Simon Panek is the executive director of the humanitarian organization People in Need, which he co-founded in 1992. He was one of the student leaders during the Velvet revolution, which hastened the fall of the communist regime in the Czech Republic in 1989. In 1992 he founded the news agency Epicentrum, specializing in conflict reporting. He worked in the Office of the Czech President Vaclav Havel (1992-1997) as a policy analyst and specialist for the Balkan region and human rights issues abroad. He received many awards for his work, among others the Czech State Medal of Merit conferred to him in 2002 by President Havel.