Race Equality In Nature: The Next Gen 13-30 – Speaker Biographies

Race Equality In Nature: The Next Gen 13-30 – Speaker Biographies

Speakers’ Bio

Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor of Bristol

Asher has over 30 years experience as a community activist, leader, management consultant and now politician. She has championed the needs of the voiceless, with a particular emphasis on the social-economic development of BME and under-represented communities. She has led and chaired a number of major partnerships and organisations at local, regional and national level and has worked in the field of employment & training, education & skills, recruitment, advocacy, equality & diversity within local government and third sector.

Asher was elected as the Labour Councillor for the ward of St George West, Bristol in May 2016 and was appointed to the Cabinet with the wide-reaching portfolio of Neighbourhoods in August 2016. In March 2017 Asher was asked to step into the new created role of Deputy Mayor for Communities, bringing into & elevating the issue of Public Health as part of this new portfolio.

Beccy Speight, CEO RSPB

The RSPB’s new Chief Executive is Beccy Speight, who was previously Chief Executive at the Woodland Trust where she has been Chief Executive since 2014. At the Woodland Trust Beccy successfully led a period of significant re-focus and expansion, growing income by over 35 per cent. Beccy oversaw the development and implementation of a ten-year strategy which has raised the profile of the Woodland Trust, built many new partnerships and developed a great leadership team, supported by more effective structures and a new culture. Prior to this Beccy worked for the National Trust for 14 years, most recently as Director for the Midlands region.

Chris Packham CBE, Naturalist & TV Presenter & Activist

Extraordinarily creative and prolific, Chris Packham has led a remarkable life. He’s gained recognition as a naturalist, television presenter, writer, photographer, conservationist, campaigner and filmmaker.

As a broadcaster, he is a presenter of BBC’s BAAFTA Award winning Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch series. He presents notable natural history series such as Nature’s Weirdest Events, World’s Weirdest Events, World’s Sneakiest Animals, Cats V Dogs, The Burrowers, Inside the Animal Mind, Operation Iceberg and Secrets of our Living Planet. He was featured in The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC – US) where he introduced Jimmy to a Porcupine and baby spotted Hyena, and sent a Black Vulture flying to him as he stood in the audience.

Critical Acclaim

In May 2016 Chris’s autobiography, ’Fingers in the Sparkle Jar: A Memoir’, was released to critical acclaim, reaching number 1 in The Sunday Times Bestsellers in just 2 weeks. It was featured as a Radio 4 ‘Book of the Week, read by Chris.

Critics said it was ‘Astonishing… brilliantly written’, ‘… a flickering vat of life itself. A brilliant and remarkable book.’ ‘It’s bold and beautiful, both raw and lyrical, and a rather special book.’


Councillor Cleo Lake, Bristol Green Party

With a background in social justice activism, arts and culture, I was elected in 2016 to represent the ward of Cotham. It has been an incredible experience attending BCR partnership meetings and supporting residents with queries and community projects where I can. In addition to my ward work, I am also a go-to person for members of our diverse communities. I was particularly active with regards to the ‘Windrush Scandal’ a shocking and heartbreaking situation affecting longstanding community elders and others. I do my best to empower others to engage with local issues and take action. I am passionate about ‘de-colonising’ Bristol and was active with the Countering Colston movement which successfully intervened and got powerful institutions to question their ongoing celebrations of Edward Colston.

Dr Emmanuel Adukwu, Senior Lecturer Biomedical Sciences, UWE Bristol

Emmanuel Adukwu is a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science within the Department of Applied Sciences. Prior to joining UWE in 2013, Emmanuel worked in other academic roles at Coventry University College and the University of Northampton. He carried out his PhD studies investigating Community-acquired infections at the University of Northampton under the guidance of Professor Carol Phillips. Emmanuel, before embarking on his PhD worked at ICON Plc, a multinational organisation and a key global player in the clinical research and drug development sector where he coordinated several clinical trial projects for major global biopharma organisations.

Emmanuel between 2014 and 2016 was Senior Lecturer and Module Leader on the Public Health Protection and Leadership in Public Health at UWE. He has supervised several MSc projects in Public Health in the areas of attitudes to antibiotic usage and global infectious diseases.

Emmanuel is currently leading on employability within the department as well as widening participation where he is actively engaged with developing and managing projects to increase the diversity of staff and students at the University.

Emmanuel is also the coordinator of the Africa Staff Network and creator of the Africa Week event.

Eric Heath, Head of Land Management, Avon Wildlife Trust

Eric grew up in inner London and was always fascinated by nature. He studied zoology at Bristol which despite the cultural shock this is Bristol University resulted in a love of Bristol City. Over the last 15 years, he has worked variously as an arboriculturalist and a consultant ecologist. During this time he spent many happy years developing an expertise in veteran trees and attempting to integrate ecological principles into developments like the Olympic Park in London and wind farms in the Outer Hebrides. He joined Avon Wildlife Trust in 2017 as the Head of Land Management, where he now takes responsibility for their suite of nature reserves and living landscape projects as well as providing a lead on the Wild Path programme.

Gene Joyner, MD Better Food Company

Gene had been MD at Bristol’s Better Food Co for a year, before that leading many other similar organisations sector. He is from Bristol and was previously Chair of St Paul’s Carnival Committee and recently won Gold and Bronze medals at European Badminton Championships (Masters). Gene lives in the Compton Martin in the Chew Valley south of Bristol, in the same village as Mya-Rose.

Dr Lyn Newton, Head of Department Applied Sciences, UWE 

I started my scientific career working as a Medical Laboratory Scientific Officer at Leicester Royal Infirmary. After a number of years, I changed scientific direction to follow my lifetime interest in marine life. After obtaining a BSc in Marine Biology from Newcastle University I continued my academic studies at Napier University, Scotland with an MSc Biology of Water Resource Management and my PhD on the effects of natural and induced stress on echinoderms. I moved to Bristol in 1997 as a post-doc to research the changes in fish communities of the Severn Estuary. More recent research projects have continued this theme and focus onto the long-term changes in the plankton communities of the Severn Estuary. I have expanded my research interest to examine the long-term resilience of coral reef communities, through a collaboration with the University of Havana. My current PhD students are examining seagrass communities in Greece, and the role of eDNA in protecting common eel populations.

After being appointed as a Lecturer in Environmental Biology I progressed to become programme cluster leader for environmental programmes before taking up the position of Associate Head of Department for the Biological and Environmental Sciences and Science Communication. I have recently worked as the external examiner for the MSc Ecological Assessment delivered by the University of Cork, Ireland. I am the partnership lead for Bristol Zoo Gardens. Despite my recent appointment to Head of Department of Applied Sciences, I keep my hand in teaching UG and PG students and help with the department expeditions, as I believe it is important to maintain contact with students to ensure an excellent student experience.

Lara Lalemi, Student Bristol University & organiser of BME in STEM 2019 conference

Lara Lalemi is currently studying a Postgraduate research student in Chemistry with a keenness to contribute to novelscientific research.

As an A-level student, Lara Lalemi was all too aware of the lack of role models in her chosen field of chemistry. Not letting this hold her back, she set out to be what she couldn’t see in the industry, instigating change from within. Now working towards her Chemistry PhD at the University of Bristol, Lara is passionate about making STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects accessible to all and improving diversity in the sector.

She is one of a number of women in Bristol breaking the mould and making their way in what remains a very male-dominated field.


Mohammed Dhalech, Associate Director Centre for Public Policy Research & Rural Mosaic

Council Member Campaign for National Parks (CPN), Community Champion Mosaic (CPN) Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and YHA

Chair Mosaic National Network, Associate Director (Community Engagement and Social Media, Centre for Policy, Partnerships and Research

Mohammed Saddiq, MD GENeco & Chair Bristol Green Capital Partnership

Mohammed is the Managing Director of Wessex Water Operations and Enterprises. He has held a number of senior engineering and management positions in the Water and Waste Industry over the past 20 years. His current portfolio of group directorships includes the Managing Director of Wessex Water Operations and Enterprises, Managing Director of the waste recycling and renewable energy company GENeco and Managing Director of Swiss Combi Technology (Switzerland).

Mohammed is an Associate Fellow of the Institute of Chemical Engineers, Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Chartered Member of the Institution of Environmental Sciences. In 2012 he was awarded the Institute of Directors South West Corporate Responsibility Director the Year. In 2015 GENeco was the winner of The Guardian Sustainable Business Awards and in 2017 was the Institute of Chemical Engineers Global Award Winner for Sustainability.

He is the Independent Chair of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership CIC, Trustee at Penny Brohn Cancer Care, Council member at Bristol University, Governor at Colston’s Girls’ School, Board member at the Local Enterprise Partnership, member of the West of England Combined Authority Infrastructure Advisory Board and Non Executive Director at Industrial Phycology.

Dr Mark Steer, Lecturer, Applied Sciences, UWE

Mark is a practical conservation biologist who works closely with other practitioners to answer questions of direct importance to conservation organisations, industrial stakeholders and volunteer organisations. His interests lie in the conservation and restoration of ecological processes in the UK and, nascently, Madagascar and the Arabian peninsula.

His current research interests include the use of eDNA techniques in the targeted survey of particular species and groups. These include a happily diverse bag of species from European eels and noble pen shells to brown bears and lemurs.

Other interests include the potential for new technologies in monitoring change and altering land use; the impacts of agriculture on ecosystem services and biodiversity and ecological networks.

He leads UWE’s fantastic new MSc in Advanced Wildlife Conservation in Practice as well as teaching on a number of undergraduate degrees principally BSc Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science and BSc Environmental Science.


Mya-Rose Craig, President Black2Nature & environmental and race activist

Mya-Rose Craig is a 17-year-old British Bangladeshi naturalist, environmentalist and writes the Birdgirl blog http://birdgirluk.blogspot.com. She was a Bristol European Green Capital 2015 Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and was listed with George Ezra and Maisie Williams as Bristol’s most influential young people.

She has organised two Race Equality in Nature Conferences investigating getting Visible Minority Ethnic (VME) people engaged with nature and making the sector ethnically diverse. She has organised 9 nature camps for children and teenagers, written lots of articles, given talks and appeared in the media. She was on a panel about Sustainable Future Cities with George Monbiot and Caroline Lucas. She was a Minister in Chris Packham’s People’s Manifesto for Wildlife, speaking at his People’s Walk for Wildlife in front of 10,000 people in Hyde Park, has had meetings at Downing Street and was listed as one of Bristol’s BME top 100 power list in 2019.

Mya-Rose is also involved in Youth Strikes, Youth for our Planet highlighting issues with biodiversity and species extinction and has set up a local Extinction Rebellion group.

Peter Venn – Programme Leader MA Wildlife Film

Based at Bower Ashton, Peter is the programme leader of the MA Wildlife Film, producing many graduates into Bristol’s wildlife film-making sector. The city is the headquarters of the BBC Natural History Unit and also the base for large independent players in the nature film arena such as Silverback Films, Plimsoll Prods., True to Nature, Tigress Prods., Off the Fence, Keo Films and Icon Films. Top production and post-production houses in the area that cater to the genre include Films@59, Evolutions and Big Bang.

Peter also oversees the Department scholarship for minority ethnic students sponsored by the Stephen Lawrence Trust.

Stephen Corry, CEO Survival International

Stephen Corry, born in Malaysia in 1951, works for the self-determination of indigenous peoples and the protection of their lands. He has no formal training, but joined the NGO Survival International as a volunteer in 1972 and became its CEO in 1984. He has conducted fieldwork with tribal peoples in South America, East and southern Africa, and India. In 2011, he wrote the book Tribal Peoples for Tomorrow’s World as an introduction to the subject for lay readers. The book explains who tribal peoples are, how they live and why their disappearance is far from inevitable. He is currently writing a series of articles exploring how conservation initiatives can harm tribes. His work is dedicated to countering negative stereotypes and promoting the fact that tribal peoples live in today’s world, and are our contemporaries, not relics of an ancient past. He believes that they have their own ways of making the world a better place and rejects notions that they are backward, which he believes are based on prejudice and ignorance.

Tim Scoones, Independent Consultant in Media, Conservation and Public Engagement
Tim Scoones is an Ex Executive Producer at the BBC Natural History Unit being responsive for Springwatch, Autumn Watch, Winterwatch, Springwatch Unsprung, Nature’s Weirdest Events, Big Blue Live and Planet Earth Live.
“As the executive producer of Springwatch, if anyone can call themselves a ‘green person’ it is probably me. But sustainability isn’t a niche topic; keeping your family alive, happy and healthy is something that anyone can understand and that is precisely what sustainability is about. Across the broadcast industry we’ve yet to act on this realisation, however, considering the operational improvements we must make and the thought leadership we must show, we’ve barely started.
Ultimately everyone in the human race is going to have to understand a lot more about our sustainability; it will define our lives. But considering that globally 40% of adults have not even heard about climate change, the media industry has made a small step in the right direction regarding audience education. The trick to success here will not be worthy green programming, but bringing sustainability into the mainstream and making it a cultural norm. And the key to making that a reality will be open industry-wide discussion.
We must continue to propagate a culture of continuous improvement and we need the leaders within our industry’s largest organisations to help us choose which achievable steps we should prioritise next.”

Traci Lewis, Green Project Manager Catalyse Change CIC

Traci has developed and delivered many successful environmental and sustainability change programmes – across the EU & SW England – with diverse range of people from organic farmers, Local Authorities to community groups. She now runs her own change agency Sustain-Live Consulting Ltd working with innovative businesses and social enterprises to achieve ‘One Planet Living.’ She lives in Bristol with her teenage daughter Kira and enjoys good food, festivals and camping in Devon. https://catalysechange.com/

Tracy Patfield – Operations and Outreach Manager, Icon Films

Icon Films does want to support your important initiative and would like to suggest that Tracy Patfield, our Operations and Outreach Manager, represent us on the panel. Tracy has worked in television for over a decade and has worked at Icon Films for five years overseeing our work experience and outreach programme. With a background in TV production, Tracy worked as a Production Manager for Thames/Fremantle Media in London for 10 years. She then moved to the south-west, working for the various public sector and charitable companies as a Communications Advisor.

Tracy is now in her 5th year as Operations and Outreach Manager at Icon Films; her role oversees the day-to-day running of the office, supporting production through managing a team of four runners, organising Icon’s work experience programme and ensuring an inclusive talent pipeline for entry-level roles.

She is passionate about mentoring, nurturing talent and realising the potential in young people. Tracy works to increase fair access to work experience in the creative industry through community outreach, working with local schools and collaborative partnership working. At Icon Films, we are opening up our work experience programme, making sure that we can inspire and enthuse a wide-ranging and inclusive mix of young people who will become the next generation of TV makers.

Zakiya McKenzie, Nature writer & Green & Black Ambassador

Zakiya Mckenzie is a PhD student at the University of Exeter interested in the voice of Caribbean people in the written and spoken word. She has worked as a journalist in Johannesburg, a newswriter in New Kingston and a Caribbean TV show’s production assistant in the Bronx. In 2017, she completed a Master of Research degree in Sustainable Futures at the University of Bristol focusing on the environmental and economic implications of “black gold” – petroleum – off Guyana’s shore. She has led research projects focused on the contribution of Black and Minority Ethnic to Bristol’s tech industry and higher education for Up Our Street (a neighbourhood management company). Zakiya is a volunteer producer at Ujima 98FM Bristol and host of The Griot Sound on the station. She is also an Ujima Radio Green and Black Ambassador encouraging a better natural and built environmental for all. She is very much interested in urban art and life in developing countries. She would probably trade it all to reason with Rasta’s on a remote riverside with reggae roaring in the background though.


About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

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Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

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To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

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