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Our people - Permanent Secretariat

AmbassadorMaria Leissner

Ambassador Maria Leissner

Secretary General

Ambassador Maria Leissner has served as secretary general of the Community of Democracies, a global intergovernmental organization, since 2012. As secretary general, she leads the organization’s permanent secretariat in Warsaw and serves as a vocal advocate for democracy, human rights and rule of law around the world.

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Under her leadership, the Community has expanded its mandate to include a number of ambitious projects, such as the LEND network that mentors political figures in transitioning democracies, and developed a permanent secretariat to implement the priorities of the 28 countries that make up the Community of Democracies’ Governing Council.
 
Ambassador Leissner brings a valuable perspective to the Community thanks to her unique combination of experience in politics, diplomacy and democracy-promotion.
 
She served as a member of the Swedish Parliament from 1985-1991. As a legislator, she sat on the Foreign Affairs Committee and was party spokesperson for refugee and immigration issues.
 
Ms. Leissner was elected leader of the Liberal Party (FP) in 1995, becoming the first woman to lead that party.
 
Ambassador Leissner joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2000. She served as Sweden’s envoy to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize and Costa Rica (2000-2004) and ambassador-at-large for democracy (2006-2012), during which time she also chaired a governmental Delegation for Roma Issues that investigated the situation of this minority group in her country.
 
She has participated in a number of international programs, including a large number of election-monitoring missions with SIDA, the Scandinavian Institute for African Studies and other organizations. Ambassador Leissner directed the National Democratic Institute’s governance program in Iraq (2004-2005) and served as Senior Adviser for Human Rights at AMM (EU/ASEAN peace monitoring mission) in Aceh, Indonesia (2005-2006).
 
She chaired the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (1991-1994), Swedish women’s organization “Kvinnor Kan” (1991-1994), board of the University of College of Borås (2007–2010), the advisory board of the Institute for Contemporary History at the University of Södertörn (2011-2015) and was a member of the Swedish Commission Against Antiziganism (2014-2015).
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Mr.Michael Carney

Mr. Michael Carney

Head of Communications & Public Affairs

Mr. Michael Carney, a former journalist and communications consultant, has led the Unit of Communications & Public Affairs at the Community of Democracies since it was established in October 2015. 
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As a partner at FleishmanHillard International Communications, Mr. Carney was based in Brussels, where he led the firm's public sector practice in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. His work combined deep knowledge of current events and public policy with practical experience telling stories that cut through the clutter to reach the audiences that matter to governments and nongovernmental organizations. Mr. Carney's earlier assignments in the firm's Washington office focused on helping organizations align their communications activities with their broader strategic priorities.

In 2015, he received FleishmanHillard’s Firefighter of the Year Award, the firm’s highest recognition for crisis communications, as a result of his work advising a G20 country on how to respond to multiple public-health crises, including Ebola Virus Disease. He was a key member of the FleishmanHillard team that won a 2009 SABRE Award for excellence in public relations in the EMEA region. 

Before his consulting career, Mr. Carney worked as a journalist, including stints as a staffer at Reuters and USA Today, where he wrote the newspaper’s breaking news blog. His investigative reporting earned top honours from the Washington chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2005 and 2006.

Mr. Carney earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a master’s degree in journalism (public-policy reporting) from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He has taught journalism and communications at the college level, most recently as an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
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Dr. Matyas Eörsi

Dr. Matyas Eörsi

Senior Advisor & Head of Administration, Finance and Human Resources

Dr. Matyas Eörsi is a senior advisor to the secretary general and Head of Administration, Finance and Human Resources at the Community of Democracies. A former lawmaker and senior official in Hungary, he joined the Permanent Secretariat in 2014.
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Dr. Eörsi, a former State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, became active in politics during the political changes that swept across Central and Eastern Europe in 1989. He was an active participant in the roundtable negotiations that led to Hungary’s peaceful transition from Communism to a democratic market economy in 1989 and 1990.
 
In the historical referendum in 1989, Dr. Eörsi served on Hungary’s first Central Election Committee (CEC). In 1990, he was elected to Parliament during the country’s first free elections. He served in leadership positions in the Parliament for 20 years, until 2010.

At the international level, Dr. Eörsi was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) from 1994 to 2010. In 2002, Dr. Eörsi was elected Leader of the ALDE Group in the Assembly, a position he held until 2009. He also served as Vice-President of Liberal International, and Bureau member of the ELDR Party. In 2008, he was the Hungarian Government’s nominee as Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
 
In the Council of Europe, Dr. Eörsi was involved in numerous projects that allowed him to share his transition experiences with other countries in Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East and beyond. He was the Council of Europe rapporteur for several countries and political issues. In his capacity as rapporteur, Dr. Eörsi focused on democratic institutions, with a particular focus on parliaments, including the rules of procedure, actions of committees, including investigating committees, anticorruption efforts and several other fields.
 
In 2011, Dr. Eörsi worked for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) in Jordan. In Libya, he worked for Democracy Reporting International (DRI) to assist parliaments in the Arab Spring countries. He has also visited Tunisia, Egypt and Libya to share transition experiences.
 
Dr. Eorsi holds a doctorate in law from the Eötvös Loránd University.
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Mr.Andrzej Kostek

Mr. Andrzej Kostek

Head of Logistics, Events and Procurement

Mr. Andrzej Kostek has been with the Community for Democracies Permanent Secretariat since October 2012, first coordinating and managing the Community’s LEND Network and now as head of the Unit of Logistics, Events and Procurement.


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Before joining the Community, Mr. Kostek worked as Programme Coordinator for the UEFA Euro-2012 European football tournament in Poland and Ukraine (2012) and the Polish Robert Schuman Foundation (2007-2011), and as independent expert on development of youth programmes and voluntary Service in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus region for SALTO EECA and the European Commission (since 2010).


He holds Master’s degree in International Relations with specialization in Eastern European Affairs, also gaining practical experience during traineeships at the Embassy of Poland in Baku and the General Consulate of Poland in Saint Petersburg (2006), and a voluntary service in nongovernmental organizations in Moscow (2007). He speaks Polish, English and Russian. 

Contact Mr. Andrzej Kostek

 

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Mr.Francesco Lembo

Mr. Francesco Lembo

Head of Programs

Mr. Lembo has served in the Permanent Secretariat since May of 2013. Initially seconded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy and afterwards contracted by the Community of Democracies, Mr. Lembo is currently leading the Unit of Programs.

 

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Before joining, Mr. Lembo has served in different international organizations, including the United Nations (Liberia, East Timor), the OSCE (Kosovo) and the International Organization for Migration (Libya, Tunisia). Mr. Lembo has also worked as an election observer with the European Union and the OSCE (Guatemala, Angola, Ukraine, Mexico).

Mr. Lembo holds a Master's degree in International Law and Human Rights.

Contact Mr. Francesco Lembo
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Ms.Miłosława Zagłoba

Ms. Miłosława Zagłoba

Legal Counsel

Ms. Miłosława Zagłoba works as Legal Counsel at the Permanent Secretariat of the Community of Democracies. 

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Ms. Zagloba holds a Master’s Degree degree from the Gdansk University Faculty of Law.

She is a member of the Gdansk District Council of Legal Advisers, and has previously worked for the Ministry of Science and IT of Poland, IBM and Maxdata. Ms. Zagloba participated in the UK FCO/ George Soros Fellowship program in Oxford. She speaks Polish, English and Russian.

Contact Ms. Miłosława Zagłoba
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