Roundtable on Philanthropy


The United Way Roundtable on Philanthropy is a gathering of like-minded people who believe that positive change in our communities is possible and that we all have a responsibility, and the opportunity, to make that change. Available by invitation only and with no registration fees, the Roundtable is exclusively for United Way partners who want to make a difference both locally and globally. As the world's largest private charity, we are uniquely poised to connect with global corporate leadership and passionate individual donors which allows us to address issues of worldwide importance.

Our dedicated United Way Worldwide Leadership Council, who hosts the Roundtable, is hard at work curating a program with engaging and inspiring speakers, so be sure to check back for updated information on our speakers throughout the spring and summer. The gathering will focus on the increasing economic and social inequality that we’re seeing around the world, particularly through the lens of migration, education, income and health. In both general sessions and groups discussions, we’ll examine the causes and effects of inequality and how leaders can best address its challenges.


Located in the vibrant heart of the city, our host hotel, the Athénée Palace Hilton, celebrated a century of its existence in 2014. Designed by the French architect Théophile Bradeau, Athénée Palace has continued to spread the warmth of hospitality ever since its opening in 1914. The hotel has often attracted praise from historians and novelists, and in the '40s Waldeck Countess wrote about the Athénée Palace as the most cosmopolite scene of Europe. Everyone from kings and presidents, Hollywood celebrities and World War figures have passed through its doors. Click here for more information about this landmark hotel and its remarkable history.

CLICK HERE to make your reservations-group code and discounted information is already populated for you.

Athénée Palace Hilton Bucharest Hotel
Strada Episcopiei 1-3
București 010292


While the castle of the infamous Vlad the Impaler, inspiration for Bram Stoker's character Dracula, lies just outside the city of Bucharest in Transylvania, there is much more to this capital and largest city of Romania. "Little Paris", as it became known after World War I, is an architectural wonderland, with a diverse mix of historical (neo-classical), interbellum (Bauhaus and art deco), communist-era and modern design.

Average temperatures in Bucharest in September and October are delightful, ranging from highs of approximately 21C / 70F to lows of 8C / 47F.

To make your planning easier, here are a few helpful guides to Romania and Bucharest.

Even the team at The Telegraph thinks you should go to Bucharest! See what they had to say last fall.

For planning purposes, Henri Coandă International Airport is located 16.5 km (10.3 mi) north of the Bucharest city center, in the town of Otopeni, Ilfov.

This photo of Romanian Athenaeum (Ateneul Roman) is courtesy of TripAdvisor


The Roundtable on Philanthropy will officially begin on Wednesday, September 27th and run until Friday, September 29th with the luncheon. There is no fee for registration for this invitation only event, however, there are fees for the optional tours offered Sunday, September 24th through Tuesday, September 26th. You can sign up for the optional tours during the event registration process. CLICK HERE to complete registration for an individual or couple.



Brian A. Gallagher is President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way Worldwide, the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit. Gallagher is a regular contributor to a number of high-profile global discussions, including the World Economic Forum (WEF), Clinton Global Initiative and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Gallagher frequently speaks about critical issues ranging from sustainable growth in emerging economies to the ability of public/private partnerships to drive innovation and create long-term human success.

Under Gallagher’s leadership, United Way has shifted the focus of its mission to driving community change. This approach, which brings people together to create more opportunities for all, has been adopted in 41 countries and territories. Gallagher has also elevated brand stewardship to the highest priority. In 2008, United Way launched the LIVE UNITED campaign to engage communities in a more inclusive strategic effort. LIVE UNITED is an invitation to give, to advocate, to volunteer – an opportunity for all people to think of themselves as part of the solution.

Mr. Choi

Mr. ShinWon Choi, the son of the founder of the SK, serves as the Chairman and CEO of the SK Networks, and is engaged in the distribution of energy, trade, resource development projects, ICT marketing, car-life business, and home appliance industry. From 2000 to early 2016, he held office as the Chairman of SKC, one of the major global companies in film and chemistry industries.

Mr. Choi is the first Asian member to join the United Way Worldwide Leadership Council in 2012. He was among 48 leading givers compiled by Forbes Asia as ‘Heroes of Philanthropy’ in 2009. He became the first recipient of the ‘United Way Global Philanthropy Award’ in 2017. He has been appointed to be the 5th and 6th Chairman of Gyeonggi Community Chest of Korea, spreading the ‘sharing and donation’ spirit in the region. Also, he leads the major donor society in Korea known as the ‘Honor Society’. He is interested in resolving various social issues, especially supporting families with diverse backgrounds and helping North Korean refugees settle down in Korean society.

Mr. Choi contributes to improving educational opportunities for teenagers in Korea. Following the will of his father and the founder of SK, the late Jong Kun Choi, Shin Won Choi donated his private funds to establishing ‘Sunkyoung Choi Jong Kun Foundation’ to support students who have financial difficulties--key to his ongoing commitment to building a better local community.

Liz Dibbs is Chair of United Way Australia. Liz was a Partner and General Counsel of PwC and previously worked with major law firms Mallesons Stephen Jaques (Sydney) and Linklaters & Paines (London). She now works as a non-executive director in the government and for purpose sectors. She is Deputy Chancellor of Western Sydney University, Chair of its Audit & Risk Committee, a Governor of the Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology and a Trustee of the Centenary Foundation. She was the President of YWCA NSW from 2007-2011 (having served as a director from 2000) and a director of YWCA Australia from 2009 to 2013. Liz has also previously served as a Council Member of Chief Executive Women and Chair of its Scholarship Committee.

Liz lives in Sydney with her husband, David Tudehope, and their three children William, Ethan and Madeleine.


Steven van Groningen joined Raiffeisen Bank, Romania, over 10 years ago and has turned it from a former loss-making state owned bank into one of the largest and most successful banks in Romania. Raiffeisen Bank has over 5,000 employees and 500 branches in Romania and is part of Raiffeisen Bank International, Austria.

Mr. van Groningen is also a board member of the Foreign Investors Council, one of the most important employers’ organizations in Romania. He is also a founding member of the Romanian Aspen Institute and actively involved in a number of charitable organizations. He was one of the founders of United Way of Romania in 2004 and its first president. He is still a member of the Board of United Way of Romania.

Mr. van Groningen is also a former Olympian (Rowing, 1984, Los Angeles) and Ironman triathlete (2006 and 2011). His is married to Valeria Racila, Olympic Bronze (Moscow) and Gold (Los Angeles) medalist for Romania. They live in Bucharest, Romania.

Michael K. Hayde was born and raised in Compton, California. He has enjoyed and benefited from living in Southern California his entire life. In his formative years his family instilled in him traditional Irish Catholic values. He has had mentors all his life and learned at an early age the benefit of learning from those who had more experience and who were willing to help him. Mike has been blessed to be with the Western National Group, a 58 year old apartment company headquartered in Orange County, for the last 44 years. Since 1994 he has served as its Chief Executive Officer. 

Along with Orange County Sherriff, Brad Gates, he founded Drug Use is Life Abuse, a nationally recognized non-profit teaching youth in Orange County about the issues of drug abuse. He has been active in fundraising for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Boy Scouts of Orange County, City of Hope, University of California Irvine Medical Center, and Chapman University. Mike is the past chair and current member of the United Way Worldwide Leadership Council. He is also a member of the United Way Ten Million Dollar Roundtable, the Founding Chairman of the Board of United Way Tocqueville in Paris, France in addition to being named the 2013 United Way Tocqueville Award Honoree. 

Klaus Werner Iohannis is the current President of Romania. He became leader of the National Liberal Party in 2014, after having served as leader of the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania from 2002 to 2013. Iohannis was a physics teacher and a school inspector before entering full-time politics.

Iohannis was first elected mayor of the city of Sibiu in 2000, representing the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania. Although the German population of the once predominantly German-speaking city of Sibiu had declined to a tiny minority, Iohannis won a surprise victory and was re-elected by landslides in 2004, 2008 and 2012. Iohannis is credited with turning his city into one of Romania's most popular tourist destinations, and the city was declared the European Capital of Culture in 2007. In February 2013, Iohannis became a member of the National Liberal Party, accepting an invitation from Liberal leader Crin Antonescu, and was immediately elected the party's First Vice President, becoming the party's President the following year.

In October 2009, four of the five political groups in the Parliament, excluding the Democrat Liberal Party of then-President Traian Băsescu, proposed him as a candidate for the office of Prime Minister of Romania; however, Băsescu refused to nominate him despite the Parliament's adoption of a declaration supporting his candidacy. He was again the candidate for Prime Minister of the National Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party in the elections in the same year.

Iohannis is the first Romanian president to come from an ethnic minority. He is a Transylvanian Saxon, part of Romania's German minority which settled in Transylvania in the 12th century. Thus, he is the fourth president of German origin from Eastern Europe in the post-communist period, after Rudolf Schuster (Slovakia) and Ferenc Mádl and Pál Schmitt (Hungary). He is also the first president since the Romanian Revolution with no past ties to Communism.

Marc-André Kamel is a partner and director with Bain & Company's Paris office and a leader in the firm's global Retail and Consumer Products practices. Marc-André leads Bain's Retail practice for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He is also a leading member of Bain's Full Potential Transformation practice. Marc-André has more than 25 years of management consulting experience, working with CEOs and senior management teams on their most pressing issues and helping them drive full potential transformation programs. Since joining Bain in 1988, he has worked with clients in a wide range of industries including retail and consumer products, luxury goods, media and tourism. His projects have covered a broad cross-section of issues including corporate and business unit strategy, marketing strategy, cost reduction and operational improvement, mergers & acquisitions and organization.

Marc-André was until recently Chairman of the Nominating Committee and was previously a member of the firm's Compensation and Promotion Committee.

He is a graduate of the "Ecole Spéciale des Travaux Publics" in France, where he received a degree in civil engineering. He also earned a master of science degree in civil engineering from Northwestern University and completed an MBA with distinction from the Wharton School. Marc-André is a member of the Board of AmCham France (American Chamber of Commerce in France) and is a regular speaker on retail and luxury.

Thierry de Montbrial is Executive Chairman of the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri), which he founded in 1979. He is Professor Emeritus at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers. In 2008, he launched the World Policy Conference. He has been a member of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques of the Institut de France since 1992, and is a member of a number of foreign Academies including the Russian Academy of Sciences.

He serves on the board or advisory board of a number of international companies and institutions. Thierry de Montbrial chaired the Department of Economics at the Ecole Polytechnique from 1974 to 1992. He was the first Chairman of the Foundation for Strategic Research (1993-2001). Entrusted with the creation of the Policy Planning Staff (Centre d’Analyse et de Prévision) at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was its first director (1973-1979). He has authored more of twenty books, several of them translated in various languages, including Action and Reaction in the World System. The Dynamics of Economic and Political Power (UBC Press, Vancouver, Toronto, 2013). He is a Commander of the Légion d’honneur, Grand Officer of the Ordre National du Mérite. He has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun – Gold and Silver Star, Japan (2009) and other state honors by the French and several foreign governments.

Thierry de Montbrial is a graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique and the Ecole des Mines, and received a Ph.D. in Mathematical Economics from the University of California at Berkeley.

Mr. Seong Won Moon is CEO of Café Delmoondo in Jeju Island, Republic of Korea. Mr. Moon joined the Honor Society in 2016 as a 48th member in Jeju Island (1109th member nationwide). Jeju Island is the largest island off the coast of Korea peninsula. Mr. Moon grew up in the community where residents helped one another whenever community issues came up, and thus perceived philanthropy as a natural way of engaging with community. Mr. Moon has served as a member of Jeju National University Hospital Board. Mr. Moon also serves Western Jeju Police Office Development Committee as Chairman.

Andrei-Mihai Pogonaru is a founding partner of an Eastern European private equity fund, which he started as a family office. He is actively involved in running a number of the fund's portfolio investments, including a large commercial real-estate development in the centre of Bucharest. Andrei was also a member of the National Grid of Romania for 2 years. Previously, he established the first mobile banking business in Romania and one of the first solar power plants. Andrei is an active and proud member of the board of United Way Romania. He holds BA and MA degrees in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge, Trinity College. While at Cambridge he met his wonderful wife Deborah. In his spare time Andrei does capoeira and snowboards.

Dr. Andreas M. Rickert is CEO and founder of PHINEO and incubated the organization as Director at Bertelsmann Foundation. Andreas also worked as Senior Governance Specialist at the World Bank in Washington D.C. Prior to this, he was Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company, Inc. globally working on public sector and healthcare projects in Bahrain, The Netherlands, UK and Switzerland. He studied Biology and did his Ph.D. on genetics in Germany and the United States (UC Davis and Stanford).

Andreas serves on various boards, e.g. expert group of the European Commission on social entrepreneurship (GECES) and G7 initiated taskforce on impact investing. He speaks German, English and Spanish.

Machiel Salomons holds a Masters in International Law from the University of Amsterdam and has completed Post Graduate Studies at Oxford University.

He has spent more than 25 years serving in the UN in ten different countries including as UN Resident Coordinator in Romania and UNHCR Representative in Mozambique, Armenia and Romania. Currently he is assigned as Principal Policy and Evaluation Advisor in the Executive Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and has countless publications.

Taiye Selasi , a graduate of Oxford and Yale, is the bestselling author of Ghana Must Go, an electric and exhilarating family saga that takes readers from Accra to Lagos to London to New York. Named one of Granta's "20 Best Young British Writers," Selasi redefines the African novel as she explores the importance of origin and kin in shaping identity.

Taiye Selasi was born in London and raised in Massachusetts.  She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale and an M.Phil. in international relations from Oxford.  Her debut novel, Ghana Must Go, will be published in 13 countries.  She lives in Rome.

Dr. Taukli

Dr. Juliette Tuakli is CEO of CHILDAccra; which provides Pediatric and Public Health services in West Africa. CHILDAccra is located in Accra, Ghana where Dr. Tuakli has a specialist pediatric medical practice. She created an innovative Postgraduate program (Child Rights and Health in Africa) that is now used throughout Africa. Her earlier research/service work in the U.S., with underprivileged urban children, led to the creation of a Department Community Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Boston.

Dr. Tuakli was a Regional Medical Consultant (NE) for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and more recently Deputy Director of Family Health International’s START program in Ghana. She has been critically involved the implementation of Ghana’s successful national HIV/AIDS programs. Dr. Tuakli was also a World Health Organization (WHO) advisor in tropical disease knowledge management in Africa; particularly diseases of poverty.

Dr. Tuakli is the Vice Chairperson of the AU's Diaspora African Forum and was Chair of WISE (a national empowerment program for women) in Ghana. Dr. Tuakli co-produced the Istanbul Declaration for the African Union designed to ensure women and children’s rights and health needs are recognized in African Union program and policy development.

Șerban Toader became Senior Partner at KPMG in Romania in October 2007, having joined the firm in 1996. The company has made steady progress under his leadership, showing growth every year, in spite of the challenges of the economic climate. Serban’s background is in Audit and he has particular experience in audits of major Romanian banks as well as other financial institutions. Șerban is a Member of the Advisory Council of the Academy of Economic Studies, as well as President of the Board of United Way Romania. Serban has several prestigious academic qualifications, including an Executive MBA from Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussees, Paris as well as diplomas from University of Edinburgh School of Management, London Business School and Harvard Business School.

Mr. Francis J. Vassallo serves as the President at Francis J. Vassallo & Associates. Mr.Vassallo served as Governor of the Central Bank of Malta and Senior Executive of Chase Manhattan Bank Worldwide. He also occupied the post of Director General of Chase Manhattan Private Bank in Switzerland and later General Manager of Chase Manhattan Bank in Spain.

Mr. Vassallo serves as the Chairman of BAWAG Malta Bank Limited, FJV Fiduciary Limited and FJV Management Limited.


Alfonso Villalva is specialized in domestic and international corporate, commercial and banking law, with an extensive practice in financing, mergers, corporate acquisitions, antitrust proceedings, joint ventures, restructurings, infrastructure, clean tech projects and energy, public bids, project finance, corporate governance and succession structures, wealth management, family business planning, film productions and labor matters involving advice to employers in all material respects including planning, structuring, investigations and dispute resolutions.

As of June 1999, he became Partner of the firm Bufete Villalva, S.C. in which he continues with his professional practice to date. Mr. Villalva also supports social investment projects and acts as a regular speaker at national Conventions and other philanthropic organizations such as United Way México, the annual awards Visionaris granted by UBS and Ashoka's social entrepreneurs and philanthropy, Fundación Ruíz Obregón and Casa Hogar Alegría, I.A.P.

He has participated for over 20 years in different capacities at United Way México (serving as a member of the board and Secretary for more tan 14 years). He was elected Chair of United Way México on December 2011.

Kathryn Zaniboni is originally from America and has been living in Bulgaria since 2014. While volunteering as a teacher at a Bulgarian refugee camp in Sofia, Katie noticed the lack of support for teachers working in this challenging environment. Motivated to improve the quality of the non-formal education being offered to her students, she launched Team Up 2 Teach in August 2016 and the Lifeline Teaching Initiative in January 2017.

The program involves co-creating teaching resources together with stakeholders from various refugee communities in Europe – from volunteer teachers to development professionals to experts in education in emergencies – to identify gaps and develop a guide to support teachers in the field so they can better prepare their students for their future. The program also involves a mentoring program between the teachers working within the refugee communities and the local network of professional educators to leverage their expertise and help facilitate effective integration between the newcomers and their host communities.


A detailed schedule will be provided as sessions are confirmed. We are pleased that our colleagues from United Way Romania and Europe and The Middle East region will be hosting consecutive events while the Roundtable on Philanthropy is in Bucharest. Please note that separate invitations will be sent to those invited to the Europe and Middle East Regional meeting and for the United Way Romania Business Breakfast. Should you need information, please contact Jennifer Gipp.

Registration is required for ALL Events.

Date Time Activity
Sunday, September 24 Optional Local Day Tour(s) Available
I. Bucharest Walking Tour - Calea Victoriei
II. Communist dictatorship and its effects on Bucharest (car & walking)
Monday, September 25 Optional Local Day Tour(s) Available
I. Bucharest Walking Tour - Calea Victoriei
II. Communist dictatorship and its effects on Bucharest (car & walking)
III. Medieval Castles - Râșnov & Bran
Europe and Middle East Regional Meeting
Tuesday, September 26 Optional Local Day Tour(s) Available (see above)
Europe and Middle East Regional Meeting
Leadership Council Dinner
Wednesday, September 27 9:30am-11:00am United Way Romania Business Breakfast
(Interested attendees contact Jennifer Gipp)
9:00am-12:00pm Optional Local Impact Tour
12:00pm-4:00pm Leadership Council Meeting (includes lunch)
1:00pm-4:00pm Roundtable on Philanthropy Registration Opens
6:30pm-9:30pm Roundtable on Philanthropy Welcome Dinner at Diplomat Restaurant (transportation provided)
Thursday, September 28 7:30am-5:00pm Roundtable on Philanthropy Registration and Program
6:45pm-10:00pm Cocktails, Tour and Dinner at the Romanian Athenaeum and National Museum of Art
Friday, September 29 8:30am-1:30pm Roundtable on Philanthropy Registration and Program
After 1:30pm Departures


We are grateful for the energy and insights that our Leadership Council shares year-round. More information on the Leadership Council can be found at

Steven van Groningen, Chair

Brad R. Busse
ShinWon Choi
Heather Culbert
Steven van Groningen
Jean-Claude Gruffat
Frank Harshaw
Michael K. Hayde
John C. Lechleiter
Larry Macdonald
Bill O'Dowd
Rosemary Schlachter
Alex Sink
Dr. Juliette Tuakli
Alfonso Villalva
Rick Waugh
Ann Zuraw

CLICK HERE to learn more about United Way.