Black Sea Women in Nuclear Network (BSWN) is a regional professional organization, that unites experts in nuclear fields from Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Türkiye, Ukraine and other countries.

It comprises women and men from Black Sea countries representing civil society and academia, national governments, and industries. Members and partners join to support the safe and secure use of peaceful nuclear technologies and prevent nuclear proliferation.

The key priorities of this network include highlighting the abundance of regional knowledge and expertise; exchanging views on gender-related issues; and exploring mentorship, training, and networking opportunities for female voices within the field.

Initial motivations to create the Black Sea Women in Nuclear Network arose from a conference dedicated to empowering women in Ukraine in Kyiv Polytechnic Institute held in Kyiv in October 2019.

Building on this idea, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) and Los Alamos National Laboratory, supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy and the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, further developed the Black Sea initiative.

These efforts culminated in a workshop organized by CNS and the Odesa Center for Nonproliferation to finally launch the network at the beginning of December 2021. See more details on

On October 27, 2023, Black Sea Women in Nuclear Network launched the mentorship program. This program is a natural consequence of the organization’s perpetual efforts to sustain female voices and the commitment by BSWN to providing quality mentorship to develop, maintain, and improve performance and promote a learning environment.

The online event gathered 25 participants including BSWN Leadership, special guests, observers, mentors and mentees to celebrate together the start of the program.

The launch meeting focused on the importance of the mentorship program, the learning environment created for the BSWN community. Program mentors reflected upon their responsibilities and mentees shared their excitement to be part of the program.

Ms. Mădălina Ștefanic, Founder and General Secretary of the Black Sea Women in Nuclear (BSWN), Leader of the BSWN Mentorship Program, Senior Economist at Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica S.A. (SNN), Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant Branch, Romania, organized and moderated the event. She began by thanking all those who worked to make the inaugural meeting of the BSWN Mentoring Program possible and emphasizing the significant and effective support provided to BSWN over the years by the US Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration’s Nuclear Security Women initiative. She also explained the pillars of the program, such as: Preparation and approval of the process and supporting documents, recruitment of mentors, promotion of the program on the BSWN website and social media, recruitment and selection of mentees.

Ms. Nataliia Klos, Founder and President of the of the Black Sea Women in Nuclear (BSWN), Visiting Research Fellow at WINS, Ukraine, thanked everyone involved, especially the mentors and mentees, for their efforts.

Ms. Shorena Lortkipanidze, Founder and Vice President of Black Sea Women in Nuclear (BSWN), Founder and Board Member of the Civil Council on Defense and Security, Georgia, expressed her joy at the launch of the program and her gratitude to her colleagues.

Ms. Jennie Gromoll, Senior Advisor for Europe and Eurasia, Office of Policy Coordination, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, USA, Department of State, encouraged the group to ask for help when needed and pointed out the importance of reverse mentorship for everyone.

Ms. Margarita Kalinina-Pohl, Program Director, CBRN Security, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Monterey, Founder of the Black Sea Women in Nuclear Network (BSWN), CA, USA, emphasized the importance of mutual learning and relationship building within the network. She pointed out that she has learned as much from the people, younger and mid-career professionals, as they have hopefully learned from her.

Mr. Muhammed Ali Alkiş, World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS) Ambassador to Türkiye, PhD Candidate at Hacettepe College, Research Affiliate, Gender Champion at Odesa Center for Non-proliferation, Türkiye Coordinator of the Black Sea Women in Nuclear Network (BSWN), Türkiye, expressed his appreciation for the group. He also mentioned that the theme has a strong connection to his own journey, that the importance of mentorship is crucial for the next generation and that the role of young nuclear policy makers, scientists and professionals is crucial in shaping a safer and more sustainable world in a time characterized by global challenges.

Dr. Valeriia Gergiieva, Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy (IFSH) at the University of Hamburg and Non-Resident Researcher at the Odesa Center for Nonproliferation (OdCNP), Ukraine, said that she felt very honored to be a mentor and that she firmly believes that this mentoring program is based on reciprocity. Because both the mentors will learn a lot from the mentees and the mentees will learn a lot from the mentors and she will personally pass on information with an open heart and an open mind.

Ms. Ina Grigalashvili, BSWN Georgia’s Point of Contact, International Project Manager, Agency of Nuclear and Radiation Safety of Georgia, mentioned that the BSWN community makes her feel at home and that she is happy to share her practical expertise, which is also an opportunity for her.

Dr. Zenobia Homan, Project Coordinator & Research Fellow Centre for Science & Security Studies (CSSS), Department of War Studies, King’s College London, UK, hopes to bring to this program not only her experience in organizing mentoring programs but also the experience of a young woman with a child in the nuclear sector trying to find her way in this world, finding her way into jobs and events and convincing people that they should respect her work and that she is doing interesting things. So hopefully she can do a lot to build confidence and find opportunities. And that’s what she hopes to do.

Ms. Alona Samsonenko, a lawyer specializing in physical protection, accounting and control of nuclear materials, at the George Kuzmych Training Center at the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Nuclear Research, BSWN Ukraine’s Point of Contact, Ukraine, spoke as a Ukrainian living during the wartime in Kyiv. She hopes to be a strong positive example for all. And she is also willing to share her expertise.

Ms.Desislava Spassova, IAEA legal expert lecturer in International and National Legal Framework for Nuclear Security at the University of National and World Economy in Sofia, Bulgaria, believes that knowledge is power, especially in the nuclear sector, where risks are always high. Nuclear specialists really need to make sure that this experiential knowledge is passed on to people who are responsible, reliable, and curious to apply the knowledge further.


Ms. Atiyah HIJRIYANTI, an International Relation Student in Jenderal Soedirman University, Indonesia

Ms. Mariam MUMLADZE, Bachelor Degree in International Relations from the Free University of Tbilisi, Georgia

Ms. Phantitra PHUPHAPHANTAKARN (Ariel Karn), IAEA (Marie-Skłodowska-Curie) fellow and a graduate student at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (CA, USA), Master’s of Nuclear Nonproliferation Studies, a Graduate Research Assistant at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey, CA, US. She is originally from Thailand

Ms. Viktoriia SKOROPADSKA, a candidate for a Master’s degree in European Studies at the University of Regensburg, participating at an exchange semester program at the University of Ljubljana at the Department of Security and Defense Studies. She is from Ukraine

Mr. Zviad TSETSKHLADZE, Master degree in Political Science at Ilia State University in Georgia, volunteer within European Solidarity Corps (ESC) programme at Don Bosco Foundation located in Malta

Ms. Diana VORONA, a final year International Relations (BA) student at King’s College London, UK

Ms. Adeline YUEGO NGUIFFO, Regulator in Radiological and Nuclear Safety, Nuclear Security and Safeguards Enforcement, Head of service, Regulatory acts and prospective, NRPA, DG, Yaounde, Cameroon, Women in Nuclear Global | Women in Nuclear Africa

Ms. Hina YOUNIS, Executive Member, Women in Nuclear Pakistan Chapter (WIN-PAK), 2. Senior Scientific Officer, Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority, Pakistan

They had the opportunity to introduce themselves and were welcomed to the BSWN community.

At the end Mr. Teodor Minodor Chirica, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica S.A. (SNN), Romania, congratulated all participants on the initiative to establish the BSWN network, which, in his view, will spotlight roles of women in the nuclear industry. He also emphasized the invariable contribution of women in the nuclear industry. The nuclear sector is not only a symbol of scientific progress and innovation. It also plays a central role in addressing the global energy and environmental challenges facing humanity. He reaffirmed that women have not only been and continue to be instrumental in driving this industry forward, but have also broken barriers and shattered stereotypes in various nuclear-related fields, from engineering and physics to policy and safety management. They bring a unique perspective and reach out to the industry with their diverse experiences and skills.

In this context, he sees the launch of the mentorship program as a major step forward that will help to consolidate the network, increase its visibility and, last but not least, fulfill the objective of the BSWN Founding Act.

In summary, this meeting was the first of its kind for BSWN mentors and mentees and proved to be a very timely and useful initiative, as was evident from the speeches of the participants. Also, this program developed by a small group of devoted people is “making waves” and gives signals that BSWN members are proficient indeed!