Amalia Zepou AthensAmalia Zepou, Vice Mayor of Athens
Claudia Leisinger

The Power of Communities to Lead Innovation

When Greece was hit by the economic crisis, documentary filmmaker Amalia Zepou decided to join many of her neighbors in Athens who stepped in where the state failed to provide services. She volunteered to clean vacant lots, manage recycling projects, or tend the community garden. During this time, she experienced first-hand how the crisis mobilized citizens to find innovative solutions together.

What was missing was an efficient way for the volunteers and activists to get in touch and collaborate, which meant that a lot of the energy and potential got lost. Amalia felt the municipality was missing out on a chance to foster the positive dynamics that she was witnessing in the community.

In 2013, Amalia met with Athens Mayor Gioros Kaminis to discuss how to better leverage the citizens’ engagement. They started to develop ideas, and eventually Amalia decided to run for the Athens City Council to make them come true. When she was appointed Vice Mayor for Civil Society and Innovation, she implemented the digital platform “synAthina” to connect civil society actors, help them gain access to resources and include them in local decision-making processes. Until now, the platform has hosted over 3,138 activities and more than 373 community groups.

Amalia took part in the 10th BMW Foundation Global Table in Athens in 2017 and is a member of the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network.

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