Board members & Staff


President, Hilkka Karkkainen (Finland) Social worker by profession and  expert by experience. Suffered reactive depression in 2002.  Has worked both for the City of Helsinki and the City of Espoo in Child Welfare for many years.  Worked as a Senior Social Worker in Probation and After Care Association in Helsinki for seven years.  Was from 1998 until 2002 Executive Director of Finnish Central Association for Mental Health, which is the biggest Mental Health Patients’ organization in Europe with about 18 000 individual members. Has been President and Vice President of Mieli Maasta, which is a patient association for those suffering from depression. Worked for the City of Järvenpää as a Planner of Regional Mental Health Care in 2004-2005. Retired from her job as  Social Ombudsman in Sosiaalitaito in May 2014. Represented GAMIAN-Europe on the Board of EFNA (European Federation of Neurological Associations) in 2002-2004. Was President of GAMIAN-Europe once before in 1999.

During the General Assembly in the frame of the Annual Convention held in Vienna in September 2016, Hillka has been elected by the board members as the new GAMIAN-Europe president.  


Robert Kristof (Hungary) is the General Manager of Awakening Foundation which is a think-tank organisation in the field of recovery-based and community-based mental health reforms in Hungary. He has been a facilitator of international, multicultural groups of staff in various multinational companies both in Hungary and abroad. Recently he completed a five years assignment on the team facilitators running advanced management skills courses for European, Middle East and African Region in Brussels, Dublin and London.

katerina IMG_9243

Secretary General, Katerina-Aikaterini Nomidou (Greece) Being an active career to her brother who lives with schizophrenia and seeing the problems faced by families trying to cope with mental illness consequences and the unfairness of the situation service users find themselves in prompted her to become actively involved in the mental health issues that affect vulnerable people and society as a whole. She is passionate about promoting awareness among key stakeholders of what is meant by ‘rights’ under equality legislation; advocating against stigma, discrimination and prejudice surrounding mental health conditions; promoting a recovery ethos in mental health and social care

She is passionate about promoting awareness among key stakeholders of what is meant by ‘rights’ under equality legislation; advocating against stigma, discrimination and prejudice surrounding mental health conditions; promoting a recovery ethos in mental health and social care services, and empowering service users and family members.

Katerina’s educational achievements include a Postgraduate degree in International Mental Health, Law and Human Rights, a Bachelor of Arts in Law, a Bachelor of Arts in Italian language and literature and a number of short training courses.

Katerina is a practising lawyer in Greece with 13 years professional experience providing legal advice/opinions and representing clients in courts and has served as a consultant on post-CRPD mental health policies and legislations, including in Afghanistan, Qatar, UAE and Sierra Leone.

Katerina is also vice President, Association of families/careers for the mental health and Alzheimer’s disease SOFPSI N.SERRON, Greece; PFPS Champion for Greece, WHO, Switzerland; and visiting lecturer (compassionate care & doctor-patient relationship at undergrad. level and health law & patients’ rights at postgrad. level), Faculty of Medicine-University of Crete, Greece.


John Bowis (United Kingdom) is President of Health First Europe; Chairman, Health Advisory Board, GSK; Adviser to FIPRA and Instinctif;   Board Member: TBVI, Global Initiative on Psychiatry, Gamian Europe, European Men’s Health Forum, European Institute of Health, Sane, and Maastricht University European Health Faculty; Patron Fund for Epilepsy;   Vice President, Diabetes UK, Epilepsy Research UK;   Ambassador, National Aids Trust and Alzheimer’s Society.

John Bowis is a former Member of the European Parliament for London (1999- 2009) and EPP/ED Group Coordinator/Spokesman on Environment, Health and Food Safety and a former Member of the Development Committee and Vice President of ACP JPA.   He was Rapporteur for the Parliament on Food Safety; Health and Enlargement; Professional Qualifications; Health and Poverty in Policy; the European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control; Patient Mobility; Mental Health; Neglected Diseases; and Cross Border health.

He was a former International Policy Adviser to the World Health Organisation on global campaigns: ‘Nations for Mental Health’ and ‘Out of the Shadows’ (epilepsy) and former Member of UK Parliament for Battersea. He served as UK Health Minister 1993-6 and Transport Minister 1996-7.

He was elected  Hon. Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists 2003 and  Hon. Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians 2009, He was the first recipient of the European Public Health Alliance Award for Service to Public Health 2009.  He is currently chairing round tables on Personalised Medicine and on Access to Medicines.


Hakan Wingren (Sweden)  Hakan Wingren is an Attitude Ambassador in Mental Health. He studied Political Science and have experience in the field of marketing and human resources. Loaded with a lot of experience, he got a very deep interest in mental health and he decided to help other people.


Bert Aben (The Netherlands)

Jacinta Hastings , CEO of BodyWhys

Treasurer, Jacinta Hastings (Ireland) Studied nursing at St. Brendans Hospital. She has been interested all her life in health. She holds several diplomas in health promotion, Applied Project Management and an Advanced Diploma in Executive and Personal Mentoring and Coaching. She considers herself as an strategic leader and has demonstrated success within statutory and voluntary mental health services in planning, events management, service delivery, health promotion, people management, personal and professional development of staff,  third level professional development sector, customer service, voluntary service development and media & communications.  From 2011 to 2012 she worked as an Acting Director at the National Office for Suicide Prevention. She has also been holding different positions at Health Service Executive (HSE) and she is currently a National Specialist Planner on Mental Health.


Raluca Nica (Romania)  Raluca Nica  is a board member of GAMIAN Europe who has over 30 years of experience in the field of mental health. She is a consultant for NGOs on issues of organizational management and supervision for the good implementation of projects. Her experience and vast academic background in various disciplines make her an expert in the field


Dolores Gauci (Malta) studied Psychology & Social Sciences at the University of Malta and completed a Master Degree in Health Services Management. She is a holder of Professional Warrant for Registered Social Worker (Warrant No 55) according to Article 3 of the Social Work Profession Act (2003). She is currently a Senior Visiting lecturer at the University of Malta providing a service to both the Department of Social Policy and Social Work and the Department of Psychology. Since 1994 she works at Richmond Foundation but before she held different position in the Psychiatric field in Malta. Dolores Gauci has several publications, mainly papers on health and mental conditions and has attended a considerable number of congresses and conferences on mental health and psychiatry across Europe.  Besides Maltese, she speaks English and Italian.


Yoram Cohen (Israel) 34-year volunteer in the field of Mental Health, seasoned director of leading NGO’s in fields including mental health and child welfare in third-world countries. Dedicated leader who consistently strengthening organizations. Future-minded planner who is involved in continually projects and consultations in collaboration with organization leaders. Former President of GAMIAN-Europe, Senior Consultant of the WFMH (World Federation for Mental Health), Chairman of Enosh, the Israeli Mental Health Association and Chairman of Save A Child’s Heart. Yoram is a member of the Rotary International since 1977 and served as District Governor of Rotary Israel (District 2490) from 1998-1999. Yoram Cohen is neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist, neither a mental-health care-provider nor an academic researcher but he has over thirty years of volunteer experience on the local, national and international levels leading organizations representing consumers and their families. Within that time Yoram gained insight into the issues which concern patients, including patient’s rights, treatment concerns, social and economic opportunity and combating ignorance about mental health. His experience allows him to speak about this issues from an informed and concerned point of view. Yoram Cohen is quite optimistic about the future of mental-health care and also about the continued integration of consumers into society. Yoram is married with Debbie and the couple has 3 children and 9 grandchild


Daniel Cernik (Czech Republic)  studied economy at the Agriculture University in Prague. He works for Kolumbus, Hewer and GAMIAN-Europe. He is currently working as a coordinator of two projects: Patients trustees and Psychiatric Cell which helps patients in psychiatric clinics across Czech Republic. In Hewer, he works as a personal assistant helping disabled people in their homes. Daniel Černík was elected part of the GAMIAN-Europe board during the 2016 General Assembly held in Vienna.




New executive director:  Nigel Olisa Since March 1st 2016,  Nigel Olisa has taken over from Paul Arteel as Gamian-Europe’s executive director


European relations policy-advisor: Christine Marking Christine is also engaged in the Gamian -Europe research projects

photo Erik aug2013

Assistant to the executive director: Erik Van Der Eycken. Erik is also engaged in the Gamian-Europe research projects

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