Monika Balint – fellow from Hungary

monika balintMonika Bálint is a sociologist and social activist. Community research and community work have been in the center of her interest for the past ten years. She has been developing participatory and community artworks in Hungary and in other European countries. She is going to defend her Ph.D thesis in social communication this year. Also she has experience in making participatory action research.

Monika started to work as a community organizer in September 2014, with the Workfare Movement for the Future group. The main goal of the group is to represent the interests of the workfare workers (called public workers in Hungarian). Members of the group are workfare workers themselves. They want to be treated as any other worker, with all those rights and entitlements that the national law on work provides to ordinary workers. They meet regularly in work groups, hold different public events, demonstrations, presentations, media events, informal hearings, fundraising events and so forth. They operate mainly in Budapest, but they have a growing number of activists and alliances with other non profit organisations all over the country. It is a crucial goal for the group to be able to grow both on local level and through its contacts on national level.



The most active members and leaders of the group have been man, one of the challenges for the organizer is to raise the number of women and also people of Roma origin in the group, so that they get equal representation.

Monika lives in the VIII. district of Budapest, which has become the geographical field of her work and research since 2006. Most of the members of the Workfare Movement for the Future Group also live in this part of Budapest, and the meeting place of the group is also based here. She has a wide range of connections with local non-governmental and also governmental organisations.



As a project manager she led the project Magdi between 2008 and 2010 as a member of ZöFi – Hungarian Young Greens, developing dozens of programs for the local community in the Magdolna Quarter of the district (winning a SocialMarie – social innovation prize in 2010).  She has developed strong skills in areas where organizing, non-profit management and excellent interpersonal communication are required. She also took leading position in organizing the network of the local civil organizations, to develop action plans for the Magdolna Quarter and the Civil Strategy of the district.

As a local inhabitant she does voluntary work for local NGO’s like the Nap Club Foundation, and with her family is a member of the Leonardo community garden. She is also doing voluntary work for the Social Innovation Foundation. She has one daughter. Monika will have her internship at Service Employees International Union  (Chicago).

Tamás Szenttamási – fellow from Hungary

P1060713_02István Tamás Szenttamási is working as a regional social cooperative adviser at the National Employment Public Non-profit Ltd. He is responsible for supporting social cooperatives with consultancy in North-Eastern Hungary, and he plays an important role in building and sustaining social economy in several undeserved and minority communities in one of the most disadvantaged and depressed regions of Hungary

Formerly he had been working as a project manager at the Miskolc Gallery and Municipal Museum of Fine Arts in Miskolc. He was responsible for several, EU funded talent improvement and training projects. The main goal of these projects was to fight against the extremely high unemployment and emigration rate of the region through training young people, supporting their plans related to further education or employment, and through strengthening creative industries and the local identity in the city.

Tamás has been working with minority groups, mainly with the Roma, for many years. He studied cultural anthropology (MA), pedagogy (MA) and philosophy (MA) at the University of Miskolc, where he participated in several research projects aiming to discover the problems of the Roma minority and other disadvantaged communities of the region. Tamás also participated in a one-semester-long applied anthropology training in Granada, Spain that made him completely committed to his profession. He was graduated from the Faculty of Arts of the University of Miskolc in 2008.



In the same year he started to work at the Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County Institution of Pedagogy, Education and Culture, where he gained remarkable project management and leadership experiences. He had been working in several EU funded social development projects aiming to help disadvantaged and minority communities by providing them trainings on community enterprises, community work, local tourism and hospitality, local heritage conservation etc. He also had been responsible for cross-border cultural cooperation projects at the institution.

Tamás changed his working place in 2011 when he joined the Kék Vonal (Blue Line) Child Crisis Foundation. As a project manager he was responsible for launching and running the Kék Vonal Computer Clubhouse of Miskolc in the Avas district, one of the most underserved neighborhoods of the city. The clubhouse was opened and operated as the first Hungarian member of the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network. As the leader of the clubhouse Tamás acquired his first experiences about community work and community organizing, that made him committed to community issues.



For this reason Mr. Szenttamási does volunteer work in two civic organizations, the North-Eastern Passage Association and the Living Land Social Cooperative. Both organization support community based grassroots initiations, like social cooperatives or social enterprises, since the disadvantaged groups and neighborhoods of the region can hardly count on external help from the local or national government.

Mr. Szenttamási has great expectations related to this program, which will be his first trip to the USA. He would like to learn more about the methods of community organizing in peripheral minority communities, since he believes that it can increase the effectiveness of his daily job and volunteer activity. He also would like to have many experiences about the operation of community based enterprises and social economy in the USA, which might be applicable models in Hungary.

Tamás is a proud father of two children. He loves to be with his family when he is out of work. In his spare time Tamás likes learning foreign languages. He is fluent in English and a basic user of Spanish. Tamás also likes reading, fishing, cycling, hiking and camping and almost everything what one can do in the nature. Tamás will have his internship at Michigan United (Detroit).

Zuzana Balazova – fellow from Slovakia

zuzana_balazovaZuzana Balazova received her master’s degree in social work at the University of Constantine the Philosopher in Nitra in 2006. She is currently a PhD. candidate at the University of St. Elisabeth in Bratislava.

In 2001 – 2003 she started to work as teacher in primary school in Skalica. She was first Romani teacher in the town. She was teaching German language and History. In 2006 she was participated in political leadership program of National Democratic Institute. With other program graduates she founded the Roma Public Policy Institute (RPPI), which promotes policy solutions in such critical areas as education and housing issues.  As a member of the New Roma Generation NGO she participated in drafting proposals of state minority policies (2006). In 2007-2008 she worked for Milan Šimečka Foundation who was at the time monitoring how the Slovak government was fulfilling its program of Roma integration. In 2009, Zuzana started working with People in Need Slovakia on the project concerned with employment of Roma from social marginalized settlements. In 2011 – 2015, she cooperated with Centre for the research of ethnicity and culture (CVEK) an independet research institute dealing with the minority issues and human rights in Slovakia.


Skalica, Slovakia

Particularly, she was involved as Junior Research Fellow on projects concerned with inclusive education of Romani children, housing policy in Romani marginalized settlements and introducing affirmative action targeting Roma high-school and university students. In 2014 she was doing a research about secondary schools based near Romani marginalized settlements. Currently, she is working as social worker in primary school and she is implementing an inclusive education program. This program started in September 2014 and will end in June 2015.

In 2014 Zuzana founded with other friends non-profit organization called Roma advocacy and research centre (RAVS) in Skalica. She is chairwoman of RAVS and most of the projects issues are focused on the work in Roma community. The main aim of RAVS activities is to improve quolity of life in Romani settlements and to engage Roma from this settlements in the public life in the town. Therefore, Ms. Balazova could benefit from the GLC training later on, she can use all learned skills in the work in RAVS.

Ms. Balazova would like to work with Romani communities, especially with youth and women. She would like to educate next Romani generation how to exclude from poverty and to became equal partner for majority in Slovak society. She wants to be positive role model for youth and she likes help. She has very strong empathy, organizational skills and flexible mind.

She has been in United States as Roma delegate from Slovakia in ACYPL program in 2012.

In her free time, Ms. Balazova loves to learn and read books, walking around with her dog and spending time with her family. Zuzana will have her internship at Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (Chicago)

Róbert Furiel – fellow from Slovakia

RobertPhotoMr. Furiel was involved in LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) activism since the days of his secondary school. In his last year there and in the first years at the university, he was sharing his personal story as a gay man with members of local youth peer prevention programme, sensitising young people active in their community to the issues of LGBT people. Even though he did not finish his legal studies at the Faculty of Law of the Charles University in the Czech Republic, he left a mark there. For three years, he was involved in the LGBT student’s organisation, Charlie, which he even presided for one year. In Charlie, he focused on organisational development and organising community social events. But before that, he became involved in the Slovak LGBT activism. His involvement and a fortunate set of events made him one of the founding members of Dúhový PRIDE Bratislava (Rainbow PRIDE Bratislava), the first Slovak march for human rights of the LGBT people. For three years he was gathering experience and helping the topic of LGBT reach the mainstream media in the Slovak Republic.


Spiska Nova Ves photo: Peter Lázá

Shortly after returning to the Slovak Republic, he founded PRIDE Dúhové Košice (PRIDE Rainbow Košice), a march for visibility and human rights of LGBT people in Košice, the second biggest city and the whole region of Eastern Slovakia. For its third year, Mr. Furiel wants to bring the event even closer to the community of LGBT people in this part of the country. Originally skilled in “hard” areas such as project management, strategic management or grantwriting, he sees this educational programme as an opportunity to gain experience with more “soft” skills, mainly the community organising and community development. Too often, he saw that projects and events were organised without having the community in mind or being of any benefit to the community. He hopes

Charleston-West-Virginia /Photos Courtesy of: West Virginia Division of Tourism and Steve Shaluta,Jr.

/Photos Courtesy of: West Virginia Division of Tourism and Steve Shaluta,Jr.

This will be Mr. Furiel’s first trip to the United States of America. He is excited and eager to find out more about LGBT community organising in rural areas with the focus on co-existence with religious communities. He also likes to meet new people and learn from them – something he expects to be doing almost all the time during his visit.

Mr. Furiel is a non-smoker, both a cat and dog person (definitely not allergic to them, au contraire), proficient in English and Czech language with a basic knowledge of German. He loves reading, walking in the nature and good food. He has spent eight years studying law and attended seminars and workshops on topics ranging from project management, individual fundraising, theatre of the oppressed or appreciative inquiry. He founded and runs his own NGO – Saplinq with the mission to teach and develop young LGBT leaders. Robert will have his internship at Step by Step (Charleston, West Virginia).

Peter Huray – fellow from Slovakia

Peter HurayMr. Peter Huray is 25 years old student, coming from east part of Slovak Republic, from little village called Zemplínske Hámre. He is student of Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic of Faculty of Economics and Administration. He is enrolled in studies with master´s  degree programme of Economy and Management with the study field Business Management. He is at the final year, where he is focused on defending the diploma thesis and to pass the final exams to achieve graduation with Ing. degree from Economics. During his studies he spent one semester  in Spain, as a part of an Erasmus international exchange programme for university students. He was admissed to studies at Universidade da Coruna, in A Coruna city. He was active in the studies of his field related with home institution. He also attended 6 months university internship in Ankara, Turkey, where he was involved in the Non-Governmental Organization called Mutlu Birey. The organization is aimed on working with disabled young people by Down syndrome. His role in the organization was to develop and coordinate projects aimed on education of this target community. These projects were aimed on educating these people by using of non-formal learning methods with providing them soft skills.

Zemplínske HámreMr. Huray is also involved in active long-term internship in the Non-Governmental Organization called STEP – Society for territorial progress. This organization is based in the eastern Slovakia and its aim is to provide activities for local young people to develop territorial progress. The organization is active in the organizing the youth projects using Non-Formal Education (NFE) methods. He has started as a member at regular activities, and after attending on international projects (exchanges, trainings and seminars) he has developed into the local youth leader in this comunity of young people. He is responsible for development and coordination of national and international youth projects, where organizing youth exchanges and training courses using NFE methodologies. He is also youth leader in the community.

He is passionate about youth work, to devote young people actively and support their active growth, to be present at their life steps, to lead them in their development. Communicating within the people from the community is crucial for him and being close to its members is one of his crucial attitudes towards his work as a youth leader and project coordinator.

City_of_Minneapolis,_MinnesotaMr. Huray has never been in USA before, but he is really motivated to attend the internship of community organizing, as the USA is place, where community organizing was born and has developed within a years into the core model of an experience and knowledge base. He would like to exchange best practices with experts involved in the US and would like to get deepen into the culture, social habits and community work.

He is fluent in Slovak, Czech and English language, speaks French on the intermediate level and speak Polish on basic level. He is communicative, sociable and proactive, he likes challenges, personal development and he like to be in the centre of action.

He sees this fellowship programme as a great opportunity to improve himself and to learn a lot of new things. Even once you can experience the chance of your life. Peter will have his internship at Neighborhood Organizing for Changes (Minneapolis, MN).

Testimony from the Summer 2015 U.S. Mentors Delegation visiting Europe

Tara Parrish, Springfield, Massachusetts
Pioneer Valley Project

Tara delivering training in Bulgaria

Tara delivering training in Bulgaria

“It was an honor to participate in the WSOS/Great Lakes Consortium exchange. It was a wonderful professional challenge to design and deliver relevant, appropriate and useful trainings in new cultural contexts and to learn more about great complexity of doing community organizing in emerging civil society sectors in Bulgaria and Slovakia. I especially appreciated the opportunities to meet with Roma community leaders to learn about their important organizing work in the face of racial, social and economic discrimination.

I hope that this program continues its important focus on organizing in minority communities and supports the identification of Roma organizers and their professional development. Social change happens when ordinary people shed light on the wounds of injustice and build power focused on a shared vision for justice and transformation.

There are many reasons to be hopeful about the continued growth of the community organizing field in Central and Eastern Europe. I feel fortunate to have had this incredible opportunity to learn from and support and train organizers and leaders who are committed to justice and equality in this part of the world.”


Ellen delivering training in Bulgaria

Ellen Glover, Chicago, Illinois
One Northside
ellen“The GLC Fellowship was such a great experience for me professionally, personally and culturally. It was an amazing opportunity to get to meet the communities that my fellows’ organize and to see how their work is both similar and different to our organizing work in the USA. I look forward to continuing the friendships that I built through this experience as well as the professional contacts. It was transformational to get to connect with the international organizing community.”



June 28, 2015, Sofia, Bulgaria: Tara Parrish and Ellen Glover (in the middle) with Bulgarian Alumni after a training in Community Organizing.

Sondra Youdelman, New York City, New York
Community Voices Heard
sondratogetgerWhat an incredible experience! As we continue in the day-to-day race of our critical social justice work, it’s rare that we take the time or get the opportunity to share what we’re learning with others, and to step outside our own preconceived notions and embedded thoughts and see things differently. The professional fellows program offered that type of learning and rejuvenating experience for both sides. I am energized by my new perceptions and excited about the path forward.”

Sarah Jane Knoy, Manchester, New Hampshire
Granite State Organizing Project
Sarah“I am very pleased to have been a part of the summer 2015 delegation. Returning as a mentor for the second time has helped me understand the context the fellows work in more deeply and allows me to assist them more effectively. It has been wonderful to see the progress made by my 2013 fellow over the past two years. Thank you for allowing me and GSOP to participate in this exchange!”

Hannah Willage, Chicago Illinois
hannahChicago Coalition for the Homeless
“The GLC legislative fellowship has provided an amazing professional experience. I look forward to ongoing partnership with my fellows and seeing their successful work.”

Elizabeth Balint, Toledo, Ohio
WSOS/ Great Lakes Consortium for International Training and
elizabethDevelopment“It was a great opportunity to be with this U.S. mentor delegation in Romania and Hungary to learn from them and also see our alumni in doing joint activities with their mentors. The Spring 2015 Professional Fellows group was very active in every country in preparing the program for their mentors and spending time with them and the American delegation. As a result we could learn more about the participants of this program and their culture and traditions. Special thanks for the fellows who provided home stays and/or home hospitality for some of the U.S. mentors. It was a unique experience. We hope that the relationships that we built between our U.S. mentors and our European alumni will continue as the alumni are implementing follow on activities where
further mentoring and consultations will be very helpful. Thank You for this great experience to everyone involved!”

Nik Belanger, Charlottesville, Virginia
Virginia Organizing
niknik1“As a member of the U.S. delegation to Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary, I saw firsthand the power of community organizing to build stronger, more democratic communities in Central and Eastern Europe. Through the time I spent in Romania working one-on-one with our Fellow to develop an action plan to win a Roma artisan center in Petrosani, I learned more about Roma culture and how her community is fighting to preserve it. In Slovakia, I met with several NGOs, led trainings for immigrant organizations, and talked about Virginia Organizing’s Dismantling Racism work with community leaders. My time in Hungary allowed me to meet with my fellow to discuss his supervision and training of several new community organizers in a newly-formed national network of organizations. In only a couple short weeks, I met people who are just starting to think about community organizing and others who have already committed their lives to it. In all of this, I am grateful for the opportunity to meet so many amazing people and excited to see what happens next!

Kelly Viselman, Chicago, Illinois
Jane Addams Senior Caucus
kelly“The GLC fellowship program was an excellent experience professionally and personally. Collaborating and training with other organizers from the United States and Eastern Europe helped me refine my training and facilitation skills. The fellowship also provided time for valuable reflection on my work in Chicago and helped me feel more connection to a global struggle for justice”.


July 10, 2015, Budapest, Hungary: (L-R) row 1: Ellen Glover, Tara Parrish, Sondra Youdelman, Hannah Willage and Kelly Viselman; row 2: Sarah Jane Knoy and Nik Belanger.

Dana Trombitasova – fellow from Slovakia

BIG FOTOMs. Dana Trombitasova works in Agency for Development of Gemer region in Hnusta, south of Slovakia as a coordinator for international activities. The focus of agency´s actions is on initiation, realization and coordination of strategic activities for multilateral and dynamic development of Gemer region. The Gemer region in one of the poorest regions in Slovakia with the highest unemployment rate. Ms Trombitasova has been working mainly with young people and youth workers from Gemer region focusing on rising public awareness by organizing, mediating and providing information about trainings, seminars, workshops, conferences, exhibitions and presentations of regional projects.

Ms Trombitasova is a co-writer and project manager of international training and networking course for youth workers with a name SigNature. The main aim of the project is to provide greater understanding of interconnections between formal and non-formal education by using natural resources and activities in nature as a non-formal learning environment within the educational process. Ms Trombitasova works closely with Roma youngsters while helping them to be easier included into educational process by using non-formal educational tools. As the coordinator of international projects brings closer opportunities of trainings, education and volunteering service abroad to Roma youngsters in order to broaden their horizons and to develop their soft skills and communication in foreign language to rise their chances on a labor market.


Revuca foto:

Ms Trombitasova has Master degree in Tourism from University of Matej Bel in Banska Bystrica and Bachelor degree in Management from University of Presov in Presov. She has spent one semester in Spain where she was studying subjects of EMTM – Erasmus Mundus Tourism Management program. During her studies she has participating in various trainings and seminars regarding to leadership skills, communication skills, entrepreneurship and start-ups. As a volunteer she was working with normal and disabled kids in kindergartens providing animotherapy with ponies. Ms Trombitasova has participated also on various international trainings and networking courses for youngsters and youth workers focusing on democracy, ecology and sustainability and project writing by using non-formal educational tools and methods. Ms Trombitasova has participated on Global Community Development Project in Sri Lanka, where she was working 2 months as a volunteer for Sri Lanka´s NGO. Her tasks were management and marketing of community projects, organizing events for under-privileged kids, fundraising, donation activities and direct work with under-privileged schools and communities.



Ms Trombitasova is fascinated by success and power of bottom-up actions. She would like to work more with young leaders from Roma minority and gain new knowledge and experience in organizing of community to be able to create sustainable projects where members of community will point out their problems and become to be active and creative in finding solutions. This will be her first trip to the United States. Ms Trombitasova would like to gain new knowledge and skills relating to community organizing to be able to use this method in a proper way in work with communities in her region. She consider the right way how to achieve it to learn from successful community organizers who have visible results and in the U.S. – country where community organizing was born.

Ms Trombitasova is fluent in English, can communicate in Spanish, understands German and has basic knowledge of Polish and Russian language.  She is a proactive and communicative person with can-do attitude and sense for detail, who wants to help to improve life in her region and see results of her actions. In free time, Ms Trombitasova likes to spent time in nature by hiking, jogging, cycling, skiing and rock climbing and she likes to relax with good book. She also enjoys travelling, get to know new cultures and to learn foreign languages. Ms Trombitasova will have her internship at United Valley Interfaith Project (New Hampshire/Vermont)

Blazhka Dimitrova – fellow from Bulgaria

blagichkaBlazhka Krasteva Dimitrova is a teacher in “Teach for Bulgaria” Foundation, part of multinational organization “Teach for All”, since 2013. Her primary mission as a teacher is to give a quality education to every child regardless of its social status. During the two years of the program for teacher-leaders organized by the Foundation Blazhka achieved notable results with her students who were labeled as stupid and not worthy. At the end of the 2013/2014 school year, the Foundation made a film about her and her students because of the enormous progress made in a year and the positive change in 12th grade’s classroom. Except 12th grade she teaches 11th and 5th as well. She teaches English, Theatre and Cinema, Professional and Personal development classes and frequently invites famous people and role models in the classroom, who share their life experience and the reasons for their success.

Furthermore Blazhka is dedicated to volunteering in all forms. At the moment she is working together with her students on a “Volunteer club” at the school she is teaching in. During the last year she has been working hard as a mentor to disadvantaged youths as part of her volunteer work for “Step for Bulgaria” Foundation. As a mentor she meets with her youth who is Roma every week and they set goals for themselves, plan future steps to lead them to success and evolvement, they talk about life. Every month mentors and their youth get together at an organized from the volunteers event. These events always have a theme which is of importance to the youngsters. During the events everybody works together, they learn new things through fun and interactive methods.



Blazhka is also a volunteer as a trainer and a leader in “The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award”. This is a personal growth program for young people that combines practical experience and skill development the result of which are young, responsible citizens of the world. Blazhka devotes a big part of her time to motivate young people to become part of the Award and to develop themselves.

During her student years Blazhka proves herself as an active person with a strong position and a person who wants to grow and develop. She has worked at a leading radio media as a co-host in the morning show and an author of articles. During the years she becomes more and more familiar with children’s rights through her internship in the Ombudsman’s Institution and then through her internship in the Institution of Modern Politics, where she spends months of hard work into creating an Internet site, containing all of the children’s rights and responsibilities, described in a understandable for them language.

Country Church With Autumn Color Of Sugar Maples Greenfield, New Hampshire

Photo: Ron and Patty Thomas Photography

In school she has been awarded multiple times at different events. Her desire for constant learning takes her to Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridksi” where she finishes her Bachelor’s degree in “Public Administration”. After that she is accepted for a Master’s degree in “National Security and Defense” in the Military Academy “G. S. Rakovski”. Alongside with that she also finishes a postgraduate qualification in English Literature and Pedagogy as a part of her teacher-leaders program in “Teach for Bulgaria”.

In her spare time she likes to go to the theater and to cook. Her passion for confectionery finds expression in a site that she herself creates, in which can be found more than 40 of her favorite recipes. She loves learning new languages. She speaks English, basic Spanish and French. In 2011 she worked in the United States under the program “Work and travel” and this trip to America will be her second. She believes that the US Fellowship Exchange Program will give her a lot of practical experience to apply in her work and through that to achieve a positive change for the community with and in which she works. Blazhka will have her internship at United Valley Interfaith Project (New Hampshire/Vermont).