In May and June the San Diego Diplomacy Council was privileged to host six fellows through the YTILI Professional Fellows Program, through the use of entrepreneurship as a tool for economic empowerment. sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented nationally by World Chicago, YTILI promotes mutual understanding, enhances business and leadership skills, and builds lasting partnerships between business leaders from Europe and the United States. Over the course of one month, the YTILI Fellowship Program engages young European entrepreneurs in a series of professional development and leadership activities with their US counterparts. This year, San Diego welcomed six European entrepreneurs through YTILI. The fellows return to Europe with a fresh, accomplished, and innovative perspective of their businesses.
Meet the San Diego YTILI Fellows
Christopher Nordmo // Norway
Christopher Nordmo is CEO and Founder of Watch Vault AS in Lommedalen, Norway. Watch Vault AS is a social media and marketplace for watch collectors. In his role as CEO, Christopher is responsible for international relations, ensuring that the brand continues to expand outside of Norway. In YTILI, Christopher wanted to learn more about how U.S. companies manage social media and execute their operations. During his time in San Diego, Christopher spent four weeks with Briana Weisinger at the South San Diego Small Business Development Center. As winner of San Diego’s pitch competition, Christopher was selected to present his pitch. to a panel of entrepreneurial judges at the YTILI closing ceremony in Washington D.C. Congratulations, Christopher, for representing San Diego!
Constantin Vlas // Moldova
Constantin Vlas is the President of The Association for Intercommunity Development of the Republic of Moldova. He oversees the implementation of a range of inter-community projects to support the development of the social, cultural, economic, and environmental sectors. He emphasizes the importance of leadership, having a flexible style that adapts to every particular community’s needs. Additionally, Constantin is Project Manager of AVAI Movement, an NGO that aims to simplify how cars are adapted for people with disabilities, particularly wheelchair users. By participating in YTILI, Constantin was able to connect with the Burnham Center to learn more about how to effectively engage communities to address opportunities, challenges, and triumphs.
Linh Mai // Czech Republic
Linh Mai is the Executive Producer at AZN Kru, a production company that creates ads, videos, photos, and animation for companies and NGOs based in Prague, Czech Republic. As Executive Producer, Linh oversees every stage of the video-making process. She is also responsible for the growth of the company. By participating in YTILI, Linh hoped to expand her company’s public relations and visibility by learning networking skills while in San Diego. During her time in San Diego, Linh worked with Mixte Communications on new and established client relations, learning about the process of balancing a for-profit business model with non-profit values.
Mateusz Ciasnocha // Poland
Mateusz Ciasnocha is the CEO of European Carbon Farmers, based in Stoebic, Poland, a company dedicated to transitioning the agriculture paradigm from conventional to regenerative and putting farmers at the center of the climate change solution. His company provides Polish farmers the toolbox needed to transition from conventional to regenerative agriculture practices, understood as minimization of tillage and integration of cover crops. Through his YTILI experience with Resource Conservation District, Mateusz was able to connect with Californian farmers and agricultural trends. He also learned about American farming and future green projects from strategic organizations in the region. Mateusz earned his Masters degree in Energy Management from ESCP Europe Business School in 2018.
Nevena Pandža // Bosnia and Herzegovina
Nevena Pandža is Founder of Nutricioniziraj se Multidisciplinarni centar zdravih navika, or Nutrition Multidisciplinary Center for Healthy Habits, a nutrition company in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina that teaches about food and nutritious eating. She leads the company’s vision of making healthy living simple and accessible. As an NGO, she focuses on all age groups, from children to adults, to give them tools necessary to build a healthy lifestyle. While in San Diego, Nevena worked alongside Leah’s Pantry to connect the San Diego community to healthy lifestyles and food choices. She is a firm believer in the power of balanced nutrition as a means to solve many health problems.
Rachel Beattie // United Kingdom
Rachel Beattie is the Director and Co-Founder of Careaux, an inclusive womenswear brand focusing on body image. She oversees a variety of tasks, such as financials, marketing, governance, communications, and social media. Careaux has been incredibly successful in supporting other women’s organizations through supporting 18 charities and volunteering over 2000 hours through their ‘Create and Change the World’ initiative, which focuses on sustainability, diversity, and inclusion. Through the YTILI program, Rachel hoped to learn more about how to further improve diversity and inclusion, not just in her business, but also in the UK’s fashion industry. We connected her with Vivian Sayward at Vivacity Advantage to develop Rachel’s skills as founder of a small organization with a major focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Throughout the fellowship, Rachel learned from sustainable practice organizations to learn and create an action plan for sustainable fashion.
The YTILI Fellowship Experience
The six fellows were in San Diego for four weeks and enjoyed many social, community, cultural, and professional characteristics that San Diego has to offer, including:
- Volunteering at Feeding San Diego to package meal boxes for underserved families in San Diego
- A discussion on what it means to be a pillar of community development with San Diego Pride
- A San Diego Harbor boat tour
- Watching the San Diego Padres at Petco Park
- Home hospitality dinner with SDDC partners
The San Diego Diplomacy Council and our wonderful host organizations and partners welcome future YTILI fellows and international exchange partners. San Diego is fit with the educational, entrepreneurial, and developmental institutions to enhance mutual international understanding, the transfer of ideas and methods, and peace and development globally. We extend our gratitude and congratulations to the U.S. Department of State and World Chicago for facilitating such a rewarding and valuable program and selecting San Diego as a favorable city for our fellows. The San Diego Diplomacy Council and our partners very much look forward to the next cohort of YTILI fellows, always eager to provide the most interactive and promising entrepreneurial exchange in San Diego!
Written by Andrew Steck, Program Intern