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Fourth Annual Thessaloniki Civil Society Forum by the Dukakis Center

Fourth Annual Thessaloniki Civil Society Forum by the Dukakis Center

The Michael and Kitty Dukakis Center for Public and Humanitarian Service is pleased to announce that the Fourth Annual Thessaloniki Civil Society Forum will take place virtually on Thursday-Friday, February 24-25, 2022.

The two-day event will be live-streamed on the website https://www.anixneuseis.gr/.

The purpose of this year's event is to examine the skills and training needed in civil society and the public sector today. Regional practitioners from both domains will share their experience and insight with our keynote experts, Beth Simone Noveck of Northeastern University, Chief Innovation Officer for the State of New Jersey, formerly of the Obama Administration, and Efi Stefopoulou, of the Hellenic Ministry of Public Administration Reform and eGovernment.

Participants will consider the following questions:

  • What particular challenges do professionals in various public sectors face currently, beyond the constraints imposed by the public response to COVID-19?
  • What specific skills are currently most in-demand in these same sectors?
  • Beyond one’s undergraduate and postgraduate education, in what ways can civil society and public sector professionals meet the demands of their work?
  • How does one best "tackle existing challenges and... train public servants to solve problems more effectively,” in the words of Beth Simone Noveck

The Forum will be augmented this year with the Thessaloniki Mini Summit for Democracy, following up on the international Summit for Democracy hosted by President Joe Biden in December 2021.

The keynote session will feature Polly MacKenzie, Chief Executive of Demos in London and former aide to Nick Clegg, and Ilda Zhulali, Advisor on European Integration to the President of the Albanian Republic.

Topics to be put up for consideration in the mini-summit will concern the status of democratic governance in Europe and throughout the world, the role of civil society in democracy promotion, and the skills and predispositions ordinary citizens need in a healthy democratic polity.

Confirmed panelists will join the discussion from Brussels, London, Tirana, Skopje, Pristina, Nikosia, Strasbourg, Washington, DC, and Thessaloniki. Several participants are alumni of ACT -- the American College of Thessaloniki, the post-secondary division of Anatolia College.

The forum will be moderated by David Wisner, Professor of International Relations at ACT, and Executive Director of the Dukakis Center.

Address inquiries via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

See the full program below:

Fourth Annual Thessaloniki Civil Society Forum

"Civic Spaces and Civil Society: Skills and Predispositions"

Thursday-Friday, February 24-25

Day 1 - Thursday, February 24

  • Keynote session 1

17:00 - 17:45

Keynote session speakers: 

Beth Simone Noveck, Northeastern University

Efi Stefopoulou, Hellenic Ministry of Public Administration

  • Session 1: Skills – Public Sector

18:00 - 18:45

Ermal Vila (ACT ‘11), Governance Specialist, World Bank

Marilena Tserepi (ACT ‘16), Management Assistant, European Parliament

Nemanja Grgic (ACT ‘10), Technical Cooperation Manager, Agribusiness, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

  • Session 2: Skills - Civil Society

19:00 - 19:45

Sotiris Themistokleous (ACT ‘07), Director of Strategic Development, Center for Social Innovation, Cyprus

Chris Sfetsios (ACT ‘07), Senior Program Specialist, The RESOLVE Network, Washington, DC

Danai Tsapikidou (ACT ‘00), Partner, Schuman Associates, Brussels

20:00- 21:00

Opening of Banner Days: Virtual Exhibition of Dukakis Center Banners and Posters 2011-2021

Watch the lifestreaming of the event below 

Day 2 - Friday, February 25

  • Mini Summit for Democracy

18:00- 19:00

Erisa Lame (ACT ‘06), Programme Officer in Political Affairs and Democracy, Embassy of Switzerland in Albania

Alexandar Jovanoski (ACT ‘05), Project Coordinator, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Skopje (TBC)

Nicole Morgret (ACT ‘07), Human Rights Analyst, C4ADS, Washington, DC (TBC)

Fjolla Raifi (ACT ‘12), Project Lead, UNDP, Kosovo

  • Keynote session 2

19:00-20:30

Keynote session speakers:

Polly MacKenzie, Chief Executive, Demos

Ilda Zhulali (ACT ‘01), Advisor to the President of the Republic, Albania

20:00-21:00

Screening of the May 2019 Athens Dukakis Lecture by Jim McGann (†) of the University of Pennsylvania (YouTube premier)

Watch the lifestreaming of the event below

Speakers’ short bios

Beth Simone Noveck is a professor at Northeastern University with joint appointments in the Department of Communication Studies, School of Law, College of Engineering, and College of Social Sciences and Humanities as well as Director of the Burnes Center for Social Change and Impact. She also directs the Governance Lab and its MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy appointed her as the State’s first Chief Innovation Officer and head of the state’s Future of Work Task Force. She served on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Digital Council. Beth also served in the White House as the first United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer and director of the White House Open Government Initiative under President Obama. A graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, she is a member of the Scholars Council of the Library of Congress and the Research Advisory Council of the Partnership for Public Service. Her most recent book, Solving Public Problems: How to Fix Our Government and Change Our World, appeared with Yale Press in 2021. 

Efi Stefopoulou is a Policy Analyst at the Department of Public Administration Reform Strategic Planning, Hellenic Ministry of Public Administration Reform, and eGovernment. She specializes in public administration reform and regulatory reform initiatives. She has worked on measuring and reducing administrative burdens as well as human resource management in the public sector. She has collaborated with the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the European Union, the Serbian National Assembly. She advised To Potami, a centrist political formation, on administrative reform issues in the 2010s. She is a Lecturer at the National School of Public Administration, has taught at the European Institute of Public Administration, and is a researcher at the Center for Liberal Studies in Athens.

Polly MacKenzie is the Chief Executive of Demos. She started her career as a business journalist. In 2004 she became a Policy Adviser on housing and local government for Edward Davey MP. She then worked for Nick Clegg from 2006 to 2015, helping to write the 2010 Coalition Agreement, and serving as Director of Policy to the Deputy Prime Minister from 2010-15. After leaving Government, Polly established the operations of the Women’s Equality Party and then went on to found the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, a charity working to break the link between financial difficulty and mental health problems. She lives in South East London and has three children.

Ilda Zhulali is Advisor for European Integration of the President of the Republic of Albania. Previously she had held the position of Political Advisor of the President. She has broad experience in foreign affairs, and her area of expertise includes European integration and the Western Balkans region. She has worked as a career diplomat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs holding different positions, such as an expert in regional affairs, Director, and Director-General for European Affairs. She studied at ACT -- the American College of Thessaloniki, and at the University of Oxford, graduating with distinction from both institutions. She was the recipient in 2003-2004 of the Chevening Albania Scholarship. 

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