Meet the new EYL40 Class of 2024!

This year’s EYL40 Class of 2024 includes an Olympic swimmer, a glaciologist, politicians from all levels of government and members of national parliaments, a winemaker, green tech entrepreneurs and social activists, prize-winning journalists, Unicorn and start-up founders and CEOs, a pioneering playwright of Roma feminist theatre and many more!



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

Policy Voices | Are we alone in the universe?

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Policy Voices | Are we alone in the universe?

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Policy Voices | Like Goebbels: Polish propaganda and the demise of democracy

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Policy Voices | Like Goebbels: Polish propaganda and the demise of democracy

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Policy Voices | The Netherlands chose the far-right. What happens next?

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Policy Voices | The Netherlands chose the far-right. What happens next?

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Policy Voices Podcast | Keeping the human in the loop: How to make a success story of AI in health

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Policy Voices Podcast | Keeping the human in the loop: How to make a success story of AI in health

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Meet the EYL40

Ahmed Abdirahman
Ahmed Abdirahman

Founder & CEO of Järvaveckan and 2024 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Ahmed Abdirahman is founder and CEO of The Global Village Foundation, a non-profit promoting inclusivity in all aspects of social, economic and political life. It hosts Järvaveckan, a pivotal event in the Swedish political calendar with more than 300 participating organisations that draws over 60,000 people to summer gatherings designed to bridge the gap between citizens, politicians, civil society, business leaders and authorities. The Foundation aims to cultivate a society where diversity is universally acknowledged as a strength, and everyone can shape its progression. Somali-born Abdirahman was previously policy expert on social sustainability at Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, tasked with promoting integration.

Sophia Bendz
Sophia Bendz

Partner at Cherry Ventures and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Sophia is a Swedish entrepreneur, currently working with Cherry Ventures, a Berlin-based venture capital fund. She focuses on seed-stage investments in successful and sustainable businesses. Now an advisor, she previously worked as Partner at Atomico working on Nordic sourcing activities. Here, she advised founders on communications, marketing strategies as well as on opportunities to scale up their brand. As Global Marketing Director at Spotify from 2007-2014, she established a strong consumer brand from scratch, while launching and marketing the service globally. She also serves as a member of the Board of Directors at the non-profit organisation, Race For The Baltic, and the Viktor Rydberg School Foundation

Edvard Glücksman
Edvard Glücksman

Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter Business School and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Edvard Glücksman’s work focuses on the relationship between organisations and the environment. As a Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter Business School, he teaches undergraduate modules that connect management and organisational theory to best practice environmental and social sustainability actions. Glücksmanalso leads and supports executive education programmes designed to offer professionals cutting-edge training in climate and sustainability science, and to apply key concepts to their everyday practice and to their organisation’s broader strategy. He has previously worked with large global companies, as well as regional SMEs, and is currently the Programme Director on the Sustainable Solutions Leadership Programme (SSLP) delivered to Capgemini UK. Glücksman is also the academic lead on Future17, an innovative education programme that brings students from around the world together to work on challenges related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Photo of Gustaf Göthberg
Gustaf Göthberg

Member of the Riksdag and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Gustaf Göthberg is a Swedish politician and represents Gothenburg in the national parliament, where he belongs to the Moderate Party and sits on the Committee of Defence. Passionate about foreign and security policy, he supports stronger EU policies towards Russia and China, as well as defence cooperation and migration policy. Göthberg serves on the Swedish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, where he also sits on the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. He is committed to reducing poverty through trade, specifically free trade agreements, and increasing human rights protection for persecuted groups. Prior to being elected to the Riksdag, Göthberg worked on development in Belarus, Russia and eastern Europe at the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation. He has served in several departments within the City of Gothenburg’s administration, as well as the Stockholm County Council. He began his career in politics as a political advisor to the Moderate Party. Additionally, Göthberg maintains a long-standing background at the Moderate Youth Association, where he held roles as the international secretary and foreign policy spokesperson.

Claudia Olsson
Claudia Olsson

Founder and CEO of Stellar Capacity and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Claudia is the Founder and CEO of Stellar Capacity, a global educational platform, which trains and empowers leaders and professionals to drive digital change through various programmes on business and operational models, the impact of digital developments, as well as digital skills and productivity. The platform operates under Exponential AB, a global consultancy also founded by Claudia, where she previously served as CEO. Exponential AB specialises in strategic advice, analysis and progression development related to personal leadership and digital transformation. Claudia has helped governments and businesses alike understand the impact of new technologies and smart solutions in addressing global challenges. She authored the strategic innovation agenda for the Swedish steel and metal industry, as well as the Sweden 2030 Future Scenario for the Government of Sweden. Claudia has previously worked on issues related to healthcare access, having established and manages ACCESS Health International, a think tank which promotes access to high quality and affordable health care for all.

Nina Rawal
Nina Rawal

Partner and Co-Head at Trill Impact Ventures and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Nina Rawal is a Partner and Co-Head at Trill Impact Ventures, Europe’s leading impact investing house. Prior to her current role, she founded Emerging Health Ventures, a venture capital fund focused on affordable medicine and medical products. She was also the head of life science at the Swedish Industrial Development Fund, a €500mn venture capital fund, where she was responsible for international business development in early life science companies. Rawal has also previously served as the head of strategy and ventures at Baxter Group, formerly Gambro, a leading global medical technology company. She also sits on the boards of MedCap AB and Stockholms Sjukhem, a non-profit hospital. In recognition of her work, Rawal has been recognised among the Women’s Forum Rising Talents.

Johannes Schildt
Johannes Schildt

Co-Founder and CEO of KRY/LIVI and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Johannes Schildt  is a Swedish serial entrepreneur and Co-Founder of KRY/LIVI, which he plans to develop into the world’s leading healthcare provider by combining medical expertise with state-of-the-art technology. Currently available in Sweden, Norway, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, the business has pioneered the digital healthcare model by enabling people to see a medical doctor or a psychologist via remote video connection, thereby replacing the need for in-person consultations. To date, the app has delivered over two million appointments and is set to launch in more markets this year. Long part of Europe’s start-up scene, Schildt has also founded a number of other initiatives, including Tieday Group and Wowallets.

Caroline Walerud
Caroline Walerud

Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of AirForestry and Volumental, and 2022 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Caroline is a Swedish entrepreneur at the helm of deep tech and green tech start-ups. She co-founded AirForestry to reinvent sustainable forestry by enabling better biodiversity, gentler thinning and higher uptake of carbon dioxide through the use of electric drones. She is also the Co-Founder of Volumental, using 3D scanning and AI to shape a future free from sizes and creating a world where every body fits, and a Partner at Walerud Ventures, a pre-seed investment firm with a focus on green tech start-ups. Having advised the Swedish government on its start-up policy, she continues to promote entrepreneurship as a Member of the Sting Incubator Advisory Board, Prince Daniel’s Fellow and mentor at Creative Destruction Lab, a deep tech incubator. Caroline has been named the Swedish Supertalent of the Year and among Sweden’s top serial entrepreneurs under 40 by the country’s Business Week magazine.

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Selection process


The European Young Leaders (EYL40) 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 1985).
  • Candidates must be a national of an EU member state, the UK, Ukraine, Moldova or 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, usually scheduled for March and September.

Please click HERE for the Selection Guidelines 2025 that will give you an idea of the process and will provide you with a link to the nomination/application form.

Should you have any questions or need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at eyl40@friendsofeurope.org.

We look forward to receiving your applications and nominations.

* References to Kosovo here are used without prejudice to positions on status and are in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244/99 and the International Court of Justice Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

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