Veronica Rubio - Secretary General
Veronica Rubio is a Lawyer specialized in international trade and human rights, with a master’s degree in Bioethics. For the last 19 years she has worked promoting sustainable supply chains, social corporate responsibility and small farmers’ access to the international fair-trade markets.
She has solid experience in developing certification standards and Code of Conducts. Notably, in 2008 she led the development of the Social Certification Standard for Rainforest produces commissioned by the Brazilian Government in the Amazon region for cocoa, acai and camu-camu. In 2014 she successfully led a major shift in the Foreign Trade Association (now known as afori) by reshaping the BSCI Code of Conduct and related implementation manuals as she incorporated the UN Human Rights Due Diligence approach into retailer’s commitment towards sustainability.
In addition, she has been responsible for launching the South-South Fairtrade Labelling Initiative in Brazil; the amfori BSCI Sustainable Wine Programme; the Partnership with Thai Government towards Boosting Responsible Recruitment in Thailand and the Private Pubic Partnership (PPP) on Fostering Corporate Social Responsibility in Morocco. In 2018, she led the ProTerra Foundation as Executive Director consolidating its growth, visibility and credibility. In 2019, she studied and get her Bioethics Master Thesis on SDG 5 – Gender Equality. Since September 2020 she is Co-Founder and Senior Advisor on Business and Human Rights at ETIKA.
She has solid regional experience in Latin America and ASEAN countries. She is a Spanish native speaker and is fluent in English, French, Portuguese and Italian.
Suzanne Bonnici Ciantar - Executive Assistant to the Board
Suzanne joined AOECS in May 2019 as Executive Assistant to the Board. She has a background as an Administrator at the University of Malta which comprised duties such as liaising with different departments, daily correspondence, diary management, minute-taking and finance administration, incl. bookkeeping and expense claim processing. Maltese is Suzanne’s mother tongue and she is highly proficient in English, fluent in Italian and has some understanding of French. Suzanne has a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Malta.
Jesper Lindstrom - Marketing Manager
Jesper started working as Marketing Manager for AOECS in May 2021. He has over 20 years of experience working as a marketing manager and senior marketing consultant for various companies, mainly in the commercial sector. Jesper has an MSc in Economics with Marketing as a major. He also for five years worked as European Licensing Officer for the Swedish Coeliac Society and is currently a board member of the same society. Jesper is based in Stockholm and speaks English at a proficient level. He also has an understanding of Norwegian, Danish, and German.
Cristina De Abreu Rodrigues - Licence coordinator
Cristina De Abreu Rodrigues holds a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the Central University of Venezuela and an MSc in Food Technology and Control. Her education reflects her commitment to nutrition and food science, intending to contribute to well-being through healthy and safe eating. She resides in Madrid and is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. Currently, she works at the Federation of Celiac Associations of Spain (FACE).
Cristóbal Pérez Sixto - Licence coordinator
Cristóbal, graduated in Food Science and Technology at the University of Barcelona with, MSc in Nutrition and Health (UOC-Spain) and he’s pursuing another MSc in Training and Sport Nutrition (UAX-Spain). He’s fluent in Spanish, Catalan and English.
María van der Hofstadt Rovira -
María has a Bachelor in Pharmacy from the University Miguel Hernández of Elche, MSc in Food Science and Nutrition and MEd in Secondary Teaching for Healthcare professionals.
During 4 years she was working as a Scientific Affairs responsible in the Spanish Federation of Coeliac Societies, FACE where she carried out the development of their research grants and the creation of their Scientific Advisory List. Actually she works as a Quality Assurance & Quality Control Specialist in a Genetics and Immunology diagnosis Lab and she's involved in some divulgative projects writing frequently for some journals or newspapers. She is based in Alicante, Spain. Spanish and Catalan are her mother tongues and she is fluent in English.
María was diagnosed with coeliac disease when she was 18 months old, so she grew up living with the condition and involved with the volunteer and the associative activity around it. She has been in their local association ACECOVA for so long and volunteered at the Coeliac Youth of Europe from 2016 to 2020.
The AOECS Board
The board consists of six Directors who are elected by representatives of AOECS Member societies for a term of three years.
The Directors’ tasks include undertaking activities and initiatives to achieve the aims and objectives of the organisation.
Tunde Koltai - Chair
With a degree in Food Industry Engineering, Tunde has held several positions within the food industry, including Technical Director of a meat producing company and Quality Manager of a commercial company. She currently acts as an independent advisor and project manager, writes articles for medical journals and daily newspapers.
Following the diagnosis of her son with coeliac disease in 1990, she established - together with other parents, the Hungarian Coeliac Society. Tunde is Chair of the society and acts on behalf of coeliac patients and families in areas of specific interest such as the financial support of persons with coeliac disease and collating food lists. She also works with teachers, restaurants and caterers of public institutions to raise awareness of the coeliac disease. As a representative of the Hungarian Coeliac Society, Tunde was elected vice president of the Hungarian National Health Council in 2007. Tunde served on the AOECS Board from 2007 to 2016 and was re-elected in 2018.
Floris van Overveld - Vice Chair
Floris has been Managing Director of the Dutch Coeliac Society since 2019. With a master in medicinal chemistry, he has made non-profit organisations his field of expertise. Over the years, Floris has held senior management positions in a range of member organisations such as the Dutch Cancer Society, the Dutch Labour Party and an umbrella organisation of patient and disabled people societies. As a Change Manager, Floris has extensive experience with building volunteer support as well as organising shared decision making and internal democracy in associations.
Katre Trofimov - Board Director, Treasurer
Katre was diagnosed late with coeliac disease in 2013. Since then, it has been her passion to develop volunteer patient organisation (Estonian Coeliac Society (ECS)) and its governance through adding her experience of private and public sector together with international cooperation of AOECS and its members.
She believes that strong cooperation and empowering stakeholders will make gluten free food safety better for coeliacs and gives seminars on those topics. She has been on the Board of ECS from 2016-2021. Between the years 2017-2020 she formed part of the AOECS Board and was re-elected in June 2022.
Katre’s professional background is over 11 years in commercial sales (also international) and business development. Masters degree is about to be done in public administration and innovation management. Since June 2021 she serves as a public servant for developing the health system in the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs.
Gill Brennan - Board Director
Gill Brennan is the CEO of the Coeliac Society in Ireland since 2018. Gill joined the Coeliac Society from the Irish Proshare Association, where she was CEO for over 4 years. Gill has a Masters in Strategic Management from the Smurfit Business School and a B.A. from University College Dublin.
Since joining the Coeliac Society as CEO in 2018, Gill has developed and grown the charity, driving forward key initiatives to help improve the lives of people living with Coeliac Disease. Gill has driven engagement with key stakeholders across Ireland to raise awareness of coeliac disease and how it affects the health and quality of life of the estimated 50,000 people with coeliac disease in Ireland.
Under Gill’s guidance, the Coeliac Society has worked with the Irish College of General Practitioners to develop guidelines for the diagnosis and management of coeliac disease, published in 2020. Gill has developed a continuous education program for members, health professionals and the general public, helping more people to access early diagnosis as well as timely and necessary treatment for this chronic disease. Gill has also led the development of a research program at the Coeliac Society which is investigating several aspects of coeliac disease with the aim of improving the quality of life of people living with coeliac disease in Ireland.
Hilary Croft - Board Director
Hilary's professional background lies in business transformation within complex, multifaceted organisations. Her senior management career started in marketing at Coca-Cola, and progressed in the retail and wholesale industry before moving to Capgemini, a global leader in consulting, technology and digital transformation services. She gained considerable knowledge and interest in the food and drink sector before making the move to the charity sector as CEO of London’s largest food re-distribution charity, The Felix Project.
Hilary has direct experience of coeliac disease, as her son has the condition. This provides her with first-hand experience of living gluten free and provides additional motivation to achieve real and lasting change for the gluten free community. Hilary also volunteers as a Board Member of Age UK Ealing and for international poverty and disaster relief charity, Tearfund. She was elected to the AOECS Board in September 2019.
Susana Tavares - Board Director
Graduated in pharmaceutical sciences from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Porto. European master's degree in environmental analytical chemistry. She is a Ph.D. student in clinical research at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, writing her thesis.
She has more than 20 years experience in pharmaceutical industry. Started in the field of clinical research and then assumed the role of director of research quality assurance: clinical, pre-clinical and pharmacovigilance. Currently she starts is own company as quality assurance consultant.
She is a mother of a celiac boy. From 2016 to 2020 she was a member of the board of APC ( Portuguese Coeliac Society). She has been president of APC since 2020. In September 2022 Susana became a member of AOECS board.
Linus Engqvist Richert - Board Director
Linus has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and has his regular full time job as Head of Advocacy and Public Affairs & Ombudsman at the Swedish Coeliac Society since 2017. From 2019 to 2023, he was also the Manager of the AOECS Marketing and Advocacy Workgroup, until he joined the AOECS Board.
Linus has a background in public administration and bureaucracy, as well as a wide variety of prior board positions. Worth mentioning is 7 years as a local board member and board secretary for one of the largest trade unions in Sweden (ST), and 11 years of working in the public sector, of which six years at the Stockholm University as an analyst, administrator, and one year as the Secretary of the University Board.
In the AOECS board of directors, Linus primarily focuses on issues regarding advocacy and raising awareness, with the aim to make life better and safer for coeliacs and other people on a gluten free diet.