Ariadne Board Members
Deputy Director of the Open Society Initiative for Europe
Susan is Deputy Director of the Open Society Initiative for Europe, where she oversees the foundation’s grant making activities in the European Union. She joined the Open Society Foundations in 2003 and managed the Human Rights and Governance Grants Program’s funding in Southeast Europe and the Western Balkans, which consisted predominantly of institutional support to human rights and anti-corruption watchdog NGOs using advocacy and strategic litigation to promote systemic reform. In addition to fundamental rights concerns, Susan’s substantive focus is on freedom of information and accountable governance.
Prior to joining the Foundations, she was a researcher for the Mental Disability Advocacy Center, where she conducted fact-finding missions and authored a multi-country advocacy report on inhuman and degrading treatment of people with mental disabilities in psychiatric and social care institutions.
Regional Director, Central and Eastern Europe, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
Walter is Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe at the C.S. Mott Foundation. Based in the Foundation’s London office, Walter oversees grantmaking in Central and Eastern Europe and has specific responsibility for programming in the Western Balkans. Prior to joining Mott in 1998, Walter had a career as a lawyer, working in private practice in Washington, D.C., and Prague, and as a legal services attorney in Memphis, Tennessee. His interest in civil society development grew from observing the sweeping changes taking place in CEE in the 1990s and the important role the civil society sector played in transforming the region. Walter was born in Maryland and grew up in Connecticut. Before entering college, he spent a year studying abroad as an American Field Service student in Turkey. He is a graduate of Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, and the University Of Virginia School Of Law.
Secretary General of Assifero
Carola is the Secretary General of Assifero, the Italian national membership of grant-making associations. She is also a human rights lawyer and has worked extensively with Italian rights-based NGOs. In 2002, she established a Human Rights Coordination Office for Volontariato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo and in 2011 became the first woman elected as its President. She has also served as a member of the Executive Board of the worldwide network of the Salesian of Don Bosco development NGOs, and as spokesperson of a network of 88 Italian human rights NGOs leading international and national advocacy.
Programme Officer, Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation
The Charles Leopold Mayer foundation mission is to provide long term core grants to civil society organisations and movements advocating for a just transition towards sustainable societies. Juliette oversees different programmes on independent journalism and media, corporate accountability and fair trade, protection of whistleblowers and whistleblowing, and internet governance. Previously, Juliette worked in NGO’s in Brussels, Tirana (Albania) and Paris on European policies and international relations. She has studied political sciences.
Director, Democracy & Media Foundation
Nienke Venema is the Director of Democracy and Media Foundation (SDM), an Amsterdam-based foundation committed to independent journalism and a strong and vigorous democracy. As the foundation’s first director, she has been responsible for setting it up as a professional grant-making organisation. SDM provides both project and long-term core grants to civil society actors and organisations focusing on concerns of fundamental rights and freedoms and/or media innovation. It also acts as an idealistic shareholder in media companies, with a strong focus on safeguarding editorially independent journalism.
In addition to concerns of fundamental rights and freedoms, Nienke focusses on the role foundations and venture philanthropy can play in safeguarding the future of independent journalism. Previously, she was the director of Humanity in Action in The Netherlands, an international educational organisation that runs programmes on social justice. Nienke holds a BA (Hons) in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge and an MSc in International Relations from the University of Amsterdam.
Director, JMG Foundation
Jon oversees the philanthropic activity of the family of the late Sir James Goldsmith, much of which is directed towards environmental advocacy and campaigning. He has been closely involved in the development of the UK Environmental Funders Network and has co-authored multiple reports analysing tens of thousands of philanthropic grants from environmental funders, both in the UK and across Europe. He is a steering group member of the European Environmental Funders Group and served two terms on the management board of the US Environmental Grantmakers Association.
Managing Director, Freudenberg Stiftung
Dr. Pia Gerber was already addressing the issue of right-wing extremism and democratic culture while studying for her degree in social pedagogics. In her first career, she worked with disadvantaged young people and migrants from Eastern Europe, and was involved in political education on the subjects of National Socialism and feminist theory. After obtaining a second degree in political science and education at Heidelberg University, she worked as a municipal women’s rights officer, as a trainer for social workers, and finally as an academic assistant on the Executive Committee of the Freudenberg Foundation, Weinheim, Germany. She was awarded a doctorate for her dissertation on social innovations in the charitable foundation environment. Since 2008, she has been the Executive Director of the Freudenberg Foundation. She was a Deputy Chairperson of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation and a member of the Council on Integration of the German Government and is still a partner of the German Children and Youth Foundation and the CIVIS media Foundation.
Division Director (Civil Liberties), Open Society Initiative for Europe
Brandee M. Butler is a Division Director at the Open Society Initiative for Europe. Based in Barcelona, she leads the Civil Liberties Division, which promotes better policing and more effective security policies, supports efforts to hold governments to account, and combats discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities.
Brandee has over 15 years of experience working with international foundations, civil society organisations, and the private sector to promote human rights. Before joining OSIFE, she was Head of Gender Justice and Human Rights at C&A Foundation in Amsterdam leading programming on modern slavery and gender justice in fashion supply chains. Earlier in her career, Brandee was awarded the Yale Law School Bernstein Fellowship for International Human Rights to combat child trafficking in Gabon. She later practiced law at a children’s rights organization in Los Angeles and specialized in international justice as a program officer at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Brandee currently serves on the boards of women’s rights organisations MADRE and Women Win and is an advisor for ARTWORKS Projects, which uses design and the arts for human rights advocacy.
Brandee received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a juris doctorate from Yale Law School.
European Programme Manager
Based at the Network of European Foundations (NEF) in Brussels, Debora identifies trends and opportunities, promotes membership, and liaises with other funders’ networks. Debora has 15 years’ experience of professional and volunteer activities for foundations, NGOs and international organisations. Before joining Ariadne, she worked for a few years as independent consultant. Previously, she managed the anti-discrimination work of the Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE) focusing on Western Europe for five years. From 2008 to 2011, she managed the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM), a grant-making initiative of NEF. Formerly, she worked for UNESCO in Cuba and Mexico and for Handicap International Belgium. She studied international relations, political sciences, culture and development studies, in Italy (Padua), France (Sciences-Po Paris), and Belgium (University of Leuven).
Communications and Membership Engagement Coordinator
Hannah is Ariadne’s Communications and Membership Engagement Coordinator, having transitioned from her role as Programme Associate in June 2018. Prior to this she was a Policy and Campaigns Intern at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. She has also volunteered in Amnesty International UK’s Human Rights Education Unit, and as an advice worker at Notre Dame Refugee Centre in London. Hannah has an MSc Human Rights from LSE, and she’s particularly interested in the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as women’s and labour rights, and human rights education.
Programme and Events Assistant
Florent is Ariadne’s Programme and Events Assistant. In 2002, he moved to Coventry from France to complete his business degree. After graduating he lived in Leeds and worked briefly in the finance sector before becoming a freelance dancer, a passion he has been pursuing since his teenage years. Florent moved to London in 2014 and worked at the Royal Academy of Dance in the membership department and in their secondary school programme called Step into Dance.