Joy’s diverse career covers journalism, policy development, lecturing, digital communications, film and PR, both here and abroad. In 2000, she co-founded The Creative Collective Media with journalists Veena Josh, Paul Macey, Henry Bonsu and David Gyimah, to tackle the racial disparities in print media recruitment. Soon after she launched the Creative Collective Print Internship programme with seed funding from the Freedom Forum Washington. It ran for three years, was recognised widely as a model of good practice, including by the Society of Editors and the European Commission, and went on to be adopted by Transport for London’s press office. The politics graduate and accredited journalist is a former BBC script reader and judge, and a former visiting lecturer in journalism at the London College of Communication. In 2011, Joy helped to establish the world’s first Diversity and the Media MA at the University of Westminster in partnership with the Media Diversity Institute. Alongside Words of Colour, she heads Digital Women UK, is co-director of the Synergi Collaborative Centre and was the inaugural project manager for the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships (in an independent capacity).
Adrianne has been with Words of Colour for six years. A photographer and award-winning videographer, she is also the founder of AMC Media, a London-based company specialising in studio and event photography and videography. A former art student at the University of the Creative Arts and Central Saint Martins, she has since worked on a number of high profile projects, including Time to Change, the national anti stigma mental health campaign, Queen Mary University of London’s national policy initiatives on public health as well as a camera operator for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. She was part of the production team of the critically acclaimed documentary, On the Ground at Grenfell, which won the Portobello Film Festival 2017 Best Film Award.
Angela is a lecturer and researcher at the Glendonbrook Institute for Enterprise Development, University of Loughborough London. She received her MSc in Entrepreneurship in 2010 and PhD in 2015 from Nottingham University Business School. Originally from Seattle, she is the co-founder and former director of Youth Speaks Seattle, the city’s premier youth creative writing and performance organisation. Her research interests include entrepreneurship, the Internet, digital technologies and online environments, gender, feminism, critical race studies and philosophy. Angela works closely with Joy Francis on Digital Women UK’s impactful Missing in Action programme. She recently won the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Global Award for the Best Conference Paper in Paris, entitled Not as easy as it looks: Digital entrepreneurship, the great leveller? Find out more about Angela’s research.
Milos is an award-winning graphic designer with 13 years professional experience. He has worked for some of Serbia’s most prominent marketing and advertising companies, including Ovation BBDO, Trilenium, and Mosaic. His portfolio includes a variety of projects, from advertising campaigns and brand identity to brochure, book and packaging design for companies such as Bauer, Fujitsu/Siemens and VIP Mobile. His passion for design was sparked early on in childhood when he started drawing. Milos’ love for art shaped his creative interests, which later translated into a passion for graphic design. After graduating with a degree in Graphic Design from the University of Belgrade in 2005, he entered the field of web design and 3D modeling and rendering. Before joining the Words of Colour team in 2012, he worked in London as a freelance designer. For Words of Colour, he has developed brand identities for a range of clients including Time to Change, Aik Saath and Spread the Word’s Young People’s Laureate programme.
Heather started off as Words of Colour’s social media coordinator and events assistant in the spring of 2017, and was promoted to content and events coordinator in January 2018. A graduate of the world-first Masters in Black British Writing at Goldsmiths University, Heather earned her Bachelors in Drama and English at the University of Sussex. She is also a contributor to the first A-Level guide to Contemporary Black British Literature, published by Pearson Education and edited by Dr Deidre Osborne. Her first love is creative writing and she is currently working on a historical thriller set in 18th century Bristol. Heather now represents Words of Colour in Bristol and is building strategic partnerships and event opportunities with organisations such as Bristol Old Vic.
Julie is a certified accountant and established the award-winning All Inclusive Training in 2010. All Inclusive has a proven and successful track record in delivering employment based-projects, including ESF Investing in Jobs and Skills, Future Jobs Fund, Grass Roots project supporting NEETs, and for its ongoing partnerships with John Ruskin College, Lambeth College and CALAT, delivering Apprenticeships and DWP Flexible Support Fund (working with the long term unemployed), among others. Julie is dedicated to SME business support and development, as well as developing and supporting social enterprises. Her company provides accredited accountancy training and she specialises in financial accounting, budgeting and forecasting, independent examination, taxation and self assessment for charities and social enterprises. Julie and All Inclusive won two awards at the industry-led AAT Awards 2018: for Best Branch and Best Training Provider.
Sailesh is the founder and editor of asianculturevulture.com, an online arts and culture magazine which primarily serves the UK Asian community. He has been an editor for more than a decade and prior to ACV he was the editor of Eastern Eye newspaper. Sailesh started his career on regional titles and has had his work (including a front-page exclusive) published in The Independent and the Observer. He also writes creatively. His debut novel, Asian Triangle, was shortlisted for a literary prize in Scotland in the early 1990s. He has a degree from the London School of Economics (BSc Econ) and an MA in European Philosophy from the University of Sussex.
Lee has been with Words of Colour since 2009. He specialises in documentary and portrait photography, working primarily with third sector organisations both as a photographer and a workshop facilitator. He is passionate about promoting photography as an art form and is heavily focused on making it accessible to everyone. As a result, he founded both Lenses of Croydon, a photography group with in excess of 500 members, and the Croydon Photography Forum, which serves to create a platform for aspiring photographers to hear from practising professionals. Lee is a graduate of the University of Technology, Jamaica, and he has just completed a BA Hons degree in Photography at the University of Westminster.
Suzanne is a Psychosynthesis therapeutic counsellor, personal development coach and social change agent with a particular interest in empowering women and people of colour. Suzanne has worked in the health and social sector for nearly 40 years in a variety of roles, including as a social worker, care services manager, social work educator, a former director of a public involvement charity and trustee of a counselling charity. She has experience of group work and community building. Her personal background led her to explore the interplay between the individual, groups and society, and she is very active in new approaches to inclusion, equalities and personal empowerment. She has written practice guides for the Department of Health and facilitated personal development programmes. Suzanne is developing work in the field of conscious ageing and is responsible for Word of Colour’s Creative Wellbeing Hub.
Ahsan has worked with Words of Colour since 2009. A multidisciplinary designer specialising in Sustainable Design, Ahsan worked with the Design Council and Futerra, where he applied participatory design methods for social innovation. Through Design Thinking, his career intertwines in product, service, graphic, web and UX design. His collaborative work has focused on design for good, creating real value through strategic solutions for positive social and environmental impact. Co-founder of Climate Labs, his current projects focus on behaviour change around nature engagement for children, connecting local communities with empathy for biodiversity. He is also exploring the impact of air pollution around schools and the workplace by developing interventions that can be applied for better health and wellbeing. Ahsan has a BSc Hons in Product Design and MA in Sustainable Design with Distinction, where he was commended with a studentship from Kingston University.
Alex spent most of his childhood in social services care. He published his first novel, Brixton Rock, to critical acclaim in 1999. Specialising in adult fiction, Alex went on to write many more books such as East of Acre Lane, Brenton Brown, the sequel to Brixton Rock, and was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2008. Alex’s first young adult novel Liccle Bit, published in March 2015, was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal 2015. Crongton Knights, Liccle Bit’s sequel, was published in March 2016 won The Guardian’s Children’s Fiction Prize 2016 and the Renaissance Quiz Writers’ Choice Award, and was shortlisted for the Bookseller Young Adult Prize 2017. Alex is a longtime supporter of and adviser to Words of Colour and will be co-hosting the Words of Colour Showcase, to be launched in the Autumn 2018.
Mike is Words of Colour’s web developer. He joined the team in 2015 and leads on all the internal web design projects. After graduating with a BSc in Multimedia Technology and Design, Mike spent his first few years working at a digital agency, learning and gaining vital experience. Shortly after, Mike decided to pursue a freelance career and has been a part of a range of projects including leading the development of Talk Changes – an NHS initiative improving access to psychological therapies in City and Hackney, the rebranding of Hackney CVS and, most recently, working on several international design sprints, focusing on business innovation and development.
Jennifer joined Words of Colour in May 2019 as social media and events assistant. She has a degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from Middlesex University and is currently completing her Masters in Screenwriting. Prior to starting her MA Jennifer worked as a digital communications officer for One World Media, gaining 1.5 years’ experience in website maintenance, social media strategy and design. A Creative Access alumna, volunteer camera operator and keen writer across all mediums, Jennifer is passionate about communicating and championing underreported authentic stories.
Junia is a freelance filmmaker and videographer whose career is committed to making the stories and voices of marginalised and ignored people heard. She has nine years’ experience across formats, from fiction films to branded content, both in the UK and abroad, and is currently working on a social media platform to provide a space exclusively for the work of Black British creatives. She has spent almost half of the current decade living and travelling abroad, including three years travelling through Latin America. Junia also has a degree in Sociology from City University London.
In a career that spans 30 years, Patsy has worked in both the book and magazine publishing industries as an editor, writer and creative development coach. During this time she worked as the commissioning editor at Tamarind, the Random House imprint specialising in the publication of multicultural books for children, as a journalist on national women’s weekly magazines such as Woman, Best and Closer, and as a writer advice coach at Spread the Word. She is also a corporate training consultant and offers support and training in media, communications and editorial skills. For much of her career she has also practised Yoga and meditation to exercise her physical body, cope with stress and to tap into her inner creativity. Four years ago, she turned this passion into a qualification and is now a practising Kundalini Yoga teacher, with a particular interest in breath work. A longstanding Words of Colour collaborator, she is now part of its Creative Wellbeing Hub core team.
Jackee has an MA in Creative Writing and Personal Development from Sussex University and a post-graduate diploma in executive coaching from Lancaster University. She has written and published three books, 49 Ways To Write Yourself Well: The Science and Wisdom of Writing and Journaling, Be Your Own Best Life Coach: Take Charge and Live The Life You’ve Always Wanted and her first book, Soul Purpose: Self Affirming Rituals, Mediations and Creative Exercises To Revive Your Spirit. She recently published a Writing With Fabulous Trees Writing Map through a commission from Writing Maps. Jackee has also authored several e-books including, The Journal Journey Guidebook containing over 100 journal writing prompts. Her last two print books have been published in Croatia, Malaysia, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. She teaches creative writing workshops and retreats in the UK and internationally, including a yearly writing retreat in Greece. She also works in the corporate sector as an executive and leadership coach. A longstanding Words of Colour collaborator, Jackee is a Creative Wellbeing Hub facilitator.
Jacob’s collection Breaking Silence (Bloodaxe) was shortlisted for a Forward Poetry Prize and an Aldeburgh Fenton Award, and is a set text for an English Language and Literature A Level (OCR/EMC). Responsible for the Barbican Young Poets programme and Spoken Word Educators (Goldsmiths University), he is widely recognised as an indefatigable supporter of young and emerging writers. His poetry has explored and experimented with Black-British/African-Caribbean culture, ritual and tradition, hybridity, coding and other aspects of popular culture. His poems and essays have featured in Ploughshares, Wasafiri, In Their Own Words (Salt, 2012), Poetry by Heart (Penguin, 2014) and more. He has produced commissioned work for such institutions as the National Gallery, the BBC and Nitro (Black Music Theatre Co-Operative). His practice also includes cross-disciplinary collaboration, exploring the possibilities for poetic text with technology, physical theatre and conceptual art. Jacob is advising on a number of Words of Colour’s projects, including The Black Love Project and the Creative Wellbeing Hub, and helping to shape our creative entrepreneurship model.
Newsweek dubbed Kenny “The Man Whisperer” because he helps men achieve their life, relationship and career goals, and to be more present, purposeful, passionate and powerful. As one of the UK’s leading men’s personal development consultants, Kenny runs workshops, sees individuals and couples for private consultations and runs men’s groups in London and online. Kenny was traumatised at the age of seven, when his family fled Uganda, and certain death at the hands dictator Idi Amin, and were resettled as refugees in rural Wales. As a result of post-traumatic stress syndrome, Kenny developed many mental health issues, which he has turned around and channelled them into the fuel to walk his path and live his purpose. New to Words of Colour, Kenny is part of the Creative Wellbeing Hub core team.
Aretha has spent over a decade working in the creative industries. She is the co-founder of Gingerland, a brand and communications agency where she provides consulting services to a variety of businesses and charities looking to develop their online presence, or increase brand awareness. Some of its clients have included disaster relief agency ADRA, Helix Property Advisors, Lemsip and Virgin Media. With an MA in Design and Branding Strategy, Aretha is excited to bring her creativity and strategic insights to support the Words of Colour vision in the role of brand and merchandise consultant.
Nylah originally joined Words of Colour Productions in 2015 as our social media coordinator and events assistant. Nylah left at the beginning of 2018 and now collaborates with us as an assistant videographer. She has worked on a variety of projects for Words of Colour, such as our In conversation… series, The Black Love Project and Digital Women UK. Having graduated from King’s College London in 2016 with a BA in English Language and Linguistics, Nylah has always been interested in words, their impact and how they shape narratives. She is currently working at the Muslim television station MTA International where she is involved at all levels of production. She also runs Nylah Media, a production company focusing on Asian heritage weddings.
Cherise is a biracial editor/activist/writer who hails from California and is now based in London. She earned a Law degree from Durham University, with a focus on international human rights, and a Masters in Publishing from UCL, with a focus on diversity in children’s literature. Cherise is also an artist and co-founder of Desert Rose Literary Magazine, an intersectional feminist literary magazine publishing poetry, short fiction, and essays by women of color and members of the LGBTQA+ community. She loves to spend her free time charcoaling portraits, twanging banjos, swerving longboards and defending the literary value of puns.
DJ Chillz is a DJ/Producer, one of the few women on the circuit. A collaborator on Digital Women UK’s Missing in Action initiative, Chillz is passionate about raising the profile of women DJs and transitioning them to digital. Her weekly radio show Eclectic Sounds, features on both New Life Radio (UK) and Dash Radio (Los Angeles and New York). Her Afrobeats podcast for Radar Radio and original mixes, have attracted industry praise. Chillz regularly features at major festivals, including Wireless, Outlook, & Boom Bap, and has also performed at huge streetwear fashion events such as New Balance X Heidi Klum. She has a London residency at Bootylicious and her own weekly Friday event, Riddim Nights, in Croydon. Chillz has been nominated three times for the Best Female DJ Award, and her first outing as producer was on her debut single Power, which tore through clubland in 2017. Chillz is collaborating with Digital Women UK on a new project for women DJs.
Barbara was born in the East End of London to Nigerian parents. She currently works as a policy and strategy officer at a South London local authority, drafting business policies and strategies. A single parent Barbara loves modern fiction with a twist in the tale and describes reading as her version of feasting on a tin of Quality Street – without the accompanying weight gain. Barbara has been reviewing books on and off for Words of Colour since 2016 and started reviewing after enjoying the lively debates at London’s only Afro-Caribbean book club.
Reshma is a novelist, short story writer and poet. Her first novel, Something Black in the Lentil Soup was described in the Sunday Times as “a gem of straight-faced comedy”. Her second novel, A Mouthful of Silence, was shortlisted for the 2014 SI Leeds Literary Prize. Her short stories and poems have appeared in international anthologies and magazines and commissioned for BBC Radio 4. She is the co-founder of The Whole Kahani, a writers’ collective of British South Asian writers. Reshma’s writing explores the inherent preoccupations of those who possess a multiple sense of belonging. Reshma returns to writing reviews for Words of Colour after a two year hiatus.
Chama Kay is a theatre blogger and podcaster as one half of Artistic State of Mind, alongside Juliana Ayeni-Stevens. He is passionate about supporting theatre created by and starring black talent. A marketing professional, Chama has previously worked for the Olivier Award nominated company Les Enfants Terribles and The Churchill Theatre in Bromley. Chama is also a mental health workshop facilitator, focusing on mental health issues affecting black people and people working in the arts. He has run workshops at Cambridge University, SOAS, UCL, The Vaults and London’s Fashion and Textile Museum.
Tamera is an alumnus of Winchester University, where she studied Fashion, Media and Marketing. Upon graduating, Tamera started working as a digital content assistant for Primark, alongside theatre reviewing for Words of Colour and volunteering as a youth mentor. She is currently hosting a podcast focused on mental health in the creative industry for Alpha Omega London’s Fashion Vanguards series, which aims to open minds and ignite conversations. Tamera is also working on her own projects focusing on storytelling through photography and words.
Sophia Jai is a writer based in London. Born and raised in Trinidad, and growing up in Toronto, she has worked in publishing for HarperCollins and Rakuten Kobo. As a writer, she has studied at the Humber School for Writers in Toronto under Caribbean literary icon Olive Senior. In 2017, she was selected as an emerging writer for Canada’s Festival of Literary Diversity, and from October 2019 to October 2020 she will be the artist in residence at Oxford University’s Centre for Hindu Studies. Sophia is currently completing her first novel at Curtis Brown Creative in London and reviews fiction novels for Words of Colour. Find her on Twitter here.
Briana joins Words of Colour as a recent transplant from California, USA, where she spent the last six years working to diversify the tech scene in Silicon Valley. She is a graduate of the illustrious Howard University in Washington D.C with a B.A in History. Since a little girl, she has had a passion for the arts. Growing up in Chicago to a single parent, books became her outlet. Reading James Baldwin’s Fire Next Time opened her eyes to the black experience in a deeper way, and how she as a black woman could impact those around her.
Now that she lives in London, she hopes to continue to find creative outlets where her voice can be heard and where she can lift up the voices of other artists of colour looking to make a difference.
Tricia is book addict who loves books and bookshops in all forms. She is co-founder of Black Book Swap, the lively literary event has been celebrating the work of black authors through interviews and book exchanges since 2012. Tricia has been the co-ordinator of the Black Reading Group book club since 2011, selecting, reading and discussing books with a wide range of book lovers the last Sunday of each month, 10 months a year. Tricia is a chartered marketer, working in the not-for-profit sector.