Rick Zedník, Chief Executive Officer

Rick’s management career spans more than two decades in media, most recently as CEO of, the independent EU policy news network. Previously, Rick directed marketing for The Wall Street Journal Europe. A dual citizen of the USA and Slovakia, he was co-founding editor of The Slovak Spectator newspaper in Bratislava. Rick holds an MBA from Harvard, a master’s from Columbia Journalism School, and a bachelor’s in political science from Trinity College (Connecticut). He has written for more than 20 publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

You can contact him at in English, French or Slovak.

Ahinara Bascuñana, Communications Director

Ahinara is the Communications Director at WPL. She previously worked as a reporter, TV anchor, and moderator of conferences and political debates. She also worked at the European Parliament’s communication service and as a communication consultant for non-governmental organisations. She received her education in Journalism in Barcelona and Utrecht.

You can contact her at in English, Spanish, French and Catalan.

Angela Lowe, Programme Assistant

Angela is Programme Manager at the Women Political Leaders Global Forum (WPL). She grew up in the Seychelles and left to persue a career in Business Management after graduating Cum Laude from her Bachelor in Business Studies at the University of Wales. She has a Bachelor in Communications Studies from the Belgian University of VUB (Vrij Universiteit Brussel) and is currently completing a post-graduate degree in Economic Diplomacy at the Brusssels Diplomatic Academy.

You can contact her at in English and French.

Bettina Appel, Programme Director

Bettina’s career extents more than two decades in communication, media and events. She is part of the external speakers team of the European Commission. Bettina holds a master’s in political science and communication from LMU Munich.

You can contact her at in English, French or German.


Erik Boman, Accountant

Erik is responsible for WIP’s finances.  He has plenty of experience in providing accounting services to Brussels-based organizations with a European or international focus.  He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cambridge, and is half Swedish and half American.

You can reach him at in English, Swedish, French and Dutch.

Léa Charlet, Conferences and Campaigns director

Léa Charlet is the Conferences and Campaigns director at WPL.  She is an experienced events manager who has coordinated and planned many successful conferences for different institutions, organisations and companies. A As an example, she led a pan-European campaign targeting young voters during the 2014 European Parliament elections with AEGEE-Europe. She graduated in comparative public law at La Sorbonne and in European Studies at l’Institut d’Etudes Européennes de Bruxelles, focusing her thesis on Gender equality in the political and economical sphere.

You can contact her at in English, Spanish, French and Italian.


Pamela Rodríguez, Regional Manager for Latin America

Pamela Rodríguez  is the Regional Manager for Latin America at WPL. She has experience in international cooperation, project management and international relations. She previously worked at the International Cooperation Agency.  Pamela grew up in Ecuador where she studied Business Administration and Development Project Management.

You can contact her at in English, French and Spanish.

Ross Melzer, Partnerships Director

Before joining WPL, Ross worked in Brussels at EU affairs media EurActiv and policy media Science|Business. Previously, he worked at The Wall Street Journal Europe for 7 years. He’s also had senior management roles at the Financial Times in London and Paris and Time Magazine in Germany. He has more than 25 years experience in the world of international media. Ross holds a BA Hons degree in European Languages and Politics from Coventry University and an MBA from CASS Business School in the UK.

You can contact him at in English.


Thainá Leite, Programme Manager

Thainá is a Programme Manager at WPL. She grew up in Rio de Janeiro where she obtained her Bachelor in International Relations from IBMEC Business School. Recently she pursued a dual degree MSc & MA in European Studies at the University of Southern Denmark and at the Europa-Universität Flensburg. She has also undertaken internships at two well recognized Brazilian think-tanks; at the Brazilian Center for International Relations (CEBRI), where she had the opportunity to work with Brazilian ambassadors; and secondly, at the Igarapé Institute, where she assisted in a project focused on UN Peacekeeping Operations.

You can contact her at in English, Portuguese and French.

Suenia Lagares, Executive Assistant and Database Manager

Suenia is the WPL Database Manager. Prior to joining WPL, she worked as an administrative manager and executive assistant in Brazil. She holds a bachelor degree in Business Administration from the University of Wales and post-graduation courses in International Relations from the University of Brasília, Brazil. 

You can contact her at in English, French and Portuguese.

Alexandra Rosén, Senior Policy Advisor

Alexandra is Senior Director at WPL. She previously worked as Public Affairs Consultant and head of office of a European Commission accredited Technology Platform. Alexandra holds a Masters degree in Political Science from the University of Uppsala, Sweden. She also studied in Germany and Russia and completed an internship within the UN structure in New York.

You can contact her at in English, German, Russian and Swedish.

Aretha Francis, Communications and Advocacy Advisor

Aretha Francis is Communications and Advocacy Advisor at WPL. She previously worked as a freelance journalist for several international Media and assisted the Spokesperson of the European Parliament. She received her education as a journalist in Barcelona and Milan.

You can contact her at in English, Catalan, Spanish, French, Dutch or Italian.

Assita Kanko, Special Senior Advisor

Born in Burkina Faso, Assita Kanko later immigrated to Belgium. Assita is elected town councillor in Ixelles, one of the largest districts of Brussels, serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Belgian Development Agency and contributes as a columnist for the Belgian Newspaper De Standaard. In her work, she argues forcefully for women’s empowerment. She is a popular author and media commentator. Her first book “Parce que tu es une fille, histoire d’une vie excisée” (Because you are a girl, story of a circumcised life) is a story of a personal and intellectual journey to freedom as a woman. In 2015, she published “La deuxième moitié, plaidoyer pour un nouveau féminisme” (The second half, advocacy for a new feminism) about the position of women worldwide.

You can contact her at  in French, Dutch and English.

Hala Hanna, Senior Policy and Strategy Advisor

Hala is a public policy expert, with experience in strategy, management, programme development and public-private partnerships through her work at the World Economic Forum (WFL). Her experience also includes advising governments in Africa and the Middle East on governance, public sector reform and donor engagement as part of her work with the World Bank, the UN, and Harvard University. Hala holds a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University and a Masters in International Development from American University, DC. She was a Global Leadership Fellow of the WFL.

You can contact her at in English, French or Arabic.

Jarka Chloupková, Special Senior Advisor

During the previous two decades, she worked at the EU institutions. She also has experience from working for national governments. Jarka holds a PhD degree (University of Copenhagen), MSc degree (University of London), and Ing degree (Mendel University). She has been a Fulbright scholar in the USA. In addition, she writes on policy issues, moderates conferences and lectures students.

You can contact her at in English, Czech, Slovak, German, French and basic Russian.

Kholoud Wattar Kassem, Special Senior Advisor

Kholoud is WIP Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. In addition, Kholoud is President and Founder of “Mothers from Lebanon”, social organization socio-political researcher; candidate of the Lebanese parliament 2013-2014; council member at the WAAUB. She holds a bachelor degree in Sociology/Anthropology, diplomas in child psychology, international negotiation and diplomatic consultancy, in addition to a masters in political sociology.

You can contact her at in English and Arabic.

Narod Haroutunian, Policy Advisor

Narod is a Policy Manager at WPL. Narod grew up in Lebanon where she obtained her Bachelor in International Affairs from the Lebanese American University. She is currently pursuing a dual degree MSc in Social Sciences & MA in European Studies at Europa-Universität Flensburg. She has also undertaken an internship in New York at an NGO, affiliated with the UN, known as World Youth Alliance.

You can contact her at in English, French, Arabic and Armenian.

Thomas Fillis, Policy Advisor

Thomas is a Communications Strategist in the European Commission who provides advice to WPL. Having previously worked as Regional Manager for Europe and Asia at WPL, Thomas has worked for a German Member of the European Parliament, and in private sector consulting. Prior to this, Thomas ran an international office in Berlin. A native of Liverpool, and has studied at Universities in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

You can contact him at in English, German and French.