European Young Leaders


What do a microbiologist, an entrepreneur, a journalist and a Member of Parliament have in common?

They are all European Young Leaders who are engaged in making Europe a global champion for a better world.

The European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme, organised by Friends of Europe, is a unique, inventive and multi-stakeholder programme that aims to promote a European identity by engaging the continent’s most promising talents and initiatives.

The programme is supported by renowned and solid foundations such as the Fondazione Cariplo and the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation.

The European Young Leaders represent promising European leadership from all over the continent, with a wide variety of backgrounds including politics, business, civil society, academia, arts, science and the media.

Every year, they meet for two three-day seminars in symbolic European cities, joined by decision-makers, stakeholders and key European actors to discuss issues of common concern and develop concrete proposals and recommendations to tackle the challenges facing Europe and its citizens.

The European Young Leaders now represent a network of more than 180 alumni.


The programme was initially conceived with EuropaNova, a Paris-based think-tank.

Meet the European Young Leaders
United States
Sabrina Hersi Issa
Chief Executive Officer Be Bold Media, North-American Delegate

Sabrina is the CEO of Be Bold Media, a digital agency for global advocacy that notably produces a hackathon series to build and improve technology tools used for humanitarian relief and refugee services. She is the co-founder of End Famine, a campaign dedicated to developing sustainable solutions to hunger, food security and humanitarian assistance. Sabrina organises Rights x Tech, a gathering for technologists and activists, and runs Survivor Fund, a political fund dedicated to supporting the rights of survivors of sexualised violence. She currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, where she leads research on journalism ecosystems and how philanthropy can support efforts to build diverse, inclusive media ecosystems. In addition, she curates New/s Disruptors, a project working to re-frame the narrative of digital disruption in journalism to champion the experiences and contributions of diverse voices.

Daire Hickey
Managing Partner at 150 Bond & Co-Founder of the Web Summit

Daire is the Managing Partner at 150 Bond, a strategic advisory firm, and one of the co-founders of the Web Summit, Europe’s largest tech start-up event and the largest technology conference in the world. In this role, he has facilitated a number of tech conferences in the United States and Europe. Daire is also a former journalist, who has worked for the Irish broadcaster RTE and several Irish newspapers. Former journalist and columnist, Daire is an active angel investor and a member of several company advisory boards.

Czech Republic
Pavla Holcová
Founder of the Czech Center for Investigative Journalism

Pavla is the Founder and Director of the Czech Center for Investigative Journalism, where she has been involved in examining cases of Serbian and Macedonian organised criminals and revealing fraud in the fall of the Czech Investment and Post Bank (IPB), the biggest bankruptcy in the history of the Czech Republic. Before founding the centre, Pavla was head of Cuban Section in a humanitarian and human rights NGO. Her journalistic work has been merited with the Global Shining Light Award from the Global Investigative Journalism Network, as well as the European Union Award for Investigative Journalism.

Sami Hourani
Executive Director Leaders of Tomorrow, MENA Delegate

Sami Hourani is medical doctor and serial social entrepreneur. He is the founding director of the well-known educational platform Dr. Hourani is also the founder and the executive director of the regional organization Leaders of Tomorrow and the innovative social initiatives; Diwanieh, Mo7aka and the new and creative qualitative research methodology FADFED. He is a fellow at Ashoka, largest hub for social innovators world wide. He received King Abdullah II Demoqrati award in 2014 and EUROMED youth award in 2013. He was also elected as the Jordanian Role Model of 2011 and received the Jordanian title “Knight of Change” in 2008.

United Kingdom
Anne-Marie Imafidon
Co-Founder, Head Stemette & CEO of Stemettes

Anne-Marie co-founded and became the CEO of Stemettes in 2013. Through this social enterprise, she aims to inspire and promote the involvement of the next generation of women into scientific, technologic, engineering, and mathematics centred subjects (STEM) and careers. Within three years, Stemettes has attracted over 7000 girls across the UK, Ireland and Europe to their events. A child prodigy, Anne-Marie’s passion and success in the STEM scene started at an early age, with passing two GCSEs at the age of ten, and being the youngest girl ever to pass A-Level Computing. In recognition of her influence and achievements, Anne-Marie was awarded an MBE in 2017.

Klen Jäärats
Director for EU Affairs Office of the Prime Minister of Estonia

As Director of the EU Secretariat in the Estonian government, Klen coordinates and develops all EU policy and acts as the chief European affairs adviser to the Prime Minister. A career civil servant, Klen started out in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, rising quickly to the position of Head of the Refugees Department. In this capacity, he dealt with a variety of NGOs and international organisations including the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He later moved to Brussels where he spent six years working at the Estonian Permanent Representation to the EU during which time he dealt with many issues related to the preparation, ratification and implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Czech Republic
Karel Janecek
Founder & Former Chairman of the Board of RSJ, Founder of Democracy 2.1 (D21) and European Young Leader

Karel is a Czech anti-corruption activist, mathematician and social-reformer, who is using his skills to rethink how democracy functions. Following a series of corruption scandals in 2013 that threatened to bring down the Czech government, Karel engaged in a number of initiatives aimed at improving governmental accountability through citizen action and electoral reform. One of these is Democracy 2.1 (D21), primarily based on the possibility to vote against a candidate. This concept is currently used by the cities of Prague and New York, and was also tested by the UK National Health Service (NHS).

United States
Derek Johnson
Executive Director Global Zero, North-American Delegate

Derek Johnson is the Executive Director of the Global Zero movement for a world without nuclear weapons. Since 2010, he has led an international campaign powered by an eminent group of 300 world leaders and luminaries, a high-impact grassroots action corps and hundreds of thousands of members online. An experienced strategist and creative campaigner, Johnson works on the frontiers of catalytic advocacy, foreign policy and social change. By combining media, online and grassroots campaigns with cutting-edge policy initiatives and direct dialogue with key governments, he has spent the last six years positioning Global Zero as a disruptive force for nuclear disarmament in all of the nuclear-armed regions of the world. Before taking the helm at Global Zero, Johnson worked to enhance access to justice, human rights and rule of law. He also consulted for a number of organisations dedicated to advancing interfaith dialogue and cooperation.

United Kingdom
Owen Jones
Columnist, The Guardian

Owen is an author, commentator and political activist. He writes a weekly column for the Guardian, having previously written for the Independent. He has made several television appearances on the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky News as well as on ITV’s Daybreak and BBC One’s ‘Question Time’. His work also appeared in several publications, including the Sunday Mirror and Le Monde diplomatique. In 2011, Owen published his first book, ‘Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class’, which received favourable critical reviews, including from the New York Times. He was named one of the top 50 Britons of the year by the Independent on Sunday in 2011 and was awarded the Young Writer of the Year prize at the Political Book Award in 2013.

United States
Sarah Jones
Journalist & Producer, North-American Delegate

Sarah is an award-winning all platform journalist with a passion for attracting young
audiences to hard news. Over 67,000 people are supporters of her Sarah Jones Reports on social media. In 2013, she moved to New York for a full-time news gathering position with Al Jazeera America. She left her job two years later to pursue a fellowship with the International Reporting Project where she was given the opportunity to report on health and development in the Philippines. In 2016, she was selected as one of the top one thousand most influential Twitter profiles from across the worlds of marketing, advertising, digital and media. Prior to joining Al Jazeera America, Jones was freelancing as an International Assignment Editor for CNN at its headquarters in Atlanta; as an online and print journalist for Gulf News (Dubai); and as an online journalist for ITN’s Channel 4 (UK).

No results at the moment.
Selection process

The selection process for the Class of 2018 is closed and we are now in the process of announcing those who have been selected. 
To find out more about the first 20 candidates to be announced as part of the Class of 2018, please click here.

Keep an eye on our website and social media for all updates regarding the programme and news from our Young Leaders!

The next selection process for candidates will open in early 2018.