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.
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.
Diana De Vivo
Our Advisors are long-standing colleagues and supporters who offer strategic guidance, connections, and help carry projects and activities.
Former President of WIIS Brussels (2015-2019) & Managing Director, Leadership Programs at GMF
Corinna Hörst is Managing Director for GMF’s Leadership Programs. In this capacity, She leads GMF’s diverse portfolio of leadership development initiatives. She is also a member of the DE&I Advisory Group at GMF which is guiding the organization’s diversity and inclusion performance. She regularly speaks or writes on European affairs and transatlantic relations as well as leadership, diversity, gender, and women.
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.
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 2020.
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.
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.
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 (email@example.com). Finally, we are currently reflecting on our recruitment processes and developing a needs assessment of the organisation.
Stay tuned to learn more!