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Katerina Hadzi-Miceva Evans, Executive Director

Katerina is a legal expert who for over 16 years works with civil society organizations, public authorities, philanthropists to create policy and legal conditions in which independent, and sustainable civil society can flourish. She has helped design innovative tools for civil society law monitoring, researched extensively to share good practices and guide reforms, has spoken at different forums to address civic space issues e.g., at TEDx event, EU Parliament hearing; launch of Community of Democracies’ Democracy and Security Dialogue initiative with former U.S. Secretary of State M. Albright. Katerina has been with ECNL through the phase of transition from a branch office to an independent organization; she become ECNL director in 2012. Under her leadership ECNL broadened its expertise to address new challenges the non-profit sector is facing (e.g., counter-terrorism, transparency and accountability, financial sustainability).  Katerina engages with the European Union, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the UN Human Rights Council. She is member of the OSCE/OIDHR Panel on Freedom of Assembly and of Association and the Council of Europe Expert Council on NGO Law. She also volunteers her time in the board of several organizations, including the European Social Enterprise Law Association (ESELA), the International Center for Policy Advocacy, the Association Konekt Macedonia.

Judit Varga, Director of Operation and Finance

Judit joined the staff in 2000. She is responsible for managing all aspects of the organization’s finance department, including monitoring and reviewing a range of internal financial processes, such as payables, receivables, payroll and budget reconciliation, as well as project accounting, financial and budget reporting.  She also assists the executive director in budgetary tracking, income projections and provides crucial administrative, financial, and project management support to the various programs of ECNL. Her background in business administration includes financial, administrative, and management reporting systems. She received her MSc. at City University in London, UK with a degree in Business Administration.

Vanja Škorić, Program Director

Vanja is ECNL’s Program Director. She is a civil society activist and was a Legal Advisor at Croatian organization GONG from 2001 – 2015 and a member of the Croatian Council on Open Government Partnership Initiative. She is also one of the founders and board members of the Solidarna Community Foundation in Croatia. Vanja has 16 years experience in legal review and analysis, research, consultancy, training, producing legal opinions, drafting legislative recommendations, advocacy campaigns, fundraising, developing civic education programs and toolkits.  Her fields of proficiency include enabling legal environment issues for civil society globally, regionally and nationally, expertise in linkage between counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering (CT/AML) policies and civic space impact, policy dialogue, civil participation in decision-making, freedom of information and proactive disclosure, public funding, strategies and action plans for civil society development and mechanisms of CSO-Government cooperation and its practical implementation. She mostly works on the UN (Human Rights Council and UN OHCHR in Geneva) and EU level, and country level in the EU, Balkan region, MENA, East Africa and Eurasia countries. Vanja holds a LLM degree in Public International Law from the University of Amsterdam and a Law Degree from the University of Zagreb.

Eszter Hartay, Senior Legal Advisor

Eszter is working as Senior Legal Advisor at ECNL. Since 2010 she has been supporting the development of a more enabling legal environment for civil society in at least 16 countries from the EU, Western Balkans, Eastern Partnership and MENA regions, Central Asia and Latin America. She is a key expert in the formulation and implementation of laws, policy papers and strategies in the areas of CSO framework legislation, CSO-government cooperation, citizen participation and financial sustainability. Her support contributed to the introduction of the percentage designation mechanism in Moldova that provides additional income to hundreds of CSOs. Her expertise also benefited the adoption of the first  policy document for cooperation  in the Middle East region. She has been managing several multi-annual programs, including our regional project developing the CSO Meter to assess the civil society environment in the Eastern Partnership countries. She is leading ECNL’s efforts to develop global principles for statutory regulation and self-regulation on fundraising. She conducted more than a dozen multi-country comparative legal research in emerging areas such as regulation on fundraising, cross-border giving and social entrepreneurship. She graduated at the Hungarian Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Law and passed the Bar Exam. Before joining ECNL Eszter gained professional experience as a corporate lawyer.

Marta Achler, Senior Legal Advisor

Marta is the newest member of ECNL team. She has been practicing as a lawyer in the field of international law and international human rights law for over 17 years. Marta also worked in the private law field, prior to taking on her assignments with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, where she held the post of Chief of the Legislative Support Unit in the Democratization Department and recently, the Deputy Head of the Democratization Department. Her main tasks were to provide advice on the compliance of national laws with international human rights law standards to participating States, amongst others, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, North Macedonia, Serbia, but also recently Poland and Hungary . Her areas of expertise are, human rights, constitutional law and democratic law-making in particular. Moreover, she has been conducting research for five years at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, in the field of human rights and new technologies, particularly the freedom of expression, assembly and association online.

Andrea Judit Tóth, Program and Communication Manager

Andrea serves as Program and Communication Manager at ECNL. She has over 12 years of experience supporting and managing multi-country projects on enabling legal environment for CSOs in Central and Eastern European and Balkan countries, and on the European-level. She has managed the research project that explored the volume and depth of government and CSO initiatives aiming to improve accountability and transparency in the European Union as well as the project monitoring the right to free assembly in the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership. She has planned, organized and implemented several successful regional and international conferences, study tours, workshops and trainings that contributed to the exchange of experience and increased competences of partners. Most recently, she organized a regional training to enhance CSOs’ practical knowledge on the facilitation of assemblies by law enforcement officials. As part of ECNL’s Communications and Operations team, she raises ECNL’s online profile and social media presence through developing ECNL’s Twitter outreach with the number of ECNL’s followers having tripled in the last three years. She also contributes to the development of online thematic research portals providing in-depth coverage of issues affecting the legal framework for civil society.

Simona Ognenovska, Research and Monitoring Advisor

Simona has an in depth experience with working on evidence and policy to improve the environment for civil society development. She supported the development and implementation of methodologies and tools for civic space in Eastern European countries (with ECNL), and Western Balkans. Simona has authored several analyses on the overall civil society environment in North Macedonia and focused on its different aspects (public funding, public participation and dialogue between the Government and CSOs). Prior joining ECNL she worked as a project coordinator for research and policy at the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation. Since 2019, she is a member of the Balkan Civil Society Development Network code of conduct committee. During, 2019 she was a representative at the CPDE Global Council for the Western Balkans region and has served as expert for the USAID CSO Sustainability Index on North Macedonia in 2016, 2018 and 2019. Simona earned her MSc. in Social Policy and Development from the perspective of NGOs, at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is currently leading ECNL efforts around Covid-19 responses and civic space, and supports the implementation of the CSO Meter project.

Berna Keskindemir, Legal Advisor

Berna works as Legal Advisor since early 2020, and contributes to ECNL’s reviews, analyses  and research on (draft) policy and legislation affecting civic freedoms. She is currently involved in projects related to the impact of new emerging technologies on civic space and the right to civil participation in public affairs on global, regional and national level. Prior to ECNL, she served as a network coordinator of the Human Rights NGO platform in the Netherlands (Breed Mensenrechten Overleg – BMO) for over three years, facilitating its members advocacy efforts for the protection of global civic space. She has also worked as a part-time junior lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, introducing first year PPLE students to ethics and philosophy of law, and human rights and politics. She is a board member of The Hague Peace Projects (2018), Senior John Lewis/Humanity in Action Fellow (2016) and ambassador for ECHO – Expertise center on Diversity policies (2012). Berna studied at the University of Amsterdam where she obtained a LL.M. in Law and Politics of International Security after obtaining both her LL.B and BSc. in Public Administration and Organization from the same university.

Anna Zsófia Simon-Páger, Office Manager

Anna works as Office Manager at ECNL. She is responsible for ensuring the smooth operation of the office and supporting the work of ECNL’s team by developing informational and promotional materials and assisting in the organization of events. Anna has recently received her M.A. from Central European University, Nationalism Studies; she also has an M.A. in International Studies, with specialization in Human Rights from Eötvös Loránd University. Anna is committed to the not-for-profit sector; she was an assistant to the Human Rights Education coordinator at Amnesty International Hungary and was an intern at Tom Lantos Institute helping the organization of the Global Minority Rights Summer School.

Luben Panov, Program Consultant

Luben is Program Consultant with ECNL serving as a legal expert providing technical assistance and expert support to local partners since 2007 in the areas of registration and operation of NGOs, taxation, and funding for civil society, tax incentives for donations, social contracting, state funding, CSO-government cooperation, etc. He has taken part in a number of comparative researchers and is co-managing different country projects. Luben has worked in a number of countries, especially in the CEE region and the former Soviet Union. He has participated in the drafting of rules for distribution of state grants in Albania, has analyzed the legal framework for CSOs in Armenia and the mechanisms for social contracting in Kazakhstan and has been involved in projects in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Turkey and Mongolia, among others. He helped to develop a monitoring framework for the CSO environment in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. In the period 2015 – 2017 he was elected Chairperson of the Public Council of the Committee on Interaction with Civil Society and Citizen Complaints with the Bulgarian Parliament.

Francesca Fanucci, Senior Legal Advisor

Francesca is an Italian/British lawyer who has worked in international and EU law for over 19 years. She is also a Fellow specialised in freedom of expression at the Center for Media, Data and Society, Central European University and a member of Internews’ Internet Freedom Expert Register. She is involved in projects at UN, Council of Europe and EU level, providing assistance and expertise to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the implementation of the Guidelines on the Right to Participate in Public Affairs;  to the UN Human Rights Council and the Council of Europe in developing standards addressing the impact of new technologies on civic freedoms; to the UN Human Rights Committee in developing standards on the rights of peaceful assembly and association; to the EU Commission, EU Fundamental Rights Agency and EU Council Member States in addressing attacks to civic space in Europe and in developing countries. Francesca is fluent in Italian, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Sukhada Parkhi, Finance Manager

Sukhada holds a Master Degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Finance. She is an alumnus of Cambridge University in the UK. Sukhada possesses a diverse range of experience & expertise in the field of Finance in Corporate as well as NGO sector. In the past, she worked with companies like Tech Mahindra in The Netherlands, Asian Plastic in India. For the last four years, she worked in Social Enterprise sector in the world’s second-largest NGO as Finance & International Grant Manager. At ECNL, she is responsible for managing all aspects of ECNL’s finance department together with the Finance Director & Finance Team.

Boglárka Szalma, Finance Assistant

Boglárka is working as Finance Assistant at ECNL. She supports the Finance Manager among others with ensuring the smooth operation of overall financial management as well as internal and external financial reporting procedures. Prior to ECNL, she has been working in the not-for-profit sector for 4 years as a project manager with the focus on EU-funded educational programmes (in the higher educational field and youth sector).
She holds a BA in German Studies with Latin American Studies Specialization along with an Associate Degree in Business Administration from the University of Szeged.

Anna Avlichou, Project and Communications Assistant

Anna as a project and communications assistant working in The Hague, supports ECNL program teams in the implementation of their projects, fundraising efforts and communication activities. She holds a B.A degree in International and European Studies from Panteion University in Athens, Greece and an M.A degree in International Studies from Leiden University, the Netherlands. Her interests include European Integration and promotion of human rights. Anna speaks Greek, English, French, Dutch and has a basic knowledge of German.

Dr. Petra Burai, Legal Advisor (currently on maternity leave)

Petra works as a Legal Advisor focusing on issues affecting transparency and accountability. She holds a PhD in law from the Faculty of Law at Eötvös Loránd University, received an LLM in Human Rights from the Central European University, and earned an MSc in Public Policy from the University of Bristol (UK). For almost 15 years she has been contributing to international and government policies, legal regulations and research projects concerning corruption, lobbying and whistleblowing. She is the author of several publications about integrity measures, human rights and legal anthropology, being also an experienced lecturer in the field. She is an associate of the Law & Anthropology Department of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.