Aspen Young Leaders helping in the current crisis!

Due to the current global coronavirus pandemic crisis, we have had to cancel or postpone many of our planned activities. This included, among other things, the next edition of the Aspen Young Leaders Program, which aims to support the generation of young leaders, anchor their values, ethical principles and moral qualities. The Alumni of the program are successful professionals, who are not indifferent to society and its future. In light of the current crisis, many of them have demonstrated their leadership and the strength of their values by not remaining passive during these hard times.

We are honored to share some examples of the values-based leadership put in practice and introduce some of the Aspen Young Leaders who are helping and inspiring others with their deeds.


Kateřina Vacková is a doctor and founder of the non-profit organization Loono that emphasizes the importance of health prevention among the general public. When it became apparent that the spread of coronavirus would not avoid the Czech Republic, they created educational materials, ranging from leaflets to webinars, which they proactively distributed to companies, schools, hospitals, old people’s homes and general practitioners.

Kateřina also joined in the project Chytrá karanténa (Smart Quarantine) within the platform COVID19CZ. This is a system of measures which, thanks to modern technologies, aim to prevent further spreading of the coronavirus. Kateřina’s initial role was to train the operators of call centers, who are in touch with the positively tested people for COVID19CZ. The operators are supposed to find out and select others with whom the positively tested have been in touch and who are risky from the epidemiological point of view, thus having to remain in home quarantine. She is currently the ambassador of the project and works at informing and convincing the public about the benefits of tracking in the fight against the virus.


Olga Bureš Vrbíková has been involved in the design and fashion industry for more than 10 years. She established PR agency Artspeak, which represents international brands focused on the design, architecture, fashion & wellbeing industries. When the emergency status was declared, she knew that many small companies and entrepreneurs would be in a critical situation fighting for survival. With Artspeak, they launched a campaign #malynakupvelkapomoc (#shopsmallhelpbig) which calls upon people to shop at small local companies to support them.


Jan Delong is a librarian in one of the most progressive libraries in the Czech Republic, Library Třinec, which aspires not only to educate, inspire and entertain, but also to support the local cultural and community town life. Due to the pandemic, life in the town almost stopped and naturally the library became the place where locals obtained relevant information. They can receive information about how to behave and how to protect themselves in the current situation, where to turn for help or how to offer it, and how to verify information not falling into the trap of disinformation and panic spreading. The library also increased the number of e-books, which you can borrow from home and offered tips for education and cultural activities for the times of quarantine.


Tereza Gondková is the co-owner and CEO of the Ollies pastry shops, which have also been struck by the crisis. They had to adapt the business to the situation quickly, but are not forgetting about the first in line in hospitals and emergency centers to whom they deliver cakes and other sweets for support and energy. They also offer self-education via on-line courses in pastry making, specifically macarons.


Jan Laštůvka is one of the founders of the Czech start-up MonkeyData, which developed a software for e-commerce analytics. In the times of quarantine, it became obvious that the only chance for many shops to survive is to have an e-shop, and MonkeyData thus created the largest study in the Czech Republic on the influence of COVID19 on e-commerce to allow businesses to make decisions based on data.


Pavlína Louženská is the founder of the initiative #HolkyzMarketingu, a blogger and a member of the board of directors of Transparency International. She currently works for a design and technology studio manGoweb, which reacted to the current situation by developing an app Call To Shop, in which businesses can sell their product by videocalls. The aim is to again support businesses struggling for survival. Pavlína together with #HolkyzMarketingu also established an initiative to support people from marketing who lost their jobs as a result of the current crisis. They created a form that connects them with job portals which are offering jobs to the unemployed. They launched a series of webinars and tips, which should help them boost their position on the job market.


Jan Lukačevič is a successful scientist, cosmic engineer and one of the creators of a module which should land on Mars in 2021. When the virus began to spread in the Czech public, he moved back from space to earth and began to think about being beneficial in the here and now. Admiration for those in the first line, and a desire to help them, inspired him and his friends to support the doctors, medics and healthcare staff by food packages with high nutrition value. They launched the project Energii lékařům (Energy to the Doctors), quickly gained financial support, built a team and Jan now personally visits the healthcare facilities and identifies the needs of the medical staff, what they struggle with and what helps the most.


Eva Peterková is co-founder and COO of, a language app that puts you through to a native English speaker from anywhere to boost your English. Marie Salomonová is a neuroscientist and a co-founder of a project focusing on mental health education Nevypusť duši. They both joined their forces and supported the startup which thanks to their efforts now offers online psychotherapy even in English for expats living in the Czech Republic.


Levente Polyák is an urban planner, researcher, activist and policy adviser. As the Managing Director of Eutropian Research and Action, he decided to organize weekly online meetings called Cooperative City in Quarantine. The meeting is joined by experts in community development from various European cities. They discuss and share together what is currently going on in their cities and communities, what are the main challenges they are facing right now and which solutions each community suggests.


Robert Sovík founded the company USA Sport&Study which helps young student athletes enrol and attend top American educational institutions without compromising their athletic development. Even now, he is continuing with the youth development – in difficult conditions he and his team prepare courses of academic English, help students work on their self-development out of the college halls of residence, work through all the formalities of the enrolling process to universities and prepares them for the moment, when the global crisis passes and they will be able to start their academic and sport career abroad.


Alexandra Střelcová is co-founder of Haenke, a Prague-based initiative that promotes plant research and its potential in tackling global issues related to health, medicine as well as design or architecture. It has recently been working on production of badly needed disinfection in cooperation with the Faculty of Tropical Sciences of CULS. They will distribute the disinfection to hospitals and retirement homes and you can help them by donating to their public collection.


Robin Švaříček is the CEO of HoppyGo, a shared economy platform backed by ŠKODA Auto Digilab and Leo Express. HoppyGo is a service that connects people that own cars and do not use them every day with people that sometimes need them. HoppyGo reacted immediately to the crisis. They become a mobility partner to the initiative #DoDobrovolník (volunteer), which brings together people willing to help with transportation of food and medicine to the elderly and all in need. HoppyGo is providing these cars free of charge and has also provided more than 150 cars to over 60 NGOs and to municipalities under the initiative #SKODAAUTOpomaha (Škoda Auto helps). In Prague, they have set up a prevention station with ozone generators to clean all the cars before and after use. HoppyGo has also been providing of late BeRider scooters to medical workers, so they can travel to and from work safely.


Alessandro Tofani leads strategy and digitalization of internal processes in Lafarge and at the same time is Chairman of the Board of the Global Shaper Warsaw Hub bringing together exceptional young people working on the development of the local community. At this moment in response to the crisis, Polish Global Shapers created two initiatives: starting a platform for all “pro bono” activities in Warsaw and the whole of Poland and regarding COVID19 lockdown are helping local businesses with finding short-term liquidity.


Yemi A.D. is a dancer, choreographer, director and producer, a multi-disciplinary creative, founder of JAD Productions and Dance Academy Prague. Dance Academy is at the moment offering online dance courses for all and for free, so they can support their tutors who will not lose their jobs and also ensure that people can relax and get some movement, while they have to be at home. Yemi also co-hosted the international online Anti-panic Conference where he invited 11 top leaders of local and international business, creatives and strategists to discuss how companies can deal with the current situation.

We are proud the Aspen community includes these people. A great admiration and many thanks belong to all of them!

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