Hafsat Abiola-Costello is an acclaimed human rights and democracy activist. Through her non-profit organisation, the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), Hafsat is building a groundswell of women and youth leaders in Nigeria. Her work is a tribute to her parents, who died in the course of Nigeria’s pro-democracy movement.
Since the age of 19, she has been promoting democracy, gender equality and just global governance through organisations as diverse as the Women in Africa Forum, the World Economic Forum, Gucci’s Chime for Change campaign and the World Future Council. She served as a member of the Ogun State Cabinet, where she advised the Governor on trade and investment. From 2011 to 2015, she was the Special Advisor on MDGs.
She holds a BA (honours) from Harvard College in development economics and a Master’s in international development from Tsinghua. She is married and has two children.
With over 15 years’ experience in programme management and advocacy on governance, peace and reconciliation processes, Firmin Adjahossou has been dedicated to the advancement of social justice through the various non-profit international and research organisations in Africa where he has worked. He is currently working as a Civil Affairs Officer with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), where he is supporting the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) through peace campaigns, mediation and conflict-resolution mechanisms. Mr Adjahossou’s areas of expertise include development effectiveness, migration and human trafficking, good governance and democratic transition, natural resources, climate change and sustainable development policies.
Until 2019, Mr Adjahossou served as Director of Operations of SOPODIVA Training Centre, a regional language centre with offices in Cotonou, Accra and Bamako, which provides intensive English courses for students and professionals from French-speaking countries throughout Africa.
Mr Adjahossou holds two Master’s degrees in Biochemistry and Environmental Management from the University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin; he graduated from the GIZ Global Leadership Academy in 2015 and is a Head Trainer in Junior Chamber International (JCI). Mr Adjahossou was the Campaign and Advocacy Officer at the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) from 2007 to 2016, where he supported the leadership of SECAM at the regional and international levels on peacebuilding and mediation, development policies, public engagement and political dialogue for the promotion of a just and inclusive society.
Before that, he worked with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA-Benin) as a Phytopathology Consultant and as a volunteer with the Institut des Artisans de Justice et de Paix (IAJP-Benin) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
Over the course of his professional career, Mr Adjahossou has been able to create a network that has allowed him to engage in person with more than 36 countries in Africa and beyond and to liaise with the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations. His ability to deal with people ranging from Heads of State, parliamentarians, civil society leaders and religious leaders to members of the public from various parts of Africa has been thoroughly tested on many occasions, including the African Faith Initiative Programme on Post-2015 Development Agendas that he co-facilitated from 2014 to 2015.
As an active member of the Global Diplomacy Lab (GDL) since 2016, Mr Adjahossou was the host of the GDL Accra Incubator Lab held for the first time in Africa and Ghana from 16 to 19 June 2019.
Heba Aguib joined BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt in July 2019 and is Chief Executive for RESPOND, empowering sustainable tech, innovation and business through responsible leadership – towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda. She is also a member of the Foundation’s Responsible Leaders Network.
Heba played a major role in establishing the Aswan Heart Research Centre of the Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation in Egypt. As head of its Biomedical Engineering and Innovation Laboratory and an Honorary Fellow at Imperial College London, she worked on early diagnosis and prediction modelling in cardiovascular disease. She is the HealthTech Expert for the Digital Arabia Network.
Heba studied Mechanical Engineering at TU München (TUM) in Germany, worked at the Department of Aerodynamics at BMW AG and received a doctoral degree in Medical Device Technology at TUM. She also joined TU Berlin as Deputy Managing Director in 2011 to help establish the first campus of a German public university in MENA and Africa.
Julie August is a graphic designer and art curator. She works as a graphic designer for publishing houses and architects, as well as cultural and social projects, and also organises exhibitions. Before moving to Buenos Aires, she lived in Berlin for 15 years. As art director at the small left-wing publishing house Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, she converted part of her home into a project space for contemporary artists.
The 18m gallery led her to other curatorial projects, first in Albania and Serbia, and now in Argentina and Germany. Together with Rachel Kohn, she has been directing the women artists’ network “Frauenmuseum Berlin” for eight years. She studied literature and art history in Munich and graphic design in Leipzig. She has a 24-year-old daughter and is married to the Argentine filmmaker Liliana Furió. In addition to her cultural activities, she sees a profound necessity to participate in social and human rights issues.
Learn more about Julie in this article.
Cecilia Barja Chamas has led political processes and cross-sector alliances in Latin America and the United States for 18 years. In 1999, she co-founded the political party “Movimiento Sin Miedo” and was elected to the office of councillor for La Paz at the age of 23. In 2008, she coordinated Magis Americas in New York, mobilising resources for “Fe y Alegría”, a Jesuit network of 3000 schools in 17 Latin American countries.
From 2010 to 2016, she was a member of Fundación Avina in Colombia, leading cross-sector alliances in six Amazonian countries and the peace process in rural areas of Colombia. Since September 2017, Cecilia has been part of the North Carolina Congress of Latino Organizations, affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), a grassroots network that builds relationships between races and religions on issues of common concern such as housing and education. She has a Master’s in public administration from Harvard Kennedy School.
Read more about her vision of the GDL's communication strategy on our blog.
Anya Margaret Baum is the founder and Managing Director of The Keryx Group (TKG), an advisory body that works with municipalities in the Smart City field. Since October 2015, she has been the strategic consultant for the City of Warsaw’s Virtual Warsaw project, winner of Bloomberg’s Mayors Challenge.
Anya Baum has a strong background in the Smart Cities field, in both standardisation and public policy. In January 2014, Mrs Baum’s firm was the founding member of the first Smart City Working Group at the Polish Committee for Standardization (PKN). In the EU Commission’s first European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC) from 2012 to 2014, Anya Baum was a member of the Roadmap Group and coordinator of the Smart City Strategy working group. She is a graduate of the College of Europe in Bruges and of INSEAD’s social entrepreneurship programme in Singapore.
Read more about Anya in this article.
Abdallah Brahimi is an alumni fellow of the UN Alliance of Civilizations; he holds a Master’s degree in public policy and urban planning from the University of the Mediterranean Aix-Marseille II, France, in 2009. He successfully completed training programmes on the planning and implementation of new urban development in South Korea and also took part in the country-focused training courses in industrial and urban environmental management in Japan in 2008.
In 2014 Mr Brahimi was selected as a Responsible Leader of the BMW Foundation. He is now Director of Environment and Sustainable Development at the Algerian Industrial Cement Group (GICA group). Prior to that, in early 2011, Mr Brahimi attended the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in New York. He has contributed several public-policy-oriented analysis papers to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Daniel studied in Freiburg and in Santiago/Chile and received scholarships from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation and the DAAD. In 2007, he obtained a Master of Arts degree at the University of Freiburg. The same year he was accepted by the Postgraduate Programme in International Affairs of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation and the Robert Bosch Foundation. He completed internships at the Federal Foreign Office, the OSCE, and the Int. Crisis Group.
In 2008, Daniel obtained a research fellowship at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik. In 2010, he started his career at GIZ. Since 2015, he has headed the GIZ Global Partnership on Drug Policies and Development, supervising a team in Bangkok, Bogotá and Berlin. Currently, Daniel is also a lecturer at the Freie Universität Berlin.
Daniel is married and has two children. Beyond family, he enjoys the opera and classical music, as well as gardening.
Shota Bukoshi has been a diplomat at the Embassy of Kosovo in Berlin since 2014. Using her expertise in culture and media, she has developed and executed strategies on establishing and strengthening international relations. She has opened the space within the embassy to cultural events. She plays an active role in Kosovo’s efforts to gain membership in international organisations.
Previously she worked as Kosovo’s programme officer for Pro Helvetia, supporting the local cultural scene. As a cultural manager and consultant for NGOs, she conceptualised and implemented projects, lectures, conferences and workshops with an emphasis on international exchange and capacity building.
Shota is also a prizewinning filmmaker and has produced and directed several short films and documentaries, which use an artistic approach to shed light on social issues.
In 2004, Theresa Carrington set out to address the issue of extreme poverty. Having grown up in poverty in the Midwest, she drew upon her life experiences to develop innovative approaches to ending poverty.
Today, Theresa and her team have pioneered a formula that sustainably ends poverty. Known as Ten by Three, the formula has been successfully replicated in eight developing nations, reignited more than 80 broken economies throughout three continents and positively impacted the lives of more than 8000 people and 32,000 of their family members.
Here is how the formula works: Theresa and her team buys ten artisan products a month at Prosperity Wages from an artisan for three years. The artisan is required to use part of their earnings to start three businesses. Within three years the artisan’s businesses grow to support them and they graduate from the Ten by Three Program. Theresa’s model is widely recognised, and she has received an honorary doctorate of humanities from Washington University in St. Louis for her pioneering work.
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.
Stefan Cibian believes that together we can generate social change and inspire our communities. He is passionate about bringing together global experiences and everyday local activities and does this through his work in research, consulting and volunteering.
Stefan has a background in development, international relations, political science and law and received his MA and a PhD from Central European University. His research focuses on peacebuilding, statehood and development in Africa. He is also involved in civil society activities, focusing on community development and resilience. Stefan is director at Cibian Consulting and co-initiator of the Făgăraş Research Institute. He is a visiting lecturer in international development at Babeş-Bolyai University.
Previously Stefan was an Academy Robert Bosch Fellow at the Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs, Chatham House.
Silvia Danielak is currently pursuing graduate studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Design with a special focus on architecture and socio-spatial urban planning in the context of conflicts, structural violence and post-conflict reconstruction. Her research explores spatialised approaches to conflict transformation in Johannesburg.
Previously, Silvia worked for more than three years for the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, serving as a conflict prevention advisor to the African Union Border Programme, based in Addis Ababa. Prior to moving to Ethiopia, she was a Mercator Fellow working on multi-track diplomacy and mediation for UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, UNDP Kyrgyzstan, and for the HD Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva. Silvia holds an MA in international security from Sciences Po Paris and a BA in European studies from Maastricht University.
Learn more about Silvia in her blog post.
Elsa Marie D’Silva is the founder and CEO of Red Dot Foundation (Safecity), a platform that crowdsources personal experiences of sexual violence and abuse in public spaces. Since Safecity started in December 2012, it has become the largest crowd map on the issue in India, Kenya, Cameroon and Nepal.
Elsa Marie is an alumna of the US State Department’s Fortune Program, a fellow with Rotary Peace, Aspen New Voices and Vital Voices, and a BMW Foundation Responsible Leader. She is listed as one of BBC Hindi’s 100 Women. Moreover, she has won the Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award launched by Dušan Stojanović (European Angel Investor of the Year 2013) and the SheThePeople’s Digital Woman Award in Social Impact.
Prior to Safecity, she spent 20 years in the aviation industry, where she worked with Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines. In her last role in aviation, she was Vice President Network Planning.
Onur Eryüce has worked to strengthen political and cultural ties between Turkey and the European Union in defiance of a challenging political environment.
In 2011, he played a pivotal role in the foundation of the Association of Social Democratic Municipalities (SODEM), which was set up to foster strategic partnerships among Turkish municipal leaders and their European counterparts, thus bolstering the position of Turkish municipalities in the EU accession process. Under Onur’s management, the organisation has grown to 130 member municipalities, representing more than 15 million people, and has successfully contributed to EU-Turkey collaboration on issues at the municipal level.
He is responsible for setting up and furthering political, social, cultural and economic dialogue between the member municipalities and their European and international counterparts.
Chris Fowler serves as Senior Director of Corporate Development at the USO (United Service Organisations), where he creates partnerships to support America’s military service members and keep them connected to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation. Since joining the USO in 2018, Chris raised over $5m in support of this mission.
A born storyteller and creative problem solver, Chris was raised near Syracuse University in New York (USA) where he later earned his MBA. He has over 20 years of experience in creative professional services and over ten years in digital marketing and strategic communications, with a portfolio of projects that spans the United Nations an two hall-of-fame songwriters.
Chris is a member of the BMW Foundation responsible Leaders Network and was appointed as its first ‘Network Driver’ in North America, where he served as a volunteer community organiser from 2014 to 2019. He is engaged in other international networks as a fellow of the RSA, a charter member of the Transatlantic Core Group, and an active member of Global Diplomacy Lab.
Closer to home, Chris serves as an election officer in Fairfax County (VA, USA), is a board member of Atlas Corps Tech and serves as a member of the Steering Committee for the DC Civic Innovation Council. Staying in touch with his personal passions, Chris has performed in around 10 productions with the Picnic Theatre Company and has coached his daughter’s soccer teams for more than 10 seasons. In 2019, Chris was recognised as a “distinguished alumnus” of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University, where he previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Integrative Studies.
An avid footballer, if a bit out of shape, Chris is a keen supporter of Liverpool Football Club. He and his partner Jennifer Herrera live in Fairfax County, Virginia, USA with their two daughters, where they all enjoy listening and making music together.
Bettina Gardner is an international trade professional with expertise in international exchange programme planning and execution. Bettina Gardner has planned numerous international exchanges for the City of Atlanta under Mayor Kasim Reed. She has organised C-level missions abroad to events such as the Smart City Expo Barcelona, the FinTech Mission to London and the World Cities Summit Singapore.
She served on the Atlanta steering committee for the Global Cities Initiative and as the liaison for route recruitment for the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Additional global exchange experience includes work for the Mandela Washington Fellowship at Clark Atlanta University, the Georgia Department of Agriculture, trade mission planning, and programmes for numerous global business schools and MBA programmes. She is a 2017 Bosch Fellow.
Born in Slovenia 40 years ago, Peter Grk is currently serving as Secretary General of the Bled Strategic Forum and National Coordinator for the Western Balkans at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia. With 16 years of experience in the diplomatic service, Peter Grk has held posts in Ankara, Copenhagen and Brussels. During Slovenia’s EU Presidency (2008), he served as Chair of the Committee for Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management (CIVCOM).
He was also posted to New York (2011) as Political Coordinator at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Slovenia to the UN and served as an advisor in the Cabinet of the Foreign Minister of Slovenia (2009 to 2011) and as Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister of Slovenia (2013 to 2014).
Peter Grk likes to read, play basketball and discover the world with his family.
Read more about his work here.
Sezen Gücüş-Tidim works in the humanitarian aid sector with Syrian refugees in Turkey and IDPs in northern Syria. She obtained her MA in political science from the University of Warsaw, Poland, and was an exchange student in the European studies MA programme at Trinity College Dublin.
She received her undergraduate degree in political science and public administration from Middle East Technical University (Ankara). Her fields of interest are nationalism, ethnic conflict, discrimination, Turkish politics and Western European politics.
Having grown up in the Black Forest, Germany, in the 1980s, Harald Herrmann decided to embark on a journey of literary exploration by studying comparative literature in Munich, Germany, and took part in an Erasmus exchange in Caen, France, until 2003. He gained further global experience through travel and work abroad.
After completing a post-grad master in international economic relations at Andrássy University Budapest, Hungary, between 2004 and 2006, as well as internships in Slovakia and Kazakhstan, he found a job in Berlin dealing with US-German relations and, one year later, in 2008, joined the German Foreign Service. He has served in Kyiv, Ukraine, and at the headquarters in Berlin. He is currently posted to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he works as a cultural attaché.
In his spare time, he plays music, reads, and goes hiking and rowing.
Ms Amarachi Adannaya Igboegwu is an Equity and Empathy Consultant with vast international training and coaching experience. Her primary goal is to empower both private and public institutions with a view to enhancing and building their human capacity by improving communication lines and promoting belongingness.
Her doctoral research study connects critical self-reflection and self-knowledge to the conscious teaching of elements that are necessary for dealing with structural racism. She has pioneered pre-service teacher training courses on the topic of conscious teaching, led workshops and given talks on the importance of critical self-reflection and the impact of implicit bias in daily life.
She is currently working as a Global Induction Trainer at the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Find out more on her opinion on responsible leadership here.
She is an assistant professor for biology. She worked on the role of human papillomavirus and Chlamydia trachomatics infections for cervical abnormalities in the West Bank, as well as on the distribution of B virus among high-risk groups. She was involved in a vaccination programme in northern Palestine.
In October 2012, she became an elected member of the municipality and vice mayor of Jenin. She participated in the Global Leadership Academy’s Passion and Politics Lab which was very helpful when it comes to dealing with different opinions and emotional discussions. During the Lab, she started a change project called ‘Societal Accountability’.
She also worked on three education projects. She is a manager for Deep Democracy Institute at Oregon, three-year programme process-oriented Leadership (2007 till now).
She held administrative positions at the Arab American University in Jenin as vice president of planning and development and head of biology department.
Julia Jaroschewski is a reporter and founder of Buzzing Cities Lab, a think tank focusing on digital technology and security in informal settlements such as the Favelas in Rio. She works for Die WELT, Spiegel Online, fluter and WIRED, covering mainly foreign politics, organised crime, the war on drugs and security policy. She studied in Portugal, has an MA in political sciences from Berlin and has worked for the UN in New York and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Mozambique.
Julia has attended the Axel Springer Akademie and Columbia School of Journalism. As a fellow of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation and the Besser-Stiftung she reported from Brazil and South Africa, and from Mozambique as a scholar working for Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung. In 2016 she was part of the international journalism programme for South America, working for the Brazilian newspaper O Globo. She has also spent three months in India as a Media Ambassador for the Robert Bosch Stiftung.
Read more about her engagement and how cities can function as future labs for innovative forms of diplomacy. More about her ideas on Women in Crime can be found here. Or read her article on community-led crisis response or on Guinea Bissau.
Hope Kasedde is a human resource professional and a social entrepreneur. She is the Executive Director of the Kampala Open Spaces Initiative, a non-governmental organisation aiming to restore and defend public spaces for well-being. She started the organisation to help create green jobs for young people, including those with a very basic education, and to protect nature. Hope wants to mentor young women and encourage them to do more and be more for their communities.
Previously, Hope worked as a researcher at ACODE - Uganda’s number one public policy think tank, as a Human Resource Associate, and at the National Social Security Fund. Hope is committed to leadership development, environmental protection, the empowerment of women, girls’ education, and human rights law and children’s affairs. Hope is a champion of change and believes that collaboration and diplomacy are at the heart of solutions to the problems engulfing humanity.
Ahmad Maaliji is a public administration and development cooperation professional with 13 years’ experience in public administration reform, institutional development and international experience covering the EU, NATO and regional cooperation.
Ahmad has worked in the Foreign Service of Afghanistan in various capacities including Counselor at the Mission of Afghanistan in Brussels; and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Programs. He has also worked for international organizations like British Council and the Asia Foundation, mainly involved in public administration and institutional development.
Ahmad holds a Master Degree in Social Sciences from Vrije University Brussels, and he is also a graduate of the Diplomatic Academy of Afghanistan. Ahmad is interested in track II diplomacy and strengthening the role of civil society organizations in state policy making.
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.
Ifeoma is the CEO of Clean Tech Hub and the Energy Innovation Centre, Abuja; an incubator for new ideas and technologies, and business models specifically in the Renewable Energy and Clean Technology space in Nigeria. She is also the Country Campaign Director for Power For All in Nigeria. She leads the Nigerian campaign to promote distributed renewable energy in Nigeria and is one of the country's leading energy access experts. Ifeoma’s experience is cross-cutting across senior government and policy level positions; on issues concerning Energy Access; Climate Change; Tech and Innovation; Leadership and Change Management; Development and Poverty Alleviation; Gender Mainstreaming Project Design and Strategy; Stakeholder Partnership initiatives, and Deal Design. She has consulted for the European Union; DFID, USAID, World Bank; FHI 360, GOGLA, Practical Action; MHW Global; WoMIN amongst many other.
Edna Martinez is an enthusiastic consultant in sustainable development and public policy.
For over a decade, Edna has worked in designing, developing and implementing public policies focused on sustainability. She has adapted international agendas to the Mexican context, such as sustainable production and consumption, waste management, eco-labelling and, most recently, the 2030 Agenda most commonly known as the Sustainable Development Goals.
Edna worked in the Mexican Ministry of Environmental and Natural Resources for over five years, where her proudest achievements include the development of a National Strategy and a Special Program in Sustainable Production and Consumption. She has collaborated with UNDP and the Office of the Presidency in the design of the Implementation Strategy of the SDGs for Mexico and for FAO in the Foresight of the Agricultural Sector. Edna has also co-written a public policy recommendation for the T20 when chaired by Germany. She also finds great satisfaction in sharing knowledge digitally, in open forums and teaching in universities.
Edna is currently part of a project that is creating an offsite space for co-creation, team building and workshop spaces for international and local organizations. This space, known as Mineralito, is in a tranquil rural area, surrounded by beautiful green landscapes and natural reserves. Knowledge sharing and designing and creating sustainable lifestyles is what inspired Mineralito. This project has turned Edna into an avid researcher of bio-construction in the creation of this magical place, where everything is designed and built with sustainability in mind and shared to be replicated.
Edna was raised in the North of Mexico, growing up both in a rural town and in Monterrey, the second largest city of Mexico. Edna currently lives in Mexico City, but she prefers the loud grandiosity and the noble silence of the natural environment.
Svantje Meer works as a political scientist with the Berlin Police. In the Counter-Extremism Division she analyses the impact of international conflicts on the city of Berlin. Her main responsibility is identifying spill-over effects from foreign conflicts and identifying extremist crimes that are related to political ideologies and religious fanaticism.
Svantje holds a Master’s degree in political science from the University of Konstanz with a specialisation in international relations, security and migration. Her main region of interest has always been the Middle East, where she has conducted research and projects in Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt and Israel/Palestine.
She has always sought new and different perspectives on international conflicts from directly-affected individuals, and she believes this is key to understanding actors and conflict dynamics.
Juan Carlos Mendoza is a dedicated professional in international relations and development cooperation, mainly in connection with sustainable development issues.
He worked in the private sector from 2003 to 2010 before joining the Ministry of Energy in Mexico. In 2013, Juan Carlos was invited to conduct research at the UNEP Risø Centre in Denmark to contribute to energy poverty studies in urban and peri-urban areas, and later in 2014 he joined the MGG (Managing Global Governance) programme hosted by the German Development Institute and GIZ in Bonn, took part in the International Futures programme and completed a professional stay at the office of the UN’s international initiative Sustainable Energy for All in Vienna. He has conducted research into social and unequal distribution of resources as a cause of inequality.
His main interests are urban governance and policies, resource-based inequality and cities as global actors.
Patrick Mpedzisi is an organisational development consultant with over 15 years’ experience in the NGO sector in Africa. During this time he opened various processes for CSOs in Africa to engage in regional processes. He has managed major CSO initiatives, led regional campaigns and built civil society capacities across the continent. He now focuses on building NGOs’ capacities to be more effective in their sustainability and resource mobilisation.
A lawyer by profession, he also founded Mitupo.org, a platform for restoring, preserving and celebrating African culture and identity and promoting ownership of the evolution of culture. Prior to that, he coordinated the African Democracy Forum, was project coordinator at Southern Africa Trust and led the African Youth Parliament, among other roles. He also co-authored a paper on South African foreign policy and regional integration.
Chi Nguyen is the Ontario Liberal Party candidate for Spadina Fort-York. Chi will be running in the upcoming provincial election in 2022, with the goal to represent the area where she grew up in the Ontario Legislative Assembly.
Previously, she served as the Managing Director at Parker P. Consulting, a social enterprise consulting firm owned by White Ribbon. White Ribbon is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.
Ms. Nguyen has been recognised for her contributions to improving the lives of women and girls throughout Canada by the Governor General (2004) and the YWCA (1999). These efforts included running a national Young Women Vote campaign, the creation of the McGill Women in House program and co-authoring the “Little Black Book for Girls”.
She serves on the advisory of Jane’s Walk, a global movement of citizen-based walks that connect people with their own stories about their communities.
In her free time, she likes to race streetcars on her bicycle, eat delicious food, run and quilt.
Diego is a Senior Policy Advisor for Climate Security & COE at Global Affairs Canada, where he focuses on Security and Defence Relations Division of the Canadian Government as well as the NATO Climate and Security Centre of Excellence.
Previously he worked at the Centre for Rural Development of Canada’s Ministry of Infrastructure and also 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.
Read more about Diego in his latest article.
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.
Trini Saona is a journalist and has been a diplomat with the Chilean Foreign Service since 2010. She is currently posted to the Mission of Chile to the European Union and the Embassy in Belgium and Luxembourg. At the MFA, she previously served at the Embassy of Chile in Mexico, in Santiago, at the Directorate of Strategic Planning and the offices of the Under-Secretary and the Minister, and at ProChile, at the directorate-general for exports promotion.
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.
In diplomacy, her main interest is in exploring new methodologies and tools in depth 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.
Trini is an alumna of Training for International Diplomats at Germany’s Federal Foreign Office, and a member of the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network. She speaks Spanish, English and French, and her main hobby is photography.
Learn more about Trinidad in her latest interview.
Julia Sattler is Assistant Professor of American Studies at TU Dortmund University, Germany. Following her dissertation, in which she analysed mixed race narratives using the theoretical framework of contextual family therapy, she began exploring the intersections of American studies and urban planning, mostly working with Detroit, MI, and her native Ruhr Valley. She has worked with multiple urban redevelopment projects, and has co-taught a number of classes with urban-planning colleagues from Germany and the US. Following this trajectory, she is now studying the negotiation of radical urban transformation processes in American poetry. Furthermore, she is conducting research for a new book project on female responses to Walt Whitman’s poetry.
Beyond her academic interests, Julia loves theatre, travel, photography and creative writing.
Volkan Sezgin is an economic adviser and senior economic specialist at the US Mission in Turkey. Prior to that, he worked as a senior experts at the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Turkey. In 2014, he was employed by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs as a National Expert in Professional Training (NEPT). Before that, he was an energy expert at the state-owned Turkish Energy Company (BOTAS).
Volkan holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in science and technology policy studies from the Middle East Technical University. He also holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Manchester and a PhD in economics from the University of Rome Tor Vergata. He was a visiting research fellow at the Department of Economics at the University of Cambridge and a Visegrad fellow at the Warsaw-based think tank, the Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW).
Read more about Volkan in his article on re-shaping trade diplomacy.
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.
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.
Zlata Simonenko has a Master’s degree in law (honours). Zlata combined her studies with work as a legal assistant at a leading law firm, which helped her better understand criminal justice issues.
Zlata currently works as a criminal lawyer; she is an expert in law enforcement reform in Ukraine and a legal advisor to the PM in the area of police reform. Zlata has helped draft bills related to policing and detective work, as well as amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code. In addition, she has proven the concealment of evidence by police authorities in cases of urban violence and she has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Ukrainian Prosecutor General for violating the right of presumption of innocence. Zlata currently deals with issues of urban violence in Ukraine and, within the framework of the working group, is involved in drafting a law intended to reduce the level of violence in the country.
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.
Pilar Vilaplana graduated in law from the University of Seville (Spain) in 2000 and obtained a Master’s in evaluation of public policies and programmes. After passing a national competitive examination in 2004, she became a civil servant, joining the High Body of Civil Administrators of the State. She has worked at ministries such as Foreign Affairs, Culture, Justice and Health Social Services and Equality.
In 2011/2012, Pilar became a fellow of the Bellevue Programme and moved to Berlin to work for the German Government, at the Secretary of State for Culture and the Media. She is currently serving as Senior Advisor in charge of International Relations of the Government Office against Gender-based violence.
Besides her career in public administration, she is an art lover with training in theatre arts and photography and has worked as a professional actress in several plays in Spain and abroad.
Prof. Dr. Liane Wörner, LL.M. (UW), holds the Chair of Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Comparative Criminal Law, medical Criminal Law and Legal Theory at the University of Konstanz since December 2018. She habilitated at the Justus Liebig University Giessen/Germany (JLU) in 2017 and holds a venia legendi for criminal law, criminal procedure, comparative criminal law, European and International criminal law, medical criminal law and legal theory. Before taking her position in Konstanz, she taught as a stand-in-professor at Universities in Göttingen (2017), Leipzig (2017), and Frankfurt/Oder (2018). Professor Wörner received her LLM from the UW Madison Law School/USA (2003) and her doctorate from JLU Gießen/Germany (2009). She is a member of the AIDP, the German Comparative Law Society, the IFCCLGE, the EAK+, and the Global Diplomacy LAB (GDL).
From 2008 to 2014, Liane conducted international research on the entrenchment of criminal law within societies, comparing German and Turkish laws in an institutional setting involving the JLU, Istanbul State University, and Istanbul Kültür University. Within her postdoctoral paper Professor Wörner focused on legal frameworks on abortion, embryo protection, and assisted dying. In European and International criminal law matters she is a specialist on mutual recognition as regards enforcing European Arrest Warrants and European Investigation Orders, mutual assistance in criminal matters, legal aid, and legal frameworks for measurements against terrorism.