Steering group of the Youth Participation Strategy

Year of production: 2024

The Steering group is part of the Youth Participation Strategy (YPS), keeping with the spirit of participation and the aim of promoting the principles of youth participation across all actions and activities of the European youth programmes. The group is invited to support the monitoring, implementation, and evaluation of the Youth Participation Strategy, advise on the activities related to its implementation, as well as to advocate for and promote meaningful youth participation in democratic life as one of the priorities in the framework of Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes.

By making a strong commitment to quality youth participation at the centre of the strategy, it is hoped that the Steering group can also serve as a model of practice that can inform the learning of other stakeholders who are developing approaches to young people’s involvement in programme management. Steering group 2024-2025 is following the footsteps of the previous Co-steering group, learning from it and continuing to build the process.

The YPS Steering group is jointly composed by six youth representatives with experience with participation and EU programmes (selected via an open call) and by YPS stakeholders and partners (European Commission, SALTO, RAY network,ERYICA and National Agency representatives).

Tasks of the Steering group (February 2024-December 2025)


Supporting the monitoring, evaluation, and advancement of the Youth Participation Strategy:

  • Reviewing the indicators and producing two annual reports on the status of the strategy during the mandate of 2 years
  • Advising on follow-up and improvements regarding the relevancy and potential changes to the YPS
  • Supporting mid-term review of the strategy, including the evaluation of the progress, recommendations for the future and necessary editions

Promoting and expanding the implementation of the priority of participation in democratic life on a local, national, and international level:

  • Promoting meaningful youth participation in democratic life and decision-making processes, including but not limited to promoting Youth Participation Strategy to relevant stakeholders in group member’s context

OTHER TASKS, based on the members’ interests and priorities:

Contributing to and co-creating other relevant activities and processes related to the YPS, including but not limited to:

  • Participating in the working processes on the structure, promotion, and development of the Participation Resource Pool
  • Participating in the planning and development of the Participation Forum in November 2024
  • Engaging in the process of digitalisation and promotion of the Youth Participation Toolkit 
  • Advising on the developments related to the involvement of young people in the work of National Agencies (YPS Aim 5)
  • Advising on the potential measures and activities related to dedicating specific attention to participation of young people with fewer opportunities (YPS Aim 6)
  • Other potential initiatives and tasks that are relevant for the Youth Participation Strategy and the members of the co-steering group

Members of the Steering group


Aleksandra Lera, National Agency representative

Aleksandra LeraAleksandra is the Senior adviser in the Department for Erasmus+ in the Field of Youth in the Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes (Croatia), focusing on the implementation of Youth Participation Activities. With a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, and a masters’ degree in Social Policy, Aleksandra has been involved in different non-government organisations, and is really passionate about the topics of youth participation, non-formal learning and volunteering. She has experience of coordinating different projects, networking and developing youth work activities at the local level. Aleksandra is trying to find her way to promote and support meaningful participation of young people in all areas, in all phases, and on a more systemic level, so she has joined this Steering Group.


Carmen Teubl-Kiviniemi, RAY network representative

Carmen Teubl-KiviniemiCarmen is the coordinator and project manager of the European youth research network RAY (Research-based analysis of the European youth programmes), which is hosted by the Finnish National Agency for Education. She has experience in managing and leading international projects, networks as well as processes in the non-formal education sector, intercultural and youth field focusing on international cooperation, youth participation, policy and research as well as intercultural dialogue. Lately, she has been expanding to mediation and conflict resolution.


Cruz Glynka, Youth Representative


Gianluca Rossino, Youth representative

Gianluca RossinoGianluca is an active young person, consultant and a trainer, active in the field of youth since 2016, after taking part in his first international youth exchange. In a matter of few years, he participated in different Erasmus+ projects and completed a European Voluntary Service in Cascais (Portugal), in the framework of the 2018 European Youth Capital. As a group leader, facilitator, project manager and rapporteur, he has been involved in several educational and training activities, focusing on youth participation and active citizenship as core topics. As an activist and youth representative, he had the opportunity to serve as president of a local Youth Council in Italy, as a youth delegate to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and Member of the Advisory Council on Youth of the same institution.

After having obtained his bachelor’s degree in international relations, Gianluca is now mainly working as a freelance, supporting newcomer organisations in discovering and accessing the European Youth programmes and contributing to the development of key results in international projects, focused on youth empowerment through different means and tools. Currently, he is also completing a long-term training for trainers organised by the Council of Europe and attending a Master on law and management of third sector promoted by the University of Trieste.


Hanna Schütt, Youth representative

Hanna SchüttHannah is a freelance trainer within the Erasmus+/ ESC field and with a focus on Youth Participation. She is also active in the EuroPeers network, where she shares her experiences on a peer-to-peer level. Since her exchange year in Estonia, she has been active in the youth field and expanded her international experiences with an ESC, E+ internship and semester abroad in dthe Czech Republic, Hungaria and Estonia. Next to that she is at about to finish her master’s degree in social science with a focus on organisational sociology. In the Bachelor of social science her focus was as well on organisational structures (especially in the voluntary field) and on European studies.
Hannah is eager to now be engaged in the Steering group and be able to foster Youth Participation on a strategic level.


Kari Gardelin, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture

Kari Gardelin

Kari is a policy officer at the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission. She is responsible for the European Youth Dialogue and civic participation of young people.


Lenka Zdrahalova, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture

Lenka ZdrahalovaLenka works in DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, more specifically in the unit responsible for the youth chapter of Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps. She is responsible (i.a.) for the KA154 action of Erasmus+ (Youth Participation Activities) and is also involved with Youthpass, the dedicated EU instrument for the identification and validation of learning outcomes from nonformal and informal learning in the context of EU youth programmes.


Margarida Freitas, Youth representative

Margarida FreitasMargarida is a youth worker originally from Portugal who had the chance to enter the ‘Erasmus Bubble’ early on, diving into the multiple opportunities Erasmus has to offer. Aware that not everyone gets such chances, she and her friends started a youth organisation – Youth Cluster. Their main mission is to spread the word about funded opportunities at the national, European and international levels to other young people.

She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations, and then, driven by the belief that real change happens through direct contact with people, she is currently perusing a Master’s in Development Studies.

Being a part of the Youth Participation Strategy Steering Group is a chance for her to contribute to creating spaces where young people are equipped with the space, tools and support they need to be active citizens.


Marko Lončar, Youth representative

Marko LončarMarko is a founder and former president of Youth Club Teslic, a local youth organization from Teslic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he started engagement in the field of youth participation in 2017. Currently, he works for the Local Economic Development and European Integration Department of the Teslic Municipal Administration. He is also a founder of the Center for Political and Social Studies based in Banja Luka. Previously, he was a member of the Youth Advisory Board of the Council of Europe representing the Youth Council of Republika Srpska, and worked at the European Union Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has a master’s degree in European studies from the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade.


Pieter-Jan De Graeve, SALTO-Youth Inclusion & Diversity

Pieter-Jan is a project officer at the SALTO-Youth Inclusion & Diversity Resource Centre, hosted by JINT, the Belgian-Flemish National Agency for Erasmus+ Youth.


Sara Porta, Youth representative

Sara PortaSara is an Erasmus+ Junior Project Manager and Grant Writer with experience in leading transnational projects and activities, primarily focused on VET, adult education, and youth with Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities. Thanks to impactful experiences in Spain, Argentina, Greece, Türkiye, Germany, and Georgia supporting people with fewer opportunities, she is committed to fostering more equal, peaceful, respectful, and fairer societies for all.

Sara holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Intercultural and Linguistic Mediation and a Master’s Degree in Human Rights, Migrations, and Intercultural Inclusion, obtained after life-changing and inspiring volunteering experiences with IDPs, people with migratory backgrounds, and individuals from disadvantaged rural areas. Furthermore, she has a keen interest in mental health, feminism, LGBTQIA+ rights, and linguistics.
Guided by the belief that ‘Sharing is Caring’, Sara is eager to collaborate with the Steering Group to support the Youth Participation Strategy in strengthening youth participation in democratic life through the Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps Programmes.


Tanja Herceg, ERYICA representative

Tanja HercegTanja Herceg is a distinguished psychologist with a Master’s from the University of Zagreb’s Psychology Department and a Ph.D. student. She is a member of the Governing Board of the European Agency for informing and consulting young people and a certified trainer for info youth workers, she has dedicated over 15 years of her career to youth development, social innovation, and education in Croatia. She is the founder and ongoing President of the Association for the Promotion of Positive Affirmation of Youth in Society, “Impress”, since 2008. She also served as the President of the Zajednica Informativnih Centara za Mlade u Hrvatskoj (Association of Info Youth Centers of Croatia) from 2021 to 2023. She has notably served as the President of the Advisory Board of the Government of the Republic of Croatia on youth issues, was the first UN Youth Delegate of Croatia, and represented Croatia at the 2019 UN Youth Climate Summit in New York and the 2020 CONUN in Brussels organised by the Council of Europe. Additionally, she was a member of the Steering Committee for the EU Youth Dialogue during the Romanian-Croatian-Finland Presidency of the Council of Europe from 2019 to 2020. She has led more than 150 projects till now in which she is mostly an author and one of the unique projects on the topic of participation is Prevention of Risk of Social Exclusion of Children and Youth in Society financed by the relevant Ministry of the Republic of Croatia. Read more on ERYICA’s website


Zuzana Kopčanová, National Agency Representative – Slovak National Institute for Education and Youth

Zuzana KopčanováZuzana works in the Slovak National Agency for Erasmus+ in the field of youth and sport as an adviser for Key Action 1, mainly for Youth workers’ mobilities and Youth Participation Activities. She also serves asParticipation Officer and Green Officer.


About the Youth Participation Strategy

The Youth Participation Strategy is a strategic planning document for enhancing youth participation in democratic life through the Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes. It is developed by SALTO Participation & Information Resource Centre (SALTO PI) in 2020 following a consultation process that involved the input of the European Commission, National Agencies, decision-makers, experts, and practitioners in the field. It is intended for stakeholders who have a role in supporting the implementation of the programmes.

Youth participation is defined by the Strategy as individual young people and groups of young people having the right, the means, the space, the opportunity and, where necessary, the support to freely express their views, contribute to and influence societal decision making on matters affecting them, and be active within the democratic and civic life of our communities.


Participation Pool | Resources on Youth Participation & Media Literacy
SALTO Participation & Information

SALTO Participation and Information Resource Centre (SALTO PI) develops strategic and innovative action to encourage participation in democratic life.