Claudia Popa – spring fellow from Romania

Claudia Popa currently is Manager of Colors Association, a small Romanian NGO founded in 2008 that aims to develop individuals and their communities to meet the challenges of now-a-days life, implementing mainly educational, cultural and youth projects and activities for children, youngsters and seniors from Brasov and Sibiu Counties and promoting voluntary work as the main tool for personal and community development.

Having more than 3000 beneficiaries every year, Ms. Popa has been actively involved in developing new activities for Roma children, persons with disabilities or socially disadvantaged, etc. For instance, during 2015, together with her team, she is going to develop a new visual arts program for 400 Roma children from Garcini neighborhood in Brasov County, with the support of EEA Grants. Organizing members of the community, being a leader or generating ideas are skills that Ms. Popa has been practicing since primary school. During the years she has added lots of others – e.g. being a trainer or communicator, using technology and social media etc.

Ms. Popa has started her NGO career as a youth volunteer for Brasov Branch of the Romanian Red Cross during her University studies in 1998. Between 2001 and 2008 she has worked as a Manager for the Sibiu Branch of the same organization.

Brasov /foto: Iulian/

foto by Iulian

In these years Ms. Popa has created new innovative programs for different minority groups and not only and been a part of the national teams that created the youth leadership system and the communication strategy for the organization. In the same time here she learnt how to organize volunteers and beneficiaries and mobilize resources to meet different needs and solve problems.

Ms. Popa has a BA in Economics and International Transactions from the Transylvania University, Faculty of Economics in Brasov (Romania 2001). She is a Postgraduate in Fundraising from the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj Napoca (Romania 2009). Ms. Popa also took part in Participatory Capacity Development Program organized by German Red Cross between 2004-2005, and in a training in advocacy organized by Grasp/USAID in 2003. She has qualifications as a trainer, youth worker, HR and project manager and extensive experience in PR and non-formal education.

Ms. Popa is a native Romanian speaker and C1 level English (speaking, understanding, writing, and reading). She has also basic German knowledge, and she can understand and speak a bit of French, Spanish and Portuguese (due to similarities with Romanian and/or practical international work).

Wichita, Kansas

This is going to be her first visit to the U.S. With the support of this fellowship Ms. Popa would like to be more efficient in mobilizing and empowering people, and resources from her community in addressing the problems that they have and to see practical examples from civic organizations in the United States.

She is going to use her knowledge and skills in strengthening Colors and other NGO’s that she works with in both Brasov and Sibiu to be able to solve problems. Her field work is going to be in Garcini neighborhood (part of Sacele, a town close to Brasov), target group being the Roma youngsters. She has already done different activities for children in this community and she is interested in extending them to youngsters as well, with the support of local partners.

Ms. Popa special interests are youngsters and topics like leadership, campaign planning (e.g. empowerment) and fundraising. Her hobbies are sports (swimming), blogging, photography, travelling and meeting new people.

Claudia will have her internship at Seed House (Wichita, Kansas).

Johanna Laszlo – spring fellow from Hungary

Johanna Laszlo works as a Program Manager at the Hungarian Anti-Poverty Network (HAPN) 10-year-old NGO, which aim is to support the interest representation and democratic social participation of people experiencing poverty. Ms. Laszlo’s task is to organize campaigns related to income poverty by activating people experiencing poverty (unemployed people, homeless people or people with instable housing, Roma people) and their potential allies (citizens, scolars, students, formal and informal groups). She is also the contact person between EAPN and HAPN as a member of EAPN’s operative subgroup called EUISG (European Union Inclusion Strategic Group). Besides her job at HAPN she is also a volunteer at Kontur Association which is an organization dedicated to social inclusion – currently working at Hős Str. Budapest, a Roma settlement of the capital city.

As a countrywide network and an umbrella organization HAPN has various membership including both individuals and NGOs. HAPN is also a member of the European Anti-Poverty Network which is the umbrella organization of the the same issues on a European level. The target group of HAPN is people experiencing poverty which is a multi-layered group characterized by several features such as social status (unemployment, homelessness), age (child poverty, poverty of elderly people) and ethnicity (Roma people, immigrants).

foto by: Maurice

Ms. Laszlo has an MA Degree in Social Work at the ELTE Faculty of Social Sciences, and also she is a Ph.D. student majoring in Social Work and Social Politics (ELTE Faculty of Social Sciences). During her studies for 3 years she was a volunteer at the ELTE University program dedicated to the inclusion of young people with a criminal record where the Roma youth were overrepresented. As a student she was a Social Worker trainee at the Office of Justice, Budapest working with young offenders.

Ms. Laszlo also had working practice at the Family Welfare Centre (XV. district, Budapest) and in Denmark at an NGO called KVINFO’s Mentor network working with mentoring immigrant women. As a Ph.D. student Ms. Laszlo spent one semester at Freie University (Berlin, Germany) studying social movements and direct actions. Besides her university studies Ms. Laszlo finished various trainings related to the field of social work such as the training of Kompania Foundation about how to facilitate a peer-group of teenagers having problems with aggression, self-esteem, drugs to be able to change, and community work.

Chicago, IL /© 1999 EyeWire, Inc./Before her current job at HAPN, Ms. Laszlo formerly worked for the Regional Social Welfare Resource Centre in Budapest (organization dedicated to social innovations) and as a Freelance Expert in projects doing project coordinating, working with groups as a Social worker, developing training materials, mentoring, providing trainings for high school children. She taught at ELTE Faculty of Social Sciences in the MA education of social workers. As an activist it is very important for her to improve her knowledge in organizing. She was one of the founders of Uj Szemlelet (New Approach), a non-formal action group of social workers which was active at the beginning of the 2010s by organizing campaigns focusing on social justice.

Ms. Laszlo’s mother tongue is Hungarian, and she is fluent in English using it as a working language too.

Ms. Laszlo has never been in the U.S. Working at HAPN she is specially interested in the work of networks focusing on oppressed people whether this oppression is caused by poverty, ethnicity or both. As a structural social problem she finds it crucial to look at poverty as a macro-level, societal problem rather than an individual and avoid labeling but support by empowering. Community organizing can provide a wide choice of tools for this empowerment.

In her spare time Ms. Laszlo loves walking and reading.

Johanna Laszlo will have her internship at Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.


Kirilka Angelova – spring fellow from Bulgaria

From today on we will present you each of our Spring Fellow, selected to attend the Professional Fellowship Exchange Program of Great Lakes Consortium, funded by U.S. State Department.

Here we are presenting you Kirilka Angelova from Bulgaria.

Kirilka Angelova is a group dynamic Trainer and Expert in an Assessment Center, and Trainer on Entrepreneurship and Human rights. She has 8 years of experience as a trainer. From 2008 she is a part of the EVENTTEAM, a profit company that is specialized in delivering trainings and developing people’s skills. She has long history of developing people’s skills from different structures, including business and governmental.

The topics she has strong expertise are: communication skills, building and developing teams, negotiation, conflict management, personal and professional development, motivation, leadership, organizational development, entrepreneurship and human rights.

Mrs. Angelova is born and raised in Yakoruda, located in the south of Bulgaria. Since 1999 she is living in Sofia.

Mrs. Angelova is also engaged in non-profit sector. She works as a Business volunteer very close with Junior Achievement Bulgaria (JAB), who honored her with the title “Business Volunteer of the Year”. One of her biggest achievement within this organization is that she succeeded to trained primary school teachers from across the country in entrepreneurship. This was recognized as the best educational project in EU in 2012.

Mrs. Angelova also is part of a Mentor program under the same organization, and she works closely with high school students, mentoring them. For the last three years the students she works with are in top six within the competition “Raising Stars”. In 2014 she was invited to work as an external trainer of Dorea Educational Institute based in Cyprus and as a an expert and external trainer of National Association of Foster Care in Bulgaria.

Mrs. Angelova is engaged with C.E.G.A. Foundation for past 4 years. She attended several of their events; in 2012 she was selected as an External Trainer within the international project CHARM (Civic Help for Anti-Racist Measures). Through this experience she became very sensitive about Human Rights, youth from minorities and generally about the diversity among people. The project’s activities include several seminars & trainings, exchange of experience, cross-border cooperation and consultancy.

photo: Boby Dimitrov

The main idea of the project is to challenge youth organizations dealing with various issues (environment, charity, youth political participation, arts, leisure, etc.) to explore their contribution in building tolerant Europe and to mainstream anti-racist awareness in their work. This long-term project gave her huge experience and enough sense to challenge her perspective and opened her eyes for things she was not seeing before. Since then she started to get more aware of minority issues and always in her trainings with the students she is trying to raise their positive attitude towards diversity.

Mrs. Angelova has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Business Administration. She has 2 terms to graduate with her Master’s Degree in Leadership and Management at the Bulgarian New University. She attended several trainings in fields of Entrepreneurship, supersu binary apk Project Management, Human Rights, and Global Education. She also completed a training of the trainers on Human Rights, and has great computer knowledge. She is fluent in English.

Mrs. Angelova is very motivated person, who never stops to seek opportunities and to fight the life. She is a conscientious person who works hard and pays attention to detail. She is flexible, quick to pick up new skills and eager to learn from others. Mrs. Angelova never stops searching for new ideas, never stop learning, and never stop looking for new opportunities. Trainer with more than 8 years’ experience, professional, who really love the job and the field, human who inspires others, team player and leader.

Mrs. Angelova believes that the Professional Fellowship Exchange Program will give her knowledge and skills, which will improve her work with people in needs and minority groups. It is her first trip to the United States, and she is very keen to learn as much as possible regarding the cultural, the life and habits that Americans.

In her free time Mrs. Angelova enjoys playing basketball, hiking in the mountains, enjoys time with her family and beloved kid, daughter Martina, who is 3 years old.