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Locality Convention ’17: Keynote speakers

Melissa Aase, Executive Director at University Settlement, New York

Melissa Aase has been with University Settlement since 1992, working her way up from a student intern, to the Director of Community Development, right up to the Executive Director. She also currently serves on the board of directors for the International Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers (IFS). With a Master in Social Work from Columbia University and Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary, Aase has focused her career on community- building, community organising, and community development. @UnivSettlement

Steve Elias, host of BBC 2 ‘Our Dancing Town’ and co-founder of The Costume Emporium CIC

Steve Elias is the presenter and choreographer of BBC 2 ‘Our Dancing Town’ his mission is bringing communities together and celebrating their achievements through dance and the arts; cocreator of The Costume Emporium CIC which offers subsidised costume hire for all community arts groups in the UK.

Julia Unwin, Chair of the Civil Society Futures independent commission, and former CEO of The Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Julia Unwin CBE was Chief Executive of JRF for ten years. Before then she served on the Board of the Housing Corporation, and was a Charity Commissioner. She has written and consulted extensively on issues of funding, governance and social policy. Julia is currently chair of the Independent Panel on the Future of Civil Society as well as working as a consultant and adviser and non-executive director. @juliaunwin

Matt Leach, CEO of Local Trust

Matt Leach oversees the operations of Local Trust to deliver Big Local – the biggest place-based funding programme currently distributing funds. He previously worked as CEO of HACT, CEO of civil society funding agency Capacity Builders, was an associate director of the ResPublica think tank and has held a range of senior roles at DCLG and the Cabinet Office. @matt_leach

Donna Hall, CEO at Wigan Council

Donna Hall has been Chief Executive at Wigan for the last five years. She leads on Public Service Reform in Greater Manchester and was awarded a CBE for services to local government in 2009. Donna initiated a major programme of reform in partnership with residents, The Wigan Deal. She is a passionate feminist and last year won Transformational Leader at the Northern Power Women Awards. @WiganCouncil

Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor, Bristol City Council 

Elected as Labour Councillor of St George West, Bristol in May 2016, Asher was appointed to the Cabinet with the wide reaching portfolio of Neighbourhoods in August 2016.  

In March 2017 she stepped into the new role of Deputy Mayor – Communities, bringing into and elevating the issue of Public Health within this new portfolio.  She is committed to addressing discrimination and multi-level inequalities. @CllrAsherCraig 

Sarah Gorman, CEO of Edberts House

Sarah Gorman began working at Edberts House in 2010. Edberts House in East Gateshead works with their local community to make it a happier, healthier, more welcoming place to live. Sarah has launched three projects – two community hubs and a social prescribing project based in four GP surgeries.

Sarah was previously Chair of Trustees at Oasis Aquila housing charity, and Board member of Blue Sky Trust. @EdbertsHouse

Annoushka Deighton, Board member at Stretford Public Hall

As a Board member at Stretford Public Hall, Annouska is passionate about its potential and keen that the history of the project and exciting plans for the future are shared widely. Her background as a homelessness caseworker and successful self-employed acupuncturist have helped her to develop the vision to get things done and the tenacity to see things through! @StretfordPHall

Maxine Ennis, CEO of Rotunda

Passionate about social justice and with a background in housing and education, Maxine Ennis is CEO of North Liverpool-based Locality member Rotunda which she describes as “a big colourful community-led place”.  Maxine has over 20 years specialist knowledge of community and race relations, and urban policy, working across all sectors. @RotundaLtd


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