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Doing Good in a Changing World: A Conversation with Alumni Leaders in Philanthropy

Panel Discussion
CEU Philanthropy Week / 2021
Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

As part of CEU’s Philanthropy Week, we invite you to take part in an engaging discussion with the University’s leading alumni, who are now changemakers in philanthropic organizations across the globe. The session will offer insight into global trends in the philanthropic sector. Distinguished alumni will also share their inspirational career journeys and reflect on how their time at CEU prepared them for a career in philanthropy.

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Frode Dal Fjeldavli, (IRES '02) Head of Funds & Horizontal Concerns Unit, EEA & Norway Grants (Belgium)

Mladen Joksic(SPP '09) Director of Foundation and Development Strategy, Council on Foreign Relations (United States)

Marta Lejkowski, (ENVS' 99) Director of Philanthropy for Europe, The Nature Conservancy (United Kingdom) 

Elena Ryabova, (POLS '02) Director of Development, Chess in the Schools (United States)

Eric Schmelling, (POLS '95) Chief Philanthropy Officer and General Manager, Rotary International (United States)


Jason Weedon, Director of Philanthropy and Strategic Partnerships, CEU 

As the world faces an unprecedented set of challenges, many continue to look to global philanthropy for solutions. The discussion will focus on questions related to the future of the sector, such as:  

  • What are the emerging opportunities and challenges for philanthropy in 2021? How do these differ across the globe?

  • How is the role of institutional philanthropy changing today and how can philanthropy better work with grassroots organizations to catalyze change?

  • How are fundraisers navigating the new normal and where do opportunities exist in the current climate?  

  • In what ways did CEU help prepare you for careers in philanthropy? What knowledge and skills are required to succeed today in philanthropy, as well as civil society and other sectors?  

Audience questions are invited in the final part of the session.  

Alumni Biographies


Frode Dal Fjeldavli (IRES '02), a Norwegian national, has been mostly Brussels-based since graduating from CEU. He is currently Head of Unit at the EEA and Norway Grants, responsible for the Active Citizens Fund – a €200M support scheme to civil society in 15 EU member states. His responsibilities also include the EEA and Norway Grants’ Funds for Regional Cooperation and Youth Employment, support to Roma Inclusion and Empowerment, and partnerships with international institutions. 


ProfileMladen Joksic (SPP '09) is Director of Foundation and Development Strategy at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), where he works with the Council’s leadership to develop and execute strategies for maximizing institutional and individual giving through opportunity identification, proposal development, and relationship building. Mladen served as an integral member of the largest capital campaign in CFR’s history, Council at 100 Campaign, which raised $200 million in new gifts to secure CFR’s excellence in the analysis of foreign policy and international relations through its second century. His publications include Why Dictators Don't Like Jokes and From Resistance to Revolution and Back Again

ProfileMarta Lejkowski (ENVS' 99) has significant experience in international philanthropy from working in Asia, the United States and Europe, and she is passionate about the environment and conservation. As Director of Philanthropy, Europe at The Nature Conservancy, Marta is responsible for developing strategic relationships between the organization and major philanthropists. Heading a team of fundraisers in London, she seeks to engage philanthropists with TNC’s work around the globe and is personally dedicated to raising awareness of environmental philanthropy and its power to bring about global change. 

ProfileElena Ryabova (POLS '02) has 15+ years of experience working with U.S. and international funders. She has worked at local non-profits and major international NGOs in Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the United States. In January 2020, Elena joined Chess in the Schools (CIS), a New York City-based education non-profit, as its Director of Development. At CIS, she is responsible for running the full spectrum of fundraising efforts collaborating with both institutional and individual supporters, as well as raising funds from government agencies. 



Eric Schmelling (POLS '95) leads the area responsible for facilitating contributions to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, which grants more than $300 million annually to eradicate polio and funds projects and scholarships in communities worldwide. Rotary International, a community service organization, is comprised of 1.2 million members worldwide. Schmelling is an alumnus of Beloit College in Wisconsin, USA, and received his M.A. from Central European University.