The Director of NYU Prague since 1998, Jiří Pehe was the Director of the Political Department of Czech President Václav Havel from 1997 to 1999. He serves as Chairman of the Program Committee of the Forum 2000 Foundation that organizes annual international conferences under Havel’s auspices.
From 1995 to 1997, Pehe was Director of Analysis and Research Department at the Open Media Research Institute in Prague. Between 1988 and 1995, he first worked as an analyst of Central European affairs and later as Director of Central European Research at the Research Institute of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich, Germany. From 1985 to 1988, Pehe was Director of East European Studies at Freedom House in New York.
Pehe studied law and philosophy at Charles University in Prague from 1974 to 1978. In 1980, he received a doctorate in law (JUDr.) from the School of Law of Charles University. He fled Czechoslovakia in 1981 and eventually settled in the U.S.A. In 1985 he graduated from the School of International Affairs at Columbia University in New York.
Pehe has written hundreds of articles and analytical studies on developments in Eastern Europe for American, Czech, and German periodicals and academic journals. He is a regular contributor to various Czech newspapers and regularly comments on political developments for Czech Television and Radio. He co-authored and edited a book titled The Prague Spring: A Mixed Legacy, which was published by Freedom House in 1988. In 2002, his book Vytunelovaná demokracie was published by Academia, Prague. Pehe has also contributed essays and chapters to various other books and written several novels. He teaches at Charles University and NYU Prague.
Past courses taught: The Czech Republic in a Global Context.
Thea Favaloro has worked at NYU Prague since it opened its doors to students in 1998 with a staff of two. Over the course of the years she has been involved in all aspects of the organization, particularly in helping develop the academic programs and working with faculty. She is currently responsible for the site's finances and operations.
Born in San Francisco and raised in upstate New York, she considers herself lucky to call Prague her adopted home. Outside of work she enjoys reading, running and mushroom picking in Czech forests.
As Assistant Director for Acacdemic Affairs, Vanda Thorne oversees our NYU Prague faculty.
Dr. Thorne also teaches and researches on the themes of mass mentality, social movements, and collective civil action in totalitarian and post-totalitarian regimes. Other interests include gender and politics in Central Europe, ideology and propaganda, and theories of cultural resistance.
She received her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Pittsburgh. She also holds an M.A. in English and American Literature from Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, and an M.A. in Gender and Culture from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.
Lenka Vavruskova has worked as our librarian since 2005.
She set up a system to catalogue the 10,000 books and films in our collection, and she tracks down materials for all of our courses. As well as course books, our library has a unique collection of 2,600 books donated by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty focused on 20th century politics in Europe; access our online library catalogue to see the complete collection. Lenka spends her spare time gardening and with her three grandchildren.
Student Life Staff
Yveta Kenety is the newest addition to the NYU Prague team.
Yveta has worked for many years with our students, both as a Czech teacher and a consultant to students on topics related to the Roma - the largest minority in the Czech Republic. Yveta has been working in the field of Roma rights for over fifteen years. Before coming to NYUP, she was the national facilitator of the Roma Education Fund, an organization that provides scholarships and support for Roma university students, and she managed a similar program for high school students for the Romea NGO.
She was the director of Athinganoi, where she ran a Roma Students' Information Center. She also worked for the Open Society Fund as the National Coordinator for Roma Women's Issues, and she was the country facilitator for the World Bank and the Open Society Fund.
Yveta has an MA from Charles University in Slavic studies and has taught English and Czech. Her husband is from the USA and she has three children with dual nationalities.
Désirée is a clinical psychologist and the onsite Global Wellness Counselor at NYU Prague. She is responsible for addressing the mental health and wellness needs of students studying at NYU Prague by: providing clinical assessment, individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, facilitation of emergency mental health services, assisting students in obtaining psychiatric and/or specialty psychological services as needed, providing wellness education to students through presentations during orientation week, as well as offering and coordinating workshops throughout the semester in various areas of psychological wellness.
Désirée joined NYU in November 2013. Previously, she worked as an external provider of mental health services for NYU Prague. Désirée has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from King's College London (UK) and is a registered Clinical Psychologist at the British Psychological Society. She has worked with adolescents and adults in clinical, research and teaching roles at six universities in the past 15 years in London (UK), Hamburg (Germany) and Prague. Désirée is passionate about working with students to facilitate the kind of wellbeing, stability, self-reflection and self-confidence that will help them realize their potential in life.
In 2011, Sarah Coffey left her job in NYU's Center for Near-Eastern Studies on Washington Square to join the NYU Prague student life team. She founded our successful Kulturama-Praha program which offers a rich array of cultural programming to NYU Prague students.
Sarah is a lover of classical music - one of the reasons she moved to Prague. She is a member of the Kuhn Choir of Prague, one of the city's leading professional choirs, and she also teaches private piano lessons.
Tony Ackerman attended Harvard University, studied classical guitar in Italy for many years, and received a Ph.D. in Music Theory and Composition from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
His performing career as a guitarist has spanned over 40 years and many musical styles, including jazz, modern avant-garde art music, and American roots styles. After receiving an IREX grant to study Czech contemporary music in 1983, Ackerman remained in Prague, creating an original acoustic duo with the Czech jazz pianist Martin Kratochvil, combining the sounds of his 7-string guitar with Kratochvil’s adventurous explorations on the grand piano. The duo, which has expanded to include multi-ethnic percussionist Imram Musa Zangi, has recorded nine albums and performed thousands of concerts in the Czech Republic and abroad.
Ackerman has taught music theory and history at UC Santa Barbara, and was music teacher and chair of the Fine Arts Department at the International School of Prague from 1985-2012. During this time he also taught Aural Comprehension at the NYU Prague campus (2006), and gives frequent lectures to visiting American university groups about Czech music, focusing on the underground music scene during the Communist 1980s.
Jitka Kalasova started working for NYU Prague in 2002 to assist with finances. In addition, she now oversees our internship program, searching out new opportunities for students in a variety of fields.
Jitka studied social work and is very interested in other cultures and has traveled extensively across Europe, to South America and Asia.
In 2007 Marketa Helebrantova set up the Slezska Dorm, where she works as Facilities Manager and lives with her family. Marketa is also one of the Facilities Managers on campus, making sure that everything works in our 15th century Academic Centers.
Before working at NYU, Marketa spent several years on the road as a dancer with one of Prague's theatres. She is still closely connected to the contemporary dance world and has coordinated dance workshops for NYU Prague students.
Jan Hovorka- known by everyone on campus as Honza- started out at NYU Prague as an RA in the Machova dorm in 2005. He's now the Facilities Manager of Machova as well as of the NYU Academic Center. Honza has been working with NYU in New York to expand the IT networks all over our campus - a challenging task in 500 year-old buildings with Renaissance ceilings and strict building codes.
Jan comes from Marianske Lazne - also known as Marienbad - a spa town in the rolling hills of Western Bohemia. He acquired a love of basketball when he spent a year abroad as a high school student in Louisiana, and he's always up for shooting hoops with our students.
When she was a student at the Prague Economics University, Maria started coming to public lectures and discussions at NYU Prague. She was subsequently hired to be a Resident Assistant, then the Facilities Manager of the Osadni Dorm, and she is now one of the Facility Managers on campus.
Maria grew up in Slovakia and moved to the Czech Republic when she started university. In her spare time Maria plays the violin, is an avid painter, and recently has been spending a lot of time doing yoga.
Tyna has been living with NYU Prague students since 2011, when she started as an RA. She has lived in all of our dorms and acted as the head RA for several semesters.
Tyna loves traveling and organizing trips – especially sports-related trips, such as hiking up the Czech Republic’s highest mountains, and also cultural exchange trips where students stay overnight with Czech families. She is an avid participant in Czech orienteering competitions - navigating her way through forests and fields - as well as a singer and experienced in Czech folk dancing.
Tyna was born in Prague and spent a year in high school in the USA. She is currently a graduate student simultaneously studying international relations at Charles University and at the University of Economics in Prague.