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.

Dee Thomsen, Managing Director

WPL Office Iceland

Amy Debrock, Programme Assistant

Amy works as the Programme assistant of the #Girl2Leader campaign.

Through various volunteering and work experiences abroad, she gained great insights in intercultural communication, project management, and fundraising. While studying a Bachelor in Public Relations, Amy undertook multiple solidarity initiatives in cooperation with local partners in the North of France, where she is originally from, but also took part in international public-spirited projects.

Amy is now completing a Master’s programme in International Relations and Global Gender Studies at Aalborg University in Denmark.

You can contact her at in English and French.

Angela Lowe, Programme Manager

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.

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.

Bisera Savoska, Head of Communications

Drawing on extensive experience in public relations, advertising and EU affairs, Bisera is leading WPL corporate and event communications.

Since 2012, Bisera has been leading a digital communications agency, where she has lead creative strategy for civil society and corporate clients. She has won numerous awards in PR and social advertising for her campaigns. Prior to joining WPL, she worked  as a consultant and in the communications department of the British Chamber of Commerce in Brussels.

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

Chiara Gonzi, Programme Assistant

Chiara is a Programme Assistant at Women Political Leaders (WPL). She has a Bachelor´s degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures from the University of Milan and graduated summa cum laude from her Master´s degree in Language Sciences from the Ca´ Foscari University of Venice. She is particularly interested in gender equality, women´s rights and power structures, and her Master thesis focused on language education as a tool for empowering women.

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

Eric Ortiz, Creative Director

Eric works as Graphic and Design Manager at the Women Political Leaders Global Forum (WPL). He has worked in several communication agencies in The United States, The United Kingdom, Italy and Spain. After studying Communication, Politics, Gender studies and International Relations, he decided to develop his skills as a creative, graphical designer, video editor and art director through several Gender Equality NGOs and also in some international TV and cinema productions.

You can contact him at in English, Spanish, Italian and Catalan.

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.

Eyrún Þorsdóttir, Intern

WPL Office Iceland

Gioconda Carrera Herrera, Programme Director

Gioconda is a Programme Manager at WPL. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Notre Dame in the U.S. with a double major in Economics and Peace Studies. She pursued her Master of Arts in Conflict Studies and Human Rights at Universiteit Utrecht in the Netherlands.  She has worked for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in two field offices and one coordination hub. She is the co-author of three studies concerning the fulfilment of children’s rights and has produced more than 10 research studies for UNICEF, WHO, Plan International, among others.

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

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.

Helia Nazari, Campaign Coordinator

Helia, has joined WPL as Programme Assistant and currently she is managing the #Girl2Leader Campaign. She has an extensive knowledge in International Relations and Diplomacy, due to her academic background in political sciences. She has previously worked as a Policy Analyst at consultancy firms and as a journalist at various forums and conferences, where she published numerous articles and policy briefs on women empowerment. Helia is very much familiar with International Institutions, such as the UN and the EU as well as work of civil societies. She was born and raised in Iran, before moving to Austria. She has worked and studied in Austria, the UK and currently is living and working in Brussels.

You can contact her at in English, Persian and German. 

Hrund Gunnsteinsdóttir, Special Program Advisor

WPL Office Iceland

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.

Kristrún Helga Jóhannsdóttir, Intern

WPL Office Iceland

Linsey Armstrong, Communications Assistant

Linsey works as a communications assistant at WPL. She is currently pursuing her graduate education in public diplomacy at Syracuse University. She is expected to graduate in May 2019 with a Master of Arts in international relations and a Master of Science in public relations. She is an alumna of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, from which she holds a Bachelor of Journalism in advertising and public relations.
You can contact her at in English.

Mallory Rusch, Programme Associate

Mallory has over ten years of experience in program management, fundraising, and marketing/communication with NGOs, including three years of nonprofit consulting. She is currently pursuing her personal passion of elevating women’s political leadership around the globe, and especially in her home country of the United States.  She holds a bachelor’s in communications from Bradley University (lllinois) and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public service at the Clinton School of Public Service (Arkansas).  

You can contact her at in English. 

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.


Sigthrudur Armann, WPL Iceland Summit Ambassador/Coordinator

Sigthrudur is from Iceland. She has a broad educational background, with qualifications in both Law and Business Management from University of Iceland, Reykjavik University, China Europe International Business School in Shanghai and IESE Business School in Barcelona.

In 2006 Sigthrudur founded EXEDRA, which is a discussion forum for a group of leading women from various career fields in Iceland including all political parties, business, the media, areas of education, health, the arts, and other professional. Sigthrudur is the CEO of EXEDRA.

You can contact Sigthrudur at in English or Icelandic.

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.

Şafak Pavey, Senior Advisor

Şafak is known for her work in the field of international migration, asylum, diversity, peace and security issues, with a background embracing diplomacy and national policymaking. Previously, she worked for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Refugee Agency, on humanitarian missions in the Middle East, Asia and Central Europe. Şafak was a Member of Turkish Parliament (2011-2017); having served as Deputy Speaker, Vice-Chair of EU-Turkey Accession Committee and NATO Parliamentary Assembly member. She is honoured with the International Woman of Courage Award by US Department of State and selected as a Young Global Leader by World Economic Forum and Munich Young Leader at Munich Security Conference.

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

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.

Zita Gurmai, Founding Member

Zita is fighting for gender equality for more than two decades, most recently Special Adviser on Gender, European Commissioner for International Cooperation & Development. Previously Zita was a Member of the European Parliament (2004-2014), where she was vice-chair of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality committee and the Committee on Constitutional Affairs. Previously she was a member of the Hungarian Parliament. She is the President of PES Women, the Women Section of the Hungarian Socialist Party, and board member of the Central & Eastern European Gender Network.

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