AIM Conference 2021 speaker biographies

Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Oliver Dowden CBE has been Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport since 13 February 2020. He has responsibility for museums, arts and heritage. He was elected Conservative MP for Hertsmere in May 2015.

Previously he held Government posts as Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office from July 2019 to February 2020, and Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office from January 2018 to July 2019.

Before his election to Parliament he worked in PR and for the Conservative Campaign Headquarters.

This session will be pre-recorded. If you’d like to put a question to the Secretary of State for Digital Culture Media and Sport, please email margaret@aim-museums.co.uk by the end of May.

Orna NiChionna, Deputy Chair, National Trust

Orna NiChionna, Deputy Chair, National Trust

Orna was appointed to the Council in 2013 by the Soil Association and appointed to the Board of Trustees in the same year. She was appointed Deputy Chairman in 2014. She was Chair of the Soil Association from 2007 to 2013 and is still a member of its Council. She studied Electronic Engineering in Dublin and Cork, holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, and became the first female Partner in McKinsey’s London office in 1990. Her focus at McKinsey, where she spent a total of 18 years, was on consumers and retailers. She has been a member of the National Trust for many years and has been a Trustee of Sir John Soane’s Museum since 2012.

Jessica Figueras, Chair of Trustees, NCT

Jessica Figueras, Chair of Trustees, NCT

Jessica has been Chair of Trustees at NCT, the UK’s largest charity for parents, since 2017. She works in the technology sector as a strategist and policy adviser, specialising in digital trust, governance, corporate transparency, and the role of tech in civil society. She is also Vice Chair at the UK Cyber Security Council.

Carrie Canham, Amgueddfa Ceredigion Museum

Carrie Canham, Amgueddfa Ceredigion Museum

Carrie started her career for Brighton & Hove Museums as Community Exhibitions Officer and then Curator of Toys & Film. After a sojourn as Displays Coordinator at the Centre for Alternative Technology, she returned to the museum sector to help establish CARAD’s Rhayader Museum & Art Gallery. In 2012 she took up the post of Curator at Amgueddfa Ceredigion Museum.

Dr Karen Buchanan, Curator, Gairloch Museum

Dr Karen Buchanan, Curator, Gairloch Museum

Karen Buchanan is Curator of Gairloch Museum, where she has worked since 2013.  She oversaw the redevelopment of the museum and its move to a new building in 2019.  This new heritage attraction has regenerated a key site in Gairloch village and was winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020.

Amy Shakespeare, Innovation Manager, Cornwall Museums Partnership

Amy Shakespeare, Innovation Manager, Cornwall Museums Partnership

In her role as Innovation Manager, Amy is head of Research and Development for the charity – working with tech businesses and universities to find innovative solutions to improve museum practice, particularly utilising immersive technology. She previously worked for a number of years in the visitor experience department at the National Trust in West Cornwall. Amy is also currently working towards a PhD exploring material culture repatriation.

Owen Roberts, Curator, Eyam Museum

Owen Roberts, Curator, Eyam Museum

Owen has worked in the heritage and culture sector for ten years, including previous roles at the Methodist Church as its national lead for heritage, a heritage funder, and a regional theatre. Prior to this, he worked in young people’s sexual health services in both the NHS and the voluntary sector. He lives near Eyam, in a neighbouring village.

Sara Blair-Manning, CEO, Nottingham Castle Trust

Sara Blair-Manning, CEO, Nottingham Castle Trust

Sara has worked in the heritage and cultural sector for over 25 years most recently for the National Trust as General Manager for South Nottinghamshire/North Lincolnshire and CEO of The John Clare Trust. She is currently a Trustee of Museum Development East Midlands, and a member of the national Women Leaders in Museums Network.

Heather Lomas, Director, Heather Lomas Consulting

Heather Lomas, Director, Heather Lomas Consulting

Heather Lomas is a heritage and museums consultant. She specialises in working with organisations to develop and improve their sustainability through good organisational health, she has a particular focus on governance, trustee development, development of policy and strategy and business development.

Heather is an AIM Prospering Boards Consultant, working with museums on a range of governance and board issues. During 2020 She delivered a series of business planning workshops as part of the AIM Hallmarks from Home series.

Heather provides consultancy to the Museum Development East Midlands Organisational Health programme, recently she has facilitated a cohort of museums focused on trustee succession planning. The challenges and successes of this programme will be discussed along with practical top tips on lessons learned.

Hilary McGowan, Consultant

Hilary McGowan, Consultant

Hilary McGowan works with museums and heritage organisations to help them change and improve their leadership, so they can thrive in the future. Her distinguished track record includes successfully leading major museums through change in York, Exeter and Bristol. Hilary established her own business 25 years ago and has worked with over 200 different museums throughout the UK.

Piotr Bienkowski

Piotr Bienkowski

Piotr Bienkowski has over 35 years’ experience as a museum curator, director, federation chair, university professor and consultant.  He directed the Our Museum programme, the most extensive programme of organisational change in the sector, focused on embedding participatory practice. He is co-author, with Hilary McGowan, of Managing Change in Museums and Galleries: A Practical Guide (Routledge 2021).

Matt Hick, Head of Volunteering, Science Museum Group

Matt Hick, Head of Volunteering, Science Museum Group

For the past six years Matt has been responsible for leading the strategic development of volunteering at Science Museum Group. During that time, he has overseen a 90% growth in volunteer involvement, helped raised satisfaction levels to 98% and created a culture that embraces volunteering. Matt is also Chair of the Heritage Volunteering Group a peer-to-peer network for those working with volunteers.

Eleanor Moore, Sustainable Volunteering Officer, South West Museum Development

Eleanor Moore, Sustainable Volunteering Officer, South West Museum Development

Eleanor supports museums in the South West to involve volunteers, working closely with Museum Development Officers and county networks. Eleanor delivers regional training and operates the South West Museum Volunteering Forum. She is part of the team leading on Rebuilding the Foundations: Gloucestershire’s Museums, an NLHF-funded project to support 10 Gloucestershire museums with volunteer involvement and audience development in the wake of Covid-19. Her background is in social and community history curatorship, community engagement and advisory work within the museums sector. She is an Associate Member of the Museums Association.

Becky Benson, Volunteering Officer, Shropshire Museums

Becky Benson, Volunteering Officer, Shropshire Museums

Becky has worked with volunteers at the RNLI and Birmingham Museums Trust and has seen the difference that volunteering can make to organisations and individuals. She passionately believes in the power of volunteering and sits on the Heritage Volunteering Group’s Steering Group. In March 2021 she began a new role with Shropshire Museums overseeing volunteer development and management across six sites.

Sara Wajid, Co-CEO, Birmingham Museums Trust

Sara Wajid, Co-CEO, Birmingham Museums Trust

Sara is Co-CEO alongside Zak Mensah – this job-share CEO partnership is a first in the museum sector and signals Birmingham Museum Trust’s commitment to inclusive working practices. Sara was formerly Head of Engagement at Museum of London and Head of Interpretation at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in 2017. Before working in museums she was a cultural commentator, journalist and editor. She is a trustee of the Pitt Rivers Museum, a judge of the Museum Activism award, a member of the Museum Detox network for people of colour in museums and an active advocate for diversity and equality issues in the arts.

Zak Mensah, Co-CEO Birmingham Museums Trust

Zak Mensah, Co-CEO Birmingham Museums Trust

Zak is Co-CEO jointly responsible for setting our direction as part of the executive. Zak is excited about helping people to make a ruckus. Zak has been a freelancer, staff development officer, Head of Digital, and Head of Transformation. In addition to helping his own organisation, Zak shares his skills and expertise as a regular public speaker and trustee of the Association for Cultural Enterprises.

Lizzie Glithero-West, CEO, The Heritage Alliance

Lizzie Glithero-West, CEO, The Heritage Alliance

Lizzie Glithero-West is CEO of The Heritage Alliance, championing the independent heritage sector to policy makers and opinion formers to build a shared, deep and nuanced understanding of the importance of heritage. This Alliance also inspires and catalyses action to enhance the sustainability, resilience and capabilities of independent heritage organisations.

Sarah Philip, Director of Programmes and Policy, ArtFund

Sarah Philip, Director of Programmes and Policy, ArtFund

Sarah Philp leads the team responsible for managing and developing Art Fund’s grant-giving programmes, which support the museums and galleries sector in the UK through funding new acquisitions, and curatorial and collections development. She has developed initiatives including the Jonathan Ruffer curatorial grants programme, New Collecting Awards, and the Weston Loan programme. She is also chair of the Michael Clark Company.

Sajida Carr, Director of Operations and Development, Creative Black Country

Sajida Carr, Director of Operations and Development, Creative Black Country

Sajida is Director of Operations and Development at Creative Black Country based in the Black Country part of the Creative People and Places Programme. Her role is about making the most of the Black Country through Arts and Culture with a specific focus on operations & development and includes financial management, evaluation & governance. As well as championing unique cross sector partnerships which encourages new relationships and collaborations.

Maya Sharma, Collections Engagement Officer, Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre

Maya Sharma, Collections Engagement Officer, Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre

Maya Sharma is Collections Engagement Officer at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre, where she works with a rich and varied set of archives that document the histories and experiences of global majority communities in the North West. She also works for its sister organisation, the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust, offering a consultancy service to cultural organisations who wish to develop ethical and de-colonial approaches in their work with communities. She has a long track record of working with seldom-listened-to and often-marginalised communities and their organisations, as well as pushing for more meaningful diversity work within mainstream organisations.

Ben Leah, Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers

Ben Leah, Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers

Ben is a Director at Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers, an independent insurance broker and risk management advisor whose team of insurance professionals are on hand to provide you with the right insurance and risk management advice when you need it. A longstanding AIM Associate Supplier, they have considerable knowledge of working with heritage organisations right across the UK.

Jon Murden, Director, Dorset Museum

Jon Murden, Director, Dorset Museum

Jon has been Director at Dorset Museum since 2012. He has lead the delivery of the transformative ‘Tomorrow’s Museum for Dorset’ project alongside successfully bringing blockbuster national touring exhibitions, such as the NHM’s ‘Dippy on Tour’, to the county. With over 15 years’ experience in the heritage sector, Jon was previously Head of Research at National Museums Liverpool.

Ian Standen

Ian Standen

Iain Standen started work as the CEO of the Bletchley Park Trust in January 2012, after 28 years as a commissioned officer in the British Army. He has a lifelong interest in history and heritage and has been an active battlefield guide for some 25 years. He has led tours of battlefields in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the United States, covering battles and campaigns from the Seven Years War to the Second World War. Whilst maintaining a broad interest the American Civil War remains his favourite era. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA), a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (FCMI), and is a Director of Destination Milton Keynes.

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