ACCELERATE! is the backbone of our action to support seasoned women professionals as they access boards and the media. This top-ranked EU project – funded under the European Commission’s PROGRESS programme – was launched at the Deauville Women’s Forum in October 2014. We provide a pan-European platform for organisations and networks engaging qualified women in economic governance, as panellists in policy debates, or experts in news on-air, online, and in the print media.

Our project partners  are non-profit organisations from six EU member states: Belgium, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Slovenia. Associate partners come from the Netherlands, Romania, and the UK. Each of us has specific expertise: needs analyses for boards, brokerage of board profiles, mentoring and leadership development, PR and media campaigning, and social media. We combine our strengths to advance balanced leadership and decision-making in society at large.

To achieve our objectives, we operate with two distinct working groups: “Women on Boards”  and “Women in the Media”.

ACCELERATE! “Women on Boards” Working Group:

Associate partners: PWN Romania, Romania 

ACCELERATE! “Women in Media” Working Group:

Associate partner: Michelle Brailsford, London, United Kingdom; Dana Deac, Romania

Observer: Managers' Association of SloveniaLjubljana, Slovenia

Women on Boards: building/managing a database of board-ready women

The “Women on Boards” working group is dedicated to building/managing a database with profiles of board-ready women, identify, across Europe, qualified women from diverse educational and professional backgrounds for board positions in SMEs, public and semi-public institutions, NGOs, and charities with the support of an HR database search system and a transparent selection process. A guide will be published for organisations wishing to create a resource database. It will include a complete toolkit with recommendations for board selection criteria, guidelines for selection committees to assess applications, online questionnaires for applicants, needs analyses, and tips for awareness raising and brokerage events.

Working group members: Belgium, Italy, Poland, Portugal

  • The Sofia Foundation, Belgium: Manager of the Belgium branch of the Female Board Pool database, set up in 2005 by the Center for Corporate Governance at the top-ranked University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, and specialising in needs analyses.
Representatives of the Sofia Foundation: Armelle LOGHMANIAN
  • Professional Women International (PWI), Brussels/Belgium: The Belgian Chapter of Professional Women’s Network (PWN) Global, actively engaged in the Belgium branch of the Female Board Pool database.
Representative of PWI Brussels: Armelle LOGHMANIAN

Armelle Loghmanian is elected President of Professional Women International Brussels, the Belgium Chapter of Professional Women Network (PWN) Global, who are also founding partner of the Global-Board-Ready-Women Initiative supported by the EU.  She is member of the “Women on Board” core team at the European Professional Women Network Federation. Armelle is also owner and general manager of DiphoNet, a company based in Seattle and in Brussels specialising in process improvement, strategic marketing, and new business analysis. 

  • Professional Women Association Milan (PWA), Italy: The Italian Chapter of Professional Women’s Network (PWN) Global, the international platform of senior executive and business women, managing a database in collaboration with Bocconi University Milan, and successfully brokering female executives for high-level board positions.
Representative of PWA Milan: Monica PESCE
Monica Pesce is an experienced project manager specialized in strategy, marketing and sales. With 14+ years' experience in B2B and B2C sectors and solid competencies in market and scenario analysis, Monica has developed an expertise in strategic thinking and strategic business planning, proving her ability to solve problems, maximize opportunities and lead teams. In her working experience she helps companies both improve revenues and reduce costs through positioning or repositioning products and brands, entering new markets or new channels, reengineering processes. She believes in the fundamental and strategic role of marketing in keeping and increasing market share and its potential.

  • PWN Warsaw, Poland: The Polish Chapter of Professional Women’s Network (PWN) Global, in process of building a database of board-ready women using the toolkits and software of the Sofia Foundation.
Representatives of PWN Warsaw: Jowita BUKOWINSKA and Joanna ZAKRZEWSKA

Jowita Bukowinska has over 15 years of professional experience in finance, accounting and social studiesSince 2011, she is President of the Board of the Professional Women’s Network (PWN) Warsaw, a non-for-profit association supporting the development of professional women’s careers through learning programmes, mentoring, and best practice sharing and networking opportunities. Currently Jowita holds the position of Director at ORANGE Group and manages finance, investments and fixed assets process of Orange LabsShe is also the Chief Financial Officer of TP INVEST (Orange Group)In addition, Jowita is experienced in internal control systems, Enterprise Risk Assessment, financial audit, due diligence, forensic investigation

Magdalena Czubaszek  has over 15 years of professional experience in IT market specialized in developed customer experience solution and sales.  Since 2011, she is Co-Founder and  Member of the Board of the Professional Women’s Network (PWN) Warsaw, a non-for-profit association supporting the development of professional women’s careers. Magda is responsible and Coordinates the Mentoring Program for Poland and works provided for the International Mentoring Project. She is ICC certified coach.

Professionally she is Business Developer Director for financial  sector in Outbox Group. Private she is whife and mother twoo children

  • PWN Lisbon, Portugal: The Portuguese Chapter of Professional Women’s Network (PWN) Global, in process of building a database of board-ready women using the toolkits and software of the Sofia Foundation.

Representative of PWN Lisbon: Silvia ALMEIDA

 Silvia Almeida is the Managing Director at Worldavenue Lda, an investment and advisory firm specialized in strategy, business development and growth challenges. She is furthermore President of the Board at Lisbon’s Social Stock Exchange, a not-for-profit crowd-funding platform focusing on boosting social innovation in Portugal. She is an advocate for gender equality, taking an active role in several projects in the context of the Portuguese Institute for Corporate Governance, Professional Women’s Network Lisbon, and also LIDE. As a specialist in financial services and utilities, Sílvia has worked in recognized multinational groups, such as UBS, Cofidis and General Electric – where she was an Executive Board Director - as well as leading Portuguese groups such as EDP and Millennium BCP for more than 20 years.

  • Associate Partner PWN Romania, Romania
Representatives of PWN Romania: Sorana BACIU and Virginia OTEL

Sorana Baciu is Senior Executive with 20 years private and public sector experience and extensive knowledge of general management, corporate strategy and corporate finance. She graduated the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, Romania with an M.A. in International Economic Relations and McGill University in Montreal, Canada with a M.A in Economic Policy Management. She then followed a long track career in banking, working for ING (both in Romania and London) in investment and commercial banking. After having set up the Porsche Bank Romania, where her last position was as Vice-President and CFO, Sorana Baciu was Strategy & Investor Relations Director OMV Petrom S.A. between December 2007 and October 2014. Currently Sorana Baciu is running a management consulting company focusing on business turnaround and performance improvement, and financial investment advisory. She is also a non-executive member of the Board of Director of   SNGN Romgaz SA, the largest gas producer in Romania.

Virgina Otel is a senior executive with more then 20 years experience in the financial sector in Romania, gaining  expertise in general management, business development, marketing, corporate communication, human resource management in various financial institutions, such as venture capital fund, securities trading & investment banking, banking, and leasing. She served in management boards and board of directors of financial institutions she worked forVirginia graduated from the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest with a Bachelor degree in Economic Cybernetics. She completed her post–graduate studies in Management and Public Administration with the National School of Political and Administrative Studies of Bucharest in 1992 and earned a Master’s degree in Management and Public Administration from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom in 1993. 

  Women in the Media: exposure of women experts to the information media

The Accelerate! “Women in the Media” working group will develop toolkits for raising awareness for more exposure of women experts and researchers to the media; an outlook on key future topics in the media where women should take the lead in shaping debates, and media training for women so as to create an impact in their public appearances. Two guides will be published and presented at the Accelerate! closing conference in summer 2016: “How to effectively campaign - across Europe - for more women experts and researchers speaking in the key opinion-making media;” and “How women can use social media to profile themselves as competent panellists, interview partners and experts to the media”.

A "Women in the Media" conference will be held in Brussels in early 2016 with speakers and panelists from across Europe.

Working group members: Belgium, France, Slovenia, United Kingdom

  • The Sofia Foundation, Brussels, Belgium: An organisation advocating balanced leadership and decision-making, and promoting access of women to both boards and the information media.
Representative of the Sofia Foundation: Claudia Ritter

Claudia Ritter is is managing director of Cleverland, an organisation headquartered in Brussels specialising in diversity leadership strategy.  She works with the European institutions, the OECD, UN, national governments, the corporate, and NGOs globally. 

 Claudia is elected member of the Federation Board of Professional Women Network (PWN) Global, the international network of professionals promoting balanced leadership and decision-making worldwide, with special responsibility for Executive Programmes.

  • Voxfemina, Paris, France: An organisation advocating exposure of competent women especially to the information media - as interview partners and panellists, not just on social and societal issues - and experienced in raising awareness on this subject matter. Voxfemina is co-founder of the “Women and Media” initiative at the Women’s Forum in Deauville.
Representative of VoxfeminaValérie TANDEAU DE MARSAC

Valérie Tandeau de Marsac is the founder and President of voxfemina , a French non-profit association created in 2010 to promote balanced representation of women in the media, based on statistical evidence which unfortunately shows that the media still massively promote an image of women limited by traditional stereotypes. A graduate from the French top business school HEC in 1982, she first acquired substantial operational experience, acting for the international development of industrial and public French groups, and as an investment banker, before becoming a lawyer in 1996. Since 2010, she has chosen to serve family-owned and owner managed businesses, and has published two books, which serve as a reference for family businesses in France.

  • META’s List, Kočevje, Slovenia: An organisation accelerating women’s engagement in top positions in politics, media, science, and economy, and currently in the process of developing media training for women leaders. Meta’s List gives specific attention to the use of social media for women to raise their profile, and engage in self-advocacy.
Representative of Meta's List: Nataša BRIŠKI
Nataša Briški M.Sc., is a seasoned journalist, and an expert in strategic communications, and in new and social media. She is co-founder, Director and Editor-In-Chief at the indie web project Meta's list and Meta Dekleta, advocating gender balance. She  is furthermore programme advisor at the largest Slovenian Media Festival “Forward”, anchors the first podcast in Slovenia on gender equality (Meta Dekleta), co-anchors a popular weekly podcast on the media, and is  columnist at the biggest newspaper in Slovenia. Being a communications advisor she is active in a range of NGO projects in Slovenia and the EU advocating gender equality. Nataša also regularly guest lectures at academic institutions, teaching  topics  including the use of New and Social Media in Slovenia and abroad.

  • Associate Partner Michelle BRAILSFORD, London, UK
Michelle is an executive coach and change management consultant with 30 years of international experience.  For the last 10 years; she has worked as a partner for Jupiter Consulting Group, a consultancy dedicated to “Adding Life Back Into Work”. Most recently she has worked at the BBC Worldwide, helping them with a major change project that looked at culture, structure, and new ways of workingHer approach to coaching, change, and capability building is appreciative; focusing first on ‘what works’.  She is a strengths based coach who  coaches her clients around their ‘gifts and talents’; not around their gaps or ‘weaknesses’. Michelle was raised in the US, has lived in England for 14 years and works internationally. She has an MA, in Organisational Behaviour from Johns Hopkins University and a BA in Business from the University of Maryland.


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