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 CONNEX. Prior to that Brigitte led the Emerging Markets Sustainability Dialogues (EMSD) Programme and set up the Global Initiative for Access to Insurance (A2ii). Brigitte advised BMZ in inclusive insurance and represented BMZ globally. During her 25-years at GIZ, Brigitte led the NABARD-GIZ Rural Finance Programme in India. She was also seconded to the FAO, Rome in agricultural finance. Before joining GIZ, she was a lecturer and research associate at Humboldt University of Berlin. 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 in 2020 as an advisor for negotiation support. She is responsible for the implementation of activities in Latin America and impact-oriented monitoring. As a focal point for gender, a feminist and inclusive development policy approach is a big concern to her. She has previously been engaged in the study of rural development in Western Africa, with a focus on food security. In her past work with civil society organizations she could gather experience in public relations and foster her communication skills. She holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in African Studies from the University of Geneva in Switzerland.
Richard Dion joined CONNEX in 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. 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.
Dennis Rach joined CONNEX in March 2021 as a negotiation support specialist. He holds an MA in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University, an MA in Mediation and Conflict Management from Europa-University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) and is a trained mediator. Prior to this, he worked at GIZ on resource governance, transitional development assistance and rural development in conflict and fragile settings. At CONNEX, he supports partner countries on mining, renewable energy and infrastructure projects around the globe (Caribbean, West Africa, Middle East).
Dr. Leopold von Carlowitz
Dr. Leopold von Carlowitz focuses on CONNEX’s institutional sustainability and strategy. He is a trained lawyer (FU Berlin) and holds a M.Phil degree in International Relations (Cambridge). His doctoral thesis is on the progressive development on international property rights law (Goethe University Frankfurt). Leo’s expertise focuses on resource-related governance, dispute settlement and human rights. As senior advisor and deputy head of the GIZ Sector Programme ‘Extractives for Development’ (2016-2020), he headed the workstream on responsible mineral supply chains. Other postings included the GIZ Namibia, the Berlin Center of International Peace Operations (ZIF) and Property Verification and Claims Unit of the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo. A certified mediator, Leo also works as process adviser and facilitator.
Dr. Sergio A. Ruiz
Dr. Sergio A. Ruiz joined the Connex Secretariat in early 2023, contributing expertise in crucial topics for a green energy transition (GET), including the decarbonization of the mining sector, green hydrogen, and renewable energy. His work experience spans countries such as Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, and Mozambique. He is responsible for portfolio development regarding the international agenda of GET, as well as for the implementation of activities on critical minerals in Latin America and Portuguese-speaking countries. Sergio holds a Ph.D. in climate governance from the University of Freiburg, Germany, and has extensive experience working with international financial institutions and donor organizations.
Sarah Ojukwu joined the CONNEX Support Unit in 2022. She holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from Leiden University (The Netherlands) and simultaneously worked at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. Her research there focused on trends in the global energy transition as well as climate and resource conflicts. Sarah obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Media and Culture studies (Duesseldorf) and has worked in strategic media planning and public relations. At CONNEX, Sarah’s supports country processes and communication and develops the infrastructure and renewable energy themes.
Mariya Ivato-Kolodziejski is a controller in the CONNEX Support Unit. She works closely with the programme manager, adviser team, GIZ areas, external experts, and clients to prepare, coordinate, monitor and report financial issues. Mariya has been working for GIZ since 2008. Before joining CONNEX in summer 2021, she was responsible for financial management of diverse GIZ programmes and co-fundings, as well as supported bilateral and regional projects at the Department Mediterranean Region and Middle East. Mariya graduated with a Master’s degree in German, Economy and English from the Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany) and also holds a diploma degree in teaching English from the National University of Lviv (Ukraine).
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 holds a Master´s degree in Georesource Management from the RWTH Aachen University, focusing on raw material and renewable energy management. Her 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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