Core Team

Eleanor Brooks

Communications Specialist
Eleanor graduated with a Law with Philosophy undergraduate degree from University College Dublin, which included one year studying abroad in Berlin. She then went on to complete an interdisciplinary social sciences master, whose international research programme took her to Germany, the Czech Republic and India. Before joining Liberties, she was an advocate for Irish emigrants experiencing homelessness. She loves examining pressing social issues through storytelling and is interested in the influence of technology on human behaviour.

Michaela Brzezinka

Operations Manager
Michaela Brzezinka began her international dance career after studying Modern Theatre Dance at the AHK (University of the Arts Amsterdam). She has danced for, among others, Neuer Tanz, VA Wölfl (Düsseldorf, Germany); her longest commitment was with Compania Vicente Saez (Valencia, Spain). After further education in journalism, she increasingly dedicated herself to her freelance work as a journalist for Japanese media (NHK and Yomiuri Shimbun) and at the same time started working as a line producer for TV documentaries for Arte and ZDF.

Csilla Budai-Sawalha

Development Officer
Csilla joined Liberties with over 15 years of experience in non-profit organizations, developing and implementing projects in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. She studied political science in Germany and later graduated with a Master of Human Rights Law from the Central European University in Hungary. Dedicated to a rights-based approach, Csilla worked and volunteered with small and big organizations alike: Amnesty International, Mental Disability Advocacy Center, the Open Society Institute Harm Reduction Program and Relief International, just to name a few. Based in Berlin, Csilla has been Liberties' Development Officer since early 2021.

Israel Butler

Head of Narrative and Framing
Israel trains and mentors campaigners and civil servants to develop winning messages that build support for progressive causes. Before retraining in strategic communications he led the advocacy teams at Liberties and the Open Society European Policy Institute promoting democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU, and was a legal researcher and speech writer at the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. He has a PhD in international law and began his career as a lecturer. He has published two books, numerous policy papers, peer-reviewed articles and opinion pieces in EU-focused media outlets.

Jonathan Day

Communications Manager
Jonathan works on the Liberties communications team and heads the video advocacy program. Before joining Liberties in 2017, he worked in Budapest with the European Liberties Platform, the Mexican chapter of Transparency International, and did video production work in the United States. He holds a Master of Public Policy from Central European University and a BA in political science from Trinity College.

Balázs Dénes

Executive Director
Balázs is a lawyer and human rights activist from Budapest, Hungary. He holds a law degree from ELTE University and was a visiting fellow at Columbia University in New York. Balázs started his career as an intern with the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), a Budapest-based human rights group. He spent the next 15 years at HCLU, eventually rising to become executive director. After leading the organization for eight years, he joined the Open Society Foundations as a division director of the Open Society Initiative for Europe. In 2017, he helped found Liberties and currently serves as the organization’s executive director.

Jascha Galaski

Advocacy Officer
Jascha joined Liberties in 2018 to work on issues related to NGO rights, democracy, privacy and surveillance. He is also involved in developing new ways to talk about human rights using value-based framing methodology. Before Liberties, Jascha worked in Berlin’s social entrepreneurship scene, supporting startups led by migrants and refugees. Jascha holds a Master in Public Policy and Human Development from the United Nations University in Maastricht.

Megan Kirkwood

Advocacy and Research Assistant
Megan Kirkwood has just completed an MA in Digital Culture and Society at King’s College London which looked at the social, political and economic implications of a wide range of communication technologies and emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence. Megan also holds a first-class BA with Hons in English and Film. Her research interests include the study of technology regulation, digital platform studies, and the protection of digital privacy.

Monda Kokoneshi

Communications & Campaign Assistant
Monda began her internship with Liberties in August 2023. She is currently pursuing a Master's degree in World Politics and International Relations at the University of Pavia, where she also completed an exchange program in Salzburg, Austria, to deepen her Political Science expertise. With a Bachelor's degree in Communication Science, Monda gained valuable practical experience as an intern at the Eastwest European Institute (EWEI) in Brussels, Belgium.

Ilina Neshikj

Project Manager and Network Coordinator
Ilina joined Liberties in 2022 as network coordinator and CERV project manager. She has extensive experience in managing networks. In the past five years, she served as executive director to the global network of INGOs,Accountable Now, and the Balkan Civil Society Development Network, BCSDN, a regional network of 14 CSOs in the Balkans and Turkey. She has also managed and worked on international and global projects devoted to improving civil society enabling environment, CSOs' capacities and accountability, combating shrinking civic space, and fostering more considerable involvement of civil society in policy making. She holds a Master in European Studies: Strategic Communication and Public Relations in Europe at the University of Lorraine, France.

Franziska Otto

Advocacy and Research Assistant
Franziska joined Liberties after graduating with a Master in International Studies from Aarhus University in Denmark. In her research, she focused on the efforts of the European Union against disinformation. She works on issues concerning freedom of expression, targeted political advertisement, transparency of big platforms, as well as doing research for the Civics Monitor.

Oleksandra Panasytska

Communications & Campaign Assistant
Oleksandra joined Liberties team in August 2023. She is currently finishing a Master's degree in the "World Politics and International Relations" program at the University of Pavia in Italy. Her Master’s also included six-months exchange at the University of Salzburg in Austria. Besides her internship in Liberties, Oleksandra is working for Ukrainian fact-checking project “VoxCheck”, a part of the analytical platform VoxUkraine. Oleksandra supports the comms team with content creation and research.

Umer Pervaiz

Project Accountant
Muhammad Umer Pervaiz joined Liberties as a part time accountant in 2018 and currently is a Project Admin Specialist Accountant. He is involved in preparation of Liberties' financial reports and project accounting. Before joining Liberties full time in 2023, he has worked as a financial accountant with Life Healthcare Group and Phrase GmbH, where he has been involved in the ERP project implementation of SAP and NetSuite. He has also has extensive knowledge of German GAAP and IFRS and holds a certification of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

Linda Ravo

Senior Advocacy Consultant
Passionate human rights lawyer, Linda holds a PhD in EU law & justice and has more than ten years of working experience in the EU institutions and the NGO sector on the protection and promotion of human rights in Europe. From Brussels, Linda supports the work of Liberties as senior advocacy consultant through research, legal advice, advocacy and members support on Democracy & Justice issues. Pressing issues she's working on include abusive lawsuits against public watchdogs (called SLAPPs), the protection of civil society groups and rights defenders and the state of the rule of law in the EU.

Orsolya Reich

Senior Advocacy Officer
Orsolya is working on issues related to privacy and the spread of populism in Europe and the protection of civil liberties NGOs.She writes reports about developments regarding freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of expression in Eastern and Central European countries. She is also a video enthusiast and developed the Liberties video game. Orsolya studied philosophy at Central European University, and spent time during her doctoral studies at Harvard University and New York University, and was an adjunct lecturer at Princeton University. She joined Liberties in 2017.

Eva Simon

Senior Advocacy Officer / Tech & Rights Lead
Eva is a human rights lawyer with special focus on digital rights, currently working as a senior advocacy officer at Liberties. She is responsible for freedom of expression and privacy. Besides her EU-level advocacy work, Eva works on strategic litigation across EU member states, most recently on the enforcement of General Data Protection Regulation, which was reported by the New York Times, Reuters and Bloomberg. She has been active in the human rights field for more than ten years. Prior to joining the NGO scene, Eva worked as a media lawyer and a researcher. She was a research fellow at Central European University (2006), the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, New York, USA (2005), and at the Technical University of Budapest, Hungary (2001-2005).

She has authored several expert studies, book chapters and articles on privacy and media freedom.

Hannah Tilsch

Advocacy and Research Assistant
Hannah Tilsch is currently studying the Master’s program RESET (Responsibility in Science, Engineering, and Technology) at the Technical University of Munich. There she worked on the Professorship for Law, Science, and Technology's REMODE project, which deals with content moderation on social media. Hannah's research focus lies at the intersection of digital technologies and society, in particular regarding questions of equity, fairness, and transparency. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of California, Davis.

Valentin Toth

Head of Communications
Valentin graduated at ELTE University in Budapest, where he studied media & communications, English literature and history. He has experience across the communications spectrum - from digital journalism, to building love brands and startups, to managing market-leading enterprises as a board member. Working mostly in business environment with global brands, Valentin launched numerous social programmes, and helped NGOs grow as a pro bono expert. He held seminars on strategic communications for international students at ELTE University. Valentin loves getting lost in nature, as well as eating pasta with poppy seed (mákos tészta).

Alessandra Vicari

Advocacy and Research Assistant
Alessandra Vicari just graduated in Law at Roma Tre University with a thesis in International Humanitarian Law. She spent a semester at Maastricht University, where she deepened her knowledge of International Human Rights Law and International Criminal Law. She recently interned at CoESPU where she conducted research on Child Protection and Right to Education in conflict and destabilized contexts. She is now interested in researching the protection of freedom of expression and learning how to conduct advocacy work to protect the civic space in Europe.
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