Simon Parkinson is the CEO and General Secretary of the WEA. Simon joined the WEA from Co-operative College where he was Principle and CEO for 4 years and previously worked for 19 years at the Royal Mencap Society, including as Director of Education, Learning and Work.

Passionate about education and its ability to empower and inspire, Simon believes that through working together, individuals can have a hugely positive impact on their own lives and the wider community.

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WEA President Pat Kynaston has always been passionate about learning, both as a necessity to improve someone’s prospects but also for the pleasure of learning for its own sake. Pat first became involved with WEA in 1993 and has held voluntary roles every year since. Pay says 'WEA members and volunteers have always been the lifeblood of the organisation and I see a significant part of the President’s role as representing the volunteers to ensure that they continue to be valued within the organisation. I intend to support the drive to revitalise their role in making the WEA as relevant and vital in the 21st century as it was at the start of the 20th'.

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Chair of WEA Board of Trustees since July 2018, John Widdowson began his career as a lawyer but has worked in Further and Higher Education for nearly forty years, the last twenty two of which have been as Principal and Chief Executive of New College Durham.

In addition to his roles in colleges across the country, John has played a leading role in a number of national educational bodies including the Further Education National Consortium and the Mixed Economy Group of Colleges. He has been a Board member and President of the Association of Colleges and was a member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

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Professor Rebecca Ferguson is Professor of Learning Futures in the Institute of Educational Technology (IET) at The Open University in the UK, and a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her primary research interests are educational futures and how people learn together online. She has worked on the Innovating Pedagogy Reports since the series was founded in 2012, including two years as lead author. She was an executive member of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) for four years and remains a leading member of the international learning analytics community. Her work has been influential in shaping the field, supporting implementation across Europe, and promoting a focus on social learning analytics and on ethics. Rebecca is also Academic Lead of the international FutureLearn Academic Network, linking academics from over 170 partner institutions around the world, and helping to develop a focused research agenda. Rebecca’s books include Augmented Education, published by Palgrave, and Educational Visions: The Lessons from 40 Years of Innovation, published by Ubiquity and available openly online. For more details, see her blog at https://r3beccaf.wordpress.com/

 

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Dr Helen Lockett 
Dr Helen Lockett is Director of the OpenSTEM Labs, the Open University’s remote and onscreen laboratories that allow STEM students to access cutting-edge equipment and data wherever they are. 
Helen is also a Senior Lecturer in Engineering and undertakes academic research in design for manufacture. She has worked closely with the aerospace industry over many years to apply additive manufacturing to the production of structural aircraft parts.   Helen is a Chartered Engineer, Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is also a STEM Ambassador and works with local schools to encourage young people to consider careers in engineering. 

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Dr Suki Finn is a Lecturer in Philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her areas of research span the philosophy of logic, metaphysics, the philosophy of science, metaphilosophy, applied philosophy, feminism, and epistemology. She has recently been working on the topic of pregnancy and gender. Suki has published in various philosophy journals, edited book collections, and in the online magazine Aeon. She is the editor of Women of Ideas published with Oxford University Press which is a collection of Philosophy Bites interviews with women, and is currently writing an illustrated introduction to metaphysical and logical puzzles using food examples which will be published by Icon. She is represented by her agent Ben Clark at the Soho Agency in London. Suki is a University and College Union representative, and is on the Executive Committee for the Society for Women in Philosophy UK and the Council for the Royal Institute of Philosophy. In her other life Suki is a musician with music signed to Universal and Ninja Tunes.

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Bettina Lange is an experienced Philosophy tutor with the WEA and a political philosopher. Her research focusses on applying philosophical ideas about social justice  to ‘real world’ issues, especially transport. She has presented at a number of academic conferences. 

In her work at the Campaign for Better Transport and CPRE she has – with some success – been trying to influence government policy so that it tackles climate change and other environmental issues.   

She also tries to lead a low-carbon life, has for example never had a car.

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Lucy Hewes graduated with a fashion degree, following her passions for fashion and natural creativity skills. The degree brought together two worlds which Lucy enjoyed – creative and technical. Inspired, Lucy went on to do a Masters in Design and leapt straight into building a business, The Sewing Project, whilst giving some time over to her other passion – teaching. Lucy says she feels honoured to be surrounded by enthusiastic WEA students. She’s passionate about supporting them to develop their skills and achieve their goals. Earlier this year Lucy was awarded the WEA Tutor of the year for digitally innovative teaching. When lockdown hit, Lucy jumped online and found new digital tools to help her demonstrate her craft effectively in a virtual classroom. Many of these tools and techniques will continue to feature in her teaching, even with the return to face-to-face and in person tutorials.

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James Clarke 

James has been a tutor with WEA since 2015. He also works as a lecturer on the newly established, distance-learning MA in Screenwriting at the University of Gloucestershire. He is also a Visiting Lecturer on the MA Screenwriting programme at the London Film School. James is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and serves as Chief External Examiner to the School of Art, Media and Design at Birmingham City University. James's writing has been published in Empire, 3D World, Country Life, Country Walking, Landscape and Resurgence magazines amongst other outlets. 

James studied Film and Literature at the University of Warwick (1993) and pursued postgraduate study in Film and Television Production at the University of Bristol (1994). He has taught at the University of Warwick, the University of Sussex amongst other HE institutions and has worked as a course leader of filmmaking degrees at Hereford College of Art and SAE Institute in London. He has been a guest speaker at Kellogg College, Oxford; the BFI and at the British Council.