FOUNDER & CEO/EDUCATION DIRECTOR
FOUNDER & CEO
BAFTA and multi-award winning Film Producer/Director. Leslee’s work as a filmmaker includes “East is East”, “Who Bombed Birmingham?” (which led to the release of the Birmingham 6 after 17 years of wrongful imprisonment) and “India’s Daughter” (which has sparked a global movement for gender quality). A Human Rights Campaigner, Leslee was awarded a Peabody Award (for India’s Daughter), the Anna Lindh Human Rights Award in the Swedish Parliament, voted Global Hero by Safe Magazine, Global Thinker Award by Foreign Policy, and voted by the NY Times the Second Most Impactful woman 2015, after Hillary Clinton. Leslee is a PLAN Ambassador.
Founder of The Educationalist, and of ENABLE Early Years Conference, BA (Hons) Early Years Teaching, Kingston University, Montessori Intl Dip, MCI, Post Graduate Certificate Therapeutic Play Therapy, Canterbury Christ Church University, Feuerstein IE Mediator. Helen has studied Instrumental Enrichment, Structural Cognitive Modifiability and Mediated Learning Experience at The International Centre for the Enhancement of Learning Potential in Jerusalem. She has worked in Montessori and Prep Schools in both the UK and abroad, and as a private teacher for families, including heads of state. Her extensive global experience includes home-schooling programs, extending, adapting, and implementing curricula to meet the needs of children with a range of learning dispositions, with a focus on the development of holistic strategies.
PATRONS & ADVISORS
A long-time environmentalist and advocate for gender and human rights issues, Meryl has championed women’s rights and the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment), and campaigned to end trafficking and violence against women. She is also an Oscar-winning actress, and one of the most highly regarded artists of her generation. Meryl has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 19 times, and has won 3 times. She has received 29 Golden Globe nominations, and won 8. She is also the recipient of 2 Emmy Awards, 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Cannes Film Festival award, 5 New York Film Critics Circle Awards, 2 BAFTA awards, 5 Grammy Award nominations, and the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award, amongst others. She has been named a Commandeur de L’Ordre Des Arts et des Lettres, a Kennedy Center Honoree, and received the National Medal of Arts. In 2015 President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Dr. MARC BRACKETT
Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Dr. Brackett’s research focuses on the role of emotional intelligence in relationships, mental health, decision making, both academic and workplace performance, as well as the impact of emotional intelligence training. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Joseph E. Zins Award for his research on social and emotional learning. He is the co-creator of RULER, an evidence-based approach to teaching social and emotional learning that has been adopted by more than 1000 public and private schools reaching nearly one million students, educators and families. Dr. Brackett serves on a wide-range of Advisory Boards, including Born This Way Foundation and CASEL.
Lord RUMI VERJEE
Lord Rumi Verjee is a highly successful multiple entrepreneur. He studied Law at University of Cambridge where he is now an Honorary Fellow. He founded The Rumi Foundation, the goal of which is humanitarian work through education, knowledge building and innovation. Amongst other projects, the Foundation is working with the Clinton Foundation to provide new schools in rural Uganda for thousands of children. He is Chairman of Free the Children UK and co-chairman of their signature event We Day UK. He is a Member of the World Presidents’ Organization, the Global Leadership Foundation, and was a member of the Advisory Board of the British Olympic Association. In 2009 he was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for charitable services and was appointed by HM The Queen to the UK House of Lords as a Liberal Democrat Peer in 2013.
President JOYCE BANDA
Joyce Banda is Malawi’s first female president (until 2014), and second on the African continent. She served as minster of gender, child welfare, and community services (2004–06) and as minister of foreign affairs (2006–09). In her various ministerial capacities, she designed the Zero Tolerance Campaign Against Child Abuse and established relations with mainland China. She has been popular in Malawi because of her tough stance against government corruption and her strong campaigns for grassroots development and gender parity. Throughout her career Banda received awards and accolades, including the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger in 1997 and being named Africa’s third most powerful woman by Forbes magazine in 2011.
Founder and CEO of the Foundation for Women (FFW), a non-profit NGO dedicated to eliminating global poverty. Microfinance programs have been created and funded in San Diego County, India, Zambia, South Africa, Niger and Liberia. Deborah has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for outstanding work in the non-profit sector. She has served on numerous boards, including the Women’s Leadership Board, at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She is a member of Women Moving Millions, a 20-year member of Rotary, having served in several board capacities, and a founding member of the global Rotarian Action Group for Microfinance and Community Development.
PATRONS AND ADVISORS TO THE COMMITTEE
SIR KEN ROBINSON Phd
Sir Ken received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for services to the arts. He is Professor Emeritus and was Professor of Education at the University of Warwick and holds honorary degrees from Rhode Island School of Design, the Open University; the Central School of Speech & Drama; Birmingham City University, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and Oklahoma State University. Sir Ken was awarded the Athena Award for services to the arts and education; Peabody Medal for contributions to the arts and culture in the United States; the Arthur C. Clarke Imagination Award, Gordon Parks Award for achievements in education; and the Benjamin Franklin Medal from the Royal Society of Arts. Sir Ken is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources in education, and in business. Listed as “one of the world’s elite thinkers on creativity and ranked among the Thinkers50 list of the world’s top business thought leaders. Sir Ken works with governments and educations systems in Europe, Asia and the USA, in Los Angeles, and was the central figure in developing a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.
Hon. Minister UNITY DOW
Unity Dow is Minister of Education and Skills Development in Botswana, a pan-African Human Rights Champion, novelist, and Botswana’s first female High Court judge, awarded Legion d’Honneur de France by President Sarkozy. Unity studied law at the University of Botswana and Swaziland, and at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She co-founded the private Baobab Primary School in Gaborone, and the first AIDS-specific NGO in the country. Unity earned acclaim as a lawyer particularly through her stances on women’s rights, and has changed laws in Botswana for women (notably Attorney General of Botswana vs Unity Dow, 1992). Since 2005, she has been a member of a UN mission to Sierra Leone to review the domestic application of international women’s human rights norms and has been a Member of Special Mission of the UN and the Rwandan Government to review Rwanda’s preparedness to take over the hearing of the 1994 genocide cases. Unity is the visiting professor of Law at the School of Law, Columbia University, NY, Washington, Lee, Lexington, and Cincinnati, Ohio.
Mary is the Founder/President of the Roots of Empathy organization (with programs in every province of Canada, New Zealand, the USA, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, Germany and Switzerland). She is also the creator of the Seeds of Empathy program; a social entrepreneur; educator; author; child advocate and parenting expert. Mary is the founder of Canada’s first and largest school-based Parenting and Family Literacy Centres, which have become part of public policy in Ontario and is used as a best practice model internationally. Ms Gordon consults to governments, educational organizations, public institutions such as the WHO and the UN. The recipient of several prestigious awards recognizing her contribution to innovation in education, she is a Member of the Order of Canada, and of Newfoundland, she is an Ashoka Fellow since 2002 and is a Director of the Ashoka Global Board (DC). The Dalai Lama with whom she has had dialogues expressed that programs like Roots of Empathy will build world peace.
Barbara completed an Adv.Mont.Dip, BA, and MA degree in Early Years Education under the guidance of Tina Bruce. Barbara is the Chief Education Officer for the Montessori St Nicholas Charity and Montessori Centre International, UK, where she has also served as Director of National Strategies. She trained with Montessori St. Nicholas in the early 1980’s and continued to study in the fields of Montessori education and early years. She is the author of Bringing Montessori into Your Early Years Setting and Understanding the Montessori Approach. Over the past 25 years, Barbara has trained and supported the training of Montessori teachers in her capacity as a lecturer both at Montessori St. Nicholas, London Montessori Centre and Montessori Centre International. In her current role she has been involved with course development and the promotion of Montessori education within the UK and internationally.
Dr. URVASHI SAHNI
Urvashi is a non-resident fellow of Brookings Institution, a member of Hillary Clinton’s CHARGE commitment and Founder of the Study Hall Educational Foundation. She is a social entrepreneur, and educationist of over 30 years standing and a leading expert in curriculum reform, school governance, and teacher training in collaboration with national and state governments and NGOs in India. Urvashi holds a masters and PhD from the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley. She was the first graduate from the Graduate School of Education, Berkeley to be awarded the prestigious International HAAS award for her contributions to Education in her home country. Her Schools reach out to over 6000 students in rural and urban areas, more than half of these come from extremely poor and challenging backgrounds. She was awarded The Ashoka Fellowship for her work with Digital Study Hall, a program that uses technology to reach out to thousands of teachers, teacher-trainees and students from underserved areas.
Valerie holds a BA in Elementary Education (Rhode Island College),an MA in Communicative Disorders (University of Central Florida), and is presently working on a Doctoral Degree in Psychology (Northcentral University). She has been a Speech and Language Pathologist for more than 25 years. She is a Certified Trainer for the Feuerstein Institute, training both Instrumental Enrichment Standard and Basic levels. Her areas of expertise are in improving reading, auditory processing, discipline and behaviour, and social skills. She has started a small private school for students with varied learning abilities, has worked in a multidisciplinary clinic, and has served as a clinical director, principal and guidance counsellor, in a K -12 school and full therapy clinic. Valerie trains adults in Instrumental Enrichment and does clinical work with learners, ages 2 through adult. She provides consulting services for a Montessori school, working with students and providing guidance and training for teachers and parents. She trains, mentors, and provides therapy to improve critical thinking, communication, & collaboration.
Tanya is the Chief Executive of Plan UK. She was formerly a special needs teacher, and a lecturer in Politics and Philosophy. Tanya joined international development charity VSO, becoming their Head of Programmes for Eastern Europe and former Soviet countries. After three years with the European Children’s Trust, she was appointed as the first CEO of Home-Start International. During this period she was seconded part-time to Brussels to manage a grant-making facility for the European Commission. Tanya was Chair of a UNICEF NGO Committee in Geneva, and International Director at Leonard Cheshire Disability. She co-authored various papers and edited two LCD books, ‘Disability and Inclusive Development’ and ‘Poverty and Disability’. Tanya holds various trusteeships and is currently a Board Member of the World Bank’s Global Partnership on Disability and Development. She was given the European Woman of Achievement (Humanitarian) award.
Dr. SHEILA WAMAHIU
PhD in Education (Kenyatta University, Nairobi) and MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology (Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad). An international Education, Gender and Development Consultant, her career has spanned over 30 years working as an academic, researcher, development worker, teacher, trainer and journalist. She has been Education Programme Officer in NYHQ, , Head of Development Studies and Senior Lecturer (Kenyatta University, Kenya), External Examiner for the Department of Women Studies, (Makerere University, Uganda), and Chief of Education in Uganda. Sheila is the Founding Chair, Women Educational Researchers of Kenya (WERK). She was nominated to be a member of FAWE at the global level in recognition of her contribution to girls’ education in the region. She has also served on the Advisory Board of UWEZO Kenya and the Girls’ Education Movement (GEM) in Uganda, Currently she is leading a national study on Value-Based Education in Kenya.
PhD in cross-cultural study on Gender and Teaching in early childhood settings (University of Glasgow). Yuwei taught Early Childhood Education (ECE) at Jingu College, Tianjin Normal University. Yuwei specializes in qualitative research methodology, statistical research, and quantitative method tools. His teaching experiences vary from early childhood sectors, primary and secondary schools, and higher education to adult education and continuing teacher training in China, England and Scotland. He was a lecturer on the BA (Honours) Early Childhood Studies Program at the Department of Children, Young People and Families (Leeds Trinity University).
Dr ROBIN STERN
Robin Stern, Ph.D., is the associate director for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. A licensed psychoanalyst, educator, and author, she holds a doctorate in applied psychology from New York University and a postdoctoral certificate in psychoanalytic group psychotherapy from the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health. Robin is a co-developer of RULER, and co-creator and lead facilitator for Yale’s Institutes. In collaboration with Facebook, she created a reporting process for cyber bullying incidents and a help center for bullied children. She is a member of the Emotionally Intelligence Consortium and was a fellow in the Public Voices Fellowship.
BRÍAN Ó MAOILEOIN
Brían has a Master’s Degree in Educational Management from the University of Sheffield, and studied at the National University of Ireland in Limerick, specializing in Primary Education and the Irish Language. He is the Primary School Principal at United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA), Singapore, and has served on the College’s Board of Governors. UWCSEA is part of the United World Colleges movement, which was founded in 1962 with the aim of bringing together young people from areas of post-war conflict to act as champions of peace through an education based on shared learning, collaboration and understanding. Brían sits on the Advisory Board of the Common Ground Collaborative and advised on the design of its Global Citizen component.
Helen holds a B-Ed Honours degree from St Mary’s University, Strawberry Hill. Having taught at primary level for many years, Helen co-founded a preschool in West Sussex, running it between 2005 and 2014. Having discovered a passion for Early Years teaching, Helen became an Early Years Consultant for Riverston Group Ltd, where she has developed the Riverston Early Years curriculum with Jackie Harland, a curriculum that focuses on early intervention and inclusion. The curriculum is now being rolled out in the UK and overseas. Helen is writing a book on empathetic practice in the Early Years, highlighting the nature, impact and influence of empathy in Early Years settings, and how to develop this vital skill in young children. Helen also writes guest blogs for the Early Years Teacher Organisation and various parenting blogs, such as Wondermama.com.
FRANCINE BATES O.B.E
Francine is an honorary Fellow, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health; and holds a BA Hons in History (University of North London); an Honorary Doctorate, (Middlesex University); Post-graduate Diploma in Public Relations (University of Stirling); and is currently CEO of the Lullaby Trust. Francine has been Special Policy Adviser to the Rt Hon Ed Balls MP, UK Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. She was CEO of Contact a Family, and Deputy CEO of Carers Association UK. She is Vice-Chair of AbleChild Africa and was non-executive Director of the Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Francine was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2006.
Aritha is a lawyer at K&L Gates LLP, prior to which he was a lawyer at Clifford Chance LLP. He holds an LLM from the London School of Economics and a BA (Hons) in Political Science from the University of Birmingham. Aritha has worked at the Chambers of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, assists the Human Dignity Trust in their actions against countries that criminalise homosexuality and advises Non-Gendered in their campaign for recognition of non-gendered identity in the UK. He was ranked No.1 by the Financial Times in its Outstanding List of Top 30 Future Global LGBT Leaders.
LLM in International Economic Law / Law in Development (University of Warwick); Socrates Scholar – International Relations (University of Amsterdam) ; BA (Honours) International Relations with Development Studies (University of Sussex). Shireen is the Founder and Executive Director of the CSO iProbono, and a member Attorney General of the Pro Bono Committee. She is also a solicitor at the International law firm Fieldfisher. Shireen was previously CSR Executive at HSBC Group, Mumbai, and Legal Researcher at the Centre for Constitutional Rights, NYC. She is the Winner of UK Government’s Prime Minister’s Big Society Award; the Law Society’s Pro Bono Award, and Asian Women of Achievement Award.
THINK EQUAL TEAM
Chief Operating Officer
Claire has 15 years experience of working for international development and human rights, in particular at Amnesty International where she undertook a variety of roles in fundraising, project and programme management, including Senior Advisor for Learning and Impact and the Senior Lead on Strategy and Evaluation.She has also spent time volunteering in Ghana and in the UK with children with a disability or life-threatening condition. Having grown-up in Switzerland and lived or worked in countries across Africa and Asia, Claire speaks French and Spanish.
Educated at Royal Holloway, University of London, Riddhi is a UK-based Producer and Writer. She has worked in film and TV production for the last 6 years and has developed programmes for major UK television channels, including the BBC. Riddhi is the Associate Producer on the multi-award-winning feature documentary, India’s Daughter, which has sparked a global movement for gender equality.
Cait has recently completed her MSc in International Relations, at University College London (UCL). She also holds a BA in American Politics from the University of Nottingham. As an Education Officer at Think Equal, Cait currently heads the creation of all original books for the Early Years Program.