EEE-YFU Team

The EEE-YFU is the structure that works to advance and support in Europe, on a non-profit basis, the mission of Youth For Understanding (YFU), which is to advance intercultural understanding, mutual respect and social responsibility through educational exchange for youth, families and communities.

Gregory Matheson

SECRETARY GENERAL

Gregory Matheson is the Secretary General of YFU's Global Office. Gregory is responsible for overseeing the work of the Global Staff and for implementing the Global Strategy of YFU. He holds a degree in Law and European history. Gregory has been involved with YFU since 2013, when he took over the management of YFU France. He has been involved with YFU as a Director, host father, volunteer and counselor and is fiercely committed to the values and projects of Youth For Understanding, recognising the power of its mission and its volunteer communities and the transformative value of it's work for individuals and for communities around the world.

KEA HOPPE

DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL & GLOBAL PROGRAMS DIRECTOR

Kea Hoppe is the Deputy Secretary General of YFU’s Global Office and the Director of Programs, located in Brussels, Belgium. In her current role, she is responsible for managing and expanding program capacities and strengthening and enhancing existing and developing new programs, to meet the needs of our customers and enhance our impact globally. Kea holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Göttingen, Germany, the country she is originally from. Having been a YFU exchange student herself, she loves working with passionate colleagues from around the globe for a cause she truly believes in. She has been involved with YFU as a staff member since 2006, first working for YFU Germany in different management positions before moving to the international level of YFU in January 2017. Until January 2019, she was the Director of EEE-YFU, the umbrella organization of YFU in Europe, making her even more a believer in active global citizenship than before.

MARZENA GAWENDA

TRAINING & KNOWLEDGE MANAGER

Marzena is YFU's Training & Knowledge Manager. Her responsibilities include designing and implementing training courses and capacity-building projects for YFU volunteers and staff, obtaining funds and grant-writing for educational projects as well as managing the European Trainer Network. Originally from Poland, she has lived, worked and studied in Italy and Spain and is currently based in Belgium. Marzena is not only a trainer, coach and facilitator, but also an art therapist, deeply interested in body-mind-soul connection. She has extensive volunteer experience in NGOs, including AEGEE, SIETAR, First Light India, and Toastmasters.  Working with YFU makes it possible for her to be the witness of countless a-ha moments and transformations during training courses, international friendships being forged and exceptional ideas turning into sustainable projects. Marzena holds an MA in Ethnolinguistics and a post-master specialisation in Art Therapy, Forum Theatre and Vedic Art. She has over 15 years of practice in the Training Field and her work experience ranges from designing educational projects for NGOs to organising strategic retreats and teambuilding activities for businesses, to running transformative personal retreats for individuals.

ANDREEA MADAR

PROJECTS & ADVOCACY COORDINATOR

Andreea comes from Romania and she was an exchange student with YFU in Germany in 2011/2012. She speaks 5 languages and has many hobbies: skiing, graphic design and tennis to name the most important. She holds a Bachelor diploma in European Studies and International Relations from the Babes-Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca and a Masters in Political Strategy and Communication at the University of Kent. During her studies in Brussels, she has been working with EEE-YFU supporting Educational Activities, and has also been involved in Advocacy and developing promotional materials.

She is currently in charge of YFU's advocacy campaigns and of coordinating the biggest event in YFU, the Youth Empowerment Seminar, which brings together 500 YFU students and volunteers every year.

LENKA KOVÁČOVÁ

PROGRAMS & ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Lenka is the Programs and Administrative Assistant at the Global Office. In this role she supports member organizations with programs related tasks and questions, such as health insurance, system support and mediation between partners. She also supports the Global Office in administrative tasks such as finance and daily office management. Lenka comes from Czechia, has lived and studied in Germany and France and is currently based in Belgium. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Geography of Central Europe, EU and regional studies from UJEP, Czechia. Lenka has a long-time experience with Erasmus+ program as an exchange student, volunteer and finally an ESC volunteer which led her to join YFU at her current position. Lenka's hobbies include baking, rafting and all things sci-fi.

Arianna Caggiano

Educational Activities Coordinator

Arianna, originally from Rome, Italy, started her role as Educational Projects Coordinator at EEE-YFU in March 2024. Her primary responsibilities encompass fundraising for educational initiatives and overseeing their execution. Notably, she is responsible for the coordination of YFU's flagship event, the Youth Empowerment Seminar, which annually gathers over 100 volunteers and approximately 400 students at the conclusion of their exchange year. Beyond her professional commitments, Arianna's personal journey reflects her dedication to intercultural exchange: she participated in an exchange program in France in 2015, pursued studies abroad as an Erasmus+ student in France and Belgium during her university years, and completed her Master's Degree in International Relations at the University of Bologna, with a research period in South Africa to write her Master's thesis on the intersection of gender issues and UN peacekeeping missions in the African continent. What Arianna finds most gratifying about her work is not only amplifying the organization's impact and reach by engaging YFU staff and volunteers worldwide and securing funds to support YFU's mission, but also empowering individuals of all generations in educational matters and fostering social transformation

Taru Granholm

COMMUNICATIONS & ADVOCACY SPECIALIST

Taru has first joined the Global Office as an Advocacy & Communications Assistant in 2022, and rejoined the team as Specialist in late 2023. Her tasks include increasing the visibility of YFU globally and influencing policy relevant to its mission. She comes from Finland and is currently finishing her Master's degree in International Business. With many experiences abroad, starting from an exchange year to Germany with YFU in 2014 and later studying abroad in France, Taru is a firm believer in the power of learning mobility to make the world a better place for us all. 

YASİN Bulat

EDUCATIONAL EVENTS ASSISTANT

Yasin first started working for YFU Türkiye as an Outbound Program Coordinator and transitioned into a Support Role in the organization. He then joined the YFU Global Office in 2023 as the Educational Events Assistant. He is tasked with supporting the capacity building efforts for the continuous development of the YFU network and the implementation of the Youth Empowerment Seminar. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Education and has been involved NGOs in local, national and international level as a facilitator, learning designer and a youth coach. He is a firm believer of the Conscientiziaçao philosophy with a special interest in intercultural dialogue and participation.

Adriana Palhau

MEMBERSHIP & QUALITY EXCHANGES ASSISTANT

Adriana joined the YFU Global Office as Membership & Quality Intercultural Exchanges Assistant in 2024. Her tasks include insurance and program management, member organization support and operational and personnel procedure development. She was born and raised in Portugal. She holds a Bachelors diploma in Economics from Lusíada University of Porto, and a Masters in Economics of Business and Strategy from School of Economics and Management of the University of Porto (FEP-UP). Through her immersion in different international environments, starting from an Erasmus study semester in Germany and later an Erasmus internship in UK (alongside a Youth Exchange in Poland, and currently ESC intern in Belgium), she has gained profound insights into the significance of such global experiences in shaping the lives of youth generations. With this in mind, she felt compelled to inspire and encourage fellow youth to embark on international exchange programs. Adriana is a firm believer that international experiences cultivate a sense of curiosity and appreciation for the richness of human diversity, and expand opportunities for meaningful connections. She has a keen interest in self-love, travel, personal growth, baking, music, art and nature.