Meet the Challenge Trainers and ConsultantsAt Challenge we recognise that in order to be able to deal effectively with issues of inequality, it is preferable that consultants have direct experience of the issues under discussion; consequently, all of our consultants are either women, black, lesbian, gay, disabled or a combination of these.
Below are the profiles of some of our trainers:
- Femi Otitoju - Training Director
- Donna Carty - Consultant and Associate Training Manager
- Richard Blanco - Consultant and Trainer
- Kirsten Hearn - Consultant and Trainer
- Aubrey Maasdorp - Consultant and Trainer
- Anjum Mouj - Consultant and Trainer
- Cyril Husbands - Consultant and Trainer
- Suky Bains - Consultant and Trainer
- Rif Sharif - Consultant
- Claire Lazarus - Consultant
After further developing her skills at The Observer, Femi was finally able to combine her professional experience with her personal commitment to equality for all when she joined the GLC Women's Committee Support Unit as a Community Development Officer.
After some time in local government as a training officer, Femi founded Challenge and began to offer courses directly to the public, private and voluntary sectors. Femi has been personally involved in the civil rights struggles for race, gender, sexual orientation and disability equality.
In conjunction with Melrose Film Productions Femi produced a Masterclass training video entitled 'Equal Opportunities And The Manager'. In this practical technique guide to the management of diversity, Femi's down to earth approach helps everyone accept that people are different, and must be respected as such.
Her training resource “Fairs Fair” was launched by Melrose Training. This video based training pack is widely used in commerce and industry as well as in the not for profit sector.
Femi has addressed numerous conferences and events as a key-note speaker on a wide variety of equality and diversity issues, she has also been fundamental in reviewing, revising and helping to implement changes to equality policies in many large organisations.
Femi featured in Pink List 2010 (The Independent on Sunday's list of the most influential lesbian & gay people in Britain). Femi was featured for production of Same Difference elearning package, founding Challenge and her public speaking.
Femi's e-learning package, Same Difference, was launched in the Summer of 2005. You can find out more about Same Difference on our e-learning page.
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Donna joined Challenge Consultancy as an Associate Trainer and became the Associate Training Manager in 2003. At Challenge Donna has developed and delivered equality and diversity programmes for a wide variety of clients from all sectors.
Donna is a popular and very effective trainer and our clients frequently request that Donna return to deliver their training or work with teams and individuals regarding specific issues. Donna is also a coach and NLP Master Practitioner, in this regard she works mainly with managers who require a change in the way they work or are received by others.
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Richard was Training Co-ordinator at London Lesbian & Gay switchboard 1990-92 and since joining Challenge runs all the core training programmes from Equal Opportunities to Recruitment & Selection and Team Development. He has a strong commitment to equalities issues and has developed a particular interest in organisational development and human resources issues such as communication, team work and people management skills. He regularly attends training programmes to top up his own skills.
Recent consultancy work has included an investigative report for the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) on the Support and Development of Cultural Diversity in Manchester, Interim & Project Management contracts, Business Development Planning with black arts and community organisations and a Management Development Programme for a large charity retailer. He has worked as an Adviser to the Arts Council of England on Lottery Applications and has been a board member of a number of voluntary sector organisations.
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She says: "As a blind lesbian I have chosen to work in the field of challenging discrimination because of my own experience of exclusion and my belief that if we promote equality and diversity for discriminated against groups we improve services for everyone."
Recent work includes:
- Westminster Council Best Value Review of disability social
- Equality Training for Swindon Borough Council
- DDA and SENDA implementation training for the Swindon
- Facilitation for Women In Health disabled women Menopause
Day for women with learning difficulties.
- Equality Recruitment training for the BBC.
- Implementing disability equality in the work place for
Newham Council project (including four staff training
sessions on implementing the DDA).
- Railtrack focus groups on major stations customer access.
- Review and rewrite of all policies for Mary Ward Adult
- Disability symbol research and consultation for Middlesex
- Team Building training for Hackney voluntary organisations
and Greater London Action on Disability.
- Coaching a wide range of individuals including politicians,
senior executives and directors of voluntary organisations as
well as front line workers.
Kirsten spent 16 years in local government; five at chief officer level, leading teams of staff on a wide range of equality implementation across the board.
She was the Head of the Disability Unit, Deputy Head of the Social Justice Unit (dealing with race, gender, disability, sexuality, age and economic status), at LB Waltham Forest, as the principle Policy Officer for Haringey Lesbian and Gay Unit and as a community outreach worker for the GLC disability resource team.
Kirsten has been active in the voluntary sector for more than twenty years. Roles include: Board Member for a second tier LGBT voluntary organisation, Chair and other leadership roles for a trade union disability group, a local community and education centre and a women's tape library.
She is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming Certified Coach and NLP master practitioner. Her initial career began as an artist (MA from Royal College of Art).
Currently, Kirsten holds three non-executive positions as a member of the Board of Transport for London, an Independent member of the Metropolitan Police Authority and a member of the Advisory Group to the Department of Work and Pensions on the setting up of Equality 2025 (the UK Advisory Network on Disability equality). Prior to joining the MPA, Kirsten served for two years on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Advisory Group to the Metropolitan Police Service.
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Aubrey worked in Sexual Health and HIV for many years as a Training and Information Manager with the London Borough of Camden. He then moved to Management Development and worked as the Senior Training Officer in the Chief Executive’s Department. Prior to working as an independent consultant, Aubrey worked as acting Head of Corporate Learning and Development for the London Borough of Camden. Aubrey now works with Challenge where he has delivered numerous courses on Equality and Diversity and management development.
Clients Aubrey has worked with since 2002 include the Home Office (Management and leadership skills), LB Camden (Valuing Diversity for Managers, Gender, race, sexuality and HIV and Recruitment and Selection Training); Terrence Higgins Trust (Managing Change); a number of Health Trusts (Race Awareness, The Race Equality Scheme, Managing Diversity, Welcoming Diversity); Healthlink Worldwide (HIV and organisational change) ; The Exchange Programme, (working with international participants facilitating discussion and action planning for community development of HIV programmes)
He is also involved in numerous research projects. He worked for Healthlink Worldwide editing and rewriting a training manual for facilitators on the Memory Project, to be used by HIV organisations worldwide (January – March 2005), compiled and edited Positive Development, a training manual to help communities to set up support groups. He has done research projects with a number of local authorities and health authorities on access to services and service development.
Aubrey has also delivered presentations at international conferences and facilitated training courses and workshops in Thailand, Ireland, South Africa and Uganda.
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Anjum also feels that she has:
- Accumulated a sensitive and thorough insight into the needs of communities and ways of articulating these
- Ensured continuous dialogue with the community on a consultative as well as representative level. Being constantly engaged in developing ways of ensuring that local voices are heard through effective representation at strategic levels and that the process of needs analysis, commissioning and contracting reflect the real and expressed needs of all sections of the community; her experiences of user and carer groups have included the establishment of focus and support groups, conferences and strategic input by community members into service delivery.
Her experiences have enabled her to understand and effectively manage financial and human resources, and work with creativity and flexibility within the changing legislative, organisational and at times political climate.
Her familiarity with statutory structures results from many years of active involvement with multi-agency strategy and service groups. These opportunities have enabled her to learn and contribute to the processes of needs assessment, gap analysis and the planning of appropriate future services.
A great deal of her training experience has been with community groups focusing particularly on skills-building to ensure that all communities, regardless of their client group, established history or income are able to take part in main stream service development, negotiation of Service Level Agreements and have equal access to available funds.
Anjum feels that she has been an effective ambassador for the service users and organisations that she has represented, whether this has been through her representation at meetings, giving talks or through written material. Her PR skills have enabled her to pursue issues considered sensitive, contentious or those simply marginalised.
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As a corporate representative, Cyril has extensive experience of commissioning services, drafting specifications, developing contract compliance policies, and conducting negotiations and consultations with bidders, suppliers and other stakeholders.
Cyril has served as an Associate Tutor with South Bank University, where he designed and tutored a BTEC Certificate in a Management course on Workplace Communication. He has also led management courses on other subjects including client access to records (as mandated by the Freedom of Information Act 2000), recruitment & selection and managing diversity. Cyril’s positive action experience includes leadership of the NHS ‘Breaking Through Programme’, a high-profile development project aimed at helping the NHS meet its commitment to increase the diversity of its leadership cohort. The role included designing and scheduling the programme content, managing tutors and providing tuition himself. Cyril has worked with a range of other clients on leadership and management development JP Morgan, the University of Birmingham and the newly formed Department for Children, Schools and Families.
Other significant work experience includes:
• Designing strategic and corporate policies and procedures, including the first lesbian and gay equality policy to be adopted by a major employer
• Managing major positive action leadership programmes including a scheme that increased the number of women and Black men in London’s Fire Service and the BBC’s British Diversity Award-winning Sport Mentoring Scheme
• Numerous presentations at conferences, seminars and other important events, on subjects including management development, equality in employment and services, training, governance for voluntary organisations and race in Britain.
• Joint leadership of a national management training programme for Victim Support branches and Witness Services, and contributing toward the development, delivery and evaluation of the programme.
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Her facilitation skills are based on the central principles of empowerment, responsibility and choice. She creates an honest, flexible, challenging and safe environment to encourage constructive dialogue and creative effective relationships with ones self and others.
She currently works for a number of charitable organisations and independently as a freelance trainer and consultant.
Historically, she was instrumental in the set-up of Tower Hamlets Mediation Service (THMS) and developed and has delivered the training for community mediators for over ten years. THMS was one of London first Mediation UK accredited services and received special commendation for the training, support and supervision of its volunteer mediators.
As a Senior trainer for ‘LEAP Confronting Conflict’, her work involves planning and delivering their core ‘challenging behaviour’ programmes within a range of youth work and community settings. This includes prisons, youth clubs, schools and local government - training young people and adult professionals involved in youth provision.
As a trainer with ‘Challenge Consultancy’ her work involves training in issues of Race, Equality and Diversity primarily within the public sector. She also combines her conflict resolution and mediation knowledge to intervene in areas of conflict where racism and discrimination is identified as the primary factor.
Examples of recent work:
• Training For Trainers -10 day course in Mediation and Conflict Resolution for Government Ministers in Sri Lanka
• Responding to Conflict -10 day course for Deputy Prime Ministers Office and Neighbourhood Renewal
• Challenging Racism Constructively Workshops - London Borough of Southwark
• Workplace mediations
• Basic and Advanced Mediation Training Courses
• Numerous facilitations including the “Community Cohesion: Race and Equality Strategy” Conference
• Support and coaching of individuals
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She holds an MSc in Mediation and Conflict Resolution and a Diploma in International and European Studies.
Previous clients include:
British Council, Sri Lanka
Leap Confronting Conflict
London Borough of Camden
London Borough of Hackney
London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham
London Borough of Southwark
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Marner School, Tower Hamlets
Mulberry School, Tower Hamlets
Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, ODPM
People at Work
Price, Waterhouse, Cooper
Stebon School, Tower Hamlets
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As a Senior Fellow with the Office for Public Management, her recent activities include being a regional lead for the Commissioning Support Programme supporting the development of commissioning in children’s services. She established and managed a regional group for senior commissioning champions from across all 11 Local Authorities and 15 Primary Care Trusts (PCT) in the region. This group, supported by Claire, continues to meet and provides strong, strategic leadership for commissioning as well as sector-led peer support for PCT and LA commissioners.
Claire has extensive experience of providing bespoke consultancy support to local authority and PCT colleagues as well sub-regional and regional groups. Claire has experience of working in Whitehall, having been seconded to the DfE as National Adviser for the SEN Regional Partnerships between 2002 and 2007. She is experienced at supporting the implementation of national policy. For example, she recently worked with the DfE to develop Outcomes and Efficiency: Commissioning for LAC, a tool to support local authorities in implementing the new sufficiency duty.
Claire has recently completed the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Level 7 accredited programme course for senior leaders and managers. To gain her accreditation she coached four people including: an officer from the Office for Public Management; a training manager from a voluntary organisation; a policy officer from a local authority and a Chief Executive from a private sector organisation.
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