COOP Staff News

November 2022

Since November 2018, Valentina Verze has worked at the COOP Unit first as a JPO then as a Technical Officer. In these four years, she undertook UNTFSSE secretariat responsibilities, where the ILO served as the Chair of the Task Force. Valentina supported the SSE Academies, undertaken in partnership by the ILO and ITC Turin. In addition she provided technical backstopping on the design and implementation of development cooperation projects and resource mobilization. She engaged with knowledge generation and sharing on decent work and the SSE. In the past year, she also supported the process around the general discussion on decent work and the SSE at the 110th International Labour Conference. Her colleagues in ILO COOP wish Valentina the best in all her future endeavours.

ILO COOP warmly welcomes Charlie Bodwell who joined the unit in November. Previously, as a specialist on enterprise development and entrepreneurship, he supported programmes and activities in East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific while based in DWT Bangkok. Starting with the ILO in 2000, his work has centred on creating sustainable approaches for linking job creation and job quality, through support to large factories, business associations, national governments, and the informal economy. Before joining the ILO, he worked at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), where he was assistant to the Chief of Staff in the office of the Director-General, as well as at Schlumberger, Agfa-Bayer and IBM. He has completed degrees in engineering, business and international management, at Michigan State University, McGill University, and ESADE respectively, and conducted research on Intel Corp’s product development process while based at Cambridge University and Stanford.

January 2022

Roberto di Meglio retires from the ILO after 32 years of service. Mr. di Meglio had been working as a Senior Specialist on local development and social and solidarity economy in ILO’s COOP Unit since 2011. During this period he also collaborated with ITC-Turin in organizing the ILO’s SSE academies. In addition he led research projects on the SSE and was among ILO staff participating in the UN Task Force on SSE.

April 2021

Dong Il Choi
Dong Il Choi has joined the Cooperatives Unit of the Enterprises Department at the International Labour Office (ILO) in Geneva in April 2021 as Cooperatives and Social & Solidarity Economy (SSE) Development Specialist. He is seconded to the ILO from the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) of South Korea where he had worked for 15 years.

Mr Choi’s main focus at MOEF has been around budgeting and policy coordination. He worked at the Budget Office for six years on diverse national budget issues including welfare, employment and labour, research and development and social overhead capital (SOC) among others. He also worked at the Policy Coordination Bureau of MOEF, which includes a division on Cooperatives and Social Economy, for five years. Around 2012, he was in charge of the process of establishing and enacting 'the Framework Act on Cooperatives', through which he built an understanding on the value of cooperatives and wider social and solidarity economy (SSE).

Mr Choi has a B.A. in Economics from Seoul National University (SNU) and one master’s degree in Engineering (SNU) and another one in International Public Policy and Management from the University of Southern California, Sol Price School of Public Policy in Los Angeles, California.

He hopes that his work at the ILO will allow him to contribute his knowledge, experience, and expertise at the national level to regional and global levels in providing policy advice and technical assistance on cooperatives and the wider social and solidarity economy.

October 2020

Young Hyun Kim
Young Hyun Kim who joined ILO COOP in November 2017 from the Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Korea, completed his three-year assignment a technical specialist in October 2020 and returned to Seoul. Mr Kim, who was the second secondee at ILO COOP from his ministry, contributed to the Unit’s work on statistics of cooperatives and development of social and solidarity economy in Asia.

Mr Kim expressed Thanks to great help from colleagues in the team and the department, I could successfully finish my term at ILO COOP. I will not forget my time at the ILO where I learned a lot about the world of work and got equipped with the invaluable international working experience. The highlights of my time at the ILO include the adoption of the guidelines concerning cooperative statistics at the 20th International Conference of Labour Statisticians, and the launch of Strengthening Social and Solidarity Economy in Asia project. In the beginning, working on cooperatives and the wider social and solidarity economy was a new field for me considering my past work experience. Now, I feel I have a much broader professional perspective of this portfolio and its contributions to the world of work and wider economy. I have no doubt that my work experience at ILO COOP is a great contribution to my professional learning and growth.”

July 2020

Heejin Ahn
Heejin Ahn, joined ILO COOP in July as a Junior Technical Officer to support the project on Strengthening Social and Solidarity Economy Policy in Asia. Ms Ahn will work on a wide range of SSE-related issues, such as elaboration of reports, and publications related to the project, preparation for a conference and capacity building workshop, and activating the network with ILO’s partners in the field of SSE.

Prior to joining ILO COOP, she worked as a Junior Policy Analyst at the OECD contributing to publications and capacity building projects on the social economy, social entrepreneurship and social innovation. Ms. Ahn holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies from the Graduate Institute, Geneva in Switzerland. Her thesis focused on the role of producer coffee cooperative in empowering women producers in Machakos, Kenya.

July 2020

Mina Waki
Mina Waki completed her three-year and four-month term at ILO COOP on 26 July 2020 and returned to Japanese Consumers’ Co-operative Union (JCCU) to take up a position at its Policy Planning Office. Seconded from JCCU, she joined ILO COOP in April 2017 and supported the Unit’s work particularly in areas of communications, knowledge generation, and training. She also followed up on the partnership with the Japanese cooperative movement, including through co-organizing the ILO-JCCU African Cooperative Leaders’ Study Tour and workshops on cooperative-to-cooperative trade.

“As a person coming from the cooperative movement, it has been a great honour working with amazing colleagues at the ILO, the only UN agency that has an explicit mandate on cooperatives, and also getting involved in the ILO COOP Centenary activities. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all the colleagues with whom I have crossed paths.

My time at ILO COOP has been very interesting and beneficial for me and eventually for the Japanese cooperative movement. It allowed me to gain a wider and deeper knowledge on the potential role of cooperatives in a changing world of work, and how such potential can be further enhanced by governments and social partners. Moreover, it gave me insights on public policies concerning the social and solidarity economy (SSE) which aim to develop cooperative and solidarity-based actors across different legal forms including cooperatives.

I believe one of the keys to cooperative development in the future is to break down silos and work with other actors in the SSE and beyond, and by so doing, stimulating social innovation. I hope in my new capacity I can promote such collaboration and contribute to sustainable development of local communities.”

December 2019

Maura Fernández Salas
Maura Fernández Salas has completed her three-month internship with ILO COOP Unit in December 2019. She supported the Unit’s work on the social and solidarity economy (SSE) particularly on communications and event coordination.

“During my time at ILO COOP, I had the opportunity to learn about the diverse world of the SSE and its initiatives internationally thanks to the UN Task Force on SSE. I was able learn about the work of the ILO to promote SSE and how it works in partnership with ILO's constituents, civil society, and other UN Agencies. Working with the COOP Unit and developing my experience was a motivating and enriching opportunity. I will be glad to bring back these experiences to Cuba to foster SSE organizations as the leaders they can be in sustainable development."

October 2019

Maura Fernández Salas
Maura Fernández Salas joined ILO COOP in October 2019 as an intern. She is currently finishing her Masters in International Development at the Graduate Institute, Geneva. During her undergrad, she studied International Development and Anthropology in Trent University, Canada, and specialized in different forms of workers’ and peasants’ cooperatives. Her main focus is on Cuba and Latin America. Ms Fernández Salas will be working at the COOP unit, on a range of issues related to the social and solidarity economy. She will work on a number of on-going projects, such as website design and development, communications, project design and proposals. Ms Fernández Salas divides her time between her work at the ILO, her passion for agroecology, and the exchange of practices with workers and peasants in Valais, Switzerland.

July 2019

Anton Möller presenting at the 6th Regulating for Decent Work Conference
Anton Möller has completed his six-month internship with ILO COOP on 12 July 2019. He contributed to the Unit’s work particularly on the development of training tools for cooperatives to improve their non-discrimination policies and on a study about the role of cooperatives in advancing decent work in global supply chains.

“During my internship with ILO COOP, I had the opportunity to gain insights in the diverse world of cooperatives and learn about the ILO’s work to advance decent work in and through cooperatives. Working with the COOP Unit and building on their expertise was a motivating experience and getting their feedback was enriching. One of the highlights of my internship was the Centenary session of the International Labour Conference, during which I could experience the inner workings of the unique organization that is the ILO. I am sure that I can draw on the experiences I made here in the future and am thankful that I had the opportunity to work with ILO COOP.”

January 2019

Anton Möller joined ILO COOP in January 2019 as an intern. At COOP he will support the development of training tools for cooperatives to improve non-discrimination policies and practices with a special emphasis on gender-related discrimination. He will also examine the role of alternative business models in international trade and the improving cooperatives’ compliance with international labour standards. He holds a BA in political science and economics from University of Tübingen and a MA in Global Political Economy from University of Sussex. He speaks English and German.

November 2018

Valentina Verze joined ILO COOP in November as Junior Professional Officer on Social and Solidarity Economy and the Future of Work. Ms Verze will work on a range of SSE-related issues, such as elaboration of researches, analyses and reports on cooperatives and other SSE enterprises; identification, design, implementation and monitoring of development cooperation projects; design and development of capacity building tools and strategies in the field of SSE and future of work; assisting the networking with ILO’s partners.

Before joining the ILO, Valentina was Country Representative of COSPE Onlus in Lebanon and worked as project manager in the Mediterranean area over the past four years, managing projects in the sector of development and international cooperation.

July 2018

Laura Cicciarelli
Laura Cicciarelli left ILO COOP on 20 July 2018 to join the Development & Partnerships team of Chantier de l’économie sociale in Montreal, Canada. During her time at the ILO, she contributed to the Unit’s work on the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). In addition to the organization and coordination of the 8th and 9th ILO Academy on Social and Solidarity Economy, she worked on the coordination of various sessions dedicated to SSE and the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the 4th World Forum of Local Economic Development, also co-authoring a think piece on the topic. She coordinated the publication of various other works on SSE public policies and the future of work. Most recently, she worked on the coordination of a development cooperation project on Financial Mechanisms for Innovative Social and Solidarity Economy Ecosystems. She also ensured the secretariat of the UN Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy, during the ILO’s chairmanship of the task force.

"My time at the ILO has allowed me to learn and grow both personally and professionally. Being able to collaborate with so many talented individuals on a variety of topics has been most enriching. I bring with me all that I have learned and I am truly humbled to have been able to contribute to the promotion of social justice during this year and a half. I hope that my career will allow me to continue my work at the international level and foster the creation of bridge between civil society and global policy makers in the pursuit of true sustainable development."

June 2018

Annelien Gansemans
Annelien Gansemans left ILO COOP on 30 June, to finish her PhD on plantation workers’ livelihoods in the pineapple sector of Costa Rica. During her tenure, she contributed to the Unit’s work through developing training tools for cooperatives to improve compliance with decent work standards, especially on the child labour issues, providing inputs for other training tools and brief notes, organizing events on cooperatives’ role in global supply chains, among others. 

“The diversity of tasks and immersion in an international environment formed a great learning opportunity. I gained a better understanding on how cooperatives work across different sectors from waste-pickers to home-based workers in the garment sector. It was also very motivating to work in team, get feedback and exchange with experts. I hope my future career path will take me abroad again to work with people in rural areas supporting their livelihoods and business opportunities.”

April 2018

Waltteri Katajamaki
Waltteri Katajamaki left ILO COOP in mid-April, to take up a position of technical officer on rural economy at the ILO’s Sectoral Policies Department. He spent four years with COOP since 2013, contributing to the Unit’s work on a wide range of areas.

“My time at COOP has been extremely interesting and fruitful. We have managed to develop a good number of different and varied projects and tools to promote cooperative development across the globe. I’m sure that in my new position I will have a chance to continue supporting cooperative work as well. Cooperatives are absolutely key players in the rural economy, and contribute to the improvement of rural livelihoods in a variety of ways. There is a lot of potential to use the cooperative approach as a driver for rural development.”

Andrea Davila
Andrea Davila joined ILO COOP as technical officer replacing Mr Katajamaki. Prior to COOP, she had worked at ILO Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Branch for eight years since 2010 on research, design and implementation of development cooperation projects, and the provision of technical advice on non-discrimination, child labour and forced labour in different regions. At COOP, she will work on the tool development, training, and development cooperation activities for cooperatives and other social and solidarity economy enterprises.

January 2018

Annelien Gansemans
Annelien Gansemans joined ILO COOP as an intern in January 2018. She will support the development of a self-assessment tool for cooperatives to improve their compliance with decent work principles.

She holds an MSc in Rural Economics and Management and has been a PhD candidate in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Ghent University (Belgium) since December 2014. Her research focusses on the implications of EU trade for plantation workers’ livelihoods in Central America. She gained fieldwork experience in the pineapple sector of Costa Rica and with smallholder coffee farmers in Ecuador. Prior to her PhD, she assisted in a fair trade impact evaluation project at the Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia. She has a special research interest in corporate social responsibility and decent work in agricultural value chains.

November 2017

Young Hyun Kim
Mr Young Hyun Kim joined ILO COOP on 1st of November 2017 as a technical officer seconded from the Government of the Republic of Korea. Prior to the ILO, Mr Kim worked at the Ministry of Strategy and Finance of the Republic of Korea from 2002 to 2017. Mr Kim holds an MSc in Economics from the University of Birmingham and a Master in Finance from London Business School.

October 2017

Vasiliki Kanaki
Ms Vasiliki Kanaki has completed her six-month internship with ILO COOP in October 2017. She contributed to the Unit’s work in the development of training materials for start-up cooperatives. ILO COOP wishes her all the best in her future endeavours.

Vasiliki Kanaki joined ILO COOP as an intern for six months in May 2017. Before joining the ILO, Vasiliki was working with KAPA Network, an NGO that promotes cooperatives and cooperative principles in Greece. Vasiliki will contribute to the work of the ILO in supporting the development of training material for start-up cooperatives especially for workers in the informal economy. Vasiliki has studied Agricultural Economics and Rural Development in Agricultural University of Athens. She holds a Master of Science in Organic and Integrated Agriculture.

April 2017

 Mina Waki (L) and Satoko Horiuchi (R)
Satoko Horiuchi, a research and knowledge management officer seconded from Japanese Consumers’ Cooperative Union (JCCU), completed her three-year assignment with ILO COOP in April 2017. Ms Horiuchi contributed to the Unit’s work on communications, including editing the COOP News Update , coordinating the Unit’s publications, and supporting the management of its website. In addition, she engaged with the organization of the ILO-JCCU study tour and the coordination of the research on providing care through cooperatives. In ILO COOP we are grateful for the contributions of Ms Horiuchi and wish her the best in her new assignment at JCCU.

Building on the successful partnership between the ILO and JCCU, this secondment arrangement continues with the appointment of Ms Mina Waki, who joined ILO COOP as a technical officer in April. Based on her prior experiences in digital marketing and website management in JCCU she will contribute to the Unit’s work in the field of communications, and in organizing the upcoming editions of the ILO-JCCU study tour. We welcome Ms Waki and look forward to working with her during her tenure with the ILO.

February 2017

Hyunjoon Joo
Hyunjoon Joo, a technical officer seconded from the Ministry of Strategy and Finance of the Republic of Korea, completed his two-year assignment with ILO COOP in December 2016 and returned to his home country. Mr Joo contributed to the Unit’s work in relation to statistics on cooperatives and development of training programme for financial cooperatives.

Reflecting on his experience with the ILO, Mr Joo stated “Compared to my work experience as a government official, the ILO staff works with people from diverse cultures and with a wide array of backgrounds. In addition, the work often requires understanding on the complexity of international politics .This requires us to be more active in communication and listening to the partners and constituents with an open mind, in order to implement demand driven initiatives, which respond to the voices from the field.”

Laura Cicciarelli

Laura Cicciarelli joined ILO COOP in February as an intern to support the work of the Senior Specialist on social and solidarity economy (SSE). Ms Cicciarelli will work on a wide range of SSE-related issues, such as the elaboration of public policy papers, preparation of articles, case studies, presentations and project documents, and assisting in networking with ILO’s partners in the field of SSE. Before joining the ILO, Laura was an intern at Chantier de l’économie sociale, collaborating in the organization of the 2016 Global Social Economy Forum in Montreal.

She is currently in the final stages of a Master’s degree in Environmental Management at Université de Sherbrooke, in the province of Québec, Canada.