At our locations in Berlin and Munich, the employees of the BMW Foundation work in flexible teams that combine a variety of professional experiences and expertise. Especially when we are active globally, these teams are expanded to include networking partners abroad.
Chairman of the Board
Dr. Michael Schaefer studied law in Munich, Geneva, and Heidelberg where he passed his Second State Examination in Law in 1978. In the same year, he joined the Foreign Service. After postings at the United Nations in New York from 1981 to 1984 he served as Permanent Representative at the German Embassy in Singapore from 1987 to 1991 and as head of the Political Affairs Section at the German Permanent Mission to the Office of the United States in Geneva from 1995 to 1999. From 1999 to 2002, Dr. Michael Schaefer was head of the Western Balkans Task Force and subsequently Deputy Political Director and Special Envoy for Southeast Europe at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. From 2002 to 2007, he was Political Director of the Federal Foreign Office, before being appointed Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, a post he held until June 2013. Since July 2013, Dr. Michael Schaefer has been Chairman of the Board of Directors of the BMW Stiftung Herbert Quandt.
Dr. Michael Schaefer is the author of articles and monographs on foreign and security policy issues. He is among others honorary professor at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, member of the German Group of the Trilateral Commission, member of the Advisory Board of the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), board member of the United Nations Association of Germany (DGVN), and member of the Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance.
Markus Hipp studied philosophy and Catholic theology in Munich from 1989 to 1994. Upon graduation, he spent two years as a lecturer in German and philosophy at the Czech universities of Budweis and Brno, before taking up positions in the marketing and publishing industry in Munich and in Augsburg. In 1998, he joined the Robert Bosch Foundation in Stuttgart as assistant to the executive director. In 2000, he became the Foundation's deputy chief executive for Central and Eastern Europe, before being appointed to establish the Berlin office of the Robert Bosch Foundation in 2002, which he directed until August 2006.
Since then he has been director of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt. The married father of four also holds a number of honorary posts in other organizations. He is a member of the advisory council of the Association of German Foundations in Berlin, a member of the board of trustees of the Breuninger Foundation, a board member of the Paretz Foundation as well as a founding director and member of MitOst e.V., an association for language and cultural exchange in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Since 2008 Markus Hipp is an elected member of the city council of Ketzin, Brandenburg. In 2011 he became a board member of the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA).
Carl-August Graf von Kospoth, born in 1965, is Director of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt since March 2016. Graf Kospoth studied Industrial Engineering in Munich. From 1994 to 2009 he worked for the BMW Group in different leading positions. From 2009 to 2016 he was Executive Director of the Eberhard von Kuenheim Foundation, which main target is to find and develop sustainable solutions with a high impact for current questions in the area of education, employment and sustainability. Graf Kospoth is also member and in leading positions in numerous advisory boards of foundations and nonprofit organizations.
Remi Antonio studied translation studies (English and Spanish) at the University of Heidelberg and political science with a focus on international relations and environmental policy at Freie Universität Berlin. While still a student, she worked in the fields of membership recruitment for different environmental organizations and volunteered for social and environmental projects in Latin America. Upon graduation, she worked as Advocacy Manager for Fairfood International, an NGO striving to improve sustainability in the food sector. There she collaborated with companies to develop and implement sustainable solutions along the whole value chain. She joined the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt in July 2015.
Laura Bastine completed her masters degree in political science, sociology, and English literature at the University of Heidelberg in 2007. While still a student, she gained practical experience by working in the office of a member of the German Bundestag, at a cultural institute, and at the Association of German Foundations. Upon graduation, she worked as a personnel officer in an international research institute. While pursuing an M.A. in Nonprofit Management and Governance at the University of Heidelberg’s Centre for Social Investment (CSI), she worked in the Corporate Responsibility department of the Deutsche Börse Group in Frankfurt, where she was responsible, among other things, for realizing the company’s corporate volunteering activities. She last worked as a program coordinator with Common Purpose Berlin, before joining the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt in August 2012.
Sarah Braig joined the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt in October 2015. She earned her bachelor’s in European Studies in Maastricht (Netherlands). As part of her program of study, she spent a semester abroad in Hong Kong. Sarah Braig subsequently completed her master’s in Intercultural Conflict Management at the Alice Solomon University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. She was able to gain experience in project management and event planning during an internship with Amnesty International where her responsibilities included a nationwide Amnesty International informational tour and the International Day of Human Rights. Sarah Braig volunteers in a neighborhood initiative in Moabit which, among other things, provides advocacy and assistance to refugees.
Anika Büchele has been a member of the organizing team of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt since January 2013. She cut her teeth as a project assistant with the Foundation, where she gained experience in the logistical management of conferences and other events. She began her career in 2002 by training as a bank clerk with Volksbank Bruchsal-Bretten eG, where she subsequently worked for one and a half year as a retail banking advisor. To develop professionally, she enrolled in 2008 in the Philosophy & Economics program with a focus on business and corporate ethics at the University of Bayreuth and the California State University in Fresno, concluding her studies in 2012 with a thesis on “mission-related investments.” In her spare time, she has for years been active in child and youth work
While studying languages, international business, and cultural studies at the University of Passau, Daniela Deuber spent lengthy periods of time working in the United States, Russia, and Mexico. After completing her studies, she worked for ten years in the field of development and humanitarian aid, conducting capacity-building trainings in Africa, Asia, and the Balkans and doing field work in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch. From 2001 until 2003, she worked as a consultant in a UNHCR project for women in Bosnia and Herzegovina with a focus on small business promotion, microcredit programs, and capacity building. She continued in this line of work, serving as an organizational development consultant for NGOs in Romania and Ukraine. These experiences, combined with her conviction that the competencies and resources of the different sectors need to be pooled for the common good, brought her to the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt.
Juliana Figale has been a staff member of the secretariat of the Global Diplomacy Lab since May 2015. She joined the GDL as a program officer in April 2014. Prior to that, she worked in the Training for International Diplomats program of the Federal Foreign Office, conceptualizing and implementing the I Regional Meeting for the Americas and the Caribbean. She is a PhD student at the European Graduate School (EGS) in Switzerland.
Juliana Figale holds an MA in Public Policy from the Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) and a BA in Economics from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in Brazil. She is a co-founder of the Saravia Institute, a think tank in the field of public policy and governance. As a researcher at FGV, she has advised, among others, the Brazilian Presidency and the Brazilian Ministry of Culture.
She is an alumna of the Managing Global Governance (MGG) program of the German Development Institute and of the German Federal Foreign Office’s Training for International Diplomats program. Her research interests include the configurations of ethics in the realms of language and body and their implications for civil rights issues.
Before joining the communications team of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt in early 2014, Maja Heinrich worked for ten years as a national correspondent in the Berlin office of the Madsack media group, a publishing company with over twenty newspapers in six federal states. Focusing on political and social issues, education, and transatlantic relations, she lastly worked mostly for “sonntag,” a digital tablet magazine.
While completing a master’s degree in literature, American studies, and linguistics at the University of Bochum, Maja Heinrich freelanced for several news desks of the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung. In addition, she contributed to the Medienbüro Bochum as a legal correspondent, reporting on trials in North Rhine-Westphalia. She is a Media Fellow of the Rias Berlin Commission and a fellow of the New-York based American Council on Germany.
Ilka Hennet has been with the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt since 2009. She previously worked as an event manager for a variety of companies and as an executive assistant at an international architectural firm. She holds a master’s in cultural studies from the University of Lüneburg. At the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, she first brought her logistical skills to the organization of conferences before helping develop the Foundation’s Young Leaders Forums. The current focus of her work is mainly on developing and supporting the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network.
Senta Höfer currently directs the Global Diplomacy Lab secretariat and was previously responsible for the International Diplomats Programme, two collaborations of the Federal Foreign Office with the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt and other private foundations. Prior to this, Senta Höfer worked in Romania, where she established and directed the German Cultural Center in Timişoara. From 1998 until 2001, she worked as a program officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Croatia as well as for the United Nations Information Center in Bonn. In 2006, Senta Höfer co-founded inter:est, an agency that develops and implements international cultural and educational projects. She studied German philology, journalism, and art history in Bamberg, Antwerp, and New York.
Nadine Kambach has been a member of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt’s organizing team since April 2013. She began her career in 2001 by training as a bank clerk at Bankgesellschaft Berlin and subsequently studied business administration at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences. She worked as a clerk at the BMW company’s representative offices in Berlin from September 2007 until October 2008, when she joined the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt as a team and executive assistant.
Juliana Koehl studied in the Nonprofit Management and Public Governance master’s program at the Berlin School of Economics and Law. After completing her Abitur in 2009, she trained to become a management assistant in the tourism and leisure industry in the municipality of Bad Laer in the district of Osnabrück. She earned her bachelor in public management from the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences. In 2013, Juliana Koehl won a summer school scholarship at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, where she studied international tourism management. As a research assistant in the MBA Program in Higher Education and Knowledge Management at the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, she was able to gain first experiences in the field of alumni relations. Juliana Koehl has volunteered with children and youth and with refugees and has served as a board member of a local coalition for action. While studying for her master’s, she joined the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt as a project assistant in the field of Responsible Leadership and, since October 2016, has been a member of the Foundation’s organizing team.
Barbara Müller studied sinology and economics at the University of Hamburg and the Chinese People’s University in Beijing. While a student, she worked as a freelancer for a German daily newspaper and subsequently at today’s German Institute of Global and Area Studies in Hamburg. Later, she headed the China office of the Cologne Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the office of the German-Chinese Association. She joined the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt in 2002 to advance the expansion of the Foundation’s Asia programs. From 2011 until 2016, she directed the Foundation’s communications and media activities.
As a board member of Magic Bus Deutschland e.V., she supports the Indian organization Magic Bus, an NGO that uses sports programs to empower children and youth in the areas of education, health, gender equality, and livelihoods.
Ianessa Norris was born in the United States to German and Columbian parents and has been living in Germany since the age of four. After finishing her master’s degree in media science, New German and English literature at Philipps-Universität in Marburg/Lahn in 1996, she moved to Berlin, where she began her career as an executive assistant and project manager in the film and multimedia business with Medias Res Berlin and artemedia. Until 2010, she worked as a project coordinator and executive assistant at ICWE, an international events and communications company. From 2010 she was a freelance project manager and graphic designer.
In October 2016 Ianessa Norris joined the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt as assistant to the chairman of the board Michael Schaefer and to director Markus Hipp.
Armin Piálek has been a staff member of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt since early 2012. He has coordinated the cooperation with the Taproot Foundation in New York and San Francisco, with the aim of bringing professional pro bono services to Germany and expanding the Global Pro Bono Network. He currently manages the cooperation with MitOst in Russia.
Armin Piálek completed a master’s degree in Eastern European studies with a focus on politics and economics at Freie Universität Berlin. In 2009, he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and economics from the University of Bayreuth. As part of his undergraduate degree, he studied at the University of Paris Sorbonne-Panthéon in 2007/08. During the summer months of 2007 and 2008, he worked as a conference intern with Oxford Analytica in Oxford. He started as an intern in the Asian Relations Department of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, and was a fellow of the Foundation from 2010 until early 2012.
Sandra Ortiz is the Latin America Representative of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt.
Born in Mexico City, she came to Hamburg as an au pair at the age of 19 and decided to stay in Germany. While studying theater education at the Ottersberg University of Applied Sciences, Sandra interned with Dialogue in the Dark in Hamburg, where she continued to work for six years in the international field. She was actively involved in national and international exhibitions of Dialogue in the Dark, living for lengthy periods of time in Mexico, Brazil, Italy, and the United States. In addition, Sandra has gained experience as an intercultural trainer, moderator, and mentor for social start-ups
Before joining the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt in 2014, Sabine Porn was a host of Inforadio at Berlin-Brandenburg Broadcasting (rbb) where she reported mostly on current political affairs. Her passion, however, is seeing the bigger picture and taking the wider view. For seven years, she worked as a producer for ZDF in Singapore. This stay abroad left her with an insatiable curiosity about the world and especially those parts of the globe that are not always in the public spotlight.
After studying German literature, journalism, and political science at Freie Universität Berlin, the West Berliner by birth began her career as a journalist in the early 1980s as a court reporter for the daily taz. She subsequently worked for the Sender Freies Berlin (SFB) – first as a writer for the station’s youth radio, later as an editor and host of the Zeitfunk program. At the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, the focus of her work is in the field of Global Dialogue.
Jacob Rohm has worked for the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt since May 2016. Previously, he was for six years responsible for quality and impact monitoring at the Eberhard von Kuenheim Foundation, aiming to achieve consistent impact orientation, planning, and analysis of all the Foundation’s projects. He also supervises the projects “Junge Vor!Denker” and “remote_lab.” Until 2013 he helped set up the initiative “Verantwortung unternehmen” as a project collaborator. Jacob Rohm studied political science, contemporary history, and philosophy in Munich and is a qualified systemic consultant.
Inna Rudolf completed her master’s degree in political science and Islamic studies with a focus on Arabic studies at the University of Heidelberg in 2012. She has worked at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt since February 2013. Her areas of interest are peace and conflict research and the democratic transformation processes in the Middle East. During her studies and during lengthy stays in the region (Libya, Yemen, Egypt, and Palestine), she extensively studied the role of civil society in the Islamic world.
Inna Rudolf previously volunteered at the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research where she headed the regional group on “Conflicts in the Middle East and Maghreb.” Following an internship in the Jerusalem office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, she completed a six-month public relations traineeship with the Herbert Quandt Foundation.
Before joining the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt in November 2015, Nora Scholz studied art history and business administration in Freiburg and Berlin. She spent two semesters abroad in Zurich and Paris, where she also completed an internship at the Musée d’Orsay. While still a student, she gained experience in journalism through internships and freelance work, including at the Badische Zeitung and the Südwestrundfunk. Working for a corporate publishing agency while studying for her master’s opened up to her the field of strategic communications and gave her a good eye for publication concepts and designs.
Jessica Strike has been working at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt since 2013. She studied literature, cultural studies, and media science at the University of Siegen. While still a student, Jessica gained practical experience working for a social project in Chile, a cultural affairs department, and a literary publisher. After graduating from the master’s program in Applied Literary Studies at Freie Universität Berlin in 2011, she became a trainee in Sabine Haack’s Büro für Kultur und Konzept in Potsdam, where she worked on various projects for cultural institutions and nonprofit foundations such as the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the German Children and Youth Foundation. Her main responsibilities included event coordination and office administration. Following her one-year traineeship, Jessica continued to work as a project assistant with Sabine Haack.
Cristina Umani graduated with a diploma in sociology from the University of Munich (LMU). While a student, she gathered practical experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors: She worked, for example, in the Communication Research Department of Siemens AG and the Project Department of CARE Deutschland-Luxemburg e.V., and volunteered at MINKA Perú, a Peruvian NGO focusing on the economic and social development of small and microenterprises.
In 2009, Cristina Umani completed an internship at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt. She subsequently worked at BMW Financial Services in Munich and Guyancourt, France, as an expert on anti-money laundering and anti-fraud management within the European market. In 2013, she started to work for the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA), one of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt’s partner organizations; as Market Development Director, she was responsible for the promotion of venture philanthropy and social investment in Europe. At the time, she also served as Brussels representative of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt. Cristina Umani joined the Foundation’s Berlin office in 2015 and currently serves as head of the executive office.
Ilsabe von Campenhausen works in the field of Global Dialogue. Before joining the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt in 2009, the mother of three ran her own intercultural communication consultancy after spending seven years abroad. Prior to that, she helped establish the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, where she also served as deputy director. She began her career at Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung, a development aid organization where she spent four years helping to promote reproductive health in Africa and Asia. Ilsabe studied German literature and history, earning a German Magister and a French maîtrise degree; she also studied Mandarin for two years in Suzhou (P.R. China)
Corinna Wübbolt trained in hotel management and has been in charge of the smooth running and organization of all conferences and forums of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt since February 2003.
After completing the one-year Hotel Management School in Altötting, she began her hotel management training at the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg. From 1994, she worked for a variety of event companies, including Käfer Party Service in Munich (1994–1995) and Lufthansa Party Service in Berlin (1996–1998). In 1998, Corinna Wübbolt became Director of Catering at the Four Seasons Hotel in Berlin, where she also headed the event department. Before joining the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt’s Munich office, she worked as Regional Sales Manager North and East at kogag Bremshey & Domning GmbH from November 2001.
Stepanka Bystron was born in Czechoslovakia. Her life has been defined by the “Velvet Revolution.” Her first jobs took her to the Office of the Mayor of Vienna and to the Czech Ministry of Social Affairs in Prague, where she was responsible for supporting NGOs active in the social sector. She subsequently worked in different positions in the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as public relations officer at the Czech Embassy in Bonn.
Stepanka Bystron studied sociology at Charles University in Prague and political science at the European Institute for International Relations in Nice and Berlin. She is one of the founders of the Young Diplomats’ Club that aims to promote the networking of young diplomats from all over the world.
At the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, Stepanka Bystron previously headed the Europe Department, where she was responsible for the European Forum Berlin and the Foundation’s presence in the Russian Federation. Following a period of maternity leave and a stint at the Corporate Strategy Department of BMW AG, she has recently resumed her work at the Foundation, building on her previous experiences.
Valerie Bueb earned a BA in economics at DHBW Stuttgart while at the same time training as a media assistant with the publishing company Ernst Klett Verlag GmbH. She then went on to study for an MA in international business and marketing in Hamburg, where she wrote her master’s thesis on sustainability at Unilever Deutschland GmbH. She has worked on the project team of “Verantwortung unternehmen” at the Eberhard von Kuenheim Foundation and also ran the first neighborhood-based e-car sharing project in Munich: SharE Drive. She has worked at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt since May 2016
Dominik Domnik studied economics at the University of St. Gallen (HSG) and earned his PhD at HSG and the Stockholm School of Economics. After university, Dominik Domnik worked in a family office where he was entrusted with managing board activities and with supervising and monitoring seed and venture investments. At the same time, he joined the MyHandicap Foundation, serving as the foundation’s executive director, first in Switzerland and later also in Germany. He also built the interdisciplinary Centre for Disability and Integration at the University of St. Gallen (CDI-HSG).
He is in charge of funding and development issues at the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie.
Dr. Thomas Leeb is a trained historian. He studied history and English at the University of Munich (LMU) and spent one year each in the United States and France on post-graduate fellowships. Following his dissertation, he moved to Riga in 1993, where he headed the Hanns Seidel Foundation’s liaison office in the Baltic States.
He joined the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt in 1998 as head of its Asian Relations department and as coordinator of the Munich Security Conference. From 2002 until 2005, he directed the Special Projects department of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, before becoming Head of International Conferences in 2006. In addition, he served as head of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt’s Munich office on Prater Island until the summer of 2016. His main responsibilities today include the annual Munich Economic Summit as well as transatlantic and European programs.
Kathrin Legrand, M.A., is responsible, among other things, for the finances and administration of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt’s Munich office on Prater Island. She joined the Foundation as a team assistant in July 2014. She studied French and English philology at the University of Kiel and at Université Rennes 2 in France.
Alongside her language and pedagogical knowledge as a Gymnasium teacher, she gained professional experience as a project manager in the publishing sector during a multi-year stay in the Netherlands. After returning to Germany, she worked as a team assistant at the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship, an institute attached to the Munich University of Applied Sciences, and has supported the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie.
Stefanie Leiendecker studied mathematics and educational psychology to become a Gymnasium teacher. She worked as a trainee teacher at several Gymnasien in Bavaria and completed her training with the first and second state examination. Since 2014, she has contributed her experience in the field of education to the “Lehr:werkstatt” project – first at the Eberhard von Kuenheim Foundation and, since May 2016, at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt.
Carmen Leszynsky holds a B.A. in Cultural and Media Management and has worked since 2011 at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt. After studying art history at the University of Vienna, she started to train as management assistant in event organization. She worked in event management and the food service industry, until she decided to study cultural and media management by correspondence course at the Hamburg University of Music and Theater. The focus of her studies was on foundations, and while still a student, she worked on the “Stifterland Bayern” project at the Association of German Foundations, at the Friends of the Haus der Kunst Foundation, at the Utopia Foundation, and at the Nicolaidis Foundation until the end of 2011.
Benita Rosen studied to become a Gymnasium teacher in English and history at the Universities of Passau and Konstanz. She gained experience in the foundation sector as assistant on the project “German Forum for Higher Education in the Digital Age” at the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft. In October 2015, she substituted for Elisabeth Benz during her maternity leave at the “Lehr:werkstatt” project of the Eberhard von Kuenheim Foundation and has been with the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt since May 2016.
After training as a hotel management assistant at the Hotel Intercontinental Luxembourg, Heike Sandler first worked in marketing/sales and then as regional field sales manager for the same hotel company in Stuttgart. After completing her studies of business administration with a focus on marketing, public relations, trade, and human resources at the Nürtingen University of Applied Science, she worked for the telecommunications company debitel AG in Stuttgart, where she was responsible for customer communications in the field of customer marketing. Her career as an executive assistant and project manager included positions with the H.C.M. Capital Management AG, WSP Deutschland AG, and the Gräfe und Unzer publishing company, all in Munich.
In 2016, Heike Sandler joined the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt as assistant to director Carl-August Graf von Kospoth.
Christina Smith studied political science, Slavic studies, and communication studies in Munich, Oslo, and Moscow. She wrote her master’s thesis on the security policy of the Baltic States. Having previously worked in the field of communication and PR for the Munich trade fair company Messe München and an American company based in London, she has supported the initiative “Verantwortung unternehmen” since September 2014 in the areas of communication and alumni mentoring – first at the Eberhard von Kuenheim Foundation and, since May 2016, at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt.
Claudia Straßer has been working in the field of Global Dialogue since April 2015 and is supervising, among other things, the Transatlantic Core Group. Before joining the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, she worked for seven years in different departments of the Robert Bosch Foundation, most recently as Director of the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program for Future Leaders. In addition, she supervised a variety of transatlantic cooperation projects and served as a Visiting Program Officer to the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington, D.C.
Claudia Straßer holds a dual diploma in International Cultural and Business Studies from the University of Passau and the Unversidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires (Argentina). She is also a certified CSR manager from the Fundraising Akademie and teaches cultural management at the University of Freiburg
Mareike van Oosting studied public economics, law, and politics at Leuphana University Lüneburg and wrote her master’s thesis on the topic of “Ideal or Reality? – Foundations as Advocates of Civil Society.” She gained practical experience in the third sector at the foundation Partnerschaft mit Afrika e.V. and the Körber Foundation in Hamburg. She has been involved with the project “Sinnvestition” since 2014, where she has been in charge of the “Expert Group on Impact Investing” – first at the Eberhard von Kuenheim Foundation and, since May 2016, at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt.
Kerstin von Aretin studied German, English, and sociology in Hanover and Liverpool. She then worked as a journalist for the NDR and as a consultant for a large PR agency in Frankfurt. This was followed by periods spent working for Hoechst AG and the pharmaceutical corporation Aventis, where she held various management positions in the field of communication. Kerstin von Aretin moved to Munich in 2003, where she spent five years working as a self-employed consultant in the field of change communication. Since 2009 she has been involved in setting up AtemWeg, a foundation dedicated to research into lung disease. In February 2015, Kerstin von Aretin was put in charge of communications at the Eberhard von Kuenheim Foundation. Since May 2016, she has worked at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt.
Jessica von Farkas studied political science with a focus on international cooperation and human rights policy at the Geschwister Scholl Institute in Munich. Her Mexican background and her enthusiasm for travel early on provided her with an insight into the inequalities between different population groups. Her experiences working for an NGO in Costa Rica, the Federation of German Industries in Berlin, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, and the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Washington, D.C., reinforced her desire to choose a career that would contribute to social equality and sustainability. In her spare time, Jessica von Farkas volunteers with an NGO in the area of conflict prevention and investigation of the most severe human rights violations.
Since September 2014, Jessica von Farkas has worked at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt in the field of Global Dialogue.
Johannes Weber studied political science and history in Innsbruck and Bologna. He worked on issues relating to impact-oriented investment (for example, at the Bertelsmann Foundation), gained experience in public administration, and collaborated in a research cluster at the University of Frankfurt. Johannes Weber has been involved with the project “Sinnvestition” since October 2015 – first at the Eberhard von Kuenheim Foundation and, since May 2016, at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt.
Ariana Gonzalez acts as the bridge between the BMW Foundation and Taproot Foundation, working on all joint ventures. In this dual role, Ariana is building Taproot's global program which aims to support pro bono intermediaries around the globe in their efforts to make professional expertise available to mission-driven organizations working to improve society. Simultaneously, she is the BMW Foundation's North America Networking Partner and supports the Foundation's pro bono initiatives including organizing the annual Global Pro Bono Summit and supporting the growing Global Pro Bono Network. Through both positions, the aim is to continue the expansion of the global pro bono movement and collaborate with pro bono intermediary organizations around the world in an effort to build a strong, thriving pro bono marketplace.
After completing her Bachelor’s degree in American Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, she volunteered for two years with the United States Peace Corps. Living with a host family in a remote village in the Republic of Georgia, Ariana’s primary role was teaching English. As a member of the Youth and Volunteerism Committee, she also conducted workshops for nonprofit organizations on how to effectively utilize volunteers. Upon her return to the United States, Ariana completed a Masters degree with honors in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco.
Zoya Lukyanova is the BMW Foundation's link to Russia and Eastern Europe since January 2014. She is MitOst e.V. Russia and Eastern Europe Representative and responsible for partnerships and programs with Russia and Eastern Europe in the field of social innovations.
After completing her studies in Perm, Russia, and Vienna, Austria, she was head of the contact office of the Goethe Institute in Perm and project manager at Fabrik Potsdam as a scholar of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and MitOst. Back home in Russia, Zoya established the non-governmental organization Civic Engagement Institute, where she worked as CEO for the last five years.