KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Dr. Anders Åslund is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University. He is a leading specialist on economic policy in Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Dr. Åslund has served as an economic adviser to several governments, notably the governments of Russia and Ukraine. He has published widely and is the author of 15 books and has edited 16 books. His most recent book is Russia’s Crony Capitalism: The Path from Market Economy to Kleptocracy (Yale UP 2019). He was a professor at the Stockholm School of Economics and the founding director of the Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics. He has worked at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Brookings Institution, and the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies at the Woodrow Wilson Center. He served as a Swedish diplomat in Kuwait, Poland, Geneva, and Moscow. He earned his PhD from Oxford University. He is a member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.

Irina Nedeva is a Bulgarian journalist and documentary filmmaker with extensive experience in public broadcast journalism. She is also active in the field of producing and coordinating independent film, television and radio projects. Irina chairs the Board of Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria. Since 2018 she has been appointed Member of the Board of AEJ (International) on the issues of disinformation and fake news. As a strong believer in the social importance of the critical thinking and open public debate she was involved with the first Bulgarian independent Center for Culture and debates “The Red House” since the founding in 2000 and with the European network of debating centers Time to talk (Vienna). She was a Hubert H Humphrey Fellow in the Fulbright USA program for academical exchange in Washington DC in 2011-2012. Her documentary film “A Cold Coke in the Days of the Cold War”, won first prize in Europa Film festival in Russe, 2007.

ADDITIONAL SPEAKERS

Adam Bartha is the Director of EPICENTER, a network a nine leading free-market think tanks from across Europe. He is responsible for the coordination and cooperation of the network and for organising the private and public events programme in Brussels. Adam gives regular talks on topics ranging from the rule of law, authoritarian populism, free market reforms, and the political affairs of the CEE region. 

Adam was previously European Outreach Manager at EPICENTER and a Koch Summer Fellow in the Publications Department of the Independent Institute in California. He also has experience in domestic party politics in Germany and Hungary. Adam has a BA (Hons) in Politics and International Relations from the University of Sheffield and an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics. Adam is fluent in English, German and Hungarian.

Latchezar Bogdanov had his MSc in Economics in the University of National and World Economy in Sofia. He has twenty years of experience in economic policy research. He has been part of numerous initiatives that fostered Bulgaria’s transition to a market economy by promoting privatization, sound money, deregulation and low taxes. Since June 2019 Latchezar Bogdanov is chief economist at the Institute for Market Economics – the oldest independent economic think-tank in Bulgaria, established in 1993. Currently his research efforts are focused on macroeconomic and fiscal policies, taxation, labor market and productivity. Latchezar Bogdanov is also a founding member of the Bulgarian Macroeconomic Association and a member of the jury of Forbes Business Awards – Bulgaria. Regular commentator in mainstream and specialized TV shows and newspapers.

Borja Breña is a Principal at Nauta Capital’s Barcelona office focused on Spanish and Portuguese opportunities. Borja is recognised as a venture capital investor with international experience in finance, technology, and innovation. Prior to joining Nauta in 2018, he was a senior investment manager at Telefónica’s corporate venture capital fund. Previously, Borja worked at Kennet Partners, at Barclays Capital as an analyst in the credit trading desk, and as a business consultant at Deloitte UK and Deloitte Spain. Borja holds an MBA from London Business School, graduated as a Telecommunications Engineer from Seville University (Spain) and is an Associate Chartered Accountant of the ICAEW (UK). He currently resides in Madrid.

Jean Claude Gruffat recently joined the investment banking firm of Weild Capital LLC, after 5 years with the New York based Galileo Group. At this firm, he was a senior transactor on advisory mandates and private placements of unlisted securities closing transactions for US firms in the space of new technology and working  on foreign direct investment and financial services assignments. From 1998 to the end of 2014, he held various positions with Citigroup, Country Corporate Officer for France, Global Relationship Bank market manager for France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, and director of Citibank International PLC. He originated and worked on the executions of major transactions, mergers and acquisitions, financing through bonds, US $ and Euros, equities, and US private placements. He was effective in securing major mandates in the field of global cash management, securities custody and clearing for large clients of the firm.

Jean Claude is actively involved in not-for-profit activities. From 2014 to 2020, he was a member of the board of United Way Worldwide. He is a Governor of the American Hospital of Paris and the President of its US based American Foundation. He is Chairman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and also serves on the Board of Atlas Network. Jean Claude has a PHD in-law from the University of Lyon, France, and a master in political science from the same institution. He attended the Stanford Executive Program in Palo Alto, CA in 1987. He holds a securities licence with FINRA, series 63, 79 and 24. He resides in New York City with his wife Christiane.

Isabelle Hirs worked in management consulting and sustainable finance before joining the philanthropic field. She has a keen interest in market-based solutions that contribute to solving today's societal problems. At Rising Tide Foundation, Isabelle works closely with the board and advisory board to shape the strategic direction of the foundation's Freedom in Practice funding area. She oversees the active grant portfolio and works closely with potential and existing grantees and stakeholders to maximize the impact of the foundation's grant making.

Svetla Kostadinova is the executive director of the Institute for Market Economics (IME) in Bulgaria (http://ime.bg/) which is the first and oldest independent economic policy think tank in Bulgaria. Her areas of expertise include labor market, budget policy and government efficiency.

Under Ms. Kostadinova’s management, the IME advocated successfully for several impactful reforms (flat tax, business registration, legislative process) and positioned the organization as the most influential economic think tank in the country. IME produces in-depth research, conducts fact-based advocacy, has a very active media presence, organises events and does regular monitoring of public policy.  Ms. Kostadinova is a member of the Bulgarian Macroeconomic Association and  was ranked as the 29th most influential woman in Bulgaria by Capital Weekly magazine (2012) and was recognized as the 19th most influential woman in Bulgaria by Forbes Bulgaria magazine (2015). Ms. Kostadinova holds a Master’s degree in Finance from the University of the National and World Economy in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Elena Leontjeva is co-founder and President of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI). Elena led LFMI from its inception until 2001 and returned to serve as the organisation’s president in early 2020. Elena Leontjeva played a key role in building the legal and institutional foundations for Lithuania’s economy, including the Currency Board and the Litas Credibility Law, the securities market, banking, tax and budget reforms, private pension insurance, downsizing state functions and deregulation known as the Sunset and Sunrise initiatives. She served as senior economic advisor to President Valdas Adamkus and state counsellor on economic reform issues under six administrations. Elena has originated and led an interdisciplinary project Scarcity, Morality and Public Policy and co-created a documentary Sublime Thirst. In 2020, Elena finished writing a novel.

Marin Lessenski is Program Director of the European Policies Program of the Open Society Institute in Sofia. He holds an MA in Southeast European Studies from the Central European University, Budapest and an MA in History from the University of Sofia. He has been a Freedom House Visiting Fellow with the Hudson Institute's Center for European and Eurasian Studies and the Center of National Security Studies. He has also been a participant in the Transatlantic Young Leaders Program of the Aspen Institute in Berlin. At OSI-Sofia, he is responsible for the Media Literacy Index, focusing on societies’ resilience potential to fake news and the “post-truth” as well as the Catch-Up Index, which measures the convergence or divergence of European countries along key economy, democracy, governance and quality of life indicators, with a focus on CEE. 

Brad Lips is the Chief Executive Officer of Atlas Network, which increases opportunity and prosperity by strengthening a global network of independent civil society organizations that promote individual freedom and remove barriers to human flourishing. Since he became CEO in 2009, the budget of Atlas Network has more than doubled and the scope of its programs has extended worldwide. He is the author of a monograph titled The Freedom Movement: Its Past, Present, and Future. Lips is a member of the John Templeton Foundation, Templeton World Charity Foundation, and Templeton Religion Trust. He serves on the boards of directors of the American Friends of the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Institute of Economic Studies—Europe. As a member of the Mont Pelerin Society, Lips chaired the Organizing Committee of its General Meeting in 2016. Prior to joining Atlas Network in 1998, Lips co-founded an Internet start-up, conducted equity research for Smith Barney, Inc., and worked in a policy research capacity for the Progress & Freedom Foundation. He has spoken on five continents on solutions to poverty, and his work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Regulation, National Review Online, Investor's Business Daily, The Daily Caller, Forbes, Fox News, American Spectator, American Thinker, and RealClearPolitics. Lips received his MBA from the Goizueta Business School of Emory University and his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Brad lives with his wife, Stephanie, and their four children in Falls Church, Virginia.  

Saulium Matulevicius graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Tunis in 2018, earning an ENS Diploma in Anglo-American Literature, Civilization & Linguistics. He is a university teacher at the Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences of Tunis, University of Tunis El Manar. As the Liaison Academic Officer of the Munathara Initiative, he has helped organize the 2019 first Tunisian Legislative and Presidential Debates and was a polling station member in previous legislative, municipal and presidential Tunisian elections. He has been the Editorial Associate of the Islam and Liberty Network since 2019. Saulius determined the importance of individual and economic freedom and created an organizational development consultancy with projects at Nasdaq, Aon Baltic, and think tanks like Lithuanian Free Market Institute.  He works to expose the fallacies of Socialism and its reflections in policies such as the Welfare State.

Saša Mirković holds a MS degree in Social Sciences and Computing, and MA and BA degrees in sociology. Alongside his work in the liberty movement, Saša works toward becoming a data scientist, specializing in R, Python and SQL. His inspiration for creating a libertarian organization came from the aggressive leftist atmosphere on the department for sociology. Along with a colleague from the Center for Anti-Authoritarian Studies (CAAS) Saša founded the student organization Studenti za slobodu - Filozofski fakultet (SZS) which promotes the values and ideas of classical liberalism. The organization is a part of the European Students for Liberty network. After finishing his BA he also became a Graduate Teaching Assistant, teaching Electoral Sociology.

Roxana Nicula is Chair of Fundación para el Avance de la Libertad, the Spanish Libertarian think tank actively promoting freedom values in Spain and internationally. She was born in Romania under the Nicolae Ceausescu communist dictatorship, one of the toughest Socialist regimes similar to North Korea. She is an active debater and video communicator in different online platforms in the local and International libertarian movement and writes articles on libertarian policies, the dangers of Socialism revival, sharing economy, new technology and Internet. In 2020, and currently, her foundation led a local campaign to defend private healthcare,  intervened and blocked by the government during the first months of the pandemic under threats of new regulations and fiscal burdens. The campaign, “Private Healthcare Saves Lives” worked on producing sound studies proposing policy reforms on deregulation and taxation in Spain, some of them fortunately were recently applied.

Dr. Kristian Niemietz is Head of Political Economy at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), London. He is the author of the books Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies and Universal Healthcare Without The NHS. Niemietz holds a PhD in Political Economy from King's College London, and an MSc in Economics from Humboldt University Berlin.

Dr. Tom G. Palmer is the executive vice president for international programs at Atlas Network and is responsible for establishing operating programs in 14 languages and managing programs for a worldwide network of think tanks. On Nov. 10, 2016, Dr. Tom G. Palmer was named the George M. Yeager Chair for Advancing Liberty at Atlas Network. He is also a senior fellow at Cato Institute and director of Cato University. Before joining Cato, he was an H. B. Earhart Fellow at Hertford College, Oxford University, and a vice president of the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University. He frequently lectures in North America, Europe, Eurasia, Africa, Latin America, India, China and throughout Asia, as well as the Middle East on political science, public choice, civil society, and the moral, legal, and historical foundations of individual rights. He has published reviews and articles on politics and morality in scholarly journals such as the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Ethics, Critical Review, and Constitutional Political Economy, as well as in publications such as Slate, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Die Welt, Caixing, Al Hayat, the Washington Post, and The Spectator of London. He is the author of Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice (expanded edition 2014), and the editor of The Morality of Capitalism (2011), After the Welfare State (2012), Why Liberty (2013), Peace, Love & Liberty (2014), and Self-Control or State Control? You Decide (2016). Palmer received his B.A. in liberal arts from St. Johns College in Annapolis, Maryland, his M.A. in philosophy from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and his doctorate in politics from Oxford University.

Ellen Saakashvili​ joined Atlas Network in 2019 as a Development Associate. 

Constantinos Saravakos is Research Project Coordinator in the Center for Liberal Studies - KEFiM and a political scientist. He holds a M.A. in Political Science and Sociology (Hons) and a B.Sc. in Philosophy and History of Science from University of Athens. He has also received his M.Sc. in Applied Economics and Administration from Panteion University. He is a member of Greek Political Science Association and a member of the Economic Chamber of Greece and a Fellow in the European Policy Information Center (EPICENTER). His main research interests include regulation, political economy and political parties.

Morgan Schondelmeier is the Head of External Affairs at the Adam Smith Institute. After finishing her undergraduate degrees in Government & World Affairs and Economics, she moved to London and achieved a Distinction in her Master’s degree in International Political Economy at King’s College London. Prior to starting with the Adam Smith Institute, she served as Development Officer at the Institute of Economic Affairs. She regularly writes for City AM, the Telegraph, and CapX and features regularly on TalkRadio morning shows. She has made appearances on Sky News, BBC Big Questions, BBC Radio4, and more.

Pınar Şentürk is the Funding and Project Manager in liberFE. She recently graduated from the Economics department of Bilkent University and will continue her studies in Behavioral and Applied Economics program at University of Trento. Before her role in liberFe, she volunteered in several NGO’s that focus on women’s rights issues.

Jack Shannon graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Peace, War, and Defense. During his time at UNC, Jack interned with a public health project in rural Uganda, an international non-profit, and a business college in Cape Town, South Africa. Following graduation, Jack spent six months working with the John Locke Foundation's development team and two years working with the Mercatus Center's State Outreach team. In December 2019, Jack received a Graduate Certificate in National Security and Public Policy from George Mason University. In his free time, Jack enjoys playing intramural sports, reading, and traveling.

Vale Sloane is Atlas Network's Strategic Partnerships Advisor. In this role, Vale connects Atlas Network's community of donors with opportunities to support the 500+ organizations in our global network of partners. This includes providing our donors with regular updates on important partner achievements, identifying investment opportunities to support major partner projects, and keeping donors updated on how their support is making a real difference in the worldwide freedom movement. 

Vale joined Atlas Network in 2016 on the Institute Relations team, where he managed relationships with Atlas Network’s global network of partners and directs various grants and awards programs. He also participated in the Charles Koch Institute's Koch Associate Program in 2016-2017. Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Vale attended the University of Sydney where he received his Bachelors of International and Global Studies (2013) and Bachelors of Laws (2015). He worked in Australian politics throughout college and after graduation, including on local, state, and national election campaigns between 2009-2015. Vale has also worked in the private sector as Business Development Manager at an eLearning company prior to joining Atlas Network. He lives in Washington, DC, and enjoys reading, traveling, and watching Netflix. 

Carlo Stagnaro is research and studies director at Istituto Bruno Leoni. Prior to that he was Chief of the Minister’s Technical Staff at Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development. He is also member of the editorial board of the journals “Energia” and “Aspenia” as well as a member of the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Academic Advisory Council. He is also a fellow of the Italian observatory on energy poverty at the University of Padua’s Levi-Cases Center. He is a regular columnist for the daily magazines “Il Foglio” and “Il Secolo XIX”. Carlo holds a M.Sc. in environmental engineering from the University of Genoa and a Ph.D. in economics, markets, institutions from IMT Alti Studi – Lucca. His research interests are in the fields of energy economics, competition policy, and utility regulation. He has been editing IBL's Index of liberalization since 2017, a benchmarking report on the degree of openness of several markets in the EU member states. He is on Twitter@CarloStagnaro

Dr. Lyall Swim is the Chief Operating Officer at Atlas Network. In his role, Lyall leads the organization’s team and systems development as Atlas Network continues to grow in size, reach, and impact. For the past 17 years, he has engaged with more than 20,000 adult learners in dozens of organizations around the world. His focus has been to build increased leadership and operational capacity and enable organizations to successfully navigate various forms of change. He is a sought after speaker on ethics, leadership, innovation adoption, and education innovation. As the director of operations for Sutherland Institute, Lyall helped lead a redesign of the organization that enabled the Institute to better leverage the strengths of each staff member and increase the profile and influence of the Institute in Utah. Lyall holds a Doctorate of Education with an emphasis in organization leadership from Pepperdine University. He also holds a bachelor’s in communications and an M.B.A. from Brigham Young University. His research and writing on leadership, ethics, education reform, adult learning, and innovation adoption have been published in a range of peer-reviewed journals and various local and national outlets. Above all, Lyall enjoys spending quality time with his wife and three teenage children.v

Marek Tatala is an economist and manager working with NGOs and think tanks, expert in public policy, regulations and law & economics in Poland. He received his BSc in Economics and Politics from the University of Bristol and MA in Economics from the Warsaw School of Economics. He completed international trainings with Atlas Leadership Academy and Think Tank MBA organized by the Atlas Network. Alumnus of the Advancing Democracy program by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and the American Jewish Committee. From 2013 he was Vice President of the Civil Development Forum (FOR), a think tank founded by Leszek Balcerowicz. He has authored many articles on economics, law and politics published in Poland and abroad.

Aneta Vainė has served as Vice President of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute since 2018. She first joined LFMI in 1994 and worked as a project manager and a policy analyst until 2004. In 2013 Aneta resumed her work at LFMI as Director of Development and Programs to strategically develop and manage LFMI’s programs, foundation relations, and international outreach. Aneta Vainė has authored and managed numerous national and cross-border research and educational projects. She played a key role in LFMI’s winning Templeton Freedom Awards in 2014 and 2016. From 1999 until 2009 she served as Lithuania’s national rapporteur for the Freedom House’s Nations in Transit report. Aneta holds Master’s degrees in English and economics from Vilnius University and a certificate in European studies from Surrey University, U.K. In 1997 she was a National Forum Foundation’s internship grantee with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, USA.

Krasimira Velichkova is the director of the Bulgarian Donors’ Forum (BDF) since 2008.  He has been the development and partnerships manager at Altera Association and as grants manager at the “Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation.”  Mrs.Velichkova is known in the civil society sector for her extensive expertise in advocacy, fundraising, organizational management and development. During the last 15 years she has developed and delivered more than 150 practical trainings and lectures to Bulgarian and international NGOs. Krasimira is on the boards of several foundations and charities including the Public Board of TELUS International, Reach for Change Foundation, Bulgaria, TimeHeroes Foundation, the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, Animus Foundation and Best Buddies Foundation. Krasimira has a MA degree in Cultural Studies from the Sofia University St.Kliment Ohridski. She is a Marshall Memorial Fellow.

Olena Yehorova is a Founder of the Rudnytska Institute - a non-profit libertarian organization created to enhance individual freedoms, rights, and opportunities for women and girls. Olena is also an associate project manager at Ukrainian Economic Freedoms Foundation, working on lowering taxation on women's hygiene products and the alumni of the Ukrainian Students for Freedom Leadership Program. She has over 4 years of experience in PR, communications, and marketing. Previously she worked in the government investment promotion agency and currently manages communications in the fintech and music startup. Given experience both in the public and civil realms formed her vision and stalwart support for the libertarian values with a strong focus on gender issues. She believes that the application of the ideas of limited government, individual freedoms, and promotion of the entrepreneurial spirit among women would build a freer community with an abundance of opportunities for women to express themselves.