Meet Your ROM 2023 Speakers

Renewing Our Minds (ROM) is excited to announce the speaker lineup for its 2023 Gathering, held June 25–July 6 in Crikvenica, Croatia. This annual peace camp transforms leaders by deepening their knowledge of peacebuilding and teaching them ways to work toward restoration and reconciliation. In addition to the lectures presented and workshops hosted by the talented leaders listed below, students and young professionals will have the opportunity to take part in excursions, group activities, and/or community service projects, and there will be plenty of time for both recreation and reflection.

Violeta Altmann polished her leadership skills with Apple in California before returning to her native Romania, where she immersed herself in the adoption world. Violeta is a writer, trainer and a community leader who loves mentoring and being mentored, and has a practical mindset paired with a creative soul.

Dušan Beredji holds a master’s in theology and serves as pastor of a Protestant church in Novi Sad, Serbia, where he also mentors recovering addicts at Rainbow Rehab Center. In addition to spending time with his wife Mirjana and two children, Stefan and Una-Marija, he enjoys hiking and pursuing other outdoor activities, and is passionate about environmental activism.

Camila Bocaniala is the founder and program director of Polylogos, a nonprofit organization located in Romania that focuses on bridging divides and empowering young leaders. With an academic background in psychology, comparative politics, and peace and conflict studies, she is an outspoken advocate for democracy and human rights, a strategic thinker and a committed “doer.” When not writing project proposals, she prefers to release her creative energy through poetry, music, and enjoying the outdoors.

Liviu Bocaniala is the founder and president of Polylogos, a Romania-based nonprofit organization that connects people across divides and empowers aspiring leaders. He is a dynamic motivational speaker, an effective communicator and events organizer, having worked in national and international settings over the last two decades. Liviu’s passion is putting people and ideas together; he sets the stage and inspires others to truly live.

Bryan Carey is a peacebuilder and peacebuilding consultant with Peace Catalyst International in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he and his family moved in 2016. While earning his master’s degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, he studied justice, peacebuilding, and conflict transformation. Bryan applies his academic background and practical peacebuilding skills to teaching and leading as well as supporting existing peace programs and developing new ones to bridge the gap across ethnic and religious divisions in the Balkans.

Anthony Cordle is a friend and has been from the beginning of all those involved in the creation of the ROM Gathering. British and now living in England, Anthony is a good friend of Stevo, Vesna, Drazen Tihomir and Bojan.

Alan Cutting has many years of experience in empowering communities to find solutions to poverty and other challenges in his work as a pastor, with low income housing in the UK, and all around the world with Samaritan's Purse UK. Alan was one of the first people on the ground in Sri Lanka to respond to the massive tsunami in 2004, and he was also on the ground in Serbia responding to the flooding in Obrenovac in 2014. He speaks and writes to share what he has learned about community building, empowering, and transformation.

Jack Fallow balances the chairmanship of an engineering services company with an active management advisory practice. Previously, he held leadership positions with British Steel and British Gas, and founded GasForce Ltd, a business owned 100% by the workers. His “academic” interests include the complexity sciences and their impact on leadership and governance values, and the differences in culture between public sector and commercial organizations. Jack has served as a trustee and director of Brunel Institute of Social Studies, co-chair of the UK Cabinet Office's Top Management Programme, and trustee of the Trinity Forum (Europe), a leadership “Academy without Walls.”

Tihomir Kukolja served as the director of the Renewing Our Minds (ROM) leadership and reconciliation ministry in 2001–2019. Born in Požega, Croatia, he studied, lived and worked in Croatia, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Educated in theology, communications, and radio journalism, Tihomir has worked as a church pastor, media professional, radio producer and presenter, journalist, humanitarian, and religious liberty activist. He recently founded a new leadership initiative, Leadership Focus International, of which he is also the director.

Marko Marina recently completed his Ph.D. at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, after receiving his master’s degree in ancient history at the Faculty of Croatian Studies, where he now teaches on the history of Christianity. His primary field of research is the social history of early Christian communities and the question of the Historical Jesus.

Mirela Popaja-Hadžić is specializing in Gestalt Psychotherapy to become a trauma therapist. A native of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, she is a program director for Peace Catalyst International. Having worked for over a decade in both the profit and nonprofit sectors in project coordination, program management, training, facilitation, and translation, Mirela has extensive experience building bridges between cultural, religious, and ethnic groups, translating linguistically and culturally, and working with youth and young adults to lay the foundations for understanding and create capacity for personal and communal thriving.

Bojan Ruvarac has served as director of Renewing Our Minds, a founding project of the nonprofit Forum for Leadership and Reconciliation, since 2019, but has been involved in ROM since 2001, first as a participant, then as a team member. Before ROM, he worked for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students for more than ten years. Bojan graduated from the Belgrade School of Tourism, and greatly enjoys traveling. He is passionate about investing in young people and building bridges of reconciliation in the Balkans. He lives with his wife Rachel, and children Simon, Mila, and David in Pančevo, Serbia.

Marko Stupar first attended ROM in 2006 and has served as a team member for a number of years. He began his career working for an NGO where he was involved in several projects related to social action, including those against human trafficking. With a bachelor’s degree in financial mathematics and master’s in applied mathematics, he has worked for an insurance company as actuary analyst since 2016. Marko is a father of three beautiful girls, and husband of one amazing wife.

Stieneke van der Graaf has been a Member of the Dutch Parliament since October 31, 2017. Her portfolios include Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation and Education, Culture and Media. She is also a legal advisor at Capital Tool Company, a company focused on financing small and medium-sized businesses in developing countries and emerging economies. Stieneke lives in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands.

Martha Weiss is married to Frank; they have three daughters, one son, and two grandsons. She is the owner of Equipping the Next Generation (ETNG), a leadership development business, and a certified Maxwell Leadership and Parent Coach, Mentor and DISC Consultant. She presents lectures and workshops to encourage and equip others in developing their leadership potential, strengthen families, and help others in their journey to success. Martha is the board-chair for Forum for Leadership and Reconciliation, the NGO which supports the tremendous work of Renewing Our Minds (ROM) and Economic, Diplomacy, and Integrity (EDI). She enjoys gardening, reading or listening to books, traveling and backpacking around SE Asia.