FNF Alumni - What is he/she currently doing?

Interview
Opinion07.11.2017
FNF Alumni

The Alumni of the Theodor Heuss International Academy for Leadership in Gummersbach – Germany and AJC Promoting Tolerance Programme – USA are answering two questions:

  •  What is he/she currently doing?
  •  How much has the IAF or AJC program meant / determined / influenced what you are currently engaged in?

 

Jug Puljizević

Jug Puljizević, Croatia

Political Leadership, IAF 2010

Promoting Tolerance program 2015

Right now I’m working for Croatian People’s Party-Liberal Democrats (HNS) – Central Office, Zagreb, Croatia as legal consultant and consultant for Local and Regional Self-Government issues, Croatian and European elections and campaigning. I also work with Deputy Club of Croatian Peoples Party-Liberal Democrats (HNS) in the Croatian Parliament on legislative procedures, creation of various drafts, proposals, acts, amendments etc.

Also I’m founder and president of The Next Step - NGO with a mission to promote, advocate, protect and improve human rights, especially children's and youth's rights. Also I’m engaged in refugee issues and rights with focus on migrant crisis in Europe (especially Balkans).

IAF and FNST/AJC are both amazing programs and influenced me a lot both in private and professional way. IAF helped me to understand liberalism deeper and to understand better my beliefs and my motivations as liberal. Also IAF introduced me to some amazing people from all around the world and we’re still in contact, exchanging opinions, testing new ideas or just sharing some personal details (from Paraguay, across Europe, over Georgia and all the way to Indonesia or Ghana and other African states). I would recommend IAF program to everyone and I personally think that Academy is one of the best things FNST has to offer. I really hope I’ll return one day… maybe even as a lecturer.

Promoting Tolerance was an incredible experience and I’m proud to say I met wonderful people and few friends for life. Experiencing multicultural society in the States, learning about history, difficulties, challenges and successes directed me to engage in promotion of human rights with special focus on youth and children as well as tackling refugee issues and challenges. Wonderful AJC people will always be in my heart and I do hope our paths will cross again in the future. Promoting Tolerance gave me new insight, fresh ideas and energy to improve in my job and to give more to the causes I strongly care about. 

Vedrana Gujić

Vedrana Gujić, Croatia

Program Promoting Tolerance 2013

I am currently living and working in Bruxelles as a professional diplomat accredited to the EU. I am representing Croatia in the Council on the topics of European defense and security and Transatlantic relations. AJC programme helped me in establish networks and contacts with the variety of American actors and deepened my understanding of American society and politics.

Ines Rudelić, Croatia

Education Policies, IAF 2016

I participated successfully in the international workshop on Education Policies – The Key to Enlightenment, Participation and Progress  held between 10 – 22 July 2016 and organized by the International Academy for Leadership (IAF) in Gummersbach, Germany.

I am a president of Libera - Croatian association for education, entrepreneurship and international cooperation.

The IAF program meant a lot in the elements listed below:

  • New mentoring and coaching approach
  • Innovative focus on education and soft skills development
  • Mixing informal, new formal and formal learning areas
  • Training
  • Partnership
  • Community based initiatives
Besart Vllahinja

Besart Vllahinja, Kosovo

Freedom of movement, IAF 2017

I'm Besart Vllahinja and I was born on January 2nd, 1987 in Prishtina, Kosovar citizen, graduated in Electrical Engineering at the Department of Informatics and I am serving as a Director of Culture, Youth and Sport, as a member of a Local Government of Municipality in Prishtina and complementary to that I hold political positions within the party structures of my liberal-oriented party AKR.

I was a participant in IAF Seminar “Freedom of movement – a liberal principle challenged” held on March 5-17, 2017.Those days as a participant of seminar at IAF helped me cultivate a capacity for absorbing large amounts of information challenges of free movement from another perspective.

I have also benefited from diversity, multiculturalism and friendship with of other participants, a treasure itself. I look back with gratitude and humbleness on the support and knowledge I received from a number of speakers and facilitators.

Shpresa Rama, Kosovo

Promoting Entrepreneurship, IAF 2014

I’m Shpresa Rama from Kosovo, I was part of the international training "Political Avenues to Opening Markets and Promoting Entrepreneurship", held between March 30 and April 11, 2014 in Germany.

Now, in my country are the local elections, I’m part of Candidate’s Team, for Mayor of Prishtina from AKR (New Kosovo Alliance – Politic Party). I have participated in the plan program and campaign plan, every day I am part of the realization of it and making efforts to do the best.

My participation in this training, continues to serve in many aspects, I am in constant contact with participants from different countries, which means to be with many different information about the activity policies.

The exchange of experiences, which have shown success in their places, made me to be able to see the weaknesses of my subject as well as the ability to improve things.

I am grateful to your institution for this opportunity, hoping that such training will be ongoing.

Jelena Grujić Zindović

Jelena Grujić Zindović, Serbia

Program Promoting Tolerance 2013

I am working as a freelance researcher and a consultant in the fields of Migration studies, the current politics of the Western Balkans, Human rights, Transitional Justice and Post-conflict research, and Media development.

This program has been incredibly inspiring for me. I have been predominantly focused on dealing with the consequences of war in our region for “ordinary” people and their access to human rights and justice during my career. Therefore, this fruitful collaboration between the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and the American Jewish Committee is something to admire and to learn from it. The visiting program in USA broadens my horizons very much.

I learned so much about advocating, culture, social integration, dealing with human rights violations. Those skills I needed to improve - along with getting encouraged - and now I am working on developing an NGO of my own.

I met people that are up to days my inspiration and examples that I would like to continue following. Above all, I found new friends that I truly appreciate and will cherish the rest of my life.

 

Uroš Mišljenović

Uroš Mišljenović, Serbia

NGOs – Winning Support, IAF 2015

I work in a local CSO Partners for Democratic Change Serbia. I am responsible for implementation of activities in the fields of good governance and protection of privacy, working also as a trainer and researcher. In my work I am committed to core liberal and democratic values, with the emphasis on the necessity for public institutions to conduct their work in transparent and accountable manner, while enabling meaningful protection of citizens’ civil liberties.

I participated at the International Academy for Leadership training “NGOs – Winning Support for Ideas and their Political Implementation” in the summer 2015.  The most beneficial outcome of the event was an understanding of how other actors perceive the work of CSOs, and how we need to accommodate to their expectations while still maintaining the focus of our work. This refers particularly to decision makers, political parties, donors and citizens who usually have legitimate, albeit different priorities than ours, that we as civil society actors need to be aware of when making long and short-term decisions, advocacy and communication strategies.

Ivan Despotović

Ivan Despotović, Serbia

Climate change and resource management, IAF 2013

Local politics and citizen's participation, IAF 2015

Promoting Tolerance program 2015

I´m а political consultant, political journalist and politician.  President of Youth of Liberal Democratic Party. Doing education in the field of campaigning and agitate for empowerment of synergy between politicians, startups and new technologies within SmartCity.Education Initiative of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. Running my own political audio podcast "Some other news from Balkan" on Remarker Media, and working as author of political freedom section of Freedom Barometer index.

Beside the fact that all these programs deepen my perspective on liberal values and how to best advocate for it, values which today represent a driver of all of my engagement and activism, both had significant influence on what I'm doing today. Output of first IAF program was a SmartCity. Education Initiative whose I'm co-founder and which today represent important pillar of all of my work. This knowledge was improved with second IAF, helping me to further develop my approach to local liberal politics and use of new technologies to incite citizen’s participation, openness and democracy on local level by connecting to the most innovative part of our societies - startups. Importance of Promoting Tolerance program for me was in its inspirational aspect. It was the one that cleared my vision of how society needs to look like, and the one which motivated and empowered me with arguments to advocate for more liberal societies.

 

Kristina Nikolić

Kristina Nikolić, Serbia

Promoting Entrepreneurship, IAF 2015

I am a researcher and practitioner in the field of smart cities and urban development. For the past six and a half years, I have built experience and expertise as co-founder and Business Development Executive @Strawberry energy, a startup that develops smart technology to enhance public places by bringing IoT hubs to cities worldwide. From the beginning, I was an essential member of the team that developed the Strawberry Tree and Strawberry Smart Bench products, first-of-their-kind urban smart devices powered completely by solar energy. My inner drive is focused on turning creative tech ideas into business ventures, positioning myself at the intersection of business, creativity and technology, embracing the best of all three worlds.

Beside Strawberry energy, on the everyday basis, a part of me lives through mentoring local startups in Serbia. I observe these efforts as my contribution to the slowly rising Serbian startup ecosystem. I am putting great effort in sharing my business experience and knowledge to support other startups to shift their ventures from early stage to sustainable and scalable businesses. By being in the company of ambitious entrepreneurs willing to be mentored and trained, together with them, I am also learning. I am learning both about their business ideas and stories but also about their struggles and challenges they are facing daily.

From the perspective of both being an entrepreneur and supporting many, the IAF seminar "Political Avenues to Opening Markets and Promoting Entrepreneurship" I've attended was very useful. It was an opportunity to meet many different people and to hear their experience about market-based approaches, strategies and concrete actions on how to foster our local entrepreneurship communities. During the seminar, all participants selflessly shared their viewpoints and good practices on how to implement various tools and mechanisms for overcoming challenges and obstacles of tomorrow.

Nevena Stošić

Nevena Stošić, Serbia

Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights, IAF 2016

My name is Nevena Stošić. I live in Serbia, city of Nis and I have been a member of the Liberal Democratic Party since 2010. From January 31st to February 12th 2016, I attended the IAF Academy in Gummersbach within the framework of the "Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights: The Liberal Approach" program.  Twenty one countries from all over the world participated in this project. The topics we dealt with in those two weeks were primarily related to the rule of law in the participating countries. Also, one of the main topics of the seminar was the migrant crisis, which in that period affected not only Germany and Europe, but also other parts of the world and therefore was one of the main issues and problems of every society.

Our stay in Germany was not directed only to Gummersbach but it also included the visit to Cologne and the Hinzert concentration camp not far from the border with Luxembourg in which political prisoners and opponents of Hitler's regime were held during the Second World War.

Part of the project was held in Strasbourg. The visit to Strasbourg contributed a lot to get to know the work of the International Court of Justice as well as other institutions that are located in that city. Also, one day was dedicated to the sightseeing of the city of Karlsruhe, the seat of the Constitutional Court of the Federal Republic of Germany and also visit the court. During the visit to this court, we learned not only the historical facts about the occurrence of the court, but also the judicial system of Germany.

As for the stay at the IAF Academy in Gummersbach, the lecturers who worked with us during the whole project, Dr. Rolf Freier and Enikö Gál contributed to the fact that the team that participated in the project gain broad knowledge on the given topics and eventually transfer it to their colleagues in the home countries.

After staying at the academy and upon returning to Serbia, I started working at the law office in Nis, dealing with a wide range of legal issues, among other things, with international law.

Staying at the IAF Academy has brought me a lot of benefits, not just about my current job but in other fields also. In addition to the knowledge in the area of human rights, the rule of law and other issues we dealt with during those two weeks, I point out that the numerous contacts and friendships I gained at the academy are definitely the huge benefit I have from the IAF Academy.