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Keynote Speaker

Elder Paul V. Johnson

Elder Paul V. Johnson was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 2, 2005. At the time of his call he had been serving as a member of the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy in the Utah North and Utah Salt Lake City Areas. He has served as commissioner of the Church Educational System, as a member of the Chile Area Presidency, and as the administrator of religious education and elementary and secondary education. He is currently serving as President of the Europe Area.

Elder Johnson received a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in zoology in 1978 and a master’s degree in counseling and guidance in 1982. He went on to receive a doctorate in instructional technology from Utah State University in 1989.

Elder Johnson has served in a number of Church callings, including full-time missionary in the Norway Oslo Mission, counselor in a stake presidency, high councilor, bishop, elders quorum president, and Young Men president.

Elder Paul Vere Johnson was born in Gainesville, Florida, on June 24, 1954. He married Jill Washburn in August 1976. They are the parents of nine children.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne LRAM ARCM

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne is a Peer of the Realm and a member of the House of Lords.

She serves as the Prime Minister, Trade Envoy to Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, The Republic of Iraq and Turkmenistan and co-chairs the All Party Parliamentary Groups for Foreign Affairs and the Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict. She is a member of the Conservative Party.

In her private time she chairs the AMAR International Charitable Foundation, the Children’s High Level Group in Romania (AMAR’s sister charity). She is President of AMAR Lebanon and IBBC (the Iraq Britain Business Council). She is Chairman of the Booker Prize for Russian Fiction, Vice Chairman of the Man Booker Prize for English Fiction and Patron of the Caine Prize for African Writing. She is Vice President of the Mary Hare School for Deaf Children. From 1974 – 1985 she was a Director of Save the Children and prior to that spent a decade on computer software development.

Baroness Nicholson served as Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party from 1983 – 1987. She was elected to the House of Commons in 1987 where she was the Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devon. She was appointed to the House of Lords in 1997.

In 1999 she was elected to the South East Region of the European Parliament and re-elected for the same constituency in 2004 – 2009. She subsequently served in the Parliamentary Council of Europe in Strasbourg from 2011 – 2014.

She has served as official Election Leader and Observer in thirty two nations and was rapporteur for Iraq, Romania and Kashmir, producing major policy reports for parliament and the Council of Ministers.

As her qualifications show she studied at the Royal College specialising in the Piano, Cello and Singing.

She has been awarded eight Honorary Doctorates has published 2 books and edited various others.

She is a member of The Reform Club and The Royal Overseas League.


Francesco Di Lillo

Francesco Di Lillo opened the European Union Office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brussels, Belgium, in 2013. In 2015 and 2016, he served on the Board of Coordinators of the European Platform against Religious Intolerance and Discrimination (EPRID). Prior to these assignments, Di Lillo worked at the Europe Area office of the Church as assistant area director of public affairs. He also was president of the Italy Utah Cooperation Center, a non-profit he co-founded to promote cultural, academic, and commercial partnerships between organizations in Italy and Utah.
He gained international experience in public affairs and public information in Cyprus with the Italian Embassy, the United Nations Development Program, and finally with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). With UNHCR he monitored evacuation operations of civilians through the Port of Larnaca, Cyprus, during the Israeli-Lebanese conflict of 2006. Back in Italy, he worked on a project assignment with a marketing and communications consultancy firm based in Rome for the organization of conferences and events at the national level.
Di Lillo received a master’s degree in theory of communications from the University Roma Tre, graduating cum laude, and a master’s in international relations and human rights protection from the Societa’ Italiana per l’Organizzazione Internazionale.
He and his wife are the parents of four wonderful children.

Wilfried Decoo

Wilfried Decoo is a native Belgian – from the Flemish side of the country. He is a Mormon convert, who joined the church at age 17 after having been raised in Catholicism. His academic background is in language and literature from the universities of Antwerp and Ghent, and in theology from the University of Louvain. He holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Brigham Young University, with an equivalent Ph.D. from Belgium. Professor of applied linguistics and language learning at the University of Antwerp, he also spent 13 years teaching at Brigham Young University.
Among his many books are Crisis on Campus on academic ethics (MIT Press 2002) and Systemization in Foreign Language Teaching (Routledge 2011). He has also published in BYU Studies, Dialogue and the Journal of Mormon History, in particular on the internationalization of Mormonism and on Mormon cultural identity.
Wilfried is married to Carine Vanwelkenhuysen and they have one daughter, Ellen, who is a sociologist.

Teppo Felin

Teppo Felin is a professor of strategy and academic area head at University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. Felin’s research focuses on organization theory, strategy, complex systems, innovation and the origins of heterogeneity. He is also interested in anything interdisciplinary. His research has been published in journals such as Organization Science, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Institutional Economics and Research Policy. He has published interdisciplinary research in Erkenntnis, Arizona State Law Journal, and PLOS ONE. Prior to joining Oxford, Felin was on the faculty at BYU’s Marriott School and Goizueta Business School at Emory University. Before joining academia, he worked in the venture capital industry in Amman, Jordan, and Munich, Germany. Born and raised in Helsinki, Finland, Felin has four daughters and lives in Summertown, Oxford.

Elder Clifford T. Herbertson

Elder Clifford T. Herbertson was named a member of the Third Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2012. Herbertson is a founding partner of venture capital company Paradigm Global Partners LLP, established in 2007. Previously, he was a board director of Exel Plc (2002–07), and a partner for two strategy consulting firms: Monitor Group and Kalchas Group (1989–2002). His career began while still in school as a research assistant and speech-writer for a member of parliament.

In 1988, he received a bachelor’s degree in economics with honors from the University College London and a corporate finance diploma from London Business School in 1990. Herbertson has served in numerous Church callings, including a full-time mission in the Georgia Atlanta Mission, stake and ward Young Men president, bishop, stake presidency, and stake president. A native of Glasgow, Scotland, he and his wife Julie Herbertson reside in Wickford, Essex, England and are the parents of three children.

Shara Hofmann

Shara Hofmann was born in Villavicencio, Colombia and at age 14 she left Colombia with her family and flew to Ecuador as a political refugee. She arrived in Sweden with her family in 2004 as part of the UNCHR resettlement program and the quota of refugees to Sweden.

Hofmann graduated with a degree in Social Work from Gothenburg University in 2011. She completed an internship in Mumbai, India at NGO Family Service Centre, working with families and children in the slums of South Mumbai. She has also completed a course in Development Studies. From 2011-12 Hofmann served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Salt Lake City, Utah, Temple Square mission in USA, where she often gave tours at the Humanitarian Center and on Welfare Square. From 2013-15 Hofmann worked as a case officer at the Swedish Migration board in the asylum seekers reception unit. In 2014, she was asked by the Migration Board and the UNCHR to share her personal experience as a refugee in Sweden at the 2014 Almedal week, the most important forum in Swedish politics. Later that summer she participated at the International Summer School in forced migration at the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford Department of International Development at Oxford University.

After marrying Pascal Hofmann in 2015, Hofmann moved to Zurich, Switzerland where she learned German and worked for the NGO “SOS Rassismus und Diskriminierung Schweiz,” providing counseling to victims of racism. She is currently serving as the stake Young Women president in the Zurich Stake.

Elizabeta Kitanović

Dr. Elizabeta Kitanović is Executive Secretary for Human Rights and Communication of the Church and Society Commission of CEC in Brussels.

She is working as a senior human rights advocate vis-a-vis International Organizations. She is editor of the Human Rights Training Manuel for European Churches and is editor and founder of the first European Churches Human Rights Library and the CSC Annual Report. In 2009/2010 she has been a member of the Advisory Panel of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and was again nominated for 2012/2014.

Ms. Kitanovic completed her studies in Theology and post-graduate studies in International Affairs of the Political Science Faculty in Belgrade. She graduated from the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Serbian Government.

Prior to her current post she was at first working for the Serbian Orthodox Church and then for the Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Serbian Government as Adviser for Interreligious Affairs and its PR. Ms. Kitanovic is regularly giving lectures and presentations in the area of human rights and communications.

She speaks English, French, Greek and Serbian.

Eva Ringheim Mattsson

Eva Ringheim Mattsson is from Copenhagen, Denmark. She is married to Leif Mattsson and is a mother of six children; she has spent 25 years as a homemaker in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Mattsson studied Physical Therapy in Copenhagen for 18 months. She later studied Pedagogic, Social Psychology and Sociology at the University of Gothenburg. She is a Certified Project Management Associate (IPMA) and is currently working as Project Manager in a building company.

Mattsson’s church callings have included: LDS Charities Sweden Country Directors (with her husband), Area Trainers for YSA Centers in the Nordic Countries (with her husband), Young Women’s President on a stake and ward-level, Ward Relief Society President, Counselor in ward and stake Young Women and Relief Society, Seminary Teacher, and ward music director.

Leif Mattsson

Leif is from Gothenburg, Sweden and is married to Eva Ringheim Mattsson. They are the parents of 6 children. Leif attended BYU and served a full-time mission in England. His career includes positions of marketing, management and consulting in the following companies: IBM, OCE, Volvo, IFK Gothenburg Football Club, Swedeship Marine and Epsilon. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors for Kyäni Europe. Church service includes: Bishop, Stake President, National Director of Public Affairs and Coach for the Young Single Adult Centers in the Nordic countries with Eva.

Medlir Mema

Medlir Mema is a country coordinator for the Seminaries and Institute program covering Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia, and a visiting research fellow at the Institute for European Studies in Brussels, Belgium. Mema’s doctoral dissertation explores the role of civil society in the drafting of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and is currently working on an examination of the role of the international community in the creation of the Kosovo hybrid court, as well as the political and legal implications of doing so. As a member of a working group on LDS perspectives on war and peace, Mema applies insights from international relations theory to the Book of Mormon narratives on warfare and conflict. He received a PhD in political science from George Washington University.

James Perry

James Perry is an Associate Lecturer and doctoral candidate at Lancaster University. With research interests in digital humanities, migration, and European LDS history, James’ current doctoral research examines the processes of segregation and acculturation within foreign-born communities. His research has been presented at international conferences across Europe and North America.

After joining the Church in 2006, James has served in a variety of callings, including a full-time mission in the England Manchester Mission, counsellor on bishoprics, ward mission leader, a High Councillor, and as the 2017 British Pageant Communications Director. Having been born and raised in Somerset, James currently lives in Northern England with his wife and two daughters.

Paul Picard

Paul Picard is the Deputy Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre in charge of the Operations Service since September 2015. As such, he supports the implementation of the mandates of all OSCE Field Operations by providing guidance on the OSCE’s instruments and strategies related to the entire conflict cycle (early warning/early action, crisis management, conflict resolution and post-conflict rehabilitation). He also directs the work of the OSCE Mediation Support Team acting as the OSCE-wide focal point for dialogue facilitation and mediation support and is in charge of the OSCE Situation Room which monitors 24/7 the evolution of current events and their impact in the OSCE area.

Before joining the Conflict Prevention Centre, Paul was the Head of Mission of the OSCE Observer Mission at the Russian-Ukrainian border, holding the position of Chief Observer, at the height of the conflict in eastern Ukraine (from 2014 to 2015). Paul has a military background having served as a reserve officer in the French Army.

Paul is from Bordeaux, France. He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Russian Rostov Mission and Armenia and currently is a Bishop in the Vienna 4th Ward in Austria. He graduated from Brigham Young University in international relations with a specialty in Middle Eastern Politics. He is fluent in English and Russian and has an intermediate knowledge of Serbian, Persian and Arabic. He is married and has three children.

Mauro Properzi

Mauro Properzi holds a Ph.D. in Mormon Studies from Durham University in the U.K., a B.S. in Social Work from Brigham Young University, a Master’s of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and an M.Phil. in Psychology and Religion from Cambridge University. He also received a Post-doc certificate in Interfaith Dialogue from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. He is a native of Gorizia, Italy and an Assistant Professor of Religion at Brigham Young University where he teaches classes on World Religions and Christianity.  His research interests focus on the theological and historical interface of Mormonism and Catholicism, the theology of religions, and religion and emotions.

Heidi A. Ringheim

Heidi A. Ringheim is a psychosexual therapist and couples counselor with specialization in sex/porn addiction with a private practice north of Copenhagen in Denmark. Ringheim was co-founder(2000) and since 2008 chairman of Porn & Society (P&S), a Danish-based organization that fights porn in the public square. As leader of P&S, she speaks up officially when needed; heeds when media and others call for info, advice, opinions; aids and educates students as well as employees and parents in school settings; works with national politicians, as well as religious groups and others to initiate awareness and campaigns about the growing impact and consequences of porn, both nationally and globally in order to influence policy and legislation.

Ringheim with three colleagues and a developmental company are in the process of establishing a center broadly based on family- and couple-friendly values with a three-fold mission 1) to Initiate and support research on the effects of porn, 2) to broadly educate, inform, and train various groups in society about the effects of porn and how to handle and treat the effects and problems associated with porn and also develop prevention strategies, and 3) to develop and build up an efficient and healthy treatment program and facility center for sex- and porn-addiction.

She and husband Thomas are the parents of seven sons and two daughters. For many years, Ringheim served her family as a stay-at-home mom before re-educating herself in the field of sexology and therapy.

Joel Selway

Joel Selway is an associate professor in the political science department at Brigham Young University and director of the Politics, Economics, and Development Labs (PEDL). He completed master’s degrees in applied economics and political science and a doctorate in political science at the University of Michigan. He writes on ethnic conflict and human development and has a regional speciality in Southeast Asia. His specialty is on the design of political institutions to achieve peace and more rapid development in multi-ethnic societies. Joel recently published a book with Cambridge University Press and has numerous articles in top political science outlets, such as World Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, Political Analysis, Comparative Political Studies, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, and the Journal of Asian Studies. Joel was born and raised in the Southeast of England and has four children.

Richard Sleegers

Richard Sleegers lectures in philosophy, ethics and research methodology at the HAN University of Applied Sciences in the city of Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He has completed a Master in Philosophy and in Education, focusing on hermeneutical phenomenology and the philosophy of religion. He eventually landed in the Social Sciences and is researching ethical and religious dilemma’s in both social work and health care: for a minor program ‘Spirituality in Social Work’ and for a Lectorate for ‘Health care sustainability’. He also leads the student advisory board at his faculty and is involved in creating curriculum for ‘Bildung’, to help social workers to be more spiritually and culturally sensitive. In his spare time Richard interests in Mormon studies and other theo-philosophical topics, one of which is interfaith dialogue. He especially reaches out to the Muslim community and volunteers as strategic advisor and researcher for a youth intervention in Nijmegen that uses soccer to motivate youth to succeed at school and help in their urban communities.

Richard married Sarah in 2004 and they have four children. He was baptized as a convert in 2000, served in the Greece Athens Mission from 2002-2004, was an Elders quorum president, served for Family Services Netherlands for 7 years as a group leader and coordinator (high counselor), and is now 1st counselor in the bishopric of his ward.


Christian Euvrard

Christian Euvrard is regional director for the Europe Southeast Region (seventeen countries from Italy to Cyprus, Hungary to Albania, etc.) in the Seminary and Institute Program. Euvrard  is a former director of the Paris LDS Institute of Religion for twenty-two years. He received a BA and an MA in philosophy (University of Paris), an MS in theology of religions (Catholic University of Paris), and a PhD in religious studies from the Sorbonne University (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes). Currently, Euvrard is involved in post-doctoral studies in religions at the Groupe Sociétés, Religions et Laïcités (GSRL), a research laboratory in the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France.

His interests are in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Europe, the relationships between states and churches, interfaith dialogue, and the status of minority religions. He is the author of a book on Louis Bertrand, one of the first converts to Mormonism in France in 1850, and has a two-volume book on the history of the Church in France in preparation. Euvrard has participated in numerous conferences on religion throughout Europe and has organized a few himself.

He and his wife Marie-Françoise are the parents of two boys.

Hans Noot

Hans Noot, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, owns the consulting firm European Personnel Analysis & Consulting and runs the Gerard Noodt Foundation for Freedom of Religion or Belief. Noot’s upbringing and activities has taken him all over the world. His time is spent writing books and articles, teaching religion, advocating for religious freedoms and other human rights, consulting organizations, and supporting his wife and children and grandchildren. Noot received a BS and an MOB from Brigham Young University and is currently a PhD candidate in organizational anthropology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands.

David Kirkham

David Kirkham is academic director of the Brigham Young University London Centre, senior fellow for comparative law and international policy at BYU Law School’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and an associate professor of political science at BYU. Prior to joining BYU, Kirkham served as associate dean and professor of international politics and democratic studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

He also has served as an associate professor of history, director of international history, and director of international plans and programs at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and as a U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate in England and Washington, D.C.Kirkham has lived sixteen years of his adult life in five European countries (Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium) and officially represented the U.S. and the UN in nearly fifty nations on six continents, including as senior humanitarian affairs officer at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva (with duties primarily in Africa).

He received a PhD from George Washington University and a JD from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU. His writing and teaching address international human rights, global democratization, constitutionalism, revolution, diplomacy, and the global challenges posed by ideological extremism. He is the editor of the book State Responses to Minority Religions and co-editor of two recent books on Islam, law, and politics in Europe.

Frederick W. Axelgard

Frederick W. Axelgard is a senior fellow in international relations at the Wheatley Institution. Prior to joining Wheatley in 2013, Axelgard had an extensive career in international affairs, public policy, and international business centered in Washington D.C.

He worked for U.S. Senator E. Jake Garn of Utah (1980–81), and at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (1982–89), where he was a senior fellow in Middle East Studies and wrote extensively on Iraqi politics and U.S.–Iraq relations. From 1989–2002, Axelgard served with the U.S. Department of State in a variety of capacities. He worked for several years on the Arab-Israeli peace process as coordinator of a multilateral working group on arms control and regional security, after which he served as counselor for political-military affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia. Following the terror attacks of September 2001, Axelgard was seconded to the U.S. Central Command as State Department liaison during Operation Enduring Freedom, for which he received the Department’s Superior Merit Award. From 2002–12, he worked for General Dynamics, as director of international business development at corporate headquarters and later vice president of Middle East business development at Axsys Technologies.

Axelgard graduated summa cum laude from Brigham Young University (1977) and received an MA in law and diplomacy (1979) and a PhD in international studies (1988) from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He and his wife Robyn have five children and thirteen grandchildren.

James Faulconer

James Faulconer, a professor of philosophy at Brigham Young University, teaches courses in the philosophy of religion and contemporary European philosophy. Faulconer was the first person in his immediate family to graduate from high school and one of the first, if not the first, in his extended family to graduate from college. He received a BA from Brigham Young University and an MA and a PhD from Pennsylvania State University.

He enjoys contemporary European philosophy and gets a thrill out of teaching advanced students. In those classes, his specialties—Heidegger and twenty-first century French thought, especially as the latter concerns religion—come into play. He says those may sound like arcane topics, but he asks for a chance to show you why they can be important to your intellectual life and may help improve your spiritual life.

Faulconer has held several positions in the university outside of his department, including dean of Undergraduate Studies. And for five years he was a Richard L. Evans Professor of Christian Understanding, with the remit to help Latter-day Saints and those of other religions understand one another better. Most recently, he spent two years in London working for BYU as the academic director of the BYU London Centre, where he worked to create cooperative relations with universities in the UK, primarily by sponsoring or cosponsoring academic lectures and workshops.

He and his wife Janice Faulconer have twelve grandchildren and four children.

Louise Paulsen

Louise Paulsen is originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, but is currently studying political science with minors in European studies and business management at Brigham Young University—Provo. Paulsen’s focus is on conflict resolution, peacebuilding, international politics, and European nationalism, and she is a co-founder and president of the Peace and Conflict Resolution Society and a former president of Sigma Iota Rho, both at BYU. She is a Wheatley Student Scholar and a research assistant for Fred Axelgard at BYU. In her downtime, Paulsen enjoys traveling, reading, dancing, exploring, and connecting with other people. As one of the organizers of the LDS EuroSeminar, she is ecstatic to help build this new network among her peers in Europe.