Invited Speakers and Panelists

Keynote and Motivational Speakers

Rita Izsàk-Ndiaye, Member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Ms Rita Izsàk-Ndiaye is a human rights expert from Hungary, currently based in Senegal, who has been working with various civil society and multilateral organizations in various countries, including in Somalia and Bosnia and Herzegovia, as well as with the Government of Hungary in the fields of discrimination, racism, minority rights, social inclusion and on other related issues.
She is a former UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues (2011-2017) and currently a member and the Rapporteur of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (2018-2022).

Nareen Shammo
Yazidi investigative journalist and a human rights defender

Ms Nareen Shammo was born in Bashiqa-Mosul/ Iraq. She studied English literature at the Al-Hadba University of Mosul. An Investigative journalist and minority rights activist, worked for over 9 year in Local and international media agencies (ALmusolyia TV, Rudaw TV, Korek TV, IjNet, LahaMagazin, DW, etc).
Since August 2014 raises awareness of Yazidi and other Iraqis minorities plight, she has been in communication with abducted women and girls by ISIS and their families, called on the international community to increase their efforts to secure the release of the remaining captives and provide support to the victims. Between 2014-2018 she has been invited by Europe, Belgium, Germany, Spain/Valencia, Holland, Swaziland/Bern parliaments to report about the Yazidi women situation, also invited by many universities ( Alicante, Lund, Sulymania, Zurich, Geneva institute, Bergen Uni, etc).
She is dubbed as ONE WOMAN VS. THE ISLAMIC STATE and received numerous prizes and awards for her activism. Her prizes include:
1) 2013- the best investigative report in middle east/ICFJ
2) 2015-Ala’anqa golden price for human rights activist (Iraq)
3) 2015-Clara Zetkin Women's Prize (Clara-Zetkin-Frauenpreis) of the German Die Linke party, for her outstanding work.
4) 2015-BBC 100 inspiring women in the world.
5) 2016- 14th place on Salt and Diageo’s 100 inspiring women in the world.
6) 2017- Yo Dona price for international human rights activist (Spain)

Xenia-Oxana Siminciuc

Ms Xenia-Oxana Siminciuc, Expert in Human Rights, Equality and Inclusion now and young, ambitious women with a severe visual impairment from a small town in the South-East part of Moldova 15 years ago, facing a real life without parents and friends with a small hand luggage and 20 Dollars in her pocket in a big city far from home. Coming from those times when the old post-soviet system did not give you any chance to survive as personality, considering you as a “Treatment case”, she graduated a mainstream school together with the School of Arts (Piano) and then, three Universities in the next 8 years – no question about the inclusive education and a Human Rights Based Approach while studying and searching for at least a part-time job back in those days.
Her speech is about a life-long challenge to break the system, change perceptions and attitudes and fight the multiple discriminations in education, vocational orientation, employment, as well as, how she became “the other face of UN” in Moldova, leading diversity and inclusion initiatives, educating young community leaders and inspiring national and international partners to become diverse and inclusive in their daily work.
“Music – and namely, Jazz became not a simple hobby, but a passion – In Vienna, at the Cultural Evening, She is going to present the first jazz composition, produced by her recently, as well as, will sing some very famous songs about people, feelings and the world”.

Adrian Veale
European Commission, DG Education and Culture

Mr Adrian Veale works in the European Commission's Directorate General for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. He forms part of the unit that manages the international dimension of EU higher education policy, as well as Erasmus+ opportunities for higher education cooperation and mobility between the EU and the rest of the world. In particular he follows the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees and the promotion of Erasmus+. More widely he works with national promotion organisations to raise the visibility of Europe's higher education offer in countries throughout the world. Adrian has also worked in other parts of the European Commission, including EuropeAid - where he worked on programmes for higher education cooperation and mobility with Asia - and DG Employment. He has also worked as an editor in the private sector.

Themis Christophidou DG Education and Culture

Ms Themis Christophidou is a European public servant who became Director-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission, in March 2018.
She is a civil engineer with 32 years of experience in private and public sector management.
She joined the European Commission in 2001. Having held various positions in the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban policy, she worked as Deputy Head of Cabinet of Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism, youth and sport in 2010-11. From 2011 to 2014, Themis Christophidou worked as Head of Cabinet of Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries, and from 2014 to 2018, she was Head of Cabinet of Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management.
Themis Christophidou is an alumna of the civil engineering faculty of the Metsovio Polytechnic University of Athens, specialised in transport infrastructure and urban transport. Born in Famagusta, Cyprus, she is trilingual Greek, French, English.

Didrik Aleksander Strøhm
CEO of Young Sustainable Impact

Mr Didrik is a 25 year old committed to solving our world`s biggest challenges. With 7 years of experience in marketing, sale, and startups - he has worked with dozens of startups, adviced hundreds of them, and tried to build 5 himself (with 2 still breathing). His goal is to unleash the innovative power of people to use for good.
Currently, Didrik is the CEO of Young Sustainable Impact - A impact incubator that creates new startups tackling the sustainable development goal. He has been the designer of a 5-month innovation program, and run the day to day operations. He has also been part of building a leadership program "Future Leaders" and was the COO during the setup in Oslo and Copenhagen.

Dr Inês Crisóstomo
Scientific Training Coordinator, Vienna BioCenter

Dr Inês Crisóstomo is the Scientific Training Coordinator of the Vienna BioCenter since 2013. She is the executive manager of the VBC PhD Programme and the VBC Summer School. At the VBC her responsibilities include recruitment, curriculum planning, coaching and mediation of students and supervisors, impact and assessment of the programmes and their activities, and liaising between the different stakeholders. Before joining the VBC Ines worked at the Institute of Molecular Medicine (Lisbon, PT) with similar responsibilities, where she led two training projects (funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation). Ines regularly organizes workshops and trains young scientists on how to manage their PhD training (and their careers) as well as interpersonal communications (focused mainly on the relationship with the supervisor). PhD from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (research work at Rockefeller University). Member of the CARE network (Career Advisors supporting Researchers in Europe) and Advisory Board of the ISTScholar PhD program (an MSCA COFUND Program). Initiator of a network of European PhD Programs at Research Institutes (first meeting in 2017).

Hamsika Premkumar
President, United Nations Student Association

Ms Hamsika Premkumar is the President for the United Nations Student Association Oslo. She is currently doing her Bachelor's degree in political science at the University of Oslo. She began with volunteer work at an early age as she wanted to make a difference - no matter how big or small. She have always been passionate about the youth involvement and engagement, which is why UNSA Oslo developed the idea of the UN Theme Week. UNTW is a whole week dedicated to the Sustainable Development Goals encouraging young people to learn more about the SDGs and propse solutions.

Panel Members

European Commission, DG Research RTD, EURAXESS

Ms Kitty FEHRINGER joined the European Commission in 2002 and have been working for the past 12 years at the Directorate General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission. From 2007 to date she in charge as a policy officer for activities under “EURAXESS-Researcher in Motion” dealing with the mobility aspects of a researcher career. Ms Fehringer is the coordinator of around 550 EURAXESS Services Centres located in 40 European countries and at the same time in charge of EURAXESS Worldwide. Ms Fehringer coordinates the work of the service centres as well as the development and update of the EURAXESS portal.
Ms Fehringer has a professional background in Marketing Management following her studies of special education for disabled children at the University of Vienna.

Prof. Nic Schiavon

Prof. Nick Schiavon is a professor of National Scientific Habilitation in the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Scientific Research (Abilitazione Scientifica Nazionale-MIUR). He is the Coordinator of ERASMUS MUNDUS ARCHMAT Master in ARCHAeological MATerials Science and the Coordinator of ED-ARCHMAT European Doctorate in ARchaeological and Cultural Heritage MATerials Science. He is the President of Educational Committee – Institute for Advanced Research and Training (IIFA) –Évora University –Portugal and is acting as an academic committee member to several PhD programs.
Prof. Schiavon did his PhD in Geological Sciences in 1988 from the University of Bologna - Italy in 1988. Since 1988, Prof. Nick Schiavon have been carrying out research and teaching activities in Geoscience/Conservation Science as a Postdoctoral Research Associate and Lecturer at top-level academic institutions across Europe (Cambridge University and UCL,UK, Universitè Paris XII in France, University of Bologna, Palermo and Venice, Italy and, since 2009, as a Senior Research Associate at the HERCULES Laboratory of Evora University, Portugal.

Martina Friedrich OEAD, Erasmus+ National contact point, Austria

Ms Martina Friedrich studied Business Administration at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. In 1995 she started to work at the OeAD (Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education & Research) in the LEONARDO DA VINCI Programme - first as a programme manager and later as the deputy head of unit.
In 1999 she moved to Brussels for three years to work in DG EAC (CLEO) as a temporary agent. In 2002 she returned to the OeAD. Since then she has been responsible for all EU-Third Countries Programmes in Austria and represented the National Contact Point for TEMPUS and ERASMUS MUNDUS. With reference to Erasmus+ she is part of the Higher Education team in the National Agency with a main focus on the centralized actions Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees, Capacity Building in Higher Education, Knowledge Alliances, European Universities and Jean Monnet.

Maria Unger
OeAD, EURAXESS National contact point, Austria


Ms Maria Unger joined the OeAD, Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research, in 2006 and has been responsible for the representation of the OeAD as EURAXESS Centre and the management of national EURAXESS activities (e. g. Meeting Point Vienna). Providing information and assistance for researchers and students concerning funding opportunities as well as maintaining the Austrian Database for Scholarships and Research Grants are also part of her work.
Prior to joining the OeAD she worked as project manager at the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, dealing with the support of the internationalisation of the Austrian environmental research and assisting the Austrian programme delegate in the EU Framework Programme for RTD in Environment and Sustainable Development. Beside that, Mrs. Unger also worked as a scientist at the University of Vienna as well as the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna and she completed a research stay at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, USA. These tasks relate to her educational background as Mrs. Unger graduated in Biology (MSc).

Nikhilesh Dhure
Vblogger & Youtuber

Mr Nikhilesh Dhure, Full time Youtuber, living with passion, zeal to challenge the status quo of the society and bring change.

Gabriela Jelonek

Ms Gabriela Jelonek - journalist form Poland, founder of "Erasmus evening" radio program, European Charlemagne Youth Prize Winner
Fot.: Krzysztof Pacholak/Europa dla Aktywnych