Our Speakers and Facilitators for 2023
Jana Ahlers is the Grassroots Education Manager at European Alternatives, working within the School of Transnational Organizing. With a Masters in Education Policy, she has a passion for critical and experiential pedagogy and a research interest in sustainable adult education and social movement learning. As a social and climate justice organizer and activist she has transnational experience across the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, the UK, and Germany. Before she worked at EA, she coordinated the programme of the People’s Summit for Climate Justice - adjacent to the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow and worked for the European Association for the Education of Adults. She draws on capacity organizing with a wide range of civil society groups, ranging from environment and development NGOs, to grassroots community campaigns, youth groups, indigenous groups, and migrant and racial justice networks. Outside of EA, Jana is a Berlin-based grassroots organizer and activist, steadily pushing towards new imaginaries and strategic wins by the people.
Dr. Nevenka Bogataj is a long-term coordinator of Slovenian study circles fostering community learning at the small-scale local level. She is also a senior researcher in the field of collective action that combines quantiative and qualitative methods of natural and social sciences. Her current engagement focuses to response of adult education to climate changes and governance of ecosystem services.
Margaret Browning is originally from the UK and moved to county Roscommon in Ireland with her family in 2000. She began attending the Roscommon Women’s Network in 2007, participating in a creative writing course. She has been involved in Cycle Up, an organic grass roots initiative from its inception. During the pandemic she undertook a level 6 Train the Trainer programme via zoom. On passing that she now tutors fabric up-cycling groups within the local community. She is very proud of the progress of Cycle Up and thoroughly enjoys working with the committed and environmentally conscious women of county Roscommon.
Arjen Wals is a Professor of Transformative Learning for Socio-Ecological Sustainability at Wageningen University where he also holds the UNESCO Chair of Social Learning and Sustainable Development. Furthermore, he is a Guest Professor at the Norwegian University for the Life Sciences (NMBU)and the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from Gothenburg University in Sweden. His work focusses on enabling, supporting and assessing ecologies of learning that foster sustainable living by inviting more relational, ethical and critical ways of knowing and being. Much of the research Wals engages in focusses on the development of Whole School Approaches to sustainability and the decolonization of education. He writes a regular blog that signals developments in the emerging field of sustainability education: www.transformativelearning.nl
Gina Ebner is the EAEA Secretary General, She has worked in adult education for many years and has a background as education and project manager, experience in multi-stakeholder and transnational environments, network building, curriculum and product development, knowledge management, team and project leadership. She also worked as a trainer in adult education. She was President of the European Civil Society Platform on Lifelong Learning (now European Lifelong Learning Platform - LLLP) until 2013 and again between 2018 and 2020.
Gustav Fridolin is teaching history and religion at the adult popular education organized by the Swedish charity organization Stockholm City Mission. He is also a part-time doctoral student in Education at Gothenburg University, and a member of the executive board of the European Association for the Education of Adults based in Brussels. He serves as the Chairperson of the Advisory Board to Stockholm Municipality on Agenda 2030. Fridolin was elected Member of Parliament in 2002 for the Green party. Between 2011 and 2019, he was co-leader for the Green party and from 2014 he served as Minister for Education in the Swedish government. During his time in the government, he was responsible for the Swedish relationship with UNESCO. He has published six books, about politics, including sustainable industry and environmental politics.
Dr Eeva Furman is a leading expert at the prime minister´s office and the secretary general of Finland´s commission for sustainable development. In addition to coordinating the prime minister-lead commission with more than 100 key societal actors, she supports the Government of Finland on sustainable development and supports the mainstreaming of the sustainable development policy among the ministries of the government www.kestavakehitys.fi. Dr Furman has expertise in sustainable development, sustainability transformation, natural and cultural capital for sustainability, environmental and biodiversity governance, planetary health and wellbeing, science-policy-society, co-creation of sustainability transformations, active citizenship. She co-authored The Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR2019) with 14 other scientists.
She was chairing Finland´s expert panel for sustainable development between 2016-2022. Dr Furman has worked most of her career at the Finnish Environment Institute, with the last period (2009-2022) before moving to the Government, as professor, director of the Environmental Policy at SYKE . As background, she is a marine biologist.
Stefan Grasgruber-Kerl works as Head of Campaigning in the Austrian NGO Südwind for Global Justice. He was born and raised in Vienna, studied political science, international development and communication as well as history. Extensive further training in the fields of NGOs, peace studies and Global Citizenship Education (GCE). He is Co-Chair of the GCE Working Group of the European Development NGO Confederation CONCORD. Apart from Campaigns on Global Justice and Climate Justice he worked as youth and adult educator in several European projects on "Decent Work for a Decent Life" with trade unionists, and Europe for Citizens Youth project series "My Revolution", focussing on youth participation and active engagement in European politics. Currently he works on Diaspora communities and migrants empowerment in the EU project "Empowering Migrant Voices".
Ester Hakobyan has led DVV International Armenia Country Office since 2018. Her career in international development started in late 1990s, following the transformations in the Armenian society after the country’s independence. For over a decade (2000-2012) Ester has worked as a project and program manager for U.S. donors and aid agencies including USAID/Armenia’s Mission and Millennium Challenges Account Armenia. Most recently, before moving to DVV, Ester has been the programs director at the Children of Armenia Fund (COAF), Armenia’s leading community development organization. Her extensive experience as an evaluation consultant led to assignments with USAID Armenia, UNICEF Armenia and the EU. Ester has also been involved in education and training throughout her professional career, which started as a school teacher of English, moving then to University.
Maria Hourigan grew up in North Dublin. She moved to Roscommon in 2004 with her two children. She got involved in the Roscommon Women's Network in 2013. She started volunteering in their second hand shop, and then in facilitating some craft class for women. In 2016 she became a carer for her mom, who was involved in cycle-up from the beginning. She would help her with some of her projects at home. In March 2020 during lockdown she became an active member of cycle-up helping to make masks for different care homes and groups. During the lockdown she did the QQI level 6 train the trainer. With the qualifications gained she was now one of the people who teach different groups in Roscommon how to up-cycle and sew. She also now works part-time for cycle-up as an in-house seamstress through a community employment scheme. She really enjoys sharing her skills and knowledge with others while making a small contribution to our carbon footprint.
Raffaela Kihrer is Deputy Secretary General and Head of Policy at the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) and has extensive experience in advocacy and policy on adult learning and education at the European and international level, with a particular focus on citizenship and development. Since June 2022, she is also an elected Vice-President of the Lifelong Learning Platform which brings together all sectors of education. Her background is in International Development Studies, and she is a trained teacher in secondary school education and adult learning.
Dearbháil is the Chief Executive Officer in AONTAS, the National Learning Organisation in Ireland. Dearbháil attended at the UNESCO CONFINTEA VII conference in 2022 as an Irish national delegate. Her background in education includes teaching in community education, Further Education and Training and lecturing in Higher Education.
Davide works at EAEA as Policy and Project Coordinator, developing advocacy activities and supporting the implementation of policy-oriented projects and initiatives. Passionate about education and social justice, he is also pursuing a Master's Degree in Teaching Italian as a Second/Foreign Language, focusing on adult and community learning. Previously, he worked in policy and advocacy roles for other European NGOs, studied EU Affairs at Sciences Po Paris and European Law at Maastricht University.
Anna Roditi comes fromm Patras, Greece and she is an active adult learner at the community center “ASTO we communicate” . For the last three years she has been a volunteer coordinator of the “Let’s change it” group, which has as its general goal the improvement of life in the city. So far, the group has dealt with actions such as natural farming experiments for future revegetation of barren mountains, intervening in a city square (playground markings, little free library, handmade planter box) and local beach cleanup, all motivated by peer-learning processes. Personally she has studied conservation of antiquities and works of art and had worked in the field for 10 years. She now work as a gardener at a riding school, as a worker at a winery and has recently started working as a pranic healer (alternative and complementary therapeutic technique).
Katarina Stekić is an associate at the Department for International Cooperation of the Center for the Promotion of Science. Since 2015, she has been actively engaged in various science promotion programs. Her area of expertise is training teachers in developing STEM education in public schools. She promotes STEM and interdisciplinary learning both through formal and informal education as the head of the Combined sciences seminar at the Petnica Science Center. In addition to her work in science promotion, Katarina is also a researcher and a Ph.D. candidate at the Faculty of Philosophy at the Laboratory for Neurocognition and Applied Cognition. She tries to satisfy her interdisciplinary interests in the field of psycholinguistics and music cognition through neurocognitive research, in which she happily combines methods of biological, technical, and social sciences.
Alex Stevenson is a Head of Programme at Learning and Work Institute (L&W), leading the organisation’s research and development work on adult basic skills and learning in communities, including non-formal learning. Alex has worked on a range of projects for clients including the Department for Education, the Home Office, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Greater London Authority. On community learning and non-formal education, his projects have included developing and piloting the use of social metrics to measure outcomes in non-formal learning, and supporting city regions with the devolution of the Adult Education Budget. Before joining L&W, Alex taught, managed and developed adult basic skills and ESOL provision for over 13 years. Alex is an executive board member at EAEA and an executive committee member at the European Basic Skills Network.
Dr. Tihomir Žiljak holds a bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb. At the Public Open University Zagreb, he founded and headed the Department for Development, Lifelong Learning and EU Programmes. He is the author and expert associate in several projects within the CARDS programme, IPA programme, European Social Fund and Erasmus programme, which dealt with inclusive policy for people with disabilities, the elderly and the long-term unemployed. His research interests include education policies, social policies, cultural policies, public policies in the EU and Croatia. He is one of the founders and a board member of the Network for Adult Learning, Social Participation and Intergenerational Dialogue (DANET), based in Ulm (Germany). He has served as president on several occasions and is currently vice president of the Croatian Andragogy Society.
Stelios Zogragidis is a member of a very active association called "ASTO- we communicate", in Patras, Greece,with dozens of subgroups, aiming the personal cultivation, art, culture and offering το the society. The group in which he more actively participates is called "ASTO - allaksoume" ("let's change it"), having as a goal to make small but important changes in the city with a focus on sustainability. In his personal life Stelios is 43 years old and works as an alternative therapist.
Klara is a 25-year-old pharmacy graduate who also pursued additional training to become a cosmetic formulator. She is passionate about both fields and wants to create effective and innovative cosmetic products. With her combined expertise in pharmacy and cosmetic formulation, she brings a well-rounded approach to developing pharmaceutical and cosmetic solutions.