Speaker Biographies

Keynote Speakers

Alphabetical by last name


Irene Braam joined the Bertelsmann Foundation North America as executive director in April 2016. She is also the first vice president and board director of the Bertelsmann Foundation Board of Directors. Irene is an experienced lawyer and media expert, and worked for over ten years with the Bertelsmann company. She began as director of government relations of the Brussels Liaison Office in 2005 and became senior vice president of government relations in September 2011. After studying law at Maastricht University, the Dutch native began her professional career in 1998 in the music industry. Irene was head of international, legal and business affairs at Naïve Records in Paris, in charge of business development for Midbar Tech Ltd. in Tel Aviv, and served as both director of public policy and government affairs and director of legal and business affairs at the Universal Music Group in London and Brussels. Irene is a native speaker of Dutch, and also speaks English, German, French and some Spanish.


Sophie Ellman-Golan is Deputy Head of Socials and Outreach at Women's March. She is a committed activist working on issues of racial and gender justice, queer liberation, and police violence. A member leader on the Campaign for Police Accountability and Legislative Working Group at Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), Sophie is a proud member of the #JewishResistance. Prior to joining the Women's March team, she worked at Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the United States. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Barnard College in Africana Studies and Human Rights.


Dr. Şeyda Emek is a former German administrative judge and an expert in constitutional law, European human rights law and administrative law with a wide range of practical experience in public service. She has served e.g. as a clerk at the German Constitutional Court and at the German Federal Government. Seyda pursued law studies in Germany and the United Kingdom and holds a doctorate in law from Ludwigs-Maximilians-University Munich. She is the recipient of the 2016 Fellowship of the Bruno-Kreisky-Forum for International Dialogue in Vienna, Austria and is currently a visiting scholar at Columbia University in the City of New York.


Konstanty Gebert is an Associate Fellow at the European Council for Foreign Relations and an international reporter and columnist at Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s largest daily publication. He also serves as a Special Advisor on International Affairs with Humanity in Action. During the 1970s, he was a democratic opposition activist and organizer of the Jewish Flying University; while in the 1980s, under martial law, he was an underground journalist. He covered the Bosnian War between 1992 and 1995 for Polish and international media. He is the co-founder of the Polish Council of Christians and Jews and the founder of Midrasz, a monthly Polish Jewish intellectual publication. Konstanty Gebert serves as a board member for the Taube Centre for the Renewal of Jewish Life in Poland as well as the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany, and the Advisory Board of the Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund in Amsterdam. He has taught across Poland, Israel and the United States. He has authored ten books, which examine topics such as: the Polish democratic transformation, French policy toward Poland, the Yugoslav wars, the wars of Israel, Torah commentary and post-war Polish Jewry. His essays have appeared in two dozen publications in Poland and abroad, and his articles have been featured in newspapers around the world.


Judith S. Goldstein founded Humanity in Action in 1997 and has served as its Executive Director ever since. Under Judith’s leadership, Humanity in Action has organized educational programs on international affairs, diversity and human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Poland, the Netherlands and the United States. She received her Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and was a Woodrow Wilson Scholar for her MA studies. Judith has written several books and articles about European and American history, art and landscape architecture. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and several boards and advisory groups.


Márton Gulyás is an activist, cultural curator, host of Hungary's most famous political youtube channel and founder of Common Country Movement (CCM). He was the managing director of Krétakör (Chalk Circle), the independent theater company, till 2014. Since 2014 he has been working as an independent curator, activist, filmmaker and organizer. Currently, he is leading CCM in order to achieve a comprehensive, structural reform of the Hungarian electoral system for the 2018 general election.


Martin S. Kaplan is a retired partner of WilmerHale in Boston and New York. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he clerked on the US Court of Appeals. He has served as Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Education, National Chair of the American Jewish Committee’s Interreligious Affairs Commission, Board Member of the Boston Foundation and many other non-profit organizations, private and public corporations and foundations. As managing trustee of charitable foundations, he has been a leader in environmental, education, civic and human rights funding. An active alumni leader at Columbia College, he received the Columbia University Medal and Columbia College John Jay Award. Martin and his wife Wendy Tarlow Kaplan, an art curator, reside in New York.


Sergey Lagodinsky’s areas of expertise include transatlantic relations, international and constitutional law as well as law and politics of diversity and integration. Sergey is a regular guest and contributor to major media outlets. He has appeared among others on the BBC World Service, Deutschlandfunk, Radio Liberty and various other radio stations. He is a regular guest on Deutsche Welle TV and a political host and commentator on RTVi (an international Russian speaking TV network). His commentaries have been published by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Handelsblatt, taz and Tagesspiegel, among others. Prior to joining the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Sergey was an attorney with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. From 2003 to 2008, Sergey was program director, later advisor to the Director of the Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). In 2010 Sergey was a Yale World Fellow in residence at Yale University in New Haven. Sergey holds a PhD degree in law from the Berlin's Humboldt University, a law degree from the University of Göttingen and a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University.


Lorenz Narku Laing volunteers as the chairman of the Black Youth of Germany and as student senator he is the chairman of the student council, a member of the senate and a member of the Commission for Scholarships at Zeppelin University. Narku is able to complete his master’s in Politics, Administration and International Politics thanks to the support of scholarships from Zeppelin University and the Hans-Bockler-Foundation. He is a trained Peer Diversity Trainer and has led projects such as www.vielfaltsprojekte.de for the Hesse Broadcasting Company, Brot für die Welt, and Paritätisches Bildungswerk. Narku is a trained tutor with a special interest in writing and seminar leadership. He is trained in pastoral care and was active for many years in special needs schools and youth centers in Frankfurt. He has participated in research projects in religious diversity, homelessness in youth and Black Nationalistic Religions in Jamaica. During his time abroad studying at King’s College London, Narku produced a blog dealing with themes of diversity for the Frankurter Neue Presse. He is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (Germany 2014) and a member of the board of directors of Humanity in Action Germany.


Wenzel Michalski joined Human Rights Watch (HRW) in September 2010 as the Germany Director, responsible mainly for Communications and Advocacy. Before joining HRW, Wenzel worked in journalism for more than 20 years, mostly in news and current affairs. He was managing editor, presenter and London bureau chief for ProSiebenSat1, one of Germany's leading broadcasters. Prior to that, he was commissioning editor for documentaries at ARD/NDR public television. In his new position, Wenzel’s highest priority will be to ensure that Germany has a stronger voice in support of human rights. Wenzel graduated from Hamburg University where he studied history and politics. 


Barbara Nowacka is a feminist, politician and progressive activist. She holds an MBA and is an IT specialist by education. She is co-chair of the “Twój Ruch” Party, a member of the Women’s Congress National Council and chair of the political association “Initiative Poland.” She is also co-founder and deputy chair of the Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka Foundation, an organization which aims to promote equality, social justice and social inclusion. Ms. Nowacka headed the election committee for the “United Left” coalition during the 2015 Polish parliamentary election. In 2016, she organized and chaired the “Save women” initiative, a civil bill which aimed to liberalise abortion laws in Poland. In October 2016, in response to an attempt by the political right to implement a total ban on abortion, Ms. Nowacka became a leading figure in the “Czarny Protest” action, a massive nationwide demonstration which ultimately succeeded in forcing the political right to back down. For her role in “Czarny Protest”, she was ranked one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2016 by Foreign Policy magazine.


Sophie Pornschlegel is project manager within the "Democracy Lab" at the independent think tank "Das Progressive Zentrum". She previously worked as a junior consultant for navos, an agency specializing in public affairs and media relations, where she primarily advised a diversity management initiative. She currently is an executive board member and Head of the "Post Brexit Europe" Programme Area for the grassroots think tank Polis180. Born in France, she studied Politics in Paris and London and gained work experience in the European Commission, in a Labour MP's office in Westminster and in film production companies. In her free time she co-hosts a podcast on migration issues. 


Dr. Nivedita Prasad is a Professor at the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, where she focuses on methods of social work and gender-specific social work. She is particularly active on the issue of asylum- seekers housing in Berlin-Hellersdorf, which has been the target of several racist attacks and far-right protests since it was opened in summer 2013. Born in Madras, India, Nivedita Prasad studied Social Pedagogy at the Freie Universität in Berlin and received her PhD at the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg. In 2012, she was awarded the first Anne Klein Women’s Award from the Heinrich Böll Foundation for her ongoing dedication to the human rights of migrant women. She has been teaching at various universities in Germany, the Netherlands and Austria since 1993 and has lead trainings for police officers and judges, prosecutors and lawyers. In 2010, she became the director of the Master’s Program in Social Work as a Human Rights Profession at the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences.


Marietje Schaake has been serving as a Member of the European Parliament for the Dutch Democratic Party (D66) with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) political group since 2009. She serves on the International Trade committee and is the spokesperson for the ALDE Group on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Schaake also serves on the committee on Foreign Affairs and the subcommittee on Human Rights. She is the founder of the European Parliament Intergroup on the Digital Agenda for Europe. Furthermore, Marietje is the Vice-President of the US Delegation and serves on the Iran Delegation and the Delegation for the Arab Peninsula. She is a Member of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace and is a Young Global Leader and a Member of the Global Future Council on Future of Digital Economy and Society with the WEF. Marietje is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (The Netherlands 2003).


Ambassador Klaus Scharioth is Dean of the Mercator College for International Affairs in Germany and Professor of Practice at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, in Medford, Massachusetts, USA. Dr. Scharioth was a member of the German Foreign Service for more than 35 years (1976-2011). He served from 2006-2011 as German Ambassador to the US and from 2002-2006 as State Secretary of the German Foreign Office. Before that he was, inter alia, Political Director and Director-General of the Political Department, Director of the North America and Security Policy Directorate, Head of the Office of the German Foreign Minister, Director of the Private Office of the NATO Secretary General, as well as Vice Chairman of the UN Legal and Charter Committees. He also served in Ecuador, the International Law Division and the Policy Planning Staff of the Foreign Office. He holds a German Law Degree, a PhD, MALD and MA from The Fletcher School, as well as honorary doctoral degrees from The College of Idaho, Chatham University and Old Dominion University. He is also a senior non-resident Fellow of the Transatlantic Academy in Washington DC, a member of the board of Humanity in Action Germany, a member of the International Advisory Council of the Istanbul Policy Center, a member of the board (Stiftungsrat) of the Jewish Museum Berlin, of the board of Population Services International in Washington, DC, and a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.


John Shattuck is Professor of Practice in Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Tufts University, specializing in transatlantic relations and US foreign policy, and Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, focusing on the contemporary crisis of democracy in the US and Europe.  From 2009 to 2016 he was President of Central European University (CEU), a US and European global graduate institution of social sciences, humanities, law, business and public policy in Budapest, Hungary.  Before coming to CEU in 2009, he was CEO of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation, an international public affairs center in Boston, and Senior Fellow at Tufts University, where he taught human rights and international relations. He served as US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor under President Clinton, participating in the Dayton Peace Process that ended the genocidal war in Bosnia, and helping establish the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.  Later he served as US Ambassador to the Czech Republic.  From 1984 to 1993 Shattuck was a Vice-President at Harvard University, and taught at Harvard Law School. He began his career as national staff counsel and Washington Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, representing victims of the civil liberties abuses of the Nixon Administration. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a board member of Humanity in Action and chair of the international advisory board of the Center on Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University. His many publications include Freedom on Fire, a study of the international response to genocide and crimes against humanity, Rights of Privacy, and articles on higher education, human rights, foreign affairs and international security.


Jan Techau is director of the American Academy in Berlin’s Richard C. Holbrooke Forum for the Study of Diplomacy and Governance. He works on EU integration and foreign policy, transatlantic affairs, and German foreign and security policy. From March 2011 to August 2016 Jan was the director of Carnegie Europe, the European think tank of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. From February 2010 until February 2011, Techau served in the NATO Defense College’s Research Division. He was director of the Alfred von Oppenheim Center for European Policy Studies at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin between 2006 and 2010, and from 2001 to 2006 he served at the German Ministry of Defense’s Press and Information Department. Techau is an associate scholar at the Center for European Policy Analysis and an associate fellow at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies. He is a regular contributor to German and international news media.


Andrea Young joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Georgia as Executive Director in January 2017. Under her leadership, the organization has grown in influence, impact and membership. The organization is battling injustice and inequity through the courts – fighting for the rights of transgender Georgians to be themselves without discrimination, for the rights of citizens to challenge unconstitutional state laws and for the rights of parents to raise their children without government interference. In the state capitol, the ACLU of Georgia worked successfully with other civil rights groups to stop anti-LGBT legislation, block attempts to weaken the voting power of minority communities through redistricting and ensure colleges and universities can continue to protect survivors of sexual assault. To catalyze civil rights activism at the grassroots level, the ACLU of Georgia launched Freedom School trainings for local activists and volunteers. Ms. Young has devoted her career to promoting policies to defend and extend civil and human rights. Prior to joining the ACLU, she taught leadership and social policy at Georgia State University, was the founding Executive Director of the Andrew Young Foundation and created the Making of Modern Atlanta Project that included an archive, documentary film and book.

Breakout Session Speakers

Alphabetical by last name


Henry Alt-Haaker has been a member of the board of Humanity in Action Germany since 2012. A Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (Germany 2005), he co-founded and chaired the German and European Alumni organization and has stayed in touch with Humanity in Action ever since. He served on international strategic boards and as a senior advisor on governance issues in 2008. Since 2013, Henry is a program officer at the Berlin Representative Office of the Robert Bosch Stiftung where his primary responsibilities encompass the foundation’s activities in the area of Peace and Conflict Prevention & Transformation. Before joining the Foundation, Henry headed the parliamentary office of German Minister of Justice Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger as chief clerk, served as political officer at the Canadian Embassy in Berlin and worked in two offices of German Members of Parliament. His expertise includes topics of migration and integration, German politics and European and transatlantic affairs. He is alumnus of several German foundations, including the German National Academic Foundation, the Foundation of German Business and the Hertie Foundation. After studying German Literature and Philosophy at Humboldt University in Berlin, Sorbonne University in Paris and Washington University in St. Louis, he obtained a Master in Public Policy at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.


Johannes Baldauf, M.A., studied Literary Studies and Comparative Literature, German as a Foreign Language and Jewish Studies in Berlin, Potsdam and Jena. Since 2008 he has dealt with the phenomena of right-wing extremism, anti-semitism and conspiracy theories online, first for the German VZ social media networks, and after 2011 for the project no-nazi.net. He counts on long-standing experiences as a speaker about the forms of appearance of neo-nazis, as well as right-wing extremist group members, about conspiracy theories online and about functional counter-strategies in social media networks. Since 2014 he has coordinated no-nazi.net under the umbrella of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation.


Andrew Benincasa makes paper-cut art, stop-motion animations and stories. Andrew had pursued literature, languages, and education early on, but then, in his mid-twenties, made a shift to creating and performing shadow puppet shows. He performed for small audiences, week after week, year after year, developing his aesthetic. During this time, he taught himself paper-cut art, composition and eventually animation. Andrew now operates from his studio in Brooklyn, NY, as a freelance artist, making artwork, lightboxes, and animations for clients, as well as working on his own projects. He is currently at work on an animated adaptation of the Book of Job. To see more of his work, and/or to contact him, go to: www.andrewbenincasa.com.


Laurène Bounaud has about 8 years of experience helping established and emerging leaders transforming their visions into actions. She holds a Master’s degree in Communication from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques of Toulouse and a Master’s degree in Political Science from La Sorbonne University in Paris. Starting as a political assistant tackling issues of social cohesion and territorial equality, she served communities often deprived of their right to a voice in the national debate, before feeling the need to step out of the political bubble and look for news ways to empower people. In 2010 Humanity in Action provided the space for her to grow and gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms leading to discrimination, to discover concrete methodologies to foster social change and an international network of like-minded peers. For the next 5 years, from Senior Fellow to National Director of the French branch of Humanity in Action, she actively contributed to the emergence of a new generation of social innovators in Europe and the US. Laurène Bounaud recently joined Transparency International France - a leading organization in the fight against corruption - where she became Executive Director in 2017, combining her enthusiasm for citizen mobilization and her commitment to values of justice and democracy. Her responsibilities now include strategic planning, institutional relations and team management. 


Aisha Fukushima is a singer, speaker, educator and ‘RAPtivist’ (rap activist). Fukushima founded RAPtivism (Rap Activism), a global hip hop project spanning nearly 20 countries and four continents, highlighting the ways culture can contribute to universal efforts for freedom and justice by challenging oppression with expression. She is a multilingual, multiracial African American Japanese woman whose work is influenced by her global upbringing with roots spanning from her birthplace of Seattle, Washington to her other hometown of Yokohama, Japan. As a leader of the ‘RAPtivism’ project, Fukushima has done solidarity-building work through hip-hop from the United States to France, Morocco, Japan, Germany, England, South Africa, Senegal, India, Denmark and beyond. Fukushima’s ‘RAPtivism’ work has been featured by Oprah Magazine, KQED Public Television, The Seattle Times, TV 2M Morocco, The Bangalore Mirror, HYPE, South Africa’s #1 Hip Hop Magazine, among others.  She has also been honored with World Trust’s Love In Action Award for Global Hip-Hop Leadership as well as with a myriad of US State Department Cultural Grants Awards spanning from Belarus to Kazakhstan, Nepal and Jerusalem.


Claude Grunitzky is the founder of TRACE and TRUE Africa, a media tech platform championing young African voices all over the world. In November 2016, TRUE Africa secured funding from Google’s Digital News Initiative, which is Google’s €150 million commitment to spark new thinking and give European news organizations of all sizes the space to try new things, experiment and innovate in news journalism. Previously, Grunitzky and two business partners completed a multimillion-dollar financing deal led by Goldman Sachs Group. As a result, the TRACE brand is now being leveraged globally across various television, event and interactive platforms. TRACE, which now reaches an audience of more than 100 million people across 150 countries, was successfully sold to a French investor group in July 2010. Grunitzky was raised between Lomé, Togo; Washington, DC; Paris and London. Growing up, Grunitzky, who speaks six languages and carries three passports, was exposed to many different cultures. These foreign interactions shaped his transcultural philosophy and informed the creative energy of his media ventures. A graduate of MIT and a French American Foundation Young Leader, Grunitzky is also an active curator working across three continents. He also sits on the board of the Watermill Center, a laboratory of inspiration and performance, founded by theater and visual artist Robert Wilson. Grunitzky is the author of Transculturalism: How the World is Coming Together (PowerHouse Books) and Transculturalismes (Éditions Grasset). He is also a board member at Humanity in Action.


Lukas Goltermann is a Policy Advisor at VENRO, Germany's umbrella organization of non-governmental organizations in development cooperation and humanitarian assistance, where he leads a program on capacity development. He previously worked as researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs and as project manager at the Partnership with Africa Foundation. Lukas received his MA in International Relations from Free University of Berlin and his BA from the University of Sheffield. He lives in Berlin, Germany. Lukas is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (Germany 2015).


Daniel Gyamerah is the spokesperson of Each One Teach One (EOTO) e.V.. He is leading the organization from being a small, voluntary-based organization toward becoming a central actor of empowering the African descendent community in Germany. In his daytime he is responsible for Citizens For Europe’s flagship project “Diversity in Leaderhship”. He develops strategies for inclusion and advocates for equality data collection & anti-discrimination legislation. Daniel is passionate about community-, infrastructure- and trust building. He has researched on the education system, taught as a Teach First Germany fellow at a secondary school and worked both at the German Bundestag and the German Embassy in Ghana. He holds a BA in Politics and Administration and an MPP from the Hertie School of Governance. 


Thomas Huddleston is Program Director on Migration and Integration at the Migration Policy Group (MPG), a European think-and-do-tank. He coordinates MPG’s research for European cooperation on national integration policies, most notably the Migrant Integration Policy Index (www.mipex.eu). His most recent pieces can be found on MPG’s website (www.migpolgroup.com). His topics of interest are family reunification, naturalization, immigrant political participation and evaluation of the success or failure of integration policies. He also chairs the quarterly migration subgroup of the NGO Platform on EU Migration and Asylum. Tom is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (Germany 2005).


Michael Kunichika teaches and writes about Russian literature and culture, cinema and critical theory. He is an associate professor of Russian at Amherst College, having held faculty appointments at New York University and Harvard. His research, including his award-winning “Our Native Antiquity” (2015), has been supported with a senior fellowship at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard and with a membership at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ). He is currently working on two projects: the first, a study of anti-imperialism and Soviet avant-garde cinema; the other, a series of essays on the study of prehistoric archaeology during late socialism. He is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (The Netherlands 1999), a member of its International Board of Directors since 2011 and an intern on its various national programs, for which he received Humanity in Action’s inaugural Louis Rabineau Award.


Lumir Lapray grew up in a village of 70 and graduated from Sciences Po Lyon in Spring 2015, with a double Master’s in Public Policy and Ethnic & Minorities Studies. She spent time at UCLA as a visiting scholar in the Sociology PhD program and wrote her thesis on the intersection of migration, race, gender and unionism, exploring how Angelenas were reshaping the labor movement, based off the 2015 "Raise the Wage" campaign. Upon graduation, she was selected to work as a Lantos Fellow and spent 5 months in the office of Juan Vargas (CA-51), handling labor issues, access to vote and women's rights. She wrote a piece of legislation, the "Mobile Voting Act", designed to help remote citizens (Native Americans, rural and senior citizens) vote. Now back in France, she works for the first social economy based strategy consulting firm. Along with Senior Fellow Laura Cahier, she created Optimist, a non-profit aiming to promote access to higher education for youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. They were the recipients of the 2017 Humanity in Action Grant Competition, and intend on making the diverse voices of rural youth heard in French society.  Lumir is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (France 2014).


Jacqueline Mayen holds a Bachelor degree in Cultural Anthropology and Communication as well as a Master degree in African Studies. Besides giving postcolonial city tours, the Berlin native has worked as a freelance editor for diasporic media platforms, NGOs and a German broadcasting station. In 2014 she contributed an Essay to the book-anthology "Sister and Souls – Inspirationen durch May Ayim" which reflects on contemporary representations of Black people/women* in German media. In 2016, she joined a feminist collective that organised the second Black Lives Matter rally in Berlin and which has recently formed itself as Black Lives Matter Berlin.


Janina Pescinski is a Junior Research Fellow at the United Nations University Institute on Globalization, Culture and Mobility in Barcelona. Her current research takes a human rights approach to migration, with a particular focus on the Mediterranean, and she has also worked on questions of female agency and humanitarian assistance to migrants. Previously, Janina worked for Amnesty International in Paris conducting research on West Africa, and as a development associate at the Women and Health Alliance International. She earned her BA in Cultural Anthropology at Rutgers University and MA in Human Rights at Sciences Po Lyon Paris. Janina is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (Netherlands 2012).


Mike Prashker's responsibilities include supporting the development of the Kulanana social cohesion initiative which is being run by Ruach Tova in partnership with Merchavim, the Institute for the Advancement of Shared Citizenship in Israel. Mike previously founded and directed Merchavim, where Kulanana was first conceived, and he is now a member of Merchavim’s volunteer Board of Directors. He is currently completing a two-year book project “A Place for Us All – Social Cohesion and The Future of Israel” due for publication in Hebrew, Arabic and English later this year. After providing a definition for the term and discussing the universal conditions conducive to its development, the book explores the distinct social cohesion challenges, history and trajectory of Israeli society. A series of policy and programming recommendations designed to promote "healthier" levels of social cohesion in Israel are proposed.


Linnea Riensberg works as a team developer, facilitator and coach – mostly for non-profits and political organizations. She started her own business in the beginning of 2016. Previously, she was executive director of Publixphere e.V., an NGO trying to form political discussion online and offline in a more attractive way. After completing her degree in Journalism, Communications and Philosophy, Linnea worked with digital human rights under an Italian representative in the European Parliament and later as managing director at the German-based NGO Digitale Gesellschaft e.V. Linnea is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (Germany 2011) and has been a board member of Humanity in Action Germany since 2015. 


Pinar Sayan is the country director of the Imagine Center for Conflict Transformation in Turkey and one of the managing editors of its publication, Caucasus Edition: Journal of Conflict Transformation. She is part of a multinational team that designs and coordinates conflict transformation projects in the South Caucasus and Turkey. She is the co-founder of Roman Medya, which is a media platform for Roma rights in Turkey. She also gives trainings on non-discrimination, especially to Roma youth. She is completing her PhD degree at Marmara University on the EU policies against racism and discrimination. She is focusing on the rights dimension of ethnic politics as an academic, practitioner and activist. Pinar is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow, having participated in both the 2013 Copenhagen program and 2016 Pat Cox Fellowship, and is one of the recipients of the 2015 Senior Fellow Grant Competition for Roman Medya.


Noam Schimmel is a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College at the University of Oxford. He holds a PhD in Media and Communication from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), a MSc in Philosophy, Policy and Social Value from LSE and a Masters in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford. His interdisciplinary doctoral research examined American Democratic presidential healthcare reform rhetoric, American healthcare reform policy and politics and the human right to healthcare.  He was an O’Brien Fellow in Residence and Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, McGill University Faculty of Law, where he is currently an Associate Fellow. He served on the faculty of the School for International Training’s comparative human rights study abroad program in 2014, teaching courses on human rights in the United States, Nepal, Jordan and Chile. Noam is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow, having participated in both the 2001 Dutch program and the 2015 Diplomacy and Diversity program.


Magdalena Szarota is a disabled woman that has lived and worked in Asia, the US and Europe. Her main fields of expertise are: feminist disability studies, intersectional approaches to human rights and activism, socially-engaged photography, creative advocacy and promotion strategies as well as social projects/start-up development. She is a co-founder and member of the Management Board of the Association of Disabled Women ONE.pl, the first organization in Poland to deal with the issue of double discrimination on the grounds of gender and disability. Furthermore, she was the co-creator of the first edition of the Ashoka Foundation Academy of Innovators for the Public in Nepal. She co-created Humanity in Action Poland an award-winning organization with Monika Mazur-Rafał and has served as the member of the Management Board and Communications and PR Director. She initiates and contributes to Humanity in Action’s educational and activist projects and mentors aspiring activists. She has many years of experience as a public speaker, trainer and lecturer both in Poland and abroad. She is an author of various publications on human rights and disability issues. Certified trainer of Polish Humanitarian Action, a graduate of the Ashoka Foundation Academy of Innovators for the Public and member of alumni network of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. Magdalena is also a dual PhD candidate at the Lancaster University in the UK and at the Graduate School for Social Research, the Polish Academy of Sciences. Recipient of scholarships from: Yale University, the Kościuszko Foundation, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the University of Warsaw, the American Embassy in Poland and the Ashoka Foundation. She cooperates with the Women Enabled International that advocates for human rights of disabled girls and women within the United Nations regime and beyond, and is a winner of the of the Servas International prize for young activists.


Patrick Wielowiejski, studied Cultural Studies, Gender Studies and Linguistics in London, Berlin and Oslo. He is currently a PhD candidate in the department of European Ethnology at Humboldt University Berlin, researching gay-friendliness in the European far right. In both academia and activism, Patrick concerns himself with a queer movement beyond identity politics that acknowledges the interrelations between all kinds of social struggles. Recently, he helped to organize a solidarity campaign with Warsaw Pride (“Parada Równości”). Patrick has been active in different contexts, among them the Young Islam Conference in Germany and AFS Intercultural Programs.


Jasamin Ulfat-Seddiqzai is currently working on her PhD in Postcolonial Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen. She is a lecturer in British literary studies and occasionally writes journalistic texts about the perceptions of Muslims in Europe. Jasamin is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (Denmark 2009).