Meridian Welcomes Inaugural Class of Social Innovation Fellows (2015)

May 7, 2015
For Immediate Release

Contact: Monique McSween | (202) 939-5882 |


Meridian Social Innovation Fellows prepare to work across sectors to solve critical challenges facing their communities and countries

Washington, D.C: On May 4, 2015, Meridian International Center welcomed the first group of the Meridian Social Innovation Fellowship to Washington, D.C. The eight Fellows - who hail from Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain - are global problem-solvers who bring together networks and resources to solve critical challenges facing their organizations, communities, and countries.  Meridian has brought together this distinguished group to drive ground-breaking advancements in the fields of youth and women empowerment, cultural integration, entrepreneurship, science, technology, and education.

The 2015 Meridian Fellows are:

  • Julie Pascoet - Policy Officer, European Network Against Racism(Verviers, Belgium): Ms Pascoet’s project, translated to “Citizens of My City”, will provide a space and a network to empower women’s participation and encourage greater social integration.
  • Alberto di Minin, Ph.D - Associate Professor of Management, Scuola Sant’Anna di Pisa and Italian Delegate, Horizon 2020(Pisa, Italy): Mr. di Minin’s project – TalentEurope – will contribute to economic recovery in Italy and the EU by promoting STEM education and investment in start-ups.
  • Diva Tommei, Ph.D. - CEO of Solencia; Board Member, Global Shapers Rome, World Economic Forum; and Mentor, Startup Weekend Rome (Rome, Italy): Ms. Tommei is creating LOVE, ROMA to establish free Wi-Fi hotspots across Rome to engage citizens, immigrants, and youth in larger efforts to foster social inclusion and economic recovery.
  • Rowinda Appelman - Advisor, Youth Atlantic Treaty Association; Member, NATO Emerging Leaders Working Group; and President, Dutch Atlantic Youth Association (Amsterdam, Netherlands): Ms. Appelman’s project Language4Language will engage Amsterdam’s vibrant expat community, leveraging social, cultural, and community programs to provide language lessons for immigrant youth in some of Amsterdam’s most impoverished communities.
  • Tamara Steen - Assistant Coordinator, IMC Weekend School (Utrect, Netherlands): Ms. Steen’s project Future For Life picks up where other supplemental education programs for at-risk youth leave off. Targeting 14-18 year-olds, this on-line community will prepare youth for job readiness and engage alumni to give back.
  • Mateusz Malyska - Co-Founder, Center for Youth Information and Development and Website Coordinator,, Sempre a Frente Foundation (Lublin, Poland): Mr. Malyska has already created the Center for Youth Education and Development.Via the Fellowship, Mr. Malyska aims to improve the structured dialogue between young people and decision makers and coordinate the collection of information on youth policy across the country.
  • Cristina Aranda Gutierrez:  Independent Communications and Marketing Consultant (Madrid, Spain): Ms. Gutierrez leads "Mujeres en la Tecnología", a consortium of technology corporations and experts that seeks to foment the presence of women in IT companies and the creation of start-ups by women entrepreneurs.
  • Javier Garcia Rodrigo - Lead, Strategic Innovation Policy, Telefonica Innovation and Leaders for Strategy, Communications and Partnership, (Madrid Spain): Mr. Rodrigo wants to take online platform JuntoSalimos to the next level, democratizing access for early-stage entrepreneurs, providing resources, and connecting them with a network of supporters.

The Meridian Social Innovation Fellowship’s year-long engagement begins with an intense international professional exchange (May 4 – 23), in Washington, DC, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, and San Francisco. After the exchange, the Fellows will implement projects which can positively impact at least 1,000 members of their respective communities. To support the Fellows’ success, Meridian built "Communities of Champions" around each Fellow. These communities are comprised of top global leaders who will mentor the Fellows and ensure that they have access to the expertise and cross-sector networks that are critical to the success of their programs. Meridian is also facilitating long-term engagement with the Fellows through monthly convening for training, ongoing communications with U.S.-based mentors, and deepening of cross-sector connections.

Partners of the 2015 Meridian Social Innovation Fellowship are: IBM, Square, Rosetta Stone, Year Up, Youthbuild, LinkedIn, IO Sustainability, the Kresge Foundation, and the U.S. Embassies of Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain.

For more information on the Meridian Social Innovation Fellowship or for more media inquiries, please call Monique McSween at 202-939-5882 or send an email to To become a Partner, please call Meg Poole at 202-939-5895 or send an email to

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About Meridian International Center
Meridian International Center is a premier nonprofit, global leadership organization headquartered in Washington, DC. Building on more than 55 years of experience, Meridian prepares U.S. and international leaders to meet global challenges and opportunities. Meridian’s suite of programs delivers the approach and environment for leaders to understand global issues and cultures, exchange ideas, collaborate on solutions, and build valuable relationships.

Meridian’s mission is to create innovative exchange, educational, cultural, and policy programs that advance three goals:

  • Strengthen U.S. engagement with the world through the power of exchange
  • Prepare public and private sector leaders for a complex global future
  • Provide a neutral forum for international collaboration across sectors

For more information, visit, or Follow us on twitter #MeridianFellows and @MeridianIntl.

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