Demos Staff +

Polly Curtis

Interim Chief Executive

Polly is Interim Chief Executive of Demos

Polly spent much of her career at the Guardian where she reported on health, social affairs and education, before joining the lobby team as Whitehall Editor, writing about government and policy. She went on to be digital editor of the Guardian, then led newsrooms as Editor-in-Chief at HuffPost UK, a Partner at Tortoise Media and Managing Director at PA Media.

Her book, Behind Closed Doors, an investigation into social services in England, was published by Virago in February 2022 and is a finalist in the Orwell Prize for political writing. In it, she sets a vision for a different way that the state and communities can work together to solve problems. She serves as a trustee of the Public Interest News Foundation, as well as a Non-Executive Director of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. Polly lives in North West London and has two children.

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Alex Krasodomski-Jones

Director, CASM

Alex is director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media. He has authored more than a dozen major reports on digital election integrity, content moderation practices, digital regulation and the intersection between tech and politics. He leads the centre’s visual analytics practice, and provides written and televised comment for the BBC, CNN, Wired, the Spectator and other outlets.

He leads Demos’s effort in the Good Web Project, a coalition of civil society organisations working to articulate, measure and advocate for an Internet governed on open, liberal and democratic principles. His focus is on building an evidence base, both for what good practice looks like in the architecture and practices of future online spaces, and of public and government consensus around that future.

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Heather Williams-Taplin

Director of Operations

Heather is the Director of Operations at Demos, and is on maternity leave until late 2022.

Heather has worked in research, policy and senior leadership roles including for the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the LGBT Foundation. She is interested in living standards, participation and equality. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of Warwick, and a post graduate certificate in voluntary sector management.

Heather is a trustee for the charity Partners of Prisoners. She lives in Manchester.

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Carl Miller

Research Director, CASM

Carl is the Research Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM) at Demos.

He is interested in how social media is changing society, and how researching it can inform important decisions. This includes:

  • Digital politics and digital democracy
  • Cybercrime, and the hacking community
  • Cyber-bullying, hate crime, misogyny and abuse online
  • Information warfare and online disinformation
  • ‘Fake news’, digital and citizen journalism
  • Automated decision-making, Internet governance and digital addiction
  •  Building new methods and technology to study social media data

He researches and writes widely on these issues, including for Wired, New Scientist, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph and the Guardian. He is a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London.

His first book is The Death of the Gods: The New Global Power Grab. An examination of the new centres of power and control in the twenty-first century, it was published by Penguin RandomHouse in August 2018.

Carl’s website is  www.carlmiller.co

And he Tweets @carljackmiller

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Josh Smith

Senior Researcher, CASM and Chief Technical Officer, Demos

Josh is a a software developer and researcher, with a particular interest in the application of natural language processing to social research. He has worked on a wide range of technologies, from hardware to web design, most recently holding a position at IBM as a Python developer and systems administrator.

He has a BSc in Philosophy and Mathematics from the University of Warwick.

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Ben Glover

Acting Head of Research

Ben is the Acting Head of Research at Demos.

His current research interests include public service reform and levelling up.

Ben has published more than a dozen reports on a wide-range of economic and social policy areas.

Prior to joining Demos, he worked as a policy advisor on the civil service fast stream and in Parliament for an MP.

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Elle Wason

Operations Manager

Elle is the Operations Manager at Demos. She has previously worked in policy, research and advocacy, including for the Institute of Development Studies and the International Centre for Tax and Development, as well as working on fundraising and projects for various non-profit organisations. Most recently she has been managing strategy and operations for NGOs in Indigenous communities in Central America.

She is particularly interested in strengthening relations between civil society and policymakers. Elle has a degree in Philosophy and Political Economy from the University of Exeter and an MA in Governance, Development and Public Policy from the Institute of Development Studies.

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Felix Arbenz-Caines

Communications Manager

Felix is Demos’ Communications Manager. He is responsible for planning and executing our communications strategies.

His background is in political communications, having previously worked for elected representatives in both Brussels and Westminster. He has a BA in History and Political Science from the University of Birmingham and an MA in Public Policy from King’s College London.

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Kate Harrison

Lead Researcher

Kate is a Lead Researcher at Demos. Her research interests include political participation, the welfare state and inequality.

Kate is nearing completion of a PhD in Politics at the University of Southampton, where she conducted mixed methods research into the effect of austerity on political participation. She has previously worked in the civil service as Private Secretary to the CEO and Chair of UK Research and Innovation and as a Lecturer at King’s College London.
Kate has a BA in Philosophy from the University of Warwick and an MSc in Governance and Policy from the University of Southampton
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Ellen Judson

Lead researcher

Ellen is a lead researcher at CASM, the digital research hub at Demos, where her work focuses on rights online and information environments.

She has worked on projects including investigating state-aligned gendered disinformation, the tactics of information operations, public attitudes to and experiences of technology, and protecting privacy and anonymity online. She leads CASM’s engagement with civil society on the UK Online Harms proposals.

Prior to joining Demos, she worked in campaigns for civilian protection in conflict zones, and in research and policy on mass atrocity prevention.

She holds an MA from UCL in Legal and Political Theory and a BA from the University of Cambridge in Philosophy

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Ciaran Cummins

Researcher

Ciaran is a researcher at Demos interested in deliberative democracy and the future of the web. Previously, he worked in investigative journalism and campaigning. Alongside this, he has documented the work of people facilitating philosophical discussion outside of academia at his site, The Public Life of the Mind. He holds an MSc from LSE in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences and a BA from UCL in Philosophy.

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Andrew Phillips

Researcher

Andrew is a Research Trainee at Demos, working on a range of topics including climate change and public services. His interests include citizen engagement, democratic innovation and long-term policymaking in government.

Prior to joining Demos, Andrew was a Research Assistant in the public services team at the Institute for Government. While at the Institute he worked on a project analysing devolved public services, focusing on comparative health care policy and performance in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. He has also worked as a researcher at a think tank in Cambridge, and as a tutor in ancient languages.

Andrew holds a BA in Classics from the University of Oxford.

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Amelia Stewart

Research Trainee

Amelia is a Research Trainee at Demos.

Before joining Demos, Amelia was Research Associate at the Adam Smith Institute, where she often wrote about feminist issues including sperm donation and CBD tampons. She later worked for a smaller Westminster-based think tank, The Entrepreneurs Network, where she researched and co-authored a paper on immigration and start-ups. Amelia has also worked as an English language teacher and a camp counsellor, and was Comment Editor at Cherwell, a student newspaper.

She holds a BA in French and Portuguese from the University of Oxford.

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Alice Dawson

Research and Policy trainee

Alice is a Research and Policy Trainee at Demos.

Previously, Alice was an intern with the Community Resilience Project at the British Red Cross where she used participatory approaches to enable communities in London to better cope in times of crisis. Additionally, she has volunteered as a social media coordinator and writer with the online political risk platform Global Risk Insights.

Her research interests include crime and policing, mental health, education, housing and community development

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Courtney Stephenson

Policy and Research Trainee

Courtney is a Policy and Research Trainee at Demos.

Before joining Demos, Courtney worked as a Policy and Data Analyst at the West Midlands Regional Economic Development Institute (WM REDI), where her work involved analysing the role of anchor institutions as employers in Birmingham. She has also worked as a Research Assistant for the Climate Justice and Social Policy Group, where she organised events and conducted research for one of the first efforts to comprehensively integrate climate change concerns across the discipline of social policy. She has written about various topics, including the fragmentation of poverty and ‘green’ jobs in the West Midlands.

Courtney has an LLB in Law with European Law from the University of Nottingham, a year of which was spent at Lund University, Sweden. She recently graduated with an MA in Global Public Policy (Distinction) from the University of Birmingham.

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Victoria Baines

Research and Policy Trainee

Victoria is a Research Trainee at Demos, based within CASM. Her interests span a range of issues covering content moderation and digital labour, datafication and blockchain technologies.

Previously, she has worked in a number of educational environments.

She holds both a BA in Liberal Arts with a Major in Comparative Literature and a Minor in German and an MA in Big Data in Culture and Society from King’s College London.

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David Weir

Technology Director, CASM

Prof David Weir is a Professor of Computer Science and co-director of the Text Analysis Group (taglaboratory.org). He has been on the editorial board of the Computational Linguistics journal, an area chair for several major natural language processing conferences, and the Principal Investigator on 3 EPSRC, 1 ESRC, 4 InnovateUK, 1 Police Knowledge Fund & 1 NSF project. His recent research includes work on lexical distributional similarity, approaches to the modeling of semantic composition in distributional models of meaning, dependency parsing, and domain adaptation.
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Sumaya Akthar

Events & Operations Coordinator

Sumaya is the Events & Operations Coordinator at Demos. She has a degree in Global Politics and International Relations, with a particular interest in foreign policy. Prior to joining Demos, Sumaya worked in Parliament for an MP.

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Kosta Marco Juri

Digital Content and Production Officer

Kosta Marco Juri is a Digital Content and Production Officer at Demos, ensuring Demos’s brand is applied with consistency across various media.

Kosta holds a BA in International and Diplomatic Studies from the University of Bologna and an MSc in Political Economy of Europe from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

He has also worked as a researcher and graphic designer at the Institute for Economic Democracy, a Slovenian-based NGO promoting employee ownership and workplace democracy.

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Jeremy Reffin

Implementation Director, CASM

Dr Jeremy Reffin is Implementation Director at Demos, responsible for the implementation of new technology to support the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media.
Jeremy is co-director of the Text Analysis Group (taglaboratory.org) at the University of Sussex. His focus is on applying natural language processing technology to solving real-world problems and in developing a new method of representing language in machines. He was formerly a partner at Apax Partners, the venture capital and private equity firm.
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Fellows +

Charles Seaford

Senior Fellow

Charles leads work on levelling up, climate change and tax at Demos. His book ‘Why Capitalists need Communists: the politics of flourishing’ was published by Palgrave in 2019. He was formerly Head of the Centre for Wellbeing at the New Economics Foundation, an advisor at the UK government Sustainable Development Commission and an organisational change consultant. He co-founded Prospect magazine and has an MBA from London Business School and a BA from Oxford.

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Jon Nash

Fellow

Jon leads the Combined Choice project at Demos.
Jon is a political scientist and software designer. He’s built technology companies and lead research projects in the US and UK. As co-founded of Mainstream, he developed a live video streaming platform with former Facebook and ABC executives, and went on to found Slight, an anonymous messaging service. His research focuses on developing an open standard for digital identity and modern methods of democratic decision making.
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Suzanne Alleyne

Fellow

Suzanne is a Cultural Thinker. She is the head of an eponymous cultural consultancy which combines commissioned partnerships with a cultural incubator. Her current work focuses on leadership, power, difference, and society. She is an inaugural Arts Council England Changemaker, a Fellow of the RSA, a Churchill Fellow, and the inaugural Co-Chair of What Next?. She holds an MA in Arts & Cultural Management from King’s College, London, where she is currently a visiting Research Associate and guest lecturer.

Previous to her work in the arts, Suzanne spent 25 years working across the commercial sector supporting and consulting for high profile international organisations and individuals. These include Barclaycard, Channel 4, Swatch, and Swiss Ski.

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Oliver Marsh

Fellow

Oliver researches and consults on the social impacts of data and tech policy.  He is the founder of The Data Skills Consultancy, which aims to ensure widespread understanding and good use of data.  He was previously in No10 Downing Street as a founding member of the UK Government’s Rapid Response Unit, and in the Cabinet Office as the first Teaching Fellow on the Accelerate Digital Skills programme.  He also worked on EU data transfers during the Brexit negotiations for DCMS, and helped created the UK government’s new data adequacy assessment capability.  He has conducted research into regulating technology as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and carried out social media analysis on political events and information warfare with CASM.   He is an Honorary Research Associate of the UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies, where he did his PhD on sociology of social media and also taught on numerous programmes including the interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts and Sciences.

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Associates and Contributors +

Tom Pollard

Associate

Tom has worked in mental health policy for over ten years. Starting out in Parliament as a researcher for an MP who chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health Tom then moved to Mind, where he held a number of roles in Policy and Campaigns, eventually becoming manager of the Social Inclusion and Rights team. During his time at Mind he worked on a range of issues, including debt, access to justice and employment, but had a particular focus on benefits and back-to-work support. Through this work, he was asked by the Department for Work and Pensions to join on secondment to advise on mental health across a range of policy issues.
After 18 months at the DWP, Tom decided to gain some front-line experience and is now training as a Mental Health Social Worker. However, he remains involved in policy discussions around mental health and social security.
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Trustees +

Dame Julie Mellor DBE

Chair of Trustees

Julie was appointed Chair of Demos in September 2018.

She is also Chair of the Young Foundation –  putting people at the heart of social change – and the Federation of Industry Sector Skills and Standards. She is a Trustee of Involve, the public participation charity.

Following a career in business with Shell, TSB and British Gas, she became Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission from 1999-2005 and then a partner at PwC. From 2012-2017 Julie was Chair of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. She has served as a non-executive board member at a number of organisations including: Nesta, the national innovation body; the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Commission for Racial Equality.

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Campbell Robb

Trustee

Campbell is the current CEO of Nacro, a national social justice charity with more than 50 years’ experience of changing lives, building stronger communities and reducing crime. Nacro house, educate, support, advise, and speak out for and with disadvantaged young people and adults. Before joining Nacro, he was the CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust from January 2017. There he steered the organisation through a significant change and reform programme, introducing an outcome-focused approach to change, new values and focus on working alongside those with lived experience of poverty.

Before this Campbell was the Chief Executive of Shelter for seven years. As Chief Executive, he led the organisation through one of the most challenging periods in its history. This included building a sustainable, fundable model of integrated advice and support that is helping more clients than ever before, a growth in independent income and leading the organisation’s response to some of the biggest changes to housing and welfare policy in generations.

Prior to joining Shelter, Campbell was the first Director General of the Office of the Third Sector, an adviser to The Treasury and was previously Director of Public Policy at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).

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Amanda Mukwashi

Trustee

Amanda Khozi Mukwashi has devoted more than 25 years to working on poverty alleviation, tackling injustice and inequalities. She has worked in both intergovernmental and non-governmental spaces, bringing in-depth experience from across the development sector. She is the Chief Executive Officer of Christian Aid, leading development and humanitarian interventions in Africa, Asia & the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean. Amanda has also served with the United Nations under the United Nations Volunteer programme in Germany, as Chief, Volunteer Knowledge and Innovation and Chief of Advisory Services.
Prior to this, she worked for VSO International, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa in Zambia and for the UNFPA Zambia Country support programme on Gender, Population and Development. She has served as a trustee for Bond and as President of Akina Mama wa Afrika. Amanda is also a Trustee on the Board of the UK Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC).
Amanda is a published author. But Where Are You Really From? is her first book. She has a Master’s degree in International Economic Law from the University of Warwick and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Zambia.
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Tilly McAuliffe

Trustee

Tilly McAuliffe, Trustee, is the founder of the Think Media Group, which comprises a customer publishing agency Think Publishing, a book publishing company Think Books and the travel media brand, Wanderlust. 20 years old this year, the group has enjoyed consistent independent growth and employs over 100 people in London and Glasgow.
Tilly is the recipient of the Individual Achievement Award from the Professional Publishers Association and Think itself is a three time recipient of the PPA Independent Publishing Company of the Year. Tilly is also co-owner and non-executive director of Welbeck Publishing Group (formerly Carlton Books). Outside of work, Tilly is the Chair of the Liberal Democrat Business & Entrepreneurs Network and sits on the Development Board of the National Youth Theatre. Tilly has two children and two dogs and lives in North West London. Tilly chairs the Fundraising Committee.

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Mohammed Aziz

Trustee

Dr Mohammed Aziz, has worked as a teacher, policy officer and lawyer. He was the founding CEO/Director of the Forum Against Islamophobia & Racism (2000-3), the British Muslim Research Centre (2003-5) and the Aziz Foundation (2015-18). He served as a Commissioner at the Commission for Racial Equality (2003-7) and the Equal Opportunities Commission (2005-7); and on the Commission for Equality & Human Rights Taskforce and Steering Group (2003-6) and the TUC’s Commission on Vulnerable Employment (2006-8). He was elected Chair of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) for 2007-10 and Vice-Chair of the Equality and Diversity Forum for 2010-14. During this period, he was also a Director of FaithWise Ltd and a Consultant Senior Advisor to the UK Government on Race, Faith & Integration (2004-11). Dr Aziz was a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University (2010-12), Director of the Centre for Policy and Public Education at the Woolf Institute, Cambridge (2012-15), an Associate Member of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge (2013-15); and sat on two national Honours Committees at the request of the Cabinet Office (2005-11). Between 2013-16, he set up and led the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life.

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James Wise

Trustee

James Wise, Trustee, is a partner at Balderton Capital, the largest early stage venture capital firm in Europe, where he invests in new technologies focussed on productivity & healthcare. He sits on the board of 8 companies, spanning sectors from genomics and cybersecurity to sustainable clothing marketplaces.

Prior to joining Balderton, James helped to launch and run one of the UK’s first social venture funds, the Social Business Trust and in 2011 he served as a Specialist Adviser to Parliament on Social Enterprise and Charity. James studied at Oxford University and Manchester Grammar School. In 2019 he was mentioned as amongst the top 100 most influential people in European technology by Business Insider. James sits on the Finance and Risk Committee.

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Ian Corfield

Trustee

Ian Corfield, Trustee, is currently Chief Commercial Officer New Day, one of the largest issuers of credit cards in the UK. Prior to this Ian was at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, where he was CEO and a Board Director of its majority owned Aussie Home Loans subsidiary for 6 years, having previously been CEO of the Retail and then Business Bank at Bankwest. Ian chairs the Finance and Risk Committee.

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Alex Dawson

Trustee

Alex Dawson works at Global Counsel, a strategic advisory firm which supports companies, investors, government agencies and civil society organisations on questions of public policy and regulation. He leads the company’s UK politics and policy practice. Before joining Global Counsel, he worked for over a decade in Westminster and Whitehall as a special adviser to Theresa May and David Cameron in Downing Street, and as the Director of Research and Policy for the Conservative Party. He regularly contributes to policy debates in the media, including in The Times, British GQ and on broadcast.

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Marcial Boo

Trustee

Marcial Boo is chief executive of the UK’s Public Health Register, that regulates public health workers, and the executive chair of the Institute for Regulation, the UK’s professional body for regulators. He was previously chief executive of IPSA, the regulator of MPs, and a director at the NAO and Audit Commission. He was a senior civil servant at the Home Office and the Department of Education, leading work on crime reduction, counter-terrorism, adult basic skills, and sixth form funding. He has written a book, The Public Sector Fox, to help improve the skills of public sector managers. He is an advisor to the University of Bath’s Institute of Public Policy and the African Caribbean Education Network.

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Advisory Board +

Jamie Susskind

Advisory Board Member

Jamie Susskind is a barrister and the author of the award-winning bestseller Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech (Oxford University Press, 2018), which received the Estoril Global Issues Distinguished Book Prize 2019, and was an Evening Standard and Prospect Book of the Year. With fellowships at Harvard and Cambridge, the Evening Standard has written that Jamie “could be one of the great public intellectual rock stars of our time.” Jamie speaks around the world about politics and technology, and appears regularly on the media.

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Anand Menon

Advisory Board Member

Professor Anand Menon is director of academic think tank The UK in a Changing
Europe. (www.ukandeu.ac.uk). He’s also professor of European Politics and Foreign
Affairs at Kings College London. He is co-author of Brexit and British Politics and co-
editor of the Oxford Handbook of the European Union.

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Cat Tully

Advisory Board Member

Cat Tully is the founder of the School of International Futures (SOIF): practitioners in planning, strategy, and policy for future generations.  She advises on and teaches emergent strategy, system stewardship and strategic foresight internationally, including at the UN where she sits on the UN Learning Advisory Council for the 2030 Agenda.

Prior to this, Cat was Strategy Project Director at the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Senior Policy Adviser in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit.

Cat has degrees from Cambridge and Princeton Universities. She is a Trustee of the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development (FDSD); a Global Board member of Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP); and a member of the Advisory Board for the British Foreign Policy Group (BFPG).

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Deborah Mattinson

Advisory Board Member

Deborah Mattinson is a Founding Director at BritainThinks, a research agency that puts the people that matter to its clients at the heart of their thinking. Through its work for businesses like McDonald’s, Lloyds Bank and LinkedIn, for charities like Shelter and Joseph Rowntree Foundation and government and local government BritainThinks, and its international arm WorldThinks provides research based strategic advice.

Before co founding Britain Thinks, she jointly ran the Chime Research and Engagement Division. She was also pollster to Gordon Brown, firstly as Chancellor of the Exchequer, then as Prime Minister. One of Britain’s leading commentators on public opinion, Deborah frequently writes and broadcasts about the mood of the nation. In 2010, she published Talking to a Brick Wall – the story of the New Labour years through the eyes of the voter. She is currently working on a book about the Red Wall.

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Geoff Mulgan

Advisory Board Member

Geoff Mulgan CBE is Professor of Collective Intelligence, Public Policy and Social Innovation at University College London (UCL), starting in February 2020.  Prior to that he was Chief Executive of Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation (an endowment which grew in worth to around £450m) between 2011 and the end of 2019.   Between 1997 and 2004 Geoff had roles in the UK government including director of the Government’s Strategy Unit and head of policy in the Prime Minister’s office.   From 2004 to 2011 he was the first Chief Executive of The Young Foundation. He was the first director of the think-tank Demos; and has been a reporter on BBC TV and radio.

He has a PhD in telecommunications and has been a visiting professor at London School of Economics (LSE), University College London (UCL) and Melbourne University, a senior visiting scholar at Harvard University and President of the Innovation Design Department at the Italian University for Design (IAAD) in Turin.   He has also been a regular lecturer at the China Executive Leadership Academy.

Geoff has helped found many organisations including Demos, the Young Foundation, the Social Innovation Exchange (SIX), Uprising, Studio Schools Trust, Action for Happiness, the Alliance for Useful Evidence, States of Change, Learn Direct, TACSI, Maslaha and Nesta Italia.  He has co-chaired a World Economic Forum group looking at innovation and entrepreneurship in the fourth industrial revolution.

He has advised many governments, foundations and companies, chairs an international advisory committee for the Mayor of Seoul and sits on advisory committees for the Prime Minister’s office in the United Arab Emirates, the Scottish Government and SITRA, the Finnish innovation agency.  He will be a World Economic Forum Schwab Fellow from 2019-22.  He has pioneered many ideas used by governments and civil society – including joined-up government, anticipatory regulation, experimentalism, social impact bonds, open innovation and creative economy strategies (these are covered in more detail in the ‘ideas’ section on this site).

Geoff’s books include ‘The Art of Public Strategy’ (Oxford University Press), ‘Good and Bad Power’ (Penguin), ‘The Locust and the Bee’ (Princeton University Press) and ‘Big Mind: how collective intelligence can change our world’ (Princeton University Press).  His latest book – on social innovation – was published in late 2019 by Policy Press.  His books have been translated into many languages including – Chinese, Arabic, Korean, Russian, Malay, Italian, Punjabi, Turkish and Greek.

Geoff has given TED talks on the future economy, happiness and education (these and others can be found in the videos section of this site).

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