Hera is a Scottish activist, feminist and tech expert. Passionate about empowering women, she created CHAYN as a global project run by volunteers that crowdsources online resources to address gender-based violence. CHAYN has reached more than 300,000 people through its projects targeted to helping survivors of abuse. Hera is a fervent believer in the power of open source technology and open data as a tool to solve the world’s pressing issues. When she is not busy running CHAYN, Hera works with governments and civil society seeking to open data sets as a way to fight corruption.
Friends of Europe is pleased to announce the second half of the European Young Leaders (EYL40) class of 2020. This group includes entrepreneurs, authors, politicians, inventors and musicians, among others.
For almost a decade the EYL40 programme has brought together the brightest minds and outside the box leaders to put their innovative thinking to work at building a more forward-thinking Europe that is a global champion for a better world. This year’s class, for the first time, includes leaders from the Balkans.
The European Young Leaders represent a new generation of leaders, able to tackle the increasing disconnects between citizens and political elites, to rebuild the trust that is vital to democracies – particularly as we enter this uncertain new decade.
Learn more about the EYL40 programme here.
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 has led this state-owned fund in investing in strategic sectors of the economy, and driving economic development throughout the country. 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.
Jasna 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.
Diva is an Italian scientist and entrepreneur with a fervent interest in robotics and sustainability. She channelled her passion by creating a home robotics start-up Solenica and developed an AI-powered smart mirror that reflects natural light around the home. The idea to transform indoor spaces came to Diva while working towards her doctorate in Computational Biology in Cambridge, where she spent much of her days inside craving sunshine. Diva is also a graduate of the Singularity University programme on exponential technologies at NASA in 2010. She was awarded the Premio Giovane for the Environment and the Young Global Innovator Award by the MIT Tech Review for Italy, as well as the Pleiade International Award for Innovation and New Technologies.
Małgorzata is a member of Poland’s Green Party and one of the first of her party to be elected to the Polish National Parliament. As president of the Green Party, she has successfully promoted a stronger climate agenda and has spread awareness of environmental issues amongst Polish citizens. A vocal activist for the rights of women and minorities, she has regularly denounced rule of law issues in her country. Małgorzata is also seen as a champion for cleaner air, notably through her actions of pushing for the reduction in smog in Polish cities.
Agnesta is a Lithuanian image and executive specialist with extensive knowledge of the creative industry and public advocacy. She currently heads 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.
Thomas is a Belgian researcher and political advisor, currently heading l’Institut Emile Vandervelde, a research centre for the Francophone Social Democrat Party (PS). Well involved in the Belgian political environment, Thomas is also the Chief of Staff to Paul Magnette, chairman of the social democrat party. Aside 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.
Kristina is an acclaimed Bulgarian tech entrepreneur. As co-inventor of BLITAB, the world’s first tactile tablet for blind and visually impaired people, Kristina has drawn the world’s attention to the role of digital innovation in easing people’s lives. Having cemented herself as a leader in the digital field promoting the needs of children, women and people with disabilities, her work has received wide recognition throughout the world. She was previously involved as an innovation consultant to the G7 for Technology, Research & Innovation, and was named Rising Innovator for 2017 by the EU Prize for Women Innovators.
Baiba is an award-winning Latvian classical violinist who has performed around the world with prestigious orchestras and renowned conductors. Baiba has previously performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. In 2019, she made an appearance at the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal’s Classical Spree festival and the Grafenegg Festival with Vienna’s Tonkünstler Orchestra. An internationally sought-after chamber musician, Baiba also sings as part of a long-established duo with her sister Lauma. She is anticipating the release of her Bartók recording with the WDR Sinfonieorchester and Eivind Aadland.
Anne is CEO of the ReDI School of Digital Integration, a vocational training programme in Germany that teaches programming and tech skills to asylum seekers. Previously, while working as a corporate social responsibility consultant, Anne developed and implemented Samsung Electronics’ award-winning corporate social responsibility strategy for Scandinavia. She then spent two years in Japan, researching open social innovation and received the prestigious Rotary Peace Fellowship. In 2012, Anne set up the Berlin Peace Innovation Lab, which focuses on how technology is facilitating emerging and measurable social change toward global peace.
Dobrica, from Serbia, 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. He has made it his particular mission to advocate for public spaces and to mobilise citizens to participate in the politics of city life. Dobrica is the founder of the collective ‘Ministry of Space’ and ‘Institute for Urban Policy,’ as well as the new political network ‘Civic Front’ – a network of grassroots initiatives and organisations from more than 20 cities in Serbia. He is also the leader of the citizen movement ‘Don’t Let Belgrade D(r)own,’ an initiative that formed in immediate opposition to the Belgrade Waterfront redevelopment project, but one whose broader aims include encouraging sustainable development and giving voice to citizens about the fate of their urban environments.
Karoline is an Austrian lawyer and politician who has been serving in the government of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz since 2020. She has held a number of senior positions at the European level, including at the European Court of Human Rights, as State Secretary and most recently as ÖVP Head of Delegation in the European Parliament. In her current portfolio, she has boldly called for European treaty change, to ensure a clearer separation of powers between the EU and national governments. She has also made a name for herself by combating anti-Semitism and calling for a common European asylum system.
Mate is a Croatian innovator, entrepreneur, and founder of the car company Rimac Automobili. He started off at the age of 19 in a borrowed garage, tinkering, dreaming, and already thinking several years ahead of the traditional car industry. Soon enough, he built a global name for himself, crafting battery tech for the likes of Aston Martin and Renault. He also created the world’s first electric ‘supercar’, the Rimac Concept One. In 2012, he set out to prove that electric cars could be faster than conventional fuel. His dream became reality, as Mate’s ‘Green Monster’ electric car won a Guinness World Record for the fastest ¼ mile. He’s received widespread recognition and support for his projects, including USD 90 mi investment from Hyundai and Kia.
Mila is a North Macedonian politician that has been in government since 2017. Mila is an avid promoter of human rights whose professional career to date has been marked by a commitment to social work on behalf of the most vulnerable and threatened citizens, whether it be Roma, disadvantaged youth, drug addicts, victims of domestic violence and so on. Projects she has managed over the years include organising drama workshops with children housed in institutions, hosting educational workshops, offering consultations for drug users and their families, and conducting field research. Mila has used her platform as Minister to advocate for gender equality, the elimination of violence against women, and anti-discrimination.
Moha is a Spanish journalist and activist. He writes for eldiario.es, a leading online newspaper in Spain, where he contributes op-eds as well as creates video content explaining and analysing issues related to race and discrimination. Moha served as president of SOS Racismo Madrid, a prominent organisation that seeks to combat racism and xenophobia. In addition, 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. Moha is known for utilising both print and multimedia content to advance his message: he is the creator of the audiovisual monologue ‘How would be my life if I were a black character in a movie’ and one of the writers of the book ‘Lost in media: migrant perspectives and the Public Sphere.’
Cristina is an Italian businesswoman and social entrepreneur pursuing the world-changing challenge of bringing awareness to the impact of emerging technology. After co-founding and eventually selling her company Wish Days, she started Impactscool, a non-profit devoted to stimulating reflection and critical thinking on the ethics of the fourth industrial revolution and its new technologies. To this end, it encourages citizens to adopt a more forward-thinking approach on the true meaning of technological change. Cristina’s motto of “the future is open source” is a hint to the understanding that our future is something we have to build together. Possible future scenarios and their impacts on our everyday life were explored in her book “Welcome to 2050”.
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.
Charles-Pierre 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 has also included him supervising the deployment of an electric vehicle (EV) fleet in the United States and co-authoring a book on 3-D printing.
Bálint is a Hungarian social policy specialist whose work integrates research, advocacy and fieldwork. As of 2020, he is the senior advisor on social and housing policy for the Mayor of Budapest. Involved in civil activism since his teens, Bálint co-founded The City Is For All, a community organisation dedicated to empowering homeless people and advancing housing justice. A fervent believer in the need to address the root cause of housing and economic inequality rather than the symptom of homelessness itself, Bálint has succeeded in significantly impacting the discourse and politics surrounding homelessness and housing poverty in Hungary. He also set up and coordinates an emergency service combining social work and non-violent resistance to prevent the eviction of impoverished families.
Velibor is a Montenegrin economist, recently appointed as Managing Director of his country’s first Science and Technology Park – one of Montenegro’s most significant scientific research and innovation projects. Velibor comes with extensive experience in both the private and the public sectors. Before taking up his current post, he directed Montenegro’s first business incubator and served as a director at the entrepreneurship and innovation centre ‘Technopolis’. He has also worked as the General Director of Montenegro’s biggest football club ‘Budućnost’. Velibor has worked on developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem and enhancing SMEs in Montenegro, and is currently President of the ‘Center for development and entrepreneurial society’.
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.
Anne-Solène heads 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 Quai Branly Museum and the 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.
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