New head nominated for Society Integration Foundation

Zaiga Pūce, head of Ascendum nongovernmental organization, has won the open contest to become the next director of the Society Integration Foundation (SIF), the LETA newswire reported October 28.

Pūce received the highest scores in all thee rounds of the tender, and won unanimous support of the panel assessing the candidates. Her candidacy will be put before the SIF Council for approval. 

The purpose of SIF is to financially support and promote integration of society. SIF also supports implementation of development programs and projects by the public and non-governmental sector. The attached graphic contains more information in English about the composition and aims of the SIF.

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The SIF Council encompasses ministers of foreign affairs, education and science, culture, welfare, environmental protection and regional development, justice; a representative of the President of the state; representatives of Kurzeme, Latgale, Riga, Vidzeme, and Zemgale Planning regions of Latvia, as well as six representatives of non-governmental organizations.

Pūce has extensive job experience in the nongovernmental sector. For three years she worked on the council of the cooperation memorandum concluded between NGOs and the Cabinet of Ministers. Since 2016 she is a council member of the Civic Alliance - Latvia and since 2017 a board member of the Association of Non-Governmental Contemporary Culture Organizations. She has chaired the Ascendum board since 2011.

Pūce's husband is Environmental Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce (For Development/For) who is also a member of the SIF Council - a circumstance that immediately attracted criticism on social media, though it was later announced that in view of the appointment, Juris Pūce's place would be taken by another official from his ministry due to the obvious risk of a conflict of interest.

Culture Minister Nauris Puntulis (National Alliance) is current chairman of the SIF Council.

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