About us

WIIS Brussels was born in the early 2000s as a loose group of volunteers. We aim to advance gender equality in the Brussels-based security & defence sector and change the status quo. Registered as a not-for-profit association in 2013, WIIS Brussels became a key player in gender and security policy discussions beyond its membership, engaging daily with its thousand contacts among policymakers, military personnel, diplomats, legislative aides, scholars, students, journalists, entrepreneurs and business representatives, at all stages of their security-related careers.

Our purpose and values

WIIS Brussels is about community building and networking, contributing expert views on foreign, security, and defence policies.

We are dedicated to advancing the missing voices around the security table, women leadership, building trust and doing things differently, promoting compassion and offering a path towards greater self-reflection in approaching security. We create new pathways and offer safe spaces to discuss our differences off the record, training and inspiring the women leaders of tomorrow.

We aim at leveraging the diversity of ideas that is necessary to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to global security challenges. We believe in paying more than lip-service to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and train accordingly. We lead from a place of transparency, authenticity, and respect.

WIIS Brussels belongs to the global family of approximately 50 independent WIIS chapters around the world.

Steering Committee

WIIS Brussels is led by an energetic and diverse team of unpaid volunteers who make up its Steering Committee. The SC is responsible for the day-to-day functioning of the association.

Charlotte Josam

#Events
Charlotte has been working in the European Parliament since 2020 as a project manager in the field of youth and civil society participation. She is connecting young people more with the Parliament and building active networks. Before that, she completed her Master’s degree in Innovation and Global Sustainable Development at Lund University, where she focused on sustainable economic models and innovation processes. Previous work experiences include the German Development Bank KfW, the German Embassy in Kenya, the European Institute for Innovation and Technology and the South African NGO Women on Farms Project. Besides the public sector, she also got to know the startup scene in Germany and Sweden while working in a startup, a startup incubator and receiving the Lund Startup Fellowship. Her interests range from sustainable and transformative innovations to diplomacy and a feminist foreign policy. 

Clotilde Sipp

#Communications
Clotilde Sipp is a Policy Adviser for Political, Security and European Institutions at the New Zealand Mission to the European Union. She was previously a Senior Programme Manager at the think-tank Friends of Europe, where she coordinated security, Asia and development-related activities. She previously worked for a sustainable development charity and for a global risk management and security services company. She holds an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics (LSE), specialising on EU external policies, especially non-traditional security cooperation with Southeast Asia; and a BA in Politics & Linguistics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She is bilingual in French and English.

Daria Nashat

#Trainings
Daria Nashat is a speaker and trainer on inclusive leadership, resilience strategies, and the co-founder of ‘Women in Politics’. She is a Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) trainer, co-host of the ‘Courageous Conversations on Race & Privilege’ circle, and the co-author of the German Center for International Peace Operations’ (ZIF) Stress Management Handbook for civilian experts in peace missions. Prior to founding her own business, she worked in the field of peacebuilding, refugee return, and community-building. 

Diana De Vivo

#Communications #WIIS@NATO
Diana is working as Political Engagement Officer in the Cabinet of the General Manager and Chief of Staff of the NATO Communications and Information Agency in Brussels.  She provides advice on the political and military spectrum of Alliance’s strategic priorities.  Diana has founded the Diversity and Inclusion and Women Empowerment movement inside the Agency and she is an Advisory Council Member of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, a GMF Marshall Memorial Fellow and a member of Women in International Security.  Diana advocates for the integration of a gender perspective in international security and foreign policy and for strengthening the gender-security nexus.  She has been nominated for an Award – Honourable Mention for Integration of a Gender Perspective at NATO. She has previously worked in academia, the private sector, NATO Joint Force Command Naples, The Italian Delegation to NATO, the European External Action Service and Non-Governmental Organisations on strategic, partnerships and policy matters. Diana has undertaken field work in 2018 in Ghana, Africa, where she contributed to community engagement, capacity building and research on women’s rights.  She has worked with girls from Ghana slums and the Muslim community to enhance women and girls’ awareness of human rights in a country where issues such as child marriage, child prostitution, gender-based violence, illiteracy, child abuse are still a very diffused. She also trained women and girls on leadership, presentation and communication skills hence empowering them with tangible abilities they could employ in the future. Diana has published several articles and research papers for the NATO Defence College and international think tanks on foreign policy and security and defence issues. Born in Naples, Italy, Diana De Vivo holds a Master’s degree in International Relations and Politics and is currently pursuing an MLitt (Research programme) in Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews (United Kingdom) – The Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV).  She is interested in the contribution of women to counter terrorism and countering violent extremism, radicalisations, terrorism and religion and terrorism and the media.  She is Italian mother tongue and fluent in English and French, good in Spanish.

Eva Ribera

#Membership #WIISCampus #Communications
Eva is Project Officer at the Trans European Policy Association (TEPSA), the first transeuropean research network in the field of European affairs. Eva holds a MA in International Relations (Security, Peace and Conflicts) from the Free University of Brussels and a BA in Social Sciences from the Bordeaux Montaigne University. Through her research works, she further specialised in gender-just peace, transitional justice and collective action in the Western Balkans. Prior to joining TEPSA, Eva was a long-term trainee at the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, where she worked on issues related to the rule of law and fundamental rights. She also worked as a research assistant for a European-wide academic project and worked on European public affairs for the corporate sector. In addition to her native French, she speaks English, has professional proficiency in German and has been learning Arabic for two years.
Florence F.

Florence Ferrando

#Podcasts #WomeninCT
Florence is a French senior consultant at Avisa Partners (CEIS) since 2018. She is specialised in digital transformation and new technologies within sovereignty domains, including defence and security, and managed a large range of projects and missions for national and international public entities and private organisations: market analysis, technological roadmapping, papers, studies on new technologies (artificial intelligence, virtualization, cloud computing, blockchain, homomorphic encryption, military IoT, autonomous systems). As part of her education, Florence achieved several internships within the French public sector (French General Delegation for Armament Naval Techniques, police force) as monitoring officer, and the aeronautic industry (MBDA, Safran). Owing two International Relationships second-year master’s degrees from Lyon 3 Jean Moulin University with specializations in international security, defence and business intelligence, Florence studied especially defence themes such as cross-border cooperation, no-state threats, defence economics or nuclear deterrence.

Isabelle Francois

President
Isabelle is an expert in international security with a 30-year professional experience from the Canadian government to international organizations, academia and think tanks. She is currently Adviser for the Science for Peace and Security at NATO. She has also worked as a consultant providing policy advice to the private and public sectors, and volunteered in several nonprofit organizations. She has served in a number of capitals: Ottawa, Brussels, Moscow, Washington. She led many international teams, developing and implementing various projects bringing people from different cultures together, and fundraising for causes she felt strongly about. Isabelle has authored over fifty publications on international security issues, spoken at many conferences, and given various interviews to the press. She received her Law degree from Sorbonne, Paris, her Ph.D in Political Science from Université de Montréal, Canada, a Certificate in Essentials of Leadership from London School of Economics (LSE), and her CoachingCertificate from the United States.

Krystal Gaillard

#Communications #WIISChapters
Krystal Gaillard is the Programme Executive for the European Young Leader (EYL40) programme at Friends of Europe where she manages the organisation’s leadership programme, which also includes transatlantic and MENA profiles. She previously worked for the Peace, Security and Defence programme at Friends of Europe after a short stint as an analyst in a Brussels-based brand consultancy. Prior to this, she held several roles as a freelance researcher (West African peace and development), assistant researcher (political participation and diversity) and editor-in-chief of a public policy and governance academic journal.

Marta Martinelli

Vice-President
Marta Martinelli is head of the EU external relations team for the Open Society European Policy Institute, where she oversees policy development and EU advocacy within the institute. She acts also as OSF Special Advisor on security governance. She joined the Open Society Foundations in May 2010. Previously, Marta worked in Kinshasa for the European Union mission for Security Sector Reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. From 2005 to 2009, she advised the Belgian Directorate General for Development on peace-building policies in the Great Lakes Region. Marta has advised the European Commission, the European Parliament, the UNDP, OECD/DAC and UNIFEM on gender, peace support operations, and security system reform in Burundi, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Marta’s academic career includes holding a chair in peace and conflict studies at the Free University of Brussels, and teaching at the Institute of International Sociology in Gorizia (Italy) and at the UNESCO Chair for Peaceful Conflict Resolution and Human Rights in Bujumbura (Burundi). In Brussels, she serves as an adviser to the European Institute of Peace, the European Network for Central Africa, and Save the Children. She holds a PhD in conflict resolution and an MA in international politics and security studies from the Department of Peace Studies in Bradford (United Kingdom) as well as a BA in diplomacy and international relations from the University of Trieste (Italy).

Naďa Kovalčíková

#WIIS@NATO #SecConsultation #WIISChapters
Dr. Naďa Kovalčíková is the Senior Analyst in charge of the Transnational Security portfolio at the EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS). She focuses on hybrid threats, foreign interference, disinformation, resilience and democracy, election security, and transatlantic cooperation. She is a 2019 awardee of Women In International Security; a mentor within the innovative network of Harvard Women in Defense, Diplomacy, and Development; and an expert collaborator for Minsait’s Ideas for Democracy. Nad’a was formerly a Program manager and Fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy in the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She also worked at NATO, the European Parliament, the French and Canadian embassies, and several NGO and think tank projects. Nad’a obtained her Ph.D. in international economic relations with a focus on globalization and security threats, and master’s degrees in Politics and Government from the LSE, in European Affairs from SciencesPo Paris, and in International Relations from EUBA.

Pauline Massart

#WomenInCT
Pauline Massart has been an active member of WIIS Brussels since 2010. She is currently a Partner at Avisa Partners in Brussels, where she manages cyber and strategic intelligence activities, working with EU institutions, NATO and the private sector. She was previously Head of Media & Communication at the European Defence Agency, after before that used to head the Peace, Security & Defence Programme of the Brussels-based think-tank Friends of Europe (previously the Security & Defence Agenda). She began her career in the defence industry, after studying at King’s College London, the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris and Leiden University in the Netherlands. Pauline was a co-founder of the Brussels Binder, the online female expert database dedicated to more diversity in EU policy debates. She speaks English, French, German and Italian, and is the mother of two children.

Rebekka Haffner

Treasurer
Rebekka Haffner is Attaché at the Belgian Ministry of Defence working on quality management. Previously, she was Project Officer at the European Organisation of Military Associations (EUROMIL). She holds an MA in Security and Diplomacy Studies from Tel Aviv University as well as a BA in Politics and History and a BA in Politics and Law from the Westfälische Wilhelms Universität in Münster, Germany. In addition to her native German, Rebekka speaks English, Dutch and French. She lives close to Mechelen with her husband and two kids.

Romana Michelon

Secretary General
Romana is a political scientist with over seven years of experience in NATO and the EEAS, where she worked in the fields of conflict resolution, security and defense. Most recently, she worked on Women, Peace and Security in the Human Security Unit in the Office of the NATO Secretary General. Over the years, Romana specialized in issues of gender, peace and security, and she is currently a rostered civilian expert with the Dutch MFA. As Secretary General of WIIS Brussels, Romana works towards the meaningful inclusion of women in the security and defence sector. In 2018, she co-founded WIIS@NATO, which discusses current security challenges through a gendered lens. Romana is currently senior consultant EU affairs at Berenschot in Brussels. She has research experience at the German Marshall Fund, King’s College London, and FRIDE. Romana has a BA in European Studies, an MSc in International Relations, and an MA in Conflict Resolution.

Rosa Balfour

#AdvisoryBoard
Rosa Balfour is director of Carnegie Europe. Her fields of expertise include European politics, institutions, and foreign and security policy. Her current research focuses on the relationship between domestic politics and Europe’s global role. She has researched and published widely for academia, think tanks, and the international press on issues relating to European politics and international relations, especially on the Mediterranean region, Eastern Europe and the Balkans, EU enlargement, international support for civil society, and human rights and democracy. Balfour is also an associate fellow at LSE IDEAS. In 2018 and 2019, she was awarded a fellowship on the Europe’s Futures program at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. Prior to joining Carnegie Europe, Balfour was a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She was also director of the Europe in the World program at the European Policy Centre in Brussels and has worked as a researcher in Rome and London.

Sabrine Dao

#WIISCampus #Podcasts #Events
Sabrine is a multilingual political scientist and human rights lawyer. She is a Research Analyst in Security & Intelligence at the Africa Center for Strategy & Policy based in Washington D.C. and Nairobi. She also works on transatlantic leadership and strategic engagement at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Her background lies in international security, peacebuilding and peacekeeping, global diplomacy, and international human rights law. During past professional experiences, Sabrine has carried out field work in West Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. She is the Director and Founder of Human Rights Advisors, an intersectional Human Rights advisory firm. Sabrine is a Feminist Foreign Policy & Development Fellow with the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Committed to strengthening and connecting women in the field of security, peace, and defense, Sabrine joined Women In International Security (WIIS) Brussels as a Steering Committee member in 2019 and then created, and co-leads WIIS Campus, the academia-focused branch of WIIS Brussels, which she continues to co-lead. She also supports the external outreach, fundraising, and events organization of WIIS Brussels. Through her extensive multimedia production background, she has produced episodes that feature on the WIIS Brussels Voices and WIIS Campus podcast channels. In 2022, she created, produced, and co-hosted the podcast channel Popping the EU Bubbles, aimed at unwrapping the misconceptions of the Brussels-centric EU scene.

Sofiia Shevchuk

#Mentoring #Podcasts
Sofiia is an independent researcher, analyst and project manager in diplomacy, foreign policy, and security. Particularly interested in intersection between climate gender and security. In addition to research, Sofiia is experienced in managing projects and high level events. Worked as a researcher and project manager for MEP Dr Hannah Neumann at the European Parliament, as a researcher at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, as an analyst and event manager at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. As a member of the Steering Committee, organising a mentorship programme with the Women in International Security Brussels and managing strategic (web-)development for The Brussels Binder. 

Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee consists of long-standing colleagues and supporters who offer strategic  guidance, connections, and help carry projects and activities.

Historian, author, journalist and consultant Ilana Bet-El is a senior adviser on energy, defence, geopolitics and communications, with over thirty years’ experience in both the private and the public sectors. She is also a widely published writer on politics, history and identity in the EU, Russia, the Middle East and the Trans-Atlantic community. With a background in academe and the media, she has worked for the UN in both the Balkans and New York as well as advising multinationals and governments from her base in Brussels. She created and edited the editorial page of European Voice (now Politico), and has contributed hundreds of columns and opinion to pieces to a wide variety of international media. She holds a PhD from the University of London and is fluent in English, Hebrew and French.

Former Deputy Secretary-General for Economic and Global Issues at European External Action Service (EEAS)

Christian Leffler, born in Göteborg in 1955, obtained a Bachelor’s degree in politics and international relations from the LSE. After doctoral studies at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva he joined the Swedish Foreign Service in 1980. Postings to Cairo and Paris were followed by the Political Affairs Department of the Ministry in Stockholm. After participating in the accession negotiations and in establishing the new working structures of the Representation in the first year of active Swedish EU membership, he became the first Swedish “Antici,” responsible under the Permanent Representative for policy coordination in the work in the Council of Ministers. He joined the European Commission in 1996, where he took up the post of Commission “Antici” and Head of the unit in the Secretariat General responsible for the coordination of relations with the Council of Ministers. In 1999, he became the Deputy Head of the Private Office of the Right Honourable Chris Patten, European Commissioner for External Relations. From 2002 until 2007, he was Director in charge of the Middle East and South Mediterranean in the European Commission’s Directorate General for External Relations. He then spent three years as Head of Cabinet of Mrs Margot Wallström, Commission Vice President for Institutional Relations and Communication. During 2010 Mr Leffler was Deputy Director General of the DG for Development and relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific States, as well as a senior adviser to EU High Representative for CESP and European Commission Vice-President Catherine Ashton, assisting her in the preparation for the establishment of the new European External Action Service. From the beginning of 2011 to 2015 he was Managing Director for Americas with the European External Action Service, and was Deputy Secretary-General for Economic and Global Issues from 2015 to his retirement in 2019.

Former President of WIIS Brussels (2015-2019) & Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of GMF’s Brussels Office

Corinna Hörst is senior fellow and deputy director of GMF’s Brussels office. She supports the executive director in all aspects of strategic planning, operations, personnel, management, and communication. In this capacity, she plays a central role in program planning, networking, and relationship building with the EU institutions, NATO and stakeholders from governments, media, business, as well as nongovernmental and think tank communities. She monitors and frequently comments on transatlantic relations and European affairs and is engaged in various women leadership development and diversity activities.

She is also co-founder of The Brussels Binder, an online database of female policy experts. Her recent book “Women Leading The Way in Brussels,” co-authored with Claudia de Castro Caldeirinha (John Harper Publishing, 2017) looks at women leadership in Europe and Brussels, including vignettes of women who exercise leadership across different sectors in Brussels. Before coming to GMF in 1999, she was a teaching associate at Miami University, teaching American and world history and worked as assistant project manager at a publishing company in Germany. Hörst has a PhD and master’s degree in history and studied at Miami University in Ohio, United States, the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and St. Andrews University in Scotland.

Chair, Global Public Affairs at Hill+Knowlton Strategies

Philippe Maze-Sencier has been working for 25 years at the nexus of policy, government relations and communications on transatlantic issues as well as in Africa, India and the Middle-East in the aerospace, energy, defense, and pharmaceutical sectors. Prior to joining Hill+Knowlton Strategies, he was the Managing Director at McLarty Europe and held multiple senior positions at APCO Worldwide. He also worked for the spirits division of the French luxury group LVMH in France and Germany; for the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva; and at the delegation of the European Commission in Washington, DC. Philippe holds a master of science in foreign service from Georgetown University and a master of arts in law (Cantab) from Cambridge University. During the course of his studies, he spent one year at the University of Bonn in Germany as a Konrad Adenauer Security Studies fellow.

Vice-President for Communications of the European Economic and Social Committee, Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Equality Commission and former Deputy Speaker of the first Northern Ireland Assembly

Born in Belfast, Jane Morrice has worked in many challenging fields throughout her career; Deputy Speaker of the first Northern Ireland Assembly set up after the Peace Agreement, Head of the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland and former BBC reporter and Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Equality Commission. She was elected Vice President of the European Economic and Social Committee in April 2013 until October 2015. In this capacity, she was also President of the EESC Communications Group. Throughout her career she has been actively involved in peace building and conflict resolution. As EC representative, she was a member of Delors task force, which established the first EU PEACE Programme, and, during her time in politics, she worked on the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. In her role as EESC Member she has written two reports on EU peace building and she continues to work to promote exchange of experience between Northern Ireland and people in conflict zones in other parts of the world.

Freelance Reporter for NPR and Deutsche Welle; Podcast Host, Atlantic Council

Teri Schultz is an experienced multimedia journalist who has reported from more than two dozen countries, having lived in Finland, Russia and Belgium in addition to the United States. Based in Brussels since 2006, Schultz currently covers NATO and the European Union and can be seen, heard and read on NPR, on the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) and on her own podcast, Channeling Brussels.

Having begun her international career covering the disintegration of the USSR from Helsinki, Schultz remains particularly focused on counter-terrorism, security and defense with an emphasis on Russian disinformation and destabilization activities. Over her career, she has traveled six times to Afghanistan, been a Kiplinger Fellow in Digital Media, a journalism exchange participant in Pakistan with the Center for International Journalists, and a Knight International Press Fellow teaching throughout rural Russia.

Schultz has a Master of Science in International Relations (magna cum laude) from the University of Helsinki and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism (with honors) from New Mexico State University. She speaks French and Finnish. She is a frequent debate moderator and panelist, active in promoting better gender balance across subject matters.

Director for Stabilisation and Humanitarian Aid at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Marriët Schuurman is a senior diplomat having served the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more than 20 years. She currently serves as Director for Stabilisation and Humanitarian Aid, and was previously Human Rights Ambassador, and representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia . She also led the Task Force for the Netherlands’ 2018 UN Security Council membership. Other duties include postings in Sudan, Zambia and Moscow, and strategic policy development regarding Kosovo and the African Great Lakes region. She served as the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security from 2014 to 2017. Ambassador Schuurman has held several board positions including the Presidency of the Works Council of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidency of the Council of the University of Amsterdam.

Senior Advisor to the President of the UN General Assembly, Team Leader for Human Rights, Social & Humanitarian & Cultural issues – Leader of the task force on 75th anniversary of the UN

As the Team Leader for social, humanitarian and cultural issues in the OPGA74, Alexandre Stutzmann is the focal point for Third Committee issues, which also prominently feature human rights and fundamental freedoms, migration and refugees, youth and education. Prior to joining the Office of the President of the General Assembly, Alexandre was the Director for parliamentary committees in the field of External Policies (foreign affairs, development, international trade, human rights, security and defence) in the European Parliament. His role was to coordinate the political and administrative support given to the work of several political bodies and develop synergies between external and domestic EU policy areas, while ensuring consistency with the work and action of other EU institutions or with third country counterparts. A European Union official since 2001, he previously headed the Secretariat of the Foreign Affairs Committee (2014-2015) and served as the Diplomatic Adviser to three Presidents of the European Parliament (2007- 2014). Alexandre is a graduate in humanities, political science and law from the Ecole Normale Supérieure as well as the Sorbonne University in Paris. He was also a postgraduate scholar at the European University Institute in Florence (1997-2001), where he focused on international relations, while teaching political science at New York University (1999-2001). A French native, his languages include English, German, Italian and Spanish.

Our activities

WIIS Brussels puts a premium on its members providing tools to enhance their skills, develop their career, and share their stories. We promote training and mentoring and offer various platforms to amplify women voices among security experts and practitioners. WIIS Brussels reaches out beyond its membership and take part in intellectually diverse debates to enrich its understanding of security, peace and defence issues, also offering informal opportunities for experts and practitioners to discuss their differences “off the record”.

How can you help?

WIIS Brussels is a not-for-profit organisation which relies on volunteers to help carrying out its activities. Members of the Steering Committee are all unpaid volunteers and WIIS Brussels unfortunately cannot offer employment or internship opportunities. We regularly share interesting vacancies of other organisations on social media so feel free to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!

If you are a student or a recent graduate interested in supporting WIIS Brussels by giving some of your time, you can also reach out to our university antenna WIIS Campus (wiiscampus@gmail.com). Finally, we are currently reflecting on our recruitment processes and developing a needs assessment of the organisation.

Stay tuned to learn more!

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