Despina Oikonomou, BA, MSc is a Social Worker with basic education in Greece and postgraduate studies at the University of London, LSE, in Social Policy and Design.
With a scholarship from the Fulbright Foundation, she participated in an exchange program for social scientists at Adelphi University, Long Island, NY, USA.
She worked for 11 years for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as Head of Social Programs and was responsible for the integration of Vietnamese refugees in Greece. Planned and supervised the implementation of reception and psychosocial support programs for asylum seekers and refugees implemented by NGOs with funding from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
For 12 years she was the Director of the CONTACT Family Counseling Center in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, which provided counseling services to families and individuals as well as the training and supervision of Counselors. She dealt with counseling and support of HIV-positive adults, children and adolescents as well as with the support of sexually abused children and their family environment.
She has worked for NGOs in Greece as a social services coordinator for asylum seekers and refugees and for unaccompanied minors.
She has taught at Schools of Social Work both in Greece and at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe and has participated in Conferences in Greece, France, Norway, USA.
Since September 2020, she has been the Director of the International Social Service-Greek Sector (DKY), which is the only accredited NGO for transnational adoptions. In this position she combines her international experience with the promotion of the concept of interculturalism that governs transnational adoptions.