On December 18, 2020, Aspen Institute Romania hosted the 10th edition of the ASPEN LEADERSHIP AWARDS, an event which was this year organized online.

The event celebrated 14 years of activity of the Aspen Institute Romania and represented a special occasion for the Members of the Institute and for the beneficiaries of the Aspen programs to come together virtually and reflect on the impact that the Aspen community has on the development of the region.

During these turbulent times, the Aspen Institute Romania managed to remain close to its mission of promoting values-based leadership. Throughout our entire activity we succeeded in fostering resilience in the face of challenges posed by the pandemic and to discuss lessons learned and possible solutions, providing concrete recommendations for recovery.

The Aspen Leadership Awards are an opportunity to bring recognition to individuals who left their mark on the Romanian and global society, who were innovators and examples of ethical and professional conduct, in fields such as public service, research and innovation, or arts.

Also, through the Aspen Leadership Awards the Aspen Institute Romania brought recognition to the activities and initiatives that the Aspen Fellows and Alumni put forward in creating social and civic change, through the Aspen Social Action Prize, a 1000 EUR grant offered to a project chosen by the vote of the Aspen Community and presented during the event.

The Aspen Leadership Awards constitute a source of financial support for the Aspen Leadership Trust, which was created at the beginning of the year 2020 as a structure aiming to support the Leadership Initiatives of the Aspen Institute Romania and to offer scholarships to join our Leadership Programs to high school students, university students, young professionals, public sector representatives and NGO representatives, in Romania and the region.

We thank all the Members of the Institute, the Aspen Fellows and Alumni and our Partners and Sponsors for their constant support, dedication, and willingness to contribute to the Good Society.

The attendance to the online Aspen Leadership Awards 2020 was open to the members of the Aspen community, by invitation only.

We thank the Sponsors of the Aspen Leadership Awards 2020 for their devotion to the Aspen Idea:

Award Sponsors: UniCredit Bank, ExxonMobil, Ms. Cătălina Iuga and Mr. Vasile Iuga
Gold Leaf Sponsor: Merk Class
Silver Leaf Sponsors: Alliance Healthcare Romania, Orion, Rompetrol
Junior Table Captain Sponsor: Ana Gabriela Atanasiu Law Office

With the support of David Sandu Jewelry.

Individual donors:

Gold Individual Donation: Roxana Barbato (Economic Opportunities & Financing the Economy Seminar Alumna 2020), Daria Cătălui (Young Leaders Program Fellow 2010), Rodica Pirău (Young Leaders Program Fellow 2018), Andrei-Mihai Pogonaru (Young Leaders Program Fellow 2009), Vlad Dan Roman (Young Leaders Program Participant 2020), Iulia Scântei (Public Service Leadership Program Fellow), Ștefan Strilciuc (Young Leaders Program Fellow 2018), Mihai Zamfir (Young Leaders Program Participant 2020)

Silver Individual Donation: Ana Cătăuță (Young Leaders Program Fellow 2010), Ana Clinci (Junior Seminar Alumna 2020), Virginia Oțel (Aspen Seminar for Leaders Alumna 2013)


  • The ”Mihnea Constantinescu” Values-Based Leadership Award: Dr. ADRIANA PISTOL

The ”Mihnea Constantinescu” Values Based Leadership Award is presented to a public leader or national organization that has excelled in his/ her/ its field of activity, by constantly supporting and promoting national and universal values.


Since the end of 2004, Dr. Adriana Pistol has been the Director of the National Centre for Communicable Diseases Surveillance and Control at the National Institute of Public Health, a new structure established to help integration of Romania in EU, in the field of public health. As national and international expert (for ECDC and WHO), Dr. Adriana Pistol performed many missions regarding preparedness and response to health threats, in Romania and many countries from European Region of WHO.

Starting April 2020, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Adriana Pistol is the Head of the Commission for Clinical and Epidemiological Management of COVID-19 within the Romanian Ministry of Health, proving to be an example of professionalism, strength and an authentic values-based leader.

Dr. Adriana Pistol has an experience of more than 25 years working in the field of surveillance of communicable diseases, mainly vaccine preventable diseases, has technical expertise in the CDs system organization, vaccination program management and public health policy, has been a Senior adviser in many WHO and ECDC country missions for immunization programs and an Alternate Member of the Executive Board of WHO.

  • The Innovation and Technology Leadership Award: Prof. DANIELA RUS

The Innovation and Technology Leadership Award is presented to a leader or an organization which brought significant contribution in the field of innovation and research, or the entrepreneurial environment. Innovation stands a cornerstone to social and economic progress.


Prof. Daniela Rus is the Andrew (1956) and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL); and Deputy Dean of Research for Schwarzman College of Computing at MIT. Rus’ research interests are in robotics, artificial intelligence, and data science.

The focus of her work is developing the science and engineering of autonomy, toward the long-term objective of enabling a future with machines pervasively integrated into the fabric of life, supporting people with cognitive and physical tasks. Her research addresses some of the gaps between where robots are today and the promise of pervasive robots: increasing the ability of machines to reason, learn, and adapt to complex tasks in human-centered environments, developing intuitive interfaces between robots and people, and creating the tools for designing and fabricating new robots quickly and efficiently. The applications of this work are broad and include transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, construction, monitoring the environment, underwater exploration, smart cities, medicine, and in-home tasks such as cooking.

Prof. Daniela Rus serves as Director of the Toyota-CSAIL Joint Research Center, whose focus is the advancement of AI research and its applications to intelligent vehicles. She is a MITRE senior visiting fellow, serves as a USA expert member for GPAI (Global Partnerships in AI), a member of the board of advisers for Scientific American, a member of the Defense Innovation Board, and a member of several other boards of technical companies.

Prof. Daniela Rus is a Class of 2002 MacArthur Fellow, a fellow of ACM, AAAI and IEEE, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is the recipient of the 2017 Engelberger Robotics Award from the Robotics Industries Association. She earned her PhD in Computer Science from Cornell University.

The 2020 Innovation and Technology Leadership Award is presented by ExxonMobil Romania.

  • The Arts and Society Leadership Award: Mr. ALEXANDER NANAU, Producer Director

The Arts and Society Leadership Award is presented to an individual or organization who has significantly contributed to the enrichment of Romanian culture, promoted Romania abroad and supported the overall development of the country’s cultural patrimony.


Alexander Nanau is a German-Romanian filmmaker. His documentary film THE WORLD ACCORDING TO ION B was awarded an International Emmy Award in 2010. His feature documentary film TOTO AND HIS SISTERS was a European Academy Award nominee 2015. The film had a wide international distribution and played successfully in festivals worldwide.

Alexander Nanau served as Director of Photography for the French/German documentary NOTHINGWOOD (Sonia Kronlund) that was shot in Afghanistan and premiered in Cannes as part of La Quinzaine des Réalisateurs in 2017.

His latest feature length documentary COLLECTIVE premiered at the Venice IFF 2019- as part of the Official Selection – Out of Competition and had its North American premiere at TIFF Toronto, where it was acquired by Magnolia Pictures and Participant for US distribution and other distributers like Dogwoof and Sophie DuLac for Europe and Madman in Australia. COLLECTIVE is produced by Alexander Nanau Production in co-production with Samsa Film Luxembourg and HBO Europe.

Alexander is also teaching and mentoring in several intl. Film Universities and Filmlabs.

The 2020 Arts and Society Leadership Award is presented by UniCredit Bank.

  • The Service with Dignity Leadership Award: Lieutenant-Commander MIHAI-ANDREI MUREȘAN

The Service with Dignity Leadership Award is presented to a Romanian public servant that has proven constant effort to exemplary fulfill work duties and go beyond those, as a role model for the community. By their impeccable professional and ethical standards, those nominated for this award are seen as guardians of the Good Society, leaders among their peers, and as a source of pride and inspiration.

Lieutenant-Commander MIHAI-ANDREI MUREȘAN

Lieutenant-Commander Mihai-Andrei Mureșan is a helicopter pilot at the Air-Medical Detachment (Bucharest Air Medical Base) at the General Inspectorate of Aviation from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Born in Bistrița (Bistrița-Năsăud county) on the 24 of November 1989, he graduated from Andrei Mureșanu Bistrița national high school – Mathematics-Informatics profile.

Lieutenant-Commander Mureșan started flying on military helicopters since 2011 within the Training School for the Romanian Air Force (Ministry of Defense) as a student pilot and graduated in 2013 from the Henri Coandă Air Force Academy in Brașov, the aviation specialty – helicopters pilots, licensed in the field of aeronautical management. In the same year, he got the military helicopter pilot license and obtained the first rank as officer (second lieutenant). Since then, he has been assigned as a rescue helicopter pilot at the Air-Medical Detachment within the General Inspectorate of Aviation from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Since 2014, he has started flying on the SMURD (Romanian Medical Rescue) helicopters (EC-135), first as a student pilot and from 2015 started to perform real rescue missions. In 2015, he graduated with a master’s degree in the field of Organisation Management of Resources within the Regional Department of Defense Resources Management Studies (Ministry of Defense) and became captain pilot for the SMURD helicopters.

In 2019, he was decorated with the Emblem of Honor of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the successful accomplishment of a difficult mountain search and rescue mission, with the helicopter from the Jibou Air-Medical Base, Sălaj County.

At the moment, he is a senior officer with the rank of lieutenant-commander, 1st class military pilot, with 2100 flight hours and over 1200 real rescue missions. In 2020, he performed 350 flight hours in 180 SMURD rescue missions.

The 2020 Service with Dignity Leadership Award is presented by Ms. Cătălina Iuga and Mr. Vasile Iuga.

  • Aspen Social Action Prize 2020: ”Bringing Science and Technology Fairs to kids from rural Romania”, Initiated by Claudia Șerbănuță, Aspen Fellow 2015

Aspen Institute Romania would like to bring recognition to the activities and initiatives that the Aspen Fellows and Alumni put forward in creating social and civic change, through the Aspen Social Action Prize.

The Aspen Fellows and Alumni (the former participants in the Aspen Leadership Programs) are the ones to make nominations and to determine, through their vote, the winning project.

Many of the projects developed by Aspen Fellows and Alumni address the need for balancing disparities in vulnerable communities and in critical areas of social development.

In recognition of their venture and vision, the Aspen Institute Romania would like to continue the tradition of the Aspen Social Action Prize, a 1000 EUR grant that will allow us to showcase and introduce to the wider Aspen Romania family those initiatives that have the potential of turning the lives of people that are falling between the cracks to the better.

Through this year’s Social Action Prize grant, Aspen Institute Romania supports the effort of encouraging the children from the rural areas of Romania to improve their STEM and coding skills, to work in teams and to have confidence in their abilities to build their projects and their future. The project is part of CODEKids Romania Program, initiated by the Progress Foundation.