OCL Faculty Bios

Oxford Cultural Leaders Faculty Bios

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Portrait of Silke Ackermann

Dr Silke Ackermann, Director, History of Science Museum, Oxford University

Silke is Director of the History of Science Museum, and was the first female director of a university museum in Oxford since the founding in 1683. Silke is a medievalist and orientalist by training with a particular interest in the transfer of knowledge between the Islamic World and Europe. She worked for 16 years in different roles at the British Museum before taking up a professorship at the University of Applied Sciences in Schwerin, Germany where she was later appointed President. In March 2014 she returned to the UK to take up her present position in Oxford. Silke takes a particular interest in leadership in the cultural sector and acts as coach and mentor to colleagues in the UK and other parts of Europe.

Portrait of Alex Beard

Alex Beard CBE, Chief Executive, Royal Opera House

Alex has been Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House (ROH) since 2013. During his tenure the ROH has undertaken a major transformation of its public facilities including the creation of a new world class theatre and an extension of its digital presence and reach, strengthening its reputation as one of the world's leading lyric theatre organisations. Alex is Chair of High House Production Park Ltd, a member of the Board of 14-18 NOW, and a board member of the West End Partnership (the lead strategic body for investment in London's West End) and Global Giving UK. Alex was educated at King's College London. After a year at KPMG he joined the Arts Council in 1986. In 1995 he was appointed Director of Finance and Administration of Tate, then Director of Business in 1999 and Deputy Director in 2002. At the end of 2012 Alex was appointed a CBE for his services to the arts, and was made a Fellow of Kings College London in 2016.  

OCL Richard Benjamin

Richard Benjamin, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Museum Practice, University of Liverpool

Dr Richard Benjamin is a Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Museum Practice at the School of Histories, Languages and Cultures at the University of Liverpool.  He was a Visiting Professor of Slavery and Public Engagement in the School from 2021-2023 when he was on secondment from his role as Head of the International Slavery Museum at National Museums Liverpool. He is also the Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of International Slavery. 

Richard gained a degree in Community and Race Relations at Edge Hill College and completed an MA and PhD in Archaeology at the University of Liverpool. In 2002 he was a Visiting Research Scholar at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute of African and African American Research, Harvard University.

He is a Trustee of the Anthony Walker Foundation, a Board member of the European Museum Forum, a member of the Editorial Board for MONITOR: Global Intelligence on Racism magazine and a Co-Editor of the Routledge book series on Restorative justice in archaeology and heritage studies. Richard is an alumnus of OCL 2019.

ocl louisebernard

Dr Louise Bernard, Senior Vice-President, Obama Foundation

Louise Bernard is a Senior Vice-President of the Obama Foundation and the founding Director of the Obama Presidential Center Museum. As a Senior Content Developer and Interpretative Planner in the New York office of the museum design firm Ralph Appelbaum Associates, she worked on the design team that developed the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, along with other national and international projects. She previously served as Director of Exhibitions at the New York Public Library, as Curator of Prose and Drama for the Yale Collection of American Literature at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, and as Assistant Professor of English at Georgetown University. She received a BA Hons in Drama from the University of Manchester, an MA in Theatre History and an MA in English Literature from Indiana University, Bloomington, and a Ph.D. in African American Studies and American Studies from Yale. Her current research engages with the literary archive, material culture, museology, public history, and interpretive planning and design. She serves on the Advisory Council for the Johnson Publishing Company Archive, and is a recipient of the 2021 College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award from Indiana University.

Marya Besharov

Professor Marya Besharov, Professor of Organisations and Impact and Academic Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Saïd Business School

Marya Besharov is Professor of Organisations and Impact and Academic Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on leadership, social innovation and systems change, and she teaches and advises leaders worldwide on how to manage competing strategic priorities for positive social and financial impact. Her work has been published in leading academic journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, and Academy of Management Review, as well as practitioner outlets such as Harvard Business Review and Stanford Social Innovation Review. Marya received a BA in Social Studies, an MA in Sociology, and a PhD in Organizational Behavior from Harvard University. She also holds an MBA from Stanford University.

ocl alistair burtenshaw

Alistair Burtenshaw, Director and Chief Executive, Watts Gallery Trust

Alistair Burtenshaw is Brice Director & Chief Executive of Watts Gallery Trust, a position he has held for five years. During this time Alistair has overseen the organisation's transition to an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, enhancements to its historic galleries, artists’ house, gardens and grounds, and the exterior conservation of its Grade I listed Chapel. He has also overseen a dynamic programme of temporary exhibitions and collections displays, the development of Watts Gallery Trust’s renowned Art for All by All learning and community engagement programme, the commencement of its decolonisation work, and the growth of the Artist’s Studio Museums Network of 151 artists’ studios around the globe, run by Watts Gallery Trust. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Alistair is Chair of Surrey Hills Arts, a cross-arts programme of permanent and temporary contemporary artistic interventions in the landscape by emerging artists, a Director of Visit Surrey, and a member of the Surrey Cultural Partnership Board.

Alistair was formerly Director of Charleston, the home of the Bloomsbury Group artists where he led the £9.3 million Centenary Project to renovate the historic barns and construct new galleries by architect Jamie Fobert CBE. As Director, Alistair oversaw a major programme to catalogue, digitise and conserve over 8,000 works on paper, strengthened Charleston's learning and community engagement programmes, led a significant growth in its two literary festivals and oversaw the foundation of the Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize, Charleston Lifetime's Excellence Award in Short Fiction, the Charleston-to-Charleston Literary Festival in South Carolina, and its Festival of the Garden.

Prior to his role at Charleston, Alistair was Director of The London Book Fair for twelve years, during which time its international reputation grew significantly – including major cultural programmes on the literature and publishing of the Arab World, South Africa, India, Russia, China and Turkey. Alistair latterly combined this role with that of Director of Books and Publishing (Worldwide) at parent company Reed Exhibitions, with a strategic focus on its portfolio of book fairs in the UK, France, Brazil, Japan and the USA. Alistair is a former Chair of Arvon Foundation, the UK’s leading creative writing charity with three major writing centres across the country and the former Chair of BookTrust, England's primary reader development charity.

Portrait of Dr Oliver Cox

Dr Oliver Cox, Head of Academic Partnerships, V&A

Dr Oliver Cox is Head of Academic Partnerships at the V&A, where he is responsible for building a global network of higher education partners to enable the V&A to deliver its mission to enrich people’s lives by promoting research, knowledge and enjoyment of the designed world to the widest possible audience.  He also holds a British Academy Innovation Fellowship through to June 2024, which will enable closer collaboration between the V&A and the National Trust. He joined the V&A from the University of Oxford where he was Heritage Engagement Fellow and Co-Lead of the Oxford University Heritage Network responsible for the University’s research and engagement projects with partners in the UK and international heritage sector.

Olly is a historian by training, and received his undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Oxford. His recent publications include contributions to The Country House: Past, Present and Future, Sport and Leisure in the Irish and British Country House, along with journal articles exploring the politics of horseracing in eighteenth-century Britain, the importance of Jewish histories to country house studies, and the challenges of interpreting eighteenth-century spaces for twenty-first century visitors. He also writes regularly for Apollo. Outside of the V&A he is a Trustee for Compton Verney House Trust, and was appointed by Her Majesty the Queen as a Trustee of the Churches Conservation Trust in March 2022. He previously sat on Arts Council England’s Designation Panel, chaired The Heritage Alliance’s Digital Learning and Skills Advisory Group, and was a member of the ‘The Devonshire Inheritance: Unlocking the Chatsworth family papers’ Advisory Group for the Chatsworth House Trust.

Portrait of Rachel Davies

Rachel Davies, Director of Operations, Ashmolean Museum

After beginning her career as a chartered accountant, Rachel worked in the private sector for 10 years for organisations such as The Observer Newspaper and Walt Disney before turning to the arts. An MA in Museum and Gallery Management led to a role in the Tate Modern Project Team, where she was responsible for the financial aspects of transforming the disused power station into the cultural icon it is today, and later the Senior Management Team. Rachel joined Compton Verney when it was also a building project, and helped this new and independent organisation to build an audience and create an operating model that was self-supporting and sustainable. Rachel was responsible for the delivery of the initial capital project, the development of the Business Plan including managing 50% cuts to core income, setting up retail, outsourcing catering and establishing and growing a hire business. She also oversaw the delivery of an HLF funded capital project to transform the Capability Brown grounds, the development of a site masterplan, an endowment management review, and staff structure review. Rachel moved on from this role to become Director of Operations at the Ashmolean Museum, and is currently responsible for building an integrated and cost effective approach to managing, maintaining and developing Museum operations to deliver an excellent and inclusive visitor experience and create a good working environment for staff and volunteers.

ocl sevra davies

Sevra Davis, Director for Architecture Design Fashion, British Council

Sevra Davis is Director for Architecture Design Fashion at the British Council and Commissioner of the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Sevra is an experienced designer, design advocate and leader in design for social innovation. Sevra studied architecture and urban design and worked in professional practice for over ten years in the US, the UK and Finland before moving to roles focused on design enabling.

Before joining the British Council, she held roles as Head of Learning at the Design Museum and Director of Design at the RSA. She has worked on a number of projects exploring and promoting the role of architecture and design in helping to create a more sustainable future and a move toward a circular economy. At the RSA, she also oversaw the annual RSA Student Design Awards programme, including its global expansion, more than doubling its income and the programme's breadth and profile.

She speaks and writes frequently about the role of design in an increasingly complex world and in April 2018 co-authored a report for Innovate UK titled ‘Unlocking the creative potential of 21st century industry.’ Sevra has degrees from Yale University, Aalto University and the Architectural Association School of Architecture. In late 2021 she received her certificate in Leadership in a Climate Emergency from Oxford University’s Executive Education programme.

OCL Bernard Donoghue

Bernard Donoghue OBE, CEO, Association for Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA)

Bernard has been the CEO of the UK’s Association for Leading Visitor Attractions, since 2011. ALVA is the principal advocacy body for the most important and significant museums, galleries, palaces, stately homes, cathedrals, heritage sites, gardens, zoos, performance venues and leisure attractions. In 2017, he was appointed the Mayor's Ambassador for Cultural Tourism and a member of the Mayor's Cultural Leadership Board. He is Co-Chair of the London Tourism Recovery Board, created in February 2021, Co-Chair of the Tourism Advisory Board of London and Partners (VisitLondon) and was previously the Chair of VisitManchester (2006 – 2010).

Bernard was appointed Chair of the Board of the Bristol Old Vic theatre in June 2021. In November 2021 he was elected Chair of the People’s History Museum, the Museum of Democracy, having been a Trustee since 2018. In January 2022 he became Chair of the London and South East Regional Advisory Board of the National Trust. He is a former trustee of The Museum of The Home, London; the Heritage Alliance; Kids in Museums; and Centrepoint. He was a founder trustee of the international LGBTQ Kaleidoscope Trust. He was an appointed member of the Cathedral Council of St Paul’s Cathedral, London, between 2009 and 2023. He was a Trustee of WWF-UK between 2002 and 2008, and was Chair of the Council of Ambassadors of WWF-UK between 2010 and 2020. He has been a member of the UK Government's Tourism Industry Council, advising Government Ministers on all matters relating to domestic and inbound tourism, since 2016.

In 2020 he was named by Blooloop as one of the world’s 50 most influential people in museums, and in July 2021 won the public vote for the COVID Special Recognition Award from the UK Museums and Heritage Awards for his service to, and leadership of the museums and heritage sector in the UK during the pandemic. He was awarded an OBE in HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Birthday Honours in 2022 for ‘services to tourism and to culture’.

Portrait of Ciara Eastell

Ciara Eastell OBE, Consultant (People and Culture), Tate

Ciara is currently leading a major programme of transformation and organisation development at Tate as part of the Executive team. She is also Professor of Practice in the Centre for Leadership Studies at the University of Exeter’s Business School. Ciara has a long track record in public service. For over 10 years, she led the library service in Devon through transformational change which culminated in the establishment of Libraries Unlimited, where she was the founding CEO for 3 years. Ciara was a Clore Fellow in the first year of the Clore Leadership Programme in 2004/5, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is on the National Council for Arts Council England. She was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Sheffield in January 2019 and awarded an OBE for services to libraries in 2017.

Portrait of Kaywin Felman

Kaywin Feldman, Director, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

In March 2019, Kaywin became Director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. She is the fifth director in the Gallery's history and the first woman to hold this important national position. Prior to joining the Gallery, Kaywin led the Minneapolis Institute of Art as its Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President. During that time, she doubled attendance, expanded the collection, launched and completed visionary strategic plans, and transformed the museum’s relationship to the Twin City community and to the nation through groundbreaking initiatives such as the Center for Empathy & the Visual Arts. She is a trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the White House Historical Association, and the Chipstone Foundation, and a member of the State Hermitage Museum International Advisory Board. She is a past president of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and past chair of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). She has lectured widely and published numerous articles on many aspects of museums in the 21st century.

Portrait of Rebecca Foy

Rebecca Foy, Director of Public Engagement, Bletchley Park

Rebecca is responsible for leading the teams that deliver all aspects of Bletchley Park’s engagement with the public. This covers pre-visit marketing and communications, day-to-day visitor operations, and education and outreach programmes, through to the delivery of exhibitions and access to the collection. All these teams are committed to providing an excellent service to Bletchley Park’s visitors and ensuring it continues to be a high quality visitor attraction. Rebecca’s teams have the challenge of welcoming and accommodating more people than ever before as Bletchley Park experiences unprecedented visitor numbers. Prior to joining the Trust in January 2015, Rebecca worked for eight years for the National Trust, at both Tyntesfield and Cliveden, in visitor experience and operations roles and is familiar with dealing with high numbers of visitors. Dedicated to inspiring and leading others in delivering great customer service, Rebecca was involved in the concept and delivery of the National Trust’s Service Leadership programme and worked in partnership with other visitor experience managers nationally on various initiatives. Before joining the heritage industry, Rebecca worked in retail for several years after completing a Medieval and Modern History degree at the University of Birmingham.

OCL John Fulljames

John Fulljames, Director of Oxford University's Humanities Cultural Programme

John Fulljames has been the Director of Oxford's Cultural Programme since November 2022. He was previously Director of Opera at the Royal Danish Opera and Royal Danish Orchestra from 2017 until 2022. Prior to that, he was Associate Director of Opera for the Royal Opera, and founded The Opera Group, an innovative company which partnered with the Young Vic.

John has been a director for more than 20 years, collaborating with leading performers, dance companies and visual artists on many of Europe’s biggest stages. He led the creation of productions which have won awards including the Irish Theatre Awards and the Evening Standard Awards and were nominated by the Olivier Awards and the Southbank Show Awards.

ocl dame helen ghosh

Dame Helen Ghosh, Master of Balliol College, Oxford University

Dame Helen Ghosh read Modern History at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, from 1973 to 1976 and was a Senior Scholar at Hertford College, where she completed her MLitt on the cultural history of sixth-century Italy. She left Oxford to join the Civil Service, where she worked for 33 years in a variety of government departments, including the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Cabinet Office, HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions.

From 2005 to 2010, Helen was Permanent Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and from 2010, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Bath in the 2008 Birthday Honours. She left the Civil Service in 2012 to become Director General of the National Trust, and took up her role as Master of Balliol in April 2018.

While a civil servant, she was particularly interested in social exclusion and urban regeneration policies, and in a variety of local and global environmental issues. She is a Visitor of the Ashmolean Museum and a Trustee of the Rhodes Trust.

Portrait of Tom Hammond-Davies

Tom Hammond-Davies, Conductor

Tom is an award-winning choral conductor and the Founder and Artistic Director of the Oxford Bach Soloists and the Blenheim Singers. With the Oxford Bach Soloists he is currently engaged in a pioneering project which will see the performance of the complete vocal works of J. S. Bach in chronological order as the composer himself would have realised them, using performers, instruments, and venues that echo the spaces of Bach’s hometown of Leipzig. As Artistic Director of the Blenheim Singers, inspired by Blenheim Palace’s UNESCO World Heritage Status, he has sought to emphasise the importance of cultural dialogue. Tom also acts as Musical Director of the Wooburn Singers, Director of Music for the City Church of St Michael at the North Gate, Oxford, and is a Trustee of the Sir George Dyson Trust.

Portrait of Dr Pegram Harrison

Dr Pegram Harrison, Senior Fellow in Entrepreneurship, Saïd Business School

Dr Pegram Harrison's research and teaching concern entrepreneurship and leadership particularly in cultural contexts. Since 2008 he has taught entrepreneurship, leadership, strategy and heritage management to executives and Diploma students at the Saïd Business School, as well as on the MBA and undergraduate programmes. He also runs Saïd’s programme of teaching and research “Engaging with the Humanities”.

Pegram helped to start the Oxford Cultural Heritage Programme, is a member of the University's Thames Valley Country House Partnership Project and is a member of the Oxford Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and of Brasenose College, Oxford. He also coordinates a joint research programme with the University of Bologna on management and the humanities. These initiatives link researchers with cultural institutions, policy leaders, development agencies, digital technology providers and civic officials. Beyond Oxford, Pegram works with various cultural organisations on research into new business models for enhancing museum engagement and is a founder member of the Pan European Entrepreneurship Research Group, an association of researchers based at the Paris-Dauphine University who work on European entrepreneurship and higher education.  

ocl adrienne hart photo by oliver holms

Adrienne Hart, Artistic Director, Neon Dance

Adrienne Hart works internationally as a choreographer and as Artistic Director of Neon Dance. Adrienne has worked in Belgium, Norway, France, Germany, Kosovo, Russia, Japan, USA, and extensively in the UK. Her work has been commissioned and supported by Arts Council England, British Council, Creative England, Sadler's Wells, The Place, Modern Art Oxford, Glastonbury Festival, Reversible Destiny Foundation, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, South West Creative Technology Network, Pavilion Dance South West and Art Front Gallery amongst others. Commissions include working with Sadler's Wells resident over 60's performance group Company of Elders and her work invited to premiere as part of Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2018 and Setouchi Art Triennale 2022 (Japan).

ocl rhiannon hiles

Rhiannon Hiles, Chief Executive Office, Beamish, The Living Museum of the North

Rhiannon leads the talented team of staff and volunteers at Beamish, and is responsible for strategic development and operations at the award-winning County Durham open air museum, which brings the region’s history to life.  With over 30 years’ experience in the culture sector, Rhiannon has extensive curatorial, commercial, operational and development expertise, combined with a great passion for open air museums, heritage and the North East.

Rhiannon has a background in architectural design history with a BA from Teesside University and as an artist and antiques dealer while volunteering in museums early on in her career. Rhiannon’s professional experience includes the prestigious Oxford Cultural Leaders (OCL) Programme, the SPARK Association Independent Museums (AIM) programme and appointment to the board of the Association of European Open Air Museums (AEOM). Rhiannon is a Director of the Melrose Learning Trust, volunteers at a local school and is a Museums Association mentor.

Portrait of Simon Hiscock

Professor Simon Hiscock, Director, University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum

Simon took up the directorship of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum (OBGA) in 2015. He is leading a programme of change to transform OBGA into a world class University institution through a strategic plan focused on science in the form of research, teaching, conservation and public engagement. Previously, Simon held the post of Professor of Botany and Director of the Botanic Garden at the University of Bristol, where he lead the development of a new botanic garden for the University that brought a whole new scientific focus to its botanical collections in terms of their use and presentation. Simon is a specialist in evolutionary genetics and plant reproductive biology; his research seeks to understand fundamental processes in plant reproduction, adaptation and speciation using molecular genetics, population genetics, genomics and ecology. Simon has also co-created Oxford Physic Gin, a unique collaboration between the University, Botanic Garden and The Oxford Artisan Distillery (TOAD) to create a premium gin celebrating the history and usage of the garden.

ocl john holmes at oumnh

John Holmes, Professor of Victorian Literature and Culture, University of Birmingham

John Holmes is Professor of Victorian Literature and Culture and Deputy Director of the Institute for STEMM in Culture and Society at the University of Birmingham, and an Honorary Associate of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

His books include Darwin’s Bards (Edinburgh UP, 2009), The Pre-Raphaelites and Science (Yale UP, 2018) and Temple of Science: The Pre-Raphaelites and Oxford University Museum of Natural History (Bodleian Library Press, 2020). He is also one of the founders of Symbiosis, a global network of museums and universities promoting the role of the arts in natural history collections.

Portrait of Caroline Jones

Caroline Jones, Museum Director and CEO, the Story Museum

Caroline is the Director & CEO of the Story Museum, a most unusual Museum coming to life in Oxford which aims to enrich young lives through story. She holds the strategic and executive responsibility for this creative enterprise with a social mission, has lead the fundraising for the recent capital redevelopment and oversees the day-to-day running of the museum alongside a team of 30 colleagues. Prior to this, Caroline spent 15 years in development roles at several leading cultural organisations including the Roundhouse, the Orpheus Centre, the Young Vic Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company - the latter two as Development Director during major capital projects and campaigns. As a consultant she supported executive teams and boards to create successful sustainable strategies for their capital and revenue funding needs; clients included Bristol Old Vic, National Centre for Circus Arts, 14-18NOW, and Northern Stage in Newcastle. She has served as Trustee of two producing theatre companies and is currently a Trustee of the Story Museum and Director of its trading subsidiary. Caroline is part of the 2019 OCL cohort and continues to draw from the experience, ideas and relationships formed during the programme.

ocl gina koutsika

Gina Koutsika, Director of Audiences and Content, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University

Gina is the Ashmolean’s first Director of Audiences & Content. She is also Trustee at the Jewish Museum London, Governor at the Gateway Academy, Sunday School Leader at the Orthodox Cathedral of the Divine Wisdom and Fellow of the Museums Association and of the Royal Society of Arts. Previously she was the Director and Keeper of the Young V&A, Head of Exhibitions, Visitor Programmes and Commercial Events at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Head of National and International Programmes and Projects, including the First World War Centenary commemorations (2014-18), and of Learning and Engagement across the five Imperial War Museum branches.

Gina has also headed interpretation, gallery learning, exhibitions, evaluation and audience advocacy at Tate, the Science Museum, the Hellenic Children’s Museum and Christies’ the Auctioneers and has been advisor, board member, reviewer, mentor or speaker for a number of organisations, including ICOM, British Council, Museums Association, Wellcome Trust, and the Museums and Heritage Show.

Portrait of Di Lees

Dame Diane Lees, Director General, Imperial War Museums

Dame Diane Lees has been Director General of Imperial War Museums since 2008. She is a Trustee of the IWM Development Trust and The Gerry Holdsworth Special Forces Trust. She serves as Vice President of the American Air Museum in Britain and is a member of the Women Leaders in Museums Network (WLMN), the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s Experts’ Reference Group and the DCMS Cultural and Heritage Capital Advisory Board. Diane chaired the National Museum Directors’ Council (NMDC) in 2013-17. She was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree by the University of Reading in 2015 and an Honorary Doctor of Arts by Nottingham Trent University in 2017.

Diane has been Pro-Chancellor and Chair to the University of Lincoln’s Board of Governors since April 2018. She sits on the judging panels of the Museums + Heritage Awards and the 2022 Art Fund Museum of the Year. Diane was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for services to museums in January 2015 and a DBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in January 2022.

Portrait of Miki Lentin

Miki Lentin, Communications Consultant

Miki Lentin is an independent consultant and innovative creative leader working in culture and heritage. Previously he was for a decade the Head of Corporate Affairs at the British Library, working alongside the CEO and the Board. His role included external and internal communications and marketing, corporate strategy and public policy. He managed the development of the Library’s ‘Living Knowledge’ strategy, was influential in the set-up of the Library’s Living Knowledge Network of public libraries and designed and implemented the Knowledge Quarter, a unique innovation district of 100 research and cultural organisations in a one mile radius of Kings Cross. More recently he has worked with clients such as the British Council, Houses of Parliament, Art Fund, Newham Borough Council, Kensington & Chelsea Council, Historic England, UCL Culture, Said Business School Oxford, East Anglian Film Archive, Walsall Council, Imperial War Museum, Manchester Literature Festival and others. His work ranges from strategic visioning to business planning, audience development and communications planning. He also mentors creative SMEs as part of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership business development programme. He is an Alum of OCL 2017, is a Governor of Highgate Wood Secondary School, a Trustee of climate hope charity Threads in the Ground and volunteers at his local food bank and at London Football School. He is also a published writer and earlier this year released his debut novel. More details about his work and writing can be found at www.mikilentin.net, LinkedIn or @mikiwriter.

OCL Katherine Long

Katherine Long, Director, Evolution OD

Katherine is an experienced leadership and organisation development practitioner, coach and mentor with over 20 years of experience in people development. Katherine’s background is in cultural change, cross-cultural communications and developing intercultural competences in leaders and teams. She brings a holistic and systems perspective to her work; a key value in any work she undertakes is to bring into focus the health and well-being of the whole system (individual, team, organisation), as well as to address specific coaching issues and challenges.  She is actively engaged in developing practice and thought leadership to support leadership and communities of practice across a range of sectors to fulfil evolutionary purpose, environmental and social outcomes at regional to global levels.

Katherine is author of the Diamond Model, an integrative model of the coach, and is a regular speaker and writer within the coaching profession. She has also been a trustee for an award-winning youth mentoring charity, Lifespace and was lead facilitator and supervisor on the Masters in Coaching at Warwick University.  

OCL Miranda Lowe

Miranda Lowe CBE, Principal Curator, Natural History Museum

Miranda is principal curator of crustacea at the Natural History Museum in London, a Fellow of The Royal Society of Biology and The Linnean Society. Her work links curatorial practice, scientific research, art and nature to aid the public understanding of the natural world whilst volunteering her time as a STEM ambassador to mentor students and young people. Some of her published work discusses how museum collections are connected to colonialism and how to best deal with these difficult histories and she is a member of the Museums Association UK Decolonisation Guidance Working Group.

Miranda was awarded a place on Radio Four BBC Women’s Hour Power List 2020: Our Planet as a woman whose work is making a significant positive contribution to the environment and the sustainability of our planet. In the same year she was also listed in 100 Great Black Britons, a book honouring the achievements of black British individuals over centuries. She received the Society for the History of Natural History President’s Award 2021. In 2022 she was announced as British Science Association Scientific President representing Biological Sciences.

Miranda is a member of Oxford University Museum of Natural History Board of Visitors and a trustee at York Museums Trust. She is also the Chair of arts charity Culture& and co-founder of Museum Detox, a network for people of colour who work in galleries, libraries, archives, museums and the heritage sector.

Portrait of Catherine Mallyon

Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director, Royal Shakespeare Company

Catherine was appointed as Executive Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2012. She is a Governor of the Company and a member of its Board. Catherine was previously Deputy Chief Executive of Southbank Centre, the largest single-run arts centre in the world. Since 2005 she led all Southbank Centre operational activity and her major projects in that time included reopening Royal Festival Hall after refurbishment in 2007 and the renewal of Hayward Gallery in 2010. In her earlier career in arts management, Catherine was General Manager of Arts and Theatres at Reading Borough Council. There she managed all theatre and arts operations, programmed drama and classical music for the Hexagon and Concert Hall, and co-produced the WOMAD festival. Prior to that, she was General Manager at Oxford Playhouse, including the Burton Taylor Studio Theatre. Catherine trained in general arts administration on Arts Council England's bursary programme, after five years in the City as a trader and analyst. She plays violin regularly with the Oxford Sinfonia.

Portrait of Neil Mendoza

Lord Neil Mendoza, Provost, Oriel College

Neil was elected as Provost of Oriel College, Oxford in 2018. Neil is a non-executive director of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. He led two government reviews in 2017 - The Mendoza Review of museums in England and a Strategic Review for the Cabinet Office covering the national museums. Additional government appointments include being a Commissioner of Historic England and a member of the review panel looking into the sustainability of English churches and cathedrals. Neil is also a director of Meira GTx, a gene therapy company, listed on Nasdaq. Neil is Chair of The Landmark Trust, a UK charity dedicated to saving buildings of historical importance; The Illuminated River Foundation, a large art commission project to light London’s bridges and Vice-chair of Soho Theatre in London. Previously, Neil was Chair of Children and the Arts, a nationwide charity dedicated to using cultural work to help children in disadvantaged communities and hospices. He was also a trustee of the Shakespeare Schools Festival and has twice been on the judging panel for the Laurence Olivier Awards. Early in his career Neil founded and ran a publishing company, Forward, that was sold to marketing group, WPP. 

OCL Zak Mensah

Zak Mensah, CEO, Birmingham Museums

Zak is Co-CEO at Birmingham Museums Trust jointly responsible for setting the Birmingham Museums' direction as part of the executive.

Zak is excited about helping people to make a ruckus. Zak has been a freelancer, staff development officer, Head of Digital, and Head of Transformation. In addition to helping his own organisation, Zak shares his skills and expertise as a regular public speaker and trustee of the Association for Cultural Enterprises and Culture 24. 

Monica O. Montgomery, Curator of Special Projects, Arts and Industries Building, Smithsonian

Portrait of Monica O. Montgomery

Monica is the Curator of Special Projects and Programming with the Smithsonian Institution's Arts and Industries Building. As an arts administrator and independent curator she uses her platforms to be in service to society, working at the intersection of equity, community and diversity in museums. She has curated social themed exhibits, experiences and festivals with renowned organisations including the South African Embassy, Brooklyn Museum, The Highline, Portland Art Museum and National Trust for Historic Preservation. Monica has delivered a TedX talk, "How to be an upstander", challenging everyone to stand up, speak up and act for social good. She has honed her talents over two decades in culture, nonprofits and universities as: graduate professor, executive director, diversity trainer, festival planner, program manager, marketer, fundraiser, event producer and museum educator. Monica teaches graduate courses around Museums and Social Change at: Harvard University, American University, Pratt Institute and NYU; and was a visiting scholar at Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN. She frequently lectures at Princeton University, Georgetown University, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, University of the Arts, and University of Maryland and Howard University’s James A. Porter Colloquium. She is the co founder and strategic director of Museum Hue, leading the premiere multicultural group, in advancing the visibility and viability of BIPOC in museums, building diverse representation and equity through advocacy with members throughout Europe and North America. She is also a 2019 Oxford Cultural Leader alumna.

ocl jon murden

Jon Murden, CEO, National Motor Museum, UK

Dr Jon Murden joined the National Motor Museum Trust in 2021. With the museum marking its 50th anniversary in 2022, and the world of motoring experiencing changes that are the most fundamental since the late 19th century, the National Motor Museum Trust is working with Trustees, supporters, staff and stakeholders on a transformational five-year strategic plan and, as Chief Executive, Jon will contribute to this exciting plan and have overall responsibility for its implementation.

During his 12 years at Dorset Museum as Executive Director, Jon oversaw its transformation, including the redevelopment of its galleries, interpretation and storage facilities, and delivering such exciting temporary exhibitions as the multi-award winning Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure.

Jon analysed labour relations in post-war British motor manufacturing for his PhD and is a graduate of Mediaeval and Modern History at the University of Birmingham, spends much of his spare time running, maintaining and restoring his small collection of classic cars.

Tonya Nelson

Tonya Nelson, London Area Director, Arts Council England

Tonya Nelson is currently London Area Director at Arts Council England. She joined the Arts Council when she was appointed to be the first Director of Arts Technology and Innovation in 2019. Tonya was seconded to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in 2017 where she co-authored the policy report Culture is Digital. She was formerly Chair of the International Council of Museums (UK) and regularly advises on cultural projects around the world including the new Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway; University College London museums programme in Doha, Qatar; Ministry of Saudi Arabia’s cultural development plan. She currently sits on the board of trustees of The National Gallery where she chairs the governance committee. In addition, Tonya is a member of Christie’s Art World Professional Advisory Group. She was formerly Director of Museums and Cultural Programmes at University College London (UCL). Prior to entering the cultural sector, she was a barrister and management consultant in Washington, DC where she grew up.

Photo of Richard Ovenden

Richard Ovenden OBE, Bodley's Librarian, Bodleian Libraries and Head of Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM)

Richard Ovenden is Head of Gardens, Libraries, & Museums (GLAM), a post he holds together with being Bodley’s Librarian (the senior executive officer of the Bodleian Libraries), and is responsible for their strategic oversight.

Richard joined the University of Oxford in 2003 from Edinburgh University, where he was Director of Collections, and has served as Keeper of Special Collections and Deputy Librarian before being appointed Bodley’s Librarian in 2014, and then Head of Gardens, Libraries, & Museums in 2022. He was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2019.

Portrait of Lizzie Palmer

Lizzie Palmer, Storyteller and Brand Consultant

Lizzie is a dynamic, creative and intuitive facilitator and marketing consultant with strong communication, strategic, branding and relationship building skills. She started her career in advertising, working at four agencies before joining Capital Radio as Marketing Director of the group. She later worked at Orange as Director of Worldwide Brand Strategy, Development and Communications, where she was integral in changing the France Telecom operations worldwide to Orange, fostering cultural and behavioural change.

Lizzie has also worked with the Channel 4, Big Green Door and Discovery Channel. As a Facilitator and Training consultant she has worked with many companies helping in a range of areas from vision setting to leadership, idea generation, creativity and storytelling in business. She is particularly inspired by improvisational theatre and relating their practices to business. Recent clients include And Digital, The Cotswold Company, HP Enterprises, OSLP and the National Film and Television School.  

OCL Victoria Robinson

Victoria Robinson, Chief Executive, The Met

Victoria Robinson was appointed as the first female Chief Executive of The Met in December 2014 and led the £4.6million capital project and transformation of the organisation in 2016. Now a female led organisation, The Met was at the forefront of streaming activity during lockdown in its partnership with GMCA and United We Stream.

Victoria has worked in music and the arts for over 25 years, having started out writing about her native North East live music scene, before leading on gig and club promotions at the legendary Leadmill in Sheffield. After completing an MA in Public Relations at Manchester Metropolitan University, Victoria worked in commercial and music PR before returning to music in 2004. Victoria is an alumnus of OCL Online 2021.

Portrait of Anna Sanders

Anna Sanders, Programme Director, Oxford Cultural Leaders at Oxford University’s Gardens, Libraries and Museums

Anna is the Programme Director for Oxford Cultural Leaders. Anna has worked for seven years as a senior organisational development consultant at Oxford University, with a focus on supporting executive teams within the Gardens, Libraries and Museums Division tackle a range of leadership challenges. Anna also runs her own business in executive coaching and development designing and delivering tailored organisational and learning interventions.

Prior to this, Anna was a senior leader in the community education sector with a specialist interest in language, literacy, cultural enrichment and widening access programmes for refugee and migrant communities. She provided consultancy support to education providers to deliver improvements in learner experience, achievement and progression. Anna brings expertise in coaching and adult learning methodology and is particularly interested in how coaching approaches can both complement traditional learning programmes and be utilised to support deeper, more productive working practices and relationships.

Portrait of Samenua Sesher

Samenua Sesher OBE, Creative, Coach and Culture Management Consultant

Samenua is a Creative, Coach and Culture Management Consultant. She started her career in theatre and has worked with Nottingham Playhouse, the National Theatre and Ambassadors Theatre Group. She has also worked in television, community arts and heritage. As a cross-artform producer, Samenua has experience of delivering multi-million-pound programmes and has fed into national cultural policy, set up and run a local authority culture service, and lectured. She was a 2008/09 Clore Fellow and was awarded an OBE for Services to the Arts in January 2017.

Samenua is a People’s Palace Project (PPP) Associate and member of the Advisory Board for The Art of Cultural Exchange (2014-16). PPP is supporting and partnering on her project Museum of Colour, an online project focussing on the creative journeys of British people of colour.

Portrait of Sally Shaw

Sally Shaw MBE, Director, Firstsite, Colchester

Sally is Director of Firstsite, Colchester where she has been since 2016. With the team she has delivered a successful turn-around programme realigning Firstsite with a focused, relevant purpose. In an award winning and radical building Firstsite presents world-class visual artists from around the world as well as those living on our doorstep in East Anglia. Headline artists have included Grayson Perry, Lubaina Himid and Cory Arcangel. Sally has swiftly transformed Firstsite from a failing gallery to one which is now a rapidly growing business and creative proposition by thinking radically about equality, diversity and inclusion in all areas of the gallery’s work. Firstsite is also an Arts Council Collection National Partner through its radical co-authoring programme where all exhibitions in the series are co-curated with community leaders, groups and activists including the Black History Month community, Radical Women of Colchester, Refugee Action Colchester and the Colchester Garrison Officers and families. Previously Sally was Head of Programme at Modern Art Oxford, Deputy Head of Culture for the Mayor of London, Chief Curator for London Underground, Director of Media Art – Bath and Residency Programme Manager at Spike Island, Bristol. She has also established a number of independent projects and programmes including an independent commercial gallery in Bristol – LOT – and an artist residency programme in an open prison in Gloucestershire. Sally participated in the first Oxford Museums Cultural Leaders Course in 2015.

Portrait of Michael Smets

Professor Michael Smets, Professor, Saïd Business School

Prof Michael Smets’s research focuses on leadership and the management of competing stakeholder demands in complex, ‘hybrid’ organisations. He is a lead author of the CEO Report, which was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, in 2015 and is the lead author of the Museum Leaders Report which was launched in 2018. He has just completed a large-scale study exploring the human success factors of large-scale organizational transformations. Previously he conducted a widely-noted “fly on the wall” study of Lloyd’s of London, one of the UK’s oldest financial institutions.

At Saïd Business School, Michael teaches modules on leadership, motivation, teams, change and institutional complexity on customised executive education programmes for clients from banking, law, consulting, and accounting. In 2019, Thinkers50 identified Michael as “the up-and-coming voice in leadership” and included him in their “radar” of 30 rising leadership thinkers to watch. Previously, Michael was ranked among the 40 best business school professors under the age of 40 worldwide. His research has appeared in leading management journals and publications, and has been covered by Harvard Business Review, Financial Times, Forbes, Bloomberg, CNN, CNBC, the Guardian and other international media.

Portrait of Professor Paul Smith

Professor Paul Smith, Director, Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Paul has worked in museums for over 25 years, an interest sparked during a research post at the Sedgwick Museum, University of Cambridge. This led to a post at the national Geological Museum in Copenhagen and then to the Lapworth Museum of Geology at the University of Birmingham, where he spent much of his career as curator and then director. After a period as head of the multidisciplinary School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences in Birmingham, Paul moved to the University of Oxford in February 2012 to take up the directorship of the Museum of Natural History. His research interests range from geology into zoology, particularly the origin of animal groups and the geology of arctic areas, and in the museums arena has a particular interest in the use of digital technologies and public engagement in science.

ocl janet stott

Janet Stott, Deputy Director and Head of Public Engagement, Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Janet is Deputy Director and Head of Public Engagement at Oxford University Museum of Natural History. She has a background in science teaching and prior to moving into museums, taught in a range of secondary schools in London for 10 years. Janet has led the public engagement team at OUMNH since its inception in 1998.

As Deputy Director Janet has responsibility for innovation within, and strategic development of, the museum across all areas with a particular focus on operations and visitor services activity, international partnerships and research, as well as Public Engagement.

Janet has a particular interest in the role of museums in engaging diverse audiences with contemporary science research and the challenges this presents. Current projects include a series of Contemporary Science and Society exhibitions. Janet holds an Official Fellowship in Public Engagement with Research at Reuben College, Oxford.

Portrait of Dr Alexander Sturgis

Dr Xa Sturgis, Director, Ashmolean Museum

In October 2014, Dr Xa Sturgis became Director of the Ashmolean Museum having had a distinguished career as the Director of the Holburne Museum, Bath, since 2005. Whilst at the Holburne Xa oversaw a renovation of the Museum that included a £13 million extension.

Prior to becoming the Director of the Holburne Museum Xa worked at the National Gallery, London, for 15 years, in various posts including Exhibitions and Programmes Curator from 1999-2005. Xa is an alumnus of University College, Oxford and the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. 

ocl sydney thornbury

Sydney Thornbury, CEO, The Art House

Originally from Los Angeles, Sydney ran organisations in London for 25 years before becoming CEO of The Art House in Wakefield, Yorkshire in 2018. For the last twelve years, Sydney has focused on the reinvigoration of underperforming arts organisations, particularly those in crisis.  From stabilizing and downsizing one of the UK’s first on-line arts education programmes in the wake of the 2008 recession, to saving the 134-year Blackheath Conservatoire from foreclosure within six weeks, to repositioning and tripling turnover at The Art House within three years, Sydney has extensive experience in creating mixed economy business models that put values, vision and community at the centre of organisational renewal, the result being enhanced artistic quality, audience reach and increased income generation. 

 Sydney is particularly adept at synthesizing a range of established ideas to create innovative solutions that promote circular economies and community cohesion. Over the last three years, The Art House has created the UK’s first Studio of Sanctuary for Refugees and Asylum seekers, ‘Makey Wakey’ which utilises vacant shops in Wakefield’s city centre to hothouse creative social entrepreneurs, and partnered with the NHS and three local mental health charities to house ‘Safe Space’, an out-of-hours emergency mental health drop-in centre. 

Portrait of Chris Thorogood

Dr Chris Thorogood, Deputy Director and Head of Science, University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum

Chris is the Deputy Director and Head of Science for the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum (OBGA). Following a postdoctoral research post in plant molecular biology at the University of Bristol, in 2010, Chris moved to the business (FMCG) sector. For the American manufacturer Mars Inc. he led global innovation projects, developing and launching new products under multimillion dollar brands, pan-Europe/US. Chris then worked for the soft drinks manufacturer Britvic where he was the chemical engineering lead on a multimillion supply chain investment programme overseeing the implementation of major household brands including Pepsi, 7-Up, Tango, J20 and Robinson's across the UK. Returning to the academic sector in 2017, Chris now deploys the vision and strategy for OBGA, where he researches evolutionary genetics, plant taxonomy and global biodiversity hotspots. Chris won the international Irene Manton Prize for botany for his PhD in 2009; he is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, and a Fellow of Linacre College at Oxford University. He is a popular book author, artist and public speaker.

Portrait of Dr Laura Van Broekhoven

Professor Laura Van Broekhoven, Director, Pitt Rivers Museum

Laura is the Director of the Pitt Rivers Museum. She holds a Professorial Fellowship at Linacre College, and is associated with the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography at Oxford. Previously she led the curatorial department of the National Museum of World Cultures (Amsterdam, Leiden and Berg en Dal) and was a lecturer in archaeology, museum studies and indigenous heritage at the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University. She currently serves on numerous advisory boards and panels. Laura's research interests include repatriation and redress, with a focus on the importance of collaboration, inclusivity and reflexive inquiry. Her regional academic research has focused on collaborative collection research with Amazonian (Surinam and Brazil) indigenous peoples, Yokot’an (Maya) oral history, Mixtec indigenous market systems, and Nicaraguan indigenous resistance in colonial times.

Portrait of Yolanda Vazquez

Yolanda Vazquez, Presenter/Coach, Olivier Mythodrama

Yolanda is a graduate of The Drama Centre London, she is an Actor, Director and Theatre Practitioner. Her theatre background includes the RSC and The Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. In 2003 Yolanda became a freelance Globe Education Practitioner and has been heavily involved with the development of the Globe Education portfolio both nationally and internationally. In 2006 she developed and led a national training programme for all 260 English consultants for the secondary national strategies on behalf of the DFES (DFE). She is responsible for developing resources and publications for QCDA, Hodder Dynamic Learning and Arden Shakespeare, and still works at many high calibre drama schools. Yolanda has trained and become an affiliate of Olivier Mythodrama working as a presenter and tutor/coach with companies such as Daimler, Oxford Said Business School, Axa, Avon, IESE and many others.

Portrait of Nelisha Wickremasinge

Dr Nelisha Wickremasinghe, Associate Fellow, Saïd Business School

Dr Nelisha Wickremasinghe is a psychologist, entrepreneur, author, educator and international leadership/organisational change consultant. She has worked in the field of human development for over 30 years. Nelisha has postgraduate degrees in psychology and family therapy, a master’s in public sector management and a doctorate in organisational change. She is currently undertaking a second doctorate programme in psychoanalytic clinical practice and research. Her work at the boundary of psychotherapeutic practice and management development has taken her across the globe to support organisations such as Fujitsu, Thomas Cook, Merck, Pearsons, Amec Foster Wheeler, Nielsen, Lloyds Banking Group, Aviva and BT to develop their leaders and implement complex change. Nelisha also developed and ran a successful organic food business and restaurant and, for ten years, she was a clinical and management lead in the mental health and social care sector.

In addition to her role at Saïd Business School, she is also the founding director/lead practitioner at The Dialogue Space, which provides therapeutic depth development for individuals, families and employees within organisations. Her professional practice combines brain science and developmental psychology to develop individual, team and system resilience and collaboration in increasingly volatile times. Nelisha is the author of Beyond Threat, which looks at the hidden drives and motivations that determine our behaviour at work and what we can do about this and Being with Others, which explores how our threat response interferes with our ability to form and sustain trust, openness and respect in our relationships at home and at work.  Nelisha's articles and ideas have been featured in diverse publications including Management Today, Forbes and Fast Company.  Nelisha is also a regular contributor to Psychology Today.

Oxford Cultural Leaders - previous faculty

Tracey Camilleri, Associate Fellow, Saïd Business School

Tracey is an Associate Fellow at the Saïd Business School and Director of the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme. At the business school, she specialises in learning design and pedagogic innovation. She also designs and directs customised leadership programmes for clients. Her programmes draw widely from across the University faculty, particularly from the arts and humanities departments where she believes the great case studies of leadership reside. She has worked for several years with The Ashmolean developing leadership sessions using objects from their collection.

Julie Finch, CEO, The Hay Festival

Julie Finch is CEO of Hay Festival, the world’s leading literary charity bringing writers and readers together in events to inspire, examine and entertain globally. Based in the Festival’s head office in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, Finch joined the charity in August 2022 to lead a new organisational strategy, working to enhance the organisation’s national and international standing, reach, impact, engagement with existing and new audiences, and its long-term sustainability. As a cultural leader, Finch is a passionate advocate for the arts in Wales and around the world with experience spanning the charity, private and public sectors.

With over two decades of experience in the cultural sector, Finch’s achievements have included developing and leading the revisioning programme and 10-year strategy for Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park, setting up a cultural trust in Cheltenham, developing the concept for the new museum for Western Australia and reframing Bristol Museums Galleries and Archives around audiences. Whether conceptualising new museums (M Shed, Boola Bardip) or leading ambitious cultural change programmes (Cheltenham Trust, National Football Museum), Finch has been a champion of strengthening and modernising venues, engaging with audiences and partners and contemporising interpretation and visitor experiences. 

Darren Henley OBE, Chief Executive, Arts Council England

Darren previously spent 25 years working in radio, leading Classic FM for fifteen years, first as Managing Editor and then as Managing Director. He was appointed an OBE in 2013 for services to music. Darren has chaired or sat on a range of government advisory boards in the area of cultural education. His two independent government reviews into music education (2011) and cultural education (2012) resulted in the creation of England's first National Plan for Music Education, new networks or Music Education Hubs and Heritage Schools, and Museums and Schools programme, the BFI Film Academy and the National Youth Dance Company. He is the author or co-author of thirty books, including 'The Virtuous Circle: Why Creativity and Cultural Education Count'. It argues that an excellent cultural education is the right of everyone, bringing personal, social and commercial advantages that can only benefit the lives of all individuals in our society. In 2016, Darren's most recent book was published. 'The Arts Divided: Why Investment in Culture Pays' looks in depth at seven key benefits that art and culture bring to our lives. Darren joined the Arts Council in 2015.

Tim Morris, Professor of Management Studies, Saïd Business School

Tim has been a professor at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School since 2002. Before taking up his role at Oxford, he was a professor at Imperial College, London, and at London Business School. At Oxford, he teaches on a number of the School’s executive programmes helping leaders grapple with the complex organisational challenges they face. He has also provided consulting advice to government, private sector and non-profit organisations. His research, teaching and consulting activities are closely interlinked. He has developed and written extensively about models of innovation and competitive advantage in organisations of professionals. He uses these proprietary models in working with those running professional organisations help them to become more effective. His other research, conducted with colleagues at Oxford Saïd Business School, examines the role and development of CEOs in large corporations. Based on interviews with over 150 CEOs worldwide, this research explores what it takes to lead a large corporation today. It was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and has been widely covered in the media. He has published his research extensively in leading international journals as well as authoring several books and numerous chapters in collected editions. His work has been featured in Harvard Business Review, The Economist, Financial Times, CNN and Forbes. Tim has a BA (Hons) from Cambridge University and an MSc and PhD from the London School of Economics.

Robert Poynton, Associate Fellow, Saïd Business School

Robert designs, facilitates and runs workshops, programmes and retreats for executives and leaders. He has developed an approach based on improvisational theatre to give executives an experience of key ideas and themes in leadership such as complexity, emergence, change and narrative. He co-founded On Your Feet, a US based consultancy that uses ideas, tools, methods and knowledge from improv to work with clients like Intel, Nike, Disney and GE. He also collaborates extensively with brand consultancy eatbigfish in London. He is an Associate Fellow at Green Templeton College, Oxford and at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, where he has been a contributor to the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme since 2002. He has written two books entitled Everything’s an Offer and Do Improvise and is currently working on a new book (with Steven D’Souza and Diana Renner) entitled ‘Not Doing’. His work includes the design and creation of individual and group executive retreats to Spain, where he lives. He has also led courses on leadership, change and complexity at IE in Madrid, Ashridge Business School and Schumacher College.

Lucy Shaw, Director of Cultural Associates Oxford

Lucy is the founder and director of Cultural Associates Oxford (CAO). She is a cultural entrepreneur who specialises in strategic leadership, organisational change, workforce diversity, and inclusive engagement. She has grown CAO into a thriving creative company with an extensive portfolio, undertaking work across the globe with diverse clients. Lucy is also currently the Programme Director for the Saïd Business School’s Strategic Leadership Programme. She previously worked for the University of Oxford’s Gardens, Libraries and Museums Division (GLAM) where she was Programme Director for Oxford Cultural Leaders, which she launched in 2015 in partnership with the Saïd Business School.  Lucy was Head of Programmes and Partnerships where she worked led and managed the GLAM Partnership and Engagement Team. Lucy also oversaw cross-divisional programmes and activities and led a University-wide, wellbeing and social prescribing partnership with cultural sector professionals, humanities researchers, medics, and scientists.

Kathleen Soriano, Curator

Kathleen began her career at the Royal Academy of Arts before moving to the National Portrait Gallery, where as Director of Exhibitions & Collections she was also responsible for national and international programmes. In 2004 she became one of the first cohort of Clore Leadership Fellows, working at the South Bank Centre and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. She then worked as Director of Compton Verney before returning to the Royal Academy to take on the role of Artistic Director. In 2014 she set up her own artistic advisory and strategic consultancy company. She has lectured and written, and broadcasted extensively in her field, including presenting the four series of Portrait/Landscape Artist of the Year for SkyArts. She is currently Chair of the Liverpool Biennial, Artistic Director of the Jakober Foundation, Mallorca, and a specialist advisor for the National Trust. Previously she has held roles on the strategic committee of the Grand Palais, Paris, the Wellcome Collection exhibition advisory group, chaired the Churches Conservation Trust’s Art Advisory group, was a founder member of Women Leaders in Museums Network and is currently on the Advisory Board of 2 Temple Place and the editorial board of Apollo.

Carole Souter CBE, Master, St Cross College University of Oxford 

Carole took up office as Master of St Cross College in September 2016. She was previously Chief Executive of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund, overseeing the distribution of over £400m a year to projects making a lasting difference to people and heritage across the UK. She began her career in the civil service and has over 20 years’ experience of policy formulation and operational management in the Departments of Health, Social Security and the Cabinet Office. She has always been actively engaged in the charitable sector and is currently a Trustee of Historic Royal Palaces; Creativity, Culture and Education; the Kent Wildlife Trust and the National Communities Resource Centre. She has recently been installed as a Lay Canon of Salisbury Cathedral. Carole is a Fellow of the RSA, the Society of Antiquaries, and a member of the Academy of Urbanism. She is an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, and was awarded the CBE in 2011 for services to conservation.

Jonathan Stebbings, Leadership Consultant, Olivier Mythodrama

Jonathan is a leadership consultant and workshop leader focusing on the implementation of development and change initiatives. Jonathan also acts as an executive coach at CEO and Director Levels. He specialises in the areas of learning and development, individual and organisational communication, management and leadership, innovation and creativity. Jonathan has an MA in English Literature and has taught Shakespeare extensively. He also has a broad commercial background, having worked as a commercial solicitor in London and Oxford, and for ICI. He holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Education and is a certified Master Practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and a Practitioner in Time Line Therapy & Hypnotherapy. He is certified in MBTI, SDI, Relationship Awareness Theory and TMSDI’s Team Management Profile & QO² Opportunity Orientation Profile.