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Gitte Zschoch new Secretary General of the ifa – Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations

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ifa Secretary General Gitte Zschoch (Photo: Kai Loges / die arge lola)

Already at the end of last year, the Executive Board of the ifa (Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations) unanimously elected Gitte Zschoch as the Institute’s new Secretary General. She took office on 1 October 2021. Gitte Zschoch will work at the ifa locations in Stuttgart and Berlin.

The 37-year-old Gitte Zschoch comes from EUNIC (European Union National Institutes for Culture), the network of European cultural institutes based in Brussels, where she had been executive director since 2018. Before that, she worked for the Goethe-Institut in Munich, Seoul, Tokyo and Johannesburg and established the branch office in Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) as founding director. Before that, she worked as a freelance cultural manager and author specialising in the visual arts and literature. Gitte Zschoch studied General and Comparative Literature at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and Modern Korean Literature at Seoul National University.


She replaces Ronald Grätz, who has headed the ifa since 2008 and will take over as director of the Goethe-Institut in Barcelona, his adopted country, in autumn 2021.

Commenting on her plans, the new Secretary General says: “I have come to know ifa as an excellent and courageous organisation. With its extremely competent staff and in close cooperation with its partners worldwide and its committees, the task now is to further sharpen ifa’s profile and thus shape German and European cultural relations. It is particularly important to me to work more strongly for Europe and to fruitfully address the topics of sustainability and digitalisation.


Prof. Ulrich Raulff, President of ifa, welcomes Gitte Zschoch with the words: “Welcome, Gitte Zschoch! I am very much looking forward to working with you. Her experience in different international cultures and her great expertise in foreign cultural policy, in which she is excellently networked, her wealth of ideas and, above all, her open and friendly manner, promise a great new colleague. We will experience a Secretary General who will shape and mould ifa in her own way.”

“We are very much looking forward to working with Gitte Zschoch as the new Secretary General of ifa! I already got to know Ms Zschoch during her work in Kinshasa building up the Goethe-Institut there and as Managing Director of EUNIC, the European network of cultural institutes. Her path through life led her from Borna and Seoul via Brussels to Stuttgart. I am very pleased that with her, for the first time, a cultural manager from East Germany is taking over the management of an important intermediary institution! At the same time, our heartfelt thanks go to Ronald Grätz, who has shaped ifa during his 13-year term as Secretary General and led it into new fields of action,” says Andreas Görgen, Head of the Department of Culture and Communication at the Federal Foreign Office.

Petra Olschowski, State Secretary for Science, Research and the Arts of Baden-Württemberg, adds: “With her wealth of transcontinental experience and her international networks, Gitte Zschoch will certainly set new and interesting accents as Secretary General of ifa. I wish her every success!”

“As the new Secretary General, Ms. Zschoch, with her great experience in foreign cultural policy, will provide important impulses for the future-oriented further development of ifa on an international level and nationwide for one of Stuttgart’s most important cultural and educational institutions. She also stands for stronger networking in the state capital itself. I warmly welcome her to the state capital and look forward to working with her,” says Dr. Fabian Mayer, First Mayor of the state capital Stuttgart.

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