OUR STORY

Too many photographs of European or NATO summits are made up of rows of grey suits. Too often women remain on the sidelines of key discussions, negotiations and decision-making in foreign policy.

 

WIIS Brussels started almost two decades ago as a loose group of volunteers aiming to change the status quo. In 2013, under the leadership of Cristina Gallach, then Director for Media and Communications and the Council of the European and now Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information at United Nations, we began the journey from an informal “band of sisters” to an organised and registered not-for-profit association of male and female professionals dedicated to making waves in the Brussels, European and global foreign affairs and security sector. Under the leadership of our President, Dr. Corinna Hörst, WIIS Brussels has become a key actor of the Brussels security and gender discussion. We offer our network of some hundred members and close to a thousand contacts regular activities, ranging from professional development and training workshops to networking opportunities and gender-balanced policy debates.

 

Diversity is as much about making sure half of the world’s population is involved in decision-making as it is about leveraging the diversity of ideas that is necessary to develop the innovative and sustainable solutions to global security challenges. We believe in paying more than just lip-service to diversity and gender-balance: we offer our members the tools to enhance their skills and develop their career, and partner with forward-looking organisations such as The Brussels Binder to offer concrete solutions to the "all-male” syndrome plaguing the Brussels policy debate. We regularly welcome leading female speakers and writers to contribute new proposals to current debates.

 

Please browse our website, support our efforts and join us as we work for a secure world.

 
MISSION

Women In International Security (WIIS - pronounced ‘wise’) Brussels is an independent, non-partisan, non-for-profit organisation, registered under Belgian law.

 

It belongs to the global family of WIIS chapters which are dedicated to advancing the leadership and professional development of women in the field of international peace, security and defence. There are currently 47 independent chapters around the world whose members include policymakers, military personnel, diplomats, legislative aides, scholars, students, journalists and business representatives at all stages of their careers.

 

WIIS Brussels promotes leadership training, mentoring, and networking programmes as well as intellectual diversity through discussions on current policy challenges. It benefits from the presence of the EU institutions and NATO as well as a very high concentration of diplomatic representations, international organisations and other influential stakeholders, putting it at the centre of key policy discussions on international relations, security and defence.

 

WIIS Brussels is led by an energetic team of volunteers who constitute its Steering Committee. A high-level Advisory Committee provides strategic guidance.

 
 
TEAM
CRISTINA GALLACH
Honorary President

Cristina Gallach was nominated the United Nations' Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information in December 2014. She previously served as Head of the Public Relations Unit in the Council of the European Union after being Spokesperson to Javier Solana, then European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and NATO Deputy Spokesperson. Cristina was instrumental in bringing a new energy to WIIS Brussels and moving it from a loose association to a dedicated group of volunteers, serving as its first President under the new governance structure. As Honorary President, she continues to bring her wealth of experience in communications, information, public diplomacy, international affairs and security policy, combined with transformational leadership and hands-on management expertise, to the cause of more gender equality in international relations.

ROSA BALFOUR
Member of the Steering Committee (Policy)

rbalfour(at)wiis-brussels.org | @rosabalfour

Dr. Rosa Balfour is a Senior Fellow for the German Marshall Fund's Europe Programme, where she focuses on European foreign and security policy, including the relationship between Europe’s internal politics and international relations. She has researched and published widely on issues relating to European foreign policy and external action, relations with the Mediterranean region, Eastern Europe and the Balkans, EU enlargement, European Neighbourhood Policy, and on the role of human rights and democracy in international relations. Prior to joining GMF, she was a Director at the European Policy Centre (EPC), an independent think tank based in Brussels, where she headed the Europe in the World programme. She holds an MA in history from Cambridge University, an MSc in European Studies and PhD in International Relations both from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Recent major publications include Europe’s Trouble-makers. The populist challenge to foreign policy, as Rapporteur of a Reflection Group report (link), and a number of publications on the EU foreign policy, the EU’s new diplomatic service and its implications for European foreign policy, with a volume published Ashgate in 2015 (co-edited with Caterina Carta and Kristi Raik), The European External Action Service and National Foreign Ministries. Convergence or Divergence?. Her book on Human Rights and Democracy in EU Foreign Policy. The cases of Ukraine and Egypt was published by Routledge in 2012, the paperback edition in 2014.

KRISTINE BERZINA
Member of the Steering Committee

kberzina(at)wiis-brussels.org 

Kristine Berzina is a senior fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy in GMF's Brussels office. She focuses on U.S.–EU relations, NATO, and energy topics. Berzina, who lived in Moscow part-time from 2014 until 2016, also analyzes Russia’s foreign policy and writes about Baltic foreign policy and security issues. Berzina appears frequently in international media, including NPR, Deutsche Welle, Euronews, The Wall Street Journal, and Agence France-Presse. Prior to joining GMF, Berzina worked on energy security, transatlantic cooperation, and climate change and security in Berlin, Germany and in Washington, D.C. A native of Latvia, Berzina grew up in the United States. She received her master’s degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge and her bachelor's in political science and history from Yale University. Berzina is a native speaker of English and Latvian, is fluent in German, and has a basic knowledge of Russian and French.

MIRUNA BOUROS
Member of the Steering Committee

mbouros(at)wiis-brussels.org 

Miruna currently works as Consular Officer at the Irish Embassy in Brussels. A Belgian ‘Brusseleir’ with Romanian roots, Miruna acquired an interest in international affairs and more particularly EU-Asia relations and conflict resolution early on during her studies. A cum laudae graduate several times over, she holds a MA degree in Political Science from the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, as well as a double MA in European Studies (EU-Asia relations) and International Commerce conferred jointly by KU Leuven and Seoul National University in South Korea, where she spent 1 year studying abroad. Prior to her current work Miruna was a trainee at the Belgian Permanent Representation to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and at the UNESCO HQ in Paris, as well as at the EU Institute for Security Studies in Brussels. She is fluent in English, Dutch, French, Romanian and Italian, and is currently trying to build up her Korean skills.

CLAIRE CRAANEN-FRANCIS
Secretary General & responsible for Happy Hours and the WIIS@NATO group

ccraanen(at)wiis-brussels.org | @clairecraanen

Claire Craanen-Francis is a Speechwriter in NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division, Press & Media Section. She writes speeches, articles and other written material for the NATO Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General.

Prior to joining the speechwriting team, she was a member of the Counter-Terrorism team in NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division. She also worked several years on crisis anticipation/ horizon scanning and wrote policy papers to inform the senior leadership at NATO Headquarters of potential upcoming security developments in the Middle East and North Africa, Russia, South Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.

She started her career at NATO in the Operations Division where she was responsible for analyzing and assessing current political and security developments related to the Alliance’s operations in Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, Iraq and at sea off the Horn of Africa.

Claire has been a member of WIIS Brussels since 2005 and has contributed to growing the network and establishing WIIS as a non-profit organisation in 2015.

She holds a MA in Political Science/International Relations (University of Leiden, the Netherlands) and a Certificate in Peace & Conflict studies (University of California, Berkeley).

ANA CRESPO PARRONDO
Member of the Steering Committee (Comms)

acrespoparrondo(at)wiis-brussels.org

Ana Crespo Parrondo is a Public Relations Officer at the Council of the European Union. Since she joined the Council in 2011, she has held various communication positions at the Press Office (as its Press Officer for Environment, Climate Change and Energy), Public Relations Unit and directly for the Director-General and the Director for Media and Communication. In those capacities, she has dealt with media relations, organised press logistics for high-levels events, conducted media monitoring and managed public visits and events. Her previous professional experiences include several Spanish media broadcasting companies and the William J. Clinton Foundation (Marketing Department, NYC HQ). She holds a MA in European Politics (University of Bath, Università degli Studi di Siena & Sciences Po Paris), a Postgraduate in Protocol (UNED Spain) and a BA in Communications (European University of Madrid).

MARIA DEL CARMEN FERNANDEZ FERNANDEZ-POYATO

Member of the Steering Committee

cfernandez@wiis-brussels.org

Carmen is currently working at the DG DEVCO in the European Commission, where she has acquired sound experience in EU external policy and programming. She has previously worked in Central America and DR. Congo, in peace and state building projects. Carmen is a lawyer and holds a MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics, where she specialised in peace and conflict, and EU foreign affairs. Her areas of interest and research include women, peace and security, humanitarian-development nexus, the EU as a normative power, and justice and security. She is a Spanish native speaker and is also fluent is English and French.

SABRINE DAO

Member of the Steering Committee

sdao@wiis-brussels.org

Sabrine is currently a Public Relations Assistant at Redscope Consulting, a Brussels-based agency providing consultancy in leadership to the European Institutions, the corporate sector and international non-profit organisations. Prior to this, she actively worked for UNICEF France in the North Committee, leading the communication department. Sabrine holds both a BA in Law and in Political Science. She is an International Relations Master's candidate, specialised in peace, security and conflict. Her expertise lies in gender studies, conflicts, peacebuilding, human rights and international security which stems from her interest in the Arab world and Sub-Saharan African matters. She has previously acquired first-hand experience of how these conflicts play out on the international stage during a placement at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in 2018. A native French speaker, she is multilingual, speaking English and Spanish and learning Arabic, and Russian.

FLORENCE FERRANDO

Member of the Steering Committee

fferrando@wiis-brussels.org

Florence is working since January 2018 as a Consultant at CEIS European office, a French strategic consultancy specialized in sectors of national sovereignty and digital transformation. Florence works on several types of missions for public and private customers and performing a large range of tasks from desk research and support activities on deliverables to follow-up of large projects. Most of her work focuses on digital transformation in defence sector, as she was involved in several studies on new technologies, such Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain, for industry and public entities.

 

Owing two International Relationships second-year master’s degrees from Lyon 3 Jean Moulin University with specializations in international security, defence and business intelligence, Florence studied especially defence themes such as cross-border cooperation, no-state threats, defence economics or nuclear deterrence.

As part of her education, Florence achieved several internships within the French public sector (French General Delegation for Armament Naval Techniques, police force) as monitoring officer, and the aeronautic industry (MBDA, Safran). 

 

As member of WIIS Steering Committee, Florence is notably involved in the Digital & Innovation Series organisation - a series of events on women and the digital transformation of the security and defence sectors.

CORINNA HÖRST
Former WIIS President (2015-2019), Member of the Steering Committee

chorst(at)wiis-brussels.org 

Corinna Hörst is senior fellow and deputy director of GMF’s Brussels office. She supports the executive director in all aspects of strategic planning, operations, personnel, management, and communication. In this capacity, she plays a central role in program planning, networking, and relationship building with the EU institutions, NATO and stakeholders from governments, media, business, as well as nongovernmental and think tank communities. She monitors and frequently comments on transatlantic relations and European affairs and is engaged in various women leadership development and diversity activities.

She is also co-founder of The Brussels Binder, an online database of female policy experts. Her recent book “Women Leading The Way in Brussels,” co-authored with Claudia de Castro Caldeirinha (John Harper Publishing, 2017) looks at women leadership in Europe and Brussels, including vignettes of women who exercise leadership across different sectors in Brussels. Before coming to GMF in 1999, she was a teaching associate at Miami University, teaching American and world history and worked as assistant project manager at a publishing company in Germany. Hörst has a PhD and master’s degree in history and studied at Miami University in Ohio, United States, the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and St. Andrews University in Scotland.

MARTA MARTINELLI
Vice-President

mmartinelli(at)wiis-brussels.org 

Marta Martinelli is head of the EU external relations team for the Open Society European Policy Institute, where she oversees policy development and EU advocacy within the institute. She acts also as OSF Special Advisor on security governance. She joined the Open Society Foundations in May 2010. Previously, Marta worked in Kinshasa for the European Union mission for Security Sector Reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. From 2005 to 2009, she advised the Belgian Directorate General for Development on peace-building policies in the Great Lakes Region. Marta has advised the European Commission, the European Parliament, the UNDP, OECD/DAC and UNIFEM on gender, peace support operations, and security system reform in Burundi, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Marta’s academic career includes holding a chair in peace and conflict studies at the Free University of Brussels, and teaching at the Institute of International Sociology in Gorizia (Italy) and at the UNESCO Chair for Peaceful Conflict Resolution and Human Rights in Bujumbura (Burundi). In Brussels, she serves as an adviser to the European Institute of Peace, the European Network for Central Africa, and Save the Children. She holds a PhD in conflict resolution and an MA in international politics and security studies from the Department of Peace Studies in Bradford (United Kingdom) as well as a BA in diplomacy and international relations from the University of Trieste (Italy).

PAULINE MASSART
Vice-President, Operations and Outreach

pmassart(at)wiis-brussels.org 

Pauline Massart has been an active member of WIIS Brussels since 2010, and coordinates the group’s outreach, membership, fundraising and network. She is Deputy Head of the EU Office of CEIS, a French strategic advisory company. She was previously Head of Media & Communication at the European Defence Agency, after heading the Peace, Security & Defence Programme of the Brussels-based think-tank Friends of Europe (previously the Security & Defence Agenda) for eight years. She began her career in the defence industry, after studying at King’s College London, the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris and Leiden University in the Netherlands. Massart is on the Board of the Brussels Binder, the online female expert database. She speaks English, French, German and Italian, and is the mother of two children.

ROMANA MICHELON
Member of the Steering Committee

rmichelon(at)wiis-brussels.org 

Romana Michelon joined NATO in 2015, and works within the office of the Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security. Before joining this team, she worked on EU-NATO cooperation as part of the Operations Division of NATO’s International Military Staff. Prior to NATO, Romana specialized in EU foreign policy and Middle Eastern affairs. She worked on the geopolitical implications of the discovery of natural gas in the East Mediterranean at the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., and on energy and water diplomacy in the Middle East within the European External Action Service. She holds a bachelor's in European studies from Maastricht University, a master’s in international relations from the University of Amsterdam, and a master's in conflict resolution from King’s College London. Romana speaks Dutch, English, Italian and French, and is currently studying Modern Hebrew.

MAGDALENA ORNAT
Member of the Steering Committee

mornat(at)wiis-brussels.org 

Magdalena specialises in public procurement for technologies in the area of telecommunication, aerospace and nuclear power.  Previously she worked for the United Nations Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation in Austria, where she led planning and procurement for one of the largest verification measure exercices on nuclear explosions in Jordan. Prior to this experience Magdalena contributed to space navigation and monitoring missions at the European Space Agency in the Netherlands. She also supported the coroporate governance office of the Director of Europol, where she was responsible for communication with other law enforcement agencies. She started her career at the Business Section of the Embassy of Poland to the Kingdom of the Netherlands with a task to develop trade relationships between Poland and the Netherlands.

 

Currently she plans to pursue her career in procurement in defence, and will attend acquisition courses at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom and International Business Law Studies at the University of Brussels. She holds a MA in European Union Studies with a focus on European Union Law from Leiden University. In addition, she obtained a Diploma in Procurement from the Oxford College of Marketing. Her native tongue is Polish. She is also fluent in English and Dutch, and speaks French.

EVA RIBERA
Member of the Steering Committee

eribera(at)wiis-brussels.org 

International Relations Master candidate specialized in gender studies, international security, transitional justice and human-capacity building, Eva Ribera decided on this career path after a long-lasting activism in Bordeaux, where she participated in the creation of a gender equality association. Thanks to a humanitarian mission within the German diplomatic corps, she gained first-hand experience on international responses to post-conflict development needs in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province. She also participated in a transitional justice project with the Sri Lankan NGO “Centre for Equality and Justice”. Through her research works, she further focused on gender-just peace in the post-conflict Western Balkans societies. In addition to her native French, she speaks English, has professional proficiency in German and has been learning Arabic for two years. 

LAURA SEMMLER
Member of the Steering Committee

lsemmler(at)wiis-brussels.org 

Laura Semmler is an EU Policy Advisor within the EU Policy, Regulatory and Government Affairs team at international law firm DLA Piper in Brussels. She advises clients – mainly foreign governments, but also corporations and trade associations - on a wide range of EU policy, regulatory and institutional developments, as well as on matters related to public and cultural diplomacy, media and communications. Prior to joining DLA Piper, Laura worked on different aspects of German and EU external relations at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Moldova and the Representation of the State of Bavaria to the EU in Brussels. Laura holds an MA in Political Science with a focus on International Relations from Goethe University Frankfurt, a Certificate (AEP) in International Relations and Affairs from Sciences Po Lyon in France and a BA in Governance and Public Policy from Passau University, Germany. Laura speaks German, English and French, and has a basic knowledge of Spanish.

CLOTILDE SIPP
Member of the Steering Committee

csipp(a)wiis-brussels.org

Clotilde Sipp is a Policy Adviser for Political, Security and European Institutions at the New Zealand Mission to the European Union. She was previously a Programme Manager at the think-tank Friends of Europe, where she coordinated security, Asia and development-related activities. She previously worked for a sustainable development charity and for a global risk management and security services company. She holds an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics (LSE), specialising on EU external policies, especially non-traditional security cooperation with Southeast Asia; and a BA in Politics & Linguistics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She is bilingual in French and English.

ANNA TOBUR
Member of the Steering Committee

atobur(at)wiis-brussels.org

Anna is Account Director at Weber Shandwick Brussels, where she leads the Technology Practice providing strategic counsel to a wide range of clients. With nearly 10 years of experience in European public affairs and an extensive communications background, she excels at advocacy and thought leadership campaigns, often across the EMEA region and in coordination with international teams.

Anna has focused on issues related to the technology and defence sectors and has also worked on projects aiming to position countries, governments, political parties, and figures.

Prior to joining Weber Shandwick, Anna was a Senior Manager at Burson-Marsteller. She also worked at the AJC Transatlantic Institute, and as an assistant to Marek Siwiec, Vice-President of the European Parliament and MEP Andrzej Wielowieyski.

Raised in Poland, Anna holds a Master's in European Studies from Maastricht University and a Master's in Law from the European School of Law and Administration in Warsaw. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the Centre for Europe of Warsaw University. A native Polish speaker, Anna is fluent in English and speaks Italian and some French.

REBEKKA HAFFNER

Member of the Steering Committee

rhaffner(a)wiis-brussels.org

Rebekka Haffner works as a Project Officer at the European Organisation of Military Associations (EUROMIL). She works on European security and defence policy as well as on employment and social legislation which has an influence on the military personnel EUROMIL represents. Rebekka previously worked for the Brussels representation of the German development agency GIZ. She holds an MA in Security and Diplomacy Studies from Tel Aviv University as well as a BA in Politics and History and a BA in Politics and Law from the Westfälische Wilhelms Universität in Münster, Germany. In addition to her native German, Rebekka speaks English, Dutch and French and is currently learning Arabic.

LORRAINE WILKINSON
Member of the Steering Committee

lwilkinson(a)wiis-brussels.org

Lorraine is Senior Policy Manager at the European Organisation for Security where she provides strategic policy counsel to the security industry. Prior to this she established her career in EU Public Affairs as a Consultant for FleishmanHillard where she lead multi-market advocacy campaigns. Lorraine also gained significant experience working in the public sector, both as a communications consultant for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and serving as a NATO consultant on security and defence policy. In addition, Lorraine honed her media skills working for a Brussels-based European weekly in Brussels. Her career in the security and defence sectors began after obtaining a First Class Honours Master’s Degree in International Conflict Analysis at the University of Kent in Brussels.  Lorraine is a dual British-Belgian citizen, a Brussels native, and speaks English and French.

MATHILDE SIMILLION
Member of the Steering Committee

msimillion(a)wiis-brussels.org

Mathilde is a young graduate from Political Sciences and International Relations (UCL). She worked as an intern in the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency) as Project Planning Coordinator and currently volunteers with feminist associations. Fascinated by counter-terrorism and politics, she holds three certifications in International Cyber Conflicts (University of New-York), Philosophical Ethics (University of Geneva) and International Women’s Health (Stanford University).  

 
ADVISORY COMMITTEE

WIIS Brussels's Advisory Committee give the organisation strategic advice and guidance.

 

This small group of dedicated individuals includes:

PAUL ADAMSON
Chairman of Forum Europe, Founder and Editor of E!Sharp

Paul Adamson is chairman of Forum Europe and founder and editor of E!Sharp, an online magazine dedicated to covering the European Union and Europe's place in the world. He is also a Senior European Policy Advisor at Covington. He is a member of Rand Europe's Council of Advisors, sits on the external advisory board of YouGov-Cambridge, a polling think-tank, is a member of the advisory group of the Washington European Society and is a trustee of the Citizenship Foundation. Paul is a Visiting Professor at the Policy Institute, King’s College London, a patron of the University Association of Contemporary European Studies (UACES) and a Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences. He founded the consulting firm Adamson Associates, which was sold to Weber Shandwick and The Centre, which was later sold to Edelman. In 2012, Paul was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) "for services to promoting understanding of the European Union”, a part of the Queen's 2012 New Year Honours Diplomatic Service and Overseas List.

 

ILANA BET-EL
Historian, author, journalist and consultant

Ilana Bet-El is a senior adviser on energy, defence, geopolitics and communications, with over thirty years’ experience in both the private and the public sectors. She is also a widely published writer on politics, history and identity in the EU, Russia, the Middle East and the Trans-Atlantic community. With a background in academe and the media, she has worked for the UN in both the Balkans and New York — as well as advising multinationals and governments from her base in Brussels. She created and edited the editorial page of European Voice (now Politico), and has contributed hundreds of columns and opinion to pieces to a wide variety of international media. She holds a PhD from the University of London and is fluent in English, Hebrew and French.

 

CHRISTIAN LEFFLER

Deputy Secretary-General for Economic and Global Issues
at European External Action Service (EEAS)

Christian Leffler, born in Göteborg in 1955, obtained a Bachelor's degree in politics and international relations from the LSE. After doctoral studies at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva he joined the Swedish Foreign Service in 1980. Postings to Cairo and Paris were followed by the Political Affairs Department of the Ministry in Stockholm. After participating in the accession negotiations and in establishing the new working structures of the Representation in the first year of active Swedish EU membership, he became the first Swedish “Antici,” responsible under the Permanent Representative for policy coordination in the work in the Council of Ministers. He joined the European Commission in 1996, where he took up the post of Commission “Antici” and Head of the unit in the Secretariat General responsible for the coordination of relations with the Council of Ministers. In 1999, he became the Deputy Head of the Private Office of the Right Honourable Chris Patten, European Commissioner for External Relations. From 2002 until 2007, he was Director in charge of the Middle East and South Mediterranean in the European Commission’s Directorate General for External Relations. He then spent three years as Head of Cabinet of Mrs Margot Wallström, Commission Vice President for Institutional Relations and Communication. During 2010 Mr Leffler was Deputy Director General of the DG for Development and relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific States, as well as a senior adviser to EU High Representative for CESP and European Commission Vice-President Catherine Ashton, assisting her in the preparation for the establishment of the new European External Action Service. From the beginning of 2011 to 2015 he was Managing Director for Americas with the European External Action Service. Mr Leffler took up his current position on 16 September 2015. Mr Leffler took up his current position on 16 September 2015. 

 

JANE MORRICE
Vice-President for Communications of the European Economic and Social Committee, Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Equality Commission and former Deputy Speaker of the first Northern Ireland Assembly

Born in Belfast, Jane Morrice has worked in many challenging fields throughout her career; Deputy Speaker of the first Northern Ireland Assembly set up after the Peace Agreement, Head of the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland and former BBC reporter and Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Equality Commission. She was elected Vice President of the European Economic and Social Committee in April 2013 until October 2015. In this capacity, she was also President of the EESC Communications Group. Throughout her career she has been actively involved in peace building and conflict resolution. As EC representative, she was a member of Delors task force, which established the first EU PEACE Programme, and, during her time in politics, she worked on the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. In her role as EESC Member she has written two reports on EU peace building and she continues to work to promote exchange of experience between Northern Ireland and people in conflict zones in other parts of the world.

 

CLAUDIA RITTER
Co-founder and President of the Sofia Foundation

Claudia Ritter, MA, MSc, CPCC-ACC, is an executive and leadership coach, facilitator and consultant headquartered in Brussels. Being cross-cultural through her education, upbringing and career, her expertise lies in delivering a uniquely holistic approach to all aspects of cross-cultural orientation, strategic communications, and leadership development training to international public organisations, governments, the corporate, and the non-profit sector. Claudia’s career has encompassed journalism, strategic communications, and organisational development. She has served in senior leadership positions at the European Commission and in other European organisations for twenty years, working as a lobbyist, and policy and communications strategist. Claudia has earned a Masters of Arts from Ruprecht-Karls-Universität (Heidelberg), and a postgraduate Masters degree of Science in Leadership from Boston University. She holds German and Dutch citizenship, and is a proficient speaker of six European languages. Alongside her activities as a business coach and consultant, she dedicates pro-bono time to projects promoting women entrepreneurs, in corporate governance, and as experts in the information media.

 

MARRIËT SCHUURMAN
NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security

Ambassador Marriët Schuurman was appointed the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security in October 2014. She is the high-level focal point on all aspects of NATO’s contributions to the Women, Peace and Security agenda, with the aim to facilitate coordination and consistency in NATO’s policies and activities and to take forward the implementation of the NATO/EAPC Policy and Action Plan on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and related Resolutions. Ambassador Schuurman is a career diplomat having served the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more than 17 years. Prior to her nomination as Special Representative, Ambassador Schuurman was the representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia . Other duties include postings in Sudan, Zambia and Moscow, and strategic policy development regarding Kosovo and the African Great Lakes region. Ambassador Schuurman has held several board positions including the Presidency of the Works Council of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidency of the Council of the University of Amsterdam.

 

ALEXANDRE STUTZMANN
Director for External Policies in the European Parliament

Alexandre Stutzmann is Director for external policies - Parliamentary committees in the European Parliament. Previously he has been the Diplomatic Adviser of the last three Presidents of the European Parliament (Hans-Gert Pöttering, 2007- 2009, Jerzy Buzek, 2009-2012, Martin Schulz, 2012-14). From August 2014 to December 2015 he was the Head of Secretariat of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.