Academy: Speakers A-Z

Abigail Morris

Abigail Morris

Director of Communications at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Abigail Morris is currently the Interim Director of Communications at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy where she leads a multi disciplinary team of communications professionals and acts as the senior communications advisor to the Secretary of State.

She has over ten years of communications, external affairs and policy experience. Prior to joining BEIS she spent two years as the Deputy Director, Strategic Communications and External Affairs for the Department for Transport and previously worked in senior public affairs and campaigns roles at Deliveroo and Heathrow Airport.

Abigail has substantial experience in leading and motivating teams in both the public and private sector and has made several appearances on television, radio and in print media.

Adam Skinner

Adam Skinner

Chief Operation Officer, OmniGOV

Adam has worked at Omnicom Media Group for over 20 years in a number of roles including media buying, strategic communications planning, client leadership and special project direction.  For the last 3 years he has helped run OmniGOV which was created to handle the single supplier media buying framework for HMG & the public sector.  OmniGOV has over 150 staff and handles specialist media planning, evaluation, learning & development & media activation for over 75 clients spending in excess of £180m p.a.

Alex Aiken

Alex Aiken

Executive Director of Government Communication, UK Government

Alex Aiken is the Executive Director for the UK’s Government Communications service covering international issues and national security. He is part of the leadership of the Government Communication Service and was appointed in December 2012. He has led the biggest government campaigns of the last decade on Covid, Brexit and the GREAT Britain campaign

Between 2000 and 2012 he was Director of Communications and Strategy for Westminster City Council.

Before joining Westminster he worked in Parliament and for Conservative Party. He has trained and advised politicians and officials in countries and states around the world in the practice of government and communications.

Alix Macfarlane

Alix Macfarlane

Chair of LGcomms and Head of Communications & Engagement at West Sussex County Council

Alix Macfarlane is Chair of LGcomms and has been in the leading role since first being elected in April 2020. An experienced local government communications professional, currently Head of Communications & Engagement at West Sussex County Council. Dedicated to building public sector communications as a profession in which everyone can develop, succeed, and thrive.

Andrew Hadfield-Ames

Andrew Hadfield-Ames

Head of Communications at Hertfordshire County Council

Andrew Hadfield-Ames has almost 20 years’ experience in press, public affairs and campaigns. He has learnt from the best in the public and private sector, to deliver an evidence based approach.

He has been the Head of Communications at Hertfordshire County Council for almost five years, managing an award winning team.

He is an Executive Member of LG Comms, regularly contributes to a number of speaking opportunities and supports the Future Leader Programme to train the next generation of local government communicators.

Amber Warne

My name is Amber Warne I am a PR and Marketing foundation degree apprentice in the Cabinet Office.

Beth Robins

Beth Robins

Deputy Director of Strategic Communications in the UK Cabinet Office and leads the Security Practice of the Government Communication Service International

Beth is a Deputy Director of Strategic Communications in the UK Cabinet Office and leads the Security Practice of the Government Communication Service International. The Security Practice is focused on increasing the capability of partner governments to use strategic communications to build resilience against hybrid threats. Beth currently leads programmes with international partners across Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Indo-Pacific.

Previously, Beth worked as a communications consultant for private sector clients. As an established communications expert with over 10 years experience, she has led large-scale international programmes that spanned communications disciplines – across public relations, campaigns, digital and social media, issues and crisis, and internal communications.

Carly Davis

Carly Davis

Strategic Communications and Campaigns Manager at London Borough of Waltham Forest and LG Comms Executive Board Member

Carly Davis, is the Strategic Communications and Campaigns Manager at London Borough of Waltham Forest and LG Comms Executive Board Member. She has over 10 years of experience in government communications in both the UK and Australia, working across a range of portfolios to deliver insight led, creative campaigns that deliver tangible outcomes. She recently won the LGC Campaign of Year for the Choose Local Support Everyone Camapign at LB Waltham Forest.

Caroline Baillie

Head of Internal Communications at the Department for Work and Pensions

I’m Caroline Baillie, Head of Internal Communications at the Department for Work and Pensions. I’ve spent the majority of my career working in internal communications in both the public and the private sector – in central Government, Arm’s Length Bodies and Financial Services.

I believe that good internal communications play a critical role in the credibility and success of any organisation and my passion lies in engaging colleagues in both the importance of day-to-day delivery but also with what’s ahead. 

Cheryl King-McDowall

Cheryl King-McDowall

Deputy Director leading the Government Communication Service Professional Standards

Cheryl has over 30 years experience maximising performance in organisations that make a positive difference to people’s lives. She has worked in a variety of leadership roles across commercial and public service organisations, including Higher Education and Charities.  

She joined the Civil Service in 2018 as Deputy Director leading the Government Communication Service Professional Standards.  In February 2020, she led the setup of the Government’s Covid Communication Hub operation and was then seconded to the ‘Reshaping GCS’ Programme leadership team. 

Christian Cubitt

Christian Cubitt

Director of Communications at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Christian is the Director of Communications at the newly created Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), with almost two decades of experience working in communications both in and out of Government.

He spent 14 years in GCS (2002-2016),  enjoying two stints as Deputy Spokesman for then Prime Minister David Cameron, which took him everywhere from Davos to Beirut. He also spent time at the Ministry of Justice as the Head of News and the Department for Work and Pensions, where he led the initial welfare reform campaign. He also spent time at the Cabinet Office as Press Secretary to two former Cabinet Secretaries – Gus O’Donnell and Jeremy Heywood.

Christian left Government in 2016 and spent two years as Director of Communications and Engagement for the NHS in NW London, before moving onto the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) where he spent the last three years as Director of Communications and Engagement for the UK & Ireland

Claire Pimm

Claire Pimm

Director of National Resilience Communications, HMG

Claire leads the Government’s communication’s strategy and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her priority over the past 21 months has been to inform and protect the public and support businesses as we navigate this unprecedented time in the world’s history. Since the start of the pandemic, she and her team have delivered COVID-19 campaigns and partnerships, helping to embed positive behaviour changes across the United Kingdom. 

Colin Edgar

Colin Edgar

Glasgow City Council, Head of Communication and Strategic Partnerships

I’m the city council’s Head of Communication and Strategic Partnerships and also GCC’s Senior Responsible Officer for COP26 where I ensure we have the structures in place to: meet our commitments to the host of COP 26; to ensure we realise the potential benefits of hosting the event; and to keep any inconvenience to a minimum.

In my spare time I bake, I read, I cycle (inexpertly) and I follow my children around the house switching off lights.

Danni Clayton

Head of Communications and Marketing at Leeds City Council and Vice-Chair of LGcomms

Danni Clayton is joint interim Head of Communications and Marketing at Leeds City Council and Vice-Chair of LGcomms. Having worked in local government for over ten years, she joined the LGcomms Exec committee in 2018 after successfully completing the Future Leaders programme herself; and became Vice-Chair of the Exec in 2020. Since 2019 Danni has led on coordinating the Future Leaders programme on behalf of LGcomms alongside other members of the Exec committee.

Dee Cotgrove

Dee Cotgrove

Deputy Director, Professional Standards, Prime Minister and Cabinet Office Communications

Dee Cotgrove Deputy Director, Professional Standards, Prime Minister and Cabinet Office Communications is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Former Director or Communications for the Cayman Islands Government and for the Met Office, Dee has led high performance teams through digital transformation and has extensive experience in crisis communications and reputation management. Dee is very pleased to have been asked to judge this year’s Local Government Comms Academy awards.

Francis Ingham

Francis Ingham

Director General of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA)

For the past twelve years, Francis Ingham has been Director General of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), operating out of London, Singapore, and Dubai; and for the past seven years has also held the position of Chief Executive of the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO), operating in 70 countries across the globe. 

Representing over 35,000 practitioners, the PRCA is the largest PR professional body in the world. ICCO is the voice of public relations consultancies around the world. Its membership comprises 41 national trade associations, collectively representing over 3,000 PR firms.

Ingham’s background is in politics and public affairs, having previously worked for the Conservative Party and the Confederation of British Industry. He sits on the UK Government Communication Service Strategy and Evaluation Council, and is the executive director for UK local government communicators, LGcomms. He was External Examiner to the American University at Richmond, and Visiting Lecturer at the University of Westminster.

Educated at Oxford University where he read Politics, Philosophy and Economics, he appears in both the UK and the Global editions of PR Week’s PowerBook.

Gemma Swinglehurst

Gemma Swinglehurst

Government Industry Manager, Google

Gemma leads the government team at Google. She has had a squiggly career and before Google has worked in creative, media and marketing roles between London and Asia. She is proud to have worked on campaigns that have won IPA effectiveness and D&AD impact awards delivering ROI for businesses and behaviour change on societal issues. She is MIPA accredited and a WACL Future Leader award winner.

Georgia Turner

Georgia Turner

Director of Communications and Marketing atBournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council

Georgia Turner is Director of Communications and Marketing at BCP (Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole) Council. Having led the comms case for the creation of the organisation and its launch in April 2019, Georgia has recently produced and launched the council’s strategic narrative The Big Plan. She’s currently immersed in the development of BCP Council’s staff wellbeing charter, in readiness for a return to offices and the introduction of full hybrid working in 2022. Georgia is one third of the team who the curates Comms Unplugged, the professional development and wellbeing event and community for public and third sector comms professionals.

Harriet Small

Harriet Small

Internal Communications Lead at Hackney Council

Harriet is an Internal Communications Lead at Hackney Council, and the Co-Host of the podcast Have You Got 5 Minutes?  She has over a decade’s experience in communications, journalism, and public affairs at companies such as The UKCivil Aviation Authority, Transport for London, Sky, Merton Council, the European Union, NHS, and titles across Hearst Media.

In 2020 she won the Digital Journalist/ Blogger of the year Award at PRCA Digital Awards and, in 2019, the IoIC rising star award. Harriet also curates the blog commsoveracoffee.com and is an ambassador of the Taylor Bennett Foundation.

Helen reynolds

Helen Reynolds

Comms Creatives

Hel Reynolds is a UK social media creativity expert, and she runs Comms Creatives with her sister, Lesley. 

Each year, she trains hundreds of communications professionals to unleash their creativity, with engaging online courses that get people fighting their fears and growing their social media skills.  

Hel has bags of awards for her work, & is the woman behind ground-breaking projects like @CommsCartoons & #31DaysOfCreativity. 

JCDecaux

JCDecaux

Founded more than 50 years ago, the JCDecaux business is built on the provision of two services, public information and public amenity.

Speaking at the Academy are Phil Drye, Chief Commercial Development Officer; Chris Dooley, Head of Social Impact; and Andrew Jordan, Head of Partnerships.

All three work in close collaboration with advertiser, commercial and public sector partners to provide the two services that are core to the business.

Karen Yates

Karen Yates

Communications and Marketing Manager at Essex County Council

Karen’s career began at the BBC where she developed and delivered marketing communications campaigns in markets as diverse as India and the USA.

From global to local, Karen moved from public sector broadcast to local government, joining Essex County Council a decade ago.

During this time Karen has taken the lead for campaigns driving economic growth, including the London 2012 Games. She has developed a Traded Services marketing and brand function, providing professional advice and practical support to areas of the organisation seeking to generate income. And now manages strategic marketing, digital and design teams, and provides direction to colleagues across the organisation.

Kohinoor Meghji

Kohinoor Meghji

Head of HR and Workforce Planning for the Government Communication Service (GCS)

I am the Head of HR and Workforce Planning for the Government Communication Service (GCS). I’ve worked in the HR profession for 11 years, in 5 government departments, covering talent management, organisation development, D&I and learning and development. I’ve been the embedded HR lead in the GCS for over 4 years, initially focussed on building diversity into the early talent pipeline through creating internships and apprenticeships, and now leading on how we can better attract, develop and deploy diverse talent across the GCS. 

Designing diverse programmes and more accessible career pathways is really important to me. I love connecting people, building capability and helping brilliant people reach their potential. 

Lauren Scott

Lauren Scott

Executive Director of national hosting charity Refugees at Home

After graduating from the University of Dundee with a Masters in
International Criminal Justice and Human Rights, Lauren
developed her frontline and managerial experience working with
charities across London. This frontline experience includes
working with families in crisis and managing a winter night
shelter network, which supported asylum seekers and refugees
with temporary accommodation. Lauren is currently Executive
Director of national hosting charity Refugees at Home and a Trustee of Safe in Scotland. 

Louise Alabaster

Senior Content Adviser at Essex County Council

Louise has been a Senior Content Adviser at Essex County Council for the past two years. She leads the team working across digital communications including council websites, email marketing, campaigns, and content standards including accessibility.

She has worked in the public sector for over 15 years. In previous roles she has delivered large scale behaviour change campaigns for road safety and volunteering as well as strategic marketing support for council services with income generation targets.

Louise McQuillan

Louise McQuillan

Workplace Solutions Manager, Texthelp

Louise is passionate about digital inclusion, accessibility, and enabling inclusive online user experiences for everyone. She specialises in helping public sector organisations to improve diversity and inclusion strategies, increase staff productivity and customer engagement. Louise cares deeply about making sure everyone can understand and be understood and believes inclusive technology is a great enabler.

Mark Webb

Mark Webb

Head of Comms, Shift.ms

Mark is a public speaker and campaigner for all things disability and diversity.

He is a Shadow Board Member at Reflect, the UK’s only not-for-profit influencer talent management agency. He is also Head of Comms at Shift.ms, the worldwide social network for people impacted by Multiple Sclerosis. He’s a self-confessed social media floozy and listed by the Shaw Trust as one of the UK’s most influential disabled people in 2021.

Mark previously held senior comms roles at Dixons Retail plc, David Lloyd Leisure, The Walt Disney Co and Disneyland Paris. He plays Wheelchair Rugby. Really badly.

Martin Friar

Martin Friar

Deputy Director (Insight, Evaluation and Behavioural Science) at the Cabinet Office

Martin Friar is Deputy Director (Insight, Evaluation and Behavioural Science) at the Cabinet Office. Across a number of government departments and ALBs, he has been responsible for ensuring the structured understanding of citizens is integral to the design of policy and communications. In his current role, he has led this work in respect of the UK Government’s Coronavirus response.

Minaxi Henegan

Minaxi Henegan

Deputy Director, Strategic Communications, Cabinet Office

Minaxi is a strategic communications and marketing specialist who has led high profile campaigns across the not-for-profit and public sectors. She is passionate about taking an insight-led approach to communications and delivering work that has a real world impact. Minaxi has worked across issues ranging from children’s rights, and policing and security to COVID19 and Brexit.

Olivia Lerche

Olivia Lerche

Senior Communications and Media Manager at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Olivia Lerche is Senior Communications and Media Manager at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, a large and complex multi-site provider of mental health services in south London which provides the widest range of mental health services in the UK. Before joining the Trust in 2017, Olivia specialised as a health journalist working across regional and national press.

Peter Holt

Peter Holt

Chief Executive,Uttlesford District Council

Peter Holt joined Uttlesford District Council as chief executive in October 2021. 

His career has taken him from working in Parliament, the NHS, senior civilian roles in policing, and in director, consultancy and peer review roles in councils since 2006 – in London, Dorset, Cornwall, Bristol, Oxford, Northants, Powys, Belfast, Cheshire, Newcastle, Paisley and now Essex.

As well as being one of few career communicators to reach the council top staff role, uniquely for a council chief executive, Peter has also served as a council leader in a London borough.

Philipa Clayre

Philippa Clayre

Executive Director Government & Public Sector Practice UK, WPP

Philippa leads WPP’s Government & Public Sector Practice for the UK, advising government communicators and public sector clients in strategy, innovation, global best practice, capability building and procurement objectives. She joined from WPP’s MENA hub where she launched and led the Government Practice, and has co-authored of a number of reports including “Preparing for the post truth world” and “Triggering change through behavioural insights”.

Polly Cook

Polly Cook

Chief Officer of Sustainable Energy and Air Quality at Leeds City Council

Polly is Chief Officer of Sustainable Energy and Air Quality at Leeds City Council, leading their response to the climate emergency. Her team has led large schemes to retrofit both homes and public sector buildings. She also oversees the district heating network, supplying homes and offices with low carbon heat. Her team launched the first electric van/ taxi trial scheme in the country, supporting businesses to transition to electric. She is also a commissioner on both the Leeds  and Yorkshire &  Humber Climate Commissions.

Saf Munshi

Safika Munshi

Deputy Head of Strategic Communications, Manchester City Council

Saf started her career in the private sector and after a short spell in public sector communications, soon found her calling in local government communications and has never looked back. 

She took up the role of leading the Strategic Communications team at Manchester City Council last year.  She is responsible leading the award-winning team comprising media, internal communications, marketing, digital and studio. Together the team delivers the communications strategy and supports the ambitions and objectives of the one of the most forward-thinking councils in the country. 

Saf is also a LGcomms Future Leaders Graduate – Class of 19/20.

Sally Northeast

Deputy Director, Organisational Development, Participation and Communications, Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust

Sally Northeast, Deputy Director, Organisational Development, Participation and Communications, Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust. Sally started her career as a local newspaper journalist before moving into communications in local government. After time as a freelance she moved to the NHS with a wider portfolio including OD and participation as well as communications. Co-creator of learning and wellbeing event and community Comms Unplugged, she is a champion for workplace and personal wellbeing.

Selvin Brown

Selvin Brown

Co-Director of Net Zero Buildings Delivery at BEIS

Selvin Brown joined the Cabinet Office as a filing clerk in 1991 and since then held a number of policy and corporate roles in government, including holding the position of Deputy Director of Communications for Work and Pensions. He joined the Management Board of the Health and Safety Executive as Director for Engagement and Policy in 2015, and since then was seconded to the Department for Health and Social Care on PPE Policy as part of the government’s response to Covid-19. He took up his current role, Co-Director of Net Zero Buildings Delivery at BEIS in September 2020. 

He is passionate about the Civil Service, diversity and inclusion; is a Non-Executive Director of the Civil Service Charity, member of the Ministerial Communications Board, and Civil Service Deputy Race Champion. Selvin was in the top 50 BAME UK public sector leaders (New View 50, 2017), named Civil Servant of the Year 2009, and awarded an MBE for public and voluntary service in 2009. Selvin lives in south London with his family – Daniela and son Samuel.

Shaun Gibbons

Shaun Gibbons

Communications manager, South Holland District Council and South & East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership

Hi, I’m Shaun Gibbons, communications manager for South Holland District Council and the newly-formed South & East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership – the largest council partnership in the country.

Previous to my three years in local government, I’ve been everything from a publishing director to a session musician and drummer in punk bands. I also worked in Kosovo in 1999 as a reporter.

I’m on the LGComms executive committee and part of this year’s Future Leaders cohort.

Shayoni Lynn

Shayoni Lynn

CEO and Founder Lynn PR

Shayoni Lynn is CEO and Founder of multi-award-winning behavioural science communications agency Lynn PR. A fellow of the CIPR and PRCA, Shayoni is a UK PR Council member, Chair of PRCA Cymru, founding member, panellist and Vice-Chair for CIPR’s Behavioural Insights Interest Group, and sits on GCS South West & Wales committee.

In 2021, she was listed in the PRWeek Power Book. Shayoni is an Associate Lecturer in public relations at Cardiff University.

Simon Baugh

Simon Baugh

Chief Executive of the Government Communication Service

Simon became the Chief Executive of the Government Communication Service (GCS) in October 2021. He previously served as a Director of Communication in three government departments – the Home Office, the Department for Exiting the European Union, and the Department for Transport. Before that Simon had a 15 year career in the private sector, including senior communications roles at Heathrow Airport.

As Chief Executive of GCS, Simon is responsible for leading the entire communications profession across Government. GCS is made up of 7,000 professional communicators from across the UK, supporting and promoting the work of 25 ministerial departments, 21 non-ministerial departments and over 300 agencies and other public bodies.

Simon works with No10 to develop and deliver the Government’s communications strategy, and help departments and other public sector bodies work together to tackle the big challenges the country faces.

He is also responsible for making sure the profession is ready for the future. Communication is changing fast with a high level of technological innovation which is creating new opportunities and expectations. Simon is responsible for ensuring GCS is able to harness these changes for the public good.

SoCrowd

SoCrowd

James Leavesley – CEO

James has ten years of experience working with enterprise clients across a multitude of sectors, ranging from emergency services, travel, local government, through to housebuilders and utilities. SoCrowd empowers teams to enhance and protect their reputation whilst delivering real strategic gains.  James’ team help clients to align their social media with organisational or corporate objectives, setting up supporting systems and processes to execute effective social media strategies.

Jordan Smith

Jordan Smith – Head of Customer Success

Jordan leads the Customer Success team at SoCrowd delivering best practice training to hundreds of clients including Redrow, Hyde Housing, University Greenwich and Bannatye Health Club. Jordan is responsible for the deployment of social media across our client portfolio, embedding the technology across a diverse range of teams from marketing, customer services, HR through to IT and Exec teams. 

Stephanie Hill

Stephanie Hill

Head of Curriculum, Professional Standards team, UK Government Communication Service (GCS) at Cabinet Office

A web accessibility advocate and mum of 2 boys, she is a digital content professional with over 20 years of experience. She joined the Civil Service in 2013 and was a GOV.UK content designer for 6 years, for HM Land Registry and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.