January 22, 2019


Trainers: WinterSchool for Thinktankers

On Think Tanks in partnership with foraus and the Think Tank Hub organises the WinterSchool for Thinktankers (WISCH), an initiative aimed at inspiring the next generation of think tank leaders.

These are the lecturers, speakers and trainers that have joined us for the WinterSchool of Thinktankers since 2017.

The WISCH has had 3 editions so far (2017, 2018 and 2019) and we are preparing the 2020 edition.

Governance and management

Thomas Biersteker. Professor of international security and Director of policy research at the Graduate Institute Geneva

Thomas Biersteker previously directed the Graduate Institute’s Programme for the Study in International Governance, the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown. He has also taught in Yale and the University of Southern California. As an author and editor, he published various books on governance. He is currently focusing his research on transnational policy network or global security. Besides his academic work, he was the principal developer of SanctionApp, a tool for mobile devices created in 2013 to increase access to information about targeted sanctions at the UN.

Thomas joined us for the WinterSchool in 2018.

Alexandre Biedermann. Vice-president of the Board of foraus

Alexandre Biedermann is the Vice-President of the Board of foraus and an active member of the organisation. Before joining the board, he was the coordinator of the group foraus– Genève. He studied European and international law in Switzerland.  Alexandre works as a scientific collaborator in the international and European law department at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He is also currently writing his PHD about State’s international responsibility.

Alexandre joined us for the WinterSchool in 2018.

Luca Brunner. Co-head & co-founder of foraus global

Luca Brunner is co-head & co-founder of foraus global, an international network for grassroots think tanks and a spin-off of foraus. He studied political science and law (MA degree) and he mainly worked in the media sector and in the field of international politics.

Luca joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017.

Lukas Hupfer. Director of foraus – The Swiss think tank on foreign policy

Lukas Hupfer has experience in foreign policy both as an academic and professional. Following his studies at SciencesPo Paris he served the Swiss Foreign Ministry in Bern and Hebron. After five years of diplomatic service, Lukas was appointed director of foraus – the Swiss think tank on foreign policy in April 2018. foraus is a grassroots think tank that generates independent, high quality recommendations for decision makers and the public. Its non-partisan approach aims to promote an open dialogue and informed decision-making on all aspects of foreign policy.

Lukas joined us for the WinterSchool in 2019.

Thomas Guerber. Director of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF)

Director of DCAF since 2016, Thomas has extensive experience in multilateral diplomacy and policy development relating to human security, human rights and sustainable development. From 2010 to 2013, Ambassador Guerber was Switzerland’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. From 2007 to 2010, he worked as a counsellor for financial, budgetary and institutional issues at Switzerland’s permanent mission to the UN in New York.

Thomas joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017.

Simon Maxwell. Former executive director of the Overseas Development Institute

Simon Maxwell is one of the UK’s leading specialists on international development. He is a development economist with a career in research, aid management and policy advice spanning 45 years. He worked overseas for ten years, in Kenya and India for UNDP, and for the UK aid programme in Bolivia, then for fifteen years at IDS in Sussex, and for a dozen years as Director of ODI in London. He was until recently Executive Chair of the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (www.cdkn.org), and a Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons International Development Select Committee. He is currently Chair of the European Think Tanks Group (www.ettg.eu). Simon is a past President of the Development Studies Association of the UK and Ireland. In 2007, he was awarded a CBE for services to international development.

Simon joined us for the WinterSchool in 2018 and 2019.

Enrique Mendizabal. Founder and director of On Think Tanks

Enrique Mendizabal is an independent policy entrepreneur. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). Until December 2010 he worked for the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) where he headed the Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) programme. At ODI he co-founded the Outcome Mapping Learning Community. Enrique is the co-founder of Politics & Ideas, the Peruvian Alliance for the Use of Evidence, and the Premio PODER al Think Tank Peruano del Año. Since 2016, he organises an annual Evidence Week in Latin America. He lives in Lima (Peru) but spends quite some time in London and traveling to visit think tanks across the world. He combines this with travel writing.

Enrique joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Jonas Nakonz. Project manager at foraus  – Swiss Forum on Foreign Policy

Jonas Nakonz is a project manager at foraus, specialising in innovative formats to facilitate political dialogue and collaboration. He currently runs Policy Kitchen, a crowd-innovation approach to generate policy recommendations in a distributed, inclusive and participatory fashion (policykitchen.com).

Jonas joined us for the WinterSchool in 2019.

Emilia Pasquier. former director of foraus

Emilia Pasquier is the director of foraus – the Swiss Think Tank for foreign policy. Prior to this position, Emilia was Deputy secretary general at the International Chamber of Commerce Switzerland and focal point for the UN Global Compact Switzerland. Between 2011 and 2013, she worked as a research assistant and as an author at Année Politique Suisse – the Swiss yearbook on Swiss policies, where she specialised on Swiss foreign policy and social groups. Emilia holds a Master in political and cconomic philosophy from the University of Bern. She is a member of the Board of the Association Suisse de Politique Étrangère and member of the political advisory board of the European Forum Alpbach. Emilia was named one of the year’s top 100 Swiss personalities by L’Hebdo magazine in 2017.

Emilia joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017 and 2018.

Policy relevant research

Leandro Echt. Research associate at On Think Tanks

Leandro Echt is a research associate at On Think Tanks. He works in the policy and research field. He engages with think tanks, researchers, NGOs and public agencies interested in linking evidence with public decisions, particularly in developing countries, through capacity building, mentoring and consultancy activities including evaluation of programs and organisational assessments. He is also the general coordinator of Politics and Ideas. Previously, he was the coordinator of the Influence, Monitoring and Evaluation Program at the Argentinean think tank Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC). He is Argentinian and currently based in Florida, United States.

Leandro joined us for the WinterSchool in 2018.

Ekkehard Ernst. Chief macroeconomic at the policy unit of the ILO

Ekkehard Ernst leads Global Policy Dialogues on the Future of Work and other far-reaching challenges. At the International Labour Organization, he reflects on how artificial intelligence, an ageing society, climate change or populism might impact jobs and inequality. Together with the Geneva Macro Labs Ekkehard organizes regular conferences and roundtables to stimulate exchange and creative thinking on how to address these challenges. He regularly publishes blogs, newspaper articles, and policy reports and presents his insights at international conferences. His most recent work discusses the risks and opportunities of a wide-spread adoption of artificial intelligence, in particular for developing countries.

Ekkehard joined us for the WinterSchool in 2019.

Laura Merrill. International Institute for Sustainable Development

Laura Merril is a practitioner, consultant and economist in sustainable development. Laura works on the social and environmental impacts of fossil fuel subsidies, pricing and their reform. She is an economist with expertise in energy policy. She manages the Global Subsidies Initiative of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), works alongside the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform, and supports in-country work including in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Nigeria. She leads on fossil fuel subsidies and the link to climate change and gender impacts.

Laura joined us for the WinterSchool in 2019.

Andrea Ordoñez. Director of Southern Voice

Andrea Ordoñez is director of Southern Voice, a network of think tanks devoted to bringing research from the global south to international debates on the development agenda. She co-edited the book Southern Perspectives on the Post-2015 International Development Agenda with Debapriya Bhattacharya that compiles the research on a diversity of development issues by researchers in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Her work focuses on better linking researchers from the global south with their counterparts in other countries, strengthening their presence in international debates and fostering better knowledge systems to support sustainable development. She was previously the research director at Grupo FARO, a think tank in Ecuador. Andrea has developed research projects for the public sector and has carried out institutional and sectoral assessments for numerous international organisations. She is an economist by training and has a strong interest in how to carry out research and policy analysis that can inform policy.

Andrea joined us for the WinterSchool in 2018.

Michaela Told. Executive director of Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute Geneva

Michaela Told is currently the executive director of the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. Prior to moving into academia, she worked with the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement at local, regional and international levels in all continents, most recently heading the Principles and Values Department of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Earlier in her career, she worked with the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Division of Development Cooperation and later served as secretary general of an international women’s human rights NGO based in Geneva. In her current position she co-heads the WHO Collaborating Centre on Governance for Health and Global Health Diplomacy in Geneva. She has been instrumental in establishing these centres and has been involved in the THINK_SDGs network from its beginning. She holds three master’s degrees across different disciplines and a PhD in Cultural Studies.

Michaela joined us for the WinterSchool in 2019.

Monitoring, evaluation and learning

Katinka Koke. Associate programme officer at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)

Katinka Koke’s work focuses on supporting the development of UNITAR’s evaluation function: providing support to programmes in the design and development of surveys; measurement and evaluation of learning programmes; undertaking reviews of decentralised evaluations; and contributing to independent evaluation exercises.

Katinka joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017.

Kali Taylor. Co-founder and executive director of Student Energy

Kali Taylor is a sustainable development professional, with a keen interest in systems thinking, social change, and youth engagement. Kali currently works with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in Geneva coordinating action on the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Kali is a co-founder and the executive director of Student Energy, a global not-for-profit dedicated to empowering the next generation of leaders who will transition the world to a sustainable energy future. She holds a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Calgary specialised in energy management, and a graduate diploma in social innovation from the University of Waterloo.

Kali joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017 and 2018.

Benjamin Tyler Smith. Knowledge management officer at Green Growth Knowledge Platform

Benjamin Tyler Smith leads knowledge management and partnership outreach for the Green Growth Knowledge Platform. Prior to joining the Green Growth Knowledge Platform he worked on trade and environment issues with UN Environment and the UN’s International Trade Centre. Before joining the UN system, Ben worked for American and European consulting firms on trans-national economic and environmental issues. He has a master’s degree in international economics from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.

Benjamin joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017.

Stephen Yeo. On Think Tanks advisor at large and former chief executive officer of the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Stephen Yeo is the former Executive Director of CEPR. Under his leadership, CEPR launched VoxEU, a global economic research platform. He has had extensive involvement in building capacity for policy research and analysis in Sub-Saharan Africa, along with experience in monitoring and evaluation, in particular of policy research networks and policy influencing projects. He is currently involved in the evaluation of the International Growth Centre (IGC).

Stephen joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017, 2018 and 2019.


Keith Burnet. Director of communications and publishing at Chatham House

Keith Burnet is director of communications and publishing at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, where he oversees its communications strategy and outreach and has overall responsibility for the institute’s magazine The World Today and journal International Affairs. His previous marketing-and communications-related roles include Wood Mackenzie & Co; NatWest Securities; Wiley-Blackwell; the Industrial Society; the Disablement Income Group; and the Labour party. He studied business and politics at Oxford Brookes University and the Curtin University, Western Australia. He was co-founder of the Scottish fanzine Deadbeat which allowed him to indulge his interest in music and interview and write about artists and bands including Morrissey, New Order and, Echo and the Bunnymen.

Keith joined us for the WinterSchool in 2019.

Catherine Fiankan-Bokonga. Vice-President of the Geneva Press Club

Catherine Fiankan-Bokonga is president of the Association of the Accredited Correspondents to the United Nations (ACANU). From 2013 to 2015, she was the vice-president of the Foreign Press in Switzerland and Lichtenstein.  As a special reporter, she did several missions, especially in Africa. She is also working as a journalist specialised in the area of international relations for various media such as France 24 and Radio Vatican. Since 2016, she is editor-in-chief and publication director of the Klvin Mag, a review which is distributed throughout Switzerland.

Catherine joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017 and 2018.

Jenifer Freedman. Chief of communications and outreach, results and evaluation at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)

With over 20 years at UNISDR Jenifer Freedman supports the director on the strategic direction and regular administration and management of the Institute, partnerships and external relations, and acts as officer-in-charge in the director’s absence. She oversees the Institute’s engagement with International Geneva.

Jenifer joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017.

Jeff Knezovich. Former associate at On Think Tanks and current technical officer at the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research

Jeff Knezovich is a digital communications and data visualisation specialist based in Switzerland. He has spent the last decade working in a range of UK-based think tanks in various communication capacities. He managed the digital communication activities of the Nuffield Trust, a think tank focused on the UK’s health system. Before that he managed the policy influence and research uptake activities for the Future Health Systems research consortium at the Institute of Development Studies. He also worked in the Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) Programme at ODI where he oversaw programme communication activities and those of several large projects. In addition to delivering a wide range of communication strategies and outputs, he also has a strong track record of working with others to help them to develop their communication skills.

Jeff joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017 and 2018.

Ellen Mather. Lead branding designer at Soapbox

Ellen Mather is the branding specialist at Soapbox. She helps clients build strong brands and visual identities that align with their mission and purpose to have the greatest impact. She joined Soapbox after studying graphic design at the London College of Communication and is currently studying part-time for a Master’s in Brands, Communication and Culture at Goldsmiths. Outside Soapbox she has a keen interest in wider visual culture and sociology.

Ellen joined us for the WinterSchool in 2019.

Alexandre Munafò. Head of strategic partnerships and communications at Interpeace

Alexandre Munafò is the head of strategic partnerships and communications at Interpeace, where he oversees and manages the organisation’s engagement with a broad variety of external stakeholders and partners including donor governments and policy makers.  Alexandre is member of the Geneva Diplomatic Club and founding member of the Association AGIR, whose purpose is to build bridges and synergies between the International Geneva and the wider public in the greater Geneva area. He is also vice-president of ASED (Action for the Support to Deprived Children), a Geneva-based organisation supporting access to education in six developing countries.

Alexandre joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017.

Verena Parzer-Epp. Director of communications at Avenir Suisse

Verena Parze-Epp is head of communications and publishing at Avenir Suisse.

Verena joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017.

Andrea von Siebenthal. Communications manager at Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD)

Andrea von Siebenthal leads the development and implementation of the communication and outreach strategy, embracing new channels and tools, to increase the recognition of the GICHD by its stakeholders, partners as well as the media and the diplomatic and donor community.  Prior to joining the GICHD, Andrea worked as an independent communication and media consultants. She was also a media trainer for crisis communication, an event moderator and talk show host. Over the last decade she has been engaged in different aspects of the communications and media landscape, from starting a media-software company to working in digital, print and broadcasting journalism.

Andrea joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017.

John Schwartz. Founder and CEO of Soapbox

John Schwartz is the founder and CEO of Soapbox, a global creative communications agency working with many of the world’s leading think tanks, NGOs and academic institutions. John studied philosophy and politics at the University of Warwick and previously worked for the Institute for Public Policy Research in London and as a publisher of political books. He was a producer on the multi-award-winning documentary They will have to kill us first about the 2012 civil war in Mali. He has a passion for making public policy work accessible to wider audiences and for communicating it in innovative ways.

John joined us for the WinterSchool in 2019.

Philippe Stoll. Deputy head of public communication at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva

Philippe Stoll is in charge of proximity communication and engagement with communities as well as thematic files related to innovation, new tech, crowdfunding, strategies and influence. Prior to that he has managed public and media relations for Asia and the Pacific at ICRC Headquarters. He has worked for the ICRC in India, in Sierra Leone and in Israel and the Occupied Territories.  He holds a masters in economic sciences from the University of Geneva and in journalism from the University of Lausanne. Before joining the ICRC in 2003, he worked as journalist for six years in Switzerland for print media and television.

Phillipe joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017.

Fundraising and financial management

Sonja Stojanovic Gajic. Director of the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP)

Sonja Stojanovic is the director of BCSP. She holds an MA in politics, security and integration with distinction from the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, University College London. Prior to her current appointment, she worked with the Strategic Development Unit of the OSCE Mission to Serbia and Montenegro’s Law Enforcement Department as a coordinator of the strategic management programme for the Serbian and Montenegrin police services in the period of 2006-2011. She is the author of the methodology for measuring security sector reform (SSR) in transitional societies from the perspective of civil society tested in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

Sonja joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Will Paxton. Director of KIVU International

Will Paxton is the founding director of Kivu International, a specialist organisation which supports and advises think tanks and others on influencing policy in developing countries. He has worked in a number of high-level government policy adviser positions. This includes working on education and children’s policy for the UK Prime Minister, based in the No10 Policy Unit (a team of 10-15 advisers working across all UK government policy issues) and as a senior adviser for the Secretary of State for Education. Will also worked for five years at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), one of the UK’s most influential think tanks.

Will joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017.

Dr. Marc-André Pradervand. Former Head of Direct Marketing & Donor Care Unit a.i., Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Switzerland

Marc-André Pradervand studied business administration and management information systems at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. After working for several years as a consultant he joined an international non-profit organisation and discovered the beauty of fundraising. He has now been a fundraiser for over 18 years and has held different positions in organisations such as UNICEF, Save the Children, World Vision and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Currently he is the head of fundraising for the Synapsis Foundation – Alzheimer Research Switzerland. He is also an active member of the Swiss fundraising association and trains fundraisers.

Marc-André joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Other areas

Eduardo Belinchón. Digital innovation manager at foraus

Eduardo Belinchón is a digital innovation manager at foraus where his work focuses on strengthening the think tank digital transformation, managing the development of Policy Kitchen, their digital engagement platform,  and strengthening the coordination and expansion of the Open Think Tank Network with new and innovative digital tools. Before joining foraus Eduardo spent more than four years as a data specialist at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in New York, where his work focused on enhancing and promoting the compilation and dissemination of the Sustainable Development Goals data both within the international system and member states.

Eduardo joined us for the WinterSchool in 2019.

Francesco Pisano. Director of the Library of the United Nations Office in Geneva

Francesco Pisano is an expert in international affairs with a professional background in humanitarian affairs, risk management, and research on knowledge systems. He has an academic background in international relations with a specialisation in diplomatic studies and conflict resolution, and law with a focus on public international law. He joined the United Nations in 1993.  He has served as Director of research, technology applications and knowledge systems at the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) where he was also the manager of UNOSAT (the Operational Satellite Applications Programme) from 2007 to 2012. Since 2016 he directs the UN Library in Geneva, a centre for research and knowledge exchange established in 1919, and the Cultural Activity Programme of UNOG, a space dedicated to cultural diplomacy and international outreach.

Francesco joined us for the WinterSchool in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Melanie Rayment. Social designer and strategist and associate at On Think Tanks

Melanie Rayment is a design strategist and social designer. She uses design-led practices to approach complex social issues in a cross-sector way and works with organisations to enhance their problem-solving capability and guide strategic change in a human-centred way. She co-designs policy, interventions, services, change and engagement programs to achieve public impact and the organisation’s mission. Melanie has 15 years’ experience in both the private and public sector. Her commercial experience includes working with global brands and agencies and during her time with the ‘big four’ management consultants, across Sydney, Tokyo, and London, Melanie applied design to large-scale organisational, customer and industry challenges.

Melanie joined us for the WinterSchool in 2019.