Together with the Leading 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 2020, two new members of the Advisory Council were elected online by GDL members. The four elected members, working on a pro bono basis, are now Johannes Braun, Cristina Gallegos, Banu Pekol and Trinidad Saona.
We would like to thank all members who have served as Established Members of the Advisory Council since the founding of the Global Diplomacy Lab:
Ms Angelina Davydova (2014-2015)
Mr Matthias Christian Kaufmann (2014-2015)
Mr Nicola Forster (2014-2016)
Ms Mome Saleem (2014-2016)
Mr Diego Osorio (2015-2017)
Ms Eirliani Abdul Rahman (2015-2017)
Mr Imran Simmins (2016-2018)
Ms Vivian Valencia (2016-2018)
Ms Elizabeth Maloba (2017-2019)
Ms Ivana Petrov (2017-2019)
Mr Marty Castro (2018-2020)
Ms Julia Spinelli (2018-2020)
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.
Johannes Braun is an experienced manager of international dialogues and cooperation projects between Germany and its global partners such as China, India, Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia.
He is currently based in Berlin and leads the Global Project Quality Infrastructure (www.gpqi.org), which is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Previously, Johannes served as an advisor for Strategy and Portfolio Development at GIZ’s China Office in Beijing.
Johannes is an alumni of the Mercator Foundation’s 2014 Zukunftsbrücke - Chinese-German Young Professional Campus and is a founding member of the Global Diplomacy Lab (GDL).
Johannes holds an MA in Political Science, Public Law and Economics from the University of Regensburg and an MSc in Development Studies from the London School of Economics.
A strategist for the social sector and an expert on global change and philanthropy, Cristina Gallegos builds convergence towards people + planet + profit for foundations and businesses, strengthening brands through the power of well-applied purpose. A social entrepreneur, Cristina Gallegos has founded six businesses and has 30 years of experience in the field, 20 of which as an advisor to ultra-high-net-worth families and the non-profits they care about.
She is the CEO of Skylarx, a Triple Bottom Line, Los Angeles-based consulting firm with a presence in Denver, Brussels and Estonia, working to align public, philanthropic, and business efforts to strengthen the global society and the people who make it great. Skylarx works on projects targeting board growth, strategic planning, executive coaching, fundraising strategies, and merging business models with charity models. A lot of Cristina’s work tackles systems overhaul and grand challenges – from digitisation to inequality, the future of work, future of learning, financial sustainability, AI, the environment and democracy.
Dr Banu Pekol’s work focuses on peacebuilding and conflict transformation in relation to contested cultural heritage. Her work spans cultural heritage research on difficult pasts and projects that develop creative and research-based results, specialising in cultural diplomacy, contested heritage interpretation and management. She has over a decade of experience with different cultures at numerous multicultural heritage sites.
Banu currently works at the Berghof Foundation, on intercultural and interreligious conflict transformation and peace education. She was previously a Historical Dialogue and Accountability fellow at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University.
She is a co-founder of the Association for the Protection of Cultural Heritage (KMKD), which was established in order to respond to the urgent need to protect and preserve cultural heritage at risk. She has worked as a cultural manager at KMKD, where her work included managing creative as well as research–based strategies to preserve heritage, especially of contested heritage sites, and to find concrete ways for communities to embrace and preserve heritage, regardless of the ethnic or religious community that built it.
She was a trainer in the 2020 European Diplomatic Programme, an elected member on the Advisory Council of the Global Diplomacy Lab (2019-2021) and is a BMW Responsible Leader.
Banu Pekol holds a BA from the Courtauld Institute of Art and PhD from Istanbul Technical University. She was a Salzburg Global Seminar Fellow on Conflict Transformation through Culture: Peace-building and the Arts and has been awarded the Association Villard de Honnecourt for the Interdisciplinary Study of Technology, Science, and Art Award; a Hellenic Ministry of Culture Grant; the Otto Gründler Award; and grants from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Bodossaki Foundation.
Trini Saona is a journalist and has been a diplomat in the Chilean Foreign Service since 2010. She currently works in the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Between 2015 and 2017, she worked at the Alfredo Zolezzi Foundation, a non-profit organisation set up by Chilean innovator Alfredo Zolezzi, whose innovation model aims to connect advanced science and technology with emerging social and environmental challenges.
At the MFA, she has served at the Chilean Embassy in Mexico and, in Santiago, at the Directorate of Strategic Planning and the office of the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
In diplomacy, her main interest is in exploring new methodologies and tools in depth in order to achieve a new understanding of their practical use. She studied for an MBA at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile between 2017 and 2019, with the aim of identifying different frameworks of leadership and strategy applicable to diplomacy.
She speaks Spanish, English and French, and her main hobby is photography.
Learn more about Trinidad in her latest interview.
Angelina Davydova is an environmental journalist from Saint Petersburg, Russia, and regularly contributes to Russian and international media, including the Kommersant, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Science magazine. She specializes in economic and political aspects of global and Russian climate policy, and has been covering the UN climate negotiations since 2008.
She teaches at the Saint Petersburg State University School of Journalism and the Saint Petersburg National research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics. She is also Director of the Office of Environmental Information in Saint Petersburg (a non-profit organization focusing on developing environmental journalism in Russia and neighbouring countries and promoting international cooperation in the environmental and climate fields).
She was a Reuters Foundation Fellow at Oxford University in 2006 and was a participant of the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) at UC Berkeley in 2012. In 2018-2019, she was a Humphrey Fellow at UC-Davis.
Read more about her thoughts on how to navigate climate change in Russia here.
Matthias joined the German Foreign Service last year and will be posted to the German Embassy in Beijing as Deputy Head of the Press Section in July. Previously, he was a Senior Program Manager at the Mercator Program Center for International Affairs (MPC), an NGO based in Essen, Germany.
Prior, Matthias had been awarded a Mercator Fellowship on International Affairs, during which he worked on EU-China diplomacy at the European External Action Service (EEAS) in Brussels and, subsequently, on governance cooperation with China at UNDP in Beijing. He specialised in East Asian Studies, Politics and History at the University of Heidelberg, including semesters abroad in Beijing and Hong Kong, before taking up graduate studies in International Relations at Sciences Po Paris, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Harvard Kennedy School.
In his spare time, he enjoys making music (in particular a cappella ensemble singing) and is passionate about architectural history and urban planning.
Nicola Forster is the President of Swiss Society of Common Good (SSCG) and the Co-President of Swiss Green Liberal Party (GLP) in Canton Zurich. Until 2019, he was also the Founding President of the Swiss crowdsourced think tank foraus (Forum Aussenpolitik) and remains a social entrepreneur and public sector innovator. He is a co-founder of the political movement Operation Libero, the German grass-roots think tank Polis180, several foraus spinoffs around the globe, the staatslabor as well as the Global Diplomacy Lab.
With his innovation consultancy crstl.io, Nicola advises different foundations, international think tanks and foreign ministries on creative formats and strategic innovation. He is the Founding Curator of the Global Shapers Bern Hub (World Economic Forum) and sits on the boards of the WEF Open Forum Davos, Fondation Science et Cité (as Vice President), Law and Economics Club as well as Foundation Jean Monnet pour l’Europe. Nicola is a Swiss Ashoka Fellow and Mercator Fellow. He has been ranked among the top 99 foreign policy leaders under 33 by The Diplomatic Courier. Nicola regularly contributes to Swiss and international media and is a frequent keynote speaker, panelist and moderator (e.g. with the Open Situation Rooms design thinking format).
Nicola holds a degree in law (lic.iur./MLaw) and has studied in Zurich, Montpellier and Lausanne. He is currently based in New York, Berlin and Switzerland and has lived in a wide range of countries, including Ethiopia, Russia, Australia and Belgium.
Mome Saleem has a strong background in global governance, peace and security, gender, diplomacy and training for conflict resolution through dialogue.
She has a keen insight into the needs of developing countries and is a well-versed and proficient public speaker in the languages of Urdu, English and Punjabi.
She has conducted training sessions on peacebuilding, transformation, conflict resolution and gender mainstreaming and media content analysis on peace and gender.
Mome Saleem is a Programme Coordinator at Heinrich Böll Foundation Islamabad, Pakistan. Before, she has worked at the think-tank “Sustainable Development Policy Institute” in Islamabad.
Her research interest focused on human security and gender as a cross-cutting theme. Mome has produced research publications on subjects with relevance to Pakistan.
She is coordinator of the Council for Women Parliamentarians.
Diego is Manager of the Policy Team at the Centre for Rural Development of Canada’s Ministry of Infrastructure. Previously he held the position of Senior Advisor on Climate Security at CGIAR Climate Security. He is a PhD candidate at Utrecht University and a former Canadian diplomat with many years of experience in public administration and international experience covering the UN, NATO, the World Bank, Canadian diplomacy, and private sector ventures.
Diego has worked globally on political and economic matters, climate change-conflict and adaptation policy, as well as institutional and social reconstruction, civil-military coordination, and humanitarian issues. He has deployed to Afghanistan, Colombia, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Indonesia (Banda Aceh), Iraq, Central African Republic, Jordan, Kosovo, Liberia, Pakistan, and Timor Leste, to name some of his multiple field missions.
His previous positions included Senior Peacekeeping Officer and Senior Advisor on Mediation, Negotiation and Peace processes at Global Affairs Canada.
Diego is an Associate Fellow of both the Raoul-Dandurand Chair in Strategic and Diplomatic Studies at the Université de Quebec à Montréal (UQAM) and the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies. He has lectured on a variety of topics such as humanitarian action, governance design, the humanitarian-development nexus, conflict and climate change, post-conflict recovery, at universities in Canada and abroad. Another field he works on is co-creation and human design methodologies. Last but not least he is an Adjunct Professor of Master of Public Policy at Adler University, Canada.
Eirliani Abdul Rahman is co-founder of YAKIN (Youth, Adult Survivors & Kin In Need), an NGO working in the field of child rights and child protection issues, and a member of Twitter’s Safety & Trust Council.
In September 2015, the #FullStop to #childsexualabuse campaign that Eirliani led on behalf of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi reached 16 million people over six weeks. She won the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Award the same year.
Eirliani edited Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s book Will for Children, a collection of essays on child labour published in 2016. Her book on true accounts by survivors of child sexual abuse Survivors: Breaking the Silence on Child Sexual Abuse was published by Marshall Cavendish in 2017. It won joint second prize in the 2020 Golden Door Awards.
She also contributed a case study to the medical textbook Essentials of Global Health, co-edited by Babulal Sethia, Past President and Global Health Lead of the Royal Society of Medicine, which was published by Elsevier in London in 2018. The book won first prize in the Public Health category at the 2019 British Medical Association book awards.
Eirliani was in the Singapore Foreign Service from 2005 to 2015, serving in Berlin as First Secretary (Political) and then in Delhi as Political Counsellor. From June 2015 to November 2017, she was a member of the Advisory Council of the Global Diplomacy Lab. She is a Fellow of the London-based Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.
Eirliani lives in Singapore. She speaks Malay, English, German and Russian.
Read more about Eirliani in her latest blog article. You can also read her articles about her polar expedition and about human trafficking and learn more about her work, activism and contribution to the Gender Alliance.
Imran is a South African diplomat in the process of completing his MA in International Relations and World Order through the University of Leicester online, with a focus on the impact that Technology is having on International Relations. He is currently an official in South Africa's Foreign Ministry, covering issues related to South Africa's position on science and technology in a multilateral organisation such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).
Prior to this, he served as First Secretary (Political) at the Embassy of South Africa in Berlin, Germany, from 2014 to 2017; as Desk Officer for the National Office for Coordination of Peace Missions, as well as on the USA Political Bilateral Desk. His first diplomatic posting were as First Secreatry (Political) at the South African Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe, from June 2007 to July 2011, where he dealt with a range of issues from serving on the secretariat of the South African Mediation Team to dealing with the land issues in Zimbabwe as it affected South Africa.
Throughout his teenage years he took up various leadership positions as a student activist in organisations that stood up against apartheid and any other forms of injustice. To this day, he holds and maintains these values.
Read more about Imran in this blog article.
Dr Vivian Valencia is an interdisciplinary scientist who utilises perspectives and methods from the natural and social sciences to investigate the socio-ecological processes that shape agricultural landscapes and food systems and the consequences for food security, ecosystems and biodiversity. She is currently Assistant Professor at Wageningen University. She earned her PhD from Columbia University in 2015.
Dr Valencia’s research and professional career have been supported by the National Geographic Early Career Grant, PRIME Fellowship of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Marie Curie Programme of the European Commission, Bill and Melinda Gates Millenium Scholarship among others.
Dr Valencia is active in the policy sphere, where she aims to close the gap between science and policy-making. She is a former member of the GDL’s Advisory Council; a BMW Responsible Leader; an alumna of several programmes of the Bosch Foundation; an alumna of the Managing Global Governance Training Programme of the German Development Institute (DIE); and an alumna of the “International Futures” programme of Training for International Diplomats of the German Federal Foreign Office.
Read more about Vivian here.
Elizabeth has twenty years’ experience in addressing complex challenges. She works in cross-sectoral, trans-professional, multi-stakeholder settings, providing support in problem solving and decision making processes and facilitating learning and the exchange of ideas and information. She has extensive experience in international cooperation, development cooperation, and private sector development.
Elizabeth is active in cross-cultural groups, from grassroots level to global platforms, assisting in the professional development of leaders and the formation of, teams, policies, strategies, plans, and business models that contribute to addressing development challenges. She brings skills in capacity building, knowledge management, facilitation, conflict resolution and management, as well as experience as an entrepreneur gained through a wide variety of assignments. She lives in Nairobi, works across the world, and speaks English, Swahili, German and French.
Ivana is an experienced professional with more than a decade of work in the field of international projects, public administration, and civil society. She was engaged with the Global Diplomacy Lab, both as freelance project manager and an elected advisory council member.
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.
Ivana is a graduate of the Hertie School of Governance, Executive Master of Public Administration programme in Berlin, the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Belgrade with focus on international relations, and the Diplomatic Academy of Serbia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Marty Castro is 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. He is also President and CEO of Casa Central, one of the largest Latino-serving social services agencies in the Midwestern United States.
In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Mr Castro to a six-year term on the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), also nominating Mr Castro to be 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 three honorary doctorates of Humane Letters from Roosevelt University, DePaul University, and Governor’s State University. He received his Bachelor’s in Political Science from DePaul University and his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Michigan Law School.
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.