Open Estonia Foundation

Speakers' biographies

Heather Grabbe

Heather Grabbe, as both the director of the Open Society Foundations Brussels office and director of EU affairs, works to ensure that open society values are at the heart of EU policies and actions, both inside and outside its borders. From 2004 to 2009 she was senior advisor to then European Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn, responsible in his cabinet for the Balkans and Turkey. Before joining the commission, she was deputy director of the Centre for European Reform, the London-based think tank, where she published widely on EU enlargement and other European issues. Her writing has appeared in the Financial Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian, among others. Her academic career includes teaching at the London School of Economics, and research at Oxford and Birmingham universities, the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House, London), and the European University Institute (Florence). Grabbe has a PhD from Birmingham University and a BA and MA from Oxford University. She speaks French, Italian, and German.

Catherine Fieschi

Catherine Fieschi is the director of Counterpoint, a research and advisory group that focuses on the cultural dynamics of risk. Based in London, Counterpoint works with a network of associate experts around the world to provide businesses, NGOs and governments with research and analysis on how cultural and social dynamics affect politics, policy-making and markets.  Prior to directing Counterpoint, Catherine led the London based think tank Demos (2005-2008). From 2001 to 2005 she directed the Centre for the Study of European Governance at the University of Nottingham.  Catherine holds a PhD in Comparative Political Science from McGill University.  She is the author of In the Shadow of Democracy (MUP) and of numerous pamphlets and articles on extremism, populism, popular mobilization and identity politics.  Her analysis is intrinsically comparative and draws on a variety of social science disciplines as well interpretive approaches in order to reveal the hidden wiring and civil society dynamics that are too often absent from mainstream risk and political analyses.  
Catherine is a contributing editor for Prospect Magazine, a board member of the Quilliam Foundation and a trustee of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) and of New Deal of the Mind.  She is a Senior Fellow in the Department of Government at the LSE and a regular contributor to press, radio and television debates. She is also the founder of a women’s mentoring scheme 50ft Women. Catherine grew up in Italy, Senegal, the United States, France and Canada. She lives in London.

Jamie Bartlett

Jamie heads the Violence and Extremism Programme at a London based think tank Demos. The Violence and Extremism Programme looks at a range of anti-social behaviour (gang culture, knife crime, violent extremism) and researches the norms, attitudes, and incentives by which they operate. The programme outputs are all based on generating new primary research in this area, often by interviewing and spending time with people in these groups.  Jamie has recently completed a major ESRC/Public Safety Canada funded project on the relationship between non-violent and violent extremism entitled The Edge of Violence based on two years of in-depth field research across Europe and Canada which compared Islamist terrorists and peaceful Islamist radicals. He is currently leading a major comparative research project of far-right groups across 12 European countries. He is also working on projects relating conspiracy theories, the role of faith in Britain today, and critical thinking skills on the Internet.  He advises a number of international government agencies and related groups in relation to terrorism and extremism, and is a frequent commentator in national and international media outlets. Prior to working for Demos, Jamie was a research associate at the international humanitarian agency Islamic Relief and conducted field research in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Jamie holds Masters Degrees from the London School of Economics and the University of Oxford.  Jamie is an expert in research methods, and speaks fluent French and good classical Arabic.

Peter Kreko

Peter Kreko is the director of Hungarian policy research and consulting institute Political Capital and co-founder of – a programme of research and advocacy focused on the role conspiracy theorising plays in shaping populist and radical politics. Peter belongs to the Advisory Committee of the Hungarian Anti-Racist Foundation. His research areas include political risk analysis of the countries of the CEE region, analysis of comparative attitude survey databases and political psychology. Peter is also an assistant professor at the Etötvös Lóránd University Department of Social Psychology where he reads on social and political psychology.


Mari-Liis Jakobson

Mari-Liis Jakobson is a lecturer and a researcher at Tallinn University Institute of Political Science and Governance. Initially trained as a journalist, she received her MA in political science and is a doctoral candidate in politics and government. Her research interests intersect disciplines such as citizenship sociology, political communication and political culture. In 2009-2011 she was a research fellow in EC Research DG 7th framework programme project "TRANS-NET: Transnationalisation, Migration and Transformation: Multi-Level Analysis of Migrant Transnationalism", currently coordinator of the project "Populism in the Baltic States" funded by Open Estonia Foundation. She also serves as a political commentator in Estonian Public Broadcasting Service.

Garry Kasparov

Born in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1963, Garry Kasparov became the youngest world chess champion in history in 1985. After twenty years as the top-ranked player, Mr. Kasparov retired from chess in 2005 to take up the struggle for Russian democracy full time. As founder of the United Civil Front in Russia and chairman of the Human Rights Foundation in New York, he is a potent voice for individual freedom in Russia and around the globe. His Kasparov Chess Foundation promotes chess and its benefits in programs on three continents. Mr. Kasparov speaks frequently to audiences around the world on innovation, strategy, and decision-making.

Fraser Cameron

Fraser Cameron is a former European Commission advisor and well known policy analyst and commentator on EU and international affairs. He is Director of the EU-Russia Centre, Director of EuroFocus-Brussels, an Adjunct Professor at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and Senior Advisor to the European Policy Centre (EPC) and the European Institute for Asian Studies in Brussels. He is an advisor to the BBC and to the UK government’s Higher Education Panel on Europe. Dr Cameron has lectured widely to business, academic and media audiences around the world. He has been a visiting professor at several universities  and is the author of several books and articles on the EU and external relations. His recent books include An Introduction to European Foreign Policy, The Future of Europe and US Foreign Policy after the Cold War (all published by Routledge).

Kadri Liik

Kadri Liik has been working with the International Centre for Defence Studies upon its founding and is currently a senior researcher there. Prior to this position at the ICDS, Ms. Liik worked as the editor-in-chief of the foreign affairs monthly magazine Diplomaatia and as an international editor of Estonia's largest daily paper, Postimees. From 1992 to 2002, she served as Moscow correspondent for several Estonian/Baltic media channels. In October 2012, she will join the European Council on Foreign Relations as a senior research fellow and program director.

Justin Burke

Justin Burke is the managing editor of, a news website funded by the Open Society Foundations covering the former Soviet Union, and focusing on the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus. From 1990-93, Burke covered the collapse of Communism while working as a Moscow correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor newspaper. During the mid-1990s, he served as the newspaper’s Germany bureau chief, covering the rise of the European Union. Prior to joining OSF, Burke was a visiting scholar at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves

President of the Republic of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves was born on the 26th of December, 1953, in the Swedish capital Stockholm, and has spent much of his life living and working in a total of five different countries. The Estonian values prevalent in his childhood home, the education gained at one of the US’s best universities, the jobs connected with Estonia’s present and future over the last quarter of the century – this is what has shaped Toomas Hendrik Ilves as a person and president of a small European country in the 21st century. He has also worked as the Head of the Estonian desk, Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany and from 1993 to 1996 he served as an Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to the United States of America, Canada, and Mexico. Twice he has held the post of Estonian Minister of Foreigns Affairs and prior becoming the President of Estonia, he was elected Member of the European Parliament. Follow him on Twitter @IlvesToomas and Facebook

Marietje Schaake

Marietje Schaake is a Dutch Member of the European Parliament with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) political group. She serves on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, where she focuses on neighborhood policy, human rights, internet freedom, Turkey and Iran. In the Committee on Culture, Media, Education, Youth and Sports she works on Europe's Digital Agenda. Marietje is a member of the delegations for relations with the United States and Iran, as well as the founder of the European Parliament Intergroup on New Media and Technology which operates like a caucus. Before joining the European Parliament, she worked as an independent advisor to governments, diplomats, businesses and NGO's, on issues of transatlantic relations, diversity and pluralism, civil and human rights and integration.

Alexander Stubb

Alexander Stubb is the Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade of Finland since June 2011. In 1995 he gained a Master of Arts in European Affairs from the College of Europe Belgium. He went on to pursue a PhD in international politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Between 1995 and 1997 he was a researcher at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then at the Finnish Academy from 1997 to 1999. In 1997 he also started his work as a columnist, which he continues today. Stubb gained a PhD from the London School of Economics in 1999. From 2004 to 2008 he was a Member of the European Parliament with the European People's Party (EPP) and a professor at the College of Europe. In 2011 Stubb stood for election to the Finnish Parliament for the first time and was elected MP. He then became Minister for Europe and Foreign Trade in Jyrki Katainen's cabinet. Stubb has stated that he has "always been of the opinion that matters must be discussed openly and honestly", hence he is a columnist for various newspapers. He has also authored a number of academic articles and nine books about the European Union. You can follow him on Twitter (@alexstubb) and Weibo (alexstubb). 

Jonas Rolett

Jonas Rolett is the regional director for Southern Central and Eastern Europe at the Open Society Foundations. He serves as a liaison between foundation networks in Eastern Europe and the Western Newly Independent States and the international advocacy community in Washington, D.C. Rolett has a notable history of working on Southern Central and Eastern European issues. He has worked extensively with parliaments, political parties, and civic groups on a variety of initiatives designed to open the political process, promote good governance, and defend human rights. He lived in Albania during the 1990s and has stayed closely involved in political and social developments there. Prior to joining the Foundations, Rolett was a senior program officer at the National Democratic Institute, where he promoted democratic development in Eastern Europe. Rolett managed programs related to governance, civic participation and political party building, and established domestic election monitoring organizations in five countries. Before joining NDI, Rolett worked as the political training director for the magazine Campaigns & Elections, running a "campaign school" for candidates and campaign managers. He also served as the communications director for the United Way of Greenville County, South Carolina. Rolett is a member of the International Committee of the Council on Foundations. He holds a BA in literature and psychology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The foundation works to help develop open society in Estonia and other countries