Nino has MA in Global Journalism of Orebro University, Sweden and Diploma of a Philologist, Specialist of Georgian Language and Literature of Tbilisi State University. Besides, Nino Zhizhilahsvili is a TV journalist with more than 15 years of experience. For the moment she anchors political talk shows at TV Pirveli. Her teaching qualification in related with journalistic field. She leads practical and theoretical classes as on undergraduate, postgraduate level as well. Her classes include: News Reporting, TV Broadcast News, Conflict Reporting, Media Monitoring, Media Research Methods.
Natia joined the RFE/RL in June 2018; Natia has an extensive background in TV journalism in Georgia; starting from early 1990s she has worked for the leading Broadcasting Companies, including TV company Rustavi2, (1999-2006) as a reporter, anchor, host and a producer of the news and political shows. During this time Natia has covered all major political and social developments in Georgia and the region including the Rose and Orange Revolutions. Natia has left journalism in 2006 and joined the foreign service; Before the joining the RFE/RL she worked as senior political counselor for the Georgian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Natia earned a Master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Tbilisi;
Olena Sotnyk is a Ukrainian lawyer and politician. Sotnykis a member of the Parliament of Ukraine, the secretary of the Parliamentary Committee on Issues of European Integration and vice-chairperson of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. Sotnyk’s main areas of expertise are judicial reform, police and security service reform, anti-corruption reform and adaptation of Ukrainian legislation to EU law. She provided pro-bono legal services for the “Heavenly Hundred,” the victims of Maidan and participants of the civil protests that led to the Ukrainian revolution in 2014. Sotnyk is also the coordinator of a range of projects to defend children’s rights. Sotnyk received a degree in Law from the National Academy of Internal Affairs of Ukraine specializing in economics and governance and a degree in Psychology from the National Pedagogical Dragomanov University.
Ambassador Sikharulidze was born on May 30, 1968 in Tbilisi, Georgia. He has been in Public Service for 17 years and held high ranking positions including those of the Minister of Defence of Georgia (December 2008 – August 2009); Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the United States,Canada and Mexico (Washington DC, US) (Dec 2005 – Dec 2008); Deputy Minister of Defence, Undersecretary of the National Security Council of Georgia, Deputy Head of Georgian Mission to NATO and Head of NATO Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. Since September 2011 he is a Chairman of the Atlantic Council of Georgia. He is also lecturer at Georgian Institute of Public Affairs, Ilia State University and Tbilisi Open University, Tbilisi. Ambassador Sikharulidze has been in Georgian NATO integration policy team since 2000.
He was part of negotiation team on Russian base withdrawal negotiations in 2004-2005. Ambassador Sikharulidze holds Masters Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University and MD in Psychiatry from Tbilisi State Medical University. He was NATO Fellow 2001-2003 and Fulbright Visiting Scholar in 2017. He is co-author of number of researches on Security Sector Reform. Fluently speaks Georgian, English and Russian.
Taras Shevchenko is a director and founder of Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law – Kyiv based NGO established 2005. It is a think and act tank that focuses its activities on independent media development, rule of law, and civil society. He also lunched effective civic campaigns in Road Safety and Tobacco Control. Mr. Shevchenko is Board Co-chairman for Reanimation Package of Reforms (RPR) the largest coalition of leading non-governmental organizations and experts from all over Ukraine. The PR functions as a coordination center for 82 non-governmental organizations and 22 expert groups which develop, promote, and control implementation of the reforms. PR was established during the Revolution of Dignity in 2014.
Salome Shapakidze serves as a director of European Integration Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. Previously, she held the positions of the Counsellor and Charges ‘affairs in the Georgian embassy to the Netherlands, head of NATO unit in the Foreign Office and in the Office of the State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration. Salome has been involved in the reforming process of Georgia, when it comes to both, EU and NATO related integration agenda. She is a convinced Euro-Atlantist. She also worked in the non-governmental sector, being one of the facilitators for the establishment of the Business and Economic centre in the Parliament of Georgia.
Salome obtained her master’s degrees from Freie Universität Berlin, with the focus on East European Studies; and from Georgian Institute of Public Affairs, with the major in international politics. She also gained her bachelor’s degree from Tbilisi State University and majored in English. During her posting in the Netherlands, Salome was a member of women’s book club in The Hague. She is an outspoken women’s rights supporter. In her private time Salome enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Among her special interests are languages, literature, movies, and music.
Natia Samushia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Master’s Certificate in Project Management. She has been working on deep deregulation, trying to get rid of old, unnecessary and burdensome regulations, which created major obstacles to economic growth. Natia served as an Advisor to the Prime-minister and has been working on streamlining the legislations on getting credit, enforcing contracts, protecting investors, starting a business, resolving insolvency, and employing workers taken into account Doing Business methodology. As a result of the above-mentioned reforms, in 2013 Georgia became number 8th reformer of the world and the top improver since 2005 globally.
Natia was a member to the negotiators’ team on DCFTA and AA with EU. She has been analyzing impact of EC regulations on business climate in the country and working on easing the regulatory burden on businesses. Currently, Natia holds a position of Vice-Rector at Free University and Agricultural University, which are the two best universities in Georgia. Each year the universities attract hundreds of top- tier applicants. She is responsible for the elaboration and development of BA, MA, PhD, VET programs, coordination of attracting and
managing the international grants, and recruitment of the academic staff.
She is a curator and gallerist who after spending almost 20 years in New York moved back to Tbilisi to use her NY art world experience and raise new generation of artists. She co-founded Kunsthalle Tbilisi in 2017. 2013-2017 was a director and founder of Popiashvili Gvaberidze Window Project- in Tbilisi. Previously she co-owned Newman Popiashvili Gallery in New York (2005-2012). In 2012 she served as a rector of the State Academy of Arts in Tbilisi. Ms. Popiashvili has curated exhibitions in the US and Europe (i.e. Georgian Pavilion in Venice Biennale in 1999 and 2003). She received a BA from Tbilisi State University and a MA in art history from University of Georgia in Athens (USA).
Giorgi Akhalaia has extensive experience in both public and private sectors. As a team member of the State Minister’s Office on Reform Coordination, was activelv engaged in the design, development and implementation of various public sector reforms. These included the Labor Code, healthcare planning and e-governance. One of the successful projects was Georgian Governmental Reform, which reduced Government of Georgia’s overall communication costs of the Georgian Government by up to 60%, as Coordinator of the Georgian Governmental Network (GGN); a VPN network enabling government agencies throughout the country to share information more quickly and eticiently. Giorgi has an intensive experience also in private sector.
He turned around the Peoples Post transportation and logistics solutions business from being a loss- making enterprise to becoming the market leader. Peoples Post increased their number of corporate clients tenfold, and the number of daily packages, thirty-fold. As CEO, Giorgi established new sales team, developed sales strategy, introduced and managed a team of more than 600 staff members. As a part of USAID Projects in Georgia Giorgi were heading different vale chains, such as implementation of sector and value chain activities in the ICT, packaging, transport & logistics, apparel, wine and MICE tourism sectors resulting in increased exports, employment, revenues, and foreign investment
Maka Meshveliani is a human rights activist based in Tbilisi, Georgia being particularly interested in inclusion of women and minorities in political, economic and public lives. She manages the gender equality program at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Georgia Office working at policy, advocacy and grass root levels contributing to women’s empowerment in politics and economy. Having held various positions at international intergovernmental and non- governmental organizations, Maka has contributed to the electoral, constitutional and media reforms in Georgia, and coalition building, grass-root organizing and advocacy efforts by civil society organizations. Maka is actively engaged with the Women’s Movement of Georgia.
She was also one of the lead organizers of Women’s March Tbilisi as part of the global movement in January, 2017. Having won the Andi Parhamovich Fellowship hosted by NDI in Washington DC, she analyzed the communication tactics for advancing women’s political participation agenda. To help Tbilisi recover from flooding in 2014, Maka initiated and managed the most successful crowdfunding campaign in Georgia raising $80,000. Maka is the winner of multiple awards and stipends, including the Chevening scholarship. She holds a LLM in International Human Rights Law from University of Essex, and BA in Law from Tbilisi State University.
Born in “Soviet” Georgia, Vasil was among first young Georgians who had chance to go to the US in early 90s. In 1993 he won the competition to participate inExchange program and was granted rare opportunity to live with the American family and study in high school in Michigan. While in States he decides to continue his undergraduate studies in States and completing his AA degree at Brevard College, NC, Vasil transfers to Schiller International University to pursue his undergraduate degree in International Relations and Diplomacy – something his country is in desperate need at that time.
Upon his return to Georgia in 1998, Vasil receives dual degree in Banking and Finance at Georgian Technical University and pursues his career in Banking sector, thus holding on to his American experience for later times. This time came in 2004 after the Rose Revolution and that’s when Vasil moves from private to public sector, starting his first public job at the State Chancellery of Georgia, in the office of State Minister. Getting fully involved in the reforms which took place at that time, Vasil was promoted to Ministry of Economic Development of Georgia in 2006 – where he became head of Georgian National Investment and Export Promotion Agency. Shortly, Vasil is offered job in the Ministry of Agriculture – as Head of State Department of Vine and Wine “Samtrest”. Even though Vasil has no background in agriculture, wine sector is in desperate need of reforms to shake off the Russian embargo and Vasil agrees to this offer. For his accomplishments Vasil is awarder with the President’s Order of Honor in 2009. After spending 5 years at this position, Vasil decides to stay in the wine sector and since 2011 he becomes successful owner and manager of some of the most prominent wine companies in the country.
Kakha was elected a chairman of the Environment Protection and Natural Resources Committee of the Parliament in 2016. Kakha comes with the corporate law background of more than 18 years of experience. His cares started as a lawyer at Georgian law firm, and then he became part of Chemonics International (USAID project – Business Climate Reform) as a legal expert in corporate law helping reform Georgian legislation on business sector, securities law and law on the public registry. Later Kakha worked for International Finance Corporation (IFC) as a Corporate Lawyer. Before entering the Parliament Kakha was involved in private sector investment activities. Kakha is a founder of Georgian Institute of Directors and founder of Georgian Professional Football Players Association. Kakha graduated from Tbilisi State University in 2001 (B.A. in Law with Honors) and completed his Masters Degree at Nottingham Law School, UK in 2004 (LL.M. in Corporate Law). Kakha is very passionate on photography (2 open exhebitions), football, snowboarding and rafting (champion of Georgia on white-water rafting in 2009). Kakha’s latest obsession is “green economy” and tech start-ups.