Friends of Europe is pleased to announce official launch of the 2018 class of the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme. The programme is based on the premise that a group of talented leaders from different backgrounds, sectors, and European countries can offer new responses to international challenges.
These talented and passionate young European change-makers include, entrepreneurs, a platinum-selling pop star, an MBE-awarded mathematician, a human rights activist, an architect with a focus on ecological issues and one of the few female editors-in-chief of a French national media outlet.
The newest additions to the 2018 class of European Young Leaders are:
Diane Binder, France
Vice-President of International Development at Suez and Co-President and Founder of Action Emploi Réfugiés
Diane has more than 15 years of international experience in global corporations, consulting, government, international organisations and NGOs. As current Vice-President at Suez, a global leader in the water and waste sector, she leads their activities in Africa and the Middle East supporting cities and industries in the circular economy to preserve, optimise and secure the resources essential to our future. Diane is also the founder of the NGO Action Emploi Réfugiés which aims to facilitate refugees’ access to jobs. In 2014, she was listed by the French newspaper Les Echos as part of the “French touch”, the 100 personalities promoting France abroad.
Radoslaw Martin Cichy, Poland
Radoslaw is a neuroscientist, leading the research group “Neural Dynamics of Visual Cognition” at the Free University Berlin. His main interest is human visual cognition – that is, the way the brain represents visual objects. Radoslaw has received numerous awards and grants from private and public funders for his ground-breaking research including from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and, most recently, from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In addition to teaching and lecturing at various universities worldwide, he is also a regular on the conference trail in the US and Europe.
Nassira El Moaddem, France
Nassira is a French journalist and one of the few female editors-in-chief of a French national media outlet. She began her career as a TV reporter and news anchor at Itele/Canal+ before joining France 2 where she worked as a reporter for the evening TV news. In 2016, she took the helm of the Bondy Blog, a news website that gives voices to the voiceless. In her work, Nassira puts the emphasis on local investigations, especially of marginalised people living on the outskirts of cities, particularly around Paris.
Matthew Goodwin, United Kingdom
Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent
Matthew, a political scientist by training, has tried to bridge the gap between academia and policy-making when it comes to topics such as radicalisation, extremism and integration. He is an outward-facing researcher who shares the view that social science should be as much about contributing to wider society as to the social sciences. Before his appointment as Professor of Politics and International Relations in Kent, he served as a member of the UK government's working group on anti-Muslim hatred and spent twelve months on a full-time secondment in a central government department, working alongside policy makers on extremism and integration issues. Matthew also serves as co-editor of the Routledge book series on Extremism and Democracy and regularly contributes to news outlets such as The Guardian and Politico.
Anne-Marie Imafidon, United Kingdom
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.
Stefánia Kapronczay, Hungary
Executive Director of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
Stefánia is a human rights activist working in the context of illiberal democracies. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), the leading human rights NGO in Hungary that aims to increase awareness of fundamental human rights and that gives Hungarians the ability to enforce these rights when they are abused, especially by those in position of public power. Before the large-scale demonstrations in Budapest in 2017, HCLU was named as one of the three key civil organisations that need to be restricted in Hungary by the ruling FIDESZ party. Stefánia also co-chairs the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations. Lawyer by training, she has particular expertise on the reproductive rights of people with disabilities and is a passionate defender of the rights of vulnerable groups.
Nadia Mladjao, France
Nadia, better known by her stage name Imany, is a French pop-soul singer. After a successful modelling career in New York, she reinvented and established herself as a singer in Paris. Her debut album, ‘The Shape of a Broken Heart’, released in 2011, became soon platinum. Since her debut, Imany went on to write the soundtrack for the film ‘French Women’, released an acclaimed second album, ‘The Wrong Kind of War’, and toured extensively around the world. She has mapped out her route ploughing a furrow between soul, folk, blues and pop, whilst imposing her own style.
Brune Poirson, France
Secretary of State in the French Ministry for Ecological and Inclusive Transition
Brune spent a great part of her professional career working in Asia, notably for then Cabinet Minister Sam Pitroda, a pioneer of the Indian telecom revolution, in the Indian government. She then joined the French Development Agency coordinating projects on sustainable urban development and the preservation of biodiversity. As Director of Sustainable Development for South Asia at Veolia, Brune worked in the slums of large Indian megacities focusing on projects related to drinking water distribution. In 2017, Brune returned to France and joined Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche. She was elected Member of the National Assembly and, on the same day, was appointed as the Secretary of State to the Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition.
Tomas Zacek, Slovakia
Co-founder, CEO and Design Director of Ecocapsule
Tomas is an award-winning Slovakian architect. Apart from being a partner at the architectural firm Nice&Wise, he is the Co-founder, CEO and Design Director of Ecocapsule, a start-up that designed a portable house with long off-grid life span, worldwide portability and flexibility. As such, the Ecocapsule is suitable for a wide range of applications: from an independent research station or a tourist lodge to an emergency housing or a humanitarian-action unit. For this project, Tomas won the People's Choice Award at the Start-up Awards Slovakia and the Silver Medal at the K-design Awards in Korea.
The previously announced European young leaders include:
Guillem Anglada-Escudé, Spain
Guillem is a well-known astrophysicist and scientist, who discovered the Proxima-b exoplanet orbiting Proxima-Centauri, our closest neighbouring star. He has conducted research in several countries and has been actively engaged with space agencies, such as NASA and the European Space Agency. In 2016, Nature magazine chose him as one of the ten most prominent scientists world-wide, and the same year he was also listed by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
John Collison, Ireland
President & Co-Founder of Stripe
John is an entrepreneur and Co-Founder and President of Stripe, a software company that is expanding Internet commerce by making it easier to process transactions from anywhere in the world. Founded in 2010 alongside his brother, Stripe has rapidly expanded and continues to grow, its current team having over 900 employees. Before Stripe, he co-founded Auctomatic, which was sold in 2008, paving the way to his success as one of the world’s most successful teenage entrepreneurs. John has been passionate about coding since childhood and has a proven track-record of applying his knowledge and skills to develop ways to improve online business processes.
Alexandra Dariescu, Romania
Named a ‘Rising Star’ by the BBC Music Magazine, Alexandra made her debut at the Carnegie Hall in New York. An award-winning Romanian pianist, she has performed in many prestigious orchestras, such as the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Recipient of several awards and honours, she has been listed as one of the ’30 Pianists under 30 Destined for a Spectacular Career’ by the International Piano Magazine. In addition to her musical achievements, Alexandra received the UK’s Women of the Future Award in the Arts and Culture category, making her an ambassador and symbol of success in the classical music industry. In late 2017, the world premiere of her own production, “The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu”, took place in London – a ground-breaking multimedia performance created for a piano solo with dance and digital animation.
Sebastien de Halleux, Belgium
Chief Operating Officer of Saildrone
Sebastien is the COO of Saildrone, a company designing wind and solar powered ocean drones aiming at revolutionizing data collection at sea. He is also a founding partner of Graph Ventures, an early stage angel fund with a portfolio of over 100 start-ups. Sebastien co-founded Playfish, which was one of the largest and fastest growing social gaming companies with over 300 million players, before being acquired by video game giant Electronic Arts (EA) in 2009.
Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bąk, Poland
Agnieszka is among Poland’s most recognised social activists and a strong advocate of women’s rights. In 2015, she was instrumental in leading demonstrations that became known as ‘Black Monday’, in which Polish women protested against anti-abortion laws. Days after Black Monday, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly against the proposal and the Minister of Science and Higher Education Jaroslaw Gowin said the protests “caused us to think and taught us humility.” Agnieszka is a board member of the leftist Razem party and, in 2016, was listed as one of top 100 most influential Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Journal.
Alexandre Farto, Portugal
Alexandre, known under the tag name ‘Vhils’, is a Portuguese street artist, best known for his urban murals, his use of urban settings – walls, doors, debris – as ‘canvasses’ or materials for his art, as well as the destructive processes by which he constructs art. Alexandre studied in London, and gained prominence when his work was showcased at the Cans Festival in London. As well as technically and visually innovative, Alexandre’s art has a social function as it attempts to cast a spotlight on situations of social injustice, and to create a dialogue around these. His work has since continued to gain recognition, with his work appearing in cities worldwide and he has been featured alongside street artists of the likes of Banksy.
Cristina Fonseca, Portugal
Co-Founder of Talkdesk
Cristina is a software engineer and tech entrepreneur, who co-founded one of Silicon Valley’s fastest growing companies, Talkdesk. a platform that allows anyone to quickly create a call centre online. Previously, Cristina has worked as a researcher at INESC-ID, a Portuguese non-profit institution conducting advanced research in electronics, energy, telecommunications and information technologies. Cristina is passionate about Artificial Intelligence and the impact of technology, and advises early-stage start-ups.
Mariya Gabriel, Bulgaria
European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society
Mariya is a Bulgarian politician and a member of the GERB party, currently serving as the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society. Previously, Mariya was also a Member of the European Parliament, active as both the Head of the Bulgarian European People’s Party (EPP) delegation and Vice-President of the EPP party, and involved in a wide range of parliamentary committees, including acting as EPP Group coordinator for the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality( FEMM), and as a Member of the Committees on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI); Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE); Petitions (PETI); and the special committee on organised crime, corruption and money laundering (CRIM). Recipient of several international awards, she is passionate about initiatives related to young people, and has established six European information centres in Bulgaria.
Katerina Gavrielidou, Cyprus
Founder & President of the European Cyprus Society
Passionate about youth empowerment, urban affairs and youth participation, Katerina is President and Founder of the European Cyprus Society, an NGO which encourages young Cypriots to engage with issues that concern them, such as education, European and international relations, and national politics. Her contribution to youth empowerment in Cyprus and worldwide has earned her various titles and awards, including the Queen’s Young Leaders Award, Representative of European youth to the advisory body of the UN Habitat and UN Youth Envoy Nominee.
Dionysis Grammenos, Greece
Award-winning conductor, soloist and Founder of the Greek Youth Symphony Orchestra
As one of the most charismatic conductors of his generation, Dionysis made his debut at the age of twenty-one with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. Since then, he has been awarded with several honours and was the first Greek to receive a Conducting Fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival. By the age of twenty, Dionysis had won European Young Musician of the Year Prize and had been featured on a Greek postage stamp. This young virtuoso has performed in some of the world’s most prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Cité de la Musique in Paris and the Barbican Centre in London and has worked with orchestras such as the Vienna Symphony and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, among others.
Daire Hickey, Ireland
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.
Pavla Holcová, Czech Republic
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.
Janis Jonevs, Latvia
Author and Literary critic
Janis is a Latvian author and literary critic. He is best known for his debut novel Jelgava'94, which explores the transition from the Soviet Union to a ‘new Europe’. His novel was a bestseller upon its release in 2013, and went on to win the European Union Prize for Literature, drawing attention to Latvian and Baltic literature. Evoking the youth of his country in the post-communist 1990s, the novel describes places of counter-culture, the sound of heavy metal, of saturated guitars and scary voices. Through his work he explores the role of subcultures, such as the heavy metal scene, in shaping Latvian national identity, how they interact with the dominant culture, and shape interactions between the new and older generations.
Selina Juul, Denmark
Founder and Chairman of the Board of Stop Wasting Food movement
Selina is an activist widely known for her work in promoting the reduction of food waste, featured on BBC and CNN. She founded the non profit organisation Stop Wasting Food, which led Denmark to engaging in the fight against food waste from farm to fork. Selina has authored over 190 articles on food waste, she is a blogger for The Huffington Post USA and published a leftovers cookbook. She has received numerous awards for her work, the most notable are Dane of the Year 2014 and Winner of Nordic Council Nature and Environment Prize 2013. She works with the EU and the UN and is a member of global coalition against food waste Champions 12.3.
Jesse Klaver, Netherlands
Leader of the Dutch green party ‘GroenLinks’ and Member of the House of Representatives
Jesse currently serves as the green-left party leader in the Dutch Parliament, with a mandate focused on environmental and educational issues. In his time as party leader, Jesse was responsible for the party’s most recent general election campaign during which he gained additional 10 parliamentary seats for the party, rising to an all-time high of 14, and making GroenLinks the fifth most important group in the House. Previously, Jesse was the spokesperson for Finance, Environment and Education and sat on a wide range of parliamentary committees. He has publically opposed tax evasion and has co-authored a memo on protecting the Dutch flora and fauna.
Nejc Kodrič, Slovenia
Co-Founder and CEO of Bitstamp
Since starting out in 2011 with little more than some basic computer equipment, €1,000 and a love of technology, Nejc has been instrumental in developing Bitstamp into one of the most trusted and highest volume bitcoin exchanges in the world. He has spearheaded the approach to become the first fully licensed virtual currency exchange in the EU, setting the benchmark for the Bitcoin industry’s continued consolidation and strength. In 2014, Bitstamp received the award for Best Virtual Currency Start-up at The Europas, the premier European awards for leading tech startups.
Kristel Kruustük, Estonia
CEO & Founder of Testlio
As CEO and co-founder of Testlio, Kristel leads a professional testing platform that helps software developers by connecting them to the best testers all over the world. The business is still growing rapidly, having already raised more than $6.25 million in investment capital, and works with a roster of major US and international clients, including the NBA, Microsoft, CBS and Hotels.com.
Elisabeth Köstinger, Austria
Federal Minister for Sustainability, Agriculture and Tourism
Elisabeth is an Austrian politician and the current Federal Minister for Sustainability, Agriculture and Tourism in the Austrian government. Previously, Elisabeth was the President of the National Council, the first chamber of the Austrian Parliament, and a Member of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2017, belonging to the European People’s Party Group (EPP), and won the MEP Award for her work in agriculture and rural development in 2014. She currently serves as the Vice-President of the Austrian Farmers Association, and continues to passionately advocate for issues related to rural areas and their development.
Beatrice Leanza, Italy
Cultural strategist and Co-Founder of B/Side Design
Based in Beijing since 2002, Beatrice is a cultural strategist and writer with a background in Asian studies and fifteen-year experience in developing programmes of urban and social impact. She served as creative director of Beijing Design Week (2012 - 2016), China’s largest and internationally best reputed design and architecture event, and was creative director of the urban regeneration plan for Baitasi historic district in Beijing (2015-2016), shaping stakeholders’ relations across the governmental, private and public sectors. In 2017 she co-founded B/Side Design an inclusive organisation currently establishing The Global School, the first independent institute for design and multidisciplinary research in the PRC. She is an advisory board member of Design Trust (Hong Kong) and an advocate of practical creativity for educational empowerment in sustainable futures.
Helena Linder-Jess, Germany
First female Commanding Officer in the German Navy
As the first woman as Commanding Officer in the German Navy (FGS Datteln), Helena has participated in several international missions under the United Nations and NATO with her crew. In this role, she has been responsible for all issues concerning her ship, crew and assignments, including extensive training and combat cycles. Helena is the first woman ever to take over the command of a German navy ship.
Gottfried Ludewig, Germany
German politician for the Christian Democratic Union
Elected in 2011, Gottfried currently serves as the Deputy Chairman and the spokesperson for health issues of the Christian Democrats Union parliamentary group in the Berlin House of Representatives. In this position, Gottfried is particularly committed to strengthening research and innovation in the health care sector as well as advocating for the creation of a Berlin nursing home as an institutionalised representation of the care sector in the Berlin House of Representatives.
Sammy Mahdi, Belgium
Chairman of the youth wing of the Flemish CD&V party
Sammy, the son of an Iraqi political refugee and a Belgian mother, has become the first ever Chairman from Brussels to lead the Flemish ‘Jong CD&V’ party. He has previously served as a parliamentary assistant and writes a regular column for the Belgian newspaper De Morgen. Passionate about issues related to integration and equality, Sammy is viewed as a bridge builder between Belgium’s Muslim and non-Muslim populations.
Roberta Metsola, Malta
Member of the European Parliament
Roberta is one of Malta’s first female Members of the European Parliament, belonging to the European People’s Party Group (EPP). Lawyer by training, Roberta currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Committee on Petitions and contributes to several other parliamentary committees and delegations. Two-time MEP award winner for her work on justice and civil liberties, Roberta was selected to host the awards 2017 edition.
Rebeca Minguela, Spain
Founder of Clarity AI
As Founder of Clarity AI, Rebeca looks to solve the problem of inefficient and unequal allocation of capital by building an automated tool which rates the investment portfolios of a range of projects, companies, governments and NGOs. Rebeca is also the Founder of the Blink Booking mobile app, an award-winning last-minute booking app that is a market leader in Europe with more than 800,000 downloads, almost 3,000 hotels and available in six languages before its sale to Groupon. Previously, Rebeca served as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and as engineer at the German Aerospace Agency, Siemens and IBM. She was named a Spanish female role model by El Referente in 2016.
Bastian Obermayer, Germany
Bastian is a Pulitzer Prize-winning German investigative journalist with the Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), and the reporter who received the Panama Papers ‒ over 11 million documents containing compromising financial information on several public figures ‒ from an anonymous source. Bastian recently initiated and coordinated the release of the Paradise Papers, 13 million documents related to off-shore investments.
Claudia Olsson, Sweden
Founder & CEO of Exponential AB
Claudia is the Founder and CEO of Exponential AB, a global consultancy with a focus on digital transformation. Claudia has helped governments and businesses alike to understand the impact of new technologies and has provided smart solutions to addressing global challenges. She is the author of the Sweden 2030 Future Scenario for the Government of Sweden. Claudia has previously worked on issues related to healthcare access, setting up think-tank ACCESS Health International that aims to provide location-independent high-quality care for everyone.
Lia Quartapelle, Italy
Democratic Party Leader
As a Democratic Party Leader in the Italian Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, Lia has been one of the rising stars of Italian politics. In her work, Lia focuses on human rights, developing economies and Africa, and has worked for the Mozambique Government as an economist and policy development analyst. Lia is President of the Italian Chapter of the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA), the Italian section of the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) and of the Italian section of the Women in International Security network (WIIS). In 2016 she promoted the creation of the Young European Legislator Network to create a united front on young people’s policies in Europe.
Nasima Razmyar, Finland
Deputy Mayor of Helsinki
Nasima is an Afghan-Finnish politician, Deputy Mayor of Helsinki and a former member of the Finnish Parliament, representing the Social Democratic Party. She also works with Finnish NGOs that work to promote gender and ethnic equality in Finland. Nasima’s family first moved to Finland from Afghanistan in 1992, and her refugee experience has shaped her political career, in which she prioritises social welfare such as education, the environment, and housing. Nasima is the first Member of Finnish Parliament to have a refugee background, and in 2010 was named refugee woman of the year by the Finnish Refugee Council for her work to promote equality and the preservation of the Finnish welfare system.
Humza Yousaf, United Kingdom
Minister for Transport and Islands at the Scottish Government
Humza is the Scottish Government Minister for Transport and Islands. Despite his young age, Yousaf has already served for four years as Scotland’s first minister for Europe and International Development, apart from other positions in the public service. At 27, he became the youngest minister in the Scottish Government’s history as well as the first ever minister from an ethnic minority background.While delivering his oath of allegiance, he notably, embraced his British-Pakistani heritage and British multiculturalism while wearing a kilt and speaking in Urdu. He has been involved in community work, being a spokesperson and volunteer on several issues related to homelessness and asylum seekers and has been described as a “role model for all Scots”.
Antonio Zappulla, Italy
Chief Operating Officer at the Thomson Reuters Foundation
Currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Antonio oversees the philanthropic arm of Thomson Reuters, leading on communications, monitoring and evaluation activities as well as the development functions of the organisation. Prior to his present role, Antonio worked as the Executive Producer at Bloomberg Television where he was in charge of news, factual programmes and documentaries for Europe, Middle East and Africa. He is also a member of the Pioneers Class at Stanford Graduate School of Business for the LEAD Program in Corporate Innovation.
Led by Friends of Europe, each year the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme brings together talented, established leaders, aged 40 and under, who have made their mark in a wide range of fields such as politics, science, business, media, NGOs, the arts and civil society. You can find more information about the programme in the EYL40 overview. The programme was originally conceived with EuropaNova.