghossian Foundation finances social, educational and artistic projects and encourages and stimulates artistic creation with the awarding of several prizes and the hosting of artists in the Villa Empain residence.

The evening programme will offer us the opportunity to have a guided tour of the current exibitions ‘Icons’ and ‘Trees for memories’ in addition to be hosted in this masterpiece of art deco architecture, designed by Michel Polak at the request of Baron Louis Empain.

Continue to Day 3
CONVERSATIONS OVER BREAKFAST — Peer-learning roundtables
Expand CONVERSATIONS OVER BREAKFAST — Peer-learning roundtables

Over breakfast, 30-minute short conversations with European Young Leaders run in parallel on issues that matter to them, to gain expertise from this resourceful network.


1- Restoring the health of European seas through social-economic intervention — Wietse van der Werf, CEO of Sea Ranger Service and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

2- Introducing the digital classroom: the value of augmented reality and emerging technologies for education — Darya Yegorina, Founder & CEO of CleverBooks and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

3- Tech solutions to local obstacles in Africa — Samir Abdelkrim, Author, Entrepreneur and Founder of EMERGING Valley and StartupBRICS and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

4- Bridging my community’s post-war ethnic divides — Qëndron Kastrati, Mayor of Kamenica and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

5- ”Stop talking about refugees. Start talking with refugees!” – How might we accelerate job-market integration? — Anne Kjaer Bathel, Founder and Managing Director of the ReDI School of Digital Integration and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)


1- How to be antiracist — Moha Gerehou, Spanish journalist and anti-racism activist and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

2 – Why journalists are being murdered in Europe — Matthew Caruana Galizia, Journalist and Lead Engineer for the Paradise Papers Investigation and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

3- Using film and cinema to promote shared values — Agnesta Filatovė, Executive Director of the Vilnius International Film Festival (VIFF) and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

4- Actions and policies for societal resilience in the fourth age – Tomáš Petříček, Former Czech Foreign Affairs Minister, Senior Non-residential Fellow, The Institute of International Relations Prague (IIR), Czech Republic and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

5- A shifting middle ground: exploring the new German electoral landscape – Jakob Haesler, Managing Director of Foxdixneuf and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Wrap up of the seminar and next steps
Lunch and farewell


Photo of Jamila Aanzi
Jamila Aanzi

Member of the Dutch Appeal Advisory Committee on Childcare Allowance and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Jamila Aanzi

Jamila Aanzi is a leading independent strategic consultant, educator and board member. She currently serves on the Dutch government appeal advisory commission to provide advice about the childcare benefits affair. Furthermore, she is a board member of the World Press Photo and the Stichting JES Rijland, an organisation that promotes the rights of youngsters in education and society. For various international clients, Aanzi provides consulting and coaching services about leadership, empowerment, education, diversity and inclusion. Aanzi previously worked as a senior international political trainer for the Max van der Stoel Foundation, with political parties in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and North Africa on diversity, the inclusion of young people and women, EU enlargement and democracy. Previously, she was the Dutch women’s representative to the United Nations, a member of the European Elections Programme Committee of the Dutch Social Democratic Party (PvdA) and the vice president of FNV Young, the youth network of the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions.

Photo of Samir Abdelkrim
Samir Abdelkrim

Founder of EMERGING Valley, Member of the Digital Strategy Group at the Africa-Europe Foundation and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Samir Abdelkrim

Samir Abdelkrim is a French entrepreneur, author and tech reporter. Passionate about all things digital, he founded EMERGING Valley as an international summit on African innovation to connect tech start-ups with investors, thinkers and decision-makers across continents. He also leads StartupBRICS, a company that provides insights on entrepreneurship in emerging economies. Abdelkrim is a former chronicler on African tech entrepreneurs for Le Monde and has also featured in Huffington Post, Le Point and Les Echos. His book, “Startup Lions”, chronicles his experience travelling the African continent in search of the most interesting and innovative tech start-ups. With French President Emmanuel Macron’s ‘Summit of the Two Shores of the Mediterranean’ initiative, Abdelkrim was amongst 10 selected to make proposals to relaunch European and Mediterranean cooperation.

Guillem Anglada-Escudé
Guillem Anglada-Escudé

Astrophysicist and Exoplanet Discoverer; Ramón y Cajal Research Fellow at the Institute of Space Sciences (IEEC-CISC) and 2018 European Young Leader

Show more information on Guillem Anglada-Escudé

Guillem Anglada-Escudé is a well-known astrophysicist and scientist, whose current work focuses on exoplanet detection and planetary exploration. Most notably, Guillem and his team discovered the Proxima b exoplanet orbiting Proxima Centauri, our closest neighbouring star and the nearest star to the Sun. He- has previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science, University of Goettingen, as well as Queen Mary University of London, where he became a reader in astronomy. He has conducted research in several countries and has been actively engaged with space agencies, such as NASA and the European Space Agency. In 2016, Guillem was named among the ten most prominent scientists worldwide by Science Magazine and one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

Charles-Pierre Astolfi

Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Pemier Voisin and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Charles-Pierre Astolfi

Charles-Pierre is Chief Technology Officer at Premier Voisin, a company he co-founded. Previously, he worked as advisor on regulations and digital commons to the French Minister of State for Digital Transition and Affairs. He also served as director in charge of the project ‘Vaccination Information Systems” at the French Ministry of Health and Solidarity. He is a French engineer and cybersecurity specialist leading the organisation that advises the French government on digital matters. Previously, seeking to combine his technical skills with public service, Charles-Pierre worked at the French National Cybersecurity Agency (ANSSI), where he was tasked with finding offensive viruses, tracing their source, and identifying contaminated computers to neutralise the threat. Charles-Pierre’s diverse career also includes his supervision of the deployment of an electric vehicle (EV) fleet in the United States and co-authoring a book on 3D printing.

Anne Reichert
Anne Kjær Bathel

Founder and CEO of ReDI School of Digital Integration and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Anne Kjær Bathel

Anne founded ReDI School, a vocational training programme that teaches programming and tech skills to migrants and seeks to fill vacancies in the German IT job market. With five schools throughout Germany and Denmark, ReDI hosts 1,000 students per semester, 65% of which are women and girls. She also founded the Berlin Peace Innovation Lab, which focuses on technology’s role in facilitating emerging and measurable social change towards global peace. Prior to this, Anne spent two years in Japan, researching open social innovation, and received the prestigious Rotary Peace Fellowship. She previously worked as a corporate social responsibility consultant, during which time Anne developed and implemented Samsung Electronics’ award-winning corporate social responsibility strategy for Scandinavia.

Alexander Betts
Alexander Betts

Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs at the University of Oxford and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Alexander Betts

Alexander Betts is a Professor of Forced and International Affairs at the University of Oxford, where is also the Associate Head of the Social Sciences and a Senior Fellow in Politics at Brasenose College. His research examines the political economy of refugee assistance, with a focus on Africa. Alexander also currently leads the IKEA Foundation-funded Refugee Economies Programme, which undertakes participatory research on the economic lives of refugees in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. Prior to this, he served as director of the Refugees Studies Centre. Alexander has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Guardian and is the author of “The Wealth of Refugees: How Displaced People Can Build Economies”, which explores policy solutions for the contemporary global refugee crisis.

Agnes Binagwaho
Agnes Binagwaho

Vice Chancellor and co-founder of the University of Global Health Equity and co-chair of the Africa-Europe foundation strategy group on health, former Rwanda health minister

Show more information on Agnes Binagwaho

Agnes Binagwaho is the Vice-Chancellor and Co-Founder of the University of Global Health Equity, an initiative of Partners in Health. Binagwaho previously worked in various high-level government positions, serving first as the Executive Secretary of Rwanda’s National AIDS Control Commission, then as Permanent Secretary, and lastly as the Minister of Health for five years. Binagwaho serves as Senior Advisor to the Director General of the WHO, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Adjunct Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, and Professor of Pediatrics at UGHE.

Photo of Hala Bugaighis
Hala Bugaighis

Co-Founder of Jusoor and 2017 MENA Young Leader

Show more information on Hala Bugaighis

Hala Bugaighis is a lawyer and co-founder of Jusoor, a non-governmental organisation committed to independent policy research and human development projects for women with focus on the economic and social empowerment. As a lawyer with 15 years of experience, Hala focuses on commercial, banking, civil and investment laws, and has a sound understanding of law practice in an international context. Through her private companies, Hala has worked as a consultant to many international companies as well as Libyan private and public entities, focusing on development and capacity building. In 2015, Hala was nominated a UN Women Champion for Women Economic Empowerment – an initiative that aims to improve women’s economic standing and potential around the world.

Velibor Boskovic
Velibor Bošković

Managing Director of Science and Technology Park Montenegro and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Velibor Bošković

Velibor is a Montenegrin economist, who was appointed by the Government of Montenegro to serve as the Managing Director of Montenegro’s first science and technology park and one of its most significant scientific research and innovation projects. He also serves as the President of the Center for Development and Entrepreneurial Society. With extensive experience in both the private and public sectors, Velibor’s career has focused on development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and enhancing SMEs in Montenegro. Before taking up his current post, he was the general director of FK Budućnost, Montenegro’s biggest football club. He has also served as director of Montenegro’s first business incubator, ‘Inventivnost’, and as director at an entrepreneurship and innovation centre, ‘Technopolis’, where he remains as President of the Board. Additionally, Velibor has co-founded two private companies, one of which works in economic consultancy and one of which operates within the pharmaceutical industry.

Jos Boys
Dr Jos Boys

Founding Member of Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative and Co-Author of “Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment”

Show more information on Dr Jos Boys

Dr Jos Boys is an architect turned activist, educator and writer. Her work continually challenges societal norms and inequalities in the design of built space and the discipline of architecture. Boys is currently the Course Director of Learning Environments at the University College London and recently co-founded the DisOrdinary Architecture Project to empower disabled artists and rethink access and inclusion. In the 1980s, she co-founded the Matrix Feminist Design Co-Operative to introduce feminism to the world of architecture and design. The collective released various publications, including “Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment”, one of the several books that Boys has authored on architecture, space and inclusion.

Photo of Kirsten Brosbøl
Kirsten Brosbøl

Founder and CEO, 2030beyond, former Danish minister for the environment and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Kirsten Brosbøl

Kirsten is the CEO of 2030beyond, a do-tank which she established to accelerate action on 2030 Agenda and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2020, she founded the Parliamentarians for the Global Goals initiative, a global network of parliamentarians committed to the 2030 Agenda. Kirsten formerly served as the Danish minister of environment and a member of the Danish parliament, during which time she founded and chaired the All-Party Group on the Sustainable Development Goals. She is a German Marshall Fellow and former Obama Foundation scholar at Columbia University.

Photo of Malcolm Byrne
Malcolm Byrne

Irish Senator for the Cultural and Educational Panel and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Malcolm Byrne is an Irish politician for the centrist Fianna Fáil party and currently serves as a Senator for the Cultural and Educational Panel of the Irish Parliament. Byrne formerly served as a member of the lower house for the Wexford constituency, prior to which he was a member of the Wexford Country County Council and the mayor of Gorey. Additionally, Byrne was the head of communications and public affairs at the Higher Education Authority, the statutory agency in Ireland that allocates public funding to higher education and advises the government on higher education and research policy. Having worked for various lobbying and representative organisations throughout his career, Byrne was also the first commercial manager at, Ireland’s most successful property website. Outside of his professional career, he has completed over 30 marathons.

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Fjoralba Caka

Professor of EU Law at the University of Tirana, former Albanian deputy minister of justice and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Fjoralba is the former Albanian minister for justice covering European integration and anti-corruption policies. Having started her career as an academic teaching EU Law, she has maintained an ongoing cooperation with civil society organisations. She also served as a lawyer on issues related to strategic litigation and offered legal aid for people in need and for marginalised communities. In addition, she has led projects focusing on youth and national anti-corruption campaigns, including “Fighting Corruption in the Higher Education System” and “Bookworm Project – outdoors mini-library”.

Matthew Caruana Galizia
Matthew Caruana Galizia

Investigative Journalist and Lead Engineer for the Paradise Papers Investigation and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Matthew is a renowned Maltese journalist and software engineer with a distinguished career that spans over a decade. Having previously worked for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), he co-founded the organisation’s Data & Research Unit in 2014 and was a lead engineer on six major investigations, namely Offshore Leaks, Swiss Leaks, Luxembourg Leaks, Fatal Extraction, Panama Papers and Paradise Papers. The Unit’s core work on the Panama Papers notably won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2017. He left the organisation in 2018 to continue working on the case around the assassination of his mother, Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Armin Cerkez
Armin Čerkez

Founder & CEO of Youth Power and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Armin founded Youth Power, an influential Bosnian NGO which pushes for non-violence, human rights and tolerance in the country. The inspirational work he did on Program Y led to the inclusion of gender-based violence prevention in school curricula. Coming from a region that has historically suffered from religious violence, Armin has championed the need for more inter-faith dialogue. He has also brought his message directly to citizens, providing lessons to prevent alcohol abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and violence in schools.

Silvia Console Battilana
Silvia Console Battilana

Co-Founder & CEO of Auctionomics and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Silvia is a young economist and entrepreneur specialising in game theory and interest groups. She has extensive experience as a strategist in auction design. In 2008, she co-founded Auctionomics, a high-stakes auction consulting and software firm with clients ranging from governments to Fortune 500 companies. Silvia has acted as project manager on several high-stakes auctions in Australia, Canada, and the United States, in many European countries, and in Africa and Latin America. She is also the co-founder of xSwan, an interactive version of eBay that allows charities to raise more money via online auctions. Silvia frequently speaks at major universities both in the United States (including Berkeley and Harvard) and around the world.

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Alexandra Dariescu

Award-winning concert pianist, Piano Professor at the Royal Northern College of Music and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Alexandra is the creator and producer of “The Nutcracker and I”, a ground-breaking multimedia performance created for a piano solo with dance and digital animation. She currently teaches piano at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Alexandra made her debut at the Carnegie Hall in New York and has performed in many prestigious orchestras, including the Sydney Opera House, London’s Wigmore Hall, Dubai Opera House and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. She was the first female Romanian pianist to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Alexandra is an Honorary Associate Artist at the Royal Northern College of Music, Patron of Music in Lyddington, Cultural Ambassador of Romania and Officer of the Romanian Crown. An activist for gender equality in classical music, she is a recipient of the UK’s Women of the Future Award in the Arts and Culture category and dedicates her life to education projects, building bridges and reaching out to the younger generation.

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Thomas Dermine

Belgian State Secretary for Scientific Policy, Recovery Programme and Strategic Investments and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Thomas was appointed Secretary for Economic Recovery and Strategic Investment, with responsibility for scientific policy, in the Belgian government in 2020. Prior to his current role, he was well-known for heading l’Institut Emile Vandervelde, a research centre for the francophone Socialist Party (PS). Thomas has extensive experience in the Belgian political environment, having also served as the right hand and chief of staff to Paul Magnette, Chairman of the PS. In addition to his political work, Thomas previously held a managing role at CATCH, a public start-up aimed at coordinating and accelerating local projects in and around Charleroi, an economically modest area in Belgium. Thomas is also an affiliate of the Harvard Government Performance Lab where he leads research on Social Impact and a lecturer at Université Libre de Bruxelles.

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Sandrine Dixson-Declève

Co-President of the Club of Rome

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Sandrine is the Co-President of the Club of Rome and holds several advisory positions at the European Commission, including Chair of the Expert Group on Economic and Societal Impact of Research & Innovation (ESIR), Assembly Member of the Climate Mitigation & Adaptation Mission (DGR&I) and Member of the Platform on Sustainable Finance. She is also the Vice-Chair for the United Nations Food Systems Summit Action track on building resilience, Co-Founder of the Women Enablers Change Agent Network (WECAN) and has been recognised by GreenBiz as one of the 30 most influential women for driving change in the low carbon economy and promoting green business.

Lukasz Dziekonski
Lukasz Dziekonski

CEO and Managing Partner of Montis Capital Fund and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Lukasz is the CEO and Founding Partner of Montis Capital Fund. There, Lukasz oversees the formulation of financial and operational strategies. Previously, he was head of the Marguerite Fund office for the Central and Eastern Europe and member of the management board for the Marguerite Fund 2020 for Energy, Climate Change and Infrastructure in Luxembourg. He is also on the supervisory board of Pomeranka Development, InvestGas and Energa Operator in Poland, and of PZU Ukraine Insurance Company and Kredobank, also in Ukraine. Lukasz began his career as an adviser in the European Parliament, focusing on energy policy and security as well as EU relations with Russia and Ukraine.

Agnesta Filatovė
Agnesta Filatovė

Creative entrepreneur, Member of the Lithuanian National Radio and TV Commission, and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Agnesta is a Lithuanian image and executive specialist with extensive knowledge of the creative industry and public advocacy. She was the head of Lithuania’s annual Vilnius International Film Festival (VIFF) ‘Kino Pavasaris’, one of the biggest film festivals in the Baltic States. In 2019, VIFF screened around 170 films in 17 cities, 34% of which were made by women directors. Agnesta’s long career in the cultural environmental also extends to the role of coordinator at the European Commission’s 2007 MEDIA programme office in Lithuania, as well as a number of cultural projects, including the Latin American culture festival ‘In Latino’ and the educational cinema project for youths ‘Cine Book’ in Lithuania.

Mary Fitzgerald
Mary Fitzgerald

Non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute, Trustee at Friends of Europe and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Mary Fitzgerald is a researcher and analyst specialising in the Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya. She has consulted for a number of international organisations including in the areas of peacebuilding and civil society. She has worked with the International Crisis Group (ICG), the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) among others. She is a Non-Resident Scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC, an Associate Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, King’s College London and an Associate Fellow at ISPI in Milan. Mary has also worked on wider initiatives with UNESCO, the Anna Lindh Foundation, the British Council and other cultural organisations. Her writing has appeared in publications including Foreign Policy, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Financial Times and The Guardian.

Markus Freiburg
Markus Freiburg

Founder & CEO of Financing Agency for Social Entrepreneurship (FASE) and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Markus is the Founder of the Financing Agency for Social Entrepreneurship (FASE), a leading financial intermediary that helps social enterprises scale their social impact by helping them raise hybrid growth capital. FASE has built an open pipeline of investment-ready social enterprises and closed sixteen transactions leveraging around €6m in impact investments. Markus is also a member of the Expert Group on Social Entrepreneurship (GECES), a consultative multi-stakeholder group on social business that examines the progress of measures foreseen by the European Commission. He has experience of working with many social enterprises in finding appropriate financing solutions and scaling-up the impact of proven business models. Markus worked for seven years as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, where one of his roles was providing pro-bono consulting for social entrepreneurs.

Alessandro Fusacchia
Alessandro Fusacchia

Member of the Italian Parliament and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Alessandro serves as a Member of the Italian Parliament. He is also the Co-Founder and former secretary of the Italian political organisation, Movimenta, prior to which he worked as a strategic advisor for H-Farm’s Education division. Alessandro is the former head of cabinet at the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research. He has prior experience as a special advisor on economic diplomacy to the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and as a special advisor on innovation, entrepreneurship, youth and European affairs to the Italian Minister of Economic Development. Alessandro has also worked as an official at the Council of the European Union dealing with global economic governance and under the Italian Prime Minister’s office in Rome as part of the G8 summit team.

Jasna Gabric
Jasna Gabric

Mayor of Trbovlje, Slovenia and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Jasna Gabric is the mayor of Trbovlje, a former mining town in Slovenia. A member of the municipal council since the age of 25, she was the youngest Slovenian mayor when elected. Unemployment in her town has fallen by almost half thanks to her role in implementing a successful incubator for start-ups. Her effort also focussed on reforming the municipality to make it more efficient and responsive. These achievements have received widespread recognition, in particular from the City Mayors Foundation which named her Mayor of Distinction. She is seen as a role model for young female politicians.

Josep-Maria Gascón
Josep-Maria Gascón

Co-Founder & CEO of Vitaes and Meditech Capital and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Josep-Maria Gascón is the Co-Founder and CEO Meditech Capital, a telemedicine company which diagnoses cardiovascular diseases, and Vitaes, a boutique strategic executive consulting firm that provides insights on macroeconomic data to help high-level decision-makers understand the evolution of societies and economies, as well as asses business options and risks. He is the former director of strategy and competitive intelligence within Ministry of Business of the Government of Catalonia and previously served as the head of finance excellence and one of the leading lawyers at the chemical giant Solvay. Josep-Maria received the Forbes 40 under Forty Award as one of the best young lawyers in the Iberian Peninsula. He has held several senior positions on all continents in general management, business strategy, as well as legal and tax advice. He was appointed a Business Ambassador by the Government of Catalonia for his role in attracting investment to the region. Josep-Maria is also the President of the World Chemical Summit and a Professor of Resource Management at the GBSB Global Business School. He is a frequent speaker and authors articles in international and national media about leadership, organisational behaviour, change management and geopolitics.

Moha Gerehou
Moha Gerehou

Journalist, Contributor at Vogue Spain and La Hora de La 1 and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Moha is a Spanish journalist and anti-racism activist. Prior to his current roles at Vogue Spain and La Hora de La 1, he wrote for, a leading online newspaper in Spain, contributing op-eds and video content on issues related to race and discrimination. Moha served as president of SOS Racismo Madrid, a prominent organisation that seeks to combat racism and xenophobia. Additionally, Moha is active on the speaker circuit and is a lecturer at the University of Syracuse and the University of Stanford’s campuses in Madrid. Known for utilising both print and multimedia content to advance his message, Moha is the creator of the audio-visual monologue, “How my life would be if I were a black character in a movie”, and one of the authors of the book, “Lost in Media: Migrant Perspectives and the Public Sphere”.

Jan Goossens
Jan Goossens

Artistic Director of the Festival de Marseille and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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In addition to his current role at the Festival de Marseille, Jan is the Co-Artistic Director of L’Art Rue and its Dream City festival in Tunis, which promote access to culture and the democratisation of the arts. He also leads the ‘Brussels 2030’ project, the city’s bid to be named the European Capital of Culture. During his time as the director of the Festival de Marseille, Jan received the Chevalie de l’Order des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture for his contribution to the arts. He is also the former artistic director of the Royal Flemish Theater (KVS), which became a key cultural organisation in Brussels under his leadership.

Ulrik Haagerup
Ulrik Haagerup

Founder and CEO of the Constructive Institute

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Ulrik Haagerup is the Founder and CEO of the Constructive Institute, a global hub at the centre of the constructive journalism movement, which recognises that journalism is both a contributing factor and a solution to the erosion of trust in democracies. The former executive director of news at the Danish Broadcasting Corporation and former editor-in-chief at Nordjyske Media and Jyllands-Posten, Haagerup has extensive experience in journalism and received the Cavling Prize for investigative reporting in 1990. He is also the author of two books, “A Good Idea – Did You Get It?” and “Constructive News”, and served as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Journalism in 2008.

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Günther Hasinger

Director of Science at the European Space Agency (ESA)

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Günther is a scientist and academic, well known for his contributions to space science, specifically the operation of X-ray satellites. He currently serves as the Director of Science at the ESA and Head of the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), the ESA’s centre for space science. Previously, he was the scientific director at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics and director of the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam. He has been awarded several prizes for his outstanding professional achievements, including the prestigious German Leibniz Prize. Günther is also the author of “Der Schicksal des Universums”, an award-winning book which explains cosmology and astrophysics to a general audience.

Makiko Hirata
Dr Makiko Hirata

Pianist and Consultant at the Center for Performing Arts Medicine at Houston Methodist Hospital

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Nicknamed ‘Dr Pianist’, Dr Makiko Hirata is an international pianist on a mission to promote music as a healing agent. As a consultant at Houston Methodist Hospital, she researches brain activity in collaboration with neuroscientists to quantify the benefit of music. Hirata views music as an overlooked resource with the capacity to unite individuals and communities. A US-Japan Leadership Program Fellow, she is also a published author. With 10 released albums, Hirata has performed across the Americas and Eurasia. She has also taught at schools throughout the United States, namely New York University, Colburn School of Music, Rice University and Lone Star College, and given master classes and lectures internationally.

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Pascal Lamy

Vice President of the Paris Peace Forum, former director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Trustee of Friends of Europe and Member of the Africa-Europe Foundation High-Level Group of Personalities

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Pascal Lamy is a French politician and the Vice President of the Paris Peace Forum, a new innovative global governance initiative. He served as the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) for two consecutive terms, prior to which he was the European commissioner for trade and head of cabinet for former Commission president, Jacques Delores. Currently an associate professor at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, Lamy also frequently lectures at the Institut Jacques Delors and speaks on issues related to globalisation, global governance, international trade, international economics and regional integration. He has written several publications on the European Union and the ‘harmonising’ of globalisation.

Alexandre Perez Casares
Alexandre Pérez Casares

Co-Founder of Fever, President of The Altius Society and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Alexandre is a Spanish engineer and entrepreneur. He is President and Co-Founder of The Altius Society, a renowned international non-profit which combines the knowledge of Nobel laureates, leading researchers and policymakers to better understand the impact of technology on future societies. He also co-founded Fever, a tech start-up which is disrupting the ‘experience economy’ as it allows its users to browse and book nearby events from a curated collection of places and pop-ups in over a dozen cities around the world. Alexandre has been recognised for his work by the Spanish Ministry of Education with the prestigious National Prize, awarded to Spain’s top three engineers.

Tomas Petříček
Tomáš Petříček

Senior Non-Residential Fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, former Czech minister for foreign affairs and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Tomáš is a leading politician from the Czech Social Democratic Party. A long-time activist, he quickly climbed through the ranks, rising from MEP assistant to deputy minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. In his current portfolio, Tomáš has gained a reputation as a firm supporter of the European project and a strong advocate for human rights. He has notably been vocal about the Jamal Khashoggi assassination, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights. He has also called for the adoption of the UN Global Migration Pact, to ensure safe international immigration.

Brune Poirson
Brune Poirson

Chief Sustainability Officer at Accor, former French secretary of state for the ecological and inclusive transition and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Brune is the Chief Sustainability Officer and a Member of the Executive Committee at Accor, a multinational hospitality company. Her role includes defining, driving and monitoring commitments, strategy and rollout of Accor’s plans in relation to sustainable development. She is also responsible for the Accor Solidarity and ALL Heartists endowment funds and additionally serves on the Board of Trustees of Fondation de la Mer. During her tenure as a member of the French National Assembly, Brune served as the secretary of state to the French Ministry of Ecological and Inclusive Transition and became the first French minister elected as vice-president of the United Nations Environment Assembly. She was previously the director of sustainability and social responsibility for South Asia at Veolia, where projects focused on drinking water distribution in the slums of Indian megacities, and a coordinator of sustainability projects at the French Development Agency in New Delhi.

Mònica Roca i Aparici
Mònica Roca i Aparici

Founder and Director of isardSAT

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Mònica Roca i Aparici is a Catalan engineer and scientist on a mission to improve our knowledge of planet Earth. Her passion for space led her to found isardSAT, a research company in the field of Earth observation, which performs studies to prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change, through the processing of satellite sensors data. She was recently elected President of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce by an overwhelming majority and is the first woman to assume the position. The Catalan media even dubbed her as ‘an engineer with an astronaut’s heart’. Roca i Aparici authors scientific articles and has been awarded several accolades for her contribution to space research.

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Marina Hanke

Councillor of the city of Vienna and Chairwoman of the Wiener SPO-Frauen (Vienna)

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Marina Hanke is the Vice-Chair of the Vienna City Council Committee on European and international affairs. An experienced activist and politician, Hanke’s expertise lies predominantly in gender and organisation development and her work focuses on gender and youth politics. She participated in the largest project for children and young people in Vienna with over 22,000 participants, creating the first Viennese children and youth strategy and is now working on its implementation.

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Jakob Haesler

Managing Director at Foxdixneuf and European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Prior to founding Project Alloy, Jakob was the CEO and Co-Founder of Tinyclues SAS, a Paris-based software startup with the objective of industrialising datamining on Big Data with the help of advanced machine learning algorithms in a Cloud Computing environment. Previously he was a partner and consultant at McKinsey & Company in Germany and France where he worked on topics ranging from Banking to Public Sector Reform to Global Public Health issues, notably the creation and distribution of child HIV treatments. Prior to McKinsey he briefly worked at the World Bank. He holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Science from the University of St. Gallen. Jakob is also a founding partner of the “Cercle du Leadership”.

Hera Hussain
Hera Hussain

Founder of CHAYN and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Hera is the Founder and CEO of CHAYN – a global non-profit that creates resources on the web to address gender-based violence. CHAYN’s multilingual resources, designed with, not for survivors, have reached more than 500 000 people. Raised in Pakistan and living in the UK, Hera committed early to tackling violence against women. She believes in using the power of open-source technology, trauma-informed design and hope-filled framing to solve the world’s pressing issues. Hera is an Ashoka Fellow, and was on the Forbes 30 Under 30 and MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 list.

Dharmendra Kanani
Dharmendra Kanani

Chief Operating Officer and Chief Spokesperson of Friends of Europe

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Prior to joining Friends of Europe, Dharmendra Kanani was director of policy at the European Foundation Centre (EFC). He was the England director at the Big Lottery Fund, the largest independent funder in the UK and fourth largest in the world. Dharmendra has held senior positions in the public and voluntary sectors and advisor to numerous ministerial policy initiatives across the UK.

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Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica

Deputy Speaker of the Latvian Parliament, Trustee of Friends of Europe and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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A Latvian politician, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica is a Deputy Speaker of the Saeima, the Latvian parliament, where she sits on the Committee of Foreign Affairs and Committee of European Affairs. She serves as a Head of the Latvian Delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Previously, Kalniņa-Lukaševica held numerous posts at the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including as the parliamentary secretary, in which role she was responsible for ensuring cooperation between the ministry, the Latvian parliament and the European Parliament. She has also represented the Latvian government at the EU Foreign Affairs Council meetings of development and trade ministers. Kalniņa-Lukaševica started her professional career at Jurmala’s city council and then went on to work at the Strategic Analysis Commission of the President of Latvia, where she served as an advisor to the president.

Qëndron Kastrati
Qëndron Kastrati

Mayor of the Municipality of Kamenica, Kosovo, and European Young Leader

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Qëndron is the youngest mayor in Kosovo, having been elected to lead the town of Kamenica at only 29. He is known for his progressive approach, having a predominantly female cabinet. As mayor, he has been resolute in his mission to make his town a genuinely multi-ethnic community and to bridge existing ethnic divides. He reformed the local education system and created a joint multi-ethnic school for Albanians, Serbs and Roma children. He has also walked the talk by installing translation booths in the municipal assembly, so Serbs can participate fully in meetings.

Kamal Kharmach
Kamal Kharmach

Belgian Stand-Up Comedian, Economics Professor at the Karel de Grote University and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Kamal is one of the rising stars of the Belgian stand-up comedy scene, winner of several awards. He openly tackles sensitive and personal issues, such as obesity, discrimination and social injustice. Kamal was previously the Director of the Flemish-Moroccan culture house Daarkom. This cultural organisation seeks to bring about cultural exchange between diverse groups. Kamal is also a well-known TV host. An immigrant and stand-up comedian, he uses his platform to bring light to social abuses through a positive and humorous approach. His mix of television shows range from providing economic guidance for struggling companies, to blending comedy with politics.

Meeri Koutaniemi
Meeri Koutaniemi

Photographer, Documentary Filmmaker, Cinematographer and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Meeri is an internationally renowned Finnish photographer and journalist, admired for her coverage of and portraits on human rights, minorities and empowerment. She garnered significant attention for her work on female genital mutilation in Kenya. This won her the Visa D’or Daily Press Award at France’s most prestigious photojournalism festival, Visa pour l’Image, and the Freelens Award at the Lumix Photo Festival in Hannover. She is also a seasoned documentary filmmaker, focusing her attention on disadvantaged groups such as the ‘Findian’ community in the US or transsexual Mayans in Mexico.

Ivan Lesay
Ivan Lesay

Board Member and Head of Strategy and M&A of ESCO Slovensko, civil servant and fiction writer and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Ivan is a political scientist, economic advisor and writer from Slovakia. Shortly after joining the Slovak Ministry of Finance as advisor to the minister, Ivan instigated the setup of the Slovak Investment Holding (SIH). Since being appointed its CEO in January 2017, Ivan led this state-owned fund in investing in strategic sectors of the economy, and driving economic development throughout the country. As of 2022, Ivan now leads ESCO Slovensko, a joint company of Czech and Slovak energy companies as a board member and head of Strategy and M&A. He previously served as deputy finance minister, and held leading roles during the Slovak Presidency in the EU Council. Ivan is a keen writer and has seen the publication of a number of his works, including a popular study of the 2008 Financial Crisis he co-authored and a children’s book.

André Loesekrug-Pietri
André Loesekrug-Pietri

Chairman and Scientific Director of the Joint European Disruptive Initiative (JEDI) and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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André Loesekrug-Pietri is an entrepreneur and has held leadership positions in private equity, government and industry. He is currently the Chairman of JEDI, which aims to accelerate Europe’s leadership by financing and nurturing the development of breakthrough technologies. He previously served as a special advisor to the French Minister of Defence, where he was responsible for European defence policy, as well as technology and innovation, prior to which he has 15 years of experience in private equity and venture capital. Loesekrug-Pietri is a lecturer at Sciences Po and a regular columnist at several international media outlets. Having studied aerospace engineering, he is also a private pilot and Colonel with the French Air Force People’s Reserve.

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Alberto Mazzola

Executive Director of the Community of European Railways and Infrastructure Companies (CER)

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Alberto Mazzola represents CER’s members towards EU policymakers and advocates rail as the backbone of a competitive and sustainable transport system in Europe. Active in the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Mazzola currently serves as Member of the EESC’s Consultative Commission on Industrial Change, representing CER as well as Business Europe. He is the former head of international government affairs at Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FS) and contributed to the worldwide business section of Leonardo Finmeccanica.

Ayman Mhanna
Ayman Mhanna

Executive Director of the Samir Kassir Foundation and 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Ayman Mhanna is Executive Director of the Beirut-based Samir Kassir Foundation, one of the leading press freedom NGOs in the Middle East. In this capacity, he oversees the foundation’s advocacy, monitoring, research and training activities. Ayman has previously held the position of Executive Director of the Global Forum for Media Development, focusing on monitoring violations targeting journalists and providing them with the necessary support. He has also extensively worked with issues related to election observation, electoral reform and civil society involvement. Until recently, he was a lecturer on policy development and communications at Saint Joseph University in Beirut. In 2016, he was appointed Secretary-General of the Democratic Renewal Movement, a secular, social-liberal political party in Lebanon.

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Negar Mortazavi

Journalist and 2017 MENA Young Leader (EYL40)

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Negar Mortazavi is an Iranian-American journalist and columnist, who exclusively covers stories about Iran in both English and Persian. She is also the host of the Iran Podcast and a frequent commentator on Iranian affairs at MSNBC, BBC, PRI, The New York Times, Aljazeera, HuffPost and international outlets across the world, including Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Switzerland and Japan. Mortazavi previously worked as a TV presenter at Voice of America (VOA) Persian, where she hosted a daily hour-long interactive show that discussed current affairs with Iranians across the world.

Alfredo Munoz
Alfredo Muñoz

Founder & CEO of ABIBOO Studio and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Alfredo is a Spanish architect, who has designed and managed more than six million square metres across five continents. Under Alfredo’s leadership, his architectural, urban and interior design firm has designed projects in a wide range of scales, from large urban developments and affordable housing townships to small temporal structures. Before founding ABIBOO, Alfredo held senior roles at Toyo Ito and SOM. Internationally-renowned, Alfredo was recognised among the most important and emerging young architects and designers by the European Centre and the Chicago Athenaeum Architecture Awards, and his work has been featured in various media outlets, including The New York Times, Wallpaper and Domus, among others.

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Katarzyna Nawrot

Professor, Poznan University of Economics and Business and member Committee of Future Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences

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A Polish economist, Katarzyna is currently a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences Committee for Future Studies Poland 2000 Plus. Her research interests include development, cultural and international economics, with a focus on East Asian markets. Katarzyna’s work also explores challenges to global development. Having lectured at universities across Asia, Africa and Europe, she has worked on several research projects for the European Commission and the National Bureau of Research in Poland, among other international institutions, as well as national and local governments. Her academic achievements have been recognised by numerous awards, including one for outstanding young scholars from Poland’s Minister of Science and Higher Education. Katarzyna has published numerous articles and books on issues relating to development, governance, integration and regional cooperation, most recently having co-edited “The Rise of Megacities: Challenges, Opportunities and Unique Characteristics”.

Sophie Nivelle-Cardinale
Sophie Nivelle-Cardinale

War Reporter and Filmmaker, Recipient of Prix Albert Londres and Bayeux-Calvados Award and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Sophie is a multi-award-winning war reporter who has covered multiple conflicts and issues across the Middle East. Starting in 2011, she reported from inside Syria on the protests and the repression of the regime. Her work was awarded with Prix Bayeux-Calvados for War Correspondents in 2013, and the Prix Albert Londres in 2016, the most important journalism award in France. In June 2017, she was the first foreign journalist to film inside Raqqa with the Kurdish forces. In 2017, Sophie also reported from Central Africa on the civil war and from Zimbabwe on the end of the Mugabe era.

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Eduardo Portal Martin

Founding Member and CEO of Passion for Conducting Academy and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Eduardo is a conductor and violinist, who founded the Conducting Academy, an online academy to share valuable information with those passionate about conducting. Having made his debut and conducted over twenty performances with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall and throughout England, Eduardo has been invited to conduct orchestras across Europe and the Americas, including the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Madrid and Valencia Symphony Orchestras and Sao Paulo Estate Symphony Orchestra, among others. Widely acclaimed by musical critics and particularly committed to contemporary repertoire, Eduardo also founded and serves as the Music Director of Antares Ensemble in Spain, which focuses on the performance of new music and studies its links with historical and rarely-performed masterpieces.

Cristina Pozzi

Co-Founder and CEO at Treccani Futura and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Cristina is an Italian businesswoman and social entrepreneur with a passion for emerging technologies and a goal to ensure everyone has access to a digital future. She is the CEO of Tercanni Futura, an Italian cultural EdTech hub and the product of the Treccani Scuola acquisition of Impactscool. Cristina co-founded Treccani to raise awareness about innovative education, stimulate reflection on the ethics of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and encourage citizens to adopt a more forward-thinking approach to technological change. She led Impactscool as CEO for five years, prior to which she co-founded Wish Days, where she served as general manager and a board member. Her motto, “the future is open source”, acknowledges that the future is shaped by and accessible to everyone. A published author, Cristina is also a member of the International Advisory Board of the Institute for Ethical AI in Education and an Independent Advisor on the Advisory Board of Fondo Italiano d’Investimento SGR.

Anne-Solene Rolland
Anne-Solène Rolland

Director of Heritage and Collections at the Musée du Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Anne-Solène is Director of Heritage and Collections at the  Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac. She previously headed the department of museums at the French Ministry of Culture. A fierce advocate for history and heritage, she has shaped her career around showcasing the societal benefits of cultural conservation. As a curator of heritage, she has held leading positions at the prestigious French National Museum of Immigration History. Anne-Solène has also been director of research and collections at the Louvre Museum, where she oversaw the acquisition and lending of the museum’s artwork. She played an instrumental role in increasing the availability of the world’s finest art to a greater number of people.

Ivan Štefunko
Ivan Štefunko

Founding Chairman of Progresívne Slovensko, Consultant in Innovation Policies and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Ivan has extensive experience in technology, media and the Internet as a serial entrepreneur and angel investor in the Slovakian venture capital industry. Ivan co-founded Progresívne Slovensko (Progressive Slovakia), a social-liberal and pro-European political movement, becoming the party’s first chairman and currently serving as Vice Chairman. Prior to this, Ivan co-founded Neulogy Ventures, a management company which invests public and private funds in early stage tech companies, and Neulogy, a Bratislava-based consultancy boutique specialising in R&D management, technology commercialisation and start-up consultation. He has also been at the helm of a number of start-up companies with global or regional reach, including,, Piano Media and GA Drilling.

Michał Szczerba
Michał Szczerba

Member of Parliament, Sejm, Poland and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Michal is currently a Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Polish Parliament and sits on the Justice and Human Rights Committee. Before he started working for the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, in 2007, he was the Representative of the Parliament to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and sat on the State Treasury Committee. Previously, Michal worked as an expert on EU funding for restructuring and modernising agriculture and was on the Wola District Council of Warsaw. In 2011, Michal received the Order of Honour from the President of the Republic of Georgia, and has been part of numerous leadership training programmes. He holds an MSc in Sociology from the University of Warsaw.

Małgorzata Tracz
Małgorzata Tracz

Polish Member of Parliament, Co-Chair of Poland’s Green Party and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Małgorzata is one of the first members of the Green Party to be elected to the Polish parliament. In her role as Co-Chair of the Green Party, she has successfully promoted a stronger climate agenda, most notably through her actions for cleaner air and the reduction of smog in Polish cities, as well as raising citizen awareness about environmental issues. A strong advocate of equality, democracy and the rule of law, Małgorzata is a vocal activist for the rights of women and minorities. She is a member of the women’s rights movement, Committee Ratujmy Kobiety (“Let’s save women”), which led the first against the national abortion ban from 2016 through 2018. She is also a member of the Polish Women’s Congress and Ecological Association EKO-UNIA.

Shahin Vallée
Shahin Vallée

Head of the Geo-Economics Programme at the German Council on Foreign Relations and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Shahin is Senior Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations. He is also affiliated with the European Institute of the London School of Economics and is a member of the euro50 group, a group of senior current and former European policymakers in Europe. Prior to this Shahin was a Senior Economist at Soros Fund Management and he was also the Economic Advisor to the French Economy Minister until April 2015. Shahin has also been the Economic Advisor to the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy. In this capacity, he worked in particular on issues pertaining to European economic policy, the architecture of the euro area and the consequences of the economic and financial crisis.

Elmer van Buuren
Elmer van Buuren

Co-Founder and Managing Director of European Sleeper

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Elmer van Buuren has over 15 years of professional experience in the travel and railway industry. He co-founded European Sleeper, a Netherlands-based start-up railway company, dedicated entirely to sleeper trains and currently preparing the first line from Belgium and the Netherlands to Berlin and Prague, set to open in April 2022. Van Buuren strongly believes in the need for a new economic paradigm, based on purpose rather than growth, in order to overcome challenges such as climate change and inequality. With previous experience in the consultancy sector, he has also previously worked in operations and project management at Netherlands Railways.

Kirsten van den Hul
Kirsten van den Hul

Director of DutchCulture, former member of the Dutch Parliament; Writer, Change Agent and Columnist and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Kirsten is the director of DutchCulture, an Amsterdam-based network and knowledge organisation for international cultural cooperation. She has been elected in the Dutch national Parliament in 2017. Prior to starting her political career, she was working as a ‘change agent’. As such she has been involved in a number of different change projects for companies and organisations such as Nike and Amnesty International. She is also a columnist for several Dutch newspapers on issues ranging from women’s rights to international relations. Trained as an Eastern Europe specialist, she has worked for several international NGOs, including international women’s fund Mama Cash and the European Cultural Foundation. After working as a Communication Officer for LPG multinational SHV Gas, Kirsten also worked as a Programme Coordinator for Cultuurfabriek, a communications and production agency. While there she set up WOMEN Inc., a platform for debate and interaction, and was also involved with several other social and cultural projects.

Wietse van der Werf
Wietse van der Werf

Founder & CEO of Sea Ranger Service and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Wietse is an award-winning Dutch social entrepreneur and conservationist, pioneering regenerative blue economy ventures. Wietse has received wide recognition for his innovative approach to mobilising businesses, governments and citizens to form uncommon partnerships for the social, economic and ecological regeneration of European coastal and ocean areas. His current venture, the Sea Ranger Service, trains unemployed young people from port cities with the help of navy veterans to manage Marine Protected Areas in European seas. A new type of professional sailing vessel has been developed for the Sea Rangers, with cost-effective sea operation and zero emissions.

Marc Van Ranst
Marc Van Ranst

Head of the Laboratory of Clinical and Epidemiological Virology at the University Hospitals Leuven

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Undoubtedly Belgium’s coolest scientist, Marc Van Ranst is a virologist, vaccination champion and activist. In addition to his current roles at KULeuven, Van Ranst sits on the Scientific Committee Coronavirus, which advises the Belgian government on the country’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic. He previously served as the president of the Vaccination Section of the Belgian High Council for Public Health for fifteen years. Van Ranst is very active on social media, where he is outspoken about raising awareness on COVID measures and vaccination, as well as strongly committed to fighting racism and homophobia. Dubbed the ‘virus hero’ by media for his crucial role during the pandemic, Van Ranst was even depicted as a ‘superhero’ fighting anti-lockdown nationalists in a viral video. As the saying goes, not all heroes wear capes: some wear lab coats.

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Wouter Verschelden

Author and Chief Executive Officer at NewsMonkey and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Wouter is the founder of, a social media tailor-made news website, partly funded by a successful crowd-funding action. In 2013, he made a documentary and book about the future of the news business: Stop The Presses: the Golden Age of Journalism starts now. The documentary was partly based on his experience as the Editor-in-Chief of De Morgen that he managed for over 2 years. Before that, he worked at De Standaard, as a political journalist, and won several Belfius-press prizes. During that period he acquired his passion for politics and the inner workings of the system, which resulted in a fiction series about Belgian politics that he co-wrote for television and that will air in Belgium. He holds an MA in Political Journalism from the Columbia School of Journalism in New York. He also has a Master in Business from the Vlerick Management School in Ghent and a Masters in Politics at Ghent University and Université de Bretagne Occidentale.

Dobrica Veselinovic
Dobrica Veselinovic

Co-Leader of the ‘Do not let Belgrade d(r)own’ Movement and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Dobrica Veselinovic has been active in the civil sector in Belgrade for the past decade, working for various NGOs and jumpstarting projects related to urban development and education. It is his mission to advocate for public spaces and mobilise citizens to participate in decision-making processes. Dobrica is a co-leader of the citizen movement, ‘Don’t Let Belgrade D(r)own’, an initiative opposing the Belgrade Waterfront redevelopment project with broader aims to encourage sustainable development and give citizens voice to influence their urban environments. He is also the Founder of the collective Ministry of Space, the Institute for Urban Policy and the new political network, Civic Front, a network of grassroots initiatives and organisations from over 10 cities in Serbia.

Vlad Voiculescu
Vlad Voiculescu

Social entrepreneur, patient advocate, former Romanian minister for health and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Vlad is a Romanian politician, health policy expert and patient advocate, who until recently has served as the minister of health. After pursuing a career in finance, Vlad became active in public service, serving as the Romanian Finance Minister’s chief of staff before becoming the minister of health in the Dacian Cioloș government. Since 2008, Vlad has been involved in patient advocacy, both at the national and European level. He is the founder of an international network of volunteers that helped over 2,500 cancer patients receive essential medicines that were missing in Romania, a story that featured in the HBO documentary The Network’. Vlad is also the Co-Founder of MagiCAMP, which seeks to provide support to children diagnosed with cancer and other serious illnesses. For this work, the European Parliament awarded Vlad its ‘European Citizen’s Prize.’

Yuriy Vulkovsky
Yuriy Vulkovsky

Independent Expert and Consultant and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Yuriy is independent expert and consultant, who until recently has served as Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Culture. Prior to this, he was a Country Manager for Bulgaria of the International Foundation “Reach for Change” which supports social innovators and social entrepreneurs in 18 countries at 3 continents. He has more than 20 years of experience in the non-governmental sector in Bulgaria and Europe working for the capacity building of the independent social and cultural organisations, as well fighting for government transparency and effectiveness. He believes that the change starts from bottom up and the innovation emerges from the periphery, not from the center. German Marshall Fund and Salzburg Global Seminar Alumni. Member of the Strategy Group of the European Initiative “A Soul for Europe”.

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Jon Worth

Political Blogger and Campaigner, #CrossBorderRail Project and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Jon is one the best-known political bloggers and commentators on all things EU politics and Brexit. His commentary on his blog ( and Twitter account (@jonworth) are well known in Brussels and EU circles. His work around Brexit and especially his famous Brexit diagrams have been featured in international media, including The New York Times and ARD. Jon is a Visiting Lecturer on politics and online communication at the College of Europe in Bruges. He also leads workshops at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, the University of Maastricht and the Italian School of Public Administration in Rome. The Founder of Trains for Europe, a campaign that demands the European Union take action on the issues surrounding long distance rail travel in Europe, Jon is an experienced campaigner, having previously organised a number of online campaigns for United Kingdom politicians and the Atheist Bus Campaign.

Darya Yegorina
Darya Yegorina

Founder & Board Member of CleverBooks and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Darya is an Irish entrepreneur and influential global pioneer of the role that ‘augmented reality’ (AR) can play in education. She recently created CleverBooks to provide personalised educational content for students by utilising three-dimensional AR technologies. Darya has been widely recognised for her work, having won the Digital Female Leaders Award in Entrepreneurship as well as being named an Innovator by the Irish Times and a Young Irish Entrepreneur. She has been featured in, Forbes, CBS and many other global media platforms for her efforts to bridge the technology gap in classrooms around the world and boost student outcomes.

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