Mary Drosopoulos

Working group n. 1 – The New EU between governmental cooperation and democracy from below

is a multilingual consultant & trainer, with a background in education (formal & non-formal learning, youth studies, communication), as well as conference interpreting, translation & project management. In 2019, she received her PhD with Honors from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in the field of cross-cultural studies. In 2020, she got involved as a post-doctoral research assistant in the ‘Changing the Story’ project, supported by the Universities of Leeds, Bournemouth and Prishtina, investigating arts-based approaches to state building in post-conflict societies. Today, she is an external consultant for the Regional Cooperation Council, based in Sarajevo (Political Department & SEE 2030 Strategy).

Mary has a diverse professional experience, ranging from designing & facilitating peace, human rights & reconciliation projects led by international organizations and universities in Europe, Asia & the Middle East, to working with multiethnic companies in sales, public relations and anti-corruption policies. Since 2012, she has been a consultant & trainer in the Euro-Arab Youth Cooperation led by the Council of Europe & the League of Arab States; she has also conducted & written the study on the 10 years of this initiative. She is a member of the Pool of European Youth Researchers of the Youth Partnership between the EU & the CoE, currently investigating youthwork in Southeastern Europe. Moreover, through her capacity as an Erasmus+ mentor, she is assisting new organizations & young professionals to reach their goals, build stronger teams and expand their networks, by guiding them through more effective communication skills and self-empowerment.

Mary has published relevant books and articles, while the findings of her fieldwork have led into policy recommendations & advocacy campaigns, mainly in Greece & the Western Balkans 6. Last but not least, she is the founder and president of the Eurobalkan Youth Forum, an independent, women-led, interethnic institution, dedicated to promoting interregional dialogue via youthwork, civic education and research-based advocacy.

Dragoș Ioniță

Working group n. 1 – The New EU between governmental cooperation and democracy from below

Dragoș Ioniță is a PhD candidate and junior researcher in the Department of International Relations of the National University of Political Science and Public Administration (SNSPA). His main field of interest is the process of Europeanization of the Western Balkans as an effect of the EU enlargement process. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science (2015), with a thesis on Serbia’s EU accession process, later completing his Master’s programme in Diplomacy and Negotiation, with a thesis on the Balkan Route of Migration (2015-2017). He has published several articles focused on the EU enlargement in the Western Balkans. As member of the Department’s Centre for European Studies, Dragoș is involved in co-organizing events and conferences on the EU enlargement process in the Western Balkans and is currently part of several academic networks that aim to bring European policies closer to the general public, being in charge of conducting research on the evolution of the EU’s enlargement process.

Ivana Antonijević

Working group n. 2 – United in diversity, beyond past wars

Ivana Antonijević graduated at the Faculty of Political Science, the University of Belgrade.
She works for the Regional Youth Cooperation Office as the Head of the Local Branch Office in Serbia. For the last ten years, she was working in the field of youth policy, with particular emphasis on the youth participation, social inclusion and development of youth inclusive policy.
She is an expert member of the National Advisory Council on Youth of the Republic of Serbia.
She was engaged at the Faculty of Political Science, Association of Students with Disabilities, as a member of the Council for Equality and Inclusive Society of the National Youth Council, National Association of Youth Offices and at the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Ms Antonijević participated in the writing of the Serbian National Youth Strategy 2015-2025 and the Action Plan for the Implementation of the National Strategy 2018-2020. She has also worked as a trainer and consultant with the GIZ, the OSCE Mission to Serbia, Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, and several NGOs and youth offices.
She sees her vocation as creating conditions for a better position for all young people.

Andrea Rizza Goldstein

Working group n. 2 – United in diversity, beyond past wars

Andrea Rizza Goldstein, trainer in citizenship education projects and coordinator of international cooperation projects for Arci Bolzano-Bozen, member of the Memory and anti-fascism Commission of Arci Nazionale, former teacher and member of the Scientific committee of the Master for peacemakers and conflicts mediators of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano, in the last ten years has worked in Srebrenica on the constitution and start-up of the Documentation Center Adopt Srebrenica – a psycho-social project in a post-conflict context.

Jasmina  Hodž

Working group n. 3 – One continent, one environment

I know a few things about renewable energy policy, climate finance, decarbonization and the external projection of the European Green Deal. I work as a Climate Change Manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where I look into the practical aspects of the energy and climate transition. For public entities and governments, I assist with formulating enabling policies especially with regards to integration of renewable energy, just energy transition, and climate finance. I also advise private companies on how they can strategize their energy transition and formulate Net Zero pathways.
I am a national of Bosnia and Herzegovina currently living in Rome. I hold a BA in International Relations from Hamilton College and an M.A. in International Affairs and Energy Economics from Johns Hopkins SAIS and the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. I also currently serve on the Governing Board of United World College in Mostar.

Simona Mameli

Working group n. 3 – One continent, one environment

Policy Officer in charge of regional cooperation in South East Europe at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Unit for the Adriatic and the Western Balkans.  She got her PhD at the Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences, University of Bern, Switzerland, in 2018, focusing on deliberative practice as a tool for promoting inter-group conflict transformation in deeply divided societies, and specifically in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She took her Master on International and Diplomatic Sciences at the University of Bologna in 2006. As a specialist on politics of Western Balkans and regional cooperation in South East Europe, she used to work as Executive Officer at the Central European Initiative. Between 2012 and 2019 she got specialized in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in the Western Balkans.  Italian mother tongue, she speaks fluently English and Serbian, French and Spanish. Her last publications include: “Minorities and reconciliation in the Western Balkans”, coedited with Sanja Kajinić, in S. Bianchini and E. Meka, The Challenges of Democratization and Reconciliation in the Post-Yugoslav Space, Nomos, Baden Baden, 2020, pp. 225–246; “For more Transparency in Deliberative Research. Implications for Deliberative Praxis”, coedited, in Journal of Public Deliberation 13:2, June 2017; Deliberation across Deeply Divided Societies: Transformative Moments, coedited, Cambridge University Press, Feb. 2017.

Nikolina Obradović

Working group n. 4 – One market, many challenges

Nikolina Obradović is an Associate Professor in Social Policy at the University of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her research is focused on social policy in the Western Balkan region, including the relationship between social policy and political clientelism, gender and social inequalities. Alongside, Nikolina has been engaged as the National Coordinator for Bosnia and Herzegovina at the European Social Policy Network (ESPN). She provides expertise on social policy issues and supports the European Commission in monitoring the progress of Bosnia and Herzegovina towards the EU social protection and social inclusion objectives.

Luca J. Uberti

Working group n. 4 – One market, many challenges

Luca J. Uberti is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Economics and Management, University of Luxembourg. His research is in political economy and economic development. In particular, Luca is interested in the causes and consequences of corruption and institutional quality in emerging economies. A lot of his work is focused on the Western Balkan region – in particular Albania and Kosovo, where he has lived and worked for five years. Luca is fluent in Italian, Albanian and English.

Carragher, A., “The EU is a dishonest broker on Western Balkans Demographics”, Carnagie Europe

Luginbuhl, C., Musiolek, B. (2016): Labour on a Shoestring: The Realities of Working in Europe’s Shoe
Manufacturing Peripheries, Berne Declaration: Zurich [Please read the Executive Summary of the report]

Blerta Thaçi

Working group n.5 – Many societies, one virtual space

Executive Director of Open Data Kosovo. An experienced leader in missions that contribute to public causes, open government, civic-tech, and digital solutions that deliver high-quality services to Kosovo’s citizens, and help the youth of Kosovo build their capacities in the tech industry. Founder of Girls Coding Kosova, a woman community-driven to empower and inspire tomorrow’s tech leaders. Experienced Software Engineer with a demonstrated history of working in software development. Strong expertise in developing fully-fledged digital solutions for social good with Kosovo’s open data. Forbes 30 under 30, class of 2018.

Marija Ristić

Working group n.5 – Many societies, one virtual space

Marija Ristic is the executive director of Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, a network of seven non-governmental organisations promoting freedom of speech, human rights and democratic values in Southeast and Central Europe. Ristic oversees the activities and communications within the Network and represents it publicly. 
As regional director, Ristic also leads the BIRN Hub, which coordinates the BIRN network, dealing with editorial, training, operations and development, as well as developing, fundraising for and coordinating core regional projects. She is also the editor-in-chief for the Network.

Ristic started working for BIRN in 2011 as a journalist, contributing to the regional Balkan Transitional Justice programme. Topics related to war crimes, dealing with the past and human rights have been at the core of her professional development.

In 2015, she produced the award-winning documentary ‘The Unidentified’.  Under her leadership, BIRN won numerous awards, including the European Press Prize, while the Network expended its coverage beyond the Balkans – to Central and South Europe. As a director, Ristic in particular focused on development of digital rights and tech programme, empowerment of local media through capacity building and citizens’ engagement and expansion of human rights focused programmes.

In 2019, Ristic won Press Freedom Award from the Reporters Without Borders. She graduated magna cum laude from the Geneva Academy for International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, the University of Geneva and the University of Belgrade. She was a fellow at the Free University Berlin and Columbia University New York and received numerous awards and scholarships from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the OSCE, the Zoran Djindjic Foundation and the Research Council of Norway. She speaks Serbo-Croatian, English and German and lives between Sarajevo, Belgrade and Berlin.