ALL DIGITAL AWARDS 2017: Digital Changemaker Veronique De Leener

BEST DIGITAL CHANGEMAKER FINALIST

Veronique De Leener

Brussels, Belgium

Director at Maks vzw

Years in service in the current organisation: 18

 

WORK EXPERIENCE

For Veronique, digital inclusion has always been a priority, both at Maks vzw and before that at Foyer, both in Brussels. In 1999, she helped found Maks vzw in one of the poorest and most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Brussels: Kuregem. Her goal was to help people on their way to inclusion in society and work, through social economy projects and digital skills.

Under Veronique's practical and substantive leadership, Maks vzw grew to be the large organization it is today, with a focus on digital inclusion for all ages, helping disadvantaged citizens find work and several social economy projects, such as a graphics agency.
Furthermore, she is always making more efforts for digital inclusion, together with partners such as Mediawijs.be or Foyer, the city of Brussels and other European agencies through ALL DIGITAL.

PROFESSIONALISM

Veronique and Maks support digital inclusion through various projects. First of all, there are the internal social economy jobs, where people can learn to become a graphic designer or multimedia animator on the job. Secondly, there is the Maks Werk trajectory, where disadvantaged citizens are coached in finding suitable work. They learn how to make a C.V., how to do a job interview as well as basic digital skills for the modern workforce.

In Maks Digitaal, there are projects for all ages and lessons in basic ICT. The main focus is on Digital Storytelling (DS) on the one hand and on learning to code on the other. Through the digital storytelling, participants learn digital skills while telling their story to the world. This empowers people from disadvantaged situations. At the same time, there are various projects on learning to code, ranging from camps for children, teaching youngsters to become a digital camp animator, to introducing adults to digital technology and code.

LEADERSHIP, COOPERATION, RESOURCE MOBILISATION

Veronique is a strong leader with a clear vision for Maks vzw. She strives constantly to be on the forefront of digital inclusion. At the same time she holds very close contact with both the Maks employees and volunteers, as well as with the inhabitants of the Kuregem neighbourhood. This way, she has a strong bond and insight in the needs of the organisation and the disadvantaged people that Maks serves. She knows everyone involved and takes personal care to listen to their stories.

Next to this, Veronique also tries to forge bonds with other organisations, for collaborative work. This is both locally (Brussels and Flanders) as well is internationally through ALL DIGITAL. Through her strong connections and convincing mission, she is able to create a financially stable enterprise fighting for digital inclusion, together with her team.

SOCIAL IMPACT

Every year, Maks vzw and Veronique reach about 2,500 people, mostly from a disadvantaged background in Brussels. And every year, 500 of those people are guided towards employment. Another part are both adults, youngsters and children who either take their first steps with technology or learn to use it in a different, creative way.

One of the greatest achievements is that our work on digital inclusion doesn’t stop after one project or course. Adults become multimedia animators for other adults, teenagers and children. Youngsters train to become digital camp animators and eventually guide their own brothers, sisters or neighbours during coding camps. When these children grow up, they again take on the role of animators and so on. Maks vzw has created a system that keeps feeding itself with innovation and a hunger for digital inclusion.

The wind is changing in Brussels, with more and more social and digital inclusion, partly thanks to the hard work of Veronique.

Check other finalists for ALL DIGITAL AWARDS: 

ALL DIGITAL AWARDS 2017: Digital Changemaker Ana Pleško

ALL DIGITAL AWARDS 2017: Digital Changemaker Olivera Stanić

 

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