Core Team

Karen Barreto

Advocacy & Research Assistant
Karen earned her law degree (B.B.A LL.B Hons.) from NMIMS University's Kirit P. Mehta School of Law, Mumbai. Upon her graduation, she worked as a litigation associate and as an intellectual property lawyer at law firms in the field of trademark, copyright, media and entertainment law as well as intermediary liability. She is currently an incoming LL.M. student (in Information Technology and Intellectual Property Law) at Trinity College Dublin this fall. Her core interests revolve around data protection, technology policy space as well as the application of transformative and disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence.

Eleanor Brooks

Communications Officer
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

Advocacy Officer
Jonathan works on the Liberties advocacy team, having previously worked on the communications team and leading the video advocacy program. Before joining Liberties in 2017, he worked in Budapest with the European Liberties Platform, interned with 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.

Robyn Elrick

Communications & Campaign Assistant
Robyn is a first year MA student at the University of Konstanz studying Politics and Public Administration, with a BA in Politics and International Relations from the University of Sussex. After working for the House of Commons in the UK and volunteering with Amnesty International, she joined Liberties to work with the communications team.

Her main research interest is the increasingly complex relationship between new technologies, human rights and political destabilisation.

Jamison Gaither

Advocacy & Research Assistant
Jamison is a current master’s student at Saint Louis University-Madrid studying Political Science and Public Affairs. Before this, he majored in political science with a minor in history at Louisiana State University in the US where he focused on American foreign policy and the Liberal International Order. Now specializing in the physical effects of technology, his interests lie in researching how technological advancements impact civil society and current geopolitical developments.

Una Glatz

Communications & Campaign Assistant
Una is currently in her second year of a bachelor degree in Culture, Politics and Society with a major in Nationalism Studies at Central European University (Vienna). The university’s strong focus on fostering democracy studies and her chosen major led her to the internship position at Liberties’ Communications and Campaigns Department. With her specific interest in advocacy work in its various forms she is in the process of learning from the various work done at Liberties before returning to finish her bachelor’s degree.

Viktor Kazai

Senior Expert On The Rule Of Law
Viktor is a lawyer specialized in comparative constitutional law with a doctoral degree from Central European University (Vienna). He supports the work of Liberties from Brussels where he currently holds a postdoctoral researcher position at the Université libre de Bruxelles. In addition to his participation in several international projects focusing on the challenges to constitutional democracy in the EU (RECONNECT, RED-Spinel), Viktor has been involved in human rights litigation as a legal advisor and has been collaborating with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. Viktor is the author of several academic publications with significant experience also in editing, teaching, and science communication.

Luca La Cava

Membership Management Research Assistant
Luca is a graduating bachelors student from the University of Amsterdam in Political Science, with minors in Law and Economics and EU Law and Justice. His main fields of interest are civil and human rights, political economy & history, and political communication. In his free time, he draws political cartoons.

Kersty McCourt

Senior Advocacy Advisor
Kersty is a human rights lawyer with over 18 years’ experience working for civil society organisations and national human rights institutions. She qualified as a lawyer in the UK, worked in Rwanda, Kenya and the Gambia and then for more than a decade in Brussels for the Open Society Justice Initiative – always with a focus on access to justice and civic space.

For Liberties Kersty supports members through advocacy, trainings, research and legal advice. Over the past years Kersty has designed and taught several courses on human rights and civic space at the Global Campus of Human Rights in Beirut, Venice and Yerevan.

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.

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).

Orsolya Reich

Senior Advocacy Officer
Orsolya is specialising in artificial intelligence, privacy, the impact of social platforms on society, and the defence of democratic values in the EU. With an academic background in philosophy from Central European University and teaching experiences at prestigious institutions such as Princeton University, Orsolya brings a deep intellectual foundation to her work. Since joining Liberties in 2017, she has led vital projects on civic space monitoring, microtargeting and the regulation of COVID apps. Currently she oversees a critical initiative monitoring election advertising in six EU countries and works on advocacy and monitoring projects related to the Digital Services Act. Her efforts aim to safeguard civil liberties and ensure the responsible use of digital tools in upholding democracy across the bloc.

Juan David Romero

Video Editor Consultant
Juan David Romero graduated from the University of Central Florida in the United States with a BA in English Literature and a minor in cinema. He went on to work as a multimedia journalist and video editor at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Doctors Without Borders, Brut Media, and That’s Y Media. He currently lives in Paris, France. On his free time, he likes to work on filming, producing and editing his own documentary films, some of which have screened at film festivals with Amnesty International, IOM (UN Migration Agency), and La Cimade in France. Since 2022, Juan David works with Liberties as a video editor and motion graphics animator, collaborating in all of Liberties’ video projects.

Shumaila Shahani

Advocacy & Research Assistant
Shumaila is currently pursuing a Double Masters in Ethics - Law and Politics from Ruhr-Universität Bochum and Universität Graz, with a specific focus on digital monopolies and their impact on democracy. Holding a Bachelor of Laws from the University of London, she brings professional experience as a lawyer in Pakistan, where she made significant contributions to research, policy, and advocacy in the areas of digital rights, free speech, and privacy. Eager to expand her expertise, Shumaila is now keen on understanding and contributing to these same areas within the European context.

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.

Gergő Szőcs

Senior Marketing Communications Consultant
Gergő graduated as an economist from the Faculty of International Management and Business at the Budapest Business University. He works on the Liberties communications team and is responsible for online marketing activities and project management. Since joining Liberties he's been busy with branding, advertising, analytics, data visualisations, conversion tracking, the implementation of privacy-conscious online applications and creating various digital solutions like a data warehouse. Gergő has experience in creative strategy, international relations and event management, collects music and loves the wind.

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).

Seljan Yaghmurova

Communications & Campaign Assistant
Seljan is a third-year Bachelor student of English Language and Culture at Radboud University in the Netherlands, with a specialization in Migration and Cultural Contacts. Her interests include women's and LGBTI+ rights and religion in the Middle East and the Caucasus. Her activist background and her work at an Azerbaijani NGO For Women encouraged her to pursue internship at Civil Liberties Union for Europe.
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