Meet the people behind EBU, including information about the elected leadership of EBU, board positions and EBU office staff.
The EBU is led by a board consisting of 5 officers (President, first and second vice presidents, treasurer and secretary general) and up to 8 ordinary members. They are elected by the EBU membership at the General Assembly for the period of four years. Board members are accountable to the General Assembly. All board members are blind or partially sighted.
Detailed information about its composition, voting procedure, powers and functions can be found in the EBU Constitution.
The Board carries into effect the general policies and working objectives of EBU and prepares a strategic plan to that effect. It appoints project groups and committees and any other bodies as it deems necessary to assist in meeting the targets set in its strategic plan.
- President: Prof. Rodolfo Cattani, Italy
Rodolfo Cattani, born in 1941, has a University degree in Philosophy of Science from the Bologna University. He worked as a school teacher for 13 years and for almost 20 years he was Managing Director of the Italian National Library for the Blind.
From 1992 to 1996 he was Vice-President of the World Blind Union (WBU).
From 1997 to 2019 he was the Chairman of the EBU Commission for Liaising with the EU.
Since 1997, he has been a member of the Board of the European Disability Forum (EDF), since 2005 he has been member of EDF Executive Committee. From 2009 to 2017 he was EDF Secretary General.
In 2019 he was elected President of the European Blind Union.
- First Vice-president: Alexander Neumyvakin, Russia
Alexander Neumyvakin was born on the 1st of May, 1940 in Voronezh Region, USSR. After losing his vision during military service in 1974, he was elected as Chairperson of the VOS Regional Organization in Ulyanovsk, USSR . He went on to graduate as a lawyer at the Moscow State Law Institute. From being elected vice president of the All Russia Association of the Blind (VOS), Moscow in 1984, he went on to be elected President in 1986, a position he still holds to this day. From 1988 to 1992 he was Chair of the WBU Committee on Recreation and Leisure Activities. He was a member of the EBU Board from 1990to 1999 and has been 1st Vice-President of EBU from1999 to the present day.
- Second Vice President: Bárbara Martín Muñoz, Spain
Bárbara was born in Granada, Spain, in 1974, she is partially sighted.
She gained a law degree in 1997 at Granada University, and then went on to obtain a Politics and Administration Degree from the Spanish Open University in 2018.
She worked in the legal Department of ONCISA Real Estate SL. from 2000 to 2007, and in 2007 became the Manager at the ONCE Technical Office for European Affairs, post which she held until January 2019. From February 2019 to the present time she has been employed as Head of the Resource Generation and External Partnerships Unit, at ONCE.
She has been 2nd Vice-President of the European Blind Union from 2015 to the present day.
- Treasurer: Philippe Chazal, France
Age 66, blind
After a master 2 in law, I worked during 33 years for one of the main french associations for blind and partially sighted as Director of the Vocational Training Center and as jurist in charge to follow the advancement in connection with our Government and Parliament of all texts for disabled people.
I was chair of the Rehabilitation, Vocational Training and Employment Commission of EBU for12 years, and of the rights Commission during two mandatures. I was EBU Treasurer during the last work period 2015-2019.
For 15 years, I was Secretary General then President of the French Confederation for the Welfare of Blind and Partially Sighted People.
- Secretary General: Maria Thorstensson, Sweden
Maria was elected Secretary General at an Extraordinary Board Meeting in November 2021, to replace Maria Kyriacou, who passed away unexpectedly.
- Wolfgang Angermann, Germany
- Mario Barbuto, Italy
- Emin Demirci, Turkey
- Tytti Matsinen, Finland
- Vaclav Polasek, Czech Republic
Václav POLÁŠEK, M.A. was born on August 15, 1958. His primary education was in Opava School for partially-sighted; he acquired his A-Level Certificate from Prague grammar school for the visually-impaired. He graduated in culture theory & management from Prague Caroline University.
Since his youth, Vaclav has been legally blind, which led him to both professional and voluntary involvement in working for the benefit of the disabled.
Throughout his career he has worked for various organisations of the disabled in his country including head of the Department for Foreign Affairs & Culture, Czech Blind United from 1996-2008, head of Foreign Relations Department, Czech Disability Council from 2001-2, Vice President of Czech Blind United from2008-9 and President until the present day. He has also been a member of various EBU Commissions, has been an EBU board member since 1998, and was EBU General Secretary from 2003-2007.
- Rodrigo Santos, Portugal
- Sinan Tafaj, Albania
Sinan Tafaj was born on 17.02.1956, he lost his sight in 1963 in a bomb accident and was re-educated as a blind man. He holds a University Degree from the University of Tirana, Albania (1978-1982), in Law and has a vast experience in judicial proceedings, civil and criminal procedures, communication strategies and has been part of international human rights networks. He holds a Doctor of Science Degree in international rights and is certified as a human rights expert. He established the Albanian Blind Association in 1991 and led it until 2018. He played and still plays a prominent role in protecting and furthering the human rights and freedoms of blind and partially sighted people in Albania, the Balkan region and in Europe at large.
Mr. Tafaj has been a member of the EBU's Executive Board since 2007 and is an international expert on the rights enshrined in UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and participated in a number of debates as part of several activities in the Balkans and Europe at large. His solid expertise in the area of human rights has been beneficial not only to audiences, but also to many civil society actors.
He is also able to establish good relations in a multicultural and national setting, with all team members, regardless of seniority. Dr. Av. Tafaj is currently president of the Albanian Disability Union and Chief Expert of the Institute of Expertise on PWD.
He currently heads his own private law studio, which is one of the most prominent studios in the capital of Albania, Tirana.
EBU representatives to WBU Executive Committee
- Wolfgang Angermann, Germany
- Thorkild Olesen, Denmark
- Rodrigo Santos, Portugal
EBU Central Office
The EBU Office is based in Paris, France. It supports the Board, commissions and steering groups in its work and is a central contact point for information to the EBU membership, partners, external parties and the general public.
The Executive Director of the EBU Central office is Lars Bosselmann - ebudirector at euroblind.org.
The other members of staff are :
- Romain Ferretti - Project Manager: ebuprojects at euroblind.org
Romain supervises the implementation of most of EBU activities (except campaigns). He takes care of grant applications, management and reporting. He also deals with sponsoring.
- Gary May - Information Officer: ebuinfocom at euroblind.org
Gary takes care of internal and external communication at EBU, including web site updates, facebook, newsletters, contact with journalists, and diffusion of documents.
- Valérie Vivancos - Office Assistant: ebu at euroblind.org
Valérie deals with general queries, office matters and EBU logistics. She also provides coordination between member associations, and is actively involved in specific EBU projects.
- Antoine Fobe - Head of Campaigning: ebucampaigning at euroblind.org
Antoine coordinates and gives impulse to EBU campaigning at EU and national level, acts as advocacy officer at EU level and liaises with EU institutions and other NGOs for that purpose. He also manages the EBU Twitter account.
- Mariem Sene - PARVIS Project Coordinator: mariem.sene at euroblind.org
Mariem coordinates the implementation of PARVIS - Promoting Awareness on the Rights of Visually Disabled People in an Inclusive Society.