March 17th 2020 | Central London


Claire Calder

Head of Public Affairs, Dogs Trust 

Is Head of Public Affairs at Dogs Trust and is responsible for the charity’s engagement with politicians and Governments across Westminster, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Public Affairs team also works in Brussels and across the EU through chairing the EU Dog & Cat Alliance. Claire previously worked as European Policy Advisor for Dogs Trust in Brussels, where she coordinated EU lobbying activities and established the EU Dog & Cat Alliance. Prior to this, Claire worked as Policy Officer for Companion Animals at Eurogroup for Animals in Brussels. Claire led lobbying activities on the review of the EU pet travel legislation in 2012. Claire also spent four years as a Senior Scientific Officer at the RSPCA and prior to that worked for an Executive Agency of Defra. 

Twitter: @DT_Pawlitical

Bob Blackman MP

Member of Parliament for Harrow East

Bob Blackman is the Member of Parliament for Harrow East and was first elected in 2010, retaining his seat in 2015 and 2017. He is a member of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee and also sits on committees for Procedure and Backbench Business. Bob is executive secretary of the 1992 Committee, the backbench caucus of Conservative MPs. Before parliament, Bob represented Brent and Harrow on the London Assembly and he was also a councillor in Brent for 20 years.

Twitter: @BobBlackman

Emma Greenwood

Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Cancer Research UK

Emma is responsible for the charity’s influencing work across a wide range of public policy issues - including early diagnosis of cancer, NHS services, access to treatments, and the UK research environment.

In 2015 Emma was the Programme Lead for the Independent Cancer Taskforce, who developed the Cancer Strategy. The NHS in England is now delivering cancer services to the vision set out in the strategy.

Before joining Cancer Research UK in 2008, Emma worked in the editorial team for the EMBO portfolio of journals at Nature Publishing Group. Emma has a degree in Genetics from York University, an MA in Biotechnological Law and Ethics from Sheffield University and a PGDip in Management and Leadership in Healthcare from Kingston University.

Twitter: @emlougreen | @CRUK_Policy

Imran Hussain

Director of Policy & Campaigns, Action for Children

From before they are born until they are into their twenties, Action for Children helps disadvantaged children across the UK. Its help them through fostering or adoption, intervening early to stop neglect and abuse and making life better for children with disabilities. It provides over 500 services, improving the lives of 301,000 children, teenagers, parents and carers every year.

As Director of Policy & Campaigns, Imran is responsible for its influencing activities.  Current project include cross sector research on cuts to children’s services, a forthcoming report on childhood and influencing he domestic abuse bill.  Imran previously worked for Child Poverty Action Group, where he had responsibility for its high profile policy, campaigns and test cases on Universal Credit.  Before that, he worked at the Prison Reform Trust, Breakthrough Breast Cancer and the Refugee Council. He started off his career interning for Senator Ted Kennedy. 

Twitter: @imran_1

Katie Martin

Head of External Affairs, Citizens Advice

Katie Martin is Head of External Affairs and Citizens Advice, where she plays a key role in the organisation's policy advocacy work on issues such as Universal Credit, consumer rights, debt, and energy. Prior to this, she worked at the Guardian; was a freelance consultant specialising in applied behavioural science, communications and programme implementation; and was Managing Director at ideas42, a US-based non-profit that uses behavioural science to tackle social problems. From 2002-2010, she worked as a communications specialist in the UK Government, spending a time at both the Youth Justice Board and the Home Office before moving to Downing Street where she was the Chief Press Officer, overseeing the domestic policy brief. In 2012/13 to obtain a Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Twitter: @kmartUK

Lord Andrew Lansley

The Right Honourable The Lord Lansley CBE PC DL

Lord Lansley served as Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire from 1997-2015. For 13 years he was a member of the Cabinet or Shadow Cabinet.  Following his retirement from the Commons, he was elevated to the House of Lords on October 2015.

As Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal, he led the implementation of the Government’s legislative programme and managed the day-to-day business of the House. He served as Secretary of State for Health from 2010-2012.  Prior 2019, he was Shadow secretary of state for over six years and shadow minister for the Cabinet office.  He was a civil servant from 1979 – 1987, and Deputy Director – General of the British Chamber of Commerce            1987 – 1990.

Andrew lives with his wife Sally and family in Cambridgeshire, his former constituency.

He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire in 2016.

Twitter: @AndrewDLansley

Donna Castle

Director of Public Affairs and Communications, PAGB, the consumer healthcare association

Donna is a public relations professional with a specialism in public affairs and healthcare communications. She is a Chartered PR Practitioner and Vice Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Public Affairs Group.

Donna is currently director of public affairs and communications at PAGB, the consumer healthcare association, a role she has held since January 2015.  Prior to joining PAGB, Donna was head of public affairs and policy at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and before that worked in public affairs roles at Diabetes UK and the British Lung Foundation. She has also worked in two full service PR agencies.

Twitter: @donnacastle@PAGBselfcare | @CIPR_PA

Matt Downie

Director of Policy and External Affairs, Crisis 

Matt Downie is Director of Policy and External Affairs for Crisis, where he is responsible for UK wide political, communications and research strategy. Matt began his career at Shelter and went on to lead award winning policy and campaigns teams at Action for Children and the National Autistic Society. Political successes include the Autism Act 2009, stopping the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the US on charges of computer hacking, establishing a multi-million pound Government savings scheme for children in care, and successfully campaigning to introduce a new criminal offence of psychological child abuse. Matt is Vice-Chair of the Sheila McKechnie Foundation and is a governor at a school for disabled children in north London.

Twitter: @matthew_downie

Gemma Wood

Head of Public Affairs, EngineeringUK 

Gemma joined EngineeringUK in 2016 and has worked in a variety of public affairs, policy and stakeholder engagement roles in the not for profit sector.  Prior to joining EngineeringUK as the Head of Public Affairs, Gemma worked for the Nursing and Midwifery Council managing strategic relationships across the four countries of the UK. Previous experience has included policy and parliamentary affairs roles at Help the Aged and the Children’s Commissioner for England. In addition, Gemma also has experience as a social media consultant, a charity trustee and a school governor.

Twitter: @Gemma_Lass

Professor Phil Harris

Executive Director of the Business Research Institute & China Centre at the University of Chester

Phil holds the Westminster (Grosvenor) Professorship in Marketing and Public Affairs. Phil is one of the founders of research and theory development in strategic public affairs management, political marketing and economic and governmental communication. He is founding editor of the Journal of Public Affairs and a member of a number of international editorial and advisory boards and has authored over 200 articles and 20 books. Recent work includes the International Handbook of Corporate and Public Affairs, Sage (2017) and Lobbying in Europe  for Palgrave (2017). He has worked in the chemical, food and media industries and taught and advised in Asia, Europe and North America. He holds 6 professorships in Beijing, Dalian, Guilin, Wuhan and Xiamen in China and is regularly called upon to advise and comment on China, Entrepreneurialism, Machiavelli and Marco Polo. 

Twitter: @machiavelli0087

Annabel Gaba

Head of Public Affairs, Virgin Trains

Annabel has been Head of Public Affairs at Virgin Trains for over four years. She oversees the company’s national and regional stakeholder engagement strategy, campaign development and thought leadership, and regulatory function. She recently completed a secondment to the West Coast Partnership Ltd. bid team, a joint venture between Stagecoach, Virgin and SNCF, competing to win the West Coast Partnership franchise. Her policy interests include transport, public procurement, infrastructure and communities. 

Prior to working at Virgin Trains she spent seven years in public affairs agencies working on briefs for large corporations in the energy, healthcare, leisure and outsourcing sectors.

Paul Richards

Former Special Adviser and author of Be Your Own Spin Doctor

His career has included positions as a parliamentary assistant to several MPs and shadow ministers, covering public sector and constitutional reform and as a special adviser in three government departments, working with two Cabinet Ministers, including at the Cabinet Office and Communities & Local Government (CLG). He was a consultant to the London Borough of Lewisham for three years, working as head of communications alongside the Mayor and Cabinet. He also worked as a consultant for the London Borough of Waltham Forest, and briefly for the London Borough of Barnet.

Paul has provided training and consultancy to a variety of UK government departments and agencies including the Home Office, HMRC, DWP, Office for National Statistics, DECC, and Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM). As a temporary civil servant, he headed up the communications unit for the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit (NRU). Paul’s international work includes a project in northern Iraq working with Iraqi Parliamentarians, and for DfID officials in South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana and Pakistan. He has run courses in London for civil servants from across the globe, including Vietnam, India, China and many African countries.

Paul is the author of four books on public policy and political themes, as well as several policy pamphlets. He was chair of the Fabian Society, the world’s oldest think tank. He was a parliamentary candidate in the 1997 and 2001 general elections. Paul Richards regularly appears on radio and TV, including Newsnight, the Today Programme and Sky News, and has written for many newspapers and magazines including the Times, Guardian, Independent, Financial Times, Mirror, Mail on Sunday, and the Spectator. Paul is married with two sons, and lives in Sussex by the sea

Lewis Cooper

Head of Public Affairs and External Relations (interim), Association of Colleges (AoC)

Lewis joined the Association of Colleges (AoC) in August 2018, where he leads the organisation’s public affairs and partnerships teams. The AoC is the representative body for colleges in England, representing over 95 per cent of general FE and sixth form colleges – and a key priority for Lewis has involved supporting member colleges to coordinate their political engagement in the run-up to the spending review, including through the development of the #LoveOurColleges campaign. Prior to this, Lewis worked for almost a decade at the National Union of Students (NUS), where he led the public affairs team and the office of the National President. In his spare time, Lewis plays the saxophone and is undertaking a part-time PhD in democratic theory at the University of Exeter.

Twitter: @l_jcooper