About Us

We work to empower and support civil societies across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

We believe that civil society is the key driver of social change and progress across the region.

We want our support to help realise that change, by enabling civic groups to connect with their communities and improve people’s lives. Despite the difficult conditions, the resilience and creativity of activists and campaigners, who are working tirelessly to affect change in new and exciting ways, is inspiring and offers hope.

Where we work

We work in 12 countries across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.



Our Programmes

Innovation & Communication

We hold technology, innovation and communication workshops, seminars and networking events both in the region and in Prague for activists and professionals. Our programmes are designed to forge new partnerships between professionals and civil society, to give activists the tools and connections for a new era of activism, based on technology, innovation and creativity. Initiatives include hackathons, campaigning workshops, social media marketing schools, innovation retreats and art residencies.

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Learning & Exchange

We want to build a community of leading civic activists and help them re-strategise and plan for the future of the region. This involves bridging the gap between academia and activism in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to open a dialogue between campaigners, researchers, journalists and policymakers. We host study trips, seminars and summer schools for researchers, activists and policymakers of all levels to discuss developments and opportunities for reform across the region.

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We provide project grants to groups and initiatives across the region. We look for projects which embed elements of innovation, creative communication and community engagement, and support initiatives ranging from anti-corruption campaigns and human rights campaigns to film festivals, community centres and social entrepreneurship.

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How we work

Innovative & creative

We support visionary, state-of-the-art projects which embed civic innovation and search for tech-based solutions to social problems across the region.


We work with the broadest range of individuals, professionals, networks, or groups engaged in civic projects. This includes activists and campaigners, along with journalists, bloggers and lawyers, as well as creative professionals such as film-makers, artists, designers and IT experts. We also support social entrepreneurs and businesses with a civic purpose.


We want to create fluid communities of activists, professionals and academics to harness the diversity of the different groups working on civic initiatives. Our programmes help these groups to mix, share their knowledge, experience and advice and collaborate on new projects.

Flexible & fast

In a region which can be unpredictable, where challenges and opportunities develop quickly, we move quickly to respond to developments on the ground, and work with local partners to unlock assistance and support as fast as possible.

The Centre is funded by two private foundations, the CS Mott Foundation and the Oak Foundation, along with the Swedish, Czech and US governments.

Board & key people

Šimon Pánek

Chair & People in Need

Šimon is the Chair of the Prague Civil Society Centre board. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Czech NGO People in Need, the largest humanitarian, developmental and human rights organisation in Central and Eastern Europe. He was one of the student leaders of the 1989 Velvet Revolution before serving as a foreign policy expert on the Balkans and human rights issues for President Václav Havel. He received the Czech Medal of Merit in 2002 and the European of the Year Award in 2003. He is also a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and sits on the boards of the European Partnership for Democracy and Eurostep.

Maria Dahle

Deputy Chair & Human Rights House Foundation

Maria is the Executive Director of the Human Rights House Foundation, based in Oslo, Norway. She has helped launch ventures including the Human Rights House Network (Dugnad ’98), the Voice of Tibet radio station and the annual Oslo film festival, “Human Rights Human Wrongs”. She was previously the Director of the Human Rights House Oslo, a journalist at Norwegian business newspaper Finansavisen, and a theatre instructor at Nordland Fylkeskommune. She has an MSc Degree from the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen.

Jacek Kucharczyk

Board member & Institute of Public Affairs

Jacek is the President of the Institute of Public Affairs, one of Poland’s leading think tanks. He was active in the underground student and publishing movement in the 1980s and co-founded the Policy Association for an Open Society. He is also a member of the board of the European Partnership for Democracy in Brussels. He has a PhD in sociology and was previously a fellow at the New School for Social Research in New York. He is an author and frequent commentator on European affairs and politics for Polish and international media.

Tanya Lokshina

Board member & Human Rights Watch, Moscow

Tanya is Russia Programme Director and a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch Moscow. She has written and researched several reports on abuses in Russia’s North Caucasus and co-authored a report on violations of international humanitarian law during the 2008 armed conflict in Georgia. She wrote “Chechnya Inside Out” and “Imposition of a Fake Political Settlement in the Northern Caucasus”. Her recent publications cover repressions against critics of the Russian government and violations of humanitarian law in Eastern Ukraine. She won the 2006 Andrei Sakharov Award for Journalism as an Act of Conscience.

Timothy Snyder

Board member & Yale University

Timothy Snyder is a professor of History at Yale University, specialising in the political history of Central and Eastern Europe and the Holocaust. He has written several award-winning books, including “Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin”, “Nationalism”, “Marxism and Modern Central Europe”, “The Reconstruction of Nations”, “Sketches from a Secret War” and “The Red Prince”. “Bloodlands” has been translated into more than 20 languages and is an international bestseller. He has conducted academic fellowships in Paris, Warsaw and Harvard and is a member of the Committee on Conscience of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Inna Pidluska

Board member & International Renaissance Foundation

Inna is deputy executive director at the International Renaissance Foundation (IRF), a national foundation of the Open Society Foundations (OSF) network in Ukraine. At IRF, Inna supervises strategic planning, evaluation, programmes and organisational development, including collaborating with other donors in Ukraine. Prior to joining the IRF, Inna served as executive director of the Yalta European Strategy, YES. Inna has been a civil society activist since 1992, with the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR) and the Europe XXI Foundation, focusing on Ukraine’s democratic transition, and various advocacy projects. She was a member of the IRF’s executive board from 2006 to 2010 and sat on the steering committee for the World Movement for Democracy from 2006 until 2012. Inna has also served as chair of the supervisory board at the Ukrainian Philanthropists Forum. She was educated at Kiev State Linguistic University, the Institute of Journalism of Kyiv Taras Shevchenko University, and won a Chevening scholarship to study international relations at Keele University in the UK.

Douglas Arellanes

Board member & Sourcefabric

Douglas is a technologist and software developer working primarily with news organizations. He was a co-founder and Director of Innovation at Sourcefabric, a Czech NGO which creates technology for independent media. He is also a lecturer on media and technology at Anglo-American University in Prague. Previously he has worked as a new media consultant for the Media Development Loan Fund, Special Projects Director at Contactel and co-founder of First Tuesday Praha, an organisation which supports internet startups. He is a translator from Czech to English, and hosts music programmes on Prague’s Radio 1.

Rostislav Valvoda

Executive Director

Rostislav is the Centre’s Executive Director. He has a decade of experience working in human rights across Russia, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. He launched the Prague Civil Society Centre in 2014 while head of the East European programme at People in Need, where he also started programmes in Azerbaijan and the northern Caucasus. He was also one of founders the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum.

Gabriela Svárovská

Deputy Director and Programme Director (Grants)

Gabriela is the Centre’s Deputy Director and head of the Grants Programme. She has worked in politics, civil society and journalism in the Czech Republic and EU for more than 20 years, including as human rights director for the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the Office of President Václav Havel.

Igor Blaževič

Programme Director (Learning & Exchange)

Igor has led the Centre’s learning and exchange scheme since 2016. In a career working with activists, democracy advocates and academics across Europe, Russia and Southeast Asia, Igor spent 18 years with People in Need in a number of management positions. He founded One World, the world’s largest human rights film festival, and was its director for 10 years. Igor has also served as a board member at the Open Society Fund in Prague and on the steering committee of the World Movement for Democracy.

Anthony Carn

Finance Director

Anthony joined the Centre in 2015 after eight years working in international accounting. He trained at PwC as an external auditor and financial institutions consultant, before moving to internal audit at the investment banking division of Komerční banka (Société Générale group) and outsourcing department at Mazars.

Filip Noubel

Innovations Adviser

Filip is the Centre’s innovations adviser, designing programmes and workshops to help activists master new technologies and thinking to harness the power of civic innovation. Filip has worked on media and communications projects with groups including the United Nations, Internews and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting across Europe, China and Asia.