11 Mar 2024

Unveiling the Speakers for our Seminar on “Municipal Responsibility for Community Mental Health”

Join us for an enlightening exploration of the intricacies of municipal responsibility in community mental health at our upcoming seminar in Cologne, Germany, on March 14 & 15, 2024

Prepare to be inspired and informed as we hear from a diverse lineup of speakers who are experts, professionals, and advocates in the field of mental health. This seminar promises to be an invaluable opportunity to gain insights, share experiences, and foster meaningful connections with fellow professionals.

Read below about our esteemed speakers who will guide us through this transformative journey towards enhanced community mental health care. Join us in shaping the future of mental health care in Cologne and beyond.

Franz Reimering

Franz is a businessman by profession, he holds a graduate degree in business administration.

He had been significantly impacted by psychological symptoms since his teenage years, which eventually led to a professional burnout in the early 2000s, culminating in a breakdown.

Throughout his personal recovery journey, he succeeded in finding a new sense of purpose in life. His current passion lies in voluntary psychosocial work.

Within the Psychosocial Working Group of the City of Cologne, he represents the interests of advisory boards such as SPZ and living arrangements. He conducts seminars and delivers lectures on various mental health topics upon request.

He serves as a member of the Complaints Council of Psychiatry in the City of Cologne, offering support to individuals in their recovery journey as a companion and actively participates in the “School meets Psychiatry” project.

Currently, he holds a position on the supervisory board of the Cologne Association for Rehabilitation e.V. Additionally, he is a voting member of the StadtAG Disability Policy, focusing on individuals with mental disabilities.

Elisabeth Ostermann holds diplomas in Planning and Counseling in Social Services as well as in Education from the University of Essen-Duisburg (2004). Her studies encompassed social education, social sciences, and psychology.

She also obtained a Diploma in Social Work from the Catholic University of Cologne in 1992.

Since 2007, she has been working as a scientific assistant in the Department of Health Planning and Promotion at the Health Authority of the City of Cologne. From 2007 to 2019, her responsibilities included health reporting and evaluation, focusing on addiction/psychiatry, children’s health, and health in old age. Since 2020, she has been involved in coordinating psychiatry and mental health programs, and since 2022, she has been engaged in the development of the community psychiatric association (GPV) in Cologne.

From 1992 to 2006, she was involved in project work with a concentration on social planning, coordination, and counseling in occupational health management in Cologne.

Dr. Thomas Hummelsheim

Pychiatrist, Psychotherapist, Neurologist
Chairman of Psychosozialer Trägerverein Solingen e.V.
Deputy Chairman of Arbeitsgemeinschaft Gemeindepsychiatrie Rheinland (AGPR) e.V.

Dr. Klaus Obert

Dr. Klaus Obert is a Doctor of Social Sciences and a Diplom Sozialpädagoge. He pursued his studies in social pedagogy as a major, with sociology and psychology as minors at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen from 1972 to 1978.

From 1978 to 1981, he worked in the psychiatric department at Freudenstadt District Hospital. In 1981, he completed an internship at the Mental Health Centers in Trieste and Arezzo.

Since 1982, he has been involved in the development and expansion of socio-psychiatric assistance in Stuttgart. From 2001 until December 31, 2021, he served as the Head of the Addiction and Social Psychiatric Assistance Department at Caritasverband für Stuttgart e.V. He also held the position of spokesperson for the Community Psychiatric Association for Psychiatry (GPV) in Stuttgart until the end of 2021.

As of January 1, 2022, he has retired from his professional responsibilities.

Dr. Obert currently serves as the Chairman of the state association of the German Society for Social Psychiatry (DGSP) in Baden-Württemberg. He is a member of the editorial team of the “Basisreihe” psychiatry series at Psychiatrie Verlag (now known as “Praxis Wissen”). Additionally, he holds the position of Deputy Chairman of the Federal Working Group of Community Psychiatric Associations (BAG GPV) and is a member of the steering group of the nationwide network of social psychiatric services.

Petra Nieuwlaat has been the director of Clubhouse De Waterheuvel in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, since 2016. Prior to her involvement in the clubhouse movement, she dedicated over 20 years to mental healthcare.

Her journey began in 1988 as a psychiatric nurse in a large psychiatric hospital. Over the years, she held various managerial positions for 22 years in one of the largest healthcare organizations in Amsterdam. It was during this time that she became acquainted with De Waterheuvel and became engaged in the clubhouse movement.

In 2020, Petra assumed the role of treasurer of Clubhouse Europe. Collaborating closely with the board of Clubhouse Europe, she endeavors to enhance the visibility of clubhouses in Europe and foster sustainable collaborations within the European mental health network.

As the director of Clubhouse De Waterheuvel, Petra perceives her responsibility not only as leading the clubhouse community but also advocating for the interests of individuals with mental health challenges in broader society. She aims to create new opportunities, forge partnerships with other organizations, and promote the values of recovery.

At 57 years old, Petra resides in Amsterdam. She has a daughter who is 20 years old and currently lives and studies in Nijmegen.

Matthias studied medicine at Düsseldorf University from 1980 to 1986, obtaining his medical license on December 15, 1986.

He began his medical specialist training at the Psychiatric State Hospital in Cologne from January 1, 1987, to December 31, 1989. Subsequently, he pursued further training and served as a deputy senior physician at the Psychiatric University Hospital in Zurich from January 1, 1990, to October 31, 1992.

From November 2, 1992, to September 30, 1996, Matthias worked as a Senior Physician at the University Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at RWTH Aachen. He then transitioned to the Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University of Cologne, where he held the position of Senior Physician from October 1, 1996, to August 15, 1999.

Starting from August 16, 1999, until June 30, 2014, he served at the Mettmann county health authority in the social psychiatric service.

Since July 1, 2014, Matthias Albers has been associated with the City of Cologne Health Authority, specifically working in the Department of Social Psychiatry.

Matthias is also a Board Member of EUCOMS Network and the key person for organizing this seminar in Cologne.

Felicitas Kresimon


Mrs. Felicitas Kresimon, SFE CEFEC General Secretary and Vice-Chairman of the board of DUEMILAUNO AGENZIA SOCIALE, an Italian social Cooperative based at Trieste, managing health, social and education services and services of job placement for persons with vulnerabilities. 

Since 2014 and 2020 she has been teaching in the faculties of Social Services at the Ostfalia University of Wolfenbuettel (DE) and Trieste (IT), focusing on the processes of deinstitutionalization and the social enterprise movement, promoting as well transnational activities, also beyond the borders of Europe.

Robert van Voren

Robert van Voren (1959) is Chief Executive of the international foundation ‘Human Rights in Mental Health-FGIP, an international foundation for mental health reform. He is also Executive Director of the Andrei Sakharov Research Center for Democratic Development and Professor at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania, and Ilia State University in Tbilisi, Georgia.

In the 1980s Robert van Voren coordinated international campaigns afainst the political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union and became head of the Global Initiative on Psychiatry in 1986. The organization successfully campaigned to have the Soviets removed from the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) in 1983 and have conditions placed on their return to the WPA in 1989.

Starting in 1990-1991, Van Voren and his foundation developed an extenmsive program to support mental health refromers in the (former) USSR to humanize mental health care. The organization gradually developed into what is now the Federation Global Initiative on Psychiatry, with member organizations in Bulgaria, Georgia, Lithuania, Sri lanka, The Netherlands and the United States. It has implemented many hundreds of projects in Europe, Africa, Aisa and the Americas and is particularly active in countries such as Ukraine, where it provides a wide range of support efforts to counter the psychological consequences of war.

Robert van Voren was elected Honorary Fellow of the British Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1997, became Honorary Member of the Ukrainian Psychiatric Association in 2004 and was knighted by Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands in 2005 for his work as a human rights activist. In 2003 he was granted Lithuanian citizenship in recognition of his contribution to the development of an independent Lithuania.

Olena Protsenko is a Ukrainian expert on mental health and human rights. She is currently an Assistant Lawyer at the European Court of Human Rights. 

For 4 years, Olena did strategic litigation of the rights of persons with mental disabilities in Ukraine. Olena had 19 successful cases in the European Court of Human Rights and established important precedents for the protection of people in psychiatric institutions. 

Olena is a Fulbright scholar and holds an LL.M. in international human rights law from Indiana University McKinney School of Law. Olena did Postdoctoral research in comparative mental health law at the University of Virginia, and was a consultant on mental health and human rights for the World Health Organization in Ukraine and FGIP. 

Vasile Gafiuc

With a Law Degree and Master’s Degree in Management of Adult Education Institutions, he has been active since 2002 in the field of vocational counselling and job creation areas through social enterprises and accessing European Union Funds. He has over 15 years of experience in the field of employment support services and social economy development in Romania. Since 2007 active member of Social Firms Europe CEFEC with significant contributions during the CEFEC General Secretary position between 2012 and 2021. Worked in several areas of civil society as an adviser for NGO development in Romania, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, and creation of support services for people with mental disabilities, and support for youngsters coming from isolated rural and poor communities. Currently doing a PhD in Sociology to build a thesis on” Youth NEETs a resource for rural community’s reconstructions”. He believes in local community resources to build support services and to give space to the power of peer-to-peer support.

President of Bucovina Institute Association from Romania and member of Social Firms Europe CEFEC executive team with the position of development manager.