Friends, Collaborators and Supporters

Team Work

Bringing the best of each one to our common work

Joan Sleigh

Executive Board Member, General Anthroposophical Society – Goetheanum | SIF Project Leader

Born and raised in a Camphill Community in Western Cape, Joan Sleigh attended a Waldorf School in Cape Town, South Africa. She relocated to Germany in 1982 and trained as a Waldorf teacher in Witten-Annen. In 1995, she moved back to South Africa with her family, and worked as a class teacher and teacher trainer for 20 years. She was a class teacher at the Michael Oak Waldorf School from 1995 to 2012, and a lecturer at the Center for Creative Education from 2006 to 2012. She currently lives in Switzerland – branching out her work in various parts of the world as a mentor, speaker, and member of the Executive Council of the General Anthroposophical Society at the Goetheanum since 2013.

Juan Facundo Bottero

SIF Coordinator

Born in Buenos Aires, Juan Bottero attended the Rudolf Steiner School from kindergarten to high school in Argentina. He volunteered as a facilitator when he was in 12th grade – teaching Theater to children living in vulnerable areas. He also attended “Connectivity: From Thinking to Action”, where he visited Associação Comunitária Monte Azul in Brazil and met Ute Craemer. He graduated from the University of Buenos Aires in 2015 with a degree in Sociology with emphasis on Latin American History, Human Rights, and Social Movements. After graduation, he worked as a coordinator in community banks for the NGO Nuestras Huellas, which is inspired by the experience of Muhammad Yunus’ Grameen Bank in India. He currently works at the Section for Social Sciences at the Goetheanum.

Milena Kowarik

Coworker, Swiss Anthroposophical Society | Project Leader, Initiativforum für die Geflüchtete | SIF Communications & Networking Head

Born in Graz, Milena Kowarik studied in a Waldorf School from kindergarten to 12th grade and moved from Austria to Dornach at the age of 15. She graduated with 2 postgraduate degrees under her belt –  Master of Arts in Performance and Master of Arts in Music Pedagogy in Lucerne, Switzerland. To deepen her understanding of Anthroposophy, she attended the Anthroposophic Foundation Course in Stuttgart, Germany. She is currently a cellist and a cello teacher based in Dornach, while also organising conferences and facilitating workshops; working at the Board of the Swiss Anthroposophical Society; and leading the Initiativforum für die Geflüchtete – an organisation that helps refugees who seek residency in Switzerland.

Nicole Asis

Public Relations and Fundraising

Born in Manila, Nicole Asis is studying Anthroposophic Music Therapy at a t k a – Studiengang Orpheus Musiktherapie in Lucerne. She is currently responsible for Fundraising and Finance at the World Social Initiative Forum.

Ute Craemer

Founder, Associação Comunitária Monte Azul | Board Member, Anthroposophical Society – Brazil | SIF Co-Founder

Born in Weimar, Ute Craemer has lived in Brazil for the past 50 years, where she founded Associação Comunitária Monte Azul – one of the most established international social initiatives working towards supporting healthy child development and fostering dignified living conditions for people in slum communities. She studied Waldorf Pedagogy in the Teacher Training Center in Germany, which became the fundament of her work. She published books in several languages as an author and co-author, in an attempt to spread her extensive experience in social work beyond São Paolo. Among the books she published are “Favelakinder”, “Criança entre Luz e Sombras”, “A Questão Social”, “Girasol” and “Transformer é Possivel”. She received the Bundesverdienstkreuz from the German Government in 1987 and became an Honorary Citizen of São Paulo in 2012. She currently works with the Aliança pela Infância and is a Board Member of the Anthroposophical Society in Brazil.

Truus Geraets

SIF Co-Founder

Born in the Netherlands, Truus Geraets studied Curative Education, Eurythmy, and Eurythmy Therapy in Germany and Switzerland. After her numerous trainings, she worked in Holland and Scotland, after which she started a Home for Special Children in Germany. Putting herself at the service of Eurythmy, she relocated to the United States in 1975 to work as a Eurythmist. She later on traveled to South Africa, co-founded the first Waldorf School in a black township, and worked there for 10 years. In 1993, she settled back to the US – where her Eurythmy work expanded beyond North America, with regular visits to China since 2016.

Gerald Häfner

Head, Section for Social Sciences – Goetheanum

Born in Munich, Gerald Häfner has been active as a politician in Germany representing the Green Party. He served in the lower house of parliament three times from 1987 to 2002 and became a member of the European parliament from 2009 to 2014. He is a Waldorf teacher, a publicist, and a co-founder of numerous initiatives and foundations like More Democracy and Democracy International. He is the Head of the Section for Social Sciences at the Goetheanum since 2015.

Bart Vanmechelen

Member of the Leadership Team, Curative Education and Social Therapy Council – Goetheanum | Lecturer and Coach, Anthroposophical Meditation

Born in Belgium, Bart Vanmechelen studied Psychology, Anthroposophy, and Social Development. He works in the field of curative education as a director in a daycare center, a part-time staff member for quality development, and training coach in a residential care center. Since 2016, he has been appointed as a classholder for the curative education movement in the School of Spiritual Science, having strong connections to the Goetheanum Meditation Initiative Worldwide – the group that organises the Living Connections conferences. He also represents the Curative Education and Social Therapy Council – Goetheanum in the ECCE and the Eliant Core Group. He is currently the General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in Belgium, and a member of the leadership team of the Curative Education and Social Therapy Council at the Goetheanum.

Daisuke Onuki

Teacher and Researcher, Tokai University – Japan.

Born in Tokyo, Daisuke Onuki is a professor and director of the International Studies at Tokai University, Japan. He completed his postgraduate degree on gender education and social work at the University of Tokyo and University of Hawaii. His first brush with Anthroposophy was in his youth – when he volunteered in Associação Comunitária Monte Azul, Brazil. He is active in promoting “diversity in education”, which successfully promoted Waldorf Pedagogy to a formally recognised private institution in Japan. He is also the founder and director of the Children’s Resources International –  a Japanese non-profit organization that runs social and educational projects for both immigrant children in Japan and children in poor neighborhoods in Brazil. At present, he is leading a programme in Tokai University, which provides technical support to UNESCO Associated Schools in Tokyo.

Massa Ru Ando

SIF Advisor | Director, Monte Azul International – Germany

Born in Tokyo, Massa finished his Waldorf Teacher Training in Scotland and studied Visual Arts at Emerson College UK. After his teacher training in Waldorf Pedagogy, he worked as an afternoon class teacher at Edinburgh Steiner School, followed by a 3-year stint as a vocational trainer in Garvald Edinburgh – an anthroposophical adult curative educational centre in Scotland. He also worked as a volunteer in Associação Comunitária Monte Azul in Brazil for 3 years. His projects include a collaboration with the Japanese NGO “CRI-Children’s Resources International” and Japanese Postal Foundation to build a local school for a fishing community in Brazil, where children from the northern coast can have access to good quality education. He is currently the director of Monte Azul International in Germany and CRI-Children’s Resources International in Japan, while continuing his work with other organisations addressing key social issues like the refugee crisis in Europe, the impoverished conditions in the slums of Brazil, and the social challenges in Japan.

Henry Saphir

SIF Friend and Supporter

Born in San Francisco, Henry Saphir is an empowerment specialist in the areas of science, education, and social work. He has worked in both established and pioneering settings across the globe – in Los Angeles with city children and teachers, in rural South Africa with children of farmers and their teachers, and in Switzerland with differently-abled adults. He holds a Masters degree in Physics and diplomas in Steiner/Waldorf Education and Social Pedagogy. His published works include an English translation of Georg Maier’s groundbreaking book “An Optics of Visual Experience” by Adonis Press in collaboration with John Barnes in 2011; and his diploma thesis “Autonomieförderung durch Weben: Empowerment in der Arbeitspraxis”, which is about Social Pedagogy with important references to Rudolf Steiner’s social ideas and their implications for modern social work.

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