Francesca is a veteran of several political transitions of the last twenty years, most significantly engaged in the Balkans and the Middle East. Whether as an implementer of policy for an inter-governmental organization or as an NGO activist, supporting local efforts to reform or as a contributor of new ideas at an international think tank, she developed substantial relationships with political change agents and is respected by political leaders in several countries. An expert on elections, parliament and political parties, Francesca has worked in over 30 countries, managing multi-million dollar projects leading teams that delivered. She is a recipient of the Canada Peace Keeping medal, in recognition of her work in the Balkans. Before beginning international work 20 years ago, Francesca worked in the Canadian House of Commons and was campaign director for a national environmental coalition. For three years she was a senior advisor to the first woman to lead a major political party in North America and has been, ever since, a passionate advocate for women’s political participation. When Francesca is not thinking about politics, she thinks about food — both cooking and eating.
Vice President & Managing DirectorBiography
Carlo Binda started the Malta-based partnership, Binda Consulting International Ltd., after ten years of international political and democracy development work in the Middle East and North Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, and West Africa. Working with political leaders to establish new governance systems and institutions, civil society activists to entrench a civic sense of duty, and utilizing technology as a means to ensure progress is not eroded, Carlo has deep experience building on a career that began in Canada. Carlo was seconded from the Government of Saskatchewan to work as the Manager of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada. While with the government of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, he served as Special Advisor to the Premier. He also possesses election campaign and party organization experience at the municipal, provincial, and national levels with Canada’s New Democratic Party. Carlo has worked with members of parliament, government leadership, political activists, civil society advocates, and international donors in directing multi-million dollar programs in Yemen, Kosovo, Nigeria, and Libya – with significant regional support of programs. While constantly fascinated by the courage and determination of people in conflict and post-conflict environments, Carlo always takes time to learn about particular culinary traditions – firmly believing peace is most often achieved at dinner tables!
Director of MENA ProgrammesBiography
Mohammed Khasawneh's experience in civil society development, human rights, democracy and governance is extensive throughout the Middle East region. Building on his experience of being one of the founders of a civil society organisation, and inspired by it, he decided to focus over the past two decades on sharing that experience with others serving in multiple capacities as an election, observer and civil society expert. Most recently, Mohammad has managed, led and supported projects in Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, Libya, and Algeria in cooperation with international and national organisations including, but not limited to, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Democracy Reporting International (DRI), Search for Common Ground, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. He worked in different capacities such as programme manager and director, and consultant in addition to being a trainer for local and regional level projects and campaigns, in Arabic and English. Since his university days in Jordan, Mohammed has been committed to supporting youth engagement in politics and civil society development throughout the Middle East, and also enjoys travelling, meeting new people, and working on puzzles.
Eszter Kósa is a social worker and social policy expert who has been involved in various projects as a field worker, researcher and project manager. She has worked in Hungary, in the Balkans and also in crisis areas like Armenia and Eastern-Ukraine. Her main interests are social inclusion, combating poverty (with a special focus on child poverty), equal opportunities, human rights, civil society development and humanitarian aid. In the last three years, Eszter has been involved in emergency programmes to support refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in different countries. She has worked in the public and for-profit sectors, in the last few years at non-profit organizations like SOS Children’s Villages International. She has settled in Malta in 2018, and in her spare time she enjoys spending time with old friends and meeting new ones while cooking and eating great food from all kinds of cuisine.
Victoria El-Khoury Zwein
Political Activist & Women Rights Fighter, Victoria is currently an elected Municipal Councilor in Sin El Fil, Lebanon, serving her second term as head of the Local Development Committee focusing on community outreach. A veteran trainer, Victoria has trained hundreds of other trainers, political candidates and party leaders in the Middle East and North Africa on internal party organization and campaigning. She also trained women developing their capacities and involving them in politics in Lebanon and Arab countries. In addition to her political skills trainings, Vicky has conducted policy development and advocacy trainings for a wide range of organizations and municipalities. She is the director of ONDES, working for a more inclusive politics through “In2politics” program and links with women who won the municipal elections through “She, For Lebanon”. Victoria was a candidate for the parliamentary elections in 2018 and is one of the founders of “Women in Parliament” coalition, which was launched in 2012 in order to support women to reach decision-making positions. She is a member of the executive committee at Sabaa Party and one of the party’s founders. Victoria is a proud mom of Raphael and Ricardo and enjoys scuba diving with her family.
Gábor Daróczi is an expert on the fields of education, energy poverty, capacity building, anti-corruption and Roma related issues. In his work with the Soros Foundation and the Open Society Institute in Hungary, Gábor focused on youth, environment protection and Roma programs. From 2000 to 2008 he worked for several government ministries, including the Ministry of Health, the Office of the Prime Minister, the National Development Agency and the Ministry of Education where he served for two years as the ministerial commissioner responsible for the integration of Roma and disadvantaged children. As a civil society activist, Gábor has championed rights-based programming including the development of Roma university students as the director of the Romaversitas Foundation; combatting school discrimination as head of the board at the Chance for Children Foundation and supporting those living in energy poverty as the initiator of the Lightbringer Foundation. In recent years, before joining BCI, Gábor was an independent advisor to various European Union bodies such as the Directorate-General for Justice, the European Parliament, and the Economic and Social Committee. Gábor learned to swim at the age of 40 and a year later he swam across the largest lake in Hungary. He is now a big fan of sporting activities — especially if they can be combined with outdoor cooking.