ICORN is led by the ICORN Board of Representatives from the ICORN Member Cities. The ICORN Secretariat is responsible for the daily running of the organisation.
The ICORN Board of Representatives
ICORN is led by a Board of Representatives elected by the General Assembly every two years. The ICORN Board is elected by the ICORN Member Cities and consists of representatives from six Member Cities from different nations across the network, representing and advocating ICORN's aims and views. Representatives from PEN International, Sølvberget Cultural Centre and an ICORN Resident may also attend ICORN Board meetings with the right to speak and suggest agenda items.
Chris Gribble, ICORN Chair of Board
Norwich City of Refuge, United Kingdom
The National Centre for Writing (previously Writers' Centre Norwich) was one of ICORN's founding members and Chris Gribble has been an active participant in the network since its start. Chris was a member of the original Advisory Board, has served as Board Member of the ICORN Board of Directors for two full terms, and was elected Chair of the ICORN Board at the ICORN General Assembly in Paris, France, in 2016. Norwich was one of the six cities which took part in the five-year EU-funded Shahrazad project.
After completing a PhD in German Poetry and Philosophy at the University of Manchester, Chris worked in publishing and the cultural sector as Director of Manchester Poetry Festival and Manchester Literature Festival. As well as being Chair of the ICORN Board, Chris sits on the Boards of Carcanet Press, Modern Poetry in Translation, and the New Anglia LEP Culture Board. He is a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) and is the Chief Executive of the National Centre for Writing.
Annika Strömberg, ICORN Vice Chair
Uppsala City of Refuge, Sweden
Annika Strömberg is the Deputy Chair of the ICORN Board and has been part of it since 2012. In 2008, Annika drafted the proposal for Uppsala to become an ICORN City of Refuge and has since been the coordinator of the city. Strömberg also serves as Cultural Strategist at the Municipality of Uppsala, primarily working in the sphere of literature and public education.
Annika trained as librarian in Borås in 1992 and was educated as cultural worker at the Uppsala University. She subsequently worked at the photo and text archive at the Tidningen Göteborgs Posten, was a librarian at Falkenberg Municipality and the Sigtuna Foundation Library. Between 1997 and 2003, Annika worked as a librarian on the Book Bus in Uppsala. In addition, Strömberg co-founded the Stig Dagermansgatan Literary Society and has held political positions in the Municipality of Uppsala and Uppsala County Council.
Ralph Henry Reese, ICORN Board Member
Pittsburgh City of Refuge, United States of America
Henry Reece was elected Member of the ICORN Board at the 2016 General Assembly in Paris, France, and is the co-founder and president of Pittsburgh City of Asylum and publisher of Samsonia Way magazine. Henry is also former pricipal in Reese Brothers and Communications & Commerce.
Reese is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University and SUNY Buffalo and has honorary degrees from Seton Hill University and Chatham University. He was awarded the Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's Citizen Service Award as well as the Purpose Prize Fellow.
Sabine Gimbrere, ICORN Board Member
Amsterdam City of Refuge, The Netherlands
Sabine Gimbrère was elected Member of the ICORN Board at the 2018 General Assembly in Malmö, Sweden.
Since 2014, Sabine has been the Director of the International Office of the City of Amsterdam and is the main advisor to the Mayor of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam City government on international policy and affairs. She is also an advisor to the Dutch National UNESCO Commission. Prior to this, Sabine served as senior international affairs advisor at the Department of Social Affairs of the City of Amsterdam covering arts, culture, education, sports, youth and diversit in countries such as Morocco, Turkey, China, and Brazil.
Gimbrère was educated as an international lawyer at the University of Amsterdam and the European University Institute in Florence. She worked in the sphere of human rights law at the University of Amsterdam prior to joining the Dutch Ministery of Education, Culture and Science where she served as a policy lawyer, focusing on culture in Europe and beyond and dealing with issues such as the EU Cultural Programme and looted art in World War II. She was also the deputy head of the Dutch delegation to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
Adi Blum, ICORN Board Member
Bern City of Refuge, Switzerland
Adi Blum was elected Member of the ICORN Board at the 2022 General Assembly in Gdansk, Poland. He is General Secretary of the Swiss German PEN Centre and ICORN coordinator for the city of Bern. Adi also works as a playwright, musician and as an organizer of cultural events.
He studied English literature, German literature and philosophy at the University of Zurich. He is co-founder of different cultural production companies in Switzerland. He is an active member of the Swiss Writers` Association (AdS). He served on the board of the European Writers' Council (EWC) from 2002 to 2009. Since 2011 he has worked for the Swiss German PEN Centre (DSPZ) as general secretary. In 2016 he initiated its Writers in Exile-Programm.
Robert Piaskowski , ICORN Board Member
Krakow City of Refuge, Poland
Robert Piaskowski was elected Member of the ICORN Board at the 2020 Online General Assembly. He is a cultural manager, educator, sociologist and diplomat and has been associated with the Krakow Festival Office since 2004 where he has been responsible for international festivals such as the literary festivals Conrad Festival and Miłosz Festiva.
Robert is the artistic director of the Krakow Film Music Festival and is also responsible for the film policy of Krakow, supervising the activities of the Krakow Film Commission as well as Krakow's role as a UNESCO City of Literature. As a member of the Convention for the Cultural Development Strategy for Krakow, Piaskowski has taken part in the preparation of the Programme for the Development of Culture in Krakow until 2030. Additionally, Robert oversaw the process of Krakow's application to be a UNESCO Creative City of Literature, its application to ICORN, and for involving other Polish cities to become ICORN Cities of Refuge.
Currently, Robert is the Plenipotentiary for Culture of the Mayor of the City of Krakow and a member of the Convention for the Cultural Development Strategy for Krakow where he represents the Mayor of Krakow in strategic areas of culture and international cooperation in the fields of culture, heritage, and creativity including the OWHC, ICORN, the Festival Cities Network, EFA, UCCN.
Piakowski is a member of the programming councils of the Krakow Museum, the Wawel Royal Castle Museum, and the National Museum amongst others. He is a member of the Villa Decius Association, the City of Literature Foundation and the Society of Lovers of Krakow Monuments and History. Robert is also a lecturer at the Jagiellonian University and the AGH University of Science and Technology.
The ICORN Secretariat
Sølvberget Cultural Centre, Stavanger, Norway
The ICORN Secretariat is located in the Sølvberget Cultural Centre in Stavanger, Norway. It handles the day-to-day running of the organisation, including receiving and screening applications from potential residents through authenticating their work and verifying the persecution and danger they are exposed to. The ICORN Secretariat also establishes contact between applicants and the ICORN Cities of Refuge and advises both parties throughout the whole process. Additionally, the Secretariat facilitates contact and cooperation between ICORN Cities of Refuge, City Coordinators, promotional arenas and ICORN residents. It continuously strives to recruit more cities and expand the network of organisations which can through the various stages of an application.
Find out more about the ICORN Secretariat and get in touch.