We are glad to introduce the EFCNI staff to you.

However, our daily work would not be possible without the tremendous support and help of many individuals and organisations. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to all of them.

Board of Directors

Silke Mader - Chairwoman of the Executive Board

Chairwoman of the Directors Board

Silke Mader is the Chairwoman of the Executive Board and co-founder of EFCNI. Her professional background lies in elementary educational theory, mainly focusing on the linguistic support of migrant children and remedial educational theory.

In 1997, her twins were born in the 25th week of pregnancy, and were not given the appropriate care. Unfortunately, one of them died a few days after birth, leaving the parents and the sibling behind. During her time in hospital and afterwards, she was faced with the non-existence of support of any kind, the absence of public awareness and the lack of information and education for parents during pregnancy. She felt that no parents should ever undergo such an awful experience again. Therefore, in 1999, she decided to actively participate in the Munich-based local parent group, which she headed from 2001 on. Two years later, she became Chairwoman of the German umbrella organization “The preterm born child e. V.”. Together with experts, Silke developed declarations, guidelines and information material for parents with preterm children.

As the situation throughout Europe is distressingly similar and preterm children urgently need a voice not only within Europe but also worldwide, she decided to give up her job as a teacher and to take on the role of chair on the Executive Board of EFCNI.

In 2012 Silke Mader was awarded the “Prix Courage” by ZDF television programme “ML mona lisa” in cooperation with the cosmetics company Clarins. 2013 she received the Medal for Particular Services to Bavaria in a United Europe. Since 2014 she is Honorary Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland.

In 2015, Silke Mader has been awarded as social entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow. Since then, she has become a member of the organization’s global network.

At the ALL Ladies League (ALL) – Women Economic Forum 2016 in New Delhi, India, Silke Mader received the “Iconic Innovative Trailblazer of the Decade” award.

In October 2016, she was awarded with the Bavarian State Medal for Services concerning Health and Long-term Care by Melanie Huml, the Bavarian State Minister for Health and Long-term Care.

Vice Chair of the Directors Board

Nicole Thiele joined EFCNI in early 2010. She holds a diploma as European Secretary/ESA and has a university degree in Economics, Management and Business Administration and speaks German, English, French and Spanish. She lived in Paris for several years and has gained extensive experience in different positions within multi-national companies.

With her family experiencing the consequences of an extremely preterm birth more than 40 years ago, she is personally committed to drive forward the prevention of prematurity and especially the philosophy of individualized, developmentally supportive care and parental empowerment, crucial contributors to give a baby the best start in life.

Nicole is author, (co-)author and (co-)editor of different information material, brochures, factsheets, articles and reports on topics within maternal and newborn health.

Director, Administration and Operations

Aurelia Abenstein joined EFCNI in April 2016.

Aurelia has a diploma as Foreign Language and Event Assistant and holds a university degree in Geography. She has substantial international experience living, studying and working abroad for several years and speaks English and Spanish. Before joining EFCNI, Aurelia worked as Head of Administration in an international environmental consultancy.

Due to her goal to live her life in a social and ecological sustainable way she wants to support EFCNI in its mission to improve the situation of mothers and newborn infants in Europe.

Senior Medical Director

Professor Luc J.I. Zimmermann joined EFCNI in October 1, 2019.

He is Professor of Paediatrics and Neonatology at the Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Sciences at Maastricht University (the Netherlands) since 2003 and Program Leader of Reproductive and Perinatal Medicine in the Research Institute Oncology and Developmental Biology-GROW (since 2006).

As a Belgian, he studied medicine and did his paediatric training at the University Hospital Gasthuisberg in Leuven, Belgium. After his fellowship in neonatology at the Hospital for Sick Children and the combined Perinatal fellowship program of the University of Toronto, Canada , he worked as a staff neonatologist and later Chief of the Division of Neonatology at the Sophia Children’s Hospital, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

In 2003 he moved to Maastricht and worked as a staff neonatologist (2003-2019), Chief of the Division of Neonatology (2005-2017) and Chairman of the Department of Paediatrics (2006-2019) at Maastricht UMC+.

He is past president of the European Society of Paediatric Research (ESPR) and board member of several other societies. Since 2017, he was a member of the Trustee Board of EFCNI (till he started working for EFCNI).

From an early stage in his professional career he developed a distinct research interest on the development of the preterm lung, on which he did his PhD and continued his further research. His research topics have widened in the last several years.

As Department Chair of Paediatrics, he worked with his staff on a strategic plan for academic family integrated care. In the past, he has been involved with EFCNI in many ways, such as the common start of the Joined European Neonatal Societies (jENS) conferences, the launch of the white paper and action reports at the European Parliament, the standards of care project, the RSV position paper, and as a trustee member of EFCNI. He is very pleased to collaborate more and to start working for EFCNI as he believes in the mission and aim “to improve the situation of mothers and newborn infants in Europe across the full spectrum of care, promoting and protecting the right to the best start in life”.  An important element to achieve this goal will be the implementation of the European Standards of Care for Newborn Health.

Corporate Management & Administration Department

Management Assistant

Tanja Augsten joined EFCNI in June 2019.

Tanja has studied languages and holds a Degree in interpretation and translation.

She has a strong background in working as an Executive Assistant for international companies, including many years in the field of sustainability and social innovation.

After having had two preterm births herself it is a matter truly close to her heart to support the cause of EFCNI.

Team & Management Assistant

Stefanie Gorbahn joined EFCNI in November 2022.

Stefanie has a qualification as an industrial management assistant. She is a skilled and long experienced Team- and Management Assistant. Working for multi-national companies she enhanced her professional competence.

Due to her dedication for human rights along with being an abiding active member of amnesty international, she feels honored to be part of the EFCNI family.

Office Assistant

Lukas Mader joined EFCNI 2023.

He holds a Master’s degree in Empirical Cultural Studies and European Ethnology from Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.

As a former preterm baby, born weighing 515 grams, he experienced first-hand what it means to be born preterm, even in adulthood. This is both his incentive and motivation to work at the foundation.

Scientific Affairs and Research Department

Head of Scientific Affairs and Research

Christina Tischer joined EFCNI in March 2022.

Working on pan-European multidisciplinary research projects focusing on environmental and respiratory health, Christina has gained experience in different research institutions in Germany, Spain and Finland.

Christina holds a Diploma in Social Science, a PhD in Human Biology and is a visiting researcher at the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) in Kuopio, Finland. She has a strong interest in participatory research concepts related to prevention, health promotion and health literacy of (expecting) parents and children. As a mother of two sons, Christina is proud to support EFCNI in optimising targeted healthcare for families.

Senior Project Manager for Maternal and Newborn Health

Julia joined the EFCNI in September 2020.

As a nutritional scientist, Julia investigated the impact of the maternal prenatal lifestyle on mother-infant health focusing on both perinatal outcomes as well as long-term benefits. She contributed to a large-scaled public health project aiming to implement prevention strategies into the existing routine care in Germany. Thereby, she cooperated with gynaecologists, midwives, healthcare professionals and healthcare institutions in order to offer pregnant women comprehensive support.

Julia holds a PhD in Natural Science, and a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Medicine & Biomedicine / Nutritional Science. With her expertise in evaluating strategies for a better care, she is proud to support the EFCNI in its global mission.

Project Manager for Maternal and Newborn Health

Ilona Trautmannsberger joined EFCNI in March 2022.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Health Science from Technical University Munich and a master’s degree in Public Health from Ludwig Maximilian University Munich. During her studies, including a semester abroad in France, and as part of her master’s thesis, she gained experience in scientific research, especially in the field of health promotion in early childhood and paediatric infectious diseases.

With her passion for health-related topics and her strong interest and experience in public health she is proud to support EFCNI’s mission to give every newborn the best possible start in life and to support their families in doing so.

Policy and Advocacy Department

Head of Policy and Advocacy

Aisling Walsh-Papageorgiou joined EFCNI in June 2020.

With more than 15 years experience in EU and international policy work and project management, Aisling has lived and worked in several countries. She started her career working for the University of Valenciennes in northern France before briefly joining the European Commission in Brussels, then moving to Finland to focus on cross border cooperation with a diverse thematic focus. Before joining EFCNI, Aisling was an independent consultant for several EU programmes and projects. Over the years, she has worked with a range of health-related projects including those dealing with neonatal issues. This has included dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders across European governance and international institutions to develop and strengthen policies.

Aisling holds a BA in European Studies and French from Queen’s University in Belfast (Northern Ireland) and an MA in European Politics and Policy from the Institute of Political Studies in Strasbourg (France). She holds certifications in PRINCE2 project management, process management, mediation and facilitation methods and is currently an EUPATI trainee. An English native speaker, she also speaks fluent French and intermediate German. As a mother of a young daughter, Aisling is proud to be part of EFCNI and its work in advancing healthcare and support for newborns and their families worldwide.

During her maternity leave, the department will be temporarily run by Dr. Christina Tischer and Dr. Isabel Geiger.

Junior Project Manager for Maternal and Newborn Health

Sabina Bösl joined EFCNI in April 2022.

She holds a Bachelor of Education in Vocational Education Health and Health Care Science and a Master of Science in Health Science from Technical University Munich. Sabina is furthermore a certified nurse. During her studies and recent occupations, she gained experience in health promotion in various target groups such as healthcare staff and patients. Her master’s thesis focussed on the perceived stress of parents of children with congenital heart disease where she experienced the urgent need to support parents with diseased children.

Being a nurse, health scientist and mother of a young child herself she is highly motivated and proud to contribute to the vision and goals of EFCNI.

Junior Project Manager for Maternal and Newborn Health

Ruth Kemper joined EFCNI in April 2023.

Ruth holds a Bachelor Degree in European Public Health from Maastricht University and a Master of Global Health from the University of Copenhagen.
During internships and volunteer projects in Germany, Poland, Denmark and Tanzania, she has obtained a great deal of experience with regards to many challenges of global health care. Especially sexual and reproductive health has been a recurring topic for Ruth, with access to care being one of her main fields of interest.

Especially the focus on vulnerable groups is important to her in the fight against health inequalities.

Senior Project Manager for Maternal and Newborn Health

Dr. Sarah Lehmann joined EFCNI in October 2022.

Sarah has a strong scientific background in nutrition and biomedicine (M.Sc.). During her PhD she investigated complex interactions of human immune cells in the context of allergy prevention and breastfeeding. As scientific project manager, she worked at a WHO Supranational Reference Laboratory of tuberculosis managing operational research projects, including biosafety level 3 laboratory work as well as human clinical trials, helping to implement medical development aid projects worldwide. Before joining EFCNI, Sarah supported the certification of safe in vitro diagnostic tests as lead auditor for quality management systems and product assessor at an acknowledged Notified Body for medical devices.

As mother of young children, along with her scientific background and international professional experience, she is excited to contribute to EFCNI’s mission of improving healthcare for newborn children and supporting families by providing the best possible start in life.

Senior Project Manager for Maternal and Newborn Health

Teresa Primavesi-Poggio joined EFCNI in June 2023.

Having worked as a qualitative researcher specialising in healthcare research and advising global pharmaceutical companies for over 15 years, she is well-versed in speaking to patients and key opinion leaders. While leading multiprofessional teams in both the UK and Germany, she gathered valuable experience in large-scale multicountry projects. Teresa is also an AQR (Association of Qualitative Research) trained moderator.

She holds a BA in Public Relations from the University of Westminster in London (UK) and is currently studying for a Masters in Early Life Care at Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg (Austria). During these studies, she got more interested in policy work and believes this is where she can best use her diverse skillset to represent the interests of preterm and newborn infants and their families. Having lived in the UK and Australia, the international focus of EFCNI’s work appeal strongly to her. As a mother of 2 young children, she is excited to further the foundation’s growth and worldwide impact.

Junior Project Manager for Maternal and Newborn Health

Charlotte von Rosenstiel-Pulver joined EFCNI in September 2020.

She holds a BSc in Health Science from Technical University Munich and an MSc in International Public Health from VU Amsterdam. During her studies, she gained experience as a student research assistant in Munich and Berlin and went on a Medical Mission to South Africa with an independent charity foundation that offers general medical care to children who have no access to medical care.

As a health scientist with an interest in medical, social and ecological challenges worldwide, she is proud to be part of EFCNI’s mission to improve healthcare and support for newborns and their families in Europe and beyond.

European Standards of Care for Newborn Health Department

Head of European Standards of Care for Newborn Health Department

Isabel joined EFCNI in April 2021.

As a research associate, Isabel worked mainly in the field of new healthcare programmes with a special focus on the design and (process) evaluation of these complex interventions. She also contributed to a scientific report for the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) on the further development of physician planning in Germany. Isabel holds a PhD in Epidemiology and Public Health from the LMU Munich,  an MPhil in Epidemiology from the University of Liverpool (UK) and an MA in International Health and Social Management from the Management Center Innsbruck (Austria). She also completed a Bachelor’s study in Physiotherapy at the University of Applied Sciences Vienna (Austria).

With her experience in evaluating the implementation of complex interventions, she is proud to be part of EFCNI and to support the implementation and advancement of the European Standards of Care for Newborn Health.

Junior Project Manager for Maternal and Newborn Health

Verena Krause joined EFCNI in January 2023.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Health Studies (Midwifery) from the University of Applied Sciences Vienna and a master’s degree in Gender Studies from the University of Vienna.

As part of her master’s thesis, Verena conducted a policy analysis of international family planning organizations, identifying the links that are being made between climate change and population. During various internships abroad, she witnessed how the effects of climate change directly affect neonatal and maternal health, and therefore developed a strong interest for the intersections of environmental and reproductive justice.

As a certified midwife, Verena is familiar with the needs of expectant parents and families, which is why optimising maternal and newborn health is very close to her heart. She is proud to be a part of EFCNI and its work in advancing the European Standards of Care for Newborn Health.

Design Department

Head of Design, Art Director 

Diana Hofmann-Larina joined EFCNI in March 2016.

She studied architecture in Ukraine and holds a Master degree. After moving to Germany, she accomplished another Master in Advanced Design. She worked for Hubert Burda Media in the design department, where she enhanced her broad range of experience by working with renowned international clients.

Since she always wanted to contribute her skills and her passion in design to an international organisation for a good cause, she´s proud of being a part of EFCNI today, helping to create a better world for preterm born infants and their parents.

Senior Designer

Olga is an accomplished art directress and holds a diploma as a communication designer as well as degrees in arts & education.

Beeing from Belarus, she has been living in Munich for two decades now and made herself a name by working for reputable design and advertising agencies.

She joined EFCNI in the fall of 2021. As mother of two young kids Olga is deticated to support and best possible contribute to the EFCNI mission to improve healthcare and aid for newborns and their families.

Senior Designer

Laura joined EFCNI in January 2018.

She completed an apprenticeship as a media designer and specialised in Graphic Design in an advertising agency based in Munich, Germany. Throughout her time at this agency, Laura already knew EFCNI and completed several graphic projects for the foundation.

After 13 years of working in advertising, where she most recently held the position as creative director, she followed her heart to work as a freelance Graphic Designer in Cape Verde. Now she has jumped at the opportunity to take her work with EFCNI to the next level by joining the Design Department.

As a young mother, Laura can identify with the foundation’s goals and is glad to support the EFCNI mission.

Corporate Communications

Head of Communications

Catherina Witte joined EFCNI in June 2021.

Following her graduation as a business economist in Hannover, she moved to Munich and worked over a decade in international marketing and project management in the medical technology sector. In addition to responsibilities in corporate communications and event management, she also gained experience in creating a digital information platform for patient education.

This has sparked her strong interest in equity in access to care, patient education and empowerment. To follow her heart and pursue a more philanthropic career path, Catherina completed further studies as a foundation manager and worked for several years in CSR and fundraising in the non-profit sector.

With her passion for health-related topics and people-centred care, she aims to dedicate her work at EFCNI to help create awareness and opportunities for better treatment, health and life for preterm infants, ill newborns and their families.

Communications Manager

Ina Adamek joined EFCNI in March 2022.

She holds a BSc in Health Communication from University of Bielefeld and a MSc in Food and Health Sciences from University of Bayreuth. During her studies, she developed a strong interest in promoting health-related topics as well as healthy behaviours and choices for different target groups.

Ina is proud to support the foundation’s communications team in order to promote the needs of preterm and newborn babies as well as their families and to spread EFCNI’s mission in ensuring every baby the best start in life.

Senior Communications Manager

Annika Brunck joined EFCNI in November 2020.

Annika Brunck holds a PhD in American Studies and a Master’s degree in British and North American Cultural Studies. She taught at university for several years and was the project manager for an international and interdisciplinary research network. She speaks German, English, Spanish, and some French, and has lived abroad.

As part of the corporate communications team, she hopes to support the foundation in its goals of international networking and outreach, and wants to facilitate meaningful communication between the foundation, its partners and stakeholders as well as the broader general public.

Communications Manager

Bianka Gallina joined EFCNI in March 2024.

She pursued her studies in Business and Economics at Lund University, Sweden, followed by a Master’s degree in International Business in Warsaw, Poland, specialising in cross-cultural communications. With a keen interest in fostering international cooperation, Bianka brings several years of experience working in multinational environments. She speaks Hungarian, Swedish, English, and German.

Bianka is deeply committed to our organisation’s mission of supporting families facing the challenges of preterm birth. She brings five years of experience in corporate communications and aims to contribute her skills to drive meaningful impact to EFCNI’s global initiatives.

Communications Manager

Marisa joined EFCNI in July 2020.

She has completed a traineeship at the Catholic School of Journalism (ifp) in Munich and holds a Master Degree in Political Science and European History. During her traineeship, Marisa acquired practical experience in journalism and worked as an editor for a parent magazine. Since then she developed a great interest in topics related to pregnancy and parenting.

As a member of the foundation’s communications team, she wants to help to explain the work and purpose of EFCNI to give children a good start in life and support the foundation in assisting parents of preterm and newborn babies.

Communications Manager

 Sonja Schäfer joined EFCNI in November 2023.

She holds a Master’s degree in Literature and Linguistics from RWTH Aachen University, specialising in English and American Studies. The focus on psycholinguistics and language disorders such as aphasia sparked her interest in clinical topics. She went on to gain hands-on experience as a PR manager in healthcare communications, addressing both medical and public audiences and covering a wide range of medical fields.

In her role at EFCNI, she wants to pursue this path of informing and raising awareness of health-related matters and support EFCNI’s important mission to protect the most vulnerable little ones and support their families at a difficult time in their lives.

Communications Manager

Yvonne Willibald joined EFCNI in June 2023.

She studied journalism at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. After graduating, Yvonne specialised in medical and health topics and worked as a medical editor for different magazines and organisations. While working as a PR manager for a large clinic group, she discovered her love for paediatric medicine. She is excited to come back to those roots now, after having gained experience in online communications and project management while working for a digital health advertising agency.

Yvonne is proud to use her communication skills to support the EFCNI‘s mission to give newborn and preterm babies the best start possible in life.

Communications Manager

Berit Zuna-Pawlik joined EFCNI in April 2023.

She studied Business Administration in Lüneburg and gained an MSc in Brand Management and Marketing Communications from the University of Southern Denmark. During her studies abroad she gathered experience in healthcare-related communications. After graduating, Berit worked as marketing specialist in the computer industry, but when becoming a mother, she decided to use her marketing skills for communications that are more meaningful to her.

Thus, Berit is excited to support EFCNI’s mission to improve the situation of preterm and newborn babies and their families.

Working student

Lisa Kaltner joined EFCNI in October 2023.

She holds her Bachelor‘s degree in Health Science from the Technical University of Munich and is currently doing her Master in International Humanitarian Action at Uppsala University.

Through her previous experience in the field of family planning and newborn health in Eastern Africa, Lisa is passionate to assist the Scientific Affairs Team at EFCNI to support newborns and their families.

Lucia Weller joined EFCNI in December 2023.

She is in the final stages of her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Hagen and is aiming to pursue a research oriented Masters program in Psychology.

Being a former preterm infant, Lucia is passionate about improving the situation for preterm and newborn babies and their families. She is proud to be a part of EFCNI and to support the Department of European Standards of Care for Newborn Health.

Vanessa Wydrin

Vanessa Wydrin joined EFCNI in February 2023.

She holds a B.Sc. in Health Science from the Technical University of Munich and is currently doing her Master in Health Science – Prevention and Health Promotion there. She got intrigued for this field of studies as she wants to enable people to stay healthy and live a self-determined life for as long as possible.

Since long-term health outcomes are already shaped from pregnancy and birth on, Vanessa is proud to be a part of EFCNI and support them to improve prevention and care in newborns.