Ðorđe’s relationship with the ERRC dates back to 2001. Jovanović’s family instilled in him an abiding aversion to fascism, racism, and other forms of injustice. Motivated by his relatives’ experiences of torture, forced labour, and, in some cases, extermination in Nazi concentration and death camps, Jovanović has dedicated his professional life to working for the emancipation of his fellow Roma. Jovanović is also openly gay and is particularly interested in the intersectional forms of discrimination many Roma face. He holds a university degree in preschool education and completed Romology studies at the University of Novi Sad. He also studied psychotherapy at the school of Transactional Analysis (TA) and is a TA practitioner. Prior to being named President Jovanović was the ERRC’s Research and Networks Director.
Advocacy & Communications
Jonathan Lee, Advocacy & Communications Director
Jonathan is a Romani activist and writer from Wales. He graduated with a Masters degree in Middle East & Islamic Studies from the Institute of Arab & Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter. He also holds a BSc in Archaeology and Forensic Science from Exeter, and has completed studies in Arabic, International Relations and Anthropology at the University of Malta. He has spent the last few years at the ERRC documenting and challenging human rights abuses of Romani communities throughout Europe. Jonathan has previously worked with a Romani and Traveller liaison service in England, as a human rights consultant for various international organisations, as part of a film and media company, and also in various bars, restaurants, car washes, farms, and other ‘real jobs’ before he joined the NGO world. He is based in Brussels where the acts as the spokesperson for the ERRC and writes in several publications on Roma Rights issues. He tweets at @jon_j_lee and joined the ERRC in May 2016.
Dzavit Berisha, Publications Officer
Dzavit has a secondary school degree as a miner. Due to the war in Kosovo he didn't have the opportunity to further his education. Since 1999 he is a human rights activist, working to defend the rights of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian refugees in Macedonia. He received the Human Rights Award of the Hungarian Ministry of Justice in December 2007. He joined the ERRC in June 2004.
Sophie Datishvili, Communications Specialist
Sophie has 10 years of experience in journalism, working for the broadcasting and digital media in Georgia. As a reporter at Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty Georgian service, she has covered political and human rights topics. She is a former fellow of Digital Communications Network. Her fellowship placement was CNN headquarters in Atlanta, GA. Sophie Datishvili has worked for the Georgian feminist NGO Women’s Information center, where she served as the digital communications specialist and she is the co-author of several women’s rights campaigns in her home country. Sophie is a blogger writing about disinformation in Georgia. She has master’s degree in Journalism.
Anna Orsos, Women’s Rights Officer
Anna studied Human Management in PTE-FEEK and completed an international program in NGO Management, Advocacy and Public Campaign Facilitation at the International Peoples' College in Helzingor, Denmark. She worked as a regional coordinator at the National Educational Integration Network and at the Amrita association for integrated education of Roma youth. Her experience includes work with PHARE, HEFOP and many research projects. She joined the ERRC in January 2009.
Bernard Rorke, Advocacy & Policy Manager
Bernard has a MSc in Politics and Sociology from Birkbeck College, University of London, and a PhD in Political Theory from the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, London. He worked as international research and advocacy director for the Open Society Roma Initiatives until December 2013. Prior to that he was director of the Roma Participation Program, and worked on Roma issues with the Open Society Foundations since 1998. Since the launch of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies in 2011, he has produced numerous reports, briefings and articles related to the process, and was heavily involved in civil society reporting on the progress of the Framework. He has also been involved for over a decade in advocating for the rights and wellbeing of Romani children; promoting access to early childhood education, school desegregation and access to quality integrated education for Romani pupils across central and south-eastern Europe. He currently teaches the “Roma Rights” course at the Central European University in Budapest. He is also editor of the ERRC Blog and is a regular contributor and commentator on Roma issues. He joined the ERRC in May 2016.
Vivien Brassói, Legal Director
Vivien studied in the Human Rights LLM program of the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. Prior to that, she graduated from the Faculty of Law at ELTE in Budapest. She has acquired a strong foundation in the field of international human rights, which she has strengthened through participation in programs such as the Minorities Fellowship Programme of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2019 and the Legislative Fellows Program on Sustaining Civic Participation in Minority Communities in the USA. Vivien currently works for the European Roma Rights Centre as a Legal Director where she engages in strategic litigation to ensure that the ERRC is supporting Romani people to make cutting edge legal arguments in and out of court to achieve radical change across Europe in multiple thematic areas. Prior to joining the ERRC, Vivien worked at the Romaversitas Foundation, the Autonómia Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations. She joined the ERRC in 2016.
Senada Sali, Legal Director
Senada Sali holds an MA in Constitutional Law from the Law Faculty "Iustinian Primus" in Skopje and a second MA in International Relations and European Studies from the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. Ms. Sali has worked for the European Roma Rights Centre since July 2014 and is the first Romani woman that has held the position of lawyer in the organization. Her main work has been a combination of community organising, evidence gathering, and litigation. She has taken the lead on cutting-edge human rights litigation before domestic courts in several Western Balkan countries, before the European Court of Human Rights, and before the UN CEDAW Committee. Her case porftolio includes cases of racial profiling at borders, prison death of Roma, mistreatment of Romani children in state care, discrimination in access to water and public utilities, school segregation. She coordinated various projects, including a large-scale research project on Romani statelessness. In 2018 she was awarded with the USAID Civic Engagement Award.
Andrea Čolak, Legal Consultant (Serbia)
Andrea graduated in international law from the law school of the University of Belgrade. As an Open Society Institute fellow in 2004/05, she attended the undergraduate exchange programme at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, USA. She has been working on Roma rights issues since 2007 and from 2009-2012 was the Executive Director of the Minority Rights Center (MRC), a Belgrade-based human and minority rights NGO. During her work with MRC, she was involved in project management and monitoring implementation of Roma related policies and anti-discrimination legislation, particularly in relation to hate crimes, discrimination in education, health care and housing. She completed a two-year legal training programme at a law office in Belgrade and has experience in representation before domestic courts and administrative bodies. She joined the ERRC in May 2012 and is currently a legal consultant focusing on Serbia and Macedonia. Andrea is based in Belgrade.
Manjola Veizi, Legal Consultant (Albania)
Manjola has worked with different international and national human rights NGOs promoting equal opportunities for Roma since 2006. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in law and a MA degree in civil rights. Her relationship with the ERRC started in early 2009, when she coordinated the ERRC’s campaign in Albania for the adoption of an anti -discrimination law. In 2010 Manjola was an ERRC gender fellow. From August 2014 Manjola was a junior researcher, undertaking research on housing and segregation in education in Albania and Kosovo. Since January 2015, she has been the ERRC’s country facilitator for Albania. She is based in Tirana.
Michal Zalesak, Legal Consultant (Slovakia)
Michal holds a Masters of Law (Mgr.) degree from the University of Matej Bel in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia and a Master of Law in Human Rights with a specialisation in EU Law (LL.M) degree from the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. He was an intern at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic in 2008 and at the ERRC in 2010. He worked as a legal trainee in a law office and for Ludia proti rasizmu (People Against Racism) as a project manager. He joined the ERRC in October 2012 as a legal fellow dealing with litigation and research in relation to the Czech Republic and Slovakia and was promoted to the position of Lawyer on 1 January 2015. In September 2014, Michal successfully passed bar exams to become attorney-in-law and has been working with the ERRC since February 2019 as a legal consultant.
Marek Balaz, Director of Operations
Marek has completed Master of Public Administration program at Central European University. He had previously worked for the ERRC as human rights monitor, served as a Decade focal point manager for Slovakia, project administrator for County Association of Roma Initiatives and also has experience as a Roma health mediator. He joined the ERRC in June 2016.
Julianna Oros, Financial Officer
Hannah Crane, Research and Development Officer
Hannah holds a BA in Greek & Roman History as well as an MA in Classics & Ancient History from the University of Exeter in the UK. She has also studied Latin, History, and Philosophy on a Liberal Arts Programme at University College Utrecht in the Netherlands. After graduating in 2016 she began working at Oxford University Press, publishing academic legal texts in the Higher Education Law Department. While in Oxford she volunteered teaching English as a foreign language to refugees and recent immigrants. Hannah joined the ERRC in 2020.
Bojana Kozomora, Project Implementation Associate
Bojana holds a degree in Political Science – International Affairs; her final thesis explored the ’Social Position and Political Participation and Representation of Roma in Serbia’. She has more than fourteen years of experience implementing projects in communication and marketing, having worked at the EXIT Festival and the EXIT Foundation, an organisation that focuses on social activism, as well as at the 'Novi Sad - European Capital of Culture' Foundation. Bojana has experience working in the Western Balkans and European markets, with strong media connections in the Balkan countries. She is personally interested in the protection and empowerment of vulnerable groups in Serbia.
Our Team in the Field
Ana Jovanović, LGBTIQ+ Human Rights Monitor
Ana Jovanović is a transgender Romani activist and drag artist from Novi Sad, Serbia. She holds a university degree in preschool education and for many years has been engaged in various non-governmental Romani organisations, as well as participating in various projects aimed at improving the position of the Romani community in Serbian society. Since the autumn of 2019, she has worked with a local LGBT+ organisation and her focus of activism has been the multiple discrimination faced by LGBT+ Roma. In October 2022 she joined the ERRC as the LGBTQ+ Human Rights Monitor.
Mustafa Asanovski, Country Facilitator (North Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro)
Mustafa holds a BA in English language and literature and completed an international programme in conflict analyses, negotiations and conflict Management. He is a human rights activist and has been working on Roma related issues for almost 13 years within grass root NGOs and international organizations. He joined the ERRC in 2009 and is based in Skopje.
Serkan Baysak, Human Rights Monitor (Turkey)
Serkan has a background studying Mechanical Engineering and Management and is pursuing further studies in the Law department at Uludağ University. Serkan has worked for a number of years in the field of Roma Rights and Inclusion in Turkey. He is the Country Facilitator and Coordinator for Turkey for the Roma Education Fund (REF) and has previously worked for the ERRC as the National Volunteer Coordinator for Turkey (2020-2021) in the “Challenging Digital Antigypsyism” project. Serkan has also worked as assistant expert for the “Assessment and contribution for the Update of 1st Phase Action Plan (2016-2018) and Development of 2nd Phase Action Plan (2019- 2021) for Turkey” for the Regional Cooperation Council. He joined the ERRC in 2020.
Ion Bucur, Country Facilitator (Moldova)
Ion has a Bachelor's Degree in psychology and social work, specialising in the social inclusion of Roma in Moldova. He also has an MA in international law; his thesis was entitled “Roma Rights Protection at International Level”. From 2008 to 2011 he worked as a human rights monitor at the National Roma Centre in Moldova. In 2012 and 2013, he work on an OSF-funded project on improving the right to liberty and security in Moldova. In 2014 and 2015, he worked as a national consultant on inclusive education for Romani children at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Moldova. He is based in Chisinau.
Xhenson Cela, Human Rights Monitor (Albania)
Xhenson holds a BA degree in Law and an MA in Civil Law from the University of Tirana. He has worked since 2012 on Roma related issues in Albania, especially on defending human rights against forced evictions and displacement of Romani communities. In 2015, he moved to Budapest to study at the Central European University as part of the Roma Graduate Preparation Program, aiming to pursue a degree in Public Policy. He later graduated in 2017 with an MA in Public Policy. After finishing his studies, he started a 3-month internship at the European Roma Rights Centre. He joined the ERRC as a Human Rights Monitor for Albania in 2018.
Eugen Ghită, Human Rights Monitor (Romania)
Eugen holds a BA in Law, and a MA in European Administration, Institutions, and Public Policy. He is currently a PhD student at the University of Babeş Bolyai Cluj, in the Faculty of Sociology. Eugen has worked for over ten years with projects aimed towards helping Romani and socially disadvantaged people in Romania, through his work as a human rights monitoring expert and coordinator for a number of well-established NGOs. Eugen is also the founder and president of the Roma Lawyers Association – RomaJust, which develops incubator programs for solo, small firm, and non-profit Romani practitioners as well as providing information about how these programs contribute to enhancing justice through improved access to law. Eugen joined the ERRC in 2019.
Florentina Manea, Human Rights Monitor (Romania)
Florentina is a Roma feminist activist, currently studying Political Science in English at the University of Bucharest. Since high school, Florentina has been involved in volunteer activities and projects related to anti-discrimination, diversity,, and youth involvement in politics. She has worked as a communication assistant and consultant at the World Bank Office in Romania and Hungary, on projects aimed at combating discrimination against Roma, using political and economic strategies. Florentina is also a mentor within the mentoring program "Sisterhood" of the E-Romnja Association and a host of the podcast Dajphen, which is with and about Roma girls and women, beyond stereotypes and prejudices. Florentina joined the ERRC in 2022.
Rosi Mangiacavallo, Country Facilitator (Italy)
Rosi holds an MA in intercultural and social citizenship and a BA in politics and international relations. She has worked for over nine years with Romani communities in Italy and Roma rights NGOs based in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. She joined the ERRC as intern in 2010. Since 2011 she has been working for the ERRC, based in Milan, Italy.
Maja Nikolić, Human Rights Monitor (Serbia)
Maja became involved in Roma Rights because of her experiences growing up as a Romani woman in Serbia. She was discriminated against in education by teachers who thought her motivation to learn was a waste of time, as they assumed she would marry early. Maja had no support from her friends but succeeded anyway and is currently studying for a Master's Degree in Preschool Education. She is proud to now have the opportunity to help and motivate young Roma go to school herself. She has worked as a mediator in education with socially deprived and underprivileged Romani children and parents for six years. During this time Maja was also an activist working to improve living conditions for Romani families. She helped them find food, clothes, hygiene kits, and went with them to the social and health centres to ensure their rights were respected. She devotes special attention to keeping Romani girls in the education system so that they, like her, can reach their full potential. Maja joined the ERRC as a country monitor in November 2016.
Atanas Stoyanov, Human Rights Monitor (Bulgaria)
Atanas was born to a Romani family in Pleven, Bulgaria. He graduated in 2015 from Central European University with a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and has worked in various non-governmental organisations at a local and international level. In Bulgaria, he has worked for the NGOs Arete Youth Foundation and the Centre for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance Amalipe. Between 2011 and 2015 he was also a Municipal Councilor in Strazhitsa where he was additionally the Chairperson of the Minority Integration Committee. Atanas has worked as a teaching assistant in Newport, Wales where he specialised in the learning of Romani children, and has continued his focus on Romani youth through his involvement in the Phiren Amenca International Roma Youth Network in Brussels where he holds the position of an Advocacy Manager. He joined the ERRC in 2020.
Milena Ćuk, Coordinator of the Volunteer Program
Milena Ćuk holds a degree in psychology from the University of Novi Sad and an MA degree in democracy and human rights from the Universities of Sarajevo and Bologna. She is in the final year of education in Integrative Art Psychotherapy. For more than 15 years she has been engaged in the non-profit sector working as a coordinator, trainer or researcher mostly with vulnerable groups, such as Romani people, women and youth. Besides this, she is developing her own therapeutic practice. She is particularly interested in interdisciplinary and creative approaches which she tends to apply in different jobs that she does. Milena is from Serbia and she joined the ERRC in 2020.
Roxhers Lufta, National Volunteer Coordinator for Albania
Roxhers graduated with an MA degree in Social Policy and a BSc in Social Work from the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Tirana. He has worked since 2014 on Roma-related issues in Albania for various Roma and non-Roma organisations, including working with children in “street situations" and helping Romani people access government provided social services. Roxhers has also worked as a Professional Development Mentor for more than 150 Roma students and is a professional social worker. Roxhers set up the ERRC Roma Rights Defenders volunteer group in Albania and currently coordinates a group of more than 20 Romani and non-Romani activists. The group was created under the ”Challenging Digital Antigypsyism” project and named themselves Pandezohu which means to be like a panda, black and white together. Roxhers joined the ERRC in 2020.
Aleksandar Smailović, National Volunteer Coordinator for Serbia
Aleksandar is a Romani activist who was raised in a small town in eastern Serbia, near to the Bulgarian border. A father of two children, he lives and works in Vienna where he graduated from his studies in Sociology at the University of Vienna. Aleksander is one of the Volunteer Coordinators for Serbia and has worked extensively on the ERRC’s “Challenging Digital Antigypsyism” project which seeks to monitor, report, and counter hate speech in digital spaces against Romani people. Within this project he started the RoMove it volunteer-led group. Aleksandar is also a research associate engaged on an honorary basis in the "Sensiro" study on the evaluation and planning of the national strategy for Roma at the Institute of Sociology of the University of Vienna. He is also employed at the private institute for social, media and public opinion research "IFES". Aleksandar joined the ERRC in 2021.
Sadik Saitović, National Volunteer Coordinator for Serbia
Sadik is a graduate student at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the Department of Geography in Nis. He has 10 years of experience working in international and domestic organisations dealing with the improvement and inclusion of Roma in Serbia. He joined the ERRC as a volunteer in July 2021 before becoming a coordinator later that year.
Nataliia Tomenko, National Volunteer Coordinator for Ukraine
Nataliia is an artist, researcher, and Romani activist. She completed her MA in Cultural Heritage Studies: Academic Research, Policy, and Management at Central European University in Vienna. She additionally holds an MA in Graphic Design from the Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Arts. Currently, she is working at ERIAC: European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture as a coordinator of the History and Commemoration section. In parallel, she is working as a board member and a Creative Director at ARCA: Agency for the Advocacy of Roma Culture in Ukraine, that since the war in Ukraine began has been working in areas of humanitarian aid and evacuation of Romani people from Ukraine. Natali set up the ERRC Roma Rights Defenders volunteer group in Ukraine and has worked on the “Challenging Digital Antigypsyism” project. She joined the ERRC in 2020.
Volodymyr Yakovenko, National Volunteer Coordinator for Ukraine
Volodymyr was born and raised in a traditional Romani family in Ukraine. He received two degrees in the fields of Law and Economics and since 2015 he has been promoting and developing the Romani youth movement in Ukraine. From 2018 to 2020, he held the position of the Coordinator of the Secretariat of the Interdepartmental Working Group on the implementation of the Ukrainian Roma inclusion strategy. Volodymyr is the co-founder and head of the NGO Youth Agency for the Advocacy of Roma Culture (ARCA). He joined the ERRC in 2021.
Team Responding to the War in Ukraine
Anastasiia Zhuravel, Legal Consultant (Ukraine)
Anastasiia holds a Bachelor's degree from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in International Law, and an LLM from the College of Europe (Bruges, Belgium) in European Law. Her Master’s thesis focused on the analysis of the criminalisation of hate speech online and the proportionality of the interference with freedom of expression in this regard. From a liberal point of view on free speech, Anastasiia has gradually shifted towards a more reasoned and balanced approach, after having studied how words can harm, especially vulnerable groups of people. She joined the ERRC as a volunteer in the “Challenging Digital Antigypsyism” project in the autumn of 2020 and continues her cooperation with the Centre as a legal consultant. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine she has helped collect and analyse information on the situation of Roma during the war in Ukraine.
Ethel Brooks Board Chair
Ethel is both the ERRC’s first Romani Board Chair and our first woman Chair. Ethel is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Women's and Gender Studies and Sociology at Rutgers University (USA) and a Tate-TRAiN Transnational Fellow at the University of the Arts-London, where she was 2011-2012 US-UK Fulbright Distinguished Chair. In 2016, President Obama appointed Brooks to the United States Memorial Council. She is a member of the U.S. Delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and on the boards of a number of journals and organisations, including the RomArchive and the USC Shoah Foundation. She holds a PhD from New York University and a BA from Williams College. Brooks is the author of Unraveling the Garment Industry: Transnational Organizing and Women’s Work (University of Minnesota Press, 2007) which received the award for Outstanding Book for 2010 from the Society for the Study of Social Problems.
William Bila, Board Member
Bill comes with a background of 30 years of corporate consulting and project management experience bringing together stakeholders to address issues ranging from strategic planning to operational processes in areas such as human resources, corporate finance, and IT to achieve new market expansion and transformational-change goals. He has worked for three of the Big 4 Audit/Consulting firms, small consulting boutiques and for the world’s largest insurance company. He performed in board member roles for the Roma Community Center in Toronto (Canada), Roma Education Support Trust in Brighton (UK), Roma Education Fund (CH, SK, RO), and the Center for Intersectional Justice (Berlin), in addition to visibly vocal roles in the Roma LGBTIQ movement. He continues to serve as Chair of the association La Voix des Rroms (France). He earned his B.Sc. in Finance and International Business at New York University’s Stern School of Business in 1991 and went on to get his MBA in 2002 at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
Abigail Smith, Board Member
Abigail is the Senior Director of Financial Planning at the Spencer Cox Center for Health in New York. She has extensive international experience primarily in public health. Prior to joining the Spencer Cox Center, she was the West Africa Regional Manager for pediatric HIV/AIDS programs at the Clinton Foundation Health Access Initiative. From 2002 to 2007 she served as Director of Finance and Administration at Doctors of the World USA (now HealthRight International). Ms Smith’s for-profit experience includes seven years as Vice President at Cendant, Inc. an international consumer services company, and she served as Senior Vice President of Structured Web, an online marketing company. Ms. Smith has an MA and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
Marc Willers, Board Member
Marc Willers QC is the Joint Head of Chambers at Garden Court Chambers. He specialises in human rights, planning and discrimination law with a particular emphasis on the representation of Gypsies and Travellers and he was named Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year in 2011. Marc is the co-editor of Gypsy and Traveller Law, (Legal Action Group) and the editor of the Council of Europe’s handbook Ensuring access to rights for Roma and Travellers. The role of the European Court of Human Rights. He regularly writes for legal publications and presents seminars on human rights and other issues both in the UK and abroad.