Our Speakers

Scroll down for our incredible line up

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The Rt Hon. Kwasi Kwarteng MP

Kwasi is the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and has been the Conservative Member of Parliament for Spelthorne since 2010.

Kwasi Kwarteng was appointed Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 8 January 2021.

He was previously Minister of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Kwasi was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Exiting the European Union from 16 November 2018 to 24 July 2019.

Kwasi read classics and history at Trinity College, Cambridge, and then attended Harvard University on a Kennedy Scholarship. He earned a PhD in economic history from the University of Cambridge in 2000.

Before becoming a Member of Parliament, Kwasi worked as an analyst in financial services.

Kwasi was elected the Conservative MP for Spelthorne in 2010. From 2010 until 2013 he was a member of the Transport Select Committee, and in 2013 he joined the Work and Pensions Select Committee where he was a member until 2015.

In October 2016 Kwasi joined the Public Accounts Committee, where he was a member until May 2017.

In 2015 Kwasi was appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Leader of the House of Lords, and in 2017 he became Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

West Midlands Mayor

Andy Street

Andy Street was elected as the first Mayor of the West Midlands on May 4 2017. The primary function of the role is to chair the West Midlands Combined Authority and brings with it significant powers over transport, housing, skills and jobs.

Andy Street was elected as the first Mayor of the West Midlands on May 4 2017. The primary function of the role is to chair the West Midlands Combined Authority and brings with it significant powers over transport, housing, skills and jobs.

Before becoming Mayor, Andy combined a career with John Lewis, Britain’s most successful workers’ co-operative, with a host of high-profile economic development roles, working with local and national government.

Starting on the John Lewis graduate scheme, Andy rose through the ranks to become Managing Director, overseeing one of the most successful periods in the company’s history.

He was the Chair of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership between 2011 and 2016, helping to build the relationships that have underpinned the economic growth of the region. Additionally, he has been lead non-executive director for the Department for Communities and Local Government as well as a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group.

Outside of work, Andy is passionate about the arts, particularly in the West Midlands, having previously served as Vice Chairman of Performances Birmingham Limited, which is responsible for running the City’s Symphony and Town Halls.

In June 2015, Andy was awarded the CBE for services to the national economy. He was named the ‘Most Admired Leader’ of the year by business magazine, Management Today in 2014. He received the ‘President’s award’ from the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce in for his work in the region. He holds three honorary degrees, from Birmingham City University, Aston University and the University of Birmingham.

Starting on the John Lewis graduate scheme, Andy rose through the ranks to become managing director, overseeing one of the most successful periods in the company’s history.

He was also chair of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) between 2011 and 2016, helping to build the relationships that have underpinned the economic growth of the region.

Additionally, he has been lead non-executive director for the Department for Communities and Local Government as well as a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group.

Outside of work, Andy is passionate about the arts, particularly in the West Midlands, having previously served as vice chairman of Performances Birmingham Limited, which is responsible for running the city’s Symphony and Town Halls.

In June 2015, Andy was awarded the CBE for services to the national economy. He was named ‘Most Admired Leader’ by business magazine, Management Today in 2014 and received the ‘President’s award’ from the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce for his work in the region. He holds three honorary degrees from Birmingham City University, Aston University and the University of Birmingham.

Chief Operating Officer, Invest Africa

Veronica Bolton Smith

Veronica has 17 years of Africa-focused trade and investment experience. She brings extensive knowledge of UK-Africa trade relations, developing off-grid and renewable energy solutions and international development advisory experience.

Veronica has 17 years of Africa-focused trade and investment experience. She brings extensive knowledge of UK-Africa trade relations, developing off-grid and renewable energy solutions and international development advisory experience. Veronica is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Invest Africa, a global membership platform connecting investors in investment opportunities on the continent. Veronica is responsible for building and strengthening relationships among high-level government representatives in order to create and broaden opportunities for investment in Africa.

Previous roles Veronica has held include United Nations, the Department of International Development, the Houses of Parliament, a silver circle law firm and Ministry of Defence, Kenya among others.

Veronica’s passion is to foster growth through trade and investment in Sub-Saharan African nations and was recently recognised by the United Nations as a Top 100 Most Influential Person of African Descent in Business. Veronica is an advisory board member of Akojo Market.

Shadow Minister, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Stephen Kinnock MP

Stephen Kinnock is the Labour MP for Aberavon, and has been an MP continuously since 7 May 2015. He currently undertakes the role of Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs).

Stephen Kinnock is the Labour MP for Aberavon. He was born in Tredegar in 1970, and has kept strong and continuing links to South Wales throughout his life. He joined the Labour Party when he was 15 and is a proud member of Community trade union and the Co-operative Party.

Following comprehensive school he went to Cambridge University to study modern languages, and then he won a scholarship to the College of Europe in Bruges, where he did an MA in European Studies.

As Director of the British Council in Brussels, Russia and Sierra Leone, Stephen worked to develop opportunities for education and access to British values and culture, and at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, as Director for Europe and Central Asia, he campaigned to make sure that the big companies understood their responsibilities to working people. Immediately before becoming an MP Stephen was a Managing Director at the UK office of Xynteo, helping major multi-national companies to improve their energy performance, efficiency and to deliver on their obligations to the community.

Stephen speaks five languages fluently, and is highly experienced as a senior executive in motivating and mobilising teams in negotiation and representation. Throughout his career he’s worked to secure progressive economic, social and environmental objectives.

The Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Writer and Creator

Alexandra Johnson

Alexandra is a writer and creator from Coventry. Part of a large Irish family, she has always supported the creative scene in the city. Chair of the Spon Spun Festival, she has been commissioned by BBC Radio, theatres locally and nationally and is currently working on Commissions for Coventry UK City of Culture with Oi Bokkshi Theatre in Japan, Enterlechy Arts at The Albany Deptford as well as The Royal Shakespeare Company.

Alexandra is a writer and creator from Coventry. Part of a large Irish family, she has always supported the creative scene in the city.
Chair of the Spon Spun Festival, she has been commissioned by BBC Radio, theatres locally and nationally and is currently working on Commissions for Coventry UK City of Culture with Oi Bokkshi Theatre in Japan, Enterlechy Arts at The Albany Deptford as well as The Royal Shakespeare Company.
She has an MA in Writing from The University of Warwick, and as well as performing her own work, runs writing and storytelling workshops, encouraging others to find their voice.
Alexandra has a particular interest in working with the older community and vulnerable people within the city. She dabbles with stand up.
Alexandra is a writer and creator from Coventry. Part of a large Irish family, she has always supported the creative scene in the city.
Chair of the Spon Spun Festival, she has been commissioned by BBC Radio, theatres locally and nationally and is currently working on Commissions for Coventry UK City of Culture with Oi Bokkshi Theatre in Japan, Enterlechy Arts at The Albany Deptford as well as The Royal Shakespeare Company.
She has an MA in Writing from The University of Warwick, and as well as performing her own work, runs writing and storytelling workshops, encouraging others to find their voice.
Alexandra has a particular interest in working with the older community and vulnerable people within the city. She dabbles with stand up.
The Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Producer and Founder

Tyler Campbell

Tyler Campbell is a 20-year-old Coventry entrepreneur full of ideas and creativity. Last year Tyler responded to the spate of knife crime in the city by founding Fridays - a young person’s youth club and entertainment space providing support to young people within schools and community centres offering them an alternative to anti- social behaviour.

Tyler Campbell is a 20-year-old Coventry entrepreneur full of ideas and creativity. Last year Tyler responded to the spate of knife crime in the city by founding Fridays - a young person’s youth club and entertainment space providing support to young people within schools and community centres offering them an alternative to anti- social behaviour.
He has interacted with over 500 young people and over 13,000 via social media. Within months of setting up with the help of the Princes Trust, Tyler was nominated as a young entrepreneur of the year. Tyler was also asked to speak at the annual police crime summit and continues to make local and national news headlines. Tyler aims to set up a Friday’s in every city in the country.
Tyler wants to see young people given more opportunities to unlock their potential in whatever they want to be and become. He wants to see more young entrepreneurs that can be encouraged to chase their dreams.
CEO, Restitution

Katherine Mulhern

Katherine is the CEO of Restitution, a first-in-market global litigation impact funder that funds asset recovery and support for emerging, transparency-focused governments in their fight against corruption. Katherine is a senior lawyer with significant experience in transparency, accountability and governance.

Katherine is the CEO of Restitution, a first-in-market global litigation impact funder that funds asset recovery and support for emerging, transparency-focused governments in their fight against corruption. Katherine is a senior lawyer with significant experience in transparency, accountability and governance. A former investigator for an African truth and reconciliation commission, Katherine was a senior law firm partner in private practice, the chief executive officer of three leading development organizations based in West Africa, the UK and the United States, and a consultant for governments (including donor governments) on transparency, anti-bribery and anti-corruption and governance. In her role as chief executive officer and as a consultant, Katherine has provided legal advice and support to the ministries of justice and finance, and the office of the president of emerging democratic governments (including Iraq, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, The Gambia, Guyana, Kenya and others) on a variety of technical legal issues, including in relation to anti-bribery and anti-corruption, asset tracing and enforcement.
Senior Policy & Advocacy Advisor, The HALO Trust

Chris Loughran

Chris is Senior Policy & Advocacy Advisor for The HALO Trust, where he leads HALO’s UK and global policy and political engagement strategy. Chris has 20 years’ experience in the not-for profit and public sectors, including at senior leadership level.

Chris is Senior Policy & Advocacy Advisor for The HALO Trust, where he leads HALO’s UK and global policy and political engagement strategy. Chris has 20 years’ experience in the not-for profit and public sectors, including at senior leadership level. He has previously worked in Whitehall and in the Middle East, South/South East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Chris is an Honorary Fellow at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute in the University of Manchester. He is also a Trustee of Platfform, Wales’s leading mental health and system change charity and the Association of British Orchestras.

Co-Chair of Bite Back 2030's Youth Board

Dev Sharma

Dev Sharma is Co-Chair of Bite Back 2030's Youth Board, he is 16 and from Leicester. He believes child health should be prioritised by the food system and that change is needed to make it fairer and healthier if we are to end the child obesity crisis.

He is 16 and from Leicester. He believes child health should be prioritised by the food system and that change is needed to make it fairer and healthier if we are to end the child obesity crisis. Dev is also MYP for Leicester and in 2020 was given a Diana Award for his campaigning activity.
Professor of Conflict, Peace and Humanitarian Affairs at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) of the University of Manchester

Professor Mandy Turner

Mandy Turner is Professor of Conflict, Peace and Humanitarian Affairs at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) of the University of Manchester. She took up this role after eight years as Director of the Kenyon Institute, the British Academy-funded research centre in East Jerusalem for eight years.

Mandy Turner is Professor of Conflict, Peace and Humanitarian Affairs at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) of the University of Manchester. She took up this role after eight years as Director of the Kenyon Institute, the British Academy-funded research centre in East Jerusalem for eight years. Prior to this, she was Senior Lecturer in Conflict Resolution at the Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford.

Mandy’s research focuses on the politics of international intervention, the political economy of development in war-torn societies, and the Israel-Palestine conflict. She has conducted research for the UN and several governments on issues related to conflict and development, and post-conflict peacebuilding, and has been published widely on these issues.

Chief Executive, Radix

Ben Rich

Ben Rich is the Chief Executive of Radix, the think tank of the radical centre, which focusses on challenging conventional thinking, promoting innovative ideas and delivering systemic change.

Ben Rich is the Chief Executive of Radix, the think tank of the radical centre, which focusses on challenging conventional thinking, promoting innovative ideas and delivering systemic change.
He served as Chief of Staff to then Liberal Democrat Leader, Tim Farron MP, Chief Executive of the Movement for Reform Judaism and was previously a partner at public relations firm Luther Pendragon, where he was an adviser to the Home Office and the Cabinet Office, to blue chip companies such as British Gas, and to successful campaigns such as the one to introduce televised Prime Ministerial debates in 2010 and, more recently, to establish civil partnerships for all across England and Wales.
Partner & Joint Head of Birmingham Office, Shoosmiths

Beth McArdle

Beth is a real estate partner and joint head of Shoosmiths’ Birmingham office. Beth specialises in providing strategic, commercial real estate advice to occupiers and has a keen interest in developing new, customised ways of working that offer complete transparency and enhance the client experience.

Beth is a real estate partner and joint head of Shoosmiths’ Birmingham office. Beth specialises in providing strategic, commercial real estate advice to occupiers and has a keen interest in developing new, customised ways of working that offer complete transparency and enhance the client experience. Beth has a particular focus on retail, having acted for national retailers on the full spectrum of real estate requirements for over 17 years, in a range of locations and concepts.
The Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Creative, DJ and Photographer

Bengy Speer

Bengy Speer came to Coventry in 2008 with his mother. He is active in the arts and cultural scenes of Coventry, including acting, music, photography and public speaking. As an actor he has performed with ‘Underground Lights and ‘EGO’s Bold as Bard’. A.K.A DJ Nine Lives, Bengy is a founder of a DJing group, set up by Grapevine charity members, performing throughout the city. He is also an accomplished drummer collaborating with Kadence Music amongst others.

Bengy Speer came to Coventry in 2008 with his mother. He is active in the arts and cultural scenes of Coventry, including acting, music, photography and public speaking. As an actor he has performed with ‘Underground Lights and ‘EGO’s Bold as Bard’. A.K.A DJ Nine Lives, Bengy is a founder of a DJing group, set up by Grapevine charity members, performing throughout the city. He is also an accomplished drummer collaborating with Kadence Music amongst others.
He enjoys photographing the city and its people including West Midlands Mayor Andy Street. He is currently leading a photography group with the assistance of Mandip Singh Seehra a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society.
Bengy has wide-ranging involvement with groups and organisations across the city – an active member of ‘Toastmasters Godiva Speakers’, ‘Street Wisdom’ ‘One Voice’ ‘F13’ and ‘Sitting Rooms of Culture’ groups. He sits on the Warwick Arts curation committee, leads workshops with Arts and Homelessness International and collaborates with Cardboard Citizen’s. He also set up his own collective of creatives ‘Winning At Life’ to deliver cultural events in the community throughout Coventry and beyond.
Having a learning disability and having experienced homelessness, Bengy understands the challenges many people face, and is helping others to find their path.
The Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Artist, Animator

Josh Leach

Josh Leach is a freelance artist-animator, who uses animation to portray the inner world.

Josh Leach is a freelance artist-animator, who uses animation to portray the inner world. More recently, he has been studying personality psychology to learn about how different people process the world around them.
Positive Youth Foundation

Lauryn Brandy

Lauryn has grown up in the city and fully embedded herself in youth leadership opportunities since joining youth organisation – Positive Youth Foundation from the age of 12. She has been a key supporter for female focussed opportunities and using creative outlets to address all manner of social justice topics.

Lauryn has grown up in the city and fully embedded herself in youth leadership opportunities since joining youth organisation – Positive Youth Foundation from the age of 12. She has been a key supporter for female focussed opportunities and using creative outlets to address all manner of social justice topics. Lauryn played a big part in supporting the Coventry City of Culture bid, creating social action campaigns, and attending the announcement event. Through all her hard work, charisma and successes, Lauryn has secured a place University to study Law, this coming September after taking a gap year and working with young people across the city during the pandemic.
The Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Artist, Founder & Creative Visionary

Laura Nyahuye

Laura Nyahuye, was born and raised in Zimbabwe and migrated to Coventry. She is an artist, a creative visionary, a generational thinker and founder of MAOKWO, an arts organisation. Laura designs and makes unique handcrafted wearable body adornments. Her work addresses social issues such as lack of inclusion in the arts sector for artists of colour.

Laura Nyahuye, was born and raised in Zimbabwe and migrated to Coventry. She is an artist, a creative visionary, a generational thinker and founder of MAOKWO, an arts organisation. Laura designs and makes unique handcrafted wearable body adornments. Her work addresses social issues such as lack of inclusion in the arts sector for artists of colour.
Tokenism and tick box exercises are real life issues, affecting marginalised communities daily, you will find these topics woven into Laura’s poetic writing and her handmade body adornments. Women’s issues and migration are subjects that Laura is very passionate about. Her work challenges perceptions and provokes human beings’ habitual thought patterns concerning other people.
For centuries, body adornments have been used to define cultural, social, or religious status in various communities. As a practicing artist as well as a CEO at Maokwo, Laura has worked with various organisations in and outside Coventry including Counterpointarts, Belgrade Theatre, CRMC, Theatre Absolute, Talking Birds, Coventry City of Culture Trust.
As Laura hand weaves her body adornments, she is weaving a message about Hope, Love and Freedom. Laura’s work is driven by the conviction that art and creativity are tools that help us to see past race, class, age and create a better now, a better future.
Green Party councillor for Shirley West on Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and is the group Adult Social Care and Health Spokesperson

Dr Rosemary Sexton

Dr. Rosemary (Rosi) Sexton has been a Green Party member since 2015. Rosi is a Green Party councillor for Shirley West on Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and is the group Adult Social Care and Health Spokesperson.

Dr. Rosemary (Rosi) Sexton has been a Green Party member since 2015. Rosi is a Green Party councillor for Shirley West on Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and is the group Adult Social Care and Health Spokesperson. Solihull Green Group is second only to Brighton with 14 elected councillors, and has seen unprecedented local election success since 2011.

Rosi is a former mathematician with published articles in the field. She achieved a PhD in Theoretical Computer Science and MSc in Mathematical Logic from the University of Manchester, and a BA and MMath in Mathematics from Trinity College, Cambridge. She also holds a BSc in Osteopathy from Oxford Brookes University.

Before becoming a councillor, Rosi was an elite-level Mixed Martial Artist and became the first British female fighter to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. She retired from competition in 2014 to focus on her Osteopathy business.

Rosi is 42 years old and of mixed-race heritage. She lives in Solihull with her fiancée and has one child.

Big Tent Advisory Board member

Mark Essex

Mark has a strategy and policy background. He has spent the last four years analysing domestic policy and global megatrends.

Mark has a strategy and policy background. He has spent the last four years analysing domestic policy and global megatrends. He then translates the impacts of such trends on consumer behaviour, the workplace, supply chains, infrastructure and public policy. In his new role as Director of Skills, Mark assesses how those changes will affect the demand and supply of skills. His work now involves helping places, businesses and government to develop strategies to improve their future skills gap.

Mark is a disruptive thinker. He edited KPMG’s “Reimagine Public Policy” programme, contributing ideas on how to build more homes, make social care better and more productive, eliminating the need for food banks and boosting life long learning. And in Reimagine a Digital Society, Mark’s film presents a future in which AI makes many more of our buying decisions; and then explores the impact that will have on consumer facing businesses including the 'human' skills needed to educate the bots in how to meet our needs.

Always happy to submit his ideas to challenge and debate, Mark is an experienced writer, thinker, keynote speaker, and live broadcast panellist and presenter. He is a regular panellist on KPMG’s “The Business of Brexit” podcast, BBC’s “Wake up to Money”, and “Business Briefing”.

Founder and CEO of Positive Youth Foundation

Rashid Bhayat

Rashid established his first social venture in 1997 at the age of 17, which worked with young people in one of the UK’s most challenging neighbourhoods. Since then, he has worked on behalf of a range of agencies at a local, regional and national level, designing and implementing social change programmes for young people and communities.

Rashid established his first social venture in 1997 at the age of 17, which worked with young people in one of the UK’s most challenging neighbourhoods. Since then, he has worked on behalf of a range of agencies at a local, regional and national level, designing and implementing social change programmes for young people and communities. Rashid is the Founder and CEO of the Positive Youth Foundation, which supports young people who find themselves in a wide range of complex and challenging circumstances. The organisation delivers against key policy objectives for young people as well as supporting the capacity of the youth work sector and related commissioners.

Rashid’s professional interest also include supporting social enterprise development, public service transformation and wider social impact programmes. Rashid was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Warwick in 2019.

Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Professor of Practice, Global Energy Research Network, Strategy & International Business

David Elmes

David joined WBS in 2008 as Academic Director for the Warwick Global Energy MBA after more than 20 years working in the energy & management consulting industries. After graduating in Natural Sciences from Christ's College, Cambridge, David joined BP, working in the UK then the US.

David joined WBS in 2008 as Academic Director for the Warwick Global Energy MBA after more than 20 years working in the energy & management consulting industries. After graduating in Natural Sciences from Christ's College, Cambridge, David joined BP, working in the UK then the US. While in the US he completed his MBA at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio where he received the Dean's Award for academic excellence. He then joined Gemini Consulting in 1995 and, after various mergers, was Vice President with the UK Energy, Utilities & Chemicals team of CapGemini. In 2004 he joined Schlumberger as Vice President & Director in the team who created the firm's management consulting arm, Schlumberger Business Consulting. David initially focused on the London-based team then spent a year in Houston as Director for SBC's North & South America activities before returning to London and focusing on clients in Northern Europe. With WBS he led development of the WBS Global Energy MBA and teaches on that and other courses at WBS and across Warwick. He leads the WBS Global Energy Research Network and works on a number of externally funded research programmes.

David is interested in how the structure of the global energy industry is changing, how new business models are finding success and how management practices are changing. This continues his work before WBS on how companies achieve changes that transform their performance, including changes in organisation, culture and capabilities that enable and sustain new ways of working in ever-changing circumstances.

Award winning journalist and former political advisor

Jo Phillips

Jo Phillips is an award winning journalist, a former political advisor and a regular political commentator on national and international TV and radio.

Jo Phillips is an award winning journalist, a former political advisor and a regular political commentator on national and international TV and radio.

She was Head of Strategic Business Development at Lambeth Council, is an independent member of the Windrush Day Grants Advisory Panel, co-author of Why Vote and Why Join a Trade Union, a judge for the national schools Debating Matters programme and a contributor to events, seminars and publications particularly relevant to local democracy, community engagement and media.

She has worked across the public and private sectors in communications, strategy and crisis management.

Chair of BMA council

Dr Chaand Nagpaul

Chaand is a GP and senior partner in his practice in Stanmore, North London, where he has practised for 28 years.
He was elected as chair of BMA council in July 2017, and has been a council member since 2008.

Chaand is a GP and senior partner in his practice in Stanmore, North London, where he has practised for 28 years.
He was elected as chair of BMA council in July 2017, and has been a council member since 2008. He was chair of GPC (the GPs committee) from 2013 to 2017, having been a GPC member since 1996, and was a GPC negotiator between 2007 and 2013. He has been an LMC member for over 20 years and vice chair for the past 14. He is a fellow of the RCGP (Royal College of General Practitioners).
Chaand was awarded a CBE in 2015 for his services to primary care.
Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding

Jess Phillips MP

Jess Phillips is a Labour Party politician who became the MP for the constituency of Birmingham Yardley at the 2015 general election.

Jess Phillips is a Labour Party politician who became the MP for the constituency of Birmingham Yardley at the 2015 general election.
Jess has committed her life to improving the lives of others, especially the most vulnerable. Before becoming an MP, Jess worked for Women’s Aid in the West Midlands developing services for victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence, human trafficking and exploitation. She became a councillor in 2012, in this role she worked tirelessly to support residents, with her work being recognised when she became Birmingham's first ever Victims Champion.
Since becoming an MP, Jess has continued her fight to support those who need it the most and has earned a reputation for plain speaking since being elected, unfazed by threats and calling out sexist attitudes as she promotes women’s rights.
Jess has written two bestselling books ‘Everywoman One Woman’s Truth About Speaking The Truth’ and ‘Truth to Power: 7 Ways to Call Time on BS’. Both books reflect her commitment to speaking up and having the courage to have your voice heard and make a difference.
BBC TV and Radio Journalist and a Formats Creator

Trish Adudu

Trish Adudu is a BBC TV and Radio Journalist and a Formats Creator. Busy Mum of 2 Boys and partner of an equally stressed out Chef, Ezzie – you can hear Trish most weekdays on BBC CWR and reporting on BBC’s The One Show and BBC Midlands Today.

Trish Adudu is a BBC TV and Radio Journalist and a Formats Creator. Busy Mum of 2 Boys and partner of an equally stressed out Chef, Ezzie – you can hear Trish most weekdays on BBC CWR and reporting on BBC’s The One Show and BBC Midlands Today. Trish loves sport after starting on Match of the Day and is pleased the Sky Blues are staying in the Championship and returning to the city to play next season. Most bizarre moment, grabbing an airport interview with OJ Simpson and paying off her student debts with it !!
MP for Birmingham, Hodge Hill

The Rt Hon. Liam Byrne MP

The Rt Hon. Liam Byrne MP is the Shadow Mayor for the West Midlands, MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, Chair of the Global Parliamentary Network of the IMF & World Bank, and Gwilym Gibbon Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford.

The Rt Hon. Liam Byrne MP is the Shadow Mayor for the West Midlands, MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, Chair of the Global Parliamentary Network of the IMF & World Bank, and Gwilym Gibbon Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford.

A former Cabinet minister, Liam undertook some of the toughest jobs in the last Labour Government at the Home Office, in 10 Downing Street where as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, he coordinated cross-government programmes to combat the Great Financial Crisis, and in Her Majesty’s Treasury where, as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, he designed Labour’s fiscal consolidation strategy. In Opposition, Liam served in a number of frontbench positions, chaired Labour’s Policy Review, founded and chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group on Inclusive Growth, and served on the Council of Europe.

A former Fulbright scholar at the Harvard Business School, Liam has written twenty books, chapters and pamphlets about economic history, development and foreign affairs. His history of British capitalism Dragons: Ten Entrepreneurs Who Built Britain was published in 2016. He is also the author of Black Flag Down: Counter Extremism, Defeating ISIS and Winning the Battle of Ideas; and Turning to Face the East: How Britain Prospers in the Asian Century. Liam is one of Westminster’s leading authorities on China. He helped kickstart the Economic & Finance Dialogue, co-founded the UK-China Young Leader’s Roundtable, and helps anchor the UK-China Leadership for the Future Forum.

Writer and Director of Film, Television and Theatre.

Debbie Isitt

Debbie Isitt is a BAFTA and EMMY award winning writer and director of film, television and theatre.

Debbie Isitt is a BAFTA and EMMY award winning writer and director of film, television and theatre. Starting her career in theatre she toured all over the world and won many awards for writing and directing with her theatre company Snarling Beasties including The Time Out Theatre Award (For Femme Fatale), The Independent Theatre Award (For Punch and Judy The Real Story) and the Perrier Pick of the Fringe (for The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband). Her first feature film NASTY NEIGHBOURS starring Ricky Tomlinson was a major hit at the Venice Film Festival in 2000. Debbie then adapted Jacqueline Wilson’s novel THE ILLUSTRATED MUM for Channel 4 to great acclaim, winning a Bafta and two International Emmy’s for best adaptation. Debbie went on to make a hit comedy film CONFETTI starring a host of British comedy talent that was distributed for the world by Fox Searchlight and nominated for a British Comedy Award in 2006.
In recent years Debbie has created a hugely successful UK film franchise out of her home- town of Coventry by writing and directing (in her inimitable improvisational process) a series of blockbuster Christmas films; Nativity! Starring Martin Freeman, Nativity 2 “Danger in the Manger” starring David Tennant, Nativity 3 “Dude Where’s My Donkey?” starring Martin Clunes and Catherine Tate, and most recently Nativity Rocks! starring Celia Imrie and Craig Revel Horwood which have all been major box office hits in the UK.
Debbie wrote all of the original songs in the Nativity movies with Nicky Ager and her smash hit stage musical adaptation Nativity! The Musical is in its third sensational year.
Debbie is proud to be associated with Coventry City of Culture and is a keen advocate of the city where she lives and works.
Member of Parliament for Stratford on Avon, Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment / Minister for Business & Industry

Nadhim Zahawi MP

In January 2018 Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Nadhim as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families at the Department for Education. He held this position until July 2019 when he was appointed by Boris Johnson as Minister for Business and Industry at BEIS. In November 2020, Nadhim was also made Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment.

Nadhim was born in Baghdad to Kurdish parents in 1967. Under threat of persecution from Saddam Hussein’s regime, his family immigrated to the UK when he was 9. He grew up in Sussex and was educated at King’s College School in West London and University College London where he studied Chemical Engineering.

In 2000 he founded YouGov, a leading market research company which has since become famous for the accuracy of its political polling. Having started life in an office in Nadhim’s garden shed, YouGov now employs over 400 people on three continents. He floated the company on the London Stock Exchange in 2005 and was named Entrepreneur of the year by Ernst & Young in 2008.

In January 2010 he stood down from YouGov to run for election as Member of Parliament for Stratford-on-Avon. Upon winning the seat, Nadhim was elected to the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, which scrutinises the impact of government policy on business.

In 2011 he co-authored Masters of Nothing with fellow MP Matt Hancock. The book is an account of the human behaviour behind the banking crash and ends with policy recommendations designed to prevent a future crisis. Several of these recommendations were adopted by the Coalition Government.

In 2013 he was appointed to the Prime Minister’s Policy Board with special responsibility for business and the economy, and then in November 2015 he was appointed by David Cameron as the Prime Minister’s Apprenticeship Adviser. In June 2014 he was elected to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which examines the Government's foreign policy. Nadhim was re-elected to this select committee in 2015 and 2017.

In January 2018 Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Nadhim as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families at the Department for Education. He held this position until July 2019 when he was appointed by Boris Johnson as Minister for Business and Industry at BEIS. In November 2020, Nadhim was also made Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment.

Correspondent for Sky News

Sally Lockwood

Sally Lockwood is a Correspondent for Sky News, most recently reporting from America during one of the most eventful chapters in US history - from a deeply divisive Presidential election, to the pandemic, violent protests and the killing of George Floyd.

Sally Lockwood is a Correspondent for Sky News, most recently reporting from America during one of the most eventful chapters in US history - from a deeply divisive Presidential election, to the pandemic, violent protests and the killing of George Floyd. She’s become familiar with being tear gassed live on air but nothing prepared her for being caught up in the riot at the US Capitol. Last year Sally was one of the few international journalists who flew into Italy as it went into lockdown, reporting intensely for 7 weeks as the world was thirsty for knowledge about a virus that was beginning to sweep the globe. Sky News received an RTS award for their Italian coverage of the pandemic. Before joining Sky Sally spent 6 months embedded with British troops in Afghanistan in a bid to see the war through the eyes of soldiers and civilians on the ground. “I see a heck of a lot of sadness and suffering doing this job” Says Sally “But wherever I go, even in the most desperate of situations, I find kindness and humanity. Telling people’s stories is a real privilege. We need to understand the world we live in and the people we share it with.”
Co-Chair of Bite Back 2030's Youth Board

Christina Adane

Having grown up in a food desert, an area flooded with junk and with little access to healthy nutritious food, Christina campaigns for a fairer food system that meets the needs of every child no matter where they live.

Christina Adane is Co-Chair of Bite Back 2030's Youth Board, she is 17 and from Lambeth in London. Having grown up in a food desert, an area flooded with junk and with little access to healthy nutritious food, Christina campaigns for a fairer food system that meets the needs of every child no matter where they live. In 2020 she began the campaign to see Free School Meal support extended through the lockdown holidays. Her work saw her names as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Women of 2020 by the BBC.
Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change, Coventry City Council

Councillor Jim O'Boyle

Jim was born and raised in Coventry. He is the Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change at Coventry City Council.

Jim was born and raised in Coventry. He left school to work in a factory which made fibre glass roofing lasting seven months before getting at job in the Peugeot factory in Ryton in 1988. It was here that Jim joined the Transport and General Workers Union rising to become Convenor of the plant in 2004. This experience gave Jim both the skills and motivation to do the job he now does. Jim later worked for the Union and also for a Coventry MP.

Jim has been a member of the Labour Party for many years holding lots of different positions. He is also a school governor at Frederick Bird School in Hillfields. He was finally elected to Coventry City Council in 2007 after a number of years of trying! He likes people that tell the truth and knows when they're not! His background dictates that he will work and fight for people who would otherwise be left behind.

Director of Projects, Grapevine Coventry and Warwickshire

Naomi Madden

Naomi leads dynamic and vibrant projects at Grapevine that strengthen the lives of vulnerable people in Coventry and Warwickshire. Using 22 years experience, and her psychological and creative expertise, she shapes and designs vital community services for disadvantaged children and adults, helping steer and inform the strategic direction of the organisation.

Naomi leads dynamic and vibrant projects at Grapevine that strengthen the lives of vulnerable people in Coventry and Warwickshire. Using 22 years experience, and her psychological and creative expertise, she shapes and designs vital community services for disadvantaged children and adults, helping steer and inform the strategic direction of the organisation. Naomi forms part of a core group of youth organisations in Coventry striving to improve lives and opportunities for local young people. She also holds an Advisory Role supporting National Research into rights of the vulnerable. Prior to this Naomi has designed and managed services on behalf of The Equality and Human Rights Commission and The Council for Disabled Children.
Director of Strategy, The HALO Trust

Camille Wallen

Camille leads HALO’s work on innovative finance, looking at applying different financing models to clearing landmines and linking post-conflict economic recovery work with trade, environment and economic diversification to support the resilience and prosperity of communities affected by conflict.

Camille leads HALO’s work on innovative finance, looking at applying different financing models to clearing landmines and linking post-conflict economic recovery work with trade, environment and economic diversification to support the resilience and prosperity of communities affected by conflict. Following ten years in mine action and development, as Director of Strategy, Camille currently oversees HALO’s strategic planning, government engagement, partnerships, monitoring and evaluation.
Head of Green Renewal, Green Alliance

Sam Alvis

Sam is head of Green Renewal at Green Alliance, leading their work on a sustainable economy. He is also a member of Chatham House’s Panel of Young Advisors, advising on youth strategy and climate.

Sam is head of Green Renewal at Green Alliance, leading their work on a sustainable economy. He is also a member of Chatham House’s Panel of Young Advisors, advising on youth strategy and climate. Before joining Green Alliance Sam was a Senior Advisor to Tony Blair, as well as lead on Brexit and Industrial Strategy for the Wellcome Trust. Prior to this, he worked for the Shadow Treasury team in Parliament. Outside of work Sam is a school governor, charity trustee and mentor with the Social Mobility Foundation. He holds a MSc in Climate Change.

In 2000 he founded YouGov, a leading market research company which has since become famous for the accuracy of its political polling. Having started life in an office in Nadhim’s garden shed, YouGov now employs over 400 people on three continents. He floated the company on the London Stock Exchange in 2005 and was named Entrepreneur of the year by Ernst & Young in 2008.

In January 2010 he stood down from YouGov to run for election as Member of Parliament for Stratford-on-Avon. Upon winning the seat, Nadhim was elected to the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, which scrutinises the impact of government policy on business.

In 2011 he co-authored Masters of Nothing with fellow MP Matt Hancock. The book is an account of the human behaviour behind the banking crash and ends with policy recommendations designed to prevent a future crisis. Several of these recommendations were adopted by the Coalition Government.

In 2013 he was appointed to the Prime Minister’s Policy Board with special responsibility for business and the economy, and then in November 2015 he was appointed by David Cameron as the Prime Minister’s Apprenticeship Adviser. In June 2014 he was elected to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which examines the Government's foreign policy. Nadhim was re-elected to this select committee in 2015 and 2017.

In January 2018 Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Nadhim as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families at the Department for Education. He held this position until July 2019 when he was appointed by Boris Johnson as Minister for Business and Industry at BEIS. In November 2020, Nadhim was also made Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment.

Director of Arts, Culture and Heritage, Coventry University

Dr Geoff Willcocks

Dr Geoff Willcocks is Director of Arts, Culture and Heritage at Coventry University. He is currently responsible for the development of the university’s cultural assets, external cultural profile, student cultural engagement and external partnership liaison with regional and national cultural and artistic bodies and organisations.

Dr Geoff Willcocks is Director of Arts, Culture and Heritage at Coventry University. He is currently responsible for the development of the university’s cultural assets, external cultural profile, student cultural engagement and external partnership liaison with regional and national cultural and artistic bodies and organisations. He was recently seconded to the Executive Committee of The Coventry City of Culture Trust as part of the successful 2021 bid team. During this time, he co-authored the city’s Ten-Year Cultural Strategy. His external positions include, Chair of Midlands Higher Education Culture Forum, Vice Chair of Historic Coventry Trust, Chair of Coventry’s Music Education Hub and Chair of the Cathedral Quarter Alliance. He founded both Coventry Dance and Coventry Music Trust. He has advised Art Council England on the role of Higher Education in UK Culture and is a board member for Ludic Rooms, Coventry’s Heritage Action Zone and Coventry’s Culture Compact.
Director of the Institute of Health Equity (UCL Department of Epidemiology & Public Health)

Professor Sir Michael G. Marmot MBBS, MPH, PhD, FRCP, FFPHM, FMedSci, FBA

Sir Michael Marmot has been Professor of Epidemiology at University College London since 1985. He is the author of The Health Gap: the challenge of an unequal world (Bloomsbury: 2015), and Status Syndrome: how your place on the social gradient directly affects your health (Bloomsbury: 2004).

Sir Michael Marmot has been Professor of Epidemiology at University College London since 1985. He is the author of The Health Gap: the challenge of an unequal world (Bloomsbury: 2015), and Status Syndrome: how your place on the social gradient directly affects your health (Bloomsbury: 2004). Professor Marmot is the Advisor to the WHO Director-General, on social determinants of health, in the new WHO Division of Healthier Populations; Distinguished Visiting Professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong (2019-), and co-Director of the of the CUHK Institute of Health Equity. He is the recipient of the WHO Global Hero Award; the Harvard Lown Professorship (2014-2017); the Prince Mahidol Award for Public Health (2015), and 19 honorary doctorates. Marmot has led research groups on health inequalities for nearly 50 years. He chaired the Commission on Equity and Health Inequalities in the Americas, set up in 2015 by the World Health Organization’s Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO/ WHO) and chaired the Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH), which was set up by the World Health Organization in 2005, and produced the report entitled: ‘Closing the Gap in a Generation’ in August 2008. At the request of the British Government, he conducted the Strategic Review of Health Inequalities in England post 2010, which published its report 'Fair Society, Healthy Lives' in February 2010. This was followed by the European Review of Social Determinants of Health and the Health Divide, for WHO EURO in 2014; Health Equity in England: Marmot Review 10 Years On, in 2020; Build Back Fairer: the COVID-19 Marmot Review in 2021; and the Report of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, for WHO EMRO, also in 2021.

Professor Marmot also chaired the Expert Panel for the WCRF/AICR 2007 Second Expert Report on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective; the Breast Screening Review for the NHS National Cancer Action Team, and was a member of The Lancet-University of Oslo Commission on Global Governance for Health. Early in his career, he set up and led a number of longitudinal cohort studies on the social gradient in health in the UCL Department of Epidemiology & Public Health (where he was head of department for 25 years): the Whitehall II Studies of British Civil Servants, investigating explanations for the striking inverse social gradient in morbidity and mortality; the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), and several international research efforts on the social determinants of health. He served as President of the British Medical Association (BMA) in 2010-2011, and as President of the World Medical Association in 2015. He is President of the British Lung Foundation. He is an Honorary Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology; a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences; an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy, and an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health of the Royal College of Physicians. He was a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution for six years and in 2000 he was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen, for services to epidemiology and the understanding of health inequalities. Professor Marmot is a Member of the National Academy of Medicine.

The Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Writer, Poet and Creative

Becky Taylor

Becky Taylor doesn’t work in the way people traditionally think of working, but she is always busy trying to make people’s lives better through painting and poetry. Becky is close to completing her first book which she is hoping to get published later in the year.

Becky Taylor doesn’t work in the way people traditionally think of working, but she is always busy trying to make people’s lives better through painting and poetry. Becky is close to completing her first book which she is hoping to get published later in the year.
She is also working on a couple of other big projects which are in the early stages of development. Becky is very creative, lively and full of ideas.
She has autism and ADHD and life has been difficult at times. One of her aims is to help create a world where everyone gets the best out of life and to break down barriers that make achieving this difficult.
Becky has achieved a lot so far in her life, but it has been a long battle and that is something that she wants to change for others.
The Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Creative Director, Arts Producer, Poet and Communications Consultant

Nyasha Daley

Nyasha Daley is obsessed with language and identity and much of her practice and work revolves and evolves around these passions, including iDENT, her annual celebration of Black creativity across the breadth of the Arts. She also consults with arts organisations seeking to improve equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

Nyasha Daley is obsessed with language and identity and much of her practice and work revolves and evolves around these passions, including iDENT, her annual celebration of Black creativity across the breadth of the Arts. She also consults with arts organisations seeking to improve equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
She is a passionate, positive activist, which specific and relevant experience and expertise with regards to race, gender and lgbt+ issues; Nyasha constructively criticises structures and institutions in order to make positive systemic change. She believes that, although some people might hold problematic views, biases and beliefs, that the majority do not seek to cause stress or upset to marginalised communities.
Her EDI consultancy, which focuses on the power of words and the facilitation of difficult conversations, uses three pillars to create safe spaces, challenging dialogue and clear, measurable outputs: Shared Language, Shared History and Re: Education.
Nyasha is a strong believer in the positive impacts that can be made in deconstructing and reconstructing long held beliefs and biases through creative cultural connection.
She was acknowledged as one of 50 inspiring people working in EDI sector by PricewaterhouseCoopers and as a senior Black leader and influencer by the Office of the West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street. Nyasha is a Belgrade Theatre’s Board of Trustees; she is also Vice- Chair of Coventry Pride. She is also an accredited Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner and AC Executive Coach.
Director of the Birmingham Centre for Cellular Therapy and Transplant Blood, University Hospitals, Birmingham and Professor of Haemato-oncology, University of Birmingham.

Charles Craddock CBE, FRCP (UK), FRCPath, DPhil

Professor Charles Craddock is Director of the Birmingham Centre for Cellular Therapy and Transplant Blood, University Hospitals, Birmingham and Professor of Haemato-oncology, University of Birmingham. He trained in haematology at the Hammersmith Hospital in London, the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford, and the University of Washington in Seattle, USA.

Professor Charles Craddock is Director of the Birmingham Centre for Cellular Therapy and Transplant Blood, University Hospitals, Birmingham and Professor of Haemato-oncology, University of Birmingham. He trained in haematology at the Hammersmith Hospital in London, the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford, and the University of Washington in Seattle, USA. Professor Craddock is Chair of the UK Stem Cell Strategic Oversight Committee and was Medical Director of Anthony Nolan from 2010–2014. He was elected President of the British Society of Haematology in 2017. He drove the establishment and subsequent expansion of the £7 million Centre for Clinical Haematology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and, as Director of Birmingham Health Partners, led the development of the £24 million Birmingham Institute of Translational Medicine, which opened in 2015. Professor Craddock’s main research interests include the development of novel drug and transplant therapies in myeloid leukemias and he leads the UK Haemato-oncology Trials Acceleration Programme. He pioneered the development of a UK stem cell transplant trials network, IMPACT, one of only two worldwide, which was launched in 2017. He has published more than 225 papers in peer reviewed journals. Professor Craddock was awarded the CBE for services to medicine and medical research in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list and elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2020.
The Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Community Organisor and Creative

Melissa Smith

Melissa Smith is an illustrator, live scribe, community organiser, city of culture leader and co-founder of Street Art Strategy.

Melissa Smith is an illustrator, live scribe, community organiser, city of culture leader and co-founder of Street Art Strategy. Melissa's passion for the healing benefits of creativity is the driving force of her creative work - she believes that getting creative and being involved with community activity can be life changing for people and wants to ensure that others can have opportunities to explore their own journey into creativity. As a co-founder of Street Art Strategy Melissa is working alongside City of Culture & Coventry BID to bring to life the In Paint We Trust programme for Coventry's year of culture.
Assistant Chief Constable to Local Policing, West Midlands Police

Mark Payne

After joining West Midlands policing 26 years ago Mark Payne is now Assistant Chief Constable to Local Policing where he continues to work alongside others to protect people from harm. West Midlands Police is the largest police force in England outside of London.

After joining West Midlands policing 26 years ago Mark Payne is now Assistant Chief Constable to Local Policing where he continues to work alongside others to protect people from harm. West Midlands Police is the largest police force in England outside of London.

ACC Payne has spent the majority of his career in investigative roles. He has overseen in excess of 200 murder investigations alongside numerous other major criminal enquiries. He has undertaken roles as Head of Homicide investigation, Head of Professional Standards and Counter Corruption and Head of CID in West Midlands Police.

In 2014 he pioneered a collaboration with Warwick University embracing the benefits of new technology and the intellect of academia to create a unique solution to evidence crime investigation and criminal forensic examination of scenes. Working in collaboration with the Senior Coroner and University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire he was integral to the creation of a Centre of Excellence in 2015 for post mortems. The blueprint of this approach and model is a beacon of national best practice.

He is a valued member of the national detective strategy group and spent many years as a member of the national homicide working group, supporting and providing national guidance and support to homicide investigations across England and Wales.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Payne was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2021 for services to policing.

The Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Director, Dancer & Performer

Ashley Jordan

Born, raised and now living in Coventry, Ashley Jordan (known widely as AJ) is a professional dancer and performer who is now using his skills to inspire the next generation of Coventry based young people by giving them the opportunity to experience dance and movement-based activities.

Born, raised and now living in Coventry, Ashley Jordan (known widely as AJ) is a professional dancer and performer who is now using his skills to inspire the next generation of Coventry based young people by giving them the opportunity to experience dance and movement-based activities.

AJ is the director of Ascension Dance Company, the company that co-created “Sent to Coventry”. “Sent to Coventry” was a dance film made in 2017 in support Coventry’s successful bid to be City of Culture 2021. To date, “Sent to Coventry” has over 150,000 views on social media. Since then, Ascension Dance has continued to push dance/ movement opportunities, hosting free workshops and creating eye-catching performances across the city. In 2020/2021, Ascension Dance become a “supported by” organisation at the Belgrade Theatre, choreographer of a outdoor duet for the Coventry City of Culture 2021 launch event and received a Arts Council England grant to tour a new work titled ‘The Other Side’ during Summer 2021.

As well as directing, performance and choreographing for Ascension, AJ as a freelance artist has also been part of a number of performances created by Coventry based companies and showcased in Coventry such as HOME (Highly Sprung & Upswing Aerial, 2019) and Read All About It (Mercurial Dance, 2018).

Theatre Director, Artist

Fional Laird

On leaving UCL she founded The London Small Theatre Company and toured Europe and the USA for five years, including a run off-Broadway. She then went to work as staff director at the National Theatre where she directed numerous plays, including a production of her own translation of Aristophanes' The Frogs, which toured the UK and played in the Cottesloe Theatre.

On leaving UCL she founded The London Small Theatre Company and toured Europe and the USA for five years, including a run off-Broadway. She then went to work as staff director at the National Theatre where she directed numerous plays, including a production of her own translation of Aristophanes' The Frogs, which toured the UK and played in the Cottesloe Theatre.

In 1997 she directed the revival of Richard Eyre's production of Guys and Dolls at the National and in 1998 she directed Oh, What a Lovely War! for the National. Her production transferred to the Roundhouse later that year.

Since then, Laird has directed plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre, The Old Vic, the Royal Court Theatre, the Royal Festival Hall, and the Welsh National Opera. Productions include Stephen Fry’s Cinderella at the Old Vic, and the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2018 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, for which she also composed the music.

In 2009, Laird directed the live television performance of The Turning Point by Michael Dobbs, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as spy Guy Burgess which won the Broadcasting Press Guild Best Multichannel Programme Award.

Mayor of Shrewsbury, Shropshire & Shrewsbury Town Councillor & Green Party Climate Action Officer

Julian Dean

Julian grew up in Bridgnorth and returned to Shropshire in 2000 after 20 years in London. He has lived in Shrewsbury since 2006. Julian is currently Shrewsbury's Mayor.

Julian grew up in Bridgnorth and returned to Shropshire in 2000 after 20 years in London. He has lived in Shrewsbury since 2006.
Many of the town’s musicians and live music fans will know Julian for his work as a concert organiser. For 10 years Julian ran Saturday lunchtime jazz seasons; these began life in the foyer of Theatre Severn and then moved to the Wightman Theatre, which has now sadly closed. Julian has also organised occasional ‘americana’ concerts with visiting musicians from the USA and Canada alongside UK artists.
For many years Julian was a member of the Shrewsbury Jazz Orchestra. He continues to play with several of the area’s best Jazz musicians whenever the opportunity allows. He has played on Shrewsbury’s streets as part of The Big Busk. “Shrewsbury has a wonderful arts and music scene, which has really struggled during the pandemic. I hope the town will support this talent in the months and years ahead”.
For many years Julian taught events management and music to sixth formers at New College in Telford. Prior to that he has worked as a homeless person’s officer in East London before moving to teaching in London secondary schools.
Since being elected to Shrewsbury Town Council and Shropshire Council in 2017 Julian has worked on road safety issues, particularly looking out for pedestrians. He also campaigns on environmental issues and has worked to promote young people’s rights at work.
Julian is currently Shrewsbury's Mayor.
Executive Pro Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at the University of Liverpool

Prof Louise Kenny

Louise is the Executive Pro Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at the University of Liverpool and deputy Chair of the Board of Liverpool Health Partners.

Louise is the Executive Pro Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at the University of Liverpool and deputy Chair of the Board of Liverpool Health Partners.
She was the founding Director of the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research (INFANT www.infantcentre.ie) and was Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Cork University Maternity Hospital where she worked as a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist from 2006-2018.

Louise has a longstanding clinical and research interest in hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Her research group is supported by more than €30 million of peer reviewed funding and her work has resulted in >200 peer reviewed original papers, reviews and book chapters. Louise has received numerous awards for her work, most recently the prestigious title of Researcher of the Year by SFI (2015) and 2015 Irish Tatler magazine Woman of the Year Award for STEM.

Green Party Councillor for Castle Bromwich & Leader of the Opposition, Solihull Council

Cllr Steve Caudwell

Steve is Green Party Councillor for Castle Bromwich & Leader of the Opposition, Solihull Council.

Steve was elected by the residents of Castle Bromwich in North Solihull in May 2019, with a resounding 66% of votes cast, and in April 2020 took over as the Group’s Leader on Solihull Council. Steve started working at JLR in Solihull in 2013 after seven years at Airbus, and moved up from Bristol not long afterward.
Chief Executive, Coventry UK City of Culture 2021

Martin Sutherland

Martin Sutherland is Chief Executive of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021

Martin Sutherland is Chief Executive of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021
MP for Coventry North West

Taiwo Owatemi MP

Taiwo Owatemi MP was elected to represent Coventry North West in 2019. Since then, she has held a variety of positions in Parliament, including the Private Parliamentary Secretary to the Shadow Home Office, Chair of the Turing (formerly Erasmus +) All Party Parliamentary Group, is vice chair of the Knife Crime All Party Parliamentary Group sits on the International Trade Select Committee and the Health & Social Care Committee.

Taiwo Owatemi MP was elected to represent Coventry North West in 2019. Since then, she has held a variety of positions in Parliament, including the Private Parliamentary Secretary to the Shadow Home Office, Chair of the Turing (formerly Erasmus +) All Party Parliamentary Group, is vice chair of the Knife Crime All Party Parliamentary Group sits on the International Trade Select Committee and the Health & Social Care Committee. Taiwo is also the Opposition Whip.

Prior to her election, Ms. Owatemi served in the NHS as a Senior Oncology Pharmacist at a Cancer Unit within Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust. She holds a Masters of Pharmacy degree from the University of Kent.

Paymaster General

The Rt Hon. Penny Mordaunt MP

Penny Mordaunt has been a Member of Parliament since 2010. She is a former Minister of Local Government (2014), Armed Forces (2015), the first woman to hold this position, Disabled People, Health and Work (2016), and a former Secretary of State for International Development and Secretary of State for Defence, again the first woman to hold the post.

Penny Mordaunt has been a Member of Parliament since 2010. She is a former Minister of Local Government (2014), Armed Forces (2015), the first woman to hold this position, Disabled People, Health and Work (2016), and a former Secretary of State for International Development and Secretary of State for Defence, again the first woman to hold the post. She is also a former Governor at the World Bank.

Prior to entering into politics she headed organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors as well as founding her own business in 2004. She has been an aid worker and an officer in the Royal Navy Reserve and is now Honorary Commander of 2nd Mine Countermeasures Squadron. In 2000 she worked in Washington for President GW Bush and has maintained close links to US politics.

Her book Greater, Britain after the storm (published May 2021) which sets out who we are and what we should be doing next, became an Amazon best seller within 24hrs of launch. All proceeds from the book are funding community organisations and charities.

She is currently Paymaster General and has led the Government’s resilience work overhauling how the UK prepares and responds to threats and has bolstered the UKs defensive cyber security. She deputises for both Michael Gove and Lord Frost, on Covid Operations and the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee respectively. She works with a large number of voluntary organisations including being Patron of Enable Ability, a charity which helps disabled children and their families, an Ambassador for Forgotten Veterans UK and is a trustee of the Wymering Manor Trust, a social enterprise she founded based around restoring a neglected listed building at the centre of a housing estate.

Executive Chair, WMG, University of Warwick

Margot James

Margot James has had a wide ranging career which has spanned working for the UK Government and as a business woman. Both in business and government Margot has championed the need to expand opportunities for diverse groups of young people.

Margot James has had a wide ranging career which has spanned working for the UK Government and as a business woman. Both in business and government Margot has championed the need to expand opportunities for diverse groups of young people.

Margot served as Minister of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with responsibility for Digital, Telecoms and the Creative Industries, piloting the Data Protection Bill through Parliament, incorporating GDPR into UK law. Previously she served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with responsibility for small businesses, consumers and corporate governance, including labour markets.

Margot co-founded Shire Health Group and led its growth to over 100 staff, having created a market for industry sponsored public health campaigns. She led the successful transitioning of Shire Health Group to the multinational WPP in 2000.

She served on the Europe, Middle East and Africa Board of Ogilvy Mather, leading European healthcare programmes.

Founder, Big Tent Foundation

George Freeman MP

Founder of the civic renewal campaigns MindTheGap! (2002) and PositivePolitics (2004), before his election to Parliament in 2010 after a 15 year career helping launch, finance & manage high growth start-ups in in technology venture capital, George founded Big Tent in 2017 as an antidote to the divisive partisan politics.

Founder of the civic renewal campaigns MindTheGap! (2002) and PositivePolitics (2004), before his election to Parliament in 2010 after a 15 year career helping launch, finance & manage high growth start-ups in in technology venture capital, George founded Big Tent in 2017 as an antidote to the divisive partisan politics.

Former Minister of State for Decarbonisation and Digitisation at DfT, Former Minister for Life Science and Chair of the Prime Ministers Policy Board.

After leaving the front bench in 2020 George has been focussed on the politics of regeneration & renewal.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson, International Development

Layla Moran MP

Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs & International Development. MP for Oxford West and Abingdon.

Layla has been the Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon since 2017, when she defeated Nicola Blackwood (Conservative) by just 816 votes. She was re-elected two years later with an increased majority of 8,943.

She is the Liberal Democrats’ Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesperson, an issue that she is deeply passionate about having grown up around the world. She was previously, as an ex-teacher, the party’s education spokesperson.

Layla is also Chair of the All-Party Group on Coronavirus. She works cross-party with her APPG colleagues to hold the Government to account. The APPG's interim report was published in December 2020.
Once elected to Parliament, Layla got to work campaigning to tackle climate change, make our education system world-class and protecting and promoting internationalism.

Professor of Systems Security, Director of Research, Institute for Future Transport and Cities (IFTC)

Siraj Ahmed Shaikh

Siraj Shaikh is a Professor of Systems Security at Coventry University, where he is also the Director of Research for the Institute for Future Transport and Cities (IFTC). He is interested in transport security and the narrative of risk.

Siraj Shaikh is a Professor of Systems Security at Coventry University, where he is also the Director of Research for the Institute for Future Transport and Cities (IFTC). He is interested in transport security and the narrative of risk. Siraj is also an entrepreneur, having co-founded CyberOwl that provides threat monitoring for the maritime sector across the world. Having been embedded in West Midlands for over a decade now, he is very interested in Coventry’s identity and heritage.
UK Advocacy Director, Eleanor Crook Foundation

Eleanor Hevey

Eleanor Hevey joined the Eleanor Crook Foundation in February 2021 as the UK Advocacy Director. Eleanor has more than 15 years’ experience as a senior advocate and strategist for leading multilateral and non-profit organizations.

Eleanor Hevey joined the Eleanor Crook Foundation in February 2021 as the UK Advocacy Director. Eleanor has more than 15 years’ experience as a senior advocate and strategist for leading multilateral and non-profit organizations. Prior to joining ECF, she served as the Head of Humanitarian Policy at the British Red Cross, leading policy, research and advocacy on international issues including food insecurity and famine prevention. She also served as the Head of Health and Resilience, leading domestic policy and thought-leadership on public health and major emergencies. Eleanor led international policy for UNICEF Canada and managed stakeholder relations for the Sick Kids Centre for Global Health, working on issues including global child health and nutrition, child protection and financing for global education. She is an accomplished advocate in multilateral processes and negotiations, including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Global Compact for Safe Migration, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, among others. She has played an instrumental role in building coalitions and leading successful G7 and UNGA campaigns. She is passionate about multi stakeholder initiatives and has led a range of innovative finance and private-sector partnerships. Eleanor holds a BA in International Development Economics from UEA (Norwich, UK), and a Graduate Certificate in Sustainability and Innovation from Harvard. She is currently completing an Executive MBA at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School and is the recipient of the 30% Club Oxford Women’s Scholarship.
The Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Leader, Activist, Producer: Food Justice and Creative Wellbeing

Eleanor House

Ellie House is acting as Chief Operations Officer for Feeding Coventry, a groundbreaking charity with a different approach to food poverty. Responsible for opening Coventry's first Social Supermarket just 2 weeks before the UK went into lockdown, Feeding Coventry has provided a nutritious and varied food offering to over 10,000 people in the last 12 months.

Ellie House is acting as Chief Operations Officer for Feeding Coventry, a groundbreaking charity with a different approach to food poverty. Responsible for opening Coventry's first Social Supermarket just 2 weeks before the UK went into lockdown, Feeding Coventry has provided a nutritious and varied food offering to over 10,000 people in the last 12 months.
From beginning her career managing large scale capital regeneration programmes for Local Authorities, she moved to the third sector where she has worked and volunteered extensively delivering services with adults with complex needs including homelessness, addiction and exploitation. Ellie strives to bring creativity into all she does in a way that supports positive mental wellbeing, connection and joy for everyone involved.
Ellie is also a freelance creative producer passionate about storytelling, performance and film and has just produced a short film about what Home means to people in Coventry who are speakers of other languages.
Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament and Member of Parliament for Leeds North East

Fabian Hamilton MP

Fabian Hamilton is the Labour Party’s Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament and Member of Parliament for Leeds North East. Since his election to the UK Parliament in 1997, Fabian has championed multilateral disarmament and international peacebuilding.

Fabian Hamilton is the Labour Party’s Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament and Member of Parliament for Leeds North East. Since his election to the UK Parliament in 1997, Fabian has championed multilateral disarmament and international peacebuilding.

Fabian is responsible for Labour Party policy on arms control, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and international peace agreements, such as those implemented in Cyprus and Colombia. He is married with three children and two grandchildren and is a keen cyclist and amateur photographer.

Executive Director of the Conservative Friends of Afghanistan

Shabnam Nasimi

Shabnam Nasimi is a British Afghan social and political activist and writer. She is the Executive Director of the Conservative Friends of Afghanistan.

Shabnam Nasimi is a British Afghan social and political activist and writer. She is the Executive Director of the Conservative Friends of Afghanistan. She has been instrumental in raising awareness of the humanitarian and development situation in Afghanistan and conflict zones.

Her professional experience has included working in Afghanistan to deliver a UKAid funded project of getting more girls into education, working for counter-terrorism within the Home Office and supporting the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. She is also a leading commentator in international media on Afghanistan and international development – particularly surrounding women's rights and related issues.

Co Founder, Gamewagon

John Lilley

John Lilley, Co Founder of Gamewagon and creator of the Junior Game Creators workshops and CEO of meetspaceVR will be leading a session that both demonstrates JGC’s unique approach to creative learning whilst passing on many of his experiences from class rooms all over the country where many traditional attempts at teaching children about coding and technology are just not in his view “fit for purpose”.

John Lilley, Co Founder of Gamewagon and creator of the Junior Game Creators workshops and CEO of meetspaceVR will be leading a session that both demonstrates JGC’s unique approach to creative learning whilst passing on many of his experiences from class rooms all over the country where many traditional attempts at teaching children about coding and technology are just not in his view “fit for purpose”. Junior Game Creators have ran 1000’s of session in schools mainly in the South East that help children develop so many other skills and talents not just the basics of coding. By tapping into children’s natural passion for video games, John and the team can show how kids can go from a blank sheet of paper to a fully functional game in around 10-12 hours of fun filled sessions, all of which are now fully available on line. These scratch based sessions teach so much more though that just the basics of computational thinking; they learn to plan, some basic physics, how to communicate and work with others, problem solving, elementary graphic design and audio. Not all of us are built to be coders but the workforce of tomorrow will need to understand how the creative process works and which bit of it they enjoy the most.

John will also talk about how he created a bursary at his current firm meetspaceVR that will pay for over 100 hours of free coaching we will be donating to a Coventry school to help teach children on free school meals and ask the employers of Coventry if they might be interested in creating similar bursaries to ensure Coventry’s workforce of tomorrow is ready for the undoubted creative challenges that lie ahead.

Chief Executive Officer, NHSA

Séamus O’Neill

Dr Séamus O’Neill is the Chief Executive Officer of the NHSA. He is a highly experienced leader in the health sciences field with an impressive track record.

Dr Séamus O’Neill is the Chief Executive Officer of the NHSA. He is a highly experienced leader in the health sciences field with an impressive track record. He previously worked for the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) for the North East and North Cumbria which he joined as founder CEO in 2012, recruiting its team and transforming cross-organisational working in the care system between the NHS, academia and industry. From November 2018 to August 2019, Seamus was the Chair of the AHSN Network, the group which convenes the work of the 15 AHSNs across England.

Prior to this he was a senior manager at the Northumberland Tyne and Wear NIHR Comprehensive Local Research Network and Research Manager at the University of Newcastle. He has a PhD in Genetics from Queen’s University, Belfast and has worked both as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Newcastle and as a clinical scientist in the NHS.

PhD Student, University of Cambridge and former Board member, Big Tent Ideas Festival

Dolly Theis

Dolly Theis is completing her PhD in evidence-based policy at the MRC Epidemiology Unit in the University of Cambridge. Prior to her PhD, Dolly led the childhood obesity and grassroots sport research at the Centre for Social Justice think tank and was a parliamentary researcher in the House of Lords.

Dolly Theis is completing her PhD in evidence-based policy at the MRC Epidemiology Unit in the University of Cambridge. Prior to her PhD, Dolly led the childhood obesity and grassroots sport research at the Centre for Social Justice think tank and was a parliamentary researcher in the House of Lords. Dolly co-founded 50:50 Parliament's cross-party #AskHerToStand campaign which helps women get selected and elected. She is an ambassador of military veterans charity Forward Assist and ex-offenders employment charity Tempus Novo. Between 2018 and 2020 Dolly ran the programme for and was a board member of the cross-party Big Tent Ideas Festival.
Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Clothing Brand Founder and Graphic Designer

Alfie Deas

Alfie Deas is a Coventrian and has lived in the city all his life. He runs a contemporary clothing brand “Only Girl Worth Chasing” that was created by him in his bedroom in 2016. The brand takes ideas of love and desire, fused together by music and pop culture.

Alfie Deas is a Coventrian and has lived in the city all his life. He runs a contemporary clothing brand “Only Girl Worth Chasing” that was created by him in his bedroom in 2016. The brand takes ideas of love and desire, fused together by music and pop culture. It also has strong connections to Coventry as designs have been inspired by his hometown and presented in various locations across the City in his photo shoots.
The themes within his work are anchored in Coventry’s culture, environment and its heritage.
He also has experience in designing and creating graphics for local independent artists from Coventry, with streams in excess of 3,500,000 on Spotify.
Founder and CEO of House Of Rainbow CIC

Rev’d Jide Macaulay

Reverend Jide Macaulay is the Founder and CEO of House Of Rainbow CIC. Openly gay British-Nigerian born in London, a Christian minister since 1998, Anglican Priest, a dynamic and an inspirational speaker, author, poet, pastor and preacher, HIV Positive Activist, holds a degree in Law, masters degree in Theology and Post-graduate certificate in Pastoral Theology.

Reverend Jide Macaulay is the Founder and CEO of House Of Rainbow CIC. Openly gay British-Nigerian born in London, a Christian minister since 1998, Anglican Priest, a dynamic and an inspirational speaker, author, poet, pastor and preacher, HIV Positive Activist, holds a degree in Law, masters degree in Theology and Post-graduate certificate in Pastoral Theology. Jide focuses his ministry on inclusion and reconciliation of sexuality, spirituality and human rights. Currently Board of Trustee at Kaleidoscope Trust UK, Chairperson INERELA+ Europe, Patron at ReportOut, nOSCARS Award winner 2014, 2017, 2018, Volunteer Chaplain at Mildmay Hospital and a Trained Volunteer Champion at Afruca Children's Charity.
The Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Consultant, Collaborator and Facilitator

Thanh Sinden

Thanh Sinden grew up in Coventry and has lived and worked here for a major part of her career. Thanh is a specialist consultant in equality, diversity and inclusion. Working across the third sector, local government and the cultural sector, she facilitates partnerships, strategic commissioning, audience development and positive organisational culture.

Thanh Sinden grew up in Coventry and has lived and worked here for a major part of her career. Thanh is a specialist consultant in equality, diversity and inclusion. Working across the third sector, local government and the cultural sector, she facilitates partnerships, strategic commissioning, audience development and positive organisational culture. Her work has taken her across countries, cities and towns working with teams and individuals on purpose, vision and impact to maximise people’s potential in an inclusive environment.
Kindness, valuing difference and diversity, social equity, creativity, authenticity and adventure are the values that drives Thanh. These values underpin the world she wants to live in and the future she wants to create. She wants to explore how arts, culture and creativity create the social interaction that facilitates civic engagement and safe civic spaces where our assumptions can be safely challenged that transforms our relationship with people, place and planet.
Coventry BID Director

Trish Willetts

Calling herself the West Midlands Combined Authority, Trish was born in Birmingham, lives in Solihull and now heads up the Coventry Business Improvement District (BID), which consists of 700 businesses that sit within the Coventry Ring Road.

Calling herself the West Midlands Combined Authority, Trish was born in Birmingham, lives in Solihull and now heads up the Coventry Business Improvement District (BID), which consists of 700 businesses that sit within the Coventry Ring Road.

With a strong focus on business and partnership working, Trish takes great pride in leading a small but mighty team of committed individuals who work within Coventry City Centre, enhancing the appearance of the city and offering a welcoming environment for visitors and residents alike.

The aim of the BID is to promote, develop and boost the city centre to make it a great place to work and visit. Trish and the team have played a vital role in ensuring the BID businesses have been continually supported throughout arguably one of the toughest years we’ve seen in recent history, working hard to make sure there is a positive future as things start to get back to normal.

A delivery partner for the 2021 City of Culture Trust, Coventry BID are leading on two fantastic projects – In Paint We Trust and The Show Windows. Both are bringing the city to life with stunning window displays and dazzling street art. The BID team has also recently celebrated National Arts Council England (ACE) funding success, making it the UK’s first Cultural BID.

The Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Director and Creative

Cory Barrett

At the age of 16, Cory Barrett began his career training as a part- time sales assistant in Coventry, whilst completing his Diploma in Graphic Design. During this time, he found a love of clothes, styling, window dressing and ultimately visual merchandising.

At the age of 16, Cory Barrett began his career training as a part- time sales assistant in Coventry, whilst completing his Diploma in Graphic Design. During this time, he found a love of clothes, styling, window dressing and ultimately visual merchandising.
Cory dedicated his time to the craft of visual merchandising through a series of high profile moves - including Director-level roles at Tiffany and Gap in New York, as well as managerial roles at Bally, COS, and Liberty in London. His passion has seen him travel the world, gaining inspiration from new cultures and people, as well as developing the skills needed to set up his own company in 2018 CBGC Creative Industries.
Besides his creative and brand work, this dedication to supporting emerging talent has seen Cory lecture at Brooklyn College, Coventry University, BCU, Fashion Retail Academy and more recently at the Sarabande Foundation by Alexander McQueen.
The Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Dancer, and Choreographer

Marius Mates

A dancer with over 15 years of experience, Marius Mates is a Coventry resident who established himself here back in 2010. Originally from Romania, Marius has experience in theatre productions, delivering captivating performances as well as competing in breakdance and hip-hop competitions worldwide.

A dancer with over 15 years of experience, Marius Mates is a Coventry resident who established himself here back in 2010. Originally from Romania, Marius has experience in theatre productions, delivering captivating performances as well as competing in breakdance and hip-hop competitions worldwide.
Some of the projects he has been involved in include Traum, a production created in collaboration with Theatre Absolute; Ink, a theatre piece produced by Si Rawlinson and performed in Leicester Theatre as well as commissioned for The Fringe Festival and Victoria & Albert Museum. Another immersive theatre production that he takes part in is One%, a collaboration with O’Driscoll Collective.
Besides theatre and commercials, Marius is an avid breakdance competitor, winning several worldwide competitions such as RedBull BC One Romania three years in a row and being ranked 19th worldwide after competing in Nanjing, China. Marius approaches his style of dance with courage and finds that experimenting with movement is such a powerful trait to have when being a dancer. For this reason, he has recently been commissioned to be part of a research project in conjunction with Dancing Bodies in Coventry.
The Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Poet and Communication

Nomusa Okorie

Chrissie is a Creative Visionary. Her creative background is writing. She also produces as well.

Chrissie is a Creative Visionary. Her creative background is writing. She also produces as well.

Working for Maokwo producing a project called YxngGxfted. She is a Journalism Graduate and a Cultural Leader under Coventry City of Culture. Chrissie’s work comes from an activism standpoint using creativity to draw attention to current issues that we are fighting in the world.

Managing Director of Politika, the Radix youth wing

Jake Field-Gibson

Jake is the Managing Director of Politika, the Radix youth wing. Politika is a youth-led think tank pushing for greater political engagement, awareness, and education.

Jake is the Managing Director of Politika, the Radix youth wing. Politika is a youth-led think tank pushing for greater political engagement, awareness, and education.
Campaigns Adviser, Changing Markets Foundation

Ximena Banegas

Ximena joined Changing Markets in November of 2019, as a campaign adviser and has worked on the plastics campaign since its very beginning.

Ximena joined Changing Markets in November of 2019, as a campaign adviser and has worked on the plastics campaign since its very beginning. Her prior work in advocacy led her to develop campaigns in climate change in Bolivia, ban shark fin soup in China, anti-trafficking in South East Asia and the latest against deforestation for the agro-cattle industry in the Amazon Rainforest and Chiquitano dry forest.
Prior to this, Ximena represented Bolivia at the United World College in Hong Kong. She has worked as Project Manager of Amigos Richmond Latino Center, where she constructed strategic relationships with government partners and donors. She fundraised and managed educational, health and outreach programs for Latino youth in the United States. She also conducted ethnographic research at the Smithsonian Centre for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and was a coordinator for the 51st Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
Born and raised in Bolivia, Ximena holds a liberal arts degree in International Studies and Business & Non-profit Management from Earlham College. Her postgraduate qualification in Anthropology, Ethnography and Cultural Heritage Studies through Erasmus+ led her to study in four different universities in London, France, Hungary and Norway. She speaks Spanish, English, French and Italian. In her free time, she enjoys dancing and training for half-marathons. She was awarded the Youth Peace Prize to a Bolivian Living Abroad in 2020.
Chair of the UK Youth Select Committee on knife crime

Rachel Ojo

Rachel Ojo is the chair of the UK Youth Select Committee on knife crime and was a member of the UK Youth Parliament for Essex.

Rachel Ojo is the chair of the UK Youth Select Committee on knife crime and was a member of the UK Youth Parliament for Essex. Rachel is a 19 year old university student studying PPE at Oxford. She has also represented the young people of the nation at 10 Downing Street, meeting with former PM, Theresa May. In February 2020 she helped launch a report in parliament detailing recommendations to the government on how to effectively tackle knife crime. Rachel has helped organise many countywide projects including a mental health festival for young people and is a ONE youth ambassador, helping to end poverty.
Spectator Columnist and Radix Fellow

Nick Tyrone

Nick is a Spectator columnist and former CEO of several Westminster think tanks as well as an Associate Fellow at Radix and Bright Blue.

Nick is a Spectator columnist and former CEO of several Westminster think tanks as well as an Associate Fellow at Radix and Bright Blue. He is also the author of several books including "Politics is Murder" and the upcoming "The Patient".

Register now

Join our mailing list; join our non-partisan regeneration focussed conversations and be the first to hear about our events, projects & news

By signing up you are confirming you are happy to receive emails from us. You can unsubscribe at any time by following the link at the bottom of communications, or contacting us via email.

See our Legal Terms and Privacy Notice to understand what we do with your personal data.

Coventry UK City of Culture 2021

Coventry is UK City of Culture 2021. This is the city where movement began, from innovation in the transport industry to a history of activism. The city has moved people for centuries. For a whole year, the city will be celebrated with events, music, dance, theatre, and large-scale spectacle.

Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 is co-created with the people of Coventry and brings about long-term social, economic and cultural benefits.

Find out more and discover Coventry at: