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.

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.

Eric Ortiz, Graphic and Design Manager

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.

Gioconda Carrera Herrera, Programme Manager

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.

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.

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.

Stephanie Michel, Data Protection Officer


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.

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.