Training leaders for a better Europe: the European Advocacy Academy

December 14, 2017

  Roxana Stanciu

“We need professional, engaged, and motivated young people in public life. It is very important to have people who want to change the future of Europe.” Andreas Thonhauser (Austria)

“This Academy teaches people to talk to people, to listen, and to [produce] people who will truly make a change in Europe.” Mark Campbell (USA)

These are statements from two of the speakers participating at the most recent European Advocacy Academy, an international political training event organised in November by European Dignity Watch in Brussels.

The November training focused on effective campaigning – from a political, civil society, and media point of view. Leaders who advocate for the family and life who participated in the training left better equipped to effectively manage campaigns on these matters. By the end of the training, they had acquired the knowledge and tools needed to increase their effectiveness and have more of an impact in public debates and policy-making. They also became part of an international network that transcends country borders. 


28 leaders, 17 countries, 5 international speakers

28 leaders from 17 European countries came together in Brussels for the training. The programme provided both substantive formation on the issues and practical training to develop the skills needed to increase their influence. The training’s 8 lectures and 5 workshops were led or facilitated by a slate of international speakers. They included:

Željka Markić, In the Name of the Family, Croatia

Željka is the President of ‘In the Name of the Family’ in Croatia. She has been involved in the promotion of family and life since her student days under communism. She was one of the key people behind the successful 2013 marriage referendum in Croatia, which defined marriage as an exclusive union between one man and one woman.

Ron Nehring, Leadership Institute, USA

Ron is the Director of International Training at the Leadership Institute. He is a Republican strategist and communications expert who served as National Spokesman in the 2016 Presidential campaign of Senator Ted Cruz. Prior to stepping onto the national stage in 2016, Ron was the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of California.

Mark Campbell, Leadership Institute, USA

Mark has a winning political career spanning over three decades. His client list is extensive and includes presidential candidates along with hundreds of federal, state, and local candidates. He has also won races in Democratic strongholds such as Jersey City (NJ), Philadelphia (PA) and northern Virginia. Most recently, Mark served as National Political Director for Ted Cruz for President.

Andreas Thonhauser, ADF International, Austria

Andreas serves as Director of Communications for ADF International, where he is responsible for building ADF International’s media presence throughout Europe. He acts as communications liaison with key international lawyers and allied organizations, and implements and manages all aspects of ADF International’s public relations outreach.

Ignacio Arsuaga, CitizenGO Spain

Ignacio is the President of the CitizenGO Foundation, an international organisation working to promote life, family, and liberty, with 3.5 million members worldwide. He is also the founder and current President of HazteOir, a Spanish pro-life and pro-family organization. He is a lawyer and a member of the Madrid Bar Association.


Statements from participants

“I have learned a lot. The most important message from these days is that we can win – [and] we are able to win if we believe that it is possible!” Blazej Duber (Belgium)

“The best  part of the European Advocacy Academy is undoubtedly being with people from 17 different European countries that work for the same cause and the same values. You can connect, share ideas, and work together!” Norberto Dominguez Robles (Spain)

“I got a lot of information and [acquired] knowledge to enter into the public sphere in my country … with more confidence.” Vesna Radeka (Serbia)

“Being given the opportunity to meet and exchange experiences with other organisations who work in the same field as I do [makes me] feel encouraged, motivated, and supported – [so that I may] go back home and continue the work that I am doing.” Naomi Terec (Romania)

The next European Advocacy Academy will take place in 10-13 April 2018 and will focus on communication.

If you would like to know more about our other training programmes, we invite you to watch this video and visit our trainings page.