Made up of a multidisciplinary team with extensive experience in the public and private sector, the CONNEX Secretariat facilitates the negotiation support activities. For further information on individual members, please click below.
Dr. Brigitte Klein – Head of Secretariat
Dr. Brigitte Klein heads the CONNEX Support Unit Secretariat. Prior to that Brigitte was at the head of the Emerging Markets Sustainability Dialogues (EMSD) Programme at GIZ. Previously she involved in setting up the Global Initiative for Access to Insurance (A2ii) and was responsible for establishing the A2ii’s Secretariat, which GIZ hosts. In this role, she was responsible for advising BMZ in the broad field of inclusive insurance and representing BMZ in different global fora. During her more than 25-year tenure with GIZ, Brigitte was also based in India for six years leading the NABARD-GIZ Rural Finance Programme, contribution in the areas of self-help group linkage banking and the revitalization of rural cooperative banks. She was also seconded as GIZ young professional to the FAO, Rome in the field of agricultural finance. Before joining GIZ, she was lecturer and research associate at Humboldt University of Berlin on agricultural market development and freelance consultant in the field of Rural und Microfinance. She earned her Ph.D. in economics from the Free University in Berlin, conducting empirical research on rural financial markets in Colombia. She also holds a diploma degree in economics from the Free University of Berlin.
Diara Diallo joined the CONNEX Support Unit as an Operations Officer in March 2020. She has previously been engaged in the study of rural development in Western Africa, with a focus on food security. She has been mainly working with NGO’s in the area of secondary education in the past where she could gather experience in communication and marketing. She holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in African Studies from the University of Geneva in Switzerland.
Richard Dion joined the Connex Support Unit in early 2021, bringing significant business development, communications and fundraising experience and expertise to the team. Richard started his career at UNDP in Kazakhstan, managing the international response to the Soviet nuclear legacy’s impact on local communities. Subsequently he joined Royal Dutch/Shell plc for over a decade, initially working with the new business development team in Central Asia and then managing the company’s human rights and revenue transparency policies. Dion further consulted for the public sector, private firms and foundations and equally led a non-profit focusing on bridges. An American citizen, he is a UCLA graduate and completed Masters studies in Urban Management and Governance and Russian politics.
Dr. John Hauert
Dr. John Hauert joined the CONNEX Support Unit in August 2021 as part-time Advisor and has since been responsible for the secretariat’s strategic expansion to the infrastructure sector. He further leads the work on Sustainable Infrastructure at GIZ’s Emerging Markets Sustainability Dialogues (EMSD). From 2014 and 2017, he worked at the OECD’s Investment Division in Paris. John studied law, politics and economics at Sciences Po, the University of Edinburgh, and Columbia University. He holds a doctorate from the University of Cologne on the legal and policy framework for investments in the extractive industries in West Africa.
Alex Mamontov joined the CONNEX Support Unit Secretariat in May 2020 and is responsible for financial processes and budget monitoring. He studied business administration at the University of Cologne and received the academic degree “Diplom-Kaufmann” in 2005. Prior to that, he worked for 9 years in the administration of the BMWi manager training programme at GIZ or its predecessor organisation InWEnt and for about 3 years in the finance department of GIZ.
Dr. Leopold von Carlowitz
As senior adviser, Dr. Leopold von Carlowitz deals with issues of CONNEX’s institutional sustainability and strategy. He is a trained lawyer (FU Berlin) and holds a M.Phil degree in International Relations (University of Cambridge). His doctoral thesis is on the progressive development on international property rights law (Goethe University Frankfurt). During 25 years of project work in international peacekeeping, peace research and development cooperation, Leo has acquired profound expertise on resource-related governance, dispute settlement and human rights. The fair distribution of resources stood at the heart of his assignment as senior advisor and deputy head of the GIZ Sector Programme ‘Extractives for Development’ (2016-2020) where he headed the workstream on responsible mineral supply chains.
Other postings included service as adviser and component head for the GIZ land reform project in Namibia, as rule of law project leader with the Berlin Center of International Peace Operations (ZIF) and as head of the Property Verification and Claims Unit of the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo. He is a certified mediator and also works as process adviser and facilitator.
Heike Funck joined CONNEX in November 2021 and is responsible for the Secretariat’s office management. Heike worked as a legal assistant in an international law firm in Frankfurt prior to joining GIZ where she gained considerable administrational, organizational as well as legal skills. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Central and East European Studies from the University of Glasgow.
Sarah Ojukwu joined the CONNEX Support Unit in November 2022. She previously graduated with a Master in International Relations from Leiden University (The Netherlands) and simultaneously worked as an Assistant Analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies in The Hague. Her research there focused on trends in the global energy transition as well as climate and resource conflicts. Sarah has her Bachelor’s degree in Media and Culture studies and has worked in strategic media planning and public relations in various roles. At CONNEX, Sarah’s portfolio includes country support processes, continued development of the infrastructure and renewable energy themes, as well as communication and outreach activities.
Dr. Sergio A. Ruiz
Dr. Sergio A. Ruiz joined the Connex Secretary in early 2023 bringing extensive work experience in Latin America decarbonization, climate smart mining, green hydrogen, and the Green Energy Transition (GET). He has equally worked in Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, and Mozambique. Sergio frames CONNEX’s offerings related to the international agenda of GET and critical minerals in Latin America. He holds a doctoral degree in climate governance from the University of Freiburg, Germany, and has also worked extensively with international financial institutions and donor organisations.
Christoph Buchberger joined CONNEX in September 2022 and is the focal point for our support activities in francophone African countries as well as in mineral resources. He previously supported the development of the G7 CONNEX initiative in its early stages as an advisor seconded to BMZ and subsequently worked with the Liberian government on good governance in the mining sector. More recently, he advised a parliamentary group in the Bavarian state legislature on development policy and SDG implementation in Germany. He holds a Magister Artium in political science and is an Alumnus of the Centre for Rural Development’s post-graduate programme.
Miriam Aders joined CONNEX in April 2023 as an Office and Event Manager. Prior to that, she worked for nine years in GIZ’s Africa Department in a similar role. Miriam is a qualified industrial manager and has held various Human Resources positions in the IT and automotive industries as well as in an international law firm in the past.
Cara Horz joined CONNEX in 2023, having previously worked at the GIZ Sector Programme ‘Extractives for Development’. She is currently finishing her Master´s degree in Geological / Resource Management at the RWTH Aachen University, with a focus on raw material and energy management. Here research there focuses on the nexus of raw materials and the green energy transition in German politics. Cara obtained her Bachelor’s degree in geoscience and worked simultaneously in University of Bonn’s Geochemistry Laboratory during her studies.
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