Participants 2017

Coming to Notwestminster 2017 or following online at #notwestminster ? Here are just some of the people you can hear from, talk to and collaborate with – not only speakers and workshop hosts, but listeners and doers too…

Joe MitchellJoe Mitchell
Democracy Club

Joe believes in the power of online participation to make democracy better – hence helping to found Democracy Club. He previously worked at Purpose, one of the world’s leading online organising consultancies, on projects relating to global health and the environment. He also has a range of experience across the public and third sectors, including in marketing and communication for the UK Government, and advocacy and research for NGOs such as Transparency International and Global Witness. Along the way he picked up several degrees in law, development and governance.

Catherine NeedhamCatherine Needham
Reader in Public Policy and Public Management
University of Birmingham

Catherine is an academic at the University of Birmingham. Her research covers public service workforce, co-production, personalisation and social care. She coordinates the 21st Century Public Servant research programme on workforce change. The 21st Century Councillor project launched in 2016 and is looking at the skills, roles and values of elected members and how these can be enhanced to strengthen local democracy.

Follow the 21st Century Public Servant on twitter at #21cPS

Andrew WilsonAndrew Wilson
Hannah Directory & The Making Space

I’ve been initiating and taking part in processes of innovation for nearly 20 years, using all sorts of technology from printed paper to atomic force microscopes. Based on that experience, I’ve come to think of both co-operation and innovation as craft skills. They’ve got to be learned, and you get better with practice.

Hannah Directory
The Making Space


Emily WarrillowEmily Warrillow
Kirklees Youth Council

Emily has been interested in politics locally and nationally since 2015 when, aged 13, she first met the late Jo Cox MP. It was during Jo’s election campaign, for the Batley and Spen seat, that Emily had her first experience of direct contact with a local politician. She has been active in her community ever since, taking part in many campaigns and organising a successful politics day at her school, Whitcliffe Mount. The guest speaker at her event was Andy Burnham MP. Emily has been an active member of Kirklees Youth Council for a year, representing the views of young people. She is also an active union member.

Anthony Zacharzewski

Anthony Zacharzewski
Democratic Society

Anthony Zacharzewski set up the Democratic Society in 2006 and has been its Chief Executive since 2010. The Society works across Europe helping governments, organisations and citizens to develop more open, more participative and more digital democracy, at every level and on every issue. Before setting up the Society he was a Whitehall civil servant and a local government officer in Brighton.

Jenny CroninJenny Cronin
Chair, Unlock Democracy Greater Manchester

I’ve been a supporter of democratic reform campaigns for some years initially through Unlock Democracy. We stand for fair politics, accountable government and citizen engagement. Devolution of English regions along the same lines as Scotland and Wales is a cause I still hang on to though it is sorely disrupted by the piecemeal devolution deals that parts of the North of England have been inflicted with. Nevertheless we network with a variety of local campaigning groups, underlining our view that the democracy theme threads through the issues they are contending with too and that we can support each other. We run participatory and reflective events – a democratising approach – and that’s where the People’s Plan comes in.

Hannah WorthHannah Worth
Head of Neighbourhoods and Community Action, Renaisi

Hannah has over 10 years’ experience of working in community and neighbourhood regeneration, and joined Renaisi three and half years ago. Current work includes leading support for Big Local reps (as a delivery partner in the Big Local programme), managing a pilot programme to support the development of neighbourhood planning in deprived urban areas, and a variety of community engagement and research projects across London boroughs. Hannah also spent 6 years as a co-director of Chamberlain Forum and previously managed the Birmingham Community Empowerment Network.

Louisa Thomson

Louisa Thomson
Head of Impact and Evaluation, Renaisi

Louisa is responsible for Renaisi’s impact and evaluation work with clients in local and central government, the voluntary sector and health. Louisa was a local councillor for seven years in a London borough, and although currently revelling in the joy of having evenings back, retains a strong interest in local democracy and the changing roles of councillors. She has a PhD from the Open University which focussed on the translation and interpretation of policy agendas in local government. She is also a trustee at Manor House Development Trust – a social enterprise in one of London’s largest regeneration schemes.

James SmithJames Smith
Open Data Institute

James is a technologist and software engineer, passionate about using web technology and open culture to make a better future for everyone, particularly environmentally and socially. In his day job, James leads the Labs programme at the Open Data Institute, working on open data technology and software tools. Since 2013 he’s been working on the OpenPolitics project, an experiment in writing an open source political manifesto. He stood in the 2015 UK general election on the open manifesto platform.


Jacqui Gedman

Jacqui Gedman
Deputy Chief Executive, Kirklees Council

Jacqui is a Civil Engineer by profession. She joined local government in 1990, initially with Leeds City Council, then moved to Kirklees Council in 2000. She is Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Economy, Skills and the Environment. As such she assumes responsibility for ensuring the towns and villages of Kirklees are economically resilient and that the businesses that operate here are as successful as possible. Married with 3 teenagers, what little free time she has she contributes to the national and local economy through her passion for shopping, especially shoes!

Helen CammackHelen Cammack

Helen is a “tech for good” social entrepreneur interested in improving local communities, especially the way they communicate. She founded – an online tool for community groups which helps them reach a wider audience in a multi-channel world. She is also a keen participant in local democratic debate in her hometown of Woking, Surrey. She is interested in exploring new applications for which help to further local democracy and open access to community information.

Kajal Odedra

Kajal Odedra

Kajal is Senior Campaigns Advisor at She has supported petition starters of some of the biggest people powered campaigns in the UK – from Lindsey Garrett’s petition to save the New Era Estate to Iman Ghavami’s campaign to free his sister Ghoncheh from prison in Iran. Kajal also supports corporates, politicians and councils to respond to and engage with petitions. Kajal has previously campaigned for NGOs including Macmillan, Crisis and the UK Youth Parliament, and is an advisor for tech group Ada’s List.


Colin CopusColin Copus
Director of the Local Governance Research Unit
Department of Politics & Public Policy, De Montfort University

Colin Copus is a Professor of Local Politics. His academic interests are central-local relationships and the constitutional status of local government, localism, local party politics, local political leadership and the changing role of the councillor. Colin has recently been working on the Councillor Commission, an independent review of the role and work of the councillor. He has also served as a councillor on a London Borough council, a county and a district council & parish councils.

Local Government Research Unit, De Montfort University

Nick TaylorNick Taylor
University of Dundee

Nick Taylor is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Dundee’s School of Art and Design, specialising in Human–Computer Interaction (HCI) and Interaction Design. His main research interest is the use of technology to support civic engagement in communities, working closely with communities over extended periods of time and deployments of new technologies ‘in the wild’. His most recent research has involved the use of hackathons to support grassroots innovation by bringing together communities with local makers.


ElliElli Panagopoulos

Eclipse Experience

Elli is a design researcher at Eclipse Experience –  a user-centred research agency. Her focus is giving citizens a voice in the design of the services, spaces, and policies that affect them. She draws on her background in iterative, contextual design research, and knowledge of digital democracy tools to help government, public bodies, and other organisations better reach and understand the public, including seldom heard groups and individuals.


Rajesh Bhardwaj

Rajesh Bhardwaj

Rajesh is an independent Digital Strategist based at the Urban Innovation Centre in Islington, London. This year he has worked extensively with the Air quality and Sustainable Transport teams across the London boroughs of Hackney, Islington and Tower Hamlets to define their digital strategy and develop their inaugural website. His current interest is focused on facilitating programmes and workshops that result in more proactive and collaborative workplace cultures within Local government.


Michelle Brook

Michelle Brook
Director of Strategy and Development, The Democratic Society

Michelle has a strong interest in technology, digital, and open data. Her work at The Democratic Society explores how these intersect with democratic questions, including how to enable more civic participation and government accountability, and how governments can share information and data with their citizens. Michelle has recently completed a discovery phase research project for the UK’s Government Digital Service, providing recommendations to the UK Government on how the experience of consultations can be improved. She is the head of Demsoc’s Manchester hub.

PerryPerry Walker
Talk Shop & Open Up

Perry is one of the founders of Talk Shop.  We ran events during the EU referendum period which were among the very few that allowed Leavers and Remainers to come together safely to understand and begin to appreciate each other’s positions. In 2017 we are concentrating on a small number of topics: immigration; Brexit; the progressive alliance; and a constitutional convention. Perry runs the Open Up politics website which helps people engage quickly with complex ethical and policy issues. He is also a Fellow of the New Economics Foundation (NEF), a London-based think tank, an associate of Rhizome, a cooperative providing facilitation services and a Fellow of Involve.

Bob BollenBob Bollen
Talk Shop

Bob is a retired IT project manager aiming to change the way we do politics in the UK, and then the world; working towards greater peace, justice, equality and freedom; by building on successful examples that encourage real understanding of differing points of view, starting from the ground up.

He is also one of the founders of Talk Shop – offering facilitated discussion on big issues.


emma-260Emma Nielsen
Social Life

Emma works on a range of projects for Social Life, including resident engagement on Woodberry Downs and Grahame Park Estate. She also worked on benchmarking of the area around the Somerleyton Road development in Brixton and co-developed Social Life’s Atlas of Social Maps. Her interests include social sustainability, psychogeography, public spaces and inclusion. She has been involved in community work in Denmark and the UK and is currently working with the Wayside Community Centre in Hackney and Hackney Winter Night Shelter.


David Moynihan

David Moynihan
Social Life

David joined Social Life in April 2016 as Director of Projects. Recently, he has been undertaking development work on some technology-based approaches to supporting community profiling and citizen engagement. He has previously designed and delivered several area based regeneration programmes and established a network of community-based job brokerage organisations to link candidates to 2012 Games vacancies in partnership with the Olympic Delivery Authority. In the past 10 years, he also founded and led four successful ventures, including a consultancy business, an art gallery, a music label and a community arts collective, which all continue to prosper.

John Popham

John Popham
Digital Storyteller

John is a freelance Digital Storyteller based in Huddersfield. He has a strong track record of helping public and voluntary sector organisations to develop their online voices. He also runs a number of social enterprises, including Ageing Digital, which introduces older people to life-enhancing new technologies through fun and innovative means, and Citizens Live, which offers low-cost video services and live streaming. John’s new social enterprise, the Civic Story Factory, will be dedicated to telling great stories of the people who work in public and voluntary services and the differences they make to people’s lives.

Peter Emerson

Peter Emerson
Director, The de Borda Institute

Peter Emerson, the child of an Irish Protestant father and an English Catholic mother, describes himself as “a political bastard”. He says: “Politics, after all, is either-or… majoritarian politics that is. A plural democracy, however, should allow for a plurality of ideas, both in debate and on the ballot paper!”

In 1985, outside Belfast City Hall, Paisley shouted “Ulster says NO!” So one week later, Peter and a few friends stood at the same spot, in silence, with a banner: “We have got to say ‘yes’ to something.”

Edward MolloyDr Edward Molloy
The Electoral Reform Society

Edward joined the Electoral Reform Society in March 2015. He is a Research Officer developing the democratic innovations strand of ERS work, looking at how new modes of deliberation and participation can help build a better democracy. Edward obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Glasgow and an MA from Goldsmiths, University of London. He recently completed his PhD in politics at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Lorraine ClarkeLorraine Clarke
University of Dundee

Loraine Clarke is a research associate at the University of Dundee’s School of Art and Design, with a background in Industrial Design and Human–Computer Interaction. Her research concentrates on physical technology supporting social interactions within groups in public spaces such as community spaces, museums or galleries. Her current research focuses on supporting community innovation utilising digital fabrication and the DIY maker movement.

Dave MckennaDave Mckenna
Scrutiny Manager,
City & County of Swansea

Dave works for the Council in Swansea where he has been for 20 years. Prior to finding a home with scrutiny he worked in a variety of front-line and policy roles with varying degrees of success. He has completed a PhD with the Department of Political and Cultural Studies, Swansea University. His topic was Local Government and Public Participation.

Localopolis (blog)
How to be a public servant (blog)

Photo of Dave courtesy of Anthony Mckeown.

Notwestminster 2017