Ms. Alena Vachnová is a Project Manager at SPDDD Úsmev ako dar (Society Smile as a Gift), Slovakia’s oldest and largest NGO dedicated to abandoned children and families in need. Her role encompasses strategic planning, project management, development activities (mainly social entrepreneurship and public housing projects for socially disadvantaged individuals and families), fundraising, and networking with regional, national, and international partners. Over the past three years, Ms. Vachnová raised funds to support the construction of new crisis and housing centers for over 100 people. She recently prepared proposals for EU funds and other funding mechanisms to develop a nationwide network of professionals who will provide high quality, long-term support for the most vulnerable families in the country.
Ms. Vachnová is currently pursuing a PhD in Social Work with a concentration in social entrepreneurship at Catholic University in Ružomberok, where she previously earned a certificate in fundamentals of philosophy and theology. She holds Doctor of Law (JUDr.) and Master of Law (Mgr.) degrees from Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice. She further completed a two-year postgraduate study of international relations, law, geopolitics, and languages in the Faculty of Law at Komenského University in Bratislava.
During her Fellowship year, Ms. Vachnová plans to examine successful social entrepreneurship projects and models in the United States as well as the legal and funding models that support them. Following her return to Slovakia, she plans to build a nationwide network of social enterprises and promote social entrepreneurship as a means to combat high unemployment in the country’s least developed regions.