Paula Panettieri, Project Assistant

Paula is a Project Assistant at WPL Brussels’ office in Belgium. She was born in Buenos Aires, and grew up in Italy, where she attained her B.A. in International Relations and Diplomatic Affairs at the University of Bologna. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in European and International Studies at the University of Trento. She studied for one year in Germany thanks to the Erasmus+ Programme. She is passionate about multilingualism, migration studies and women empowerment.

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

Maura Riley, Project Assistant

Maura is a Project Assistant at WPL Brussels’ office. She is currently studying abroad in Belgium for the semester to gain knowledge of the European Union and how it works as a whole. She is pursuing a B.A. in International Relations from American University in Washington, D.C., and a Minor in French. Previously, she spent a year abroad studying in France. Her most recent professional experience consists of an internship with the Vermont State Governor, Phil Scott. She is passionate about finding new ways to promote change, and to push for more women in politics.

You can contact her at in English and French.

Mathilde Van Brabant, Database Assistant

Mathilde Van Brabant is a Database Assistant at WPL Brussels’ office. She is a Belgian-Danish student currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Political Science, specialising in international relations with a focus on peace, security and conflicts at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). She is fluent in French, and is skilled in English, Danish and Spanish after a Bachelor’s degree in Translation and Interpreting at the School of International Interpreters (EII) in the Université de Mons (UMons) and an ERASMUS in Business Communication at Aarhus University.

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

Dmytro Kulyk, Project Assistant

Dmytro has recently graduated from the Social Academy of Sciences in Warsaw with a Master‘s degree in International Relations. He has previously worked as AVRR Assistant the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Warsaw. He is also a Universal Design Ambassador for UNDP. He has experience in organizing events, including seminars and courses, partnership building and promotional activities.

You can contact him at in English, Ukrainian, Polish and Russian.

Clara Maspons, Project Assistant

Clara works as a Project Assistant at Women Political Leaders (WPL). She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the Blanquerna-Ramon Llull University in Barcelona. Before graduating, she combined her studies with her work in Barcelona Global, a private, independent and non-profit association aiming to make Barcelona attractive for economic activity. She is interested in matters of strategy and economic intelligence and keen to delve deeper into issues of leadership and innovation.

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

Ana Martínez, Social Media Assistant

Ana is Social Media Assistant at WPL. Prior to joining the team, she worked as a trainee at Efe News Agency and the European Parliament’s Directorate General for Communication. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, an MA in the EU and the Mediterranean from the Complutense University of Madrid, and another MA in European Interdisciplinary Studies from the College of Europe in Natolin. She wrote both her Master’s theses on women’s situation and EU gender equality promotion policies in the Maghreb.

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

Alyse Lord, Communications Assistant

Alyse is a Communications Assistant at WPL Brussels’ office. She is currently studying a double major in CLEG (Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government), and Justice & Law with a focus in terrorism and Security Studies at the American University. She is interested in the challenges women in politics face in the EU and beyond.

You can contact her at in English and Spanish.

Adeline Terry-Welsh, Project Assistant

Adeline is a Project Assistant at WPL Brussels’ office. She is currently completing a dual B.A. in International Studies and Law and Society at the American University in Washington, D.C. In Brussels, Adeline aims to gain a better understanding of the inner workings of the European Union and the effect it has on European citizens. She has previously worked in the United States House of Representatives for Congressman Bill Keating from Massachusetts.

You can contact her at in English.

Dee Thomsen, Managing Director

Dee is the Managing Director for Women Leaders Global Forum.

Dee has worked across the globe in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, America & Asia as a solution provider with key strengths in Strategic Vision & Planning, Organisational Leadership, Marketing & Communications. After graduating summa cum laude with marketing and business degree in London Dee founded her marketing agency in 1999 and grew it to international acclaim before selling it to a Middle East based media company in 2015 and merging the two into a 360 communications agency. Dee has extensive expertise and over 20 years proven track record.

You can contact her at in English and Icelandic.

Dominic Nieper, Managing Director

Dominic is the Managing Director for Partnerships at Women Political Leaders.

Dominic has over twenty years of professional experience. With a focus on client and change management his career has seen him work all over the world from bases in the UK, UAE and now from WPL’s Reykjavik office in Iceland.


You can contact him at in English.

Rick Zedník, Managing Director

Rick is the Managing Director for the WPL Summit.

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.

Angela Lowe, Programme & Communities Manager

Angela is the Programme & Communities Manager at Women Political Leaders (WPL), responsible for developing and managing project scopes and objectives involving relevant WPL community members and stakeholders. She ensures successful planning and execution of events/projects according to feasibility and resource allocation, all in accordance with the mission and goals of WPL. Born in the Seychelles and living in Europe for the past 10 years, she left a career in Business Management after graduating Cum Laude in Business Studies at the University of Wales, for what she believes is a more fitting career path in the civil society sector. Angela also holds a Masters in Communications Studies from the Vrij Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and a Post-Graduate degree in Economic Diplomacy from the Brussels 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. After her term as an elected representative in Brussels, Assita founded the non-partisan political incubator POLIN, which encourages women to join politics. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Belgian Development Agency and contributes as a columnist to the Belgian Newspaper De Standaard, as well as political commentator to Belgian RTL TV. She is a popular author of several books on women’s rights.

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

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.


Chiara Gonzi, Programme Coordinator

Chiara is a Programme Coordinator 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.

Erik Boman, Accountant

Erik is responsible for WPL’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.

Gioconda Carrera Herrera, Programme Director

Gioconda is a Programme Director 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 fulfillment 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.

Lucia de Luca, Communication Director

Lucia acts as Director of Communications for WPL and its associated community activities.

Lucia is a public affairs and communications professional with more than 16 years of experience in strategic communications, stakeholder engagement, international cooperation, and media relations. Lucia worked for the European Parliament, for an innovative airlines and a renown consultancy in Brussels as well as for a leading European agency where she specialised in risk communications. Lucia acts as moderator and university lecturer. Lucia holds an MA Degree in Modern Languages and Literatures she obtained in Italy and Germany.

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

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.


Sigthruður Armann, Senior Advisor – Reykjavik Forum

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.

Stephanie Michel, Data Protection Officer

Stephanie Michel is Legal Counsel at WPL. She runs the legal department of WPL. She is a Professor at the University of Hannover, Germany, her home country She previously managed the German association of notaries and worked many years as a solicitor.


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.