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MEET OUR ACCOMPLISHED INTERNATIONAL GUEST SPEAKERS

 
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JUNAID ASHRAF

Councillor for Cumbernauld South

Junaid Ashraf is an experienced advocate for youth empowerment and has represented Cumbernauld as a Councillor since 2017. Starting his career as a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Junaid launched the “Care. Fair. Share.” campaign to increase support for young carers across Scotland. He then focused on promoting mental health awareness and created a successful youth forum. As an environmental enthusiast, Junaid attended the United Nations COP22 environmental conference in Morocco and has advocated for the climate change emergency to be declared within his local authority. He has also used his position as a Councillor to support poverty action groups, deaf service organisations and BAME sports youth groups. Junaid has led on equalities campaigns nationally and has previously volunteered as a trustee of Equal Scotland. His career has led him to represent Scotland in Rwanda as part of an interfaith program, attend the U.S. Embassy’s Young Leader’s exchange program in Washington D.C. and advocate in the House of Commons for 16-year-olds to vote in all UK elections.

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ROBERT MYLES

Actor Writer Director

Robert Myles (robmyles.co.uk) is an actor-writer-director and creative consultant, creator of The Shakespeare Deck and co-creator of The Show Must Go Online, while moonlighting as an historical adventure novelist. His specialism is in Shakespeare, which he both performs and directs, as well as offering products and workshops to help people engage meaningfully with his work. When not working in theatre, Robert offers creative support to innovation projects, including new product development, branding and claims, and capabilities. In 2020, he directed 37 plays in 36 weeks, working with over 500 actors and creatives from 60 countries. 

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CLARE ENGLISH

Veteran BBC broadcaster and events host

Clare has been working in journalism for over thirty years, spending the majority of her career as a prime time radio presenter for BBC Scotland. She also worked for BBC Radio Four for six years where she presented the drive time news programme PM. When she first started out in journalism, all eyes were on South Africa and Nelson Mandela and the ANC’s struggle against apartheid. It made a huge impression on Clare and her young BBC colleagues at that time. She is a non exec on the board of Women’s Enterprise Scotland and her broadcasting skills are regularly maintained hosting live events at the Edinburgh Festival, the Edinburgh Book festival, TEDxGlasgow and a variety of other cultural events around the country. She has recently produced and presented podcasts- Ripples. Above all, Clare loves to use her experience to tell people’s stories.

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GRACE KERMANI

Strategy & Ops, Google

Based in Palo Alto California, Grace has led global, cross-functional teams navigate complex environments at some of the world’s foremost technology companies, including Google, Facebook, British Telecom and Samsung Electronics. She has a passion for leading-edge technology innovation, especially in emerging markets, and has shaped strategies and set up infrastructure to establish new businesses. Her professional journey has taken her across continents twice, starting out in Asia, moving to Europe and more recently to North America, where she is currently living and working in Silicon Valley. 

Her academic achievements include an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Masters in International Business and Emerging Markets from the University of Edinburgh, and an MS in Computer Science from India. She was recently recognized as one of University of Edinburgh Business School’s Alumni 100 List.She was recently recognized as one of University of Edinburgh Business School’s Alumni 100 List.

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GERALD RICHARDS

CEO of the Super Power Agency

Gerald Richards is the CEO of the Super Power Agency (superpoweragency.com). He is also the founder at B & G, a new consulting firm based in London and Edinburgh helping organisations and individuals flourish through creativity, coaching, organisational development and storytelling. From 2010 – 2017, Gerald was the CEO of 826 National, where he led the strategic direction, administration and building of resources for the network of affiliate organisations located in eight US cities, as well the establishment of affiliates in additional US and international cities. With more than twenty-five years of management and development experience at local and national nonprofit organisations, Gerald is a respected trainer and sought after speaker on topics of youth development, writing, creativity, and education access. Gerald was awarded the 2016 News Corp Community Hero Award and is a fellow in the Pahara-Aspen Institute Education Fellowship. Originally from Harlem, NYC, Gerald has a BA in Film Studies from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Dr Rosemary King

DR. ROSEMARY KING

Award-winning Speechwriter

Rose has served as a speechwriter and speech coach for national leaders in the charitable community, across the private sector, and at the highest levels of US government. Career highlights include serving as a speechwriter for the Secretary of Defense, 4-star generals, Members of Congress, CEOs, and nationally-recognized journalists. She served 24 years in the Air Force, including six at the Pentagon, and holds degrees from both Arizona State University and Harvard. Rose’s work has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times and USA Today. Rose is the author of Border Confluences (University of Arizona Press, 2004) and numerous literary articles and book reviews. Rose serves on the Advisory Board of the Professional Speechwriters Association. When not reading or writing, you'll find Rose at the local hockey rink teaching girls about a game she loves and the life lessons she's learned from playing sports.

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PETER HAAS

TED Senior Fellow

Peter Haas (https://PeterHaas.co) is the Associate Director of the Brown University Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative where he works in research on AR, VR and MR interfaces for robots, social robotics for the elderly, autonomous vehicle crashes, UAV teaching platforms, and Moral norms in AI. He is a competitor in the Avatar X-prize to develop VR controlled robotic Avatars. He was the Co-Founder and COO of XactSense, a UAV manufacturer working on LIDAR mapping. Prior to XactSense, Peter founded AIDG – a small hardware enterprise accelerator in Haiti and Guatemala. AIDG did design for extreme affordability work and provided seed funding to local entrepreneurs. Peter received both TED and Echoing Green fellowships. He has been a speaker at TED Global, The World Bank, Harvard University and other venues. He holds a Philosophy B.A. from Yale.

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LEONOOR RUSSELL

Senior Speechwriter

​Leonoor Russell is a senior speechwriter at the Netherlands Ministry of Defence. In this capacity she writes speeches for the Minister, State Secretary and Chief of Defence. In the past, Leonoor worked as speechwriter to the President of the Dutch Senate. So far, one of her professional highlights has been a speech that was delivered in a stadium of three thousand people, accompanied by an orchestra of 200 military musicians. In her work, Leonoor tries to find creative ways of capturing an audience’s attention and to make as many puns as humanly possible.

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DAN SOBOVITZ

Public Speaker and Moderator, Founder of spreadable.io

Dan had joined the cabinet of the Vice President of the European Commission in 2015 as a speechwriter. While crafting the language became his new responsibility; finding the right technological platforms to communicate - quickly became his new passion. He found himself on a wild digital ride, moderating live interactive interviews from a self-driving car or a solar plane crossing the Atlantic, VR of EU satellites shot into space, crowdsourcing live EU policies among youthclimate activists, or even space scientists through digital platforms, using smartphones for live voting at EU startup pitching competitions, and more.  reviously, Dan had worked on large-scale digital campaigns with various international organisations, such as the EU Humanitarian Aid Dept. (DG ECHO), OCHA, UNICEF, UNESCO, the Slovak EU Presidency, and others. In the field of tech, Dan presents and moderates events (Viva Tech, EU Startup Prize for Mobility, Huawei Academia Salon, Beautiful Software Awards, FEM Smart Logistics Challenge, Crowdsourcing Week, Tincon and more). He also blogs and lectures about the interplay between technology, society, and politics. In 2019 Dan moved from Brussels to Berlin with his husband and their two children.

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OLOF GILL

Speechwriter

Olof Gill is the European Commission Speechwriter for Trade and Investment Policy. In this role, he writes speeches and provides strategic communications advice to Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and Director-General Sabine Weyand. An Irish-Swede, he is a passionate advocate for the European Union, having previously worked for the Irish government and in the European Parliament. He holds a Master’s Degree from University College Cork, and spent time studying in Sciences-Po Paris and the University of Maine, USA. In his spare time, he enjoys ballad-singing, hiking, and paddling his kayak: anything to distract from the horror of Brexit and other populist misadventures.

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JULES JOHNSTON

Senior News Editor of The Brussels Times

Jules Johnston is a journalist, senior news editor of the Brussels Times, and a fan of talking in general. After years of bouncing around jobs in the Brussels Bubble, he grew tired of policy, realising he was far more passionate about making sure people saw the news directly applicable to their lives. In his work, he helps set the tone for the publication, working alongside reporters to identify areas relevant to the international community in Belgium and beyond. Jules would always rather the news felt like a good conversation, something you come away from understanding more that you did before, not feeling like you received a lecture from an elitist friend.

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LAUREN CURRIE OBE

CEO of Stride and Founder of UPFRONT

Lauren Currie OBE is the CEO of Stride; on a mission to democratise leadership development. She is the Founder of UPFRONT; on a mission to change confidence. Lauren is a Trustee of the Design Council and Pregnant Then Screwed. In 2017, Lauren was awarded an OBE for her services to design and diversity.