The first European leadership programme
2012 Selection of European Young Leaders

Ida Auken
Ida became the Danish Minister for the Environment in October 2011, having been a Member of Parliament and spokesperson on environmental issues for the Danish Socialist People’s Party since 2007. She is well known in Denmark for her work on renewable energy, green cities and environmental protection. Ida studied theology and is also a priest who has written several books on the relationships between theology, politics and society.

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou
Dionysia-Theodora is a Member of the Hellenic Parliament and Deputy Head of the Environmental Policy Sector in the New Democracy Party. She is a leader in environmental and humanitarian activities internationally and has been the recipient of several international awards, including the ‘Global Citizenship Award for Leadership in Assisting Humanity’ by Orphans International Worldwide, and the ‘Green Star’ Award by UNEP/OCHA/Green Cross International for her voluntary assistance in areas affected by natural disasters. She is Co-founder and President of the European Institute of Law, Science & Technology and an attorney who specialises in International and Environmental Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Dragos Bilteanu
Dragos is CEO of the ROMENERGO Group, a leading Romanian company specialising in energy design, equipment manufacturing and distribution services. He is a very successful entrepreneur, having managed and invested in real-estate and the energy market, and is considered one of Romania’s top management specialists. Forbes magazine listed Dragos as one of the leading Romanian businessmen of the 21st century.

Katharina Borchert
Katharina is CEO of Spiegel Online, the leading German news web site, where she is responsible for the commercial aspects and the long-term strategic development of the company. Previously she was Editor-in-Chief and Online Director of the WAZ Media Group, and was an independent writer focusing on technology and the socio-political implications of the digital age. She became one of the best known German-speaking bloggers, winning several awards, including ‘Young Journalist of the Year’ in 2006. She has also participated in humanitarian work in Africa and Bosnia.

Per Borgklint
Per is Senior Vice President and Head of the Multimedia Business Unit at Ericsson. Beginning with the family business in Jönköping, Sweden, Per has maintained an entrepreneurial focus and has broad experience from the initial idea phase to growing multi-million dollar businesses, notably in the telecoms and media fields. He participated in the development of the Dutch group Tele2, and then launched Tele2 in Belgium, Luxembourg and Ireland. Per was formerly the CEO of Net1, a leading Scandinavian broadband and telephony provider, CEO of both Canal Plus Nordic and the Dutch operator Versatel.

Franziska Brantner
Franziska has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2009 and is part of the Greens-European Free Alliance Group. Before joining the European Parliament, she worked on issues relating to EU foreign policy at the Bertelsmann Foundation. As a consultant for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), she helped design a European action plan for UN Security Resolution 1325, which focuses on the impact of war on women and women's contributions to conflict resolution and peace-building. In 2007-08, Franziska co-authored a European Council on Foreign Relations report on EU Human Rights Policies at the United Nations. She also held a teaching position in Political Science at the University of Mannheim.

Krzysztof Candrowicz
Krysztof is Founder and Director of the Lodz Art Centre and the Foundation of Visual Education in the city of Lodz. The Foundation is responsible for the International Festival of Photography, held annually since 2001, which is one of the largest photographic events in Europe. As Director and Chief Curator of this event, Krysztof has established an association of 30 European festivals of photography, called ‘Photo Festival Union’. He is the creator of the Lodz-European Capital of Culture campaign. In 2008 he was named Lodz Citizen of the Year.

Valerie Casey
Valerie is an internationally recognised designer, innovator and consultant for businesses and governments around the world. She helps organisations on challenges ranging from the creation of new products and services to transforming organisational processes and behaviours. Prior to starting her own practice in San Francisco, Necessary Projects, she held executive positions at the design firms frog and Pentagram, as well as the design and innovation consultancy IDEO. She is Founder of the Designers Accord, the global coalition of designers, educators and business leaders, who work together to create a positive and sustainable impact on society. Casey was named a Fortune magazine ‘Guru of the year’, a ‘Hero of the Environment’ by Time magazine, a ‘Master of Design’ by Fast Company, and one of the ‘World’s Most Influential Designers’ by BusinessWeek.

Elena Fenili
Elena is Head of Political Studies at UniCredit Group. She previously worked at the Italian Representation to the United Nations in New York, where she participated in negotiations on humanitarian issues and African conflicts during the 58th session of the General Assembly. In 2002, she worked at the General Management Office for Economic and Financial Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome. She is Treasurer of the RENA project (National Excellence Network) and an active volunteer in the Italian Children’s Hospital Association (ABIO). Author of various publications on subjects such as European economic growth, in 2010 she was included in the ‘Youth Talent’ list produced by the Italian Ministry of Youth.

Maud Fontenoy
Maud is a French sailor who became famous for being the first woman to row across the North Atlantic Ocean (2003) and then the Pacific Ocean (2005). Most recently she sailed around the Antarctic. She is Vice President of the French coastal protection agency, Conservatoire national du littoral, Spokeswoman for UNESCO and the World Ocean Network, and a Member of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council of France. She is also the founder of Maud Fontenoy Foundation, which promotes educational efforts to protect the oceans. In 2007, she received the prestigious National Order of Merit from the President of France.

Sara Garcia Ruiz
Sara is an engineer at S.A. de Electrónica Submarina (SAES), a company specialised in submarine electronics and acoustics. Prior to this she was a Member of the Murcian regional Parliament, where she was First Secretary of the Defence Commission, as well as a Member of the Science and Innovation Commission and of the Equality Commission. She has been a Member of the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party since she was 16. She studied communications engineering and has worked in the defence policy sector. She stands for male-female parity in Spanish politics and for the presence of members of parliament of all ages.

Clare Gilmartin
Clare was appointed as eBay’s Europe Marketplaces Vice President in April 2010, having worked for eBay in a variety of roles over the past seven years. She is responsible for setting the marketplace business strategy across Europe, including leading eBay’s two largest markets outside of the US: Germany and the UK. She began her career at Unilever, working in the sales and marketing division, and subsequently joined the Boston Consulting Group, working with a variety of large European food and non-food retailers on questions of pricing and international expansion.

Javier Gonzalez
Javier is Founder and CEO of aquaMobile SL, a mobile value-added services provider based in Madrid. AquaMobile SL is one of the most successful digital watermarking solutions companies; its products are recognised throughout the field and used in all kinds of media. Aquamobile SL won several prestigious awards, such as the Top Global 100 RedHerring winner and the NETI Award. He has also worked in management roles for various start-ups, such as Alvento and Mobile 365 Inc. He is Co-founder of the tMA Foundation, which encourages innovative and entrepreneurial projects in conjunction with MIT. Javier is a graduate from the Madrid Polytechnic University and ESCP Europe.

Jan Goossens
Jan is Artistic Director of KVS, the Royal Flemish Theatre in Brussels, since 2001. He has established an ambitious artistic programme that embraces the intercultural and linguistic diversity of Brussels. He is the initiator of cultural exchange programmes between Belgium, the Congo and the Arab world, and is a Belgian Fellow of the Eisenhower Foundation. Jan has also written several books and articles on subjects such as culture, media and the future of Belgium and Europe.

Alina Gorghiu
Alina is a Romanian lawyer and politician who is actively engaged in the local life of the city of Bucharest. In addition to being a lawyer and mediator in criminal investigations she is also a Member of the Chamber of Deputies in the Romanian Parliament where she acts as Secretary for the Legal, Disciplinary and Immunities Committee. She studied Law, Administration and Political Science at well-known Romanian universities, and she is currently a PhD candidate in Criminal Law. Alina graduated from Harvard University’s Public Leaders in Southeast Europe programme.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert
Jeanine is a Member of the Dutch House of Representatives since 2010 and a Member of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. She previously served as a Member of the European Parliament and worked at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enlargement, KPMG and the City of Amsterdam. In February 2010, as rapporteur on the issue, Jeanine led the European Parliament vote that rejected an EU-US agreement which would have granted US authorities access to European citizens’ banking data without taking account the European legislation on data protection.

Emily Hoyos
Emily is President of the Walloon Parliament, a position she has held since 2009, and a Member of the Belgian Green Party. Very early in her career she was elected President of the Federation of Francopone Students, a student organisation, and then became Political Secretary to the Belgian French Community’s Minister of Children, Jean-Marc Nollet. She also worked within several organisations and local associations, such as the Ligue des Familles. In 2009, she was elected to the Walloon Parliament and, six weeks later, she became its President. Emily is one of the youngest and most well-known politicians in Belgium.

Benedek Javor
Benedek is the leader of the Hungarian opposition party Lehet Más a Politika (Politics Can Be Different) and an active environmentalist. He was elected to the Hungarian National Assembly in 2010. He holds a PhD in Biology and was a professor and lecturer on environmental law. He founded an environmental NGO, Védegylet (Protect the Future), in order to raise awareness on global environmental threats. He is author of several articles and publications on sustainable development.

Sarah Joseph
Sarah is the CEO and Founding Editor of emel, the premier Muslim Lifestyle brand. Through emel, she fundamentally formed the concept of Muslim Lifestyle, creating a seismic shift in the way Muslims were perceived and marketed to. She was a member of the Home Office Task Force on extremism after the July 2005 London bombings. Sarah was awarded an OBE in 2004 for services to inter-faith dialogue and the promotion of women’s rights. She was listed as one of the UK’s most powerful Muslims in the Muslim Power 100 by Carter Andersen, and one of the World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims by Georgetown University and the Jordanian Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre.

Jacek Legiewicz
Jacek is the Business Development Executive for the European Union at IBM. Prior to this, he worked in IBM’s Governmental Programmes Division, where he was in charge of policy advocacy and investment protection. Jacek spent seven years at CEC Government Relations, the leading independent public affairs agency in Central Europe, where he was involved in lobbying at both the national and European levels. In parallel to his corporate career, he has been active in the IT industry as Vice President of the Polish IT and Telecom Chamber and a Member of the Executive Board of Digital Europe. Jacek has also been active in local and national politics: he was a Parliamentary candidate in 1997 and Advisor to the Minister of Youth and Family Affairs from 1997 to 1998.

Anne Le Goff
Anne is Secretary General of Crédit Mutuel Arkéa, a leading company in the French bank insurance sector, based in Brittany. Prior to this she was Chief of Staff to the President of the company. She is in charge of the organisation of the company’s Board and Steering Committee, as well as communication and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Anne is also involved in local initiatives, such as activities of the University of Rennes I Foundation and participating in Regional Council working groups on topics such as renewable energy. Anne holds an Actuary degree and, in 2006, was selected to attend the Centre des Hautes Etudes d’Assurance (Centre of Professional Insurance Studies), a prestigious school that trains the future leaders of the insurance industry.

Christian Mandl
Christian is the owner and Chairman of Maporama Solutions, a company specialising in the visualisation of enterprise data on maps. He became a well-known after co-founding Central Europe’s first low-cost airline, SkyEurope, in 2001. He took SkyEurope to the stock market in 2005, staying on to manage the firm until 2007 when he exited to focus on new ventures. He is also Managing Director of Danube Consulting, a company that provides advisory services to investors in Central and Eastern Europe. He is involved in the development of several projects, including the establishment of a venture capital fund to promote R&D in Slovakia, as well as renewable energy initiatives.

Riccardo Maraga
Riccardo is the Mayor of the city of Amelia in the Umbria region, and is one of the youngest and busiest politicians in Italy. He is a member of the Democratic Party focussing on sustainable development and global governance. He has published several articles on European social and labour regulations in labour law magazines and reviews. As an elected official, Riccardo is a very active social-networker – a new kind of politician who is in direct contact with his electors.

Raffaele Mauro
Raffaele is an Associate at Annapurna Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on early stage investments in web services, mobile applications and digital technology. He holds a PhD in Economic History from Bocconi University and is Adjunct Professor at the Collegio di Milano, where he teaches courses on entrepreneurship, network economics and the social science of the Internet. He recently participated in a selective graduate studies programme at Singularity University in California sponsored by Google, NASA and the Kauffman Foundation. He previously worked as an editor for Harvard Business Review’s Italian Edition and in various branches of Confindustria developing projects and conducting research related to emerging markets, entrepreneurship and corporate finance. He is also quite active in the public debate as a political blogger. He has received many awards and accolades including being accepted into the McKinsey EuroAcademy in 2008, and was chosen by the Italian government as one of the top 200 ‘national talents’ in 2010.

Souad Mekhennet
Souad is a German journalist of Turkish and Moroccan descent who works for prestigious international magazines, newspapers and TV channels, such as The New York Times, ZDF and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. She specialises in stories relating to terrorist organisations and Islam, and she recently covered the Egyptian demonstrations at the height of the Arab Spring. She is also Co-author of two German language books that deal with the issues of political Islam and jihad, The Children of Jihad and Islam. In 2009 the independent jury of the magazine medium named her one of the Top 3 reporters in German speaking countries.

João Meneses
João is Head of ‘GABIP Mouraria’ at the Lisbon City Hall, the department in charge of urban rehabilitation and social development of Mouraria, one of the most traditional and multicultural quarters of Lisbon. He also holds the ‘Management of Nonprofit Organisations’ teaching position at ISCTE-Lisbon University Institute, and in June 2011 started a social consulting firm called Big Society. Previously he managed the NGO TESE, and was a Financial Officer at Chapito, which is one of the oldest Portuguese NGOs working with vulnerable young people. He is also a columnist for Diario Economico and has co-authored a book on NGO management.

Joanna Mucha
Joanna became the Polish Minister of Sports in November 2011 after having previously served as a Member of the Polish Parliament representing the Civic Platform Party. Within the Parliament she was involved in health, social and economic issues. She holds a PhD in the economics of healthcare from the University of Warsaw and is a lecturer at the Catholic University in Lublin. She is a founding member of the Janusz Palikot Academy, an apolitical organisation focusing on youth development and social progress.

Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke
Lindsey is Founder and CEO of a web-based philanthropy platform, Women’s Worldwide Web, dedicated to connecting and empowering girls and women around the world through education, microfinance, mentoring and networking. She also works for Enfants d’Asie, a humanitarian NGO that provides care for over 10,000 children in South-East Asia. In 2009 she won the Independent MBA Student of the Year Award that recognises exceptional MBA students with a talent for leadership.

Sofi Oksanen
Sofi is a Finnish-Estonian contemporary novelist and theatrical writer who was catapulted into the elite of Finnish literary authors with her first novel, Stalin’s Cows (2003). It created a heated public debate and led to her being nominated for the Runeberg Award, one of Finland’s most prestigious literary prizes. Her first original play, Purge (2008), became a novel ranking number 1 on Finland’s bestseller list. She received numerous awards for Purge, such as the Prix Femina Etranger en France, the European Book Prize and the Nordic Council Literature Prize. She appears regularly in the media and is also known for her opinions in favour of women’s rights and the promotion of equality. For these efforts she has received an award from the University of Helsinki—the University from which she also holds a degree in Literature.

Martin Ott
Martin is the Co-CEO of Skrill, a leading independent online payments and digital wallet service. Prior to joining the group he was Chief Operating Officer of Jamba!, a provider of mobile content, and before that Co-founder and CEO of Tokyo-based Eken K.K., an online community and consumer review platform. Martin holds a degree in Business Administration from WHU-Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany. He also studied at the Finance Academy in Moscow and the Keio Business School in Tokyo.

Matteo Renzi
Matteo has been Mayor of the city of Florence since 2009, and is a Member of the Italian People’s Party. He is the face of the new generation of Italian political leaders that desire reform in Italy from the top down and rejuvenation of the Italian body politic. Under his leadership, Florence is the first major city in Italy to adopt the Volumi Zero structural policy, an environmental plan to make the city a greener, safer and more sustainable place to live.

Franck Riester
Franck is a Member of the French National Assembly, representing the Seine-et-Marne department as a Member of the UMP Party. He is Mayor of the city of Coulommiers since 2008, where he was also a City Councillor at the age of 21. He is interested in economic development and new technologies, having become one of the main French legislators dealing with the subject of Internet regulation and protection of creative rights. Franck is also a successful businessman, owning several Peugeot dealerships.

Dominik Risse
Dominik is Global Head of Marketing at LANXESS AG (Leverkusen, Germany), a leading global specialty chemicals group. Prior to this, he held various management roles in the chemical industry (LANXESS, Bayer) including a nearly 4 year assignment in Southeast Asia. His political record includes activities at both the regional and national levels for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), as well as for the Junge Union and the Wirtschaftsrat Deutschland (the Economic Council of the CDU). Dominik holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Bradford University School of Management and attended INSEAD’s Leadership Programme in Singapore.

Tomas Sedlacek
Tomas is Chief Macroeconomic Strategist at ČSOB, one of the largest Czech banks. He is a member of National Economic Council, an advisory body to the Prime Minister, where he serves as an elected chairman of the Fiscal Reform group. He was an economic adviser to President Václav Havel and later served as an expert, non-political adviser to the Finance Minister. Yale Economic Review has ranked him among the ‘Five hot shots in economics’. He is also a regular columnist and commentator. In 2009, he published a book on philosophy, ethics and the history of economic thought entitled Economics of Good and Evil, which has been translated into 8 languages.

Aziz Senni
Aziz is a young French entrepreneur, Founder and President of Alliance Transport et Accompagnement, a ‘collective taxi’ company for the region of Paris, and Founder and President of Business Angel des Cités, a social investment fund for the development of Parisian suburban areas. Aziz has published two books in France, the first on the ‘social glass ceiling’ entitled L’ascenseur social est en panne… j’ai pris l’escalier (The social elevator is broken, I took the stairs), and the second, Monte ton BIZ (Create your own business: 10 commandments of the entrepreneur coming from suburbs) on how to become a successful entrepreneur when coming from a under-privileged neighbourhood. He has received several awards from the French government including the Médaille de l’Assemblée nationale (the National Assembly Medal).

Jens Spahn
Jens is a Member of the German Bundestag with responsibility for health policies, and a Member of the CDU/CSU Youth Group. He holds a degree in Banking and Political Science from the University of Hagen, and previously worked as a banker in his hometown of Munster. Jens is a founding member of the ‘Young Member of Parliament’ cross-party group that promotes integration and equality in politics and society. He is also a member of the German Atlantic Association.

Farid Tabarki
Farid is a researcher, writer, presenter and entrepreneur. He is Founding Editor, Presenter and a researcher for Coolpolitics, a Dutch civic social organisation that encourages younger generations to shape their roles as citizens. In 2006, 2007 and 2010, he presented the parliamentary election edition of MTV Coolpolitics, featuring debates between leading politicians. As Founder and Director of Studio Zeitgeist, he coordinates research and develops projects on the local, national and European level. He also works closely with research institutes such as the Open Society Institute and the University of Amsterdam and is a member of numerous organisations, such as the Netherlands Architect Institute the Foundation for Democracy and Media.

Vessela Tcherneva
Vessela is Spokesperson and Member of Cabinet for the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Previously, she was Director of the Bulgarian office of the European Foreign Policy Council and Programme Director of the Centre for Liberal Strategies. Between 2004 and 2006 she was Secretary of the International Commission on the Balkans, chaired by Giuliano Amato. She is Observing Editor of Foreign Policy – Bulgaria magazine, a position she has held since its launch in 2005.

Mathieu Vedrenne
Mathieu is Deputy General Manager of Société Générale Private Banking Switzerland since 2012. Prior to this he was Chief of Staff to the CEO of Société Générale, one of the major banking services companies in Europe. He joined the company in 2001, after having worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers for 3 years, and quickly climbed the professional ladder within the company. He was selected for the company’s Executive Programme for the top performing employees. He is a sponsor of the 2010-2012 HEC Entrepreneur Diversity Programme and is a Member of the Executive Committee of the Fondation Croissance Responsable (Responsible Growth Foundation).

Cédric Villani
Cédric is a French mathematician, Director of the Henri Poincaré Institute in Paris and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Lyon. His main research interests are in kinetic theory and optimal transport. He has published many works on mathematics and received some of the most renowned awards in the field: the European Mathematical Society Award (2008), the Fermat Award (2009), the Henri Poincaré Prize of the French Academy of Sciences (2009) and the Fields Medal (2010). In 2011 he was named Knight of the Legion of Honour by the French Minister for Higher Education and Research.

Jon Worth
Jon Worth is a founding partner of techPolitics LLP, a London-based web campaigning and social media agency that has run online campaigns for well-known UK politicians such as Harriet Harman, Diane Abbott and Ken Livingstone. He is best known in the UK for his role running the Atheist Bus Campaign, an online fundraising campaign that emblazoned the slogan "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" on 800 buses across the UK in 2009. This action prompted follow up campaigns in ten further countries. He is one of the founders of BloggingPortal.eu, an aggregator of blogs about the European Union, and is a prolific writer on EU affairs on his own blog (jonworth.eu) as well as on UK political blogs such as LabourList and Left Foot Forward. He is a visiting lecturer at Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, and the Graduate Institute of International Affairs, Geneva.