Speakers

Benjamin J. Rhodes

Benjamin J. Rhodes

Former Deputy National Security Advisor of the President Barack Obama

Benjamin J. Rhodes is a writer, political commentator, and national security analyst. From 2009-2017, Ben served as a speechwriter and Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama. In that capacity, he participated in all of President Obama’s key decisions, oversaw the President’s national security communications and public diplomacy, and led the secret negotiations with the Cuban government that resulted in the effort to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba.

He is currently a contributor for NBC News; co-host of Pod Save the World; a senior advisor to former President Barack Obama; and chair of National Security Action. His work has been published in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Foreign Affairs.

Ben is the author of The New York Times bestsellers After the Fall: Being American in the World We’ve Made and The World As It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House.

Impact Summit:
09:15 – 10:00 A global perspective on the recession of democracy in Central Europe (hosted by Michal Kovačič)

Johanna Mair

Johanna Mair

Professor | Hertie School of Governance and Stanford University

Johanna Mair is a highly respected scholar and educator who specializes in the field of social innovation. She is currently a Professor of Organization, Strategy, and Leadership at the Hertie School and co-leads the Global Innovation for Impact Lab at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. Additionally, she serves as an Academic Editor of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Her research is primarily focused on the ways in which organizations and innovative forms of organizing can contribute to economic, social, and political progress.

In addition to conducting award-winning research that has been published in books and leading scholarly journals, she also advises companies, governments, and civil society organizations on social innovation and serves on boards of various foundations and organizations.

Impact Summit:
13:30 – 14:00 Political innovations in Europe (hosted by Peter Guštafík)

Lisa Witter

Lisa Witter

CEO & Co-Founder | Apolitical Foundation

Lisa Witter is the co-founder of Apolitical Foundation, a global peer learning platform for public servants from more than 160 countries that helps make government work better for people and the planet. Mission of the Apolitical Foundation is to re-envision representative political leadership for the 21st century through a worldwide non-partisan movement.

Lisa has co-founded several political training and leadership institutes over the last 25 years. She has worked on numerous campaigns and counselled CEOs, Nobel Peace Prize winners, politicians and philanthropists.
In 2010, she was named one of 197 Young Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum.

Impact Summit:
14:00 – 14:20 Inspiring examples of leadership in public service from Europe

Sarah Durieux

Sarah Durieux

Co-director | Multitudes Foundation

Sarah Durieux is an activist and organizer. She is the co-director of the Multitudes, a European Foundation supporting political changemakers working to make politics more inclusive, hopeful and human. Before joining Multitudes Foundation, Sarah launched and led the 13 million members mobilisation platform Change.org in France and helped millions of French people to change laws, business practices, and grow movements that changed the conversation in the country.

Sarah co-founded “La Rencontre des Justices”, a movement building shared purpose between activists and social entrepreneurs, and “Quartier Général”, a collective for activists running for elections. She trains and supports changemakers on organising, mobilisation and narratives, encouraging them to use their deeply held values to build collective power.

Impact Summit:
14:20 – 14:50 New role of civil society and the state in promoting democracy (co-speaker Jeff Kwasi Klein)

Jeff Kwasi Klein

Jeff Kwasi Klein

Co-director | Multitude Foundation

Jeff Kwasi Klein is a Co-Director at the Multitudes Foundation, where he supports individuals and initiatives across Europe in reimagining more inclusive, representative and human politics. Before this role, he led the community-based funding project May Ayim Fonds and Germany’s first anti-discrimination counselling centre for Black, African and African Diasporic people at Each One Teach One (EOTO).

Jeff is currently a member of the Berlin Equality Advisory Board, which focuses on combating anti-Black racism in Berlin, and he serves as a board member of the Migrationsrat Berlin. In these roles, he advocates for the interests of Black communities and various (post-)migrant self-organisations. Jeff is dedicated to addressing structural and institutionalised forms of racism, focusing on empowerment, leadership, and community building.

Impact Summit:
14:20 – 14:50 New role of civil society and the state in promoting democracy (co-speaker Sarah Durieux)

Beata Balogová

Beata Balogová

Editor in Chief | Daily SME

Beata Balogová became editor-in-chief of the daily SME at the end of 2014. Before that, she was the editor-in-chief of The Slovak Spectator, a weekly English-language newspaper. She is a graduate of Columbia University in New York, United States, where she studied journalism in 2006 and 2007. Beata won the Opinion Award of the 2020 European Press Prize.
She is the author of a successful novel Cornelia.

Impact Summit:
10:00 – 10:45 State of democracy in Slovakia (Beata Balogová, Dušan Ondrušek, Martin Slosiarik; hosted by Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová)

Dušan Ondrušek

Dušan Ondrušek

senior coach | PDCS

Dušan Ondrušek founded and led the PDCS organisation (Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia) which seeks to cultivate space for dialogue, disseminate knowledge and skills for alternative methods of conflict resolution, especially in the area of community and public conflicts.
Originally working as a psychologist, he worked in organisational development, alternative conflict resolution, and non-violent communication. He has extensive international experience – as a trainer and facilitator, he has so far conducted more than 1,200 conflict resolution trainings in more than 40 countries.

He‘s authored and co-authored 14 books and numerous articles on conflict transformation, polarisation and training methods.

Impact Summit:
10:00 – 10:45 State of democracy in Slovakia (Dušan Ondrušek, Beata Balogová, Martin Slosiarik; hosted by Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová)

Martin Slosiarik

Martin Slosiarik

Director | FOCUS Centre for Social and Marketing Analysis

Martin Slosiarik is the director of the research company FOCUS Centre for Social and Marketing Analysis. He studied sociology at the Comenius Univerity’s Faculty of Arts in Bratislava. He has worked on several international research projects such as Eurobarometer conducted for the European Commission, World Poll conducted for the Gallup, Inc. research company, Global Attitudes Survey conducted for Pew Research Center, and others.

In Slovakia, he was part of research with academic institutions such as the Institute of Sociology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, the Department of Political Science of the Charles University, the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences of the Comenius University, and others.
His research focuses on voting behaviour and current social affairs.

Impact Summit:
10:00 – 10:45 State of democracy in Slovakia (Martin Slosiarik, Beata BalogováDušan Ondrušek; hosted by Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová)

Monika Chabior

Monika Chabior

Deputy Mayor | Gdansk

Monika Chabior is responsible for social policies and education. Strategically she also co-ordinates human rights and integration policies, housing, health promotion and social/civic innovation.
In the last three years, Monika was responsible for smooth-running of educational and social services in the face of pandemic COVID-19, building the crisis response system to support Ukrainian refugees and protection of discriminated minorities in the hostile, antidemocratic political environment. None of this would be a success without strong civic society and cross- EU cooperation, she says.

Monika is a sociologist and have been involved in NGO and activist movements. She focuses on equality, social justice and empowerment. She believes local governments need strong civic partners to find best solution for challenges we all face, e.g. climate crisis, authoritarian tendencies or political unrest.

Impact Summit:
11:45 – 12:30 Democracy and Innovations in the Environment of Central European Local Governments (Monika Chabior, Lenka Plavuchová Antalová, Gábor Kerpel Fronius; hosted by Nicole Wright Patrick)

Lenka Antalová Plavuchová

Lenka Antalová Plavuchová

Deputy Mayor | Bratislava

Lenka Antalová Plavuchová is the Deputy Mayor of Bratislava, focusing on urban rental housing and social policy. She is a very experienced municipal politician with a direct focus on affordable housing, the development of rental housing and the innovation strategy in obtaining the city’s housing fund regarding social impact and improving the availability of housing.

Since 2010 she has been a local member of the Bratislava-Rača city district and since 2018 she has also been a member of the Bratislava city council. She has worked in community development, education policy and in several national projects within the non-governmental sector in Slovakia. She is the founder of a community center, which was created by the reconstruction of an old, abandoned place in Rača.

Prior to her appointment as Deputy Mayor of Bratislava, she worked as Vice-Mayor in the Bratislava-Rača district, focusing on public spaces, education and communication.

Impact Summit:
11:45 – 12:30 Democracy and Innovations in the Environment of Central European Local Governments (Lenka Plavuchová Antalová, Monika Chabior, Gábor Kerpel Fronius; hosted by Nicole Wright Patrick)

Gábor Kerpel-Fronius

Gábor Kerpel-Fronius

Deputy Mayor | Budapest

Gábor Kerpel-Fronius serves as Deputy Mayor of Budapest. He is responsible for participatory budgeting, programmes related to participation and smart city development. He often represents the city of Budapest on international stage on various events related to city diplomacy.
Gábor is also a board member of Momentum, a Hungarian progressive-liberal party.

Impact Summit:
11:45 – 12:30 Democracy and Innovations in the Environment of Central European Local Governments (Gábor Kerpel Fronius, Monika Chabior, Lenka Plavuchová Antalová; hosted by Nicole Wright Patrick)

Nicole Wright Patrick

Nicole Wright Patrick

Program Manager | National Democratic Institute

Nicole Wright Patrick is Program Manager for Central and Eastern Europe at the National Democratic Institute, where her portfolio focuses on civic engagement, minority inclusion, and support for local and municipal governance. Her experience spans the implementation, management, and evaluation of training and technical assistance initiatives in the development field, including programs focused on good governance, support for politically active women and young people, and anti-human trafficking efforts.

Nicole holds a Master’s degree in international development, with a concentration in democracy and governance.
She is passionate about the power of democratic values and institutions to create a more equitable world.

Impact Summit:
11:45 – 12:30 Democracy and Innovations in the Environment of Central European Local Governments (Monika Chabior, Lenka Plavuchová Antalová, Gábor Kerpel Fronius; hosted by Nicole Wright Patrick)

Michaela Kršková

Michaela Kršková

Director General of the Research and Innovation Authority | Government Office of the Slovak Republic

Michaela Kršková serves as the first Chief Innovation Officer of the Slovak Republic. As the Director General of the Research and Innovation Authority (VAIA) at the Government Office, she is responsible for inter-ministerial coordination of research and innovation policy. She is overseeing the implementation of National Strategy for Research, Development and Innovation 2030 as well as managing 570 million euros in public funding calls for research and innovation within the Recovery and Resilience Facility. She also leads the Secretariat of the Slovak Government Council for Science, Technology and Innovation.

Before embarking on a career in civil service, Michaela co-founded one of the first seed and venture capital funds in Slovakia and also co-founded and led Startup Awards.SK, a startup competition and an accelerator, which played an important role in the early development of the Slovak innovation ecosystem. She also worked as an innovation consultant for Civitta and Oxford University Innovation, University of Oxford’s technology transfer office.

Michaela holds university degrees from Princeton University (B.A.) and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva (M.A.).

Impact Summit:
15:10 – 15:55 Cooperation between public, corporate and civil sector (Michaela Kršková, Michal Hladký, Rastislav Blažej; hosted by Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová)

Michal Hladký

Michal Hladký

Director | Creative Industry Košice

Michal Hladký is the director of Creative Industry Košice – a successor organisation of Košice European Capital of Culture 2013. He is the author of the ECoC Košice 2013 project concept and has experience with its implementation and sustainability strategy.
Michal leads and is part of international projects for the development of culture and creative industry, cross-sectoral projects, education, mobility and business models. He is an advisor on culture and creative industries policy at city, regional and national level.

He represents the city of Košice in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. Michal co-chairs the European Creative Business Network and is responsible for EU funding. Michal is the interim director for the emerging co-location centre within EIT Culture & Creativity.

Impact Summit:
15:10 – 15:55 Cooperation between public, corporate and civil sector (Michal Hladký, Michaela Kršková, Rastislav Blažej; hosted by Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová)

Rastislav Blažej

Rastislav Blažej

Slovenská sporiteľňa

Rastislav Blažej started in Slovenská sporiteľňa and is responsible for the programme for start-up entrepreneurs (www.zacinamepodnikat.sk), the programme for civic organisations and social economy entities (https://www.slsp.sk/neziskovky), assistance in solving financial problems for families in difficult life situations, self-help construction in socially and spatially excluded communities (https://projektdomov.sk) and affordable rental housing.

Previous work experience Rasto gained in product management at Slovenska Sporitelna, as well as at another bank where he introduced mobile and internet services, and at a consultancy company where he worked with several clients in CEE.

Impact Summit:
15:10 – 15:55 Cooperation between public, corporate and civil sector (Rastislav Blažej, Michal HladkýMichaela Kršková; hosted by Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová)

Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová

Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová

Moderator

Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová is talk show and event host. She is interested in gender, as well as other inequalities, current affairs, history, culture and politics.

Veronika is hosting Silná zostava, a female-centered, executed, and led discussion covering topics that the society is talking about, which runs on the Slovak public TV channel, RTVS.
She also host of Sitdown s Veronikou talk show – interviewing interesting women with a purpose, and famous men that do not shy away from public responsibility.
Veronika worked as a news reporter focusing on the healthcare system for the Evening News at TV Markíza.

She lived and studied in Paris, France, as well as in New York, USA. She graduate of New York University, with a summa cum laude degree (top 5 per cent of the class) in Politics and History.

An avid social media user who likes to use her platform to voice important matters.

Michal Kovačič

Michal Kovačič

Moderator

Michal Kovačič hosts the TV show Na telo on Markíza Television, as well as other debates, including pre-election ones. As a news editor, he covered the migration crisis in the Balkans, the terrorist attacks in Paris, and the US presidential election.
He has had internships at Radio Free Europe, CNN and a volunteer programme for children from poor families in Barrio la Planta, Nicaragua.


Impact Summit:
09:15 – 10:00 Global perspective on the recession of democracy in Central Europe (Ben Rhodes, hosted by Michal Kovačič)

Martina Kolesárová

Martina Kolesárová

Executive Director | Pontis Foundation

Martina Kolesárová is the executive director of the Pontis Foundation. She is dedicated to the development of social innovation and strategic philanthropy in Slovakia.
She initiated the mapping of social innovators in our country, and she has been working on the long-term development of individual philanthropy and connecting business donors with people from the public administration and civil sector.

In 2023, she became the first person from Slovakia to be part of the Obama Leaders Europe program.

Impact Summit:
9:00 – 9:15 Opening words

Martina Bolibruchová

Martina Bolibruchová

Director | Zmudri

After studying film and television directing, Martina Bolibruchová left for Zurich, Switzerland, where she worked in content creation. After two years she returned to Slovakia to do her job as meaningfully as possible.
She worked in media, but eventually co-founded Zmudri, a civic association that is active at schools and online. Zmudri focus its activities on education in critical thinking, media literacy and active citizenship.

Impact Summit:
11:15 – 11:45 Impact Stories I.: Social innovations in Slovakia – Stories of Changemakers

Michal Horský

Michal Horský

Director | DEMDIS

Michal Horský graduated in law at Trnava University. He founded and leads the DEMDIS civic association. His goal is to create a world of fair and open debate, among others through a combination of new methods of participatory, deliberative and digital democracy.
Michal also works as a journalist.

Impact Summit:
11:15 – 11:45 Impact Stories I.: Social innovations in Slovakia – Stories of Changemakers

Jakub Hrbáň

Jakub Hrbáň

Executive Director | Climate Needs You

Jakub Hrbáň is a climate activist, campaigner and community organiser. Since 2018, he has worked at the Bratislava City Hall, mainly in the area of youth work.
He is currently working primarily in the field of climate crisis solutions, an area in which he has been active since 2019 when he, assisted by others, founded the student climate movement Fridays For Future in Slovakia.

In 2020 Jakub co-founded Climate Needs You, an initiative dedicated to raising public awareness about climate change, engaging active individuals in climate solutions, and building a public movement through regional community networking.

Impact Summit:
15:55 – 16:25 Impact Stories II.: Social innovations in Slovakia – Stories of Changemakers

Michala Hrdinová

Michala Hrdinová

Program Lead | Public Leadership Academy

Michala Hrdinová graduated from the University of Economics in Bratislava and after graduation she joined Accenture, where she worked on and off for more than 15 years.
She held management positions mainly in project management and delivery of IT solutions for end customers. In addition, she has a long-standing commitment to talent development, particularly through learning and engagement projects.

Michala is currently Programme Leader for the Public Leadership Academy programme, which aims to develop civil and public servants in government and public administration with the potential and aspiration to implement changes with a positive impact.

Impact Summit:
15:55 – 16:25 Impact Stories II.: Social innovations in Slovakia – Stories of Changemakers

Martin Kováč

Martin Kováč

Old Catholic priest and human-rights activist | Old Catholics in Slovakia

Martin Kováč is an Old Catholic priest, theologian, human rights activist and project coordinator. He is particularly involved in the areas of religious freedom, interfaith and intercultural dialogue, minority rights, and pastoral care among LGBTQI+ people.
As a priest he leads two small inclusive parishes in Bratislava and Trnava.
For the past four years he worked on a project for the restoration of the Old Lyceum in Bratislava called LYCEUM – Free Society Lab, but since October 2023 he has gradually moved to the Volkswagen Slovakia Foundation.

Impact Summit:
11:15 – 11:45 Impact Stories I.: Social innovations in Slovakia – Stories of Changemakers

Ľuboš Kostelanský

Ľuboš Kostelanský

Analyst | Transparency International Slovakia

After 15 years of journalistic experience at the weekly Trenčianske noviny, daily newspapers Pravda and Hospodárske Noviny and the Press Agency of the Slovak Republic Ľuboš Kostelanský has been working at Transparency International Slovakia since September 2018.
He covers elections, public administration, local government, media and justice, as well as investigative work.

Impact Summit:
15:55 – 16:25 Impact Stories II.: Social innovations in Slovakia – Stories of Changemakers

1/16

Benjamin J. Rhodes

Benjamin J. Rhodes

Former Deputy National Security Advisor of the President Barack Obama

Benjamin J. Rhodes is a writer, political commentator, and national security analyst. From 2009-2017, Ben served as a speechwriter and Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama. In that capacity, he participated in all of President Obama’s key decisions, oversaw the President’s national security communications and public diplomacy, and led the secret negotiations with the Cuban government that resulted in the effort to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba.

He is currently a contributor for NBC News; co-host of Pod Save the World; a senior advisor to former President Barack Obama; and chair of National Security Action. His work has been published in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Foreign Affairs.

Ben is the author of The New York Times bestsellers After the Fall: Being American in the World We’ve Made and The World As It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House.

Impact Summit:
09:15 – 10:00 A global perspective on the recession of democracy in Central Europe (hosted by Michal Kovačič)

Johanna Mair

Johanna Mair

Professor | Hertie School of Governance and Stanford University

Johanna Mair is a highly respected scholar and educator who specializes in the field of social innovation. She is currently a Professor of Organization, Strategy, and Leadership at the Hertie School and co-leads the Global Innovation for Impact Lab at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. Additionally, she serves as an Academic Editor of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Her research is primarily focused on the ways in which organizations and innovative forms of organizing can contribute to economic, social, and political progress.

In addition to conducting award-winning research that has been published in books and leading scholarly journals, she also advises companies, governments, and civil society organizations on social innovation and serves on boards of various foundations and organizations.

Impact Summit:
13:30 – 14:00 Political innovations in Europe (hosted by Peter Guštafík)

Lisa Witter

Lisa Witter

CEO & Co-Founder | Apolitical Foundation

Lisa Witter is the co-founder of Apolitical Foundation, a global peer learning platform for public servants from more than 160 countries that helps make government work better for people and the planet. Mission of the Apolitical Foundation is to re-envision representative political leadership for the 21st century through a worldwide non-partisan movement.

Lisa has co-founded several political training and leadership institutes over the last 25 years. She has worked on numerous campaigns and counselled CEOs, Nobel Peace Prize winners, politicians and philanthropists.
In 2010, she was named one of 197 Young Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum.

Impact Summit:
14:00 – 14:20 Inspiring examples of leadership in public service from Europe

Sarah Durieux

Sarah Durieux

Co-director | Multitudes Foundation

Sarah Durieux is an activist and organizer. She is the co-director of the Multitudes, a European Foundation supporting political changemakers working to make politics more inclusive, hopeful and human. Before joining Multitudes Foundation, Sarah launched and led the 13 million members mobilisation platform Change.org in France and helped millions of French people to change laws, business practices, and grow movements that changed the conversation in the country.

Sarah co-founded “La Rencontre des Justices”, a movement building shared purpose between activists and social entrepreneurs, and “Quartier Général”, a collective for activists running for elections. She trains and supports changemakers on organising, mobilisation and narratives, encouraging them to use their deeply held values to build collective power.

Impact Summit:
14:20 – 14:50 New role of civil society and the state in promoting democracy (co-speaker Jeff Kwasi Klein)

Jeff Kwasi Klein

Jeff Kwasi Klein

Co-director | Multitude Foundation

Jeff Kwasi Klein is a Co-Director at the Multitudes Foundation, where he supports individuals and initiatives across Europe in reimagining more inclusive, representative and human politics. Before this role, he led the community-based funding project May Ayim Fonds and Germany’s first anti-discrimination counselling centre for Black, African and African Diasporic people at Each One Teach One (EOTO).

Jeff is currently a member of the Berlin Equality Advisory Board, which focuses on combating anti-Black racism in Berlin, and he serves as a board member of the Migrationsrat Berlin. In these roles, he advocates for the interests of Black communities and various (post-)migrant self-organisations. Jeff is dedicated to addressing structural and institutionalised forms of racism, focusing on empowerment, leadership, and community building.

Impact Summit:
14:20 – 14:50 New role of civil society and the state in promoting democracy (co-speaker Sarah Durieux)

Beata Balogová

Beata Balogová

Editor in Chief | Daily SME

Beata Balogová became editor-in-chief of the daily SME at the end of 2014. Before that, she was the editor-in-chief of The Slovak Spectator, a weekly English-language newspaper. She is a graduate of Columbia University in New York, United States, where she studied journalism in 2006 and 2007. Beata won the Opinion Award of the 2020 European Press Prize.
She is the author of a successful novel Cornelia.

Impact Summit:
10:00 – 10:45 State of democracy in Slovakia (Beata Balogová, Dušan Ondrušek, Martin Slosiarik; hosted by Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová)

Dušan Ondrušek

Dušan Ondrušek

senior coach | PDCS

Dušan Ondrušek founded and led the PDCS organisation (Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia) which seeks to cultivate space for dialogue, disseminate knowledge and skills for alternative methods of conflict resolution, especially in the area of community and public conflicts.
Originally working as a psychologist, he worked in organisational development, alternative conflict resolution, and non-violent communication. He has extensive international experience – as a trainer and facilitator, he has so far conducted more than 1,200 conflict resolution trainings in more than 40 countries.

He‘s authored and co-authored 14 books and numerous articles on conflict transformation, polarisation and training methods.

Impact Summit:
10:00 – 10:45 State of democracy in Slovakia (Dušan Ondrušek, Beata Balogová, Martin Slosiarik; hosted by Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová)

Martin Slosiarik

Martin Slosiarik

Director | FOCUS Centre for Social and Marketing Analysis

Martin Slosiarik is the director of the research company FOCUS Centre for Social and Marketing Analysis. He studied sociology at the Comenius Univerity’s Faculty of Arts in Bratislava. He has worked on several international research projects such as Eurobarometer conducted for the European Commission, World Poll conducted for the Gallup, Inc. research company, Global Attitudes Survey conducted for Pew Research Center, and others.

In Slovakia, he was part of research with academic institutions such as the Institute of Sociology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, the Department of Political Science of the Charles University, the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences of the Comenius University, and others.
His research focuses on voting behaviour and current social affairs.

Impact Summit:
10:00 – 10:45 State of democracy in Slovakia (Martin Slosiarik, Beata BalogováDušan Ondrušek; hosted by Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová)

Monika Chabior

Monika Chabior

Deputy Mayor | Gdansk

Monika Chabior is responsible for social policies and education. Strategically she also co-ordinates human rights and integration policies, housing, health promotion and social/civic innovation.
In the last three years, Monika was responsible for smooth-running of educational and social services in the face of pandemic COVID-19, building the crisis response system to support Ukrainian refugees and protection of discriminated minorities in the hostile, antidemocratic political environment. None of this would be a success without strong civic society and cross- EU cooperation, she says.

Monika is a sociologist and have been involved in NGO and activist movements. She focuses on equality, social justice and empowerment. She believes local governments need strong civic partners to find best solution for challenges we all face, e.g. climate crisis, authoritarian tendencies or political unrest.

Impact Summit:
11:45 – 12:30 Democracy and Innovations in the Environment of Central European Local Governments (Monika Chabior, Lenka Plavuchová Antalová, Gábor Kerpel Fronius; hosted by Nicole Wright Patrick)

Lenka Antalová Plavuchová

Lenka Antalová Plavuchová

Deputy Mayor | Bratislava

Lenka Antalová Plavuchová is the Deputy Mayor of Bratislava, focusing on urban rental housing and social policy. She is a very experienced municipal politician with a direct focus on affordable housing, the development of rental housing and the innovation strategy in obtaining the city’s housing fund regarding social impact and improving the availability of housing.

Since 2010 she has been a local member of the Bratislava-Rača city district and since 2018 she has also been a member of the Bratislava city council. She has worked in community development, education policy and in several national projects within the non-governmental sector in Slovakia. She is the founder of a community center, which was created by the reconstruction of an old, abandoned place in Rača.

Prior to her appointment as Deputy Mayor of Bratislava, she worked as Vice-Mayor in the Bratislava-Rača district, focusing on public spaces, education and communication.

Impact Summit:
11:45 – 12:30 Democracy and Innovations in the Environment of Central European Local Governments (Lenka Plavuchová Antalová, Monika Chabior, Gábor Kerpel Fronius; hosted by Nicole Wright Patrick)

Gábor Kerpel-Fronius

Gábor Kerpel-Fronius

Deputy Mayor | Budapest

Gábor Kerpel-Fronius serves as Deputy Mayor of Budapest. He is responsible for participatory budgeting, programmes related to participation and smart city development. He often represents the city of Budapest on international stage on various events related to city diplomacy.
Gábor is also a board member of Momentum, a Hungarian progressive-liberal party.

Impact Summit:
11:45 – 12:30 Democracy and Innovations in the Environment of Central European Local Governments (Gábor Kerpel Fronius, Monika Chabior, Lenka Plavuchová Antalová; hosted by Nicole Wright Patrick)

Nicole Wright Patrick

Nicole Wright Patrick

Program Manager | National Democratic Institute

Nicole Wright Patrick is Program Manager for Central and Eastern Europe at the National Democratic Institute, where her portfolio focuses on civic engagement, minority inclusion, and support for local and municipal governance. Her experience spans the implementation, management, and evaluation of training and technical assistance initiatives in the development field, including programs focused on good governance, support for politically active women and young people, and anti-human trafficking efforts.

Nicole holds a Master’s degree in international development, with a concentration in democracy and governance.
She is passionate about the power of democratic values and institutions to create a more equitable world.

Impact Summit:
11:45 – 12:30 Democracy and Innovations in the Environment of Central European Local Governments (Monika Chabior, Lenka Plavuchová Antalová, Gábor Kerpel Fronius; hosted by Nicole Wright Patrick)

Michaela Kršková

Michaela Kršková

Director General of the Research and Innovation Authority | Government Office of the Slovak Republic

Michaela Kršková serves as the first Chief Innovation Officer of the Slovak Republic. As the Director General of the Research and Innovation Authority (VAIA) at the Government Office, she is responsible for inter-ministerial coordination of research and innovation policy. She is overseeing the implementation of National Strategy for Research, Development and Innovation 2030 as well as managing 570 million euros in public funding calls for research and innovation within the Recovery and Resilience Facility. She also leads the Secretariat of the Slovak Government Council for Science, Technology and Innovation.

Before embarking on a career in civil service, Michaela co-founded one of the first seed and venture capital funds in Slovakia and also co-founded and led Startup Awards.SK, a startup competition and an accelerator, which played an important role in the early development of the Slovak innovation ecosystem. She also worked as an innovation consultant for Civitta and Oxford University Innovation, University of Oxford’s technology transfer office.

Michaela holds university degrees from Princeton University (B.A.) and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva (M.A.).

Impact Summit:
15:10 – 15:55 Cooperation between public, corporate and civil sector (Michaela Kršková, Michal Hladký, Rastislav Blažej; hosted by Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová)

Michal Hladký

Michal Hladký

Director | Creative Industry Košice

Michal Hladký is the director of Creative Industry Košice – a successor organisation of Košice European Capital of Culture 2013. He is the author of the ECoC Košice 2013 project concept and has experience with its implementation and sustainability strategy.
Michal leads and is part of international projects for the development of culture and creative industry, cross-sectoral projects, education, mobility and business models. He is an advisor on culture and creative industries policy at city, regional and national level.

He represents the city of Košice in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. Michal co-chairs the European Creative Business Network and is responsible for EU funding. Michal is the interim director for the emerging co-location centre within EIT Culture & Creativity.

Impact Summit:
15:10 – 15:55 Cooperation between public, corporate and civil sector (Michal Hladký, Michaela Kršková, Rastislav Blažej; hosted by Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová)

Rastislav Blažej

Rastislav Blažej

Slovenská sporiteľňa

Rastislav Blažej started in Slovenská sporiteľňa and is responsible for the programme for start-up entrepreneurs (www.zacinamepodnikat.sk), the programme for civic organisations and social economy entities (https://www.slsp.sk/neziskovky), assistance in solving financial problems for families in difficult life situations, self-help construction in socially and spatially excluded communities (https://projektdomov.sk) and affordable rental housing.

Previous work experience Rasto gained in product management at Slovenska Sporitelna, as well as at another bank where he introduced mobile and internet services, and at a consultancy company where he worked with several clients in CEE.

Impact Summit:
15:10 – 15:55 Cooperation between public, corporate and civil sector (Rastislav Blažej, Michal HladkýMichaela Kršková; hosted by Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová)

Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová

Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová

Moderator

Veronika Cifrová Ostrihoňová is talk show and event host. She is interested in gender, as well as other inequalities, current affairs, history, culture and politics.

Veronika is hosting Silná zostava, a female-centered, executed, and led discussion covering topics that the society is talking about, which runs on the Slovak public TV channel, RTVS.
She also host of Sitdown s Veronikou talk show – interviewing interesting women with a purpose, and famous men that do not shy away from public responsibility.
Veronika worked as a news reporter focusing on the healthcare system for the Evening News at TV Markíza.

She lived and studied in Paris, France, as well as in New York, USA. She graduate of New York University, with a summa cum laude degree (top 5 per cent of the class) in Politics and History.

An avid social media user who likes to use her platform to voice important matters.

Michal Kovačič

Michal Kovačič

Moderator

Michal Kovačič hosts the TV show Na telo on Markíza Television, as well as other debates, including pre-election ones. As a news editor, he covered the migration crisis in the Balkans, the terrorist attacks in Paris, and the US presidential election.
He has had internships at Radio Free Europe, CNN and a volunteer programme for children from poor families in Barrio la Planta, Nicaragua.


Impact Summit:
09:15 – 10:00 Global perspective on the recession of democracy in Central Europe (Ben Rhodes, hosted by Michal Kovačič)

Martina Kolesárová

Martina Kolesárová

Executive Director | Pontis Foundation

Martina Kolesárová is the executive director of the Pontis Foundation. She is dedicated to the development of social innovation and strategic philanthropy in Slovakia.
She initiated the mapping of social innovators in our country, and she has been working on the long-term development of individual philanthropy and connecting business donors with people from the public administration and civil sector.

In 2023, she became the first person from Slovakia to be part of the Obama Leaders Europe program.

Impact Summit:
9:00 – 9:15 Opening words

Martina Bolibruchová

Martina Bolibruchová

Director | Zmudri

After studying film and television directing, Martina Bolibruchová left for Zurich, Switzerland, where she worked in content creation. After two years she returned to Slovakia to do her job as meaningfully as possible.
She worked in media, but eventually co-founded Zmudri, a civic association that is active at schools and online. Zmudri focus its activities on education in critical thinking, media literacy and active citizenship.

Impact Summit:
11:15 – 11:45 Impact Stories I.: Social innovations in Slovakia – Stories of Changemakers

Michal Horský

Michal Horský

Director | DEMDIS

Michal Horský graduated in law at Trnava University. He founded and leads the DEMDIS civic association. His goal is to create a world of fair and open debate, among others through a combination of new methods of participatory, deliberative and digital democracy.
Michal also works as a journalist.

Impact Summit:
11:15 – 11:45 Impact Stories I.: Social innovations in Slovakia – Stories of Changemakers

Jakub Hrbáň

Jakub Hrbáň

Executive Director | Climate Needs You

Jakub Hrbáň is a climate activist, campaigner and community organiser. Since 2018, he has worked at the Bratislava City Hall, mainly in the area of youth work.
He is currently working primarily in the field of climate crisis solutions, an area in which he has been active since 2019 when he, assisted by others, founded the student climate movement Fridays For Future in Slovakia.

In 2020 Jakub co-founded Climate Needs You, an initiative dedicated to raising public awareness about climate change, engaging active individuals in climate solutions, and building a public movement through regional community networking.

Impact Summit:
15:55 – 16:25 Impact Stories II.: Social innovations in Slovakia – Stories of Changemakers

Michala Hrdinová

Michala Hrdinová

Program Lead | Public Leadership Academy

Michala Hrdinová graduated from the University of Economics in Bratislava and after graduation she joined Accenture, where she worked on and off for more than 15 years.
She held management positions mainly in project management and delivery of IT solutions for end customers. In addition, she has a long-standing commitment to talent development, particularly through learning and engagement projects.

Michala is currently Programme Leader for the Public Leadership Academy programme, which aims to develop civil and public servants in government and public administration with the potential and aspiration to implement changes with a positive impact.

Impact Summit:
15:55 – 16:25 Impact Stories II.: Social innovations in Slovakia – Stories of Changemakers

Martin Kováč

Martin Kováč

Old Catholic priest and human-rights activist | Old Catholics in Slovakia

Martin Kováč is an Old Catholic priest, theologian, human rights activist and project coordinator. He is particularly involved in the areas of religious freedom, interfaith and intercultural dialogue, minority rights, and pastoral care among LGBTQI+ people.
As a priest he leads two small inclusive parishes in Bratislava and Trnava.
For the past four years he worked on a project for the restoration of the Old Lyceum in Bratislava called LYCEUM – Free Society Lab, but since October 2023 he has gradually moved to the Volkswagen Slovakia Foundation.

Impact Summit:
11:15 – 11:45 Impact Stories I.: Social innovations in Slovakia – Stories of Changemakers

Ľuboš Kostelanský

Ľuboš Kostelanský

Analyst | Transparency International Slovakia

After 15 years of journalistic experience at the weekly Trenčianske noviny, daily newspapers Pravda and Hospodárske Noviny and the Press Agency of the Slovak Republic Ľuboš Kostelanský has been working at Transparency International Slovakia since September 2018.
He covers elections, public administration, local government, media and justice, as well as investigative work.

Impact Summit:
15:55 – 16:25 Impact Stories II.: Social innovations in Slovakia – Stories of Changemakers

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