Board of Trustees
She is a popular and award-winning Czech theatre, film and television actress. After marrying President Václav Havel in 1997, she accompanied him on official engagements as first lady and was actively engaged in charity work. In 1997 she founded the Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation VIZE 97, of which she is chairwoman of the Board of Trustees. She is a member of Femmes d’Europe and is honorary chairwoman of the Czech Committee for UNICEF. She is an active member of several other Czech and international charity organisations. Alongside her charity work she has recently returned to acting. More information: www.havlova-veskrnova.com/
Michaela Bakala has extensive business and management experience. While she enjoys managing the family's activities and selected assets, she takes personal pleasure in leading the family's philanthropic activities. The causes dearest to her are those related to education, the development of democratic society, and women's role in society.
Using her degree in film and television, Michaela managed PR and communications for a major industrial company before becoming head of the press department of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS). Later, Michaela established her own PR agency and the Česká Miss beauty pageant. A brand that she created and led for ten years. Subsequently, with her husband Zdenek, Michaela co-founded Bakala Capital, which oversees their family business in the Czech Republic.
Currently, Michaela mainly focuses on leading the family's philanthropic activities, most notably as Chairwoman of the Board of the Bakala Foundation in the Czech Republic and Fondation Zdenek et Michaela Bakala in Switzerland. With a particular focus on education, the two foundations operate scholarship programs that have already enabled nearly two hundred talented students to study in their chosen fields at prestigious universities worldwide. One of the fundamental matters of their family philanthropy is the development of a democratic society.
Michaela has served as a board member of the Vaclav Havel Library since its establishment. Her effort is to keep Vaclav Havel's legacy alive and provide the younger generation with the opportunity to learn about his views on democratic values and modern history. With the same commitment, Michaela and Zdenek support the activities of the Frederick W. de Klerk Foundation in South Africa, where she also serves as a member of the board. She and her husband also co-founded the Central European branch of the American Aspen Institute in 2012, which Michaela continues to support as a Supervisory board member. She also strives to encourage Czech women to believe in their abilities and find their unique paths to success. This desire spurred her to become a proud patron of the Top Czech Women project, which recognizes distinguished women serving in public and private spheres of the Czech Republic.
Gabriel Eichler, founder and senior partner in the company Benson Oak, has held executive positions in banking and industry in the USA and Europe. Established in 1991, Benson Oak is the oldest “investment banking boutique” in the Czech Republic and is now chiefly focused on direct investment. Mr. Eichler is deputy chairman (and former executive chairman) of the supervisory board of AVG Technologies, which he helped become the first Central European company to trade on the New York Stock Exchange. At the request of the company’s bank lenders, Mr. Eichler was elected chairman of the board, president and CEO of VSŽ, the largest steel company in Central Europe. He held those positions until 2001. He led the company from the edge of bankruptcy to profitability before subsequently negotiating its sale to US Steel. From 1994 to 1998 he was deputy chairman of the board and chief financial officer of ČEZ. Under his leadership, ČEZ became the first company in post-communist Europe to acquire rating (investment grade) and the first to access the Euromarkets and the US capital markets. He gained international banking experience at Bank of America where he spent 15 years, as chief international economist at the bank’s headquarters in San Francisco and as regional general manager for Bank of America in Paris, Vienna and Frankfurt. He was chair or member of several international sovereign debt restructuring committees and was also a member of the board of directors of Ness Technologies (Nasdaq), deputy chairman of the supervisory board of ČSOB and a member of the supervisory boards of Česká pojišťovna and Slovenská sporitelna, a member of the board of directors of the EastWest Institute and the Atlantic Council of the USA. In the early 1990s he was advisor to the Czechoslovak government on issues surrounding economic transformation. Mr. Eichler was born in 1950 in Bratislava and studied economics and international relations at universities in the US and Canada between 1968 and 1975.
Until 1991 she worked as a reporter for Czechoslovak Television on the programmes Nad dopisy diváků (Viewer’s Letters), Vysílá studio Jezerka (Studio Jezerka Broadcasting), Pojďte s námi nakupovat (Come Shopping with Us) and also the famous Sondy (Probes). It was while shooting Vysílá studio Jezerka in 1991 that she met the founder of the Charter 77 Foundation, František Janouch. František Janouch offered her a place in the small team at the foundation, which was just moving from Stockholm to Prague. She had the opportunity to organise the first large-scale collection for Konto MÍŠA, which played a very significant role in the creation and shaping of the non-profit sector in the Czech Republic. She has also been involved in the foundation’s other projects, with Konto Bariéry (Barriers Account), Ostrovy života (Islands of Life) and Počítače proti bariérám (Computers Against Barriers) ranking among the most important. Since 2002 she has been executive director of the Charter 77 Foundation.
Martin Palouš (1950) studied natural sciences, philosophy and international law. He was one of the first signatories of Charter 77 and became its spokesman in 1986. From the start of the 1990s he has worked at universities at home and abroad and is at present a visiting professor at the Florida International University in Miami. In the years 1994 – 1998 he chaired the Czech Helsinki Committee, while he twice served as deputy Czech minister of foreign affairs (1990 – 1992 and 1998 – 2001). Between 2001 and 2005 he was Czech ambassador to the United States and from 2006 to 2011 was the Czech Republic’s permanent representative at the UN.
He has published dozens of papers on philosophical, social science and international law issues in the Czech Republic and abroad, and has translated works by Hannah Arendt and Eric Voegelin.
Jacques Rupnik is a Director of Research at the Centre for International Studies and Research at Sciences-Po, Paris and the Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges. He has been Visiting Professor at several European universities and at Harvard, and was Executive Director of the International Commission on the Balkans. He was consultant to the European Commission (2007–2010), member of the Independent International Commission on Kosovo (1999–2000) and is a Member of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation in The Hague since 2010. He has focused on democratization and European integration of East and Central European countries and nationalism and post-conflict reconciliation in the Balkans and has published several books on this topic. Dr. Rupnik completed his M.A. in Soviet studies at Harvard University (1974), and his Ph.D. at Université de Paris – Sorbonne (1978).
Milan Šimečka, born 3.11.1957 in Bratislava, grew up in the family of the dissident and novelist Milan Šimečka. Until 1989 he was active in the literary dissent, publishing several books in samizdat and serving as editor at the Slovak samizdat magazine Fragment K. After 1989 he was editor-in-chief of the Slovak publishing house Archa, from 1999 to 2006 he was editor-in-chief of the Slovak daily SME, and from 2006 to 2008 he was editor-in-chief of the Czech weekly Respekt, where he is today an editor and reporter. He goes under the signature Martin M. Šimečka, is married with two children, and lives in Prague and Bratislava.
Board of Supervisors
Ondřej Jonáš studied mathematics at Harvard University. He holds a Ph.D. in probability theory and statistics and a bachelor’s degree in political science. He lectured at Harvard and Princeton for several years. In the 1980s he was at the investment bank Goldman Sachs before later working for the Salomon Brothers investment bank and at the Federal Reserve. He co-founded the investment bank JFC, which specialises in investment and financial consultancy for Central Europe.
From 1995 he worked for the American legal firm Clifford and Chance. He subsequently completed postgraduate studies in International Commercial Law at the Asser Institute in the Hague.
Nina Smitová graduated from the Faculty of Law of Prague’s Charles University (1999–2004) and undertook postgraduate studies in international public law, EU law and comparative law at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna (2005–2006). She defended her thesis at the Department of International Law at Prague’s Charles University in 2007. She is currently on maternity leave.