a global voice
for women

Soroptimist International of Europe

Board - Headquarters

The Board of the European Federation consists of the President, the President Elect, the Immediate Past President, four Vice Presidents, the Treasurer, and the Secretary General. These voting members, with the exception of the Treasurer, hold a term of office of two years. The other officers composing the Board are holding posts within the strategic goals: Strategic Leadership, Programme and Advocacy, Communications, and Institutional Development/Extension. The main role of the Board is to lead the organisation and deliver the Strategic Plan, its goals and objectives. Together, they develop and implement a Business Plan for a period of two years. The Board reports to the Council of Governors.

The Board operates under an organisational model specifically structured to address the 21st century challenges and dynamically support the organisation to grow with drive and determination.

The Board Structure

SIE BOARD 2015-2017


Maria Elisabetta de Franciscis
SI Caserta, Italy
Member since 1993

Maria Elisabetta de Franciscis is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Sciences of the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II where she teaches Comparative Public Law, American Constitutional Law and Comparative Constitutional Law. She holds a Master Degree from the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II and a Master Degree and a Ph.D. from The University of Connecticut.

As SIE President, Maria Elisabetta is a voting member of Soroptimist International. Investing in Education is the theme of her biennium with a special focus to narrowing the gap between women and STEM.

President Elect
Renata Trottmann Probst
SI Zug, Switzerland
Member since 1995


Renata Trottmann Probst founded her own consulting firm in 2008. Her firm provides legal advice to an international clientele in matters related to real estate.
Renata has over 20 years of professional experience working in international banks, including 10 years at UBS AG in Zurich. At UBS, Renata held various executive positions, including serving as Head of the Management Office of Global Private Banking. Prior to this, Renata was in charge of Human Resources for Continental Europe at the Investment Banking Division of UBS. Before joining UBS, she worked for a smaller bank where she was responsible for all non-banking transaction areas of the business, such as Legal, Human Resources, and Office Management.
Renata holds a Master’s degree in Law from Bern University, Switzerland, and a Master of Laws from the Institute of Comparative Law at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She further developed her leadership and management skills through Senior Executive Programmes at Columbia University in New York and Steinbeis University in Berlin.

Renata is Soroptimist International of Europe’s President Elect for the 2015-2017 biennium. As such, Renata is responsible for supporting the President of SIE and for overseeing the development of two Strategic Goals, Programme and Advocacy. She also acts as Chair of the Peace Prize committee. As President Elect of SIE, Renata is also a voting member of Soroptimist International.

Immediate Past President

Ulla Madsen
SI Kastrup-Taarnby, Denmark
Member since 1992


Ulla Madsen, SIE President 2013-2015, works as the Head of Efficiency improvement and Rationalization in Denmark for Svenska Handelsbanken, one of the largest banks in the Nordic countries and one of the strongest banks in Europe. Previously, she worked as a Senior Advisor and Risk Manager in Handelsbanken and held leadership positions in branch management for Forstaedernes Bank Limited. Ulla holds a Master’s degree in Management and a Bachelor’s of Commerce in Organisation and Marketing. 

During President Maria Elisabetta's Biennium, Ulla will manage the Action Fund. She is a voting member of Soroptimist International.

1st Vice President Extension Advocacy

Sigrid Ag
SI Harstad, Norway
Member since 2004


Sigrid Ag holds a bachelor's degree in linguistics and economics and a master's degree in strategy and leadership. Her current employer is the world's northernmost university - UiT, the Arctic University of Norway where she heads the international office. She has served as a national expert on the harmonization of European higher education for nine years. She has also worked for Esso Exploration in Stavanger Norway and the European Commission in Luxembourg.
She has served two bienniums as the SI Norway 1st Vice President and Union President respectively. She is also a board member of the largest umbrella organization for women's organizations in Norway, Forum for Women and Development representing 650 000 members. The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research has recently appointed her as a deputy member on the board of the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education, SIU from 2015-2019.

As Vice President, Sigrid focuses on Advocacy, developing SIE’s lobbying activities with various organisations such as the UN, coordinating the organisation’s role as a Global Voice for Women.

Vice President Extension Africa

Emine Erdem
SI Etiler, Turkey
Member since 1988


Emine Erdem has a degree in Law and a Master’s in ‘Organization and Business Administration’ from the University of Istanbul. A lawyer by profession, she is a member of the Board of Directors of Erdem Holding since 1985, and serves as a chamber counsel of Turkish Airlines since 1990.  In 1988, she co-founded SI Club of Etiler in Istanbul. Successively serving as secretary, president and board member at the club level, she was elected as the President of SI Turkey for the biennium of 2008-2010. Having served as the Governor of SI Turkey from 2010 to 2012, she became the Assistant Programme Director of SIE between 2013-2015. At the international level, she worked as the Chair of the 20th SI Convention (2015) in Istanbul. Emine is actively involved in several civil society initiatives in Turkey for the economic, political and educational empowerment of women.

As Vice President working in the Extension group, Emine is responsible for membership development in Africa.

Vice President Communications

Marie-Claude Bertrand
SI Angoulême, France
Member since 1985


Marie-Claude Bertrand holds a Higher Diploma in commercial education - Master’s in private law of Bordeaux University, worked as a solicitor for 32 years, was President of the Departmental Chamber of Solicitors, then President of the Regional Chamber of Solicitors at the Council of the Appeal Court of Bordeaux. She is now Member of the Council of the French Women Committee (CNFF) and Member of the European Union of Women (EUW). Marie-Claude participated on workshops on Women Entreupreneriat where the consequences of the economic crisis on the work of Women in Europe, the issue of pensions and the poverty of women were debated.

As Vice President for Communications, Marie-Claude leads the Communications group, with particular responsibility for fundraising and the use of social media.

Vice President Extension Eastern Europe

Anna Wszelaczynska
SI Krakow, Poland
Member since 2000


Since 2006, Anna Wszelaczynska runs her own training company which holds two quality Management System Standards: ISO 9001 and Regional Standard of Education and Training. The profit of the company is allocated to help young people into education.
In the past she had a tour operating company organising holidays in Greece and Spain chartering first flights ever from Krakow. For a couple of years managed a conference bureau. Was involved in developing first Labour Market Strategy for the Region. Applied and implemented projects funded by European Social Fund. Organized study tours to most of the European countries. 

As Vice President, Anna is responsible for Extension and Organisational Development in Eastern Europe. 


Anne-Marie Hendrickx
SI Hesbaye, Belgium
Member since 1999


Anne-Marie Hendrickx is an independent financial consultant for companies, associations, and public institutions. She handles bookkeeping, financing, strategy and restructuring. From 2002-2005, she was financial manager for Red Cross Flanders, after a 28-year career at the Générale de Banque in various positions. She has an MBA in Financial Management from Vlekho Brussels and a Master’s in Economics from the Université Catholique de Louvain.

Anne-Marie is the Treasurer of Soroptimist International of Europe.

Secretary General

Flavia Pozzolini
SI Firenze Due, Italy
Member since 1991


Flavia Pozzolini is a lawyer who graduated from the University of Florence (summa cum laude). Co-owner a law firm in Florence since 1979. Qualified to assist clients in the higher Courts since 1995. She is specialized in Administrative law: city planning, environmental law, public contracts are her major fields of interest.
Member of the Monitoring Committee of the Forensic Foundation for the training of lawyers in Florence. Chairperson of the Board of Directors of a public limited company that owns and runs a 650 berths Marina in Tuscany.

As Secretary General, Flavia works closely with the President.

Programme Director

Marlène van Benthem
SI Scheveningen, Netherlands
Member since 2002


Marlène van Benthem is a senior advisor at the Netherlands Space Office.
She has been representing the Netherlands at the European Commission for 10 years now on the European Earth observation programme Copernicus.
Having a background on economics she worked for the ministry of Economic Affairs and Water management & Infrastructure as policy advisor and Head of department.
Marlène has been the initiator of many innovation processes with special attention for user demand research & development, monitoring and evaluation and communication. She is an inspirator and a popular speaker at conferences. She started with 2 Soroptimist friends the CERES foundation, stimulating awareness on the role of women in the process to create food security, connecting women as consumers to women producers.
Marlène is a Soroptimist since 2002, member of club Scheveningen in The Netherlands and from 2012 till 2015 Programme Director in the board of the Dutch Union.

As Programme Director, Marlène is responsible for Programme, one of the ‘raisons d’être’ of our organisation.

Assistant Programme Director

Caroline Junier
SI Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Member since 1983

Caroline Junier was a curator, member of the steering committee and museum director of the Museum of Art and History in Neuchâtel, an institution maintaining collections of international interest. She has run numerous projects, exhibitions and publication at national level. She studied at the University of Geneva, where she graduated in History of Arts (Bachelor). She later studied Leadership and Management. In addition to her activity in the fields of museums, she taught Museum studies in an Art School and at the University of Neuchâtel, until 2014. She is now a Board member of different foundations, and actively participates in museum projects.

As Assistant Programme Director, Caroline supports Unions and Clubs to develop and promote programmes and projects.

Finance Controller

Verena von Tresckow-Bronke
SI Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Member since 2001


For several years, Verena von Tresckow-Bronke has been a partner and since 2012 Board Member of Baker Tilly Rölfs, one of the big audit and consulting firms in Germany. She is specialized in family owned companies, internationally active enterprises, private clients and NGOs. Verena is a Tax Consultant and Chartered Accountant/Auditor and holds a degree in Economics from Göttingen/Germany. Verena von Tresckow-Bronke has recently started the foundation “Young world citizens” to support tolerance, understanding and education of young people in the times of globalization. 

As Finance Controller, Verena belongs to the Strategic Leadership team and is responsible for good governance in all financial matters.

Extension Committee Chair

Gerda Rosiers
SI Visé, Belgium
Member since 2002


Gerda Rosiers studied at the School for Teachers of Stedelijke in Antwerp, and also studied Economic sciences. Gerda worked 10 years as a manager of the store for the Belgian military in Germany. She worked 20 years as a project manager for an Engineering firm specialized in sugar and edible oil & fats refining and sustainable fuels combustion technologies such as biomass, wind turbines, Bio-Diesel, Bio-Ethanol and Co-generation systems.

As Chair of the Extension Committee, Gerda leads the institutional development of Soroptimist International of Europe and looks after the membership and new Clubs.

Extension Committee Member

Asha Abdulrahman
SI Milimani-Nairobi, Kenya
Member since 1999


Asha Abdulrahman is Past SIE Vice President 2011-13, member of Extension Committee 2013-15. She is the Lead Auditor for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS). She has a diploma in Information Systems from the Kenya School of Professional Studies. Asha joined the Board of Women for Water Partnership (WfWP) in 2013 she is the African representative / Business Development on the Steering Committee. She is one of Africa Water Integrity Ambassadors trained by SIWI.

As a member of the Extension Committee, Asha works on the institutional development of Soroptimist International of Europe.

Extension Committee Member

Elisabeth Meisinger
SI Coburg, Germany
Member since 1997

Elisabeth Meisinger has worked as head of Department for Vascular Surgery in Coburg. She previously did her doctorate (magna cum laude) from the Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg, Germany, and was Specialist for Surgery and Vascular Surgery at the same university.

As Extension Committee Member, Elisabeth works on the institutional development of Soroptimist International of Europe. She is responsible for the Twinning of mature and young Unions and Single Clubs, as well as Friendship Links.

Constitution and By-Laws Committee Chair

Lénia Lopes
SI Lisboa Fundador
Member since 1987


Lawyer since 1980, Lénia was also legal adviser to various Ministers in different Governments in Portugal. She was awarded the "Royal Order of the Polar Star, First Class" by The King of Sweden, "Knight, First Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit" by The King of Norway, “Knight First Class of the Order of the Lion" by the President of the Republic of Finland and "Knight of the Order of the Danish Flag" by The Queen of Denmark. 

As Chair of the Constitution Committee, and as a member of the Strategic Leadership team, Lénia ensures that the Constitution and By-Laws are respected but also that the organisation has the adequate legal framework to further grow and develop.

Constitution and By-Laws Committee Member

Judica van Riessen
SI Breda, The Netherlands, Surinam and Curaçao
Member since 1995

Judica van Riessen is a lawyer since 1988. She has a Dutch Master of Law degree from the University of Groningen and specializations in Persons and Family Law, Mediation Family and Divorce, Forensic Mediation and Collaborative Divorce. She is co-founder of the Regional Collaborative Practice Group in the Netherlands.
Besides her work as a lawyer-mediator, she also was trainer at the Dutch Law Association for Professional Education for Lawyers from 1993 - 2015.

As a member of the Constitution and By-Laws Committee, Judica looks after the interests of the organisation maintaining it within a proper legal framework.

Constitution and By-Laws Committee Member

Karla Greipl
SI Passau, Germany
Member since 2001



Karla Greipl completed her studies at the Universities of Regensburg and Munich. She is now a practising barrister in her own chambers. Her professional interest is focused in particular on civil law - including tort and insurance law - and family law. Since 1998 she also works as assistant lecturer at the language centre of the University of Passau.

As a member of the Constitution and By-Laws Committee, Karla looks after the interests of the organisation maintaining it within a proper legal framework.

Scholarship Committee Chair

Maria Luisa Frosio
SI Milano alla Scala, Italy
Member since 1998



Maria Luisa Frosio taught Modern History at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan from 1981 to 2013.  She is currently a member of various academic committees and a founding member and member of the Board of Directors of the Centro Studi “Tommaso Gallarati Scotti” in Milan.  She also serves on the Board of Directors of a scholarship foundation.  She is a member and Secretary of the “Accademia Ambrosiana” at the Ambrosiana Library in Milan (where she is the editor of several publications and the coordinator of national and international conferences).  She holds a degree in Education (summa cum laude) from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan.  She has travelled extensively and has lived for several years in the United States and the United Kingdom.  In 1997 Maria Luisa was honored as Cavaliere (Knight) dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana for her work in the educational and social fields. 

As Chair of the Scholarship Committee, Maria Luisa manages the Scholarship Funds and together with her committee members, selects candidates and proposes them for Scholarship grants.

Scholarship Committee Member

Elena Savu
SI Bucharest, Romania
Member since 1995

Elena Savu has been a professor and lecturer of English with the “Politehnica’ Technical University of Bucharest since 1994. She previously worked as an interpreter for the Embassies of South Korea and Bangladesh in Bucharest. Elena has a PhD in Educational Sciences, a Master in English Language and Educations Studies from the University of Manchester, UK. She also holds a BA in English and Japanese from the University of Bucharest.

As a Scholarship Committee Member, Elena works with the Chair in the evaluation of candidates and applications and proposed grants. She is responsible for the Mentoring Programme.

Scholarship Committee Member

Mariana Abrantes de Sousa
SI Estoril Cascais, Portugal
Member since 1992



Mariana Abrantes de Sousa is an economist and independent financial consultant working on projects for the European Commission, EBRD, IMF, African Development Bank, and McKinsey International among others. She is a member of the Board of FLO-CERT GmbH and the Infrastructure Crisis Facility LLP. Mariana has previously worked as financial controller for the Portuguese Ministries of Transport and Health and was head of division of the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg. She holds a BA in Economics from the University of Berkeley and a Master’s in Public Affairs from Princeton University.

As a Scholarship Committee Member, Mariana works with the Chair in the evaluation of candidates and applications and proposed grants.

Council of Europe Representative

Bettina Hahne
SI Weinheim/Bergstrasse, Germany
Member since 2015



Bettina Hahne specialised in biochemistry, a field in which she obtained her PhD. She has seven years of experience working in scientific research and three years of developing interactive scientific training tools. For the past fourteen years, she has been the Managing Editor of the scientific journal Plant Cell Reports.

Bettina is the Representative of Soroptimist International of Europe to the Council of Europe.

European Women's Lobby (EWL) Representative

Renate Smith Kubat
SI Bruxelles Doyen, Belgium
Member since 1976



Renate Smith-Kubat works in the pharmaceutical domain. She has a PhD in Zoology/Biochemistry from the University of Graz and a Post-Doc in the Pharmaceutical Industry in Basel, Switzerland. Currently, she is also active in a Women’s Association in Brussels, where she serves as the officer for Communication and Press.

Renate is the representative to the European Women’s Lobby for the fourth year. Within the new Organisational Model, she is an active member of the Advocacy group.

Organization for Security and Co-opreation in Europe (OSCE) Representative

Vera Maria Gregor
SI Vienna I, Austria
Member since 1972


Vera Maria Gregor is a specialist in economics and business. She worked for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) for 36 years in diverse positions such as statistical assistant, programme manager in the area of small and medium enterprises, and Senior Industrial Development Officer for Entrepreneurship, Privatization and Private Sector Development. She gathered experiences in several countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Since 2003 she is the Chairperson of Managing Board for the Hotel Post in Vienna.

Vera Maria represents Soroptimist International of Europe at the OSCE. As such, she is an active member of the Advocacy Team.

Communication Officer

Christine Cromwell-Ahrens
SI Göttingen, Germany
Member since 1990

Christine Cromwell-Ahrens is an independent communication consultant, specialising in editorial services. Previously she worked in corporate communications for Bayer AG in Germany for thirteen years and was ultimately appointed Head of all Public and Press Relations outside Germany. She has a BA (cum laude) from the University of Wisconsin, USA.

Christine is the Communication Officer of SIE.

SIE Headquarters

Route de Florissant 72
1206 Geneva

Executive Director

Meltem Zourdos


Meltem Zourdos holds Master’s degrees in Political Science from the Freie Universität Berlin and in Corporate Communication from Erasmus University Rotterdam, as well as a postgraduate diploma in International Studies from the Johns Hopkins University in Bologna. Fluent in German, English, French and Turkish, Meltem Zourdos has worked in communication and programme management in international institutions and industry. She worked two years at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on return assistance and other programmes. During the subsequent six years at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) she led programme activities for an innovative passenger experience, such as e-ticketing, self-check-in and Smartphone enabled boarding passes. In her last position as Head of Internal Communication / Deputy Head of Communication at GF Machining Solutions, Meltem was a trusted advisor to management for communication strategies and drove employee engagement, branding and web projects.

Sylvie Berno - Accounting Executive

Bintou Koïta - Programme & Advocacy Officer

Simon Heptonstall - Communication

France Legendre - Executive Assistant

Mélissa Coton - Administrative Assistant