Our team is composed of world-class professionals from a variety of backgrounds, including education, private sector, civil service, and NGOs. We are a community of learners devoted to LEAF’s cause of providing the best education possible to individuals of character, regardless of their economic background. Apart from teaching their own subject, tutors take upon themselves the role of dorm-parents, mentors, advisors, sport trainers, and organizers of co-curricular activities.
With twenty-five years of experience in education as a teacher, coach, advisor, department head and college counselor, Chris has spent his entire professional life preparing young leaders for maximum impact in their careers and communities. Chris holds a master’s degree in education from Harvard university in administration, planning and social policy, in addition earned his undergraduate degree in biology and environmental science. He is equally passionate about soccer as he is about teaching, serving as head coach at four different schools, as well as an assistant coach at Harvard university and Dartmouth college. He has developed highly successful, championship-level teams, using the game to build individual character and team values. With his deep passion for innovative education and social change, Chris is excited to help LEAF Academy identify, develop and connect the young people who will be the future shapers of Central Europe.
Prior to LEAF Academy, Chris was the assistant dean of African leadership academy (ALA) in Johannesburg, South Africa. ALA is the most selective (<5% acceptance rate) and transformative school (6 million stakeholders impacted in eight years) on the continent and additionally ALA alumni have been awarded US $65 million in scholarships and aid to universities all over the world. Chris played an integral role in each of these, leading the admissions team and the university guidance team. Chris has also worked at top boarding schools in the United States.
Chris is looking forward to his new role as head of school at LEAF Academy.
Matej’s twin passions for exploration and stories have guided him for most of his life. A boy scout since the age of ten, Matej learned to love the outdoors and treasure the friendships formed on a long hike or around a campfire. His curiosity and desire to understand how things work, to learn their stories, also attracted him to try his hand at debating. Eventually, he would use his debating experience to take two Slovak teams to the finals of international debate tournaments, and one of them to victory. That same curiosity led him to a boarding school in England, an International baccalaureate school in Bratislava, to study math at Harvard college and finally law at Harvard Law school. Through it all, Matej became more and more interested in the stories of the people he studied and worked with, and he came to believe that the future of his country lies in the stories of its talented people. Seeking to give other young people the same opportunities he had, after working with McKinsey & company, he spent two years in public service helping to write a national strategy for knowledge economy, and then joined LEAF, a Slovak non-profit dedicated to helping talented young people live inspiring stories of leadership. As the principal of LEAF Academy, Matej greatly looks forward to getting to know many more talented young Central Europeans and help them kindle their own curiosity and develop their own stories.
Prior to joining LEAF, Tamara has never been far from non-formal education, even throughout her career as a management consultant in Luxembourg and Tokyo. A debate coach and international trainer since high school, she also wrote and spoke about hidden champion companies from Slovakia. Passionate about diversity and learning from different cultures, she has lived in half a dozen countries on three continents. Tamara holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and master’s degrees in international management in the public sector from sciences-Po Paris and international relations from the London school of economics. She still likes to think and talk about pricing, and builds a community of Slovaks who have returned from abroad (SPBH). Following her own return to Slovakia to help set up the LEAF Academy, she is currently responsible for designing the character curriculum, which covers self-awareness and values education, and developing the entrepreneurial leadership programme.
Lisa DiIorio, or Ms. D as her students call her, has close to twenty years of being an educator and has taught on three continents, working with students from a wide range of backgrounds. As a teacher, Lisa combines her passion for working with adolescents with her love of writing and literature and her belief in the power of storytelling to discover one’s voice, build empathy, and cultivate a global mindset. Having been a dorm parent, coach, advisor, and teacher, Lisa is very familiar with the boarding school environment. Lisa earned her undergraduate degree from Bates College in Maine, where she majored in English, and her graduate degree from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. When she is not spending time with her family, Lisa can usually be found enjoying some form of exercise out in nature.
At LEAF Academy she is the AP Seminar teacher and the Central European Studies Department Coordinator of Teacher and Learning.
Zvono loves walking. Over the last 20 years, he has been walking through the woods of the corporate world, specifically financial services. He has gone through various management positions and, as country manager, led subsidiaries in Slovakia, Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom. A lot of his professional experience has involved sales management and teams, with responsibilities in 40+ countries. This has allowed him to experience many cultures and realize how similar people can be, irrespective of the places we live. In his free time Zvono keeps walking, often with his big family. Nature is a must as well as 10,000 steps a day.
Meeting young and inspiring people while walking makes his days, and this helped him walk into the world of LEAF Academy where he is responsible for Admissions.
Jaromír Sedlár is determined to work with his students, colleagues, and the partners of the LEAF Academy to create a world-class Entrepreneurial Leadership (EL) program that will help all of us imagine and create a better world. For him, this is more than just a job. He is man on a mission. As a father and as a citizen, he wants to develop an alternative to the current educational system that will better reflect how much we love our children and how important it is for them to be kind, confident, and ready to change the world. This matters to all of us: The quality of our lives tomorrow depends on how well our children learn today.
Jaromír joined the LEAF Academy from African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg where he spent a year as a LEAF Fellow. Previously, he taught leadership at the university level in the United States. He has experience in various areas of educational administration, including program development, risk management, and assessment. He received multidisciplinary education from Masaryk University, Fort Hays State University, and the University of Texas at Austin. As a student, he was active in student government and various academic organizations. When not at work, Jaromír enjoys spending time with his family and friends, whether it is watching good movies and documentaries or traveling and exploring.
He joined LEAF Academy to teach, learn, and practice Entrepreneurial Leadership.
Deedee is originally from Detroit, Michigan (where Tomáš Tatar and Tomáš Jurco are playing hockey for the NHL Red Wings). She started her journey as an educator over 10 years ago as a corp member with Teach for America. She taught middle school English at the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice, was part of the original start-up team that created the Teach to One math program in New York City, and engaged in Montessori-based learning at Brilliant Stars International Kindergarten and Elementary School in Bratislava. She is an avid reader and loves discussing literature of all sorts: currently, she is reading Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. Some of her other favorites include The Book Thief (Markus Zusak), Random Family (Adrian Nicole LeBlanc), Death Note (Tsugumi Ohba), and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again (David Foster Wallace).
Deedee is currently teaching English Writing & Rhetoric classes in the Central European Studies Department.
Accompanying students on their path to develop their potential is what enriches Jana and motivates her. Jana has more than 16 years of experience in education. She was a co-founder of CS Lewis Bilingual High School, where she worked as a teacher, department head, principal and college-counselor. She always loved languages and literature and studied English and Slovak at the Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. Jana also had the opportunity to travel and study education in the United States, where she had opportunities to visit various high schools and universities which broadened her understanding of the university admission process. Learning new things is an integral part of Jana’s life, so she has recently completed an online course on formative assessment at the University of Oregon. She enjoys cooking and baking non-traditional meals and sharing them with others and that’s why she leads a culinary club at LEAF Academy.
She is also teaching Writing and Rhetoric, Slovak language to native speakers, and is an integral part of the school administration team.
Jan has been involved with education ever since graduating from Oxford University with a degree in history. For the past five years, he has been teaching at Summer Academy Discover, a summer camp for 250 talented Czech, Slovak, and international students, which he also helped coordinate in his free time. His experience with boarding school goes back to his own high school studies at Chigwell School in Essex, UK. In addition, in 2015, he lived and taught at Winchester College, one of the top UK boarding schools. Before joining LEAF Academy, Jan worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, working for various clients in Central Europe as well as India, the US, and South Africa. He loves hiking, reading, playing LARP (live action role playing), and trying to maintain a solid overview of current affairs. Before the Academy opened, he participated in the writing of the Central European Studies curriculum.
Currently, he teaches Social Studies classes and AP Comparative Government & Politics.
Petra wants to live in a place where young people care and dare to make a difference. Therefore, she was more than pleased to join LEAF Academy and contribute to this unique project. Petra worked as an instructor for DAPHNE - Institute of Applied Ecology during her studies. She graduated from the Faculty of Natural Science at Comenius University in Bratislava with a major in education. Immediately after graduation, she spent one year as a field instructor and international volunteer in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio. She is a dedicated Slovak nature lover, hiker, music listener, and ice-cream hunter.
At LEAF Academy, she is honored to teach Environmental Science and be responsible for The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award coordination.
Zuzana studied in both Bratislava and Lyon (France) and earned her master’s degree in strategic management. She lived and worked in the United Kingdom, France, and Norway during her studies. She worked as a business coordinator and team leader at Swiss Re for four years. She enjoyed both visiting children in hospitals and helping to organize summer camps with the Klub Detskej Nádeje. In her free time, she studies missionary and charity work. She is also passionate about the Liptov region, hiking, chocolate and listening to other people.
At LEAF Academy, she is part of the facilities and operations team.
Silvia studied German and Slovak at the Philosophical Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava. She spent one year of her studies at the University Konstanz in Germany, where she learned more about southern Germany and was amazed by the beauty of the country. She has had various jobs in international companies, and in the past few years, she taught German from levels kindergarten through adult. Additionally, she is passionate about development of teaching methods and materials for German instruction, which she does for Goethe Institut in Bratislava. When not teaching, you can find Silvia on the running or hiking paths of Bratislava or enjoying time with her family.
At LEAF Academy Silvia teaches German language.
A transplanted German in Bratislava, Julia has a background and master degrees in cultural science and education from Heidelberg, and a passion for finances. She is a Rothschild Fellow. Julia created, developed, and managed international cultural education programs. Before joining LEAF she worked in the international film industry. She was responsible for international business, creative relations, business, and funds acquisition as well as management. In her free time, Julia co-produces and hosts the WeFour+ talk show.
At LEAF Academy Julia is responsible for fundraising and partnerships.
Eva is an expert in Spanish as a foreign language with international experience in teaching, media and school management. Since attaining a master’s degree in history, Spanish language and literature at Comenius university, she worked at a bilingual secondary grammar school in Bratislava for two years and collaborated with different language schools as well. She is a passionate traveler, interested in writing and personal development. She worked in administrative roles and customer service while living in Spain but also volunteered in Peru and Bolivia, supporting several social projects. Currently, Eva works as a reporter for the Spanish section of Radio Slovakia International. At LEAF Academy, she is responsible for Spanish language teaching, spreading her passion for this language and culture among students.
A new team addition from Slovakia, Peter has a master's degree and is pursuing a PhD in international relations. He has lived in the USA, Colombia, and South Africa, and is passionate about different cultures and their interactions. He has worked in project management, export promotion, and economic diplomacy, while at the same time delivering soft-skills trainings, as well as high-school and college-level classes in economy, history, European integration, leadership and entrepreneurship. His passions also include nature, numismatics and cycling. At LEAF Academy, he is currently responsible for international interns, designing residential life principles, and developing the entrepreneurial leadership curriculum.
Shortly after graduating in theoretical physics from Charles university in Prague, Matus became a high school educator. He taught English at Jur Hronec secondary school in Bratislava, where he also served as the theory of knowledge instructor in the International baccalaureate programme. He spent a year at African leadership academy in Johannesburg, where he taught physics, scientific research, and was a hallmaster in the dormitory. Matúš enjoys academic debating, thinking, trekking and running marathons. In addition to a PhD in physics, he also holds a brown belt in judo. He has been developing science, mathematics and computer studies curriculum for LEAF Academy, and he is looking forward to putting it into practice once the Academy opens.
Ľubica believes that great organizations and innovations are based on great people. Thus, before joining LEAF, she helped to develop young employees and managers in global corporations like Accenture and Alcatel-Lucent and also designed innovative products and services with 3M, Allianz, Raiffeisen Bank as an innovation consultant. During her university studies, she volunteered with AIESEC - an international organization under the patronage of the United Nations. She lived in Slovakia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Czech Republic. When she discovered LEAF, she decided to leave her business career and come back to her home country to help identify and develop high potential future leaders. Any day that consists of either meeting curious teenagers, responsible entrepreneurs, her beloved family, a bit of nature, a bit of art or any kind of a furry, four-legged animal, is the perfect day for Ľubica.
At LEAF Academy, as an admissions officer, she searches for teenagers with entrepreneurial potential in Central Europe and helps students in their entrepreneurial leadership classes with design thinking and lean startup methods.
Whilst originally from Bratislava, Lea’s passion for exploring the unknown has led her to life of adventures around the globe. She earned her degree from Cornell University, with diversions into cultural explorations of arts in Portugal and acquiring working knowledge of large corporations in Belgium. Captivated by all things French, she moved to Paris where she worked on preparation of a global event for the International Chamber of Commerce.
Lea has always had a desire to live and work on the mysterious African continent. Fascinated by the Sahara desert, Berber, Arabic and Tuareg cultures, she journeyed to North Africa. In 2011, she fulfilled her dream of working in Africa by applying her knowledge of finance and project management as she joined a large Zambian conglomerate, to work on the development of hotels, supermarkets, and hardware stores. While living in Zambia she also worked in the mining industry. Discovering the world of mining was an awe inspiring experience, yet the most delightful take-away from her years in Zambia was forming a family.
At LEAF Academy, she is in charge of development of the new campus in Vištuk, finance and ensuring administrative support.
After finishing her master’s degree in economic diplomacy in Bratislava and working in an international company, Martina was led by her curiosity to further studies at MA programme of nationalism at the Central European University in Budapest. Here she developed her passion for the issues of minorities, including prejudice and stereotype mitigation. In addition, she is keen about the cultures and languages of Central Europe. With strong practical and organizing skills, an eye for a detail and caring for others, she has gained work experience at summer camps and other events for students. She loves crafting, gardening, and learning foreign languages (German, Italian, Hungarian).
Within the LEAF Academy team, Martina is an essential member of the Admissions team.
Dusan's passion in MTB cycling from his childhood foster his curiosity to see things from a higher perspective. After he graduated from University in Ruzomberok as teacher, he started work as IT administrator support. He found out the importance of building relationships with new people and study their habits, cultures. His enthusiasm in IT technologies was increased by cooperating digital television project with various development teams across the Europe. The decision to extend his support to local civic community leads him to become volunteer in lowthreshold club Kaspian, where he is still supporting youth, when they are seeking advice, help, fun or sports. He joined us, because he believes that building a better community by leveraging his talents and skills is the LEAF Academy the right place.
For the past fifteen years, Sasa has been involved with physics and mathematics in one way or another. From attending maths camps as a school kid she moved to organizing them as a volunteer and she has also became a member of Amazing Theater of Physics – a group of enthusiasts who entertain people by physics. Finding the ways of explaining how the laws of nature or logical operators work and sharing and enjoying those “Aha!” moments with the others naturally lead Sasa to study teaching at Masaryk University in Brno where she is currently finishing her master’s degree. Besides that, she has been discovering the world of experiential learning for the past few years and she hopes to incorporate her know-how in the classes. At the moments when Sasa is not taking part in any camp, she enjoys wandering in the mountains with her backpack on, sleeping under the stars, talking fast, baking with friends or smiling at strangers in the trams.
At LEAF Academy, Sasa is teaching mathematics and sharing the residential experience with students as a member of the residential staffulty.
Hana believes that young people have the power and capacity to change the world, and that education and active participation are essential for them. She represented Slovakia as a youth delegate at the United nations 68th general assembly in New York. As youth delegate she has met hundreds students, teachers and community leaders from Slovakia. Her passion for education was ignited at the Slovak debate association where she worked for several years as a trainer, mentor and project manager. Alongside LEAF, she also studied sociology at the Masaryk university in Brno. Now she can fulfill her dream of better education and youth empowerment in Slovakia with LEAF Academy. Hanka will work on our admissions team with a focus on Slovakia and will also work with our debaters and residential life programme.
Fanni was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary, studied in Veszprém. She has earned her MA degree in literature and theatre studies in 2011. During the studies Fanni lived half a year in Jerusalem, Israel, doing an internship in a community theatre, as an assistant director. In the past 5 years Fanni has worked in the Israeli Cultural Institute and later in Kolibri Theatre for Children and Youth. She loves travelling and reading, writing, drinking tea with friends and going to theatre as many times as possible. When weather permits she is going everywhere by bicycle.
At LEAF Academy Fanni is teaching creative writing (for the Hungarian students) and is helping the Admissions team.
Eva worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company for 7 years, specializing in improving business perfomance and motivation. She was also active in the real estate business. Eva has 2 small daughters and with them came back the virtue of enjoying the present moment. She loves outdoor sports, beach volleyball and hot yoga.
Katy is an explorer. She loves travelling, but believes you don't have to travel around the world in order to discover yourself. She often accompanies other people on their self-discovery journeys and feels grateful to be able to do this for living. After psychology studies at Comenius University she continued with long-term psychotherapy training in the Czech Republic. She is a certified trainer and facilitator with expertise in LGBT psychology and gender. Katy believes that all of us can be the change we want to see in the world. She feels compelled to help young people see this. Her passions are skiing and jazz. She is interested in sustainable building and is always ready to stand up for environmental protection and human rights.
At LEAF Academy, she is a part of the Character Development Department, works as a Community Counsellor, and teaches Self-Discovery Seminar.
Lýdia has a passion for volunteering. During her university studies, she was active as an animator for Children’s Hope Club where she worked with long-term hospitalized children. After that, she decided to help with accompanying seriously ill people and their relatives. She considers it a very rewarding experience where she learned not to be afraid to step out of her comfort zone and see little-big things in everyday life. She has a masters in psychology from Comenius University in Bratislava. Moreover, she spent her studies at Charles University in Prague with the LLP Erasmus program. Lýdia is certified in Nondirective Play Therapy, which she applied as a psychologist both in an orphanage and an elementary school.
She believes that all people can overcome their problems if they are listened to and supported by empathy and understanding. The great potential of younger generations motivates her in her work, and that’s why she has been enjoying her work with them for the past 8 years. She loves latino music, dancing, and swimming. Lýdia’s new-found hobbies are baking healthy cakes and drawing. Her four little nieces are the source of the greatest happiness in her life.
At LEAF Academy, Lýdia is our beloved hallmistress and teaches the Self Discovery Seminar.
Ladislav has a sociology degree from Jagiellonian University in Krakow, studied at the University of Warsaw, and International Peopĺes College in Denmark. He has PhDr from Comenius University of Bratislava and PhD from the University of St. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava. For years he has worked in many area of culture especially in film, literature, and diplomacy. In diplomacy he has reached the prestigious rank of Ambassador. He taught at universities, and organised and established several educational and cultural organizations throughout his active career. Ladislav has worked as an international media correspondent and is a published author of poems, articles, studies, books, and editing textbooks (recently and most regularly poetry and articles in the Polish language). At this moment, he teaches sociology of media, media culture and protocol at UCM University in Trnava. Though Slovakia is his home-country, he is also particularly interest in Poland and India.
At LEAF Academy, he is currently teaching the Polish classes to native-language students.
Peter studied molecular biology at Comenius University in Bratislava. The idea of being a researcher that spent all day working in a laboratory was not ideal. Instead, he became a teacher and taught biology in Grösslingová secondary school, where he led a class of 30 students as a form teacher for 4 consecutive years. During this time, he also began working as a leader in daily camps as well as a tennis coach. When he’s not teaching, you can often find him throughout the year on the Slovak hiking trails – with boots in the summer and skis in the snow. He tries his best to explore the world and at the top of the list of the countries he has visited are Colombia and Myanmar. Lately, he has been exploring underwater life and loves cooking and baking from fair ingredients.