Our Team

Anna Ackermann

Advocacy & Research Assistant
Anna is a student of sociology & political science at the University of Vienna. In her studies she focuses on the effects of technology on society and how to shape innovation accordingly to human rights standards. During her internship at Liberties, she will support the advocacy team's work with digital rights advocacy and research, draft reports and write articles.

Sanzhar Aitkulov

Advocacy & Research Assistant
Sanzhar graduated from KazGUU University in Kazakhstan, where he studied law. Currently, he studies in the Human Rights and Multilevel Governance Master's Program at the University of Padova, and he researches political repression in the post-Soviet area. At Liberties he focuses on civil rights developments within the EU.

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 Advocacy
Israel began his career as an academic lecturing and researching on EU and human rights law at the universities of Nottingham and Lancaster in the UK. He has published a number of articles in leading academic journals and wrote a book about how to counter the rise of populist authoritarian governments that limit their people’s rights and freedoms. He joined Liberties in 2017 as the head of advocacy, and in this position he has worked to promote ideas on how the EU can better protect democracy and the rule of law in its member states.

Andrew Colclough

Advocacy & Research Assistant
Andrew graduated from the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy in Erfurt with a Master of Public Policy degree. His specialization was in Conflict Studies and Management. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Affairs from Washington State University. Andrew has interned at the Department of Community Development for the City of Vancouver (WA) and also at the US Consulate General in Munich. Andrew’s areas of interest are foreign policy, civil liberties, and transatlantic relations.

Jonathan Day

Head of Video Advocacy
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.

Joseph Happy Okoh

Advocacy & Research Assistant
Joseph is a lawyer, a socio-technical commentator and digital rights activist. He holds a law degree from Delta State University and a Master of Laws degree from Swansea University, United Kingdom. He began his career with the Ministry of Justice and Police Department in Minna, Nigeria. He litigated on rights and ensured that police officers complied with local and national rights legislation. He later moved to a private law firm, Raymond Isitor & Co Solicitors, where he practiced and rose to head the human rights litigation unit. He is a researcher on digital rights and design justice, privacy, profiling, bias, robo-ethics and techno-regulation. Currently, Joe is in the final semester of an MA in International Security Management at the Berlin School of Economics and Law.

Myriam Marino

Advocacy & Research Assistant
Myriam graduated with a Master in Interdisciplinary Research and Studies on Eastern Europe at the University of Bologna, Italy, following a BA in European Languages and Cultures. After spending almost one year in Hungary, her research focus shifted towards political communication, migratory phenomena, freedom of expression and of the media, rule of law and democratic standards. She is currently contributing as a volunteer writer to a number of student-led journals on European affairs and Central and Eastern European politics.

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.

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
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.

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, Valentin launched numerous social programmes, and helped NGOs grow as a pro bono expert. He loves getting lost in nature, as well as eating pasta with poppy seed (mákos tészta).

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