President - US

James Joye Townsend Jr. is an adjunct senior fellow in the CNAS Transatlantic Security Program. After eight years as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for European and NATO Policy, Jim Townsend completed more than two decades of work on European and NATO policy in the Pentagon, at NATO and at the Atlantic Council. His work spanned the Cold War, post-Cold War political reconstruction in Europe and Europe's new challenges including Russia and terrorism.

Through his work, he has helped execute US military engagement in almost every conflict from the Gulf War to the reintroduction of US forces into Europe to deter Russia.

He also played critical roles in NATO enlargement, NATO reform, and helping to build bilateral defense relations with the new democracies coming from the breakup of the Soviet Union. Before becoming DASD in 2009, Jim was a Vice President in the Atlantic Council of the United States and Director of the Council’s Program on International Security. In this position, he strengthened the Council’s voice and impact on transatlantic security and defense issues, making the Atlantic Council a leading player in shaping the Euro-Atlantic defense agenda. Jim joined the Atlantic Council in 2006 after a distinguished Civil Service career at the Pentagon and at NATO. In the 1990s, Jim was the Principal Director of European and NATO Policy, the Director of NATO Policy and the Director of the Defense Plans Division at the US Mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium. In the 1980s, prior to working on Europe and NATO, Jim worked in Foreign Military Sales at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) as a Country Director for European security assistance and as the assistant to the DSCA Comptroller, where he worked on most of the financial aspects involved in foreign military sales. Jim's early career also included work in the Department of State, in the Office of Congressman Charles E. Bennett and in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA). In 1986, Mr. Townsend received a direct commission in the U.S. Navy Reserve (intelligence) leaving the Reserves as a Lieutenant Commander. Jim has been decorated by 11 European nations and multiple times by the Department of Defense for his work, including a Presidential Rank Award (Meritorious Executive). He was an adjunct professor of international studies at American University and has lectured in the US and overseas at Universities, War Colleges, think tanks, and at the Foreign Service Institute. He has also provided commentary in the international press on TV, radio and in newspapers. Mr. Townsend earned a B.A. from Duke University and an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in International Economics and American Foreign Policy.

Email: president@atahq.org

Johannes Kahrs

Treasurer - German

Johannes Kahrs is a German politician of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) who served as a member of the German parliament, Deutscher Bundestag, from 1998 until 2020.

Kahrs became a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany in 1982. He first worked for the Young Socialists in the SPD (Jusos).

In the 1998 elections, Kahrs was first elected to the Bundestag, representing the Hamburg Mitte constituency.

During his first term between 1998 and 2002, Kahrs served on the Defence Committee. Since 2002, he has been a member of the Budget Committee and the Audit Committee. In addition, he joined the parliament’s Council of Elders in 2002, which – among other duties – determines daily legislative agenda items and assigns committee chairpersons based on party representation. From 2018 until 2020, he chaired the so-called Confidential Committee (Vertrauensgremium) of the Budget Committee, which provides budgetary supervision for Germany’s three intelligence services, BND, BfV and MAD.

In addition to his committee assignments, Kahrs served as member of the German-Turkish Parliamentary Friendship Group, first as deputy chairman (2003-2011) and then as chairman (2011-2013). From 2014, he was also a deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with the States of the Southern Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia).

Within his parliamentary group, Kahrs led the Bundestag group of SPD parliamentarians from Hamburg from 2009. In this capacity, he was part of the parliamentary group's leadership under its successive chairs Thomas Oppermann (2013-2017), Andrea Nahles (2017-2019), and Rolf Mützenich (2019-2020). He was also the speaker of the Seeheim Circle.

In the negotiations to form a Grand Coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU together with the Bavarian CSU) and the SPD following the 2013 German elections, Kahrs was part of the SPD delegation in the working group on banking regulation and the Eurozone, led by Herbert Reul and Martin Schulz.

In 2015, Kahrs served on the supervisory board of the Bewerbungsgesellschaft Olympia 2024 GmbH, the agency in charge of Hamburg's unsuccessful bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Email: johannes@kahrs.de


Vice President - Romania

Mr. Serban has dedicated over 20 years to promoting and enhancing transatlantic relations, working in the ATA world and with think tanks on both sides of the Atlantic. He is a dedicated communication and public affairs specialists, active in fundraising and event management, and committed to promoting transatlantic cooperation.

His position in government, business and media have included advisor to the Prime Minister of Romania, corporate and entrepreneurial roles, academic work, interviews with heads of state and government and work with charities. As the founding President of the Euro Atlantic Council of Romania, he developed the national ATA chapter as an umbrella organization, opened to many and reuniting think tanks, research institutes, NGOs, and universities. He is also one of the longest serving members of the ATA Council, where he also held the position of Vice President.

Mr. Serban served on the “Next generation” advisory board of then SACEUR Adm. Jim Stravridis, and in recent years worked with former SACEUR Gen. James Jones on diverse issues and geographies of importance to NATO. He was decorated by the President of Romania with the National Order for Merit in the rank of Cavalier for his work on behalf of Romania’s NATO membership and attends international conferences representing Romania’s civil society and think tank community, both as speaker and organizer. His work over the years with the Atlantic Council of the US and various European think tanks have ranged from security and defence initiatives focusing on the Black Sea region, education and energy programs in the Balkans and recently on digitization and Three Seas Initiative.

In the private sector, Mr. Serban works across a broad range of industries (energy, health, telecom, defence and aviation) focusing on foreign investment and business development and also in the national security policy areas. Mr. Serban is a founding partner at Serban Musneci & Associates, a public affairs consultancy with international partners and affiliations.

He holds an MA from Columbia University (NY), a BA in Social Studies from Wresleyan University (CT), and has attended courses at the George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies (Germany) and at the National Defence College of Romania.

Email: aserban@serbanmusneci.ro

Krista Mulenok

Vice President - Estonia

Mrs. Krista Mulenok has experience in releasing EATA from the difficult situation in the period from 2012 to 2015. She has been a member of the NATO’s first Civil Society Advisory Panel on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) for 3 years (2016-2019). In addition to this, she is a member of ATA Committee for the revision of the Constitution and Chairman of ATA WPS Task Force. She has been working on strengthening co-operation between the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), she is also the founder of international youth conference NATO-EU Roundtable.

Mrs. Mulenok has master’s degree in law and economy. She has been active in private and security field over 18 years and for the last 8 of them in the position of EATA’s Secretary General.


Email: krista.mulenok@eata.ee

Werner Fasslabend

Vice President - Austria

Dr. W. Fasslabend has been the longest serving Minister of Defence in the history of the Republic of Austria and has promoted Austria's active participation in the EU as well as in the NATO PfP, Honorary President of the Political Academy of Austrian People's Party and 3rd president (=speaker) of the Austrian parliament.

Besides AIES, he also serves as head of the Academic Council of Wilfred Martens Center for European Studies in Brussels, president of Universitätszentrum Wien and president of the Austrian- Slovak and the Austrian-Iranian Societies.


Email: werner.fasslabend@aies.at

Monika Begović

Secretary General - Croatia

Monika Begovic holds a PhD in political science, specialized in international relations and international security. She is the President of the Atlantic Council of Croatia, a nongovernmental organization that promotes Euro-Atlantic values and is a member of the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA). She works at the Ministry at the Government of the Republic of Croatia.

As a researcher, she specializes in studying transatlantic relations, especially from the perspective of international security, as well as studying the importance and influence of Euro-Atlantic values to the development of the region of Southeast Europe. Through research projects, she participates and holds presentations and lectures at international scientific conferences and has published scientific essays and papers. During her professional career, she specialized in project management, public policy issues, while managing various projects (EU IPA, ESF, Erasmus+, NATO PDD). She also has twelve years of service for the United Nations (UN ICTY), and has worked as a journalist.


Email: monika.begovic@gmail.com


Program Assistant - Italy

Dea Dello Iacovo studied Law at University of Sannio, in Italy. She graduated with an experimental thesis in European Law about EU asylum reform: Dublin Regulation. During her career, she has had numerous experiences abroad thanks to the Erasmus programme which allowed her to improve her language skills and to pursue a significant knowledge in the European Law and international relationships field. Currently, she is working as Program Assistant at the Atlantic Treaty Association Secretariat.

Email: program.assistant@atahq.org


President - Italy

Simone Zuccarelli holds a Master's Degree in International Relations from the University of Milan. He is National Coordinator of the Italian Atlantic Committee, President of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) Italy and of YATA International. He also collaborates with some media outlets. His research interests are mainly focused on United States Foreign Policy, geopolitical and security issues and Transatlantic Relations.


Vice President Communications - Albania

Juxhina Sotiri graduated from the State University of Tirana with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a profile in Politics and Government. Through an Excellence Scholarship from the European University of Tirana she equally pursued a in International Relations.  Juxhina has a Master of Science in Strategic Studies from the EUT and a Master of Science in International Law. She has worked at the European University of Tirana as a Professor Assistant at the Department of International Relations, Faculty of Applied Social Science. She has been part of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association of Albania since 2010 as a student and working closely with the ATA of Albania since 2012. For the past five years she has been in charge as the Director of the Department of Human Resources at the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Albania.


Vice President Public Diplomacy - Georgia

Rati Bakhtadze graduated from Tbilisi State University in 2013 with a degree in Law and obtained a Master’s degree in International Law in 2015 with a dissertation focusing on “Georgia and NATO – Article 5 of Washington Treaty and Its Coming Into Action”.

He has attended numerous international and local training courses and conferences. He attended assemblies, forums, and round-tables in Canada, Estonia, Belgium, Norway, Portugal and other countries. Rati joined YATA Georgia in 2013, 2014-2018 where he has served as executive director.

In 2013-2015 he worked as a legal analyst at the NGO “Georgian’s Reforms Associates”. In 2015-2018 he worked as a chief specialist at the Office of the Public Defender of Georgia Rati is currently a Ph.D. candidate in International Law, Secretary General of YATA Georgia, and VP for Public Diplomacy at YATA. Rati speaks English and Russian in addition to native Georgian.

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The Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) is an organization of 37 national chapters that, since 1954 has been conducting analyses, training, education, and information activities on foreign affairs and security issues relevant to the Atlantic Alliance. ATA draws together political leaders, diplomats, civilian and military officers, academics, economic actors as well as young professionals and students in an effort to further the values set forth in the North Atlantic Treaty.