REF Board Swiss Foundation
Andrzej Mirga is a Polish Roma who headed the Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues at the OSCE’s Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) from December 2006 till November 2013. He began his career as the first Roma to study at Jagiellonian University in Krakow where he later taught and went on to co-found the first Polish Roma association after the fall of communism. As the organizer of two historic events commemorating the Romani Holocaust in 1993 and 1994 in Auschwitz-Birkenau and Krakow, he later represented the Roma at the Days of Remembrance ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., in 1995. He is also a long-term associate of the Project on Ethnic Relations, the U.S.-based nongovernmental mediating organization with headquarter in Princeton, New Jersey, where he formed the Roma Advisory Council, a small team of prominent Romani leaders, activists and experts from Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and the United States, a kind of first ever Roma think-tank. Adrzej Mirga has also served as an expert at the Committee of Experts on Roma and Travellers of the Council of Europe, and its chair, later joined Poland’s Common Commission of the Government and National and Ethnic Minorities as well as the High-Level Group on Labour Market and Disadvantaged Ethnic Minorities (European Commission, 2005–2007). He has been published widely since the 1990s.
William Lazarus Bila
William Lazarus Bila is an expert in cross-cultural communication with twenty years of experience working in Europe, Canada and Latin America. He currently works as a program manager for Allianz France and serves as the elected Vice President for the Roma Community Centre in Toronto, Canada. He has consulting experience with Deloitte and Accord Group. He graduated with a BS in Finance and International Business from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University and an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.
Dr. Nicoleta Bitu is the director of the Centre for Romani Studies of the National School for Political and Administrative Sciences. She has been active in the field of human and women’s rights for over 24 years, at the forefront of the European mobilization of Romani women activists and of advocacy for the rights of Roma. A recognized and published expert in her field, she has worked for Romani CRISS, the Open Society Foundations, the Council of Europe and Romano ButiQ. Her work has provoked the Romani and feminist movements to think and act based on the universality of human rights when it comes to Romani women. She is currently involved in initiatives on Romani arts and culture such as the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture and contributed to establishing the Museum of Roma Culture and Documentation Centre on Roma in Romania.
Yvana Enzler recently retired as Swiss Ambassador to Sweden and was reappointed to the REF Board in 2016. She previously served as representative of the Swiss government on the REF Board from 2008 to 2012 while Swiss Ambassador to Albania. She joined the Swiss diplomatic service in 1979 and was posted in Berne (1979–80), Brussels (1980–81), Berne (1981–88), Rome (1988–91), Washington (1991–95), and again Berne (1995–98). From 1998 to 2002 she was Deputy Head of Mission at the Swiss Embassy in Sarajevo and, from 2002 to 2007, Head of the Swiss Liaison Office in Pristina (Kosovo). She holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) and a M.A.L.S. from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Kinga Göncz is the chair of Roma Advisory Board of Open Society Foundations and a visiting professor at Central European University School of Public Policy. She has held different positions in the Hungarian Government between 2002 and 2009, including Minister of Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and she was a member of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2014. Earlier she served as an Associate Professor in the Social Work and Social Policy Department of the Institute for Sociology at ELTE University in Budapest and taught at the Human Rights Department of Central European University. As the director of Partners Hungary Foundation - a branch of an international NGO - she was involved in the 1990s in training democracy skills and conflict management in many countries.
Lisa Jordan is the newly appointed Senior Director of Strategy and Learning at Porticus, a private foundation based in Amsterdam; she most recently worked as the Executive Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation. Ms. Jordan is a well-known speaker, author and applied specialist in the fields of democracy, civil society, good governance, NGO accountability, and globalization. She is co-editor of the recently published book, NGO Accountability: Politics, Principles and Innovations. Ms Jordan has worked on strengthening democracy and civil society through positions with NGOs, governments and private philanthropic foundations for twenty years. Ms. Jordan previously served for nine years with the Ford Foundation as Acting Director and Deputy Director of the Governance and Civil Society Unit. In this position she was responsible for overseeing $120 million in grants. Other positions included directing the U.S. component of the Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE), an environmental exchange program for parliamentarians from Russia, Europe, Asia and the United States; acting as a legislative assistant to Congressman Jim Scheuer (8th NY); directing the multilateral development bank program of BothEnds, a non-profit in the Netherlands; and directing the Bank Information Center, a non-profit in Washington, D.C.
Pierre Mirel served at the European Commission 1981-2013. First, on trade relations with "emerging" countries, then on the EU's fifth enlargement (1990-2004) and on EU relations with Croatia and Turkey (2004-2006). He was Director for the Western Balkans until he retired from the EC at the end of 2013. He is a lecturer at Sciences Politiques-Paris on EU enlargement and neighbourhood policies. Recent publication on these themes in Géopolitique de la Démocratisation: l’Europe et ses ‘voisinages’(Presses de Sciences Po, Paris, 2014).
Gábor completed his Finance and Management degree at Corvinus University (Budapest) while he was also member of the Rajk College for Advanced Studies. After 15 years of business and public policy career, he completed the Master of Public Management program of Georgetown University (Washington, DC). Gábor currently works as CFO of Geosol, a renewable energy source provider to power generators in Hungary and devotes more and more time for civil activities. Beside recently joining REF, Gabor is Chairman of the Non-Profit Partner Foundation (providing specialized advisory services to non-profit organizations) and appointed on the selection panel of the Erste Seeds Program (supporting Social Entrepreneurs).
Mariam Sherman is the Director of Strategy and Operations in the Europe and Central Asia Region of the World Bank. In this position, Ms. Sherman supports the regional Vice President in setting strategy, monitoring operational deliveries to clients, interfacing with internal stakeholders, overseeing the region’s decentralized offices and engaging with partners assisting clients in the region. Prior to this position, Ms. Sherman was Director of the Results, Openness, and Effectiveness Department in the Operations Policy and Country Services Unit (OPCS) from October 2013 to September 15, 2015. She also served as Country Director of the West Bank and Gaza Program and was Country Manager, Afghanistan in Kabul. Other work experience in the World Bank has included assignments in the Indonesia Country Management Unit, the West Bank and Gaza Country Management Unit, and on central policy issues. Prior to joining the World Bank Ms. Sherman worked for NGOs on programs in the Middle East and South Africa. She received an MS in Development Management from the American University in Washington DC, and a BA in Middle Eastern Studies (Arabic and Modern Hebrew) from Manchester University in England.
Sybille Suter currently serves as Swiss Ambassador to Macedonia and represents the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) on the REF Governing Board. She previously served as Head of the SDC's Latin American Division. She received an LLM from the University of Bern.