These distinguished individuals featured in this list are at the forefront of driving transformative change in the realms of Agriculture, Food, and Animal Rights within the European Union. From seasoned experts to dedicated advocates, each person here plays a pivotal role in shaping the debates vital issues such as sustainable agricultural practices, food production innovation, and the promotion of animal rights. Stay connected with these influential voices to remain informed about the latest developments, insights, and initiatives that are shaping the future of Agriculture, Food, and Animal Rights in the EU. Return to the main list here.
Reineke Hameleers – CEO Eurogroup for Animals
Reineke Hameleers, as the CEO of Eurogroup for Animals since 2013, leads a pan-European movement dedicated to animal welfare, uniting over eighty member organizations. She is also the Vice President of the World Federation for Animals and a board member of the Netherlands National Committee for the Protection of Animals used for Scientific Purposes. Her work embodies her deep commitment to improving animal welfare through collaborative and innovative efforts across Europe and beyond.
Andrea Gavinelli – Head of Unit: Animal welfare at European Commission
A veterinarian with extensive experience in animal welfare policy, currently leads the Animal Welfare Unit in the Health and Food Safety Directorate General of the European Commission. His work, which began at the Commission in 1999, involves developing and coordinating EU policies focused on animal welfare and health, particularly in farm animals. Dr. Gavinelli is a key member of the “Working Group on Animal Welfare” of the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) and plays a significant role in international collaborations and policy-making. He also contributes to the FAO Gateway to Farm Animal Welfare as an editorial board member. Recognized for his contributions, Dr. Gavinelli received the RSPCA European Animal Welfare Award in 2014.
Pekka Pesonen – Secretary General at Copa and Cogeca
Secretary General for both Copa, representing European farmers, and Cogeca, representing European agri-cooperatives, which collectively encompass over 70 national farming organizations from across Europe. Prior to this, he served as State Secretary at the Finnish Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry and has a substantial background in EU-level lobbying for Finnish farmers and agri-forestry cooperatives. His earlier career includes working in the sales and marketing department of Valio, a Finnish dairy company. Mr. Pesonen, an active participant in various high-level advisory groups on EU policy, brings a wealth of experience in agricultural policy and cooperative management. A qualified agronomist and a family man with three teenage children, he is a prominent figure in the European agricultural sector.
Ksenija Simovic – Senior Policy Advisor at Copa and Cogeca
Senior Policy Adviser focusing on trade and international aspects for EU farmers and agri-cooperatives. With a BA from the University of Rome and a MSc. in European Studies from the University of Twente, she also holds a diploma in Advanced European Studies from the European College of Parma Foundation. Her experience includes a traineeship at the European Commission’s DG AGRI and a year at the European Food Safety Authority, showcasing her deep expertise in EU agricultural policy and food safety.
Eduardo Cuoco – Director at IFOAM Organics Europe
A distinguished expert in the agro-food sector, currently serving as the Director at IFOAM Organics Europe. He began his career with a MSc in Food Science and Technologies from Naples and further enhanced his qualifications with a PhD from the Polytechnic University of Marche and an executive master from MIT Sloan. Additionally, Eduardo leads TP Organics as Head of the Secretariat and contributes to various expert groups, including AKIS-SCAR and EMEG, demonstrating his expertise in research and innovation project development and evaluation.
Peter Kearns – Director, Sustainable Food Systems and Innovation at Re-Imagine Europa
A highly experienced professional in the field of environmental and health safety, previously served as a Principal Administrator at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris. At OECD, he led the biosafety program and managed the Working Groups focusing on the harmonization of regulatory oversight in biotechnology and the safety of novel foods and feeds. His work primarily addressed the safety of products derived from transgenic organisms, with a particular focus on environmental and food/feed safety. He holds a PhD in Genetics from the University of Cambridge, where he was a member of Darwin College, and has a background in postdoctoral research in genetics.
Boglárka Bozsogi – Communication & Policy Officer at Agroecology Europe Association
Regenerative agriculture and soil health advocate. With an MS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and an MA in International Relations from the University of Birmingham, she brings a strong background in international relations and network management. Passionate about sustainable agriculture and systemic change, Boglárka is dedicated to advancing Agroecology Europe’s mission of transforming European farming and food systems. Boglárka actively volunteers with various organizations to promote regenerative agriculture and Agroecology Europe’s mission.
Antoine Hoxha – Director General at Fertilizers Europe
With over 20 years in the fertilizer industry, currently leads as Director General at Fertilizers Europe. His journey includes roles as Production and Agriculture Director, and earlier as Technical Director, where he managed technology, environment, safety, and security aspects of fertilizer production. He served as the EU fertilizer industry spokesperson in Climate Change negotiations and is a board member of the European Sustainable Phosphorous Platform. His tenure as President of the International Fertiliser Society and previous positions at Prayon Technologies and the University of Warwick highlight his extensive expertise in phosphates and fertilizer production. He’s known for his deep commitment to advancing sustainable agricultural practices in the EU.
Ariel Brunner – Regional Director at BirdLife Europe and Central Asia
Recognized as a leading expert on the environmental impacts of EU farm policies, Brunner has been a key figure in reforming the Common Agriculture Policy. A member of the EU Platform on Sustainable Finance and the board of the Renewable Grid Initiative. He has chaired key advisory groups within the European Commission and is actively involved in the European Green Deal and EU Biodiversity Strategy advocacy. Previously, he played a significant role in implementing EU nature conservation legislation in Italy and holds an M.Sc. in Environmental Sciences from Milan University.
Roxane Roethlisberger Feller – Secretary General at AnimalhealthEurope
Roxane Roethlisberger Feller serves as the Secretary General of AnimalhealthEurope, bringing over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceuticals industry, with expertise in EU public affairs and a strong network in key sectors. Her career at AnimalhealthEurope, starting in February 2015, involves strategic leadership in the animal health sector. Before joining AnimalhealthEurope, she was the Director of Economic Affairs at FoodDrinkEurope, focusing on competitiveness issues in the EU’s food sector. Roxane also has a substantial history of work at COPA-COGECA, handling EU food safety law and other consumer policies. Her background is complemented by a Swiss Bar Exam with a focus in European Law, reflecting her in-depth understanding of EU regulatory frameworks.
Birthe Steenberg – Secretary General at AVEC
Birthe Steenberg brings a wealth of experience and a diverse skill set, including expertise in strategic processes, public affairs, food safety, microbiology, quality assurance, business development, and project management. Her professional journey includes various roles, such as Director at the Danish Poultry Meat Association, Chief Consultant, Senior Consultant at organizations like the Danish Technological Institute and Danish Meat Research Institute, and Consultant at the Danish Veterinary and Food Council. With a proactive, entrepreneurial, and creative approach, Birthe has cultivated a broad international network and is known for her decisive and passionate actions in the field. Her motto, “Action creates change,” reflects her commitment to driving positive transformations in her areas of expertise.
Sonia Franck – Secretary General at FEDIAF
Before joining FEDIAF, she served as Secretary General at IML Innovative Medicines Luxembourg, where she led a successful transformation of the association. Sonia brings over 25 years of experience in the Life Sciences and Financial Services sectors, with a strong focus on innovation and strategic planning. Sonia holds an Executive MBA in Innovation, a Master’s degree in Business Administration, a Bachelor’s degree in Science, and a Health Economics and Policy Certificate from the London School of Economics. She is passionate about thriving business models and is a proud pet owner.
Olivier de Matos – Director General at CropLife Europe
Olivier de Matos is the Director General of CropLife Europe since October 2021. Before this role, he served as the Secretary General of ECETOC for four years, where he led the association and promoted its scientific program and initiatives. Prior to that, Olivier worked as the Managing Director at Burson-Marsteller, a global communications and public affairs agency. In this role, he led the Environment and Energy Practice and was a member of the Brussels Leadership Team. Olivier, who holds Portuguese and French nationality, is fluent in English, Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Italian.