Biennale Committee 2019

Martin Noack

Bertelsmann Stiftung (Host)

As Senior Expert, Dr. Martin Noack is responsible for the project “Careers via Competences” in the program “Learning for Life” at Bertelsmann Stiftung in Gütersloh, Germany. The project aims at improving the chances of people with low levels of formal qualification to participate in further education and qualified work. To this end, the project develops, tests and promotes concepts and tools of competence assessment, development and recognition. More info at:

Martin studied Psychology in Marburg, Turin, Detroit and Bremen with a focus on the aging workforce and received his PhD in Psychology from Jacobs University Bremen in 2009. He joined Bertelsmann Stiftung in 2012, after working for some years as age management consultant and lecturer for statistics at Jacobs University and University of Bremen. Martin enjoys lifelong learning not only at work but also as a father of three daughters and as a passionate choir singer.

Heidi Bolton

South African Qualifications Authority – ‘SAQA’
Dr Heidi Bolton is the Research Director at the South African Qualifications Authority – ‘SAQA’. She oversees the research for national policy development and implementation, for the National Qualifications Framework – the NQF – the system for education, training, development and work in South Africa. Her responsibilities have included overseeing long-term SAQA Partnership Research into a maximally inclusive RPL model, a peer-reviewed book on ‘RPL as specialized pedagogy’, and co-leading national and NQF Sub-Framework RPL policy development. She has also worked for a Quality Council, as an academic textbook publisher, and has taught adults, and at school and university levels.

Antra Carlsen

Nordic network for Adult Learning

Antra Carlsen is the head-coordinator of the Nordic Network for Adult Learning (NVL), established by the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) in 2005. The network unites all the Nordic countries and works according to the strategy of the NCM on e.g. adult educators’ competence development, VPL, guidance counselling, innovations in education.

1995 – 2005 Antra has been a project leader for Nordic – Baltic co-operation under the NCM. Training for adult education practitioners, civic society development, and partnership building between NGOs and governments have been her fields of responsibility. Antra Carlsen has a degree in English Philology from the University of Latvia.

Ruud Duvekot

EC-VPL, the Netherlands
Ruud’s work focuses on creating ‘learning opportunities’ for the citizen. The valuation of prior learning plays the primary rol, being thé instrument to strengthen lifelong learning for the sake of employability, empowerment, qualification and/or citizenship.

Bodil Husted

NVR – VIA University College

​Bodil L. Husted is head of the R&D Program for Validation of Prior Learning, NVR, Centre for Lifelong Learning, VIA University College – Denmark. She is involved in cross-sectorial research and development of lifelong learning with a strong focus on the individual’s transitions in life. Due to the function as head of NVR, Bodil Husted takes part in a broad field of VPL network activities, including national, Nordic and European R&D projects. Bodil Husted is a Danish member of the NVL Expert network for validation.

Anni Karttunen


Anni Karttunen has worked with adult learning for nearly 20 years. Previously she was the head of unit of EUedu – Centre for European Educational Policy. Anni was one of the founding members of the Nordic Network for Adult Learning (NVL). She is still active in the network as an expert in validation of non-formal and informal learning.

For the past three years Anni worked for the Finnish National Agency for Education as a Programme Manager for Adult Education. Currently Anni is an entrepreneur specializing in developing Adult Learning policies, consulting, training and writing on issues relevant to Adult Learning.

Raúl Valdes Cotera

UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL)

Raúl Valdés-Cotera is a Programme Coordinator at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL). For more than fifteen years he has been working in international organisations in the field of lifelong learning and adult education. Mr Valdés-Cotera has led various research projects such as the regional report of the current situation for Adult Education in Latin America (2007). He was editor together with Mr Jin Yang of the Conceptual Evolution and Policy Developments in Lifelong Learning (2011), and in 2013 published the Glossary for Adult Education in Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the past three years he has been managing the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) and co-edited with Mr Norman Longworth and others Unlocking the Potential of Urban Communities: Case Studies of Twelve Learning Cities (UIL, 2015). Mr Cotera holds a Bachelor in Actuary, a master degree in Administration and a PhD in Education.

Lieve van den Brande

European Commission, DG Employment, Social affairs and Inclusion

Prior to this, she has worked more than 30 years at the European Commission around e-Learning, frameworks and assessment of digital and entrepreneurial competences; pedagogics and didactics of the use of technologies for learning; open education towards open innovation; e-maturity of learning organizations and several years in research and development of social sciences. She graduated in Educational and Psychological Sciences as well as in Teacher Education at the University of Brussels (B) and holds a doctoral degree in Educational sciences from the University of Liège (B). She is Dutch mother tongue and fluent in English, French and German.

Lieve Van den Brande is senior expert “Skills and qualifications” in Directorate General Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion at the European Commission. Based on a long standing research background, she is actually responsible for developing and implementing the validation of Non-formal and informal learning EU Recommendation.

Ernesto Villalba-Garcia

European Commission, CEDEFOP

Ernesto Villalba (@ernvillalba) works at the European Center for the Development of Vocational Education and Training (Cedefop) since 2011. He is responsible for the area of validation of non-formal and informal learning, where he works together with the Commission in the follow up of the Council Recommendation of 2012 on validation as well as in the updating of the European Inventory and the European Guidelines. He holds a Ph.D. in International and Comparative Education from Stockholm University and is an editorial correspondent at the European Journal of Education.