Nominees announced for YPFP Brussels Rising Star in Foreign Policy Award 2017

YPFP Brussels is excited to announce the nominees for our inaugural award; the Rising Star in Foreign Policy Award 2017!

Following a successful competition which attracted an array of exceptional applications, a shortlist of six talented young people living in Belgium are in the running to win an array of prizes and be celebrated for their outstanding work in the past year.

Without further ado, we are pleased to introduce our nominees in their own words to highlight some of the incredible work they have achieved this year:

Leo Hoffman-Axthelm

A research and advocacy coordinator for Transparency International EU and representative for the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in Brussels, Leo helped play a part in the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in New York in 2017. He did this by helping push through a resolution in the European Parliament which called on all Member States to vote in favour of, and participate constructively in, negotiations on TPNW. 

Displaying Yentyl_EDD16_4.JPGYentyl Williams

An international economic development expert who specialises in EU trade and international relations, Yentyl is the founder and president of African, Caribbean and Pacific Young Professionals Network in Brussels. Her organisation has helped connect young people with institutions, and was the first young professional expert to be granted ‘member’ status at the European Economic and Social Committee in 2017, helping monitoring the EU’s trade agreement with the Cariforum group. 


 Matti Tetřev

Currently working for NATO and a recent College of Europe graduate, Matti was recently involved in an eight-month project called ‘P2P: Challenging Extremism’ that aimed to challenge violent extremism and hate speech. The online campaign, entitled SHE IS HERE, used social media to counter radicalisation and extremism amongst women in Europe. The campaign attracted support from Members of the European Parliament and was able to reach over 100,000 people on Facebook.


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Rebecca Bushby

A project coordinator specialising in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region for NGO Young Water Solutions, Rebecca has a wealth of humanitarian experience in international health and sanitation. This summer, whilst conducting research in Lebanon for her MSc thesis, she discovered a refugee community with extremely limited access to drinking water, which due to its location was unable to receive support from major NGOs. Working on her own, she managed to fundraise 5000 USD to purchase and deliver water tanks for the community, ensuring the refugees had clean access to water and increased food security.


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Matilda af Hällström

Matilda is the first ever Brussels-based advisor for the Nordic Council, an interparliamentary forum of cooperation between the Nordic countries and three autonomous Nordic regions. Her responsibilities, most of which she does autonomously, include providing a more visible Nordic angle within EU policies and coordinating the Nordic Council’s EU advocacy work. She has a keen interest in security policy, as shown in her recent Master's’ thesis, ‘‘The Nordic Self and the Russian Other - Russia in Nordic Security Discourses after 2014’.



 Matthew Gillis

As Deputy Head of Section for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) in NATO’s Defence Investment Division, Matthew’s key achievement this year has been planning and negotiating the launch of an ambitious programme to define a potential successor for NATO’s prolific E-3 AWACS capability, known as Alliance Future Surveillance and Control. In February 2017 NATO’s Defence Ministers agreed to launch a six year programme funded by all NATO nations, in excess of 100 million EUR. The programme will help drive investment decisions by NATO and individual Allies.


The six nominees will now be judged by our external panel of foreign policy experts in Belgium: Politico’s Ryan Heath, Head of Media and Communications for the European Defence Agency Pauline Massart, and Thomas Sladko, Head of Protocol and Public Relations for ISPD Protocol & Diplomacy in Brussels.

The winner of the award will receive the following prizes:

  • EUR 6,000 scholarship for training at the prestigious ISPD Protocol and Diplomacy, together with a Visionary membership of the ISPD+ Innovation in Diplomacy network;

  • A cash prize of EUR 150;

  • Annual YPFP membership and a free ticket to our Gala.

One runner-up will also receive:

  • One-day training with communications experts Clear Europe;

  • Annual YPFP membership.

The winner will be announced at our annual Gala on 24 November, which will feature a keynote speech from former US Ambassador to the EU Anthony L. Gardner. To be held at the NH Collection Brussels Centre Hotel, Boulevard Adolphe Max 7, 1000 Brussels from 19.30, the Gala is open to YPFP members and non-members. Tickets can be purchased at www.ypfpbrusselsgala2017.brownpapertickets.com.

A big thank you to everyone who applied!


The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of their employer or Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.