Professional Fellows from Europe in United States

12068645_852199188211823_8671911631801316222_oThe second delegation with a total of 18 fellows from Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia will visit the U.S. from September 29–November 13, 2015 to participate in joint trainings, round-table discussions, site visits, and will have interactions with U.S. leaders. A tailored internship with mentoring, multicultural events, and participation in volunteer activities as well as in the Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, D.C. also included in the 6-week professional fellows program. Participants will prepare a 6-9 month individual and group Action Plan for follow on activities. They have various opportunities to experience the American family life and the diversity in the U.S. through staying with American host families during their internship in Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Detroit, Michigan; and the rural areas of New Hampshire and Vermont, and Charleston, West Virginia.

Read the newsletter here

Agnes Molnar – fellow from Hungary

PhotoAgnesAgnes Molnar is working as a youth leader and charge d’affaires at the Opera Cultural Association for 5 years as a volunteer, and for 1 week as an employee. She is managing projects, writing applications, coordinating volunteers, and organizing events here. The Opera Cultural Association ( the name stands for the latin word: opera, that means operating) is a youth organization, the main aim is to provide democratical tools and western perspective  for youngsters through advocacy, communication and art. She maintains the on-going civic initiatives in the organization and keep the cooperation between local, informal groups and the Opera.

Previously she worked as an international coordinator at the National KID Association for 1,5 year. Her tasks included writing applications for grants, contacting with other european partners and informing member organizations about the international possibilities within the National KID Association (KID stands for Komplex, Integrated, Differenciated an it is an umbrella association).

Ms Molnar has been part of many initations in Debrecen, as a native of the city, she just started to support unemployed, alternative-thinking people to implement their projects through the Opera Association. She started to organize skateboarders for the issue: having a skatepark. She also started to work with blind and visually impared people for integration, she was part of the procceed of involving local groups to the online radio (Opera- owned Sub Radio)for starting radio shows in locally useful topics they’re specialized in.

Debrecen, Hungary

Debrecen, Hungary

She met community organizing 1 year ago  with 3 others from the Opera through the Civil College Foundation. They participated on the trainings and after they started to develop the organization structurally. Now, she is the leader of the civic workgroup where the main aim is to create a local community. It contains people who has visions about the city of Debrecen, which is different from the majority’s. These partners are mainly part of a subcultural group and they suffer from social justice problems just because they have different thoughts about democracy than the present major ideology of the government. She thinks that the young people of the middle-class are sliding down, socially and economically. They marked and prejudiced by outfit, taste and social position not by their values or knowledge. She observed that Hungarian people are not opened for „the other”, racism, intolerance and inequality are common phenomens in the everyday life. The Opera try to ensure people that a different life is not a crime, just another way. In Hungary it is a real problem and community organizing is one of the ways to solve it.

She has been on different  youth seminars in France and in Austria. She has participated in several developer trainings, like communication, conflict, sustainability etc. At the National KID Association and Opera Cultural Association she also gained experience in organizing trainings and assissted in the creation of the materials. She present her organization on every national or local youth event as a participant or an organizer too. She has contacts for local organizations, decisionmakers, media people,university people, multi firms,informal groups and art groups in the city of Debrecen.

Chicago/ photo: YoChicago

Chicago/ photo: YoChicago

She graduated as an aesthetician , MA degree, Faculty of Humanities in Debrecen. She researched the local subcultural groups, places and cultural developement of Debrecen from the 60’s. Her thesis will be the base of an exhibition in the Rock Museum of Debrecen. She also plans to explore the present status of these groups theoretically.

Ms Molnar speaks English fluently, and French advanced. She has been 5 times in the USA, first time as a folk dancer with a group, but the last 4 times were about visiting her mother, who is now living in the USA as a citizen. Ms Molnar got several times the offer to move out, but she was more intented to work with community in Hungary. After the community organizing trainings and meetings with the american professionals she has the belief that this method is the most suitable for the activities of the Opera, projects and mentality. She would like to use the method at the Opera Cultural Association.

In her free time she loves travelling, making valuable friendships and thinking about projects. If she has no tasks to do she mostly writes articles about local events, things to the website of the Opera ( She has no free time, but if it happens she is mainly with her 7 -year -old little sister. Agnes will have her internship at Go Bronzville (Chicago)

Anett Csordas – fellow from Hungary

AnettphotoMs Csordás is working as a voluntary director of her own association, called “Lépjünk, hogy léphessenek!” Non-profit Association. The association supports children, affected by celebral palsy and their families in the first place. It organizes courses and trainings for parents in several places throughout the country, in order to create self-helping communities, close to their residence that can do advocacy activities to help in the formation of an appropriate supply system not just in their region but in the whole country. Last year as a result of their successful community work a new surgery method could be brought to Hungary in a very short time that was only available in the United States. In addition the association cooperates with other organisations in order to help in the creation of a better health care system to make their life easier for those families who have to nurse their handicapped children at home because of the lack of the adequate institutional care. Moreover because of a bigger part of these families live under the bare necessities. What makes the association special is that it was founded and operated by affected parents in the country. The association organized several actions and demonstrations to put these problems into focus.

599201Ms Csordás was among the organizers of Rehab Critical Mass which was held in Hungary at the first time in 2014. This movement represents the social equality of disabled and handicapped people and attracts attention to their difficult situation.

Ms Csordás graduated as a Hungarian Cultural Manager(1995) and Director of Education( 1999) in Juhász Gyula Teacher Training College at Szeged. In 2000 she earned the title of Director of Drama Playing at The Hungarian Drama and Theatre in Education Association and in 2004 she earned the degree as a Specialist in drama playing at the University of Theatre and Film Arts.

Until 2005 Ms Csordás had been working on the field of drama pedagogy and Director of a Basic Art School, however, with the birth of her handicapped son she turned her interest towards social and handicapped issues. Experienced the difficult life of a family, raising a disabled child, encouraged her with several others with the same status, to found her association to make this situation better.



This is her first opportunity to visit the United States with this exchange program. Ms Csordás would like to get known succesfull organisations dealing with the situation of handicapped people. Gain experience in community organisation and learn how to achieve goals and aims that an organizations has planned itself before.

As an actual plan she is designing to found an inclusive school in Hungary and a rehabilitaion center where people afftected by celebral palsy in any age from 0 to 99, can receive supplies and support even if their financial status would not let them take part in it.

Ms Csordás is a mother of a special boy and a 21 year old girl who is attending to university. In her free time she likes visiting theatre and travelling or leading her own cooking school. Anett will have her internship at Access Living Chicago

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).

Stoyan Pavlov – fellow from Bulgaria

Picture S. PavlovMr. Stoyan Pavlov has been working as an Assistant Director and teacher of visually impaired children in a Resource Center for Support of integrated education of children with special educational needs in Pazardzhik. He has 18 years of experience in his work with children and young people with disabilities and people form minorities. Before his official career Stoyan Pavlov was a volunteer in homes for children with disabilities. In a later stage he took part in their closure as a consultant to the State Agency for Child Protection and in the establishment of new services that enable the normal life and childhood for all children. In 1997 is an educator in a Daycare Center for Children with disabilities. In 1999 he became a Director of that Center, which he managed for about two years. During this time he worked on several projects for creating a supportive environment for young people with disabilities and work with their families. At this period of time he accepted volunteers from different countries of Europe. Since 2001 he was a social worker and supported families mainly of Roma origin from the whole Pazardzhik region. He participated in the establishment of the first child protection services in Bulgaria. In 2001 Stoyan Pavlov started to work in a Special School for Children with mental retardation for a period of about five years. Then in 2006 he became a special educator in the team of the newly opened Resource Center for Integrated Education of Children with Special Educational Needs Pazardzhik.


Pazardjik town

Meanwhile he graduated pedagogy of visually impaired children at the University St. Kliment Ohridski, located in the capital Sofia. He was elected for a Chairman of the Association of the school board of the Resource Center Pazardzhik. From 2010 he has been working as an Assistant Director, who is in charge of the educational activities and a teacher of visually impaired children. He also participates in the implementation of several international projects with the participation of specialists from different countries from Europe and Asia. He is a Certified Practitioner of the Intensive communication methods, which aims to develop the communication with children with severe disabilities and at a low stage of development, to the Institute of intensive communication – Britain. He successfully finished a course on the use of drama and game in a resource office and classroom in Dublin, Ireland. Since 2012 Stoyan Pavlov is a Secretary of the National Association of resource teachers in Bulgaria. It is a Professional community of experts, working with children with disabilities integrated into mainstream education. In his capacity of a Secretary of the National Association, Stoyan Pavlov took part in the organization of debates and discussions concerning the educational policies of the government for children with disabilities. He was a national coordinator of the protest actions against the Commission for Education of the 43rd National Assembly. He participated in the drafting of a new law for education in the section training of children and pupils with special educational needs.



Stoyan Pavlov is a trainer of teachers and professionals working with children with disabilities and children from minorities. A voluntary consultant for several foundations, working with Roma children in Pazardzhik with the purpose of integration of the children in schools and support of their development. By participating in the Professional Fellowship Exchange Program, Mr. Pavlov hopes to improve his skills for working with children and students from different minorities and to increase his skills in relation to developing a supportive environment for people with disabilities. He is interested in the state policy of the USA in the area of inclusive education, as well as the local practices.
In his free time, Stoyan Pavlov works in theater, playing the guitar and singing, listening to music and read books. Mr. Pavlov is highly motivated to develop himself in the field of special education and inclusive practices. He starts to prepare a doctoral dissertation on the education of children with mental disabilities in mainstream schools.
He is married to Petya Pavlova, a sales representative in a large international corporation and has a 14 years old son. Stoyan will have his internship at Access Living Chicago. 

Antoaneta Nenkova – fellow from Bulgaria

toni_passportAntoaneta is born in Pernik, located 30 km south of Sofia. Since 1988 she is living in Sofia. Antoaneta is a Journalist, a Member of the General Assembly and of the Board of Bulgarian Helsinki Committee.

She has 15 years of experience as a correspondent of the Bulgarian service of Deutsche Welle (DW) Radio in Sofia. She received her master’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Sofia University. From 1992 she is a part of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee – a non-governmental organization for the protection of human rights. Nenkova’s  main  responsibilities as a senior researcher and coordinator of the Children in Institutions Projects of the BHC include  monitoring, analysis and reporting on a variety of human rights issues. Related activities: organization and participation in a series of focus groups, conferences, public debates & events, seminars & trainings, exchange of experience, cross-border cooperation and consultancy. Mrs. Nenkova is also a member of the Working Group “Family and Deinstitutionalization” of the National Network for Children.



Most of her work as a researcher is on the field, where she meets (un)ordinary people. They are residents of psychiatrics, homes for abandoned children, social homes for adults, refugee camps and Roma ghettos. The core goal of Bulgarian Helsinki Committee is to promote respect and protection of human rights, to lobby for legislative changes aimed to bring Bulgarian legislation in line with international human rights standards, to encourage public debate about human rights’ problems and to promote the concept of human rights among the general audience. Antoaneta Nenkova places a special priority to the rights’ protection of the most vulnerable groups which live in Bulgaria: ethnic minorities, underprivileged groups, persons deprived of their liberty, children and women.

The topics Antoaneta Nenkova has strong expertise are:  Child Care Policy; Minority rights; Immigration; Integration and Educational Inclusion; Media Freedom; Hate speech, Cultural Diversity. In 2014 she agreed to serve as a country expert for the Varieties of Democracy Project which advances the understanding of the historical process of democratization. “Varieties of Democracy” (V-Dem) aim to produce better Indicators of Democracy and is collaboration among the Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden and the Kellogg Institute at the University of Notre Dame, USA.

chicago-skycrapersAntoaneta Nenkova is author of several publications amongst which is Children in institutions, volume 5: Homes for Children with Special Needs. Nenkova is also author of many articles in the Bulgarian printed press and Radiobroadcasts (Bulgarian National Radio, Deutsche Welle) on the Minority realities and Human Rights of the Disadvantaged Minority Groups in Bulgaria.

Antoaneta Nenkova speaks German, English and Russian. Antoaneta Nenkova has been awarded with numerous prizes. Among them: prize winner of the USAID Media competition; Paniza Prize for Bulgarian Journalists. In her free time Antoaneta enjoys the beautiful piece of Albinoni – The Adagio in G minor and extreme sports. Her family enjoys the time together. Her two daughters are students in Netherlands. When they are in Bulgaria the family enjoys skiing, snowboarding, surfing, paragliding. Antoaneta will have her internship at Community Renewal Society (Chicago).