Introducing the thinkers – experts of the Think Tank on Youth Participation

Andras Farkas (Romania)
Andras believes participation is mostly about ownership. The ownership of a young person within a community, a village or a city, a region, a country, a continent, and the world. If a young person doesn’t feel he is part of a process, a decision, a place, an event, a process, a something, he/she will not take part in “that something”. Andras believes the main problem with youth participation at European level is that in a lot of cases it is considered just within the framework of the youth sector. Andra’s work focuses especially on the field of social innovation through participation, entrepreneurship and culture, with a dedicated focus on youth and digital technologies. Since 2014, he’s been coordinating the Network of European Youth Capitals, an informal network of cities which held, hold or are nominated to hold the European Youth Capital title in the future. Under this framework a set of new tools and methods emerged, such as the European youth friendly cities quality label called 100% Youth City, or Com’On Europe, the European Platform of Participatory Budgeting for Youth. At local level, he is one of the co-founders and the strategic directors of the PONT Group, an NGO established in 2009 in Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania, Romania which managed to become an NGO with 11 staff members from scratch.

Barbara Moś (Poland)
Barbara is a trainer, youth worker and manager of the youth organisation in Kraków: Association Europe4Youth. Moreover: educational tools designer (board games, LARPs, workshops on competences development); consultant for youth policies (president of counselling body in the field of youth in Kraków); youth information consultant (Eurodesk); freelance trainer (focusing on leadership programs, diversity, youth participation, intercultural competences, creativity and innovations, methodologies and tools of non-formal education); author of many publications on youth participation (manuals, videos, scientific articles); collaborator of Jagiellonian University, giving courses compensating competency gap occurring among students of political science department. Educated formally in the field of international relations, sociology and organisational management. Youth participation is her field of interest and source of inspiration. She see it as an open space for expression and exchange of views and opinions between young people and decision makers in any field – school, family, organisation, local community, state, Europe. Barbara also sees it as democratic, inclusive process based on respect for rights and co-managed by all respective parties.

Bernhard Hayden (Austria/Sweden)
Bernhard is the outgoing President of Young Pirates of Europe, a federation of 7 European youth organisations working on strengthening the youth voice in the field of digital rights and Internet Governance. He has been active there since 2014 and worked together with young people as a workshop facilitator, outreach officer, and organiser of online consultation processes. He wants to contribute to the outcomes of SALTO Think Tank in order to create sustainable structures that allow young people across Europe to overcome the stage of "just being heard", and by fighting against power structures and prejudices that usually lead to the youth voice being ignored.

Carlos Teixeira (Portugal/United States)
Carlos is an economist by training and entrepreneur by instinct, as he says. He is currently working at the Permanent Representation of Portugal to the Council of Europe, as an aspiring young diplomat, focusing in the fields of human rights, democracy and rule of law. Previously, Carlos has worked at the European Commission, in the Cabinet of the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas. At the age of 15, he and his two friends (with the support of local Rotary Club) founded an Interact Club, allowing youngsters to have an increased participation in their community. Some years later, he created the following level within the Rotarian framework – a Rotaract Club. Carlos has also been Vice-President within NOVA Skills Association, a student-led organisation which focused on the development of Soft Skills in the academic community. Earlier in his career, he was granted the Angelini University Award, given the title of Portugal’s Young Scientific Journalist and elected the 2013’s best Portuguese student on Mathematics by the Academy of Sciences of Lisbon. In September 2018, he will be starting his Master in Public Policy and Public Administration. Tackling the diminishing political and civic participation as well as the lack of trust in our governance mechanisms will only happen if we focus on youth participation, Carlos believes. He is sure that we need a democratic system that meets the evolving expectations and needs of individuals, which can only happen if we ensure that incentives are properly placed – namely through institutional innovation, data-based governance and education for citizenship.

Corina Pirvulescu (Romania/Belgium)
Corina is a professional and activist in the youth sector, dedicated to shape communities where young people are fully empowered to participate as equal partners decision-making and have the opportunity to reach their full potential. She has a vast experience in working with a complexity of public policies and program management in youth sector, from local to international level. Corina is particularly interested in models of youth participation and development of youth work. Over the past 14 years, she has volunteered and worked with very diverse youth-led and youth-focused organisations: from local and national youth council in Romania to European and international youth networks. In advancing her passion for youth participation, Corina is a co-founder of the Think-Tank & Resource Centre ‘Social DOers’ and an IREX Fellow (US Dept. State funded) since 2015, when she worked with Chicago Votes on voter registration and education of young people. She is a strong believer in encouraging young people to take over the spaces where decisions can be influenced and adapting the policies and institutions to the new trends. She considers the present and future of youth participation can only be discussed in the context of digitalisation, access to internet and the role of social media in re-shaping the way we communicate and mobilise young people to take real action.

Dan Moxon (United Kingdom)
Dan is an expert in the field of youth participation, with 20 years of experience working with children and young people in the voluntary, public, for-profit and academic sectors. Dan is a Director of People Dialogue and Change, a consultancy providing capacity building services for organisations who wish to develop their approach to youth participation and youth engagement. He has led work on behalf of UK Youth Parliament, The Council of Europe, The British Youth Council, The Department of Health, The Railway Children, The 2017-18 Trio of EU Presidencies, The Commonwealth Youth Programme and well as a variety of local authorities, voluntary organisations and research institutions in the UK, and across Europe. His work includes a variety of multi-county youth participation initiatives for Eurochild and The European Patient forum. Dan is also an experienced researcher and evaluator with a research focus on children and young people's participation and using participatory research techniques to enable young people to influence policy and strategy. He is an Associate Director at the University of Central Lancashire’s Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation and is currently undertaking his professional doctorate on collaborative knowledge production between young people and adults.

Evaldas Rupkus (Lithuania/Germany)
Evaldas started as president of regional youth council in Lithuania, continued as Eurodesk programme coordinator at the Lithuanian Youth Council and member of the European executive committee of the European youth mobility information network. Initiator of generalist youth information and counselling system in Lithuania, consultant and author for European Youth Information and Counselling Agency (ERYICA). He has coordinated a group of young artists for socio-cultural participation at Goethe Institute in Vilnius. Evaldas has also lived in Switzerland, in Austria and is now based in Bonn. He has just finished managing marketing of the “EUth – Tools and Tips for Mobile and Digital Youth Participation in and across Europe” (; financed by Horizon 2020). Evaldas has also co-developed and delivered eParticipation training course for initiators and is active in digitalisation of the youth sector with the will to bring in aspects of impact and synergies to youth participation in decision-making processes.

Johanna Schwarz (Germany)
Johanna is UN Youth Representative and Youth Expert on the Sustainable Development Goals. She has recently graduated from LSE with a Master’s in Climate Change, where she focused on renewable energies, innovation- and technology management. Though her voluntary work always circled around working with youth, her advocacy for youth participation first started when she joined DMUN in 2012 – a youth-led NGO affiliated with the UN ECOSOC, which focuses on increasing youth participation in (international) politics, empowering youth and promoting global learning. Since 2014, Johanna has led DMUN’s international activities as Head of NGO Liaison and was responsible for creating the strategy on how to increase youth participation in the system of the UN. In this role, she was able to attend various conferences and speak on the importance of youth participation in decision-making processes, i.e. UN conferences, WEF, COY11 or TEDxYouth@DeutscheTelekom. Today Johanna is involved in various youth networks and constantly works with relevant stakeholders like UN youth delegates or the youth advisory board of UN Habitat to share resources, strengthen the networks and create synergies. Increasing youth participation in her vision can help (1) decreasing political disinterest among young people, by showing them that their voices matter, (2) increasing innovative potential and solutions through integrating multiple viewpoints in the discussion and (3) reaching more sustainable and long-term political decisions, which add value to society beyond the current legislative period, by including multiple generations in the decision-making process. Strengthening youth participation in decision-making essentially equates to reaching intergenerational justice.

Konstantinos Spatiotis (Greece)
Konstantinos has been involved in international youth work and non-formal and experiential learning since 2005. His experience since then has been in a variety of project in terms of partners involved and themes of activity, realised in both local and international levels. He has assumed different roles and tasks from project management and coordination, educational event designer and trainer/facilitator, concept development, and consultancy within youth matters. His focus has always been on the activation of communities and especially youth through both conventional and alternative ways of participation, including collaborations with individual young people, independent youth groups, youth and other non-profit organisations, National Agencies, SALTOs and other European, national and local Institutions. Konstantinos says that he is also a "child" of the European Commission Youth Programmes. Accordingly, active citizenship is not just the focus of his work, but also his passion where his values lie. The activation of young people, the support to youth structures and the space for their conscious and meaningful participation is, in his opinion, the only way forward through the current global challenges. Konstantinos sees youth participation as a mean to development of all actors involved and a "give and take" process where citizenship comes closer to the etymology of the term and communities come closer to the vision of a fairer, more open, more sustainable and inclusive standards. His vision in regards, includes processes and philosophies of co-management and participatory approaches, inclusion, divergent thinking, transparency and a win-win-win-win approach (for me, for you, the community and the Earth). A beautiful world, that needs a bit of repainting.... Youth Participation to "repaint the world".

Davide Capecchi (Italy/Belgium)
Davide is the Programme Manager at EU-Council of Europe Youth Partnership. He has joined the Think Tank to represent the partnership between the European Commission and the Council of Europe in the field of youth. The EU-CoE youth partnership has worked on the theme of young people's participation and citizenship both in terms of research, as well as creating tools and opportunities for practitioners from the youth field, youth researchers and policy makers to enhance young people's participation in all matters that concern them.

Martin Fischer (Germany)
Martin is a media and game educator. Martin has a rich background in youth-led organisations and networks. He was involved in the Young European Federalists (JEF), student council and several political and cultural movements before engaging stronger in youth policy through the European Youth Forum and the Structured Dialogue. Martin currently works freelance as a trainer but also works with a foundation of the city of Berlin to support local youth participation and digital youth work.

Mathieu Orphanides (Cyprus/Belgium)
Mathieu is a Cypriot citizen, born and raised in Congo and working at the European Commission in Brussels since 2002 in DG Education and Culture. Over the past 2 years, he has been working on the Erasmus+ programme Youth, the European Solidarity Corps, the Traineeship programme and currently he is also involved in the implementation of a new EU initiative encouraging young people who are turning 18 to discover European cultural heritage through EU-subsidised rail passes. Throughout the Erasmus+ programme and all the projects in which he has been involved, youth participation has always been a recurrent theme and objective. Furthermore, youth participation is one of the values that all European Institutions seek to promote. Mathieu believes that we should endeavour to maximise youth participation in our efforts to support community building.

Roman Banari (Moldova)
Roman is an activist for human rights and non-discrimination, with specialisation on most vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, Roma people, and young people who are among the most discriminated groups. Roman is a legal analyst and advocate for human rights, and is also involved as a trainer in Non-discrimination Coalition. He is also a trainer on social responsibility, human rights and non-discrimination and works as a Law teacher at a college in Moldova. Roman currently serves as the Vice-President of National Youth Council of Moldova and holds a post asan expert in the Expert Council for monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (under the Office of People’s Advocate, OMBUDSMAN).

Katrin Jaschinski (Germany)
Working with and for young people has always been a main topic for Katrin, practical when teaching climbing, or in experiential learning, more abstract in education research or Social Anthropology. She considers herself a fan of interdisciplinary work, connecting field and theory, mutual and ongoing learning. For young people she ideally sees enough space to speak and be heard (resulting in action), as well as opportunities and support in making themselves heard. Katrin currently work as Lead Research for the project Occupy Learning, which focusses on learning possibilities in public space. Here, my research team and I investigate how initiatives or people use public space to share knowledge and involve people in mutual learning in public spaces. In addition,  she also works with young people in the field of experiential learning.

Georg Feiner (Austria/Estonia)
Before joining SALTO PI as a Coordinator, Georg Feiner worked in the Austrian National Youth Council where he was coordinating and developing the Austrian Structured Dialogue activities since 2014. Georg has a university degree in sociology and international development studies and worked as junior scientist and project manager at the Sustainable Europe Research Institute on civic participation in the transition towards more sustainable societies. Besides his formal education, he organised various international meetings and ran the Austrian branch of the international youth organization United Games of Nations.

As part of the European Steering Committee on Structured Dialogue, Georg was the process architect for developing the European Youth Goals. Together with the Austrian National Agency Erasmus+ Youth he organized the European Union Youth Conference in Vienna in September 2018.


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