Twitter Blog Expert Directory

Together with the Founding Partners, the Dean and the Secretariat, the Advisory Council has the task to conceptualize the labs and to shape the future of the platform. The Advisory Council is composed by one representative of each partner institution, the Dean, the Secretariat and four elected members.

In September 2018, two new members of the Advisory Council were elected online by GDL members. The four elected members are now Marty Castro, Elizabeth Maloba, Ivana Petrov (née Ponjavic) and Julia Spinelli

From left to right: Ivana Petrov (née Ponjavic), Marty Castro, Julia Spinelli and Elizabeth Maloba


Dean: Ruprecht Polenz

Ruprecht Polenz was a member of the German Parliament from 1994 to 2013 as representant of the City of Muenster. He was the Chairman of the German Bundestag’s Committee on Foreign Affairs from 2005 to 2013. He is currently special envoy of the German Government for the negotiations between Germany and Namibia about the colonial past.  The focal points of his work are foreign and security policy, with regional emphasis on the Middle East, in particular Iran and Turkey and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is following the political effects of Islam both in this region and beyond with particular interest. Good transatlantic relations with the USA are especially important to him. Polenz became senior member of the CDU party on April 10, 2000 under the presidency of Angela Merkel. From April to November 2000, he was the Secretary-General of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Ruprecht Polenz holds a number of voluntary positions: President of the German Association for East European Studies (DGO), German Co-Dean of the Turkish-Europe-Future-Forum (a common Enterprise of the Mercator-Foundation and TÜSIAD), Senior Adviser to the Bosch-Alumni-Program with the USA, member of the board of trustees of Grünhelme e.V. (“Green Helmets”, a humanitarian agency), member of the board of trustees of Münster University of Applied Sciences, member of the advisory council of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Marty Castro

Marty Castro is the President and CEO of Castro Synergies, LLC, which provides strategic consulting services to persons and organisations seeking to have a positive social impact on diverse communities.

In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Mr Castro to a six-year term on the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) and nominated Mr Castro as the first Latino Chairperson in the history of the USCCR. Mr Castro has received numerous awards and accolades for his community service, including the Ohtli Award, the Mexican government’s highest honour presented to those outside of Mexico for service to the Mexican diaspora.

Mr Castro is the recipient of honorary doctorates in Humane Letters from Roosevelt University and DePaul University. He received his Bachelor’s in Political Science from DePaul University and his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Michigan Law School.


Elizabeth Maloba

Elizabeth Maloba has worked as an organisational change and business growth facilitator since 2002, and has extensive experience in capacity building, knowledge management, facilitation and conflict resolution.

She works to provide support to organisations to enable them to achieve their objectives by supporting them in making decisions, solving problems, exchanging ideas and information, and learning. She has considerable entrepreneurship experience, having started her own business and invested in a couple of small businesses over the years. This experience allows her to combine entrepreneurial and management skills where needed. She also provides training on entrepreneurship and leadership.

She is currently studying for her master’s degree in organisational development. She lives in Nairobi and has worked in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia and Benin. Her personal interests are travelling and reading.


Find out more about her engagement here.


Ivana Petrov (née Ponjavic)

Ivana is a Freelance Project Manager and an Elected Advisory Council Member of the Global Diplomacy Lab. She is an experienced professional with a proven track record of working in public administration and civil society. She worked for the Government of the Republic of Serbia as Communications Officer to the Head of the Negotiating Team for the Accession of Serbia to the European Union. Prior to that, she was Public Relations and Project Manager at the European Movement in Serbia. She also led the media team of the international conference Belgrade Security Forum.

Through the Fellowship Programme for Young Government Officials from Western Balkans, organised by the European Fund for the Balkans, she served as an exchange officer in the Training for International Diplomats section at the German Federal Foreign Office in 2015.

She is a graduate of the Hertie School of Governance (Executive Master of Public Administration) in Berlin, the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Belgrade, and the Diplomatic Academy of Serbia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Julia Spinelli

Julia Spinelli is an architect and urbanist who has been working for the Brazilian Government since 2010. She currently serves as an infrastructure analyst at the Ministry of Cities, where she is involved in overseeing and advancing social housing policies at the National Housing Secretariat. Spinelli coordinates and monitors national and international cooperation and partnerships that focus on assessing, developing and improving housing programmes.

She is also involved in international agendas such as the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda. She is interested in sustainability as an integrated and multidisciplinary approach. She holds a BSc and a Master’s degree in architecture from the University of Campinas, Brazil. She is a fellow of the Managing Global Governance Academy, which is run by the German Development Institute and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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