Conference speakers 2022

Meet the speakers at AIM Conference 2022. For all the information on who’s speaking when and their topic, see the programme details here>>

Paul Harris, Chief Executive, Port Sunlight Village Trust

Paul Harris, Chief Executive, Port Sunlight Village Trust

Paul joined Port Sunlight Village Trust (PSVT) in March 2015. Over the last 7 years, he has led the organisation through a transformational change programme to achieve financial independence and to develop an exciting and ambitious masterplan to make ‘Port Sunlight an inspiring place to live, work and visit’. Paul previously held senior positions in the housing and social care sectors.

Laura Pye, Director, National Museums Liverpool

Laura Pye, Director, National Museums Liverpool

Laura Pye, Director of National Museums Liverpool, joined the organisation in August 2018. Born in Liverpool, Laura returned from the city following several years as Head of Culture for Bristol City Council, with responsibility for the five museums in the city. Prior to moving to Bristol, Laura was interim Heritage and Culture Manager for Warwickshire County Council, and her early career in museums was focused mainly on museum education. 

Nick Ralls, CEO, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust

Nick Ralls, CEO, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust

Nick joined the Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust as Chief Executive in December 2019. Previously Nick has worked as General Manager of the Severn Valley Railway, a leading heritage railway in the UK, and prior to this worked as a Curator Manager at Birmingham Museums and with the National Trust at Rufford Old Hall, Lyme Park and Speke Hall. Nick has a Masters in Museum Studies from Leicester University 

Mike Benson, Director, Scottish Crannog Centre

Mike Benson, Director, Scottish Crannog Centre

Mike spent 28 years in the steel works of Middlesbrough before entering the museum sector initially as a volunteer at The Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum working there around his shifts. First job as Director of Ryedale Folk Museum then Bede’s World then Interim Director National Coal Mining Museum for England and currently Director of The Scottish Crannog Centre.  

Liz Power, Director, London Museum of Water & Steam

Liz Power, Director, London Museum of Water & Steam

Liz Power has worked in Museum for 23 years, mainly working in learning and community engagement. Since becoming Director of the London Museum of Water & Steam at the end of 2018 Liz has lead the Museum though the pandemic, focusing on the needs of the local community. When not at the Museum Liz is chair of a grass roots young people’s charity, looks after her children and plays the baritone horn badly.

Grant MacKenzie, Director and Trustee, David Livingstone Birthplace

Grant MacKenzie, Director and Trustee, David Livingstone Birthplace

Grant has over 20-years’ experience in the tourism and heritage sector including launching the Kelpies/Helix project. He has been working on the transformative project at David Livingstone Birthplace since 2017 leading the organisational change and delivering a reinvigorated and recontextualised museum exhibition, that focusses on how Livingstone’s story has direct relevance to many contemporary issues. He has been responsible for Project Managing the brand new museum exhibition and delivering the commercial, fundraising, marketing and development activities.

Ruth Lesirge, HBRL Consulting

Ruth Lesirge, HBRL Consulting

Ruth Lesirge is a highly experienced governance consultant, and has conducted several governance reviews in the museum and heritage sector.   Together with Hilary Barnard, she designed and delivered the AIM Spark! programme (2021-22) and the AIM Museum Leaders and Museum Enablers development programmes (2016-18). She is currently President of the Association of Chairs, and is a former Head of Governance Practice for Centre for Charity Effectiveness.  She is a former Chief Executive of two national charities. 

Hilary Barnard, HBRL Consulting

Hilary Barnard, HBRL Consulting

Hilary Barnard is a highly experienced organisational consultant, and has conducted over 60 governance reviews, including 15 within the museum and heritage sector.   Together with Ruth Lesirge, he designed and delivered the AIM Spark! Programme (2021-22) and the AIM Museum Leaders and Museum Enablers development programmes (2016-18). He is the Independent Chair of Creative Barking & Dagenham, and former Head of Strategy and Change Practice for Centre for Charity Effectiveness.   He is a former charity Chief Executive. 

Melissa Strauss, Interim Head of Museums, Libraries and Archives Policy, National Lottery Heritage Fund

Melissa Strauss, Interim Head of Museums, Libraries and Archives Policy, National Lottery Heritage Fund

Melissa Strauss is Interim Head of Museums, Libraries and Archives Policy at the National Lottery Heritage Fund, where she also leads on youth engagement, oral history, and intangible cultural heritage. Melissa previously worked at Birmingham Museums Trust and Arts Council England, and was seconded to Amgueddfa Cymru. She recently completed research on community participation in museums, is a co-founder of Museum Space Invaders and sits on the steering group of the East End Women’s Museum.

Victoria Rogers, Head of Museums & Collections, Culture Division, Welsh Government

Victoria Rogers, Head of Museums & Collections, Culture Division, Welsh Government

Working in the independent and local authority museum sectors for over 20 years, Victoria has specialised in social history, cultural diversity, contemporary collecting and community co-creation work at Coldharbour Mill Museum, Tyne and Wear Museums and the Museum of Cardiff.  During her career she has been Chair of Social History Curators Group and President of the Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales.

Wendy Wilshere, Volunteer Coordinator, Beamish Museum

Wendy Wilshere, Volunteer Coordinator, Beamish Museum

Wendy began her career as a sports trainer and manager/business owner in the sports and leisure industry before joining Beamish museum as a volunteer in 2016.  She know looks after some 400 volunteers and counting as one of two volunteer coordinators at Beamish Museum.

Celyn Gurden-Williams, Head of People Development, Beamish Museum

Celyn Gurden-Williams, Head of People Development, Beamish Museum

Celyn has worked in the museum and heritage industry since 2003. She joined Beamish in 2009 and has worked and volunteered in roles across front of house, learning and collections. She know looks after people, culture and the visitor experience.

Victoria Reeves, CEO, National Justice Museum

Victoria Reeves, CEO, National Justice Museum

Victoria has been a manager and leader in the heritage and museums industry since 1996. Currently CEO of the National Justice Museum, an award winning museum in Nottingham with a national reach for delivery of widely acclaimed educational programmes for young people. She was previously a General Manager for the National Trust, most notably leading the restoration of the state apartments at Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire.  

Gareth Redston, CEO, Manchester Jewish Museum

Gareth Redston, CEO, Manchester Jewish Museum

Gareth Redston is the new Chief Executive of Manchester Jewish Museum. He previously served as the Museum’s Head of Programmes for 7 years and has held learning or programming posts at other organisations such as Museum of Science and Industry and Chester Zoo over the last 20+ years.

Morrigan Mason, Museums Development Manager, Carmarthenshire County Council

Morrigan Mason, Museums Development Manager, Carmarthenshire County Council

Morrigan Mason is Museums Development Manager for Carmarthenshire County Council, with a mixed portfolio of local authority run and independent museums in the county.  She previously worked for Bodelwyddan Castle Trust and Manchester Art Gallery.  She is Vice President of the Federation of Museums and Galleries in Wales and a trustee of Kids in Museums.

Jenny Cousins, Director, The Food Museum

Jenny Cousins, Director, The Food Museum

Jenny Cousins is Director of the Food Museum in Suffolk, formerly the Museum of East Anglian Life. She joined the museum team in 2016 having worked at English Heritage and led the redevelopment of the American Air Museum at IW,M Duxford described by one reviewer as going “beyond the facts with the introduction of a range of opinions and emotion, roads that traditional military museums rarely go down.”

Hannah Hartley, Environmental Action Manager, Manchester Museum

Hannah Hartley, Environmental Action Manager, Manchester Museum

As Manchester Museum’s first Environmental Action Manager, Hannah works across all areas of the museum to drive forward ambitions in environmental thinking and action; establishing best practices and building on the museum’s rich experience in developing narratives and programming in response to the climate and ecological crisis.  

Hannah is also a steering group member for the GMAST network which brings together over 50 cultural and creative organisations across Greater Manchester to work towards a more sustainable future.

Naomi Garnett, Director, Quaker Tapestry Museum

Naomi Garnett, Director, Quaker Tapestry Museum

Naomi Garnett became General Manager of the Quaker Tapestry Museum at the beginning of 2022. Naomi oversees the strategic development as well as the day-to-day running of the museum. Prior to this, she worked at the National Justice Museum in Nottingham for over 8 years as the Learning Manager. 

Steve Green, Co-Director, Gilbert White's House and Gardens

Steve Green, Co-Director, Gilbert White's House and Gardens

Steve has job-shared the director role at Gilbert White’s House and Gardens for seven years.  During this time, he has helped to deliver a £2.8 major development project, re-connected the museum with its local community, and helped to grow existing business activities and develop new income streams in order to a treble the income.  He is also a consultant providing business planning fundraising, marketing and governance advice in the heritage sector.

Catriona West, Director, Powell-Cotton Museum

Catriona West, Director, Powell-Cotton Museum

Catriona has worked in the sector for 25 years and is currently Director of the Powell-Cotton Museum in Thanet, Kent. She has worked for a variety of organisations across the country in collections, learning and engagement, site and building management, and projects. The consistent element in all these roles has been her passion for access and inclusion, social responsibility and cultural entitlement.  

Gaby Lees and Joanna Sutcliffe, Barnsley Museums & Archive

Gaby Lees and Joanna Sutcliffe, Barnsley Museums & Archive

Gaby Lees is an artist and curator with over twenty years’ experience of delivering arts projects in grassroots and cultural settings, building strong partnerships across sectors. She is committed to the delivery of meaningful, high-quality participatory arts engagement which has positive and lasting impact. 

Joanna Sutcliffe is an ESOL tutor and project co-ordinator with extensive experience of supporting refugees and asylum seekers through working with Good Chance Theatre and SAVTE. She has worked with Barnsley Museums to deliver and develop the Feels Like Home project since 2018. 

Martin Baines, Director, Bradford Police Museum

Martin Baines, Director, Bradford Police Museum

Martin Baines is the founder and current Director of the Bradford Police Museum. A former senior police officer in West Yorkshire Police he has spent over 40 years working closely with Bradford’s minority ethnic communities. He has also worked on international police projects in various parts of the world. After a subsequent career in business, he has spent the last 10 years in the heritage sector developing the Bradford Police Museum. 

Shannen Johnson, Learning & Engagement Officer, The Peace Museum

Shannen Johnson, Learning & Engagement Officer, The Peace Museum

Shannen Johnson is the Learning and Engagement Officer at The Peace Museum and co-manages the museum. She has been at The Peace Museum for over 8 years and oversees the development and delivery of the museum’s learning and engagement programme, and works on inclusive practice across all aspects of the museum’s work.

Alexander Goodger, Museum Manager, Dundee Museum of Transport

Alexander Goodger, Museum Manager, Dundee Museum of Transport

Elliot Alexander is focused on developing innovative carbon neutral museums, studied History at the University of Leicester and then completed his postgraduate studies at the Ironbridge Institute of Cultural Heritage. Previously, he worked at Birmingham Museums Trust, before moving to Cheshire to work as Museum Manager at Nantwich Museum.  

Lisa Wilkinson, Sustainability Manager, Beamish Museum

Lisa Wilkinson, Sustainability Manager, Beamish Museum

With 18 years of experience working at Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, Lisa is a passionate and dedicated advocate for climate change, championing sustainability at the museum and working alongside fellow museums and cultural organisations.  She is committed to working towards implementing innovative, economical ways forward to ensure best practice for greener, sustainable solutions, both across the museum, and throughout new and future developments.

Christina McMahon, Deputy Director, Garden Museum

Christina McMahon, Deputy Director, Garden Museum

Christina began her career in Development at the British Museum, before moving to the V&A’s Learning Academy. She moved to the Garden Museum as Development Manager during its major redevelopment in 2017. Since then she has expanded her work to include curating the annual British Flowers Week, audience development strategies and programmes, and managing selling exhibitions. As Deputy Director she supports colleagues in Curatorial, the Archive, Gardens, Learning, Public Programmes and Development.

Jamie Brett, Creative Projects, Museum of Youth Culture

Jamie Brett, Creative Projects, Museum of Youth Culture

Jamie joined the Museum of Youth Culture in 2013 having graduated in BA Photography. Working with founder Jon Swinstead he began building the framework and raising public funding for a radical new Museum celebrating British social history over the last 100 years from Teds to Punk to Grime. Jamie specialises in UK Bass Music Culture and Club Culture Folklore studying a part time MA at University of Hertfordshire.

Lisa van Weduwe, Archive Projects, Museum of Youth Culture

Lisa van Weduwe, Archive Projects, Museum of Youth Culture

Lisa joined the Museum of Youth Culture in 2016 having graduated in BA Photography. Initially supporting the Museum’s first Heritage Lottery Funded project, Lisa has led public outreach, education and volunteer projects, activating the archive by championing accessibility and diversity within the collections. Lisa specialises in Heavy Metal Culture with an interest in youth culture protest and activism.

Elliot Simmonds, Client Solutions Director, M.E.L. Research Ltd

Elliot Simmonds, Client Solutions Director, M.E.L. Research Ltd

Elliot leads visitors and audiences research at MEL Research. He is a mixed methods practitioner and is particularly interested in behaviour change, engagement, and delivering actionable outcomes from research studies. He has previously worked with a wide range of major cultural institutions, including the Natural History Museum, National Archives, Horniman Museum and Gardens, Science Museum Group, Museum of London, Holocaust Memorial Foundation, UNBOXED, Culture Liverpool and the Birmingham 2022 Cultural Programme.

Meriel Royal, Culture Bulb

Meriel Royal, Culture Bulb

Meriel is a Freelance Insight Consultant specialising in the culture sector and also works at the V&A. She has been a Committee Member of the Visitor Studies Group, Meriel specialises in audience research strategies, creative evaluation techniques, mixed-methods research, design thinking, theory of change models, and finding actionable insight in a wide range of data sets.

Andy Hardman, academic and filmmaker, University of Manchester

Andy Hardman, academic and filmmaker, University of Manchester

Andy teaches museology at the University of Manchester, where his research focuses on creative approaches to engagement. Andy is supervising a KTP project with Port Sunlight Village Trust, helping the team develop new ways of thinking and working with visitors and residents in a joint exploration of Port Sunlight’s colonial heritage. Andy runs a film production company (bellevueproductions.co.uk) using filmmaking as a research tool for museums and galleries.

Arike Oke, Executive Director of Knowledge and Collections, British Film Institute

Arike Oke, Executive Director of Knowledge and Collections, British Film Institute

Arike Oke is the Executive Director of Knowledge and Collections at the British Film Institute. Formerly she was the Managing Director for Black Cultural Archives, the home of Black British history.

She’s worked in heritage for over 15 years, from the seminal Connecting Histories project in Birmingham, to developing Wellcome Collection’s archive, and co-convening Hull’s first official Black History Month. Her fiction is published in magazines and anthologies. Her critical art writing has been featured in The Girls Are and This is Tomorrow. Her academic writing has appeared in journals. She has written an anti-racism book for children which is to be published in 2022.