About us

Established in 2018 between London and Verona, ITSS-Verona is a regularly licensed, international, interdisciplinary, apolitical, not-for profit, cultural association dedicated to the study of international security. Our mission is to combine the best minds the world can offer to create one of the largest international networks addressing current and future security challenges. 

As former UN secretary Kofi Annan famously stated, mankind increasingly deals with “problems without passport”. Within this picture, not only are we convinced that everything can shape security; we strongly believe that internationalising research and debate is paramount, for these must not be solely relegated to academia.

That is why ITSS-Verona unites outstanding men and women from governments, institutions, civil society, and industry, with the intent to analyse the kind of societal, economic, and geopolitical tensions affecting our times.


Founding Members


Dr Michele Groppi

ITSS Verona President

As the first Italian varsity student-athlete at Stanford University, Michele Groppi graduated with ‘Honors’ in International Relations. He then obtained his MA in Counterterrorism and Homeland Security from IDC Herzliya, Summa Cum Laude, and his PhD in Defence Studies from King’s College London whilst finishing his professional volleyball career. Starting 2018,
Michele has been a Teaching Fellow at the Defence Studies Department, KCL, Defence Academy of the UK, focusing on issues of international security. Michele is also an ICT research fellow and Senior Research associate at RAND Europe. Author of several articles published in peer-reviewed journals on matters of terrorism and radicalisation, Michele applies his energies for the internationalization of ITSS-Verona and its network.


Avv Marta Macaccaro

ITSS Verona Vice President

Born and raised in Verona, Marta Macaccaro graduated in Law in 2012 from Verona University, Summa Cum Laude. She obtained her legal specialization from Verona and Trento University and in 2015 she became a lawyer. Upon her arrival to Como, she has focused mainly on bank law, bankruptcy law, and insurance consulting. Active in Veneto and Lombardy, Marta has opened her own legal firm, where she continues to offer services to insurance companies and multiple firms, including high-quality consultancy on matters related to credit recovery and enforcement procedures. A dedicated professional, Marta is in charge of the Association’s vision and international stance.


Dr Zeno Leoni

ITSS Verona Executive Director

Zeno Leoni is a Teaching Fellow in Challenges to the International Order at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London and the Defence Academy of the UK. In addition, he is affiliated with the Lau China Institute of King’s College London and in the year 2020-2021 he paid a visit to the Nebrija University (Madrid). Zeno is an expert in Geopolitics, Globalization, World Order, American Grand Strategy, Chinese Strategy Grade, and US-China relations. In fact, he is also the author of the book American Grand Strategy from Obama to Trump: Imperialism After Bush and China’s Hegemonic Challenge (2021, New York: Palgrave Macmillan). His analyses appeared in The Times, Rai Radio Uno, Corriere della Sera, Limes. In 2020, he was a consultant at the Italian Ministry of Defense for writing the first Future Trends document as part of Innov@Difesa, a civil-military collaboration project. Since its establishment, Zeno has been the heart of ITSS-Verona’s operations, projects, and outreach.

ITSS Verona Leads


Mariam Qureshi
Head Editor, ITSS Verona Summer Members Series

Mariam Qureshi is a PhD Student in Politics at University of Reading. She received her MA in International Affairs concentrating in Espionage and Surveillance from King’s College London. Her research interests include cyber strategy, IR theory and Foreign Policy with a focus on Pakistan. As Lead Editor for ITSS Verona, she coordinates all publications of the Member Series.


Esther Brito Ruiz
Head of ITSS Verona Summer School

Esther Brito Ruiz is a Master’s Graduate in Women, Peace and Security at the London School of Economics; specializing in ethnic conflict and women’s rights. Currently, she is writing a book on urban governance at the IESE Business School. She was previously a Global Shaper within The World Economic Forum, where she co-founded the Empowering Diversity in Tech and Entrepreneurship (EDiTS) initiative, seeking to increase diversity in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Esther has lived and studied in 6 countries across 4 continents and is passionate about generating positive social impact.


Julia M. Hodgins
Strategic Communication Lead, ITSS Verona Summer School

Julia Hodgins is a Candidate to the MA in International Affairs at King’s College London, holds a BA-Honours in Sociology concentrate in Social Research from UFV - Canada, a Certification in Data Analytics, and a Diploma in Group Dynamics. Her research interests are gender security, cyber security, interculturality, social equality, and decolonization. With working experience in the private, public, and NGO sectors, Julia is part of the “Culture, Society and Security” team in ITSS Member Series, a volunteer radio and podcast producer, contributor to Blogs and publications, and board member in Colectiva Antirracista Disidencia Tusan. At home she cares for a caring husband, both are devoted ‘cat-o-holics’.


Sofia Staderini
Management Lead, ITSS Verona Summer School

Post-graduate student in International Affairs with a particular focus in International Security and currently a participant in the 2021-2022 class of the Académie Notre Europe. She graduated cum laude in July 2021 in Philosophy, International and Economic Studies at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice with a dissertation on post-truth politics. She took part in several conferences and study projects in Europe such as the Global Studies at the Institute of Maritime Military Studies of Venice, the Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung’s "War or Peace" program in Berlin, yet ensued by Scuola di Politiche and the Women In International Security Network. Fluent in Italian, French, English, and Spanish. Currently studying German and Russian.


Javier Olaechea
Technical Lead, ITSS Verona Summer School

Javi is a young passionate Spanish Intelligence Analyst graduated as such with an MA in Brunel University (London). Passionate for both traditional military handbooks and the modern Cybersecurity world. Currently working as Head of Editors (GreyDynamics, London) and Recruitment Consultant for the Cybersecurity German Market (Parallel Consulting, London). Fluent in Spanish, Italian, English and German Among his passions: Italy and Italian, Football, and Surfing.


Alessandra Gramolini
Co-editor in Chief, ITSS Verona Magazine of International Security

Alessandra is a graduate of the Master in Global Affairs Program from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (Spain) and the University of Prince Edward Island (Canada). Alessandra also holds a Law degree with a specialization in International and European Law from the University of Urbino "Carlo Bo". Over the last several months Alessandra co-founded and is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of a new project called the Global Affairs Review. Throughout her academic career Alessandra has developed a keen interest in conducting research, particularly in the fields of International Relations between Africa, China and the European Union.


Maria Chiara Aquilino
Co-editor in Chief, ITSS Verona Magazine of International Security

Maria Chiara Aquilino is a student in Crisis and Security Management (MSc) at Leiden University, The Hague. She has recently graduated from King’s College London, where she studied International Relations (BA) while developing a strong interest in Security Studies, and particularly in the topic of migration. Her thesis, supervised by Prof. Leila Simona Talani, focused on the strategic use of politics of fear in Salvini’s propaganda, exploring how it targeted southern regions and their perception of migration. Besides, Maria Chiara is a student at Scuola di Politiche, a political mentoring fellowship programme focusing on public policy founded by former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta.


André Carvalho
Technical Lead, ITSS Verona Magazine of International Security

André holds an MSc degree with Distinction in IR from the Graduate Program in International Relations at the State University of Paraíba (Brazil). He is currently studying a short course on High Studies on Defence at the National Defence University of Argentina. Within ITSS Verona, he is the technical lead of ITSS Verona International Security Magazine, Social Media assistant, and member of the South America Team. Researches on; grand strategy, force design, military transformation, air power, rocket & missile artillery, deterrence and A2/AD on East Asia, and Asian geopolitics.


Carlotta Rinaudo 
Co-director, ITSS Verona Members Webinar Series

Carlotta Rinaudo is a Master student of International Affairs at King's College London. She has a strong interest in Asia-Pacific current affairs, with a particular focus on the implications of the rise of China.


Ludovica Aicha Brambilla
Co-director of ITSS Verona Members Webinar Series

Ludovica recently completed her Bachelor degree in International Relations at the Università Cattolica of Milan and will soon start the MA programme in Conflcit, Security and Development at the University of Sussex. Ludovica deepened her curiosity about security studies through extracurricular courses and a Diploma in Geopolitics and Global Security. She is tailoring her academic interests around the interconnections between human security and development with particular attention to urban contexts. Ludovica has always been involved in social work activities in the city of Milan and she is currently collaborating as editress with a municipal project dedicated to the common good of the city.


Giovanni Rasio
Social Media Communication Lead

Giovanni is a postgraduate student in National Security Studies (MA) at King’s College London. He graduated from the University of Bologna in 2019 with a BA in International Development and Cooperation, spending one year abroad studying at Vilnius University and at Universidad Argentina De la Empresa. In Argentina, Giovanni worked as a volunteer for the General Consulate of Italy in Buenos Aires. Within the realm of security and defence, he is interested in European Security and Defence Policy, NATO, Italian Foreign Policy, Defence Industry, and Geopolitical Risk. 


Rebecca Pedemonte
Social Media Communication Lead

I’m currently finishing my master’s degree in Human Rights, Migrations, and International Affairs at University of Bergamo. During the past six months I have been writing geopolitical analysis on migrations from West Africa and Human Rights violations. Over the past 4 years I’ve been interviewing migrants from West Africa, to deploy my thesis research. Recently I decided to publish videos in which I try to sensitize people on issues such as discriminations, racism, gender equality and geopolitical dynamics. My main research interests are: migrations; the Sahelian band flows and human trafficking; Lybian detention centres; gender gaps and gender equality; intersectionality.  

The International Team for the Study of Security – Verona

Villafranca di Verona, Italy
CF: 93285920232

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