Dr. Ewa Leś is Professor of Political Science at Warsaw University and Director of the Centre for Civil Society Development at the Institute of Social Policy. In 1992 she was senior-fellow in international philanthropy at the Institute for Policy Studies the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She teaches family sociology, family policy, third sector and social economy systems in comparative perspective.

Ewa Leś was co-founder and president of the Polish Association of Social Workers. Her extensive community service experience includes consultation to diverse Polish and foreign public institutions and third sector organizations, among them the Presidential and Prime Minister Offices, the Polish Parliament, the Polish Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the World Bank, OECD LEED Trento Centre for Local Development, UNDP.

Prof. Leś has coordinated several major national and international research projects and has been a contributor in numerous conferences and books on Non-Profit Sector, Third Sector, Social Economy and Social Enterprise projects.

Relevant Publications

  • Leś, Ewa (1994) The Voluntary Sector in Post-Communist East Central Europe. Washington, D.C.: CIVICUS

The CIVICUS regional report portrays emerging civil society organizations in Central and Eastern Europe right after the overthrow of the communist regimes. The publication includes the sector’s profile, its field of activities and its interplay with private and public institutions, as well as  the sector’s linkages with international organizations and future perspectives.

  • Leś, Ewa (2000) From Philanthropy to Subsidiarity. Non-profit Organizations in Comparative Perspective. Warsaw: Publishing House Elipsa

From Philanthropy to Subsidiarity brings together a historical overview of the third sector in Europe and the US and review changes over the past three decades in the relationship between the third sector organizations and the public sector in contemporary social policy. The book offers an in-depth analysis of the doctrine of subsidiarity  and its implementation in current social systems of the countries under study.

  • Leś, Ewa (co-editor) (2008), Dimensions of Social Economy. Warsaw: Warsaw University Press.

This publication is a collection of articles on contemporary social economy in Poland, which brings together the findings of the DP EQUAL “We Have Jobs” Project. The book reports the results of  socio-economic surveys on the Polish third sector and social enterprises resources and productivity and an assessment of policies towards strengthening the sector’s training system, financial base and explores the policies for social economy organizations in France and Italy. The book includes a lively and inspiring debate with the outstanding Polish artists on contemporary social issues, such as poverty,  social and political exclusion.

  • Leś, Ewa (2013) Non-Profit Organizations in a New Social Policy. Poland in the European context. Warsaw: Publishing House ASPRA

The book argues that a new social policy model based on social investments and participatory democracy has major implications for the third sector and needs a closer connection between public social policy and civil society organizations. The publication presents the government initiatives and policies that have been introduced over the past 20 years in Poland, the UK, France, Italy and Sweden and examines how they have changed the position of the non profit sector in a European social policy.


Johns Hopkins University Comparative Non-Profit Sector (1997-2001)
The project findings have revealed that, despite the remarkable upsurge of the non-profit sector in Poland after 1989, it has represented a significant but small presence in the economic system. The data indicated that a large share of the Polish non-profit workforce was engaged in expressive organizations as opposed to service activities – a result of the communist legacy and ambiguous policy initiatives towards the civil society organizations after 1989.
Role: Polish coordinator (1997-2001)

EQUAL “We Have Jobs” (2005-2008)
Project on strengthening social economy in Poland. The project aimed to build and implement a support system for the Polish social economy sector. The DP has conducted quantitative and qualitative studies of non-profit organizations and cooperatives’ socio-economic potential and introduced new post-graduate training programmes for social economy leaders and staff at the University of Warsaw and regional training workshops.
Role: Coordinator Development Partnership

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