This year we have 16 fantastic speakers that will deliver lightning talks on topics including from Health/Mental Health, Arts Heritage & Culture, Identity Relationships & Culture, Housing/Transport, Digital/Retail, Education Enterprise Skills & Employability, Digital Tech Public-Space & Communities and Relationship To Brum & Aspirations.

They will be weaving the fabric of the city together, representing themselves, topics they’re passionate about, and the world around them.


Charlie Brinkhurst - Head Of Editorial of gal-dem

News and features writer, editor and creative with focuses on race, feminism, media, youth culture and social politics.

I am the head of editorial at gal-dem, a writer and former editor at Dazed, a columnist at the i newspaper and a Guardian freelancer. I also do regular work for a variety of publications, including VICE and the Financial Times. Experienced panellist and speaker on radio and TV. Scott Trust Bursary alumnus, and winner of the 2017 Georgina Henry Award for Innovation in Journalism. 

Editor of the bookMother Country: Real Stories of the Windrush Children, a leading new exploration of the Windrush generation featuring David Lammy, Lenny Henry, Corinne Bailey Rae, Sharmaine Lovegrove, Hannah Lowe, Jamz Supernova, Natasha Gordon and Rikki Beadle-Blair.


Doreen Foster - Director at Warwick Arts Centre

Originally from the West Midlands Doreen Foster started her arts career as Executive Director of Kokuma Dance Company in Birmingham before joining the Arts Council for the West Midlands as Dance Officer with a remit to reinvigorate dance in the region and open up dance – contemporary and classic – to new audiences.  From there she joined the Prince’s Trust for two years before taking up the role of Executive Director of Birmingham Partnership for Change, an organisation dedicated to addressing underemployment in black populations in Birmingham.  She then joined the West Midlands Social Economic Partnership as Director before moving to the Arts Council as Director of the Chief Executive’s unit, overseeing the merger of three separate arts bodies into the new Arts Council England.  

In September 2018 Doreen took up the position of Director at Warwick Arts Centre at an exciting time, as the organisation undergoes a major redevelopment project and prepares for Coventry City of Culture in 2021.


Tom Kirby - Mencap Ambassador

Tom Kirby is a young adult who lives in Birmingham with disabilities and suffers from mental health. Despite this Tom has managed to build quite the name for himself. From being part of the first gold medal winning England Para Hockey team at the 2017 European Championships in Amsterdam. To starting to have a wider impact online by sharing his life experiences and challenges through blogs, short stories as well as hosting an interview style podcast for Midland Mencap. He wears his heart on his sleeve in these digital endeavours in the hope that his own experience of overcoming these challenges can inspire someone in a similar situation to live the life they want to lead


Liza Belozerova - Program Manager at Google.org

I work for Google.org, Google's philanthropic arm, overseeing our grant portfolio focused on the future of work in Europe and Africa. Radio host in my former life, I previously designed community development initiatives in East Africa and built an education programme in digital citizenship for Google UK.  I'm passionate about creating multimedia content, tech for good, innovation for social impact and storytelling as a vehicle for empathy in the time of unprecedented technological change. I'm also a founder of How Is Africa, a social enterprise that created an open blogging platform for African youth.


Tobi Kyeremateng - Founder Of Black Ticket Project

Tobi Kyeremateng is an award-winning Cultural Producer with 8 years experience in live performance, festivals and film. She produced short films ‘Wishbone’ and ‘Secret Life of Gs’ written and directed by Caleb Femi and has worked for and collaborated in programming for organisations such as Bush Theatre, Old Vic Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre, Apples and Snakes, AFROPUNK London, gal-dem and #MERKY Books Live. She’s the founder of Black Ticket Project and was named as part of The Stage 100’s‘Most Influential Figures Working in the UK Theatre and Performing Arts Industry’. Tobi won the ‘Inspiration of the Year’ Award at Stylist Magazine’s first Remarkable Women Awards, received recognition fromThe Mayor of London as part of the Hidden Credits campaign and has delivered a talk at TEDxSussex University.


Rob Valentine - Regional Director

Rob Valentine is Regional Director from Bruntwood in Birmingham and has worked in the city for eight years. In this time he has become a passionate advocate for the city and the West Midlands, both its strengths and its opportunities and in helping it to thrive even further.

For Rob and for Bruntwood this also means supporting communities, arts and culture in Birmingham, understanding that they are key components to a city’s quality of life, enriching values and beliefs and creating an identity, as well as being powerful economic drivers.


Atif Ali - Founder Of Insight WestMids

Atif is the Founder of INSIGHT WESTMIDS. A platform, which is a community interest company, set up to increase a better understanding of the public sector. Atif was born and raised in inner-city Birmingham (Small Heath). He graduated in 2015 (LLB Law) from the University of Wolverhampton and then went on to graduate from the University of Birmingham with a Masters in Law in 2017. He is on a graduate scheme at Birmingham City Council in the Inclusive Growth Directorate. He is involved in the compulsory purchase order for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.


Eugene Thabo Hilton - Young Photographer

I was born in Gaborone, Botswana on the 8th of November 1995. I have a passion for photography that was most probably influenced from travels as a child due to my fathers career (I've lived in over 5 African countries) which is also probably the reason why I have such an open mind and great interpersonal skills.

Being a biracial 23 year old I've always struggled with my identity and where I belong, having grown up predominantly in Africa its excited to live somewhere so different and learn more about not just my British heritage but that of minoritizsed  youth who have to cope with similar problems and cultural differences and that's what drew me to Don't settle, and even though i just started its already been an insightful and eye opening experience and Im excited to get involved with such an amazing cause.


VITAL - Music Artist

December 2016, VITAL released an e.p entitled "POWERS" that hit the iTunes Hip Hop top 20 charts, April 2017 VITAL decided to them put on his own SOLD OUT Headline show and brought the city of Wolverhampton together and the night was a success without fault.

Engineering and creatively directing his own music and videos has birthed much online and public success with approximately 2,000,000 Youtube views collectively including on his personal Channel. 5 music videos featured on Channel AKA and television appearances on MADEinBrum + BBC 1's Midlands Today. 

Consistent support and radio play from the likes of BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and WM. His music had led to iTunes releases, and the opportunity to travel and live in Spain for 3 months, Cyprus for 2 months and America for 1.


Keiran Frantic - Creative Entrepreneur and Founder of Smoking Bagels & Know Hope

A combination of 10 years working in Music & Media passionately and 7 years working in Finance professionally, has given Keiran the unique ability to execute with flair. Since 2015, he has gone from strength to strength building brands, core audiences and online communities for himself and others. In recent years, he has supported a number of SME's via Business Coaching and Freelance services.

The core, of all of Keiran’s work, is to bring people together and create space for authenticity to shine. He acts as a bridge for talent in his hometown, Birmingham and is celebrated as a Leader. Keiran is dedicated to creating a legacy of work that is inspirational, authentic and supportive. 


Cuba Gooden - Company Directory of The Crib

Cuba is the company director of the venue, The Crib based in Digbeth, Custard Factory. With a background primarily in retail emerging from a passion for sneakers, independent clothing brands and basketball Cuba has co-founded ‘The Crib’ the UK’s first streetwear hub. Perfectly combining retail space with socialisation and event space, it creates a community experience for the streetwear culture. 

A strong believer in community spaces with a passion for creating platforms and increasing access to space within Birmingham, for Birmingham.


Loreal Stokes – Project Co-ordinator at Young Giant, Part of Beatfreeks Collective

Loreal is the Project Coordinator at Young Giant. Primarily, Loreal works on the Be Internet Citizens, a national project which is delivered in partnership with Google and ISD (Insitute for Strategic Dialogue). This project aims to empower young people to be safer users of the web, through developing critical knowledge on how to spot fake news, echo chambers, filter bubbles and many more important topics.

In 2017, Loreal completed her Business and Management undergraduate degree with first-class honours. Education is a key focal point for Loreal, as it has enlightened her on the misogynistic and racial prejudice that is embedded into the corporate world.  As a result of this, Loreal pursued an International Masters of Business Administration (MBA) at Birmingham City University, in order to understand the strategic operations of businesses. This informed her final dissertation project, which was titled “Career Progression: A study on the perceived barriers black women face when aspiring to be accepted in the boardroom.” As well as academic knowledge, this study helped Loreal to develop her sociological perceptions of the world, and this has been commemorated through her recently graduating with a Distinction.


David Grevemberg CBE – Chief Executive Of The Commonwealth Games Federation

David Grevemberg CBE is Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), the organisation responsible for the Commonwealth Games, Commonwealth Youth Games and numerous other initiatives. He provides inspirational leadership of the CGF and ensures the development and delivery of strategic and operational plans consistent with the CGF vision, the CGF’s strategic plan (Transformation 2022) and the CGF Constitution and policies.

David joined the CGF from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games where he was Chief Executive of the Organising Committee and oversaw the hugely successful multi-sport event for Scotland. He was previously the Executive Director of Sport and International Federation Relations at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) headquartered in Bonn, Germany. A former competitive wrestler, during his career he has also served as a coach, athlete agent, team administrator, consultant and Board member.


Cassie Robinson – Head of Digital Grant Making at the National Lottery Community Fund

Cassie leads a £15 Million Digital Fund to help the social sector transition to be fit for the future. Previously she was the Strategic Design Director at Doteveryone, where her work focussed on ways of strengthening society - people, communities and organisations - to build a new social contract for the digital age. She is also the Co-founder of the Point People, helping organisations work together wisely and systemically to address the large, complex issues of our time. 

 In 2018 Cassie became a Fellow at the Institute of Innovation and Public Purpose at UCL with Mariana Mazzucato where her research focusses on how society and social infrastructure can be supported to adapt and change as technology alters the fabric of our lives and communities. She is on the Faculty of States of Change, a Trustee of the DADI Foundation and Organise HQ, and is on the Advisory Board of Participatory City, Atlas of the Future and Snook.


David Bradford – Managing Director, UK Bus, National Express

David was appointed managing director of National Express bus division in 2018, after serving as commercial director since 2011. Prior to working at National Express, he was with First in the rail and North American divisions.


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