The Board

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.

Meet the Shaping Europe TeamDaniel Niekel – Secretary and treasurer 

In today’s information-driven landscape, accessible and factual information on the European Union and its policies is incredibly important. I’ve joined Shaping Europe to support a platform committed to providing such information freely to all. As Secretary of the board, I work on internal organizational processes. Currently I’m based in Cotonou, Benin, where I contribute to development cooperation projects.

Meet the Shaping Europe TeamLoes ter Horst – Chief Editor

With my passion for area studies as well as for writing, I have come to the perfect place at Shaping Europe not only to report more but also to learn more about Europe/EU, its challenges, complexities and affairs. In my role as a chief editor, I aim to encourage the publication of engaging articles about lesser-known European topics, and I love writing those articles also myself. After completing my master’s in Crisis and Security Management last year, I am now pursuing an MA in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Amsterdam.

  • Interests: SWANA Region, Crisis Management,  South East Asia,  Tourism, Scandinavia
  • LinkedIn: Loes ter Horst

Anoek ZijderveldEuropean Elections Project Coordinator

Elections are fascinating to me, which is why I chose to lead the European parliamentary elections project for shaping Europe. I currently work as a consultant in the public sector where I advise on complex change programmes. I have an MA in International Relations, specialising in Global Political Economy and a Bsc in Political Science.

  • Interests: EU-Africa Relations, Elections, Feminism in policy, Digitalisation
  • LinkedIn: Anoek Zijderveld

The Editorial Team

Meet the Shaping Europe TeamSabine Herder Editor

The EU plays an important role in tackling many of the current complex issues. I want to contribute to Shaping Europe by writing about the lesser-known background of many of these issues and inform people about topics that do not often reach the news. After finishing my master’s degree in Crisis and Security Management at Leiden University last year, I am currently pursuing a MA in European Policy at the University of Amsterdam.

  • Interests: External relations, Intelligence and Security, Political History, Climate Policy
  • LinkedIn: Sabine Herder

Hanna Krijgsman van Spangenberg – Editor 

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 Master of Science in Political Science from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, with a specialisation in Democracy, Power, and Inequality, and previously, I obtained a Bachelor of Arts in European Studies from the University of Amsterdam, with a major in European History. 

Meet the Shaping Europe TeamLuna Verbaas – Editor 

I approach my interest in Europe and its social and political processes through the lense of gender and postcolonial studies. With my interdisciplinary background I hope to broach topics like equality and power dynamics of minority groups, involving a European perspective on solutions to the challenges related to this.

  • Interests:  international relations, Middle East, conflict studies, gender studies, political
  • LinkedIn: Luna Verbaas

Meet the Shaping Europe TeamJulia van de Boel – Editor 

I am currently studying Notarial Law at the University of Utrecht. In order to obtain a more interdisciplinary perspective I am also pursuing a bachelor’s degree Liberal Arts and Sciences, with a major in International relations from a historical perspective. I enjoy using these different perspectives and approaches when looking at social issues, something I hope to share when writing for Shaping Europe.

  • Interests:  international & private law; social & economic history; international relations
  • LinkedIn: Julia van de Boel

Meet the Shaping Europe TeamEsmee Slutter – Freelance Editor and Webmaster

The European Union is often seen as a complex political institution. My contribution to Shaping Europe mostly focuses on making this complex system understandable by showing the influences its different policies have on the daily lives of Europeans. I hold a Master of Arts in European Studies from the University of Amsterdam, with a specialisation in East European Studies and have previously obtained bachelor degrees both in Russian Studies and History, the latter with a focus on European cultural history.

  • Interests: Animal welfare, European culture, history and society, Sustainability 

Meet the Shaping Europe TeamMarnix Vermeer – Freelance Editor 

I believe that for the EU to tackle the challenges of the 21st century, it needs to become more democratic and resilient. I’ve joined Shaping Europe to contribute my expertise in geopolitical dynamics and economic issues to a platform that aims to bring constructive ideas to the forefront. Currently a Senior Policy Advisor at a government body, my academic background in international relations and research into foreign political influence in the EU inform my perspectives on global economic risks and geopolitical shifts.

  • Interests: Geopolitical Analysis, Macro economics and Economic Risk Assessment

Meet the Shaping Europe TeamGeorge Bandy – Freelance Editor 

Democracy, digital, and all things citizens! I work for a non-profit that focuses on strengthening European democracy through advocacy, campaigning, and developing tools for better societies. LL.M in European and International Law from the University of Amsterdam and an European Studies alumnus.


  • Interests: Digital Policy and Regulation, Competition, Civil Society, and Citizen Participation
  • LinkedIn: George Bandy

Meet the Shaping Europe TeamAyla Elzinga – Freelance Editor 

In this era of shifting global power balances, it is more important than ever that we critically analyze the European Union in relation to the changing world around us. I’ve joined Shaping Europe to contribute to an initiative passionate about openly informing citizens about European affairs. Currently I’m studying International Relations at the University of Leiden.


  • Interests: International Security, Global Conflict, Journalism Studies, Disinformation, Technological Arms Race
  • LinkedIn: Ayla Elzinga