Selene works for the Prosperity Unit at the UNDP in Kabul, Afghanistan as a Portfolio Specialist. She is the founder of several social ventures, including Plain Ink, which creates free, educational comics for children and communities in developing countries, and Youth Action for Change (YAC), which provides high-quality and free online courses for young change-makers in 130 counties. Selene also serves as a member of RENA, an Italian association of young professionals promoting innovation, merit, youth empowerment and a new generation of local public policies, and the Italian Economic Development Minister’s Taskforce on Innovative Startups. She has previously worked as a consultant, trainer and speaker for various organisations, including the UN, Amnesty International, the World Bank, Oxfam, OSCE, the Council of Europe, Columbia University and Microsoft. She is a recipient of the Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice.
Ten years ago, motivated by the urgent need to tackle the increasing disconnect between citizens and policymakers, and to rebuild the trust that is vital to democracies, Friends of Europe crafted a leadership programme unlike any other: the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme. To celebrate the programme’s anniversary, we travelled through the past ten years to share ten inspiring stories.
Our anniversary celebration features volleyball player Valentina Diouf; Rokhaya Diallo, a journalist, filmmaker and human rights activist; Christel Heydemann, CEO of Orange; renowned chef Eneko Atxa; serial entrepreneur Ivan Stefunko; bionic pop artist and futurist, Viktoria Modesta; Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas; Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke, CEO and Founder of Women’s WorldWide Web (W4); Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, Bastian Obermayer; and Qëndron Kastrati, former mayor of Kamenica, Kosovo. Click here to learn more about our selection amongst 350+ wonderful profiles.
Bold leadership, ground-breaking ideas, unparalleled passion …
We’ve learned time and again that the challenges of the 21st century and of our ever complex world cannot be addressed using the rulebooks of the past. The world is screaming for a new type of leadership and a Renewed Social Contract in which the private sector, local and multilateral institutions, and citizens can collaborate and drive change.
Today’s leaders may look back in time for inspiration, but they must lead with innovation.
The European Young Leaders represent an alternative infrastructure of leadership – a new generation of leaders able to inspire action and generate change. Together, their passion, diversity of backgrounds and opinions, and innovative thinking create the right formula for generating fresh ideas to build a more forward-thinking Europe.
Our European leaders are scientists, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs and astronomers. They are citizens and their thinking is not bound by local and multilateral institutions, traditional political frameworks or bureaucracy. They provide alternative perspectives to EU decision-makers and challenge the status quo.
They help take Europe out of Brussels. In their own countries, cities and communities, the European Young Leaders also play an essential role in reconnecting people with and rebuilding trust in politics by engaging a wider community around key EU policy issues that need a whole-of-economy, whole-of-society approach to progress more quickly. They are facilitating citizens’ participation in the creation of a more equal, innovative and inclusive Europe and helping build a European identity.
The programme in the next years will take a new localism lens, bringing together these thinkers and leaders to act on some of the key issues affecting Europe’s future: supporting the green and digital transformation, strengthening our democracy, improving relations with our neighbours, increasing power sharing and building a more diverse Europe.
Succeeding in these policies and getting more citizens engaged in European elections will be our litmus test.
Tune in to the EYL40s on Friends of Europe’s podcasts
Leading viewFrankly Speaking Podcast | Iran: Unchallenged, till now
Leading viewFrankly Speaking Podcast | Fighting for the truth in the Western Balkans
Leading viewEverything you didn't know about air pollution. It's scary stuff!
Leading viewJoss Garman on the climate crisis: how bad is it (bad!) and can we get out of it (yes!)?
Leading viewUna Mullally on abortion rights, marriage equality and galvanising a generation for change
Meet the EYL40
Camille is a European writer, creator and artist. He studied in Paris, at the London School of Economics, as well as in New York. He has published several novels, shorts and essays, such as The Inversion of Hieronymus Bosch (2005), Lives and Death of an American Terrorist (2007), and L’inquiétude d’être au monde (The Anxiety of Being in the World) (2012). In 2004, Camille won the Villa Medicis scholarship for his literary and video work. His short film, “Tango de Olvido”, was selected for the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. In 2008 he founded the European Society of Authors with other intellectual figures to promote a cultural Europe on the basis of what he coined a translation citizenship. He is the Chief Editor of www.ifverso.com and Chief Advisor of the “TLHUB.org” project, a multilingual translation platform.
Balázs is a Hungarian lawyer and a human rights activist. In 1997 he joined the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), the country’s leading civil liberties watchdog organisation, and after holding various positions he served as the HCLU Executive Director from 2004 to 2012. Since early 2013, he is Director of the European Civil Liberties Project at the Open Society Foundations. He is a founding member of many Hungarian NGOs, and serves on the board of the Common Sense for Drug Policy Foundation and the Melymosoly Foundation. He focuses on civil liberties, human rights, communication and NGO management issues. Balázs received his law degree in 1998 from ELTE University Budapest and is a 2003-2004 Columbia University/Global Network for Public Interest Law (PILnet) Fellow.
Rokhaya is a human rights activist committed to anti-racism work. She is currently the Host and Co-Editor of “Egaux, mais pas trop” (Equal, but not too much), a series of reports on diversity issues in France, and has previously held a number of noteworthy positions in the television field, basing her work primarily on social and political issues. The Founder and former president of Les Indivisibles, a French organisation that uses humour and irony to fight racism, Rokhaya is also a published author, scriptwriter and award-winning director of several documentaries. She is a member of several NGOs and organisations that base their work on social awareness and also sits on the board of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) Foundation. In 2012, she received the COJEP International Award for her work against racism and discrimination.
Karel is a Czech anti-corruption activist, mathematician and social-reformer, who is using his skills to rethink how democracy functions. Following a series of corruption scandals in 2013 that threatened to bring down the Czech government, Karel engaged in a number of initiatives aimed at improving governmental accountability through citizen action and electoral reform. One of these is Democracy 2.1 (D21), primarily based on the possibility to vote against a candidate. This concept is currently used by the cities of Prague and New York, and was also tested by the UK National Health Service (NHS).
Denis (also known as Jaromil) is a free software programmer who founded Dyne.org, a website dedicated to the development of free software. He is also both a media artist and an activist. He has made significant contributions to the development of multimedia and streaming applications on the Linux platform and has led R&D activities in the Netherlands Media Art Institute for the past 6 years. He was honoured with the Vilém Flusser Theory Award in 2009, for his outstanding digital arts practice, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Planetary Collegium’s Milan node at the University of Plymouth.
Lavinia is President of the European Ecologist Association and television anchor on a Romanian political critique show. Formerly, she was Vice-President of the National Union for the Progress of Romania (UNPR). Prior to this she was President of the National Initiative Party (PIN). Before launching her political career she worked in the film and media sector. Lavinia is an active supporter of ecology and was the Director of the “EcoFest Manifesto for Earth Health” Festival, the first European tour representing the Romanian ecologist movement. In 2007 Lavinia was a key figure in the “Romanian’s Guide in the European Union” promotional campaign. In 2011 Lavinia received the Woman of the Year award in the Politicians category at the Romanian Women of Success Gala. Lavinia attended the Arts and Theatre Academy of Targu Mures and holds a PhD in Political Sciences from the University of Bucharest
Slawomir is the founder and leader of ‘Krytyka Polityczna’ (the Political Critique), the widest Polish movement of left-wing intellectuals, artists and activists, with branches in Ukraine, Germany and Russia. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the daily ‘Dziennik Opinii’ (The Opinion Daily) and The Publishing House and Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw. He is President of the Stanislaw Brzozowski Association, running six cultural centres and 25 local centres in Poland, Ukraine, Russia and Germany. Slawomir has written numerous essays and op-eds, mainly devoted to Polish and European politics and culture.
APPLICATIONS FOR THE EYL CLASS OF 2023 ARE NOW CLOSED.
NOMINATIONS FOR UKRAINIAN NATIONALS* ARE OPEN UNTIL 24 JUNE 2022
The European Young Leaders programme is a unique, inventive, and multi-stakeholder programme that aims to promote a European identity by engaging the continent’s most promising talents in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future.
The European Young Leaders represent a new generation of European leaders from all over the continent and various backgrounds, including politics, business, civil society, academia, arts, science, and the media.
The programme acts as a forum for those who have already established themselves at the forefront of their professions to meet, discuss and collaborate with their counterparts from other fields of expertise. Previous candidates include government ministers, CEOs, Michelin-starred chefs, international film directors and high-profile journalists.
Since the launch of the programme, we have gradually taken steps to ensure the diversity and exceptional quality of its selection process. We have made sure that its comprehensive and competitive nature ensures the identification and selection of remarkable individuals.
We aim to select 40 European Young Leaders of diverse backgrounds to enable a broad exchange of ideas, creating the basis for a new generation of engaged European leaders.
- Candidates must be between 30 and 40 years of age (born on or after 1 January 1983).
- Candidates must be a national of an EU member state, the UK or of one of the 6 Balkan states currently on the path towards EU integration (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo**, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia).
- Candidates should have established themselves at the highest levels of their chosen profession or be on track to do so.
- Candidates must be committed to serve society at large through noteworthy contributions and have demonstrated a record of significant achievements and outstanding professional experience.
- Candidates are also evaluated based on their ability to contribute to the enrichment of the programme as a whole.
- Candidates are required to be fluent in English as it is the working language of the programme.
- Candidates must commit to participating in at least one of the two EYL seminars during the programme year.
Please click HERE for the detailed Selection Guidelines 2023.
Should you have any questions or need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The current crisis has prompted us to open up the programme to Ukraine as a pilot initiative. In future years we hope to find a way of including more people who are not EU nationals/citizens but are contributing positively to current Europe (e.g., candidates from our neighbourhood countries and refugees).
**References to Kosovo here are used without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244/99 and the International Court of Justice Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
- Area of Expertise
- Area of Expertise
- Climate, Energy & Sustainability
- Area of Expertise
- Climate, Energy & Sustainability
- Area of Expertise
- Climate, Energy & Sustainability