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Global Office Team

The Global Office is the global structure that works to enable the YFU membership worldwide to achieve its mission by providing leadership, critical services and opportunities to grow and thrive as sustainable and quality organizations. It is composed of the two operating & staffed supra-national legal structures of the YFU membership: Youth For Understanding International Educational Services (YFU IES) and European Educational Exchanges - Youth for Understanding (EEE-YFU), which are legally independent from each other.

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Gregory Matheson

Secretary General

Gregory Matheson is the Secretary General of YFU's Global Office and National Director of YFU France. 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.

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KEA HOPPE

Deputy Director & Global Programs Director

Kea Hoppe is the Deputy Director of YFU’s Global Office and the Director of Programs & Products, located in Brussels, Belgium. In her current role, she is responsible for effectively ensuring program quality, managing program capacities and strengthening and enhancing existing and developing new programs and products, 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.

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BENT RICHTER

IT Director

Bent leads the Global IT department in order to build strong IT backbone operations for YFU member organizations worldwide. Starting out as a YFU exchange student he has been involved with YFU ever since - as volunteer, host parent as well as co-founder and long time Director of YFU in Austria. He values working for YFU because it is a place where professional work can make a true difference to people’s lives. Among other degrees he holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration.

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LIVIA HONORATO

Global Program Manager

Livia is the Global Program Manager at the Global Office. In this role she supports member organizations with programs related tasks/questions, such as health insurance, system support, new programs’ development and mediation between partners. She was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she is currently based. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a Marketing Specialist certificate from UCLA, California. Her father was a YFU exchange student, what motivated her to become one herself, in Germany. Since 2005, she has been a volunteer, host-family, intern for YFU Estonia and Outbound Coordinator for YFU Brazil. To be part of a big and noble cause is what keeps her motivated to work with YFU.

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JOANNE HALBARDIER

Membership & Governance Manager

Joanne is the Membership & Governance Manager of Youth For Understanding’s (YFU) Global Office. She was born in New York, and raised and educated on the east coast of the US. Currently based in Washington, DC, she supports and coordinates YFU international governance functions, including International Board activities, the International Contingency and Development Fund and its grantee and trustee activities, international General Assembly functions, Member Organization processes and communications and Global Office operations.  Joanne has worked for YFU in a variety of capacities, including all aspects of program delivery for the YFU organization in the US. Previous to YFU, Joanne worked in the area of university programs - recruitment, promotion and administration. She volunteers her time to causes important to her – Alzheimer’s prevention, social justice and voting rights. Joanne is a global citizen who believes wholeheartedly in the mission of YFU and how it’s now more necessary than ever. She took part in a cultural exchange to the United Kingdom shortly after graduating from university. But it’s the people of YFU who keep her interest - she particularly loves working with a diversity of cultures and their different professional approaches. “There are not enough fingers on my hands to count the lifelong friends I’ve made because of and through YFU!”

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HERMAN WIEDEMANN

Risk & Compliance Manager

Herman Wiedemann is the Risk & Compliance Manager of YFU’s Global Office, located in Brussels, Belgium. In his current role, he is responsible for monitoring member organizations’ performance and compliance, supporting members’ organizational development and further developing YFU’s crisis and risk management. Herman was an exchange student to California, USA and as returnee became actively engaged first as a YFU volunteer, then as office staff for YFU Uruguay and later on intern for YFU Austria till he joined the former International Secretariat of YFU IES in Washington DC for 2 years. Before joining the Global Office he was the National Director for YFU Uruguay. He holds a degree in Political Sciences and Economics from the University of the Republic of Uruguay, the country he is originally from. Herman has experienced living in 5 different countries and sees himself as a true citizen of the world!

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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.

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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 Young European’s Seminar, which brings together 500 YFU students and volunteers every year.