The Team of Leaders – Top innovators join Young Foundation on mission to disrupt inequality

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Date: 10 March 2014

The Young Foundation, the leading centre for social innovation, is delighted to announce the appointment of eleven new senior staff to spearhead its renewed mission to understand and challenge the root causes of structural inequality.

The Young Foundation’s dynamic new team includes leading thinkers and practitioners from the fields of social policy, feminism, human rights and social enterprise. All are senior leaders in their fields and represent a formidable challenge to the status quo and a substantial deepening of what was already a world-class team.

Simon Willis, Chief Executive of the Young Foundation, said:

“The nature and scale of the inequalities blighting our society require a step-change in social innovation. It’s not good enough just to understand or reject inequality. We must disrupt the incumbent structures, markets and institutions that perpetuate it.”

“Ground breaking innovation usually brings together previously disconnected experts and ideas. With this in mind, we have gathered together a unique range of perspectives and skills with the collective experience and credibility to effect real change.”

The new recruits will build on a proud history of social innovation at the Young Foundation, named after social entrepreneur Michael Young, who founded the Open University and whose pioneering ideas can be linked to the creation of NHS Direct, after-school clubs and neighbourhood councils.

Editor’s notes:

Filippo Addarii – International Director

Filippo began his career organising contemporary art exhibitions to promote human rights. He established the NGO GlobaLab to promote intercultural dialogue in the Western Balkans and ran the first post-war intercultural projects in Serbia. He moved to London in 2004, where he joined ACEVO to establish their international leadership development programme, From 2007 he was the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Euclid Network of European civil society organisations. He is a regular senior advisor to the European Commission on social innovation, social enterprise, social investment and citizen engagement. At the Young Foundation, Filippo will be responsible for international strategy and partnerships as well as setting up our Europe Lab for disruptive innovation in European democracy and economic development.

Ashley Elizabeth Ball – Head of Digital Media and Movement Building

Ashley has dedicated her career to community organising, both on and offline. In the United States, she ran several electoral and issue campaigns for The Democratic Party at the city, state and federal level. This included leading the regional team that won Florida for Barack Obama in 2008. After the President’s inauguration, Ashley was appointed Director of New Mexico, where she developed the statewide movement for health care reform, which supported the successful passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 in the United States Congress (ObamaCare). She has also worked for the Mayor of Los Angeles, Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas, Texas Campaign for the Environment and the Courage Campaign in California. Before this, Ashley worked for the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, whilst managing a team of community support coordinators at the Terrence Higgins Trust. Recently she was one of the organisers behind Made In Lambeth, a local volunteer movement that has redefined the relationship between citizens and local government. At the Young Foundation she leads the team that supports movement building and digital media across all the Foundation’s activities.

Kevin J. Dean – Senior Innovation Associate, Healthcare

Kevin has worked on innovation and technology for more than 25 years, recently leading Cisco’s global innovation team focused on healthcare and life sciences. He worked on eHealth strategy and implementation with policy makers, care 2 providers, payer organizations and technology partners at local, regional and national levels. In November 2013 the Health Services Journal (HSJ) named Kevin as one of the top 50 innovators in healthcare. He is Visiting Professor , University of South Denmark, and an Honorary Research Fellow at City University, London. He is a Fellow of BCS, The CIIT and of the Royal Society of Medicine. For The Young Foundation, Kevin will be addressing health inequalities through citizen driven initiatives in partnership with several cities and supporting the broader health innovation programme.

Gorka Espiau – Director of Places

Gorka is a journalist and human rights activist who, after contributing to building the Basque peace movement, served as Special Adviser to the President of the Basque Country during its socio-economic transformation under extreme conditions. For the last decade, he has applied the tools of movement building and socio-economic regeneration to social innovation. He is a founding partner of ALC (a Columbia University and University of the Basque Country partnership), a former Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace and the director of several highly regarded documentaries. For the Young Foundation, Gorka will lead the Cities and Regions Strategy. His team works with local partners to implement region-wide transformation movements that combine large scale and interconnected interventions with collective action in fighting inequality.

Ceri Goddard – Director of Gender

Ceri joins The Young Foundation following two decades actively tackling the structural causes of inequality, the last 4 years as CEO of the Fawcett Society. There she led high impact lobbying and campaigning work to successfully bring women’s equality and rights in to the centre of contemporary public and political debates. Prior to this Ceri led the British Institute of Human Right’s practice innovation programmes. Her approach has been informed by her work on equality, voice and reconciliation in the Irish Republic and an early career in ground level community development. Ceri joins the Young Foundation to lead the development and delivery of a new gender innovation strategy.

Claire Hardy – Director of Applied Innovation

Claire has spent her career leading and doing a diverse range of practical social innovation. She has been Director of Networks and Communities for a national mental health charity, established NHS London’s innovation programme and spent time with the Audit Commission on big data. She began her career in local government where she worked with members and officers to establish peer improvement programmes on social care and efficiency and worked extensively on community engagement. Claire’s passion is in blending system change with local action, design with activism and decision makers with do-ers. She has a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Wadham College, Oxford University. Her roots remain much further up north. At Young Foundation Claire heads up the team that focuses on practical innovation at scale, designing systemic interventions for large scale change

Indy Johar – Senior Innovation Associate, Platforms & Systems

Indy Johar is an architect, thinker and institutional innovator. He is a director of the global Hub network, co-founder of Hub Makelab, a supportive eco-system for social startups. He co-founded 00:/ in 2005, a design strategy practice focused on catalysing change in cities, towns and neighbourhoods through a fusion of physical and institutional interventions. Projects range from the scale of low-carbon homes, developing a new class of learning institutions, to community led neighbourhood retrofits and ‘mass collaborative’ community master plans. Indy has taught and lectured at various institutions from Columbia University New York to Said Business School Oxford. At The Young Foundation Indy will be working on urban institutional and information architectures, the polytechnic of the future and corporate social innovation.

Melba Mwanje – Head of Corporate Social Innovation

Born in Uganda, Melba grew up in South-East London, where, frustrated by a lack of facilities for young people and high crime rates, she co-founded an organisation called ‘SE1 United’ which since 2002 has worked on the provision of safe, creative and stimulating places for young people to meet, realise their potential, and become leaders of their own lives. In 2007, Melba was awarded the Princess Diana Award for her ability to improve and inspire the lives of others. She has a BA in Human Sciences and an MSc in African Studies from Oxford and obtained her finance, accounting and business qualification with KPMG. She is a member of ‘The Fearless Diaspora’, a hub for the exchange of creative ideas for sustainable development and enterprise in Africa. She has danced for the Rambert Dance Company speaks a number of languages fluently and is a self-confessed computer geek. At the Young Foundation, Melba will be working with companies who want to substantially deepen their social impact.

James Plunkett – Director of Research

James has spent the last few years as Director of Policy and Development at the Resolution Foundation where he oversaw their extremely influential policy work, as well as developing new areas of work and partnerships. Previously, he ran the Commission on Living Standards, a wide-ranging investigation into the pressures facing people on low-to-middle incomes. He was a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. From 2008 to 2009 he worked in the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street and before that in the Cabinet Office and as a strategy consultant in the private sector. He is a prolific journalist, blogger and broadcaster. At The Young Foundation James will head up Research and Policy as well as building and managing a world class ethnographical research team.

Deborah Szebeko – Director of Strategic Design

Deborah has a background in design and advertising; she founded and led thinkpublic, the first social design agency, 10 years ago. She has led a vast range of social innovation, service design and engagement projects; including co-designing and launching the Dementia Advisor Service across the UK for the Alzheimer’s Society and designing with the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, an innovative method of co-designing health services with patients, called Experience Based Design. Deborah has won a range of awards including Design Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 and The Design Week Service Design Award 2012. At the Young Foundation Deborah will be building the strategic design capacity across its whole portfolio of existing and new work.

Rowena Young – Director of Health

Rowena managed campaigns for the think tank Demos before taking leading roles at Children’s Express and Kaleidoscope. For the Foreign Policy Centre she wrote From War to Work, described by John Birt as ‘the Bible of drug policy’. She then spent a decade promoting new service design and a better environment for social enterprises and innovation as CEO of the School for Social Entrepreneurs, Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and NESTA’s Public Services Innovation Lab. Latterly she negotiated the largest community asset transfer in England to support a new model of urban agriculture. As Director of Health at The Young Foundation, Rowena will focus initially on new approaches to tackling the obesity epidemic and its social determinants.

The Young Foundation – For a just society

We believe inequality undermines our economy and corrodes our well-being. Its destructive power pervades our lives, leaving its mark on our communities, relationships, aspirations and self-worth.

We believe that little about the future of society is inevitable. Bound by our shared humanity, we believe collectively we have the power to shape the societies and communities we want to live in.

We will harness the power of disruptive innovation to address the structural causes of inequality, and work for change in the systems, structures and cultures that undermine individual responsibility, empowerment and participation.

We will create new movements, institutions and companies that empower people to lead happier and more meaningful lives.

We will work with the public, private and third sectors to strengthen their positive impact on communities.

We will work to create a more equal and just society, where each individual can be fulfilled in their own terms.

Join Us. 

We are The Young Foundation.

Our approach

We are audacious and determined in our actions, and open and unrelenting in our thinking. We are politically alert but non-partisan. We use the tools of social research, disruptive social innovation, venturing, strategic design and movement building. We listen deeply, putting what people think, feel and believe – their aspirations, their experiences and their lives – at the heart of everything we do.

Our heritage

The Young Foundation takes its name from the social entrepreneur, activist and pioneer, Michael Young. For over 60 years, Michael brought together collaborations of the brightest, the best and the most innovative to solve social problems. Core to his approach was ethnographic research, stemming from a belief that engaging with people and understanding their lives shows the best way forward. His legacy includes the Open University, Which? and NHS Direct.

The Young Foundation exists to continue and build on Michael’s work.

For more information about the Young Foundation go to www.youngfoundation.org, follow us on  or see our .

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