Seven EPD members sit on the Board of Directors, elected at the Annual General Meeting. The European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA) currently holds the Presidency, with the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) in the Vice-President position and Club de Madrid holding the Treasurer role.
Antonella Valmorbida is the Secretary General of ALDA, the European Association for Local Democracy, President of EPD, coordinator of the Subgroup on Local Government and Public Administration Reform of the Civil Society Forum for the Eastern Partnership. She is also involved in CONCORD, the European NGO Confederation for Relief and Development. She is a senior expert on local governance and participative democracy at the local level. Antonella developed and has led ALDA since its creation in 1999. She is among the key experts in Europe promoting and implementing programmes of participative democracy, local democracy and development. She has been engaged in South Eastern Europe and Eastern Europe since 1996 and manages a team of over 30 people and more consultants and a network of 14 Local Democracy Agencies. She is involved in local governance analysis, project implementation, management and advocacy work in the EU, the Balkans, the Eastern Partnership and the Maghreb area. She has extensive knowledge and contributes to policy-making at the Council of Europe and at the European Union level. Thanks to her work and her engagement in networks, she accompanied and supported the development of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the principle of their “localisation”. She has published books and articles on the topics of decentralised cooperation, local governance and participative and inclusive democracy and has worked as a consultant and trainer for major programmes of UNPD and the European Commission on local governance, democracy, local authorities and civil society empowerment. She is fluent in Italian, French, English, and Russian. She understands Spanish, German, and Serbian.
Vice President Thijs Berman has been Executive Director of NIMD since January 2019. He has more than 30 years of experience in media, politics, and international development. Mr. Berman began his career as a journalist working as a radio correspondent in Paris and Moscow, working for several prominent Dutch radio stations, television channels and print publications. He then became a Member of the European Parliament for the Dutch Labour Party, as well as taking up the role of Chair of the Dutch social democratic delegation in Brussels. As an MEP he was a member of several committees, including on Development Cooperation and the Subcommittee on Human Rights. Mr. Berman has also headed several European election observation missions to Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Senegal, and worked as team leader of a European election support programme in the Central African Republic. In the two years before joining NIMD, Thijs worked as the Principal Advisor to the OSCE Representative of Freedom of the Media.
Ricardo Hidalgo is Chief Financial Officer of the Club of Madrid. Mr. Hidalgo has worked in the private sector and international NGOs, starting his professional career in 1988 in the financial departments of small and medium size industrial firms in the Basque Country. In 1996, he moved to the non-profit sector and joined Action Contre la Faim (Action Against Hunger), a French international humanitarian NGO based in Paris, assuming responsibility for financial relations with institutional donors. In 1998 he changed to the sister organisation in Spain Accion contra el Hambre, first as its administrator for projects in Angola, and then as Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Hidalgo returned to the private sector in 2001, when he joined TRACK, S.A., a consultant firm based in Bilbao (Spain), as head of the strategy and management department. In 2003 he became an associate of TRACK, a position he held until becoming Chief Financial Officer of the Club de Madrid in July 2005. Mr. Hidalgo has a B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Deusto (Bilbao-Spain), and has also completed postgraduate studies at the Universities of Cornell and Colorado. He has been a professor of Business Mathematics at the University of Deusto, and of “Financial aspects of Project cycle management” at the Universities of Deusto and Comillas (Madrid-Spain).
Ms Anu Juvonen (MA Development Studies, BA (Hons) Social Anthropology – both from the University of Sussex, UK, as well as studies at University of Helsinki) has worked over 15 years in the field of development policy and international affairs. She has lived and worked long term in Nepal, where she worked in the field of education; in Ethiopia, as an expert in community participation and gender; and recently in Sri Lanka, where she worked as a Head of Good Governance for an international NGO, as well as having made numerous short-term missions to different countries in Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Zambia, Tunisia) and Asia (Vietnam, Myanmar, India and Sri Lanka, Nepal). She has worked as a consultant, a civil servant and worked in CSOs, taking varying roles, from CSO coordination related to the EU presidency and the ASEM summit to advocacy and campaigning. She has a very strong background in project management. She has been with Demo Finland since 2014, first as a Director of Programmes and since early 2016 as the Executive Director. She has held various board positions, from being the vice-chair of an umbrella NGO with 300 members to being a board member of the EPD. She has also written numerous articles and manuals and is very experienced as a facilitator.
Anthony Smith has been Chief Executive of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy since August 2014. He was previously International Relations Director in the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and Europe Director in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Anthony’s career began in 1986 as a diplomat in the FCO, where his roles focused on EU and wider European issues including trade policy, the Balkans, Common Foreign and Security Policy, Eastern Europe and Cyprus. In 1996, Anthony moved to DFID where he worked on Environment Policy, EU development policy, Southern Africa, and multilateral affairs including the UN, OECD, G7/8 and the G20. He was also Private Secretary to the Development Minister. Anthony was born in Jamaica, studied law at Warwick University and speaks French and Spanish in addition to English. Anthony is a member of the British Foreign Secretary’s Advisory Group on Human Rights.
Michael Meyer-Resende is DRI’s Executive Director and one of the organisation’s co-founders. In this role, he is in charge of strategic leadership and overall management of the organisation with the Executive Team. Michael has been working in international relations, diplomacy, media and democracy support for more than 20 years, including at the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the European Union and the BBC. He is a fully qualified lawyer (Freiburg, Berlin) with an LL.M. in European Law (College of Europe, Bruges).
Thierry Vallat is a career diplomat, a qualified Arabist, and a specialist in Africa and the Middle East. He has dedicated more than half of his professional career to this region, serving notably in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Israel and Morocco. The former head of the Department of Training and Deputy Director of Communications for the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs has also spent many years nurturing a deep interest in issues surrounding the development of the media and digital communication, as illustrated by his time in Tangiers as Consul General. His appointment as Chair and Managing Director of CFI on 18 November 2020 is therefore a logical step in continuing France’s policy to promote media development in Africa, the Arab world and South-East Asia.