Board Members 2022

Thomas van der Valk – Founder and Chair

The European Union deserves a more optimistic debate. I founded the Shaping Europe platform to offer a place for those who want to contribute to a better Europe with constructive ideas. As Chair I work to build-out and represent Shaping Europe. I graduated in political science and European law. I currently work at a big tech firm, previously I’ve worked in the European Parliament in Brussels.

Daniel Niekel – Secretary and treasurer 

Fact-based and easily accessible analysis of European policy is necessary for the EU to move forward – I joined Shaping Europe to support a platform that does just this. As Secretary and Treasurer I work on internal organisational processes, stakeholder management, and financial questions. I graduated from the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen with a master’s in International Business & Management, after which I started working for a European consultancy firm.

  • Expertise: Innovation policy; organisational development; energy sector; Russia-EU relationship.
  • Email:

Marnix VermeerMarnix Vermeer – Chief Editor (English Editorial Team)

For me, the founding ideas of the European Union have always presented a wonderfully optimistic view of human society. A view which sees it possible to bridge the gap of understanding between widely different cultures from across a continent and to build a common prosperous future for all. Of course reality is messy, acting in unison with so many different countries is complicated. Hence, for me Shaping Europe is about engaging in a constructive yet critical dialogue to both improve and better understand the EU and its complexities.

  • Expertise: Populism, Systems Of Governance, China, EU-China Relations, Economics, Macroeconomics, Trade Policy, Economic Impact Of Climate Change, Eurozone, ECB.
  • Email:

Jesse Markus – Chief Editor (Dutch Editorial Team)

Shaping Europe wants to bring forth constructive ideas to make the European Union better. The European Union is key in achieving prosperity for all. My personal mission is to provide a more nuanced debate about the EU and its complexities. I currently work as advisor public affairs at Schuttelaar & Partners after graduating from Utrecht University with a master History of Politics and Society.

  • Expertise: European populism, rise of populism, France, international relations, sustainability.
  • Email:

Sandra Zwick – Board Member PR & Social Media

For me, Shaping Europe is a space to participate and give youth a say in an open political discourse. Only if we make EU politics, such as policies, accessible and understandable to everyone, we can have engagement from all parts of EU society and build a viable discussion that is able to influence the EU’s legitimacy positively. I finished my Bachelor in Economics and Japanese Studies at Martin-Luther University Halle/Wittenberg in 2019 and obtained a double degree in European Governance at Masaryk University Brno and Utrecht University. Currently I’m pursuing my dream of working in Brussels in European politics.

  • Interests: EU trade and foreign policy with a special focus on EU-China relations
  • LinkedIn: Sandra Zwick

Tara GörderTara Görder – Board Member

A constructive dialogue about the European project is needed more than ever – I joined Shaping Europe to participate in this endeavour and contribute with accessible and meaningful research. After graduating International Relations and Crisis and Security Management, I currently work as a Research Analyst at VVA Group on EU Environmental Policy.

  • Expertise: International Relations; Security; Terrorism & Extremism; Sustainability & Environment

Alexander Galt

Alexander Galt – Advisory Board Member

As a ‘Brexpat’ the mission of Shaping Europe for me is also a personal mission – to critically analyse European policy and make this accessible to the public such that we can have informed debates about political issues. I fulfil an advisory role, helping to create a strategic vision and establish sustainable governance for the organisation. I currently work for IKEA as their Digital Ethics Leader and have graduated from Leiden University with a Masters in International and European Governance.

  • Expertise: Digital Ethics, Data Stewardship, Digital Economy, Data Governance, Open Data, Start-ups.

Editors 2022

Linda den Bol – Editor (Dutch editorial team)

As a Czech and Dutch citizen of the European Union I know like no other how EU integration can positively influence people on a day-to-day basis, but this does not mean that there is no room for improvement. My personal mission within Shaping Europe is to shed light on gaps and faults in EU legislation and policy. I currently work as a research intern at the Scientific Council for Government Policy in the Netherlands while finishing my degree in European Governance from Masaryk University Brno and Utrecht University.

  • Interests: Central Europe, Circular Economy/Sustainable Development, European culture, history and society, social inequality.
  • Twitter: @LindaJitrenka; LinkedIn: lindadenbol

Anoek Zijderveld – Editor (Dutch editorial team)

The EU is a very interesting entity that I would like to analyse and cover more through Shaping Europe. In my opinion, there isn’t enough constructive debate about the EU, I hope to contribute to a more balanced debate with positive solutions. I graduated in Political Science and International Relations at Leiden University. At the moment I am a trainee at DisGover where I will work for various governmental organisations.

  • Interests: Global Polical Economy, China, China-Africa relations, sustainability
  • LinkedIn: Anoek Zijderveld

Esmee Slutter – Editor (Dutch editorial team) and Webmaster

The European Union is often seen as a complex political institution because of the many different divisions it has. My contribution to Shaping Europe mostly focuses on making this complex system understandable by showing the influences its policy has on the daily lives of Europeans. I am currently a Russian Studies bachelor student at Leiden University and last year I finished my bachelor degree in History, with a focus on European cultural history, at the Radboud University in Nijmegen.

  • Interests: Eastern-Europe, European culture, history and society, Russia
  • Twitter: @esmeejose; LinkedIn: Esmee Slutter

Hanna Krijgsman van Spangenberg – Editor (Dutch editorial team)

To me, the EU is an interesting political entity. I like to analyse the (political) history of European integration and reflect on current EU affairs. As a member of Shaping Europe’s Editorial Team, I hope to be able to contribute to making the EU comprehensible to a larger audience. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in European Studies from the University of Amsterdam, with a major in European History. 

  • Interests: History and society, European culture, international relations, diplomacy
  • LinkedIn: Hanna Krijgsman van Spangenberg

Loes ter Horst – Editor (Dutch editorial team) 

During my bachelor’s, I did a major in International Governance at the Utrecht School of Governance (Utrecht University), where I learned a lot about the European Union and its challenges, complexities and affairs. As a member of Shaping Europe’s Dutch editorial team, I aim to write interesting articles on lesser-known European issues. Currently, I am finishing my interdisciplinary Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in which I mainly focussed on (European) governance, crisis situations and conflict, and the MENA region. 

  • Interests: international governance, security and conflict, Scandinavia, Europe-MENA relations 
  • LinkedIn: Loes ter Horst

Sabine Herder Editor (Dutch editorial team)

During my bachelor’s, I have learned a lot about various geopolitical and security issues the European Union faces. I want to contribute to Shaping Europe by focusing on these internal and external threats and by explaining how the EU deals with these issues. I am currently in the last year of my interdisciplinary bachelor Liberal Arts and Sciences at Utrecht University with a major in International Relations from a Historical Perspective where I mainly focus on security issues.

  • Interests: international relations, security, human rights, intelligence
  • LinkedIn: Sabine Herder

George Bandy – Editor (English editorial team) and Webmaster

George is a graduate of the LL.M in European and International Law at the University of Amsterdam and a European Studies alumnus. He has a keen interest in EU Policy and Regulation, particularly in Competition, Sustainability, Risk Regulation, and Foreign Affairs. As a frequent contributor to student publications, he’s written on a variety of both contemporary and historical European topics such as big data and surveillance capitalism to Kosovo and the EU’s external action service.

Daria Stănculescu – Editor (English editorial team)

I am an LL.M. candidate currently finishing the International and European Law master program at the University of Amsterdam, where I follow the Public International Law and EU Law specialisations. I also hold a bachelor’s degree in European Studies with a major in European Law from the University of Amsterdam.  My main interests are international and European human rights law, migration law and international relations.

  • Interests: International and European human rights law, migration law, international relations.
  • Twitter: @DariaStanc; LinkedIn: Daria Stănculescu

Finn McCartney – Editor (English editorial team)

I have previously obtained a Masters of Arts in European Studies (European Policy) and a Bachelor of Arts in European Studies, majoring in Economics, at the University of Amsterdam. I have previously worked at the UK Parliament as an intern for a MP. My interests include: European Politics, Economic Policy and the Eurovision

  • LinkedIn: Finn McCartney

Cara Räker – Editor (English editorial team)

In the process of completing a BA in European Studies at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) I have developed an interest in the intersection between gender and politics. In particular, I like to focus on European Union foreign and security policy. As a member of Shaping Europe’s Editorial Team I have been offered a platform to explore these topics through constructive and collaborative journalism.

  • LinkedIn: Cara Räker

Madalina Nicolai – Editor (English editorial team)

I am a recent graduate from the University of Groningen, with a bachelor’s degree in International and European Law. With a keen interest in Technology Law and Intellectual Property Rights, I am currently pursuing a career in Online Brand Protection at Corsearch. As a member of Shaping Europe’s Editorial Team, I am fortunate to work alongside brilliant people who are eager to engage and understand the forces behind EU and International affairs.

  • Interests: EU Data Protection and Privacy, Ethics and AI, IP law

Diego Vallejo  – Editor (English editorial team)

I truly believe that economic and political integration is necessary for the development of the global south and south-south international cooperation. As an Ecuadorian-American studying in Europe, I have always admired the European project, how it became such a consolidated organization after tumultuous years of division and war. My deep interest in the European Union ensues analyzing its successes but also its potential fragilities in order to adapt sound integrationist policies in the global south—especially Latin America—with the goal of democratic and liberal institutions similar to those from the EU. I finished my master’s degree in International Development from the Barcelona Institute for International Studies, and I currently work as an International Risk Control Trainee at the French environmental firm Suez and as a Research Intern in the Institute for Cultural Relations Policy of Budapest. I will also contribute with the Ecuadorian Mission to the United Nations at the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council in 2022.

  • Interests: History, EU foreign and development policy, Eastern Europe and Latin America
  • LinkedIn: Diego Vallejo