r0g_team

Susi

Susanne Bellinghausen


Susanne spent her childhood in different places, amongst others Bonn, Nairobi, and Paris, and is now based in Berlin. She studied architecture in Berlin and London and completed her MA in Interactive Telecommunications at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York City and was a research fellow at the Potsdam-based Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS). She worked as an architect in the offices of Lord Norman Foster (Berlin), Winka Dubbeldam (NYC), and Wiel Arets (Maastricht).

In 2013 she founded the r0g_agency together with her partner, Stephen Kovats. Ever since, she has been passionate about working in the field of peacebuilding and technology in a very hands-on, practical manner and loves seeing the impact of supporting the self-empowerment of people, especially in complex conflict situations. She has managed the #defyhatenow project, has helped develop the #MMN Migrant Media Network project, and is invested in helping the Open Culture Feminist Café flourish. She currently manages all things related to the r0g_agency.

In her spare time, Susanne loves jogging and has recently started playing the saxophone.

Founding Co-Director

susanne@openculture.agency

Stephen Kovats grew up in Canada and studied architecture at Carleton University in Ottawa. As a cultural and media technologies advocate, he has been deeply engaged in issues of open culture and social transformation since the early days of German unification. After deep engagements with these topics at the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and V2_Institute for Unstable Media in Rotterdam, he returned to Germany in 2007 as artistic director of Berlin's transmediale festival for art and digital culture. The idea of taking a more proactive, open-source based approach to international, post-conflict development led to the founding of the r0g_agency in 2013, together with his partner Susanne Bellinghausen. His roles at the r0g_agency include helping develop the #defyhatenow program to counter social media hate speech and incitement to violence, as well as supporting the open tech innovation programs, including #ASKnet, the Access to Skills and Knowledge network. In his free time, he enjoys explorative off-grid travel, skiing, and all activities relating to water or winter.

Stephen Kovats


Stephen grew up in Canada and studied architecture at Carleton University in Ottawa. As a cultural and media technologies advocate, he has been deeply engaged in issues of open culture and social transformation since the early days of German unification. After deep engagements with these topics at the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and V2_Institute for Unstable Media in Rotterdam, he returned to Germany in 2007 as artistic director of Berlin's transmediale festival for art and digital culture.

The idea of taking a more proactive, open-source based approach to international, post-conflict development led to the founding of the r0g_agency in 2013, together with his partner Susanne Bellinghausen. His roles at the r0g_agency include helping develop the #defyhatenow program to counter social media hate speech and incitement to violence, as well as supporting the open tech innovation programs, including #ASKnet, the Access to Skills and Knowledge network.

In his free time, he enjoys explorative off-grid travel, skiing, and all activities relating to water or winter.

Founding Co-Director

stephen@openculture.agency

clemens

Clemens Lerche


Clemens grew up in the Rhineland of Germany, but has spent the last twenty years living in Berlin. He studied political science and received his master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Duisburg. He belongs to the generation of the '68s, forever stuck between the rebellion and freedom of the seventies and the consumer culture of the eighties. Perhaps that is why media and communication became important elements of his work as a way to address this tension. In the past he worked for Transmediale, an annual festival for art and digital culture, along with Stephen Kovatz. His passion lies in empowering people through technology while staying critical to its negative impacts.

He joined the r0g_agency in 2013 as a senior consultant and project lead for the BMZ funded media development projects and is the project manager for ASKNet.

In his free time, Clemens is a cycling enthusiast and loves spending time with his family.

Project Manager #ASKnet

clemens@openculture.agency

Blen

Blen Desta


Blen is an African feminist, human rights activist, and gender equality advisor. In recent years, she developed and managed projects focused on empowering young Ethiopian women through academic debate and capacity building in Feminist Transformative Leadership. She holds a Master of Science in Sociology of Law – European Law from Lund University in Sweden and a Bachelor of Law (LLB) from Haramaya University in Ethiopia.

At the r0g_agency, Blen is the project manager for the #defyhatenow Ethiopia program. She is also the initiator and curator of the Open Culture Feminist Café.

Away from work, Blen loves to cook, travel, dance, drink coffee with friends & colleagues, learn melodies on the piano, and tidy her place up.

Gender Equality Advisor

blen@openculture.agency

SaraB

Sara Budarz


Sara is a Chicago-born, Germany-raised Finnish-American. She received her BA from Purdue University in Intercultural Communications, and her PhD in German Literature from the University of North Carolina. Her research focuses on the interplay of design and interior space upon mental health and wellbeing. She went on to become the director of the German program at the University of Texas at San Antonio, greatly expanding enrollment and retention (and learned to use the phrase all y’alls). Yet while the allure of a life in academia was strong and the Texas sun a very real incentive to stay, Sara decided to relocate to her favorite city in the world (with the worst weather): Berlin. Since then, she has co-authored two language-learning textbooks used at universities and colleges in the US and Canada (Auf geht’s! and Weiter geht’s! from Evia Publishing).

She joined the r0g_agency team in 2020, and in her role as writer, editor, and communications manager she combines her love of words, systems, and outreach with a long-dormant desire to work for an NGO.

Away from work, Sara can usually be found with a book and a cup of coffee. She also loves taking photos, jogging, and cycling out to swim in the hundreds of lakes around Berlin.

Communications Manager

sarab@openculture.agency

Timm

Timm Wille


Timm has a Master of Mechanical Engineering with a focus on Renewable Energies from Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin, and is on a secret mission to designate free access to information as a basic human right. He is an open-source hardware and circular economy activist and works as a renewable energy engineer.

He is based in Berlin, and became part of the r0g_agency in 2013, when he and a colleague built the r0g_solar.mini over a long weekend, which by now has traveled the world. In 2015 he joined the #opentech team as a trainer, which led to the development of #ASKotec. Sharing knowledge and hands-on open tech skills has been his mission and passion ever since. When not in Berlin, his role as a trainer for #ASKnet takes him to South Sudan and Uganda, where he facilitates workshops and helps build up local teams.

In his free time, Timm loves fostering upcycling and spreading his love of DIY, especially in terms of repairing electronics and bicycles. He also loves reading articles and news reports and sharing his findings on all things tech and society related.

Open Tech Advisor

timm@openculture.agency

Dan

Daniel King’ori


Dan is a software engineer based in Nairobi, Kenya, with over five years of experience in implementing some of the most challenging software and hardware infrastructure for government, corporate, startup, and nonprofit scenes. He’s the co-founder of Web For All, Ltd. Kenya and Alela Technologies South Sudan, offering ICT for development solutions in the region since 2015.

Dan is a technology consultant and web developer for the r0g_agency’s #defyhatenow global project, where he has been overseeing the architecture and implementation of technology for peace solutions, notably a community-based Early Warning and Early Response (EWER) for online hate speech, which maps potential incitement to violence rhetoric and monitors the Northwest and Southwest conflict regions of Cameroon. He has also developed #211check, a fact-checking and open-data platform implemented in South Sudan that has recently been instrumental in debunking misinformation regarding COVID-19.

In his free time Dan loves cycling, nature photography, and perusing hardcopy books.

Web Developer

dan@openculture.agency

heike

Heike Bluthardt


Heike hails from southern Germany and studied Visual Communications in the shadows of the Black Forest. After stopovers in Stuttgart, Pforzheim, and Amsterdam, she landed in Rotterdam, which has now been her home for many years. Over the years she has worked with many design studios, and at one point, together with two other designers, founded a design studio. During these years, she developed an interest in fashion and created her own fashion label, that included a brick-and-mortar store in the north of Rotterdam. But in the end, her love of graphic design was stronger, and she decided to leave behind fashion in order to focus solely on design. Despite years of living in the Netherlands, she has maintained her contact to Germany.

In 2011 she helped establish the corporate identity for the r0g_agency, including designing their logo. She has continued to partner with them ever since, designing graphics for many of their projects. Heike’s goal had always been to work in an international setting, because she enjoys seeing people with divergent perspectives come together to work towards a common goal, and as such, she loves being a part of the r0g_agency team. As a graphic designer, Heike believes in finding the essence of the story needing to be told, and making it visible.

In her spare time, she is happiest when she is in nature, whether in the forest, at the beach, or in the mountains. She also loves tinkering with new formulas for her homemade no-waste body bars.

Graphic Designer

heike@openculture.agency

IMG_0116

Cara Schwartz


Cara was born in southern Illinois, but is a New Yorker at heart, having grown up in NY’s capital, Albany. Life and her love of bringing people together led her to pursue graphic design, for which she received her BA in Visual Communication from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1998. Moving west to sunny Los Angeles, she began her 22-year design career working for the infamous Raygun magazine and designing movie posters and party fliers. In 2000 she followed nature, music, and family north, settling in the ‘Emerald City’ of Seattle, Washington, where she balanced working with large, international brands, such as Starbucks, with local, community clients, such as 3$ Bill Cinema, Wild Rose Bar and other LGBTQI spaces.

Cara moved to her dream city of Berlin in 2015, where she has continued to partner with both commercial and community clients, including the r0g_agency since 2018. Since has worked on the #MigrantMediaNetwork Ghana project, #defyhatenow Cameroon, and is currently involved with the #defyhatenow Ethiopia Field Guides. This past year, Cara completed certifications in User Experience (UX) Design and Strategy and is now developing the first online training modules for #defyhatenow.

Working with traumatic subject matter is difficult, so Cara supports her mental and emotional health with a daily routine of Qi Gong, meditation, and journaling. Before Covid, she enjoyed dj'ing parties, dancing, and traveling. Since Covid, she reads many more books, cooks all the time, and is enjoying getting more sleep.

UX Designer

cara@openculture.agency

Nyima

Nyima Jadama


Nyima is a feminist, social activist, and journalist from The Gambia, West Africa, now based in Berlin. She completed a diploma certificate in Law at the College of Insurance and Risk Management - West African Insurance Institute in Kololi, The Gambia. She also completed an apprenticeship in Cross Media Communications - Journalism at the Berliner Journalisten-Schule.

She is the founder and producer of the Nyima’s Bantaba talk show on Alex Berlin TV channel, a bilingual German-English TV show that aims to connect migrants, refugees, and women from diaspora communities across the globe. At the r0g_agency, Nyima works as a #MMN community coordinator and an advisor on issues of women & migration.

Away from work, Nyima loves to travel and read. She also co-host the African Women in Trade (AWT) monthly webinar online.

Community Coordinator #MMN The Gambia

& women migration expert

nyima@openculture.agency

Barbra_Retouch_Colored

Barbara Bichlmeier


Barbara was born in Munich and grew up in a little village close by, where people do indeed look like stereotypical Germans in Lederhosen. After successfully finishing her apprenticeship in financial accounting, she worked for several different companies and moved to Heidelberg, a city with a magical castle, where her two sons were born. After relocating several more times, she and her family settled in Potsdam, a city adjoining Berlin. For the past fifteen years she has worked for various companies in the region with a particular focus on enterprises trying to have a social or ecological impact.

She is therefore delighted to be working for the r0g_agency in finance and supporting their goals.

In her leisure time, she spends a lot of time in her garden, experiments with new baking recipes, and tries to get an overview of her sons’ financial expenses.

Financial Administrator

barbara@openculture.agency

nour

Nour Bakr


Nour was born in Dubai (U.A.E), but is originally from Cairo (Egypt), and spent most of her adult life there. She studied Media Design at the German University in Cairo, and after graduation was excited to broaden her knowledge and experience. She worked as an Account Executive for AXEER Studio, a production and creative agency specializing in creating value-based content and telling stories that matter. During her time there she worked with clients and international organizations such as UNICEF, UNWomen, P&G, IOM, and the E.U. But as the conflict grew in the Middle East, life began to get harder by the minute, so she took a leap of faith and left for Germany and its offer of new, better life circumstances.

She now lives in Berlin and at the r0g_agency works as a documentation and social media coordinator.

Nour is a fitness enthusiast, and in her free time she practices yoga and Crossfit. She also enjoys traveling and exploring new places and different cultures. Last, but not least, her favourite season is summer, NOT winter. She feels this is worth repeating: NOT winter.

Social Media Coordinator

nour@openculture.agency

BENEDICTUS

Benedictus Agbelom


Benedictus grew up in Akosombo (Dam City) in the Eastern Region of Ghana. He studied at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi and while there, worked as a Special Duties Manager at Reinbee Group Limited. This role inspired him to further his education in project management, and in 2019 he received his Master’s degree in Project Management from Arden University in Berlin. Benedictus has a love of entrepreneurship and co-founded studentjobs.gh to help empower youth in Ghana.

His passion for helping others and local field work experience makes him a great fit for his role at the r0g_agency, where he works as a community coordinator of the Migrant Media Network.

In his free time, Benedictus loves playing badminton, listening to music, and cooking.

Community Coordinator #MMN Ghana

benedictus@openculture.agency

Cornelius

Cornilius Fogha


Cornilius grew up in the warmth of the Valleys of Kumbo, in a small town in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Yaounde and went on to study International Relations at Cyprus International University. He is currently working towards a master's degree in Social Work as a Human Rights Profession at the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. Cornilius believes that what qualifies him most to do anything are not his qualifications, but rather his curiosity and passion.

These traits also lead him to his work for the r0g_agency and #defyhatenow and through this work he has developed a passion for helping others and for working in the nonprofit world. At the r0g_agency, he monitors the #defyhatenow Cameroon social media content, with a focus on the diaspora community.

Cornilius enjoys reading, writing, good movies, and good music. In his free time he creates all sorts of art, from drawings, writing, and acting (mostly in front of his mirror), through which he converts the abstract into real and real into abstract.

Social Media Monitor #defyhatenow Cameroon

cornilius@openculture.agency

Amina Diallo


Amina is a Canadian-Malian with experience working in America, Europe, and Africa. Born in Paris, she spent her early years in Mali before moving to Montréal as a teengaer. She is proficient in French, English, and Spanish. She is currently working towards her MS in International Sustainability Management at the ESCP Europe Business School in Berlin and Paris. She holds a BA in Marketing from HEC Montréal. During summer 2020 she conducted a consulting project for Archipel Biodiversité in Paris, for which she drew on expert interviews, literature, and international models to create recommendations for their biodiversity compensation business model. As part of her studies she also participated in creating an Onboarding Journey for the HDI Insurance company in Berlin. At the r0g_agency, she will be working in marketing and is excited to be part of a multidisciplinary and diverse team dedicated to positively impacting environmental, social, and economic spheres.

In her free time, Amina loves to cook, listen to music, and watch old movies.

Marketing Intern

amina@openculture.agency

Prime

Prime Ilumin


Prime is a registered nurse by profession who works in the development sector. In the past, he worked for the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) under the Office of the President of the Philippines, an experience that opened his eyes to the realities and lived experiences of the vulnerable and at-risk sectors of the country, as well as the marginalized communities in different ASEAN member-countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Laos. This experience propelled him to complete his MA in Community Development at the University of the Philippines in order to better serve the marginalized and the oppressed. When the national government administration changed in 2016, he left his job at the NAPC and transferred to the local government of Marikina City, where he worked as an executive assistant and program manager for the city mayor, immersing himself deeply in the communities. In 2019, Prime emigrated to Canada and in 2020 enrolled in the MA in Community Engagement at the University of Alberta. Prime joined the r0g_agency as a research intern for the summer of 2021 and will be working on the #DefyHateNow project.

In his free time, Prime enjoys mountain biking and hiking in summer and snowboarding in winter.

Research Intern

prime@openculture.agency

mike

Mike Loos


Mike is our resident Berliner and volunteers at the r0g_agency. He is always happy to help out with any small tasks around the office. He has long been interested in other cultures and so enjoys being a part of an NGO with cross-cultural ties.

In his spare time, he is deeply invested in music, and in the past worked as a booking- and tour manager. His hobbies also include movies, history, football, and cruising around town on a scooter.

Community Volunteer

mike@openculture.agency

Project team members

Our #defyhatenow team can be found here.

Our #MMN Migrant Media Network team can be found here.