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Speaker Biographies

Full speaker biographies will appear here shortly, please check back regularly for updates.


Heinz K. Becker

Heinz K. Becker

MEP, European Parliament


Heinz K. Becker is an Austrian politician and Member of the European Parliament (MEP).

After working in the advertising and marketing industry for almost 35 years, Mr Becker started his political life in 2001 as Secretary General of the Austrian Seniors’ Federation, the largest organisation within the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) that represents the interests of the elderly on a both federal and regional level.

He became a MEP in 2011 and was re-elected in 2014. In this role, he has been a member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and of the Committee on Petitions, and a substitute on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. He has also co-chaired a Parliamentary Intergroup on Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity.

By means of his membership in the parliamentary Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (2012-14, 2014-17 as a deputy member) as well as his deputy membership in the Committee on Culture and Education (2011-2014), Mr Becker has been pursuing his longstanding political commitments to elderly people and intergenerational solidarity, standing up for new opportunities as to an active engagement of senior citizens in society, for a better understanding of the necessity of Lifelong Learning in an increasingly volatile economic environment, as well as for a more equal ratio between young and old workers' earnings.

Mr Becker is also a member of the EP’s delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean and for relations with Palestine.

Myriam Cohen

Myriam Cohen

Regional President, Mars Petcare


Myriam Cohen-Welgryn is Regional President for Mars Petcare Europe. She leads a large and diverse business operation and is responsible for 12 factories, and more than 5,000 Associates, 15 factories, , delivering a multi-billion dollar turnover on brands such as Whiskas, Pedigree, Perfect Fit, Sheba, Cesar, Dreamies and Catsan.

Myriam joined Mars in 2013 as General Manager for Mars Petcare France. Under her leadership, the French team developed the Petfood category and strengthened their market share, achieving strong annual growth of 3%. The company’s unique culture and its dedication to its Five Principles saw Mars Petcare France being recognized in the Great Place to Work rankings in 2016, where it achieved second place. Alongside her GM role, Myriam was Category Strategy Lead for Care & Treats since June 2015. She fast realized the incredible potential of this high value, high growth category for consumers and customers.

She has more than 20 years’ experience in FMCG marketing and management in both France and internationally. She held various senior management positions in the Danone Group including General Manager Lu Business Unit France and Nature General Manager. While at Nature, she also acted as VP for Environment where she was oversaw the reduction of environmental impact, in particular, the radical reduction of CO2 emissions. Myriam started her career in marketing in PepsiCo and Proctor and Gamble.

Myriam has a Master in Marketing from ESSEC Business School in Paris, France. She lives in Paris with her husband François, their three daughters Lou, Cléo and Salomé and her cat, Ziggy Jaeger.

Marie-José Enders-Slegers

Marie-José Enders-Slegers

Professor in Anthrozoology, Open University of The Netherlands, and President, IAHAIO


Dr. Marie-José Enders-Slegers got a Master’s degree in Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Utrecht, did her PhD in the field of the elderly (The meaning of companion animals for the quality of life of the elderly, 2000), was trained as a Health Care Psychologist, and is currently working as a professor in Anthrozoology (Human Animal Interaction studies) at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences at the Open University in the Netherlands.

She is founder and chair of IVA - Institute for Anthrozoology and is President of IAHAIO – International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organizations. She is serving on the board of ISAZ (International Society of Anthrozoology), was President of the National Society for the Protection of Animals in the Netherlands and board member of the American Humane Association in U.S.

She is founder and Board member of Stichting Cirkel van Geweld (Circle of Violence, the relation between animal abuse and domestic violence).

She is Fellow of the Institute for Human Animal Connections, Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver, Colorado University in Denver, U.S.A. (since 2010) and Member of the Advisory Board of Green Chimneys, New York, USA (2012).

Sandra McCune

Sandra McCune

Scientific Leader - Human-Animal Interaction, WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition


Sandra McCune, Ph.D., is Scientific Leader for Human-Animal Interaction (HAI) at the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition in the United Kingdom. WALTHAM (part of Mars, Inc.) is a leading scientific authority in pet nutrition and wellbeing and has been advancing the frontiers of research into nutrition and health of pets for over 50 years.

Sandra’s background is in veterinary nursing and animal behavior and welfare. Her doctoral study at the University of Cambridge focused on the assessment of individual variation in the temperament of cats and its impact on their welfare when confined. Since completing her PhD, she has studied a range of topics in cat and dog behavior and welfare for many years, including aspects of temperament, social behavior, feeding behavior, cognition, and age-related changes in behavior. She has extensive experience studying HAI from both animal and human perspectives in collaborations with HAI researchers from the USA, U.K., Austria, Germany, Australia and Brazil.

Dr. McCune was instrumental in the establishment of the WALTHAM’s public-private partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the USA focused on child development and HAI, in planning the workshops sponsored by that partnership, and in editing three volumes on HAI under the partnership: How Animals Affect Us (McCardle, McCune, Griffin, & Maholmes, 2011; APA), Animals in Our Lives (McCardle, McCune, Griffin, Esposito, & Freund, 2011; Brookes Publishing) and The Social Neuroscience of Human-Animal Interaction (Freund, McCune, Esposito, Gee & McCardle 2016; APA). She continues to play a leadership role in the partnership. Sandra shares her home with her family including two cats and a dog.

Elizabeth Ormerod

Elizabeth Ormerod

BVMS MRCVS FRSA and Vice-President, IAHAIO


As Small Animal House Physician, Elizabeth was responsible for Glasgow University’s inner city charity veterinary clinic during which period she became attuned to the significance of companion animals in the lives of vulnerable people, including the elderly. Subsequently with multidisciplinary collaboration she developed veterinary outreach programmes, delivering Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) programmes to schools, nursing homes, hospitals, sheltered housing and prisons.

A Churchill Fellow, Elizabeth has travelled widely to visit model AAI programmes. She writes, lectures and broadcasts on the human-animal interaction and is a visiting lecturer to veterinary schools. Elizabeth is a Vice President of IAHAIO; past Chairman of SCAS; co- Chair of the IAHAIO International Task Force on animal welfare in AAI and co-founder of Canine Partners, the UK assistance dog programme. She is the recipient of the Inaugural International William F. McCulloch Award for excellence in human-animal interaction practice.

Jacki Davis

Jacki Davis

MDC Meade Davis Communications


Jacki Davis is a leading commentator on European Union affairs. She is an experienced journalist, speaker and moderator of high-level events in Brussels and other EU countries, the editor of many publications, a regular broadcaster on television and radio, and is on the European Policy Centre think tank’s governing board. She was previously the EPC’s Communications Director, editor-in-chief of E!Sharp magazine, and launch editor of European Voice, a Brussels-based weekly newspaper on EU affairs.



Thursday 4 May, 2017
12.00 to 17.00




Bibliothèque Solvay

137 rue Belliard
B-1040 Brussels

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