TEAM

Who We Are

Despina Syrri

Founder of Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece, affiliated to the Council of Europe Network of Schools

Despina Syrri served as Education Specialist at the UNICEF Refugee and Migrant response in Greece, Advisor to the Regional Cooperation Council Political department in Sarajevo and Senior Expert on the Roma Integration 2020 in Belgrade. She has been a visiting fellow at the Amsterdam Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and director of research and international cooperation at the Immigration Policy Institute in Greece; worked amongst others with Reuters and Athens News, the Berlin Migration Netzwerk, Oxford Refugee Studies Centre and British Council on issues of post-conflict development, migration, refugees, borders and the integration of the Western Balkans to the European Union. She has cooperated with the OSCE/ODHIR, Council of Europe and EU Fundamental Rights Agency. Syrri taught Political Science and Political Anthropology at the American College of Thessaloniki. She has published journal articles and book chapters in Greek, South Slavic and English, and authored research papers and documentaries.

Ljubisa Vrencev

Founder Symbiosis-School of Political studies in Greece, affiliated to the Council of Europe Network

Since 1997 Ljubisa Vrencev has worked with national and international NGOs on local development, communication and media, reconciliation and forced displacement in Serbia, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. He also worked with UNOPS, UNDP, Cooperazione Italiana and International Organization for Migration as consultant on development of sustainable return policies. He holds an MA in Local Development for the Balkans from Trento/Bolzano Universities. In 2015 he coordinated the Humanitarian Response Rapid Assessment of the refugee crisis in Greece on the Aegean islands in cooperation with SolidarityNow and the Norwegian Refugee Council. As Programme Coordinator of Arbeiter Samariter Bund since June 2016 he manages refugee response funded by DG HOME, DG ECHO and the German Foreign Ministry. He has been a lecturer on diversity and communication for migrant communities and authored papers on development and migration issues. He speaks fluently South Slavic languages, English, Italian and Greek.

Sonja Licht

President of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence

Sonja Licht was part of the Yugoslav dissident movement from the late sixties, and from the mid-eighties founded numerous local and international non-governmental organizations. Between 1991 and 1995 Sonja Licht was the co-chair of the international Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly. From 1991 to 2003 she was first Executive Director and then President of the Fund for an Open Society (Soros Foundation) in Yugoslavia (later Serbia), a major donor of a vigorous civil society. Sonja was the head of the Task Force of the Bratislava Process (established in July 1999 under the auspices of the East-West Institute in order to support the democratic opposition of Serbia). In 2010 she participated in the Council of Europe’s Group of Eminent Persons that prepared the report: Living Together: Combining Freedom and Diversity in Europe of 21st Century. She has been a member of boards of outstanding international organizations and is the laureate of numerous awards including the Star of Italian Solidarity and the French Legion of Honor. She is a Richard von Weizsacker Fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy for 2015.

Andreas Takis

Assistant Professor, Law School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Andreas Takis graduated from the Law Faculty of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, received the title of Master of Arts in Legal Theory from the postgraduate school of the European Academy of Legal Theory of the Facultés Universitaires St Louis and Katholieke Universiteit Brussel, and was awarded a Doctorate in Law by the Law Faculty of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. He is an assistant professor at the Law School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh), where he has been teaching Philosophy and Methodology of Law since 2012. He has served as Head of the Human Rights Department of the Greek Ombudsman’s Office (2003-2009), as well as Secretary-General of Immigration Policy of the Ministry of Interior (2009-2011). Takis has served as an expert of the Greek Ombudsman and the Council of Europe on human rights issues and he has participated in many missions in the Balkans and the former USSR. For many years, Andreas Takis was also a member of the National Commission for Human Rights and he also participated as an ex officio member, representative of Greece, in the Executive Board of the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union. In addition, he has served as Special Adviser to the Mayor of Thessaloniki on human rights issues. From 2015 until today, he remains Chairman of the Board of Directors of the State Museum of Contemporary Art, now Metropolitan Organization of Museums of Visual Arts of Thessaloniki (MOMus). Andreas Takis has authored many books, such as The moral indifference of the Law. Legal positivism and Analytical Philosophy (in Greek, Polis, 2006), On Artistic Freedom. An Essay of Constitutional & Political theory (in Greek, Savalas, 2009), Introduction to Legal Science (with prof. Kostas Stamatis, in Greek, Sakkoulas, 2015). He has also translated or supervised the translation of several political and legal philosophy works in Greek, among which are John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice (Polis, 2001) and he has edited collective volume, such as the Terrorism and Rights, together with Antonis Manitakis (Savvalas 2004). He has also contributed many articles to the fields of jurisprudence, legal reasoning and political theory. Andreas Takis’ research interests in the current period focus in particular on the theory of rules, legal interpretation, and political ontology.

Elli Papastergiou

Programme Officer Symbiosis-School of Political studies in Greece, affiliated to the Council of Europe Network

Elli Papastergiou holds an MEng in Spatial Planning and Development from the Faculty of Engineering of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and an MSc in Spatial Planning for Sustainable and Resilient Development from the same University, while she is a member of the Technical Chamber of Greece. Currently, she holds the position of Programme Officer at Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece, while in the past she has worked as Assistant Project Manager and Junior Consultant, focusing on Interreg EU Programmes. Her academic and research interests concern the socio-psychological dimensions of the urban space and the subjective well-being approaches of socio-spatial development. She is trained in social media management and in techniques of monitoring and reporting misinformation and hate speech in new media. She speaks fluently Greek and English, intermediate Italian and basic Spanish.

Stavros Boufidis

Psychiatrist – Psychotherapist

Stavros Boufidis is a Member of the Hellenic Psychiatric Association, Co-Founder – Scientific Associate of the Special Clinic for Sleep Disorders – 1st Department of Neurology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (2000-2013), Secretary of the Intercultural Department of the Hellenic Psychiatric Association, and Board Member and Head of Health Affairs of the Transgender Support Association. He has a rich activist and volunteer background working with several NGOs, collectives and solidarity movements with continuous and diverse active participation from 1993 until today, while as a psychiatrist he also recommended the de-psychiatrification of transgenderism within the context of the legal recognition of gender identity. He was Vice President of the Board of Directors of Médecins Sans Frontières – Greece (2002-2005), Secretary General of the Board of the Medical Center for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and Other Ill-Treatment, Thessaloniki (2000-2003) and Member of the seven-member interdisciplinary committee of the Ministry of Health for gender identity for persons aged 15-17 years (2017-2019). He created and managed the first shelter for hosting / protection of victims of trafficking / victims of domestic violence in Thessaloniki (2004-2010) in collaboration with the Medical Center for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and Other Ill-Treatment.

Aikaterini Georgiadou

Lawyer

Aikaterini Georgiadou is a lawyer appointed to the Supreme Court and the Greek Council d’ Etat and a member of the Bar Association of Thessaloniki. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Law and Political Sciences, School of Law, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Graduate of the Faculty of Law of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She actively participates in Greek and international congresses, workshops, and activities related to human rights issues and public goods. An active member of the Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR), a non-governmental organization for the protection of human rights and she has handled cases under the Rights4refugees program organized by the HLHR. She had provided legal aid and counselling to asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants in the asylum-seeker sites in Greece (Elpida-Dion, Softex, Skaramangkas, Vrasna). An active member and volunteer lawyer of the Greek Transgendered Support Association, defending human rights of transgender people in Greece, having represented the Association in conferences, supporting advocacy for transgender rights both in Greece and in European institutions. She is a legal activist, who has contributed with strategic litigation to LGBTQI refugees and asylum seekers in Greece, the preservation of Greece’s cultural inheritance, the non-privatization of the water company in Thessaloniki and Athens, the distinction between Church and State, and the battle against racism and xenophobia. Katerina is a member in several social associations and collectives (Save the water (Soste to nero), Alexandrou Svolou Neighborhood Initiative, Friends of Rotonda, KEERFA) and former Councilor in the City Council of Pella, President of the Pella Municipal Enterprise for Tourist Development).

Nicole Petalidou

Psychologist, FOMEN Researcher in Greece, Symbiosis-School of Political studies in Greece, affiliated to the Council of Europe Network

Nicole Petalidou holds a BSc in Economics and Political Science from the University of Twente, the Netherlands, and a second BSc in Applied Psychology from the University of Derby, United Kingdom. Further, she received her MSc in Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology from the University of Maastricht, where she was simultaneously working as a Research Assistant. In addition, she has been collaborating with the University Hospital of Thessaloniki as a Research Associate since 2015. Nicole initiated her involvement with the humanitarian sector many years ago, initially as an active volunteer in many organisations related to human rights and afterward as a professional in the sector of Protection and is an expert in Gender-Based Violence and Social Inclusion. Currently, she is the Researcher for Greece in the “FOcus on MEN (FOMEN)” EU project implemented by Symbiosis. She is a fluent speaker in English, Greek, German and Dutch.

Michalis Karakonstantis

Council of Europe Language Integration for Adult Migrants (LIAM) trainer for Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece, affiliated to the Council of Europe Network

Michalis Karakonstantis is a Council of Europe Language Integration for Adult Migrants (LIAM) trainer for Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece, Council of Europe Network. Michalis works as the Education Team Leader for Greek Refugee Council, coaching the two education teams in Athens and Thessaloniki providing technical and educational support to the educators. He has a Degree in German Language and Literature and holds an MA in Linguistics. He is a certified EUROLTA teacher and trainer for teaching Greek as a foreign language to adults, and he has received training certification in Adult Education. For the last 14 years, Michalis has worked as a certified teacher of the Greek and German language in language schools in face-to-face and online sessions. He has been a Greek Language Educator for migrants and refugees of different age groups in the GCR multicultural centre PYXIDA, as well as Education Consultant to refugee families and Education Team Leader, including volunteer teachers of PYXIDA. Michalis presided for three years the ACCMR (Athens Coordination Centre for Migrants and Refugees) Education Committee meetings. His training experience includes online seminars for teachers for migrants and refugees in a partnership with the Hellenic Culture Centre.

Mahmoud Abdelrasoul

Graduated from the Athens Medical School, where he is a Cardiology doctoral candidate. Currently he is a trainee doctor at the corona virus Athens hospital Pammakaristos.

From 2008 he works on social integration of refugees and migrants and other vulnerable groups in Greece. He has been a trainer since 2011 with National School of Public Health and IOM on Intercultural Mediators. In 2013 he was one of the founders of Almasar, a diaspora organization working on social inclusion, intercultural education and the rights of second-generation migrant youth. During the 2015 recent refugee reception crisis, he volunteered at the first irregular refugee settlement in the mainland (Pedion Areos).  He then became Coordinator of Eleonas, the first official refugee site in Athens, with approximately 2,000 refugees residing. He has been a special adviser to the Ministry of Immigration Policy, 2015-8, on issues related to refugees, first reception, education and integration. He then focused on urban integration with the City of Athens in the fields of housing, education, sport, psychosocial support and employment. He is member of the Migrant Integration Council of Athens Municipality.