WinterSchool for Thinktankers 2018 – a report

9 September 2019

The second edition of the WinterSchool for Thinktankers was held in Geneva from Sunday 4 to Saturday 10 February 2018. The WinterSchool was organised by On Think Tanks, foraus and the The Think Tank Hub, with the support of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and Southern Voice.

Programme and activities

Over seven days participants explored different aspects of how a think tank works: governance and management, policy relevant research, communication strategies, fundraising and financial management, and monitoring, evaluation, and learning of policy influence.

The mornings were dedicated to lectures from think tank experts and in the afternoon participants visited organisations such as the United Nations, the Graduate Institute of Geneva, the Geneva Press club and Campus Biotech. Additionally, the WinterSchool team organised networking events in the evenings as well as brown bag lunches for participants to further engage with their peers and experts.

The final programme can be accessed here.


21 participants from 17 countries joined the second WinterSchool for thintankers. They were:

  • Richa Bansal, Director of communications at Centre for Policy Research in India. CPR is a member of Southern Voice.
  • Rozainah Baharuddin, Chief operating officer at Khazanah Research Institute in Malaysia.
  • Ninja Bumann, Organisational assistant at the Institute of Eastern European History of the University of Vienna and member of foraus in Austria.
  • Awab Elmeshab, Policy and research coordinator at the Center for Development and Public Policy in Sudan.
  • Ama Fenny, Research fellow at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) in Ghana. ISSER is a member of Southern Voice.
  •  Juan José Herrera Mera, Project coordinator at Grupo FARO in Ecuador. Grupo FARO is a member of Southern Voice.
  • Waha Ibrahim, Executive assistant at Center for Development and Public Policy in Sudan.
  • María del Carmen López Imizcoz, Communications coordinator and press officer at the Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC) in Argentina. CIPPEC is a member of Southern Voice.
  • Sanchir Jargalsaikhan, Vice-Director at Sustainable Development Strategy Institute in Mongolia.
  • Nicole Kaiser, Scientific assistant at e-concept AG in Switzerland.
  •  Khaled Mahmoud Alwaleed, Director of training and development at Center for Development and Public Policy in Sudan.
  • Richard Mills, Director of global communications and advocacy at The George Institute for Global Health.
  • Mohammad Mohsen Momeni Rad, Deputy of effectiveness and development at the Governance & Policy Think Tank (GPTT).
  • Bernadette Ndema, Communications officer at Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment in Uganda.
  • Michael Olender, Editor for Southern Voice in Canada.
  •  Isabel Pereira Arana, Coordinator and lead researcher of the Drug Policy Area at Dejusticia: Center for the Studies of Justice, Law and Society in Colombia.
  • Chalani Ranwala, Head of communications at Verité Research.
  • Rahel Renggli, Head of audiovisual communication at Kommunikation/ Lichtspiele in Switzerland.
  • Shuvo Mahmud Sazzad, Dialogue associate – communication at Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in Bangladesh. CPD is a member of Southern Voice.
  • Sonja Schiffers, Co-President at Polis180, visiting fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs and PhD Candidate at Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany.
  • Rachel Strohm, Co-founder and chief operating officer at Mawazo Institute in Kenya.
  • Janaka Wijayasiri, Research fellow at Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka.


More than 14 speakers participated in the WinterSchool, each focusing on a specific area of think tank functioning:

Day 1: Introduction to think tanks

  •  Enrique Mendizabal, Founder and director at On Think Tanks
  • Yan Luong, Deputy Director of foraus and head of the Think Tank Hub

 Day 2: Research agendas

  • Leandro Echt, Research associate at On Think Tanks
  • Andrea Ordoñez, Director of Southern Voice
  •  Francesco Pisano, Director of the Library of the United Nations Office in Geneva

Day 3: Communication strategies

  • Jeff Knezovich, former editor at large (communications) and research associate at On Think Tanks
  • Kali Taylor, Co-founder and executive director at Student Energy Advisor at the UN SDG Lab
  • Catherine Fiankan-Bokonga, Correspondent journalist at the United Nations Office; Vice-President of the Geneva Press Club

Day 4: Monitoring, evaluation and learning

  •  Stephen Yeo, former executive director at the Centre for Economic Policy Research

Day 5: Fundraising and financial management

  • Sonja Stojanovic Gajic, Director at the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Marc-André Pradervand, Synapsis Foundation – Alzheimer Research Switzerland

Day 6: Governance and management for think tanks

  • Alexandre Biedermann, Vice-President of the board at foraus
  • Thomas Biersteker, Director of policy research at the Graduate Institute Geneva
  • Luca Brunner, co-head & co-founder of foraus global
  • Emilia Pasquier, Director at foraus
  • Simon Maxwell, former executive director at the Overseas Development Institute and expert in international development

WinterSchool team

  • Yan Luong, Deputy Director of foraus and head of the Think Tank Hub
  • Enrique Mendizabal, Founder and director at On Think Tanks

Interested in attending a future edition of the School for Thinktankers? Click here for more information on when the next edition will be.