Les Sparks OBE, Chair
Les was Director of Planning & Architecture for Birmingham City Council from 1991 – 1999. From 1999 – 2001 he chaired the Expert Panel for Land & Buildings at the Heritage Lottery Fund and from 2010 – 16 he was chair of the West Midlands Committee of the HLF. He was a Commissioner of English Heritage from 2001 – 2008. He chaired the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site Steering Group and was on the Fabric Advisory Committee of Worcester Cathedral and the Ministry of Defence Historic Buildings Advisory Group. During 11 years as Director of Environmental Services at Bath City Council he founded the Historic Towns Forum. He was awarded the OBE in 1997. He was born in Hall Green and now lives in Selly Park.
Jo Smith, Company Secretary
Jo has worked across a wide variety of cultural, arts and heritage organisations in Birmingham for 25 years. She is an experienced heritage project manager and fundraiser; her projects include the £35m restoration of Grade I listed Birmingham Town Hall from 2003 to 2007, the Birmingham History Galleries and several other major museum development projects and masterplans from 2007 onwards. Formally Development Manager for Birmingham Museum’s Trust, where she supported the transition from City Council operation to independent trust status in 2012. Jo lives in Birmingham City Centre.
Phillada is a historical consultant specialising in buildings, landscapes and gardens. She has built up a considerable knowledge of Highbury and the Chamberlain family through many years of academic and on-the-ground research. From 1984-90 she worked as a curator at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, and was in charge of the Chamberlain Museum at Highbury. She has been an advisor to Birmingham City Council on the Highbury landscape, and was responsible for the landscape appraisal of Highbury Park. Phillada is the author of several publications on Birmingham landscapes and was the editor of the Victorian Society’s recent book on Birmingham’s Victorian and Edwardian Architects.
Sarah Sienna Edwards
Sarah was born and grew up in Moseley. She graduated in Spatial Design from Central Saint Martins in London in 2010 and co-founded Urban Brew Design Collective. She worked for Oxfam on fundraising and events from 2010 to 2012. She then moved back to Moseley to start in her current position at Unite the Union in 2012. She completed the Uprising leadership course in 2012 and has joined the US Ambassadors Young Leaders Programme in 2015. She has been involved with Highbury Orchard community for a number of years. Sarah is passionate about collaborative projects.
Ian is Professor of Urban Educational History in the School of Education at the University of Birmingham. Prior to his career at the University he was a school teacher in Wolverhampton and Sandwell, before taking up posts in higher education at Newman College, 1991-1997, and Nene College, now the University of Northampton, 1997-98. He was Head of the School of Education at Birmingham, 2006-2008 and Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor for Cultural Engagement 2010-2014. Since 2010 he has been a member of the West Midlands Committee of the NLHF. He is currently chair of the Friends of Birmingham Archives and a trustee of Birmingham Museums Trust and Sampad. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Ian was born in Smethwick and lives in Selly Park.
Alison is Director of Alison Millward Associates Ltd, an environmental consultancy. She provides advice to government and others on environmental strategy, and is an expert advisor and mentor for the Heritage Lottery Fund. She has undertaken many roles in a voluntary capacity, including service on the government’s New Deal Task Force and Defra’s People Engagement Group, and has been a national board member of Groundwork and the Wildlife Trusts. Alison is a former chair of the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust, and for nine years ran an environmental youth group for 6-12 year olds in inner-city Birmingham. Alison lives in Moseley and currently chairs the Moseley Regeneration Group.
Mike held Director of Finance (and similar) positions at Birmingham City Council, Dudley MBC and the West Midlands Police Authority between 1984 and 2013, and is a Past President of the Society of Municipal Treasurers. He continues to serve as a Trustee and Board Member of the mac and the Black Country Living Museum, is a member of the General Committee and Management Board of Warwickshire County Cricket Club, chairs the Warwickshire Cricket Board and is a Non-Executive Director of the Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Partnership Trust. Mike has lived in Kings Heath for over thirty years.
Cllr Philip Davis
Cllr Davis represents the nearby Billesley Ward on the City Council (BCC). With 30 years local government experience, he is the BCC Heritage Champion and immediate past Chair of the Trusts & Charities Committee, which holds the Highbury Estate in trust for the citizens of Birmingham. Philip is a former English Heritage Commissioner and was Founder Chair of the Local Authorities World Heritage Forum (LAWHF). He is a director of the Jewellery Quarter Development Trust. An employment relations specialist by profession, he has held posts in the voluntary sector and as chairman of an NHS Trust.
Dr Derren Cresswell
Derren grew up in a semi-rural coal mining town in the East Midlands and moved to Birmingham in 2012. Prior to retuning to academia to complete his PhD in geology, at the University of Birmingham, he worked in a variety of roles minimising and mitigating the impact of humans on the environment. More recently Derren has focused his work on linking community perspectives of environmental issues to the contemporary environmental research agenda. He is passionate about balancing different perspectives and contributions to the sustainability of urban a landscapes. Derren is trained in broad-based community organising and works closely with Citizen UK (Birmingham).
Cllr Brigid Jones
Brigid came to the city at 18 to study at the University of Birmingham, fell in love with it and never left. She was elected the local councillor for Selly Oak Ward in May 2011 and took on the Cabinet portfolio for Children and Family Services in 2012. As Cabinet Member, she helped drive improvements in one of the country’s most challenged and scrutinised Children’s Services departments and overhauled the Education Department. In 2017, at the age of 30, she was elected as Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council.
Brigid has been active in politics since 2005 when she joined both the Labour and Cooperative Parties. Having previously worked in new energy at the University of Birmingham, been a school governor and a trustee at other educational organisations, and holding a masters degree in physics, Brigid brings her well rounded experience and values to promote Birmingham as a great urban city in which to live, learn and work.
Working in the largest metropolitan authority in England, Brigid’s agenda in her role is to harness the power of partners across Birmingham to drive the change our city needs, whilst using her extensive experience to help the wider Council’s improvement agenda.
David’s working life has been in three distinct parts: first, as a solicitor in Staffordshire. Secondly, David was elected Member of Parliament for Stafford in 1997. Thirdly, and most recently, he worked in public health, including the Chief Executive of the UK’s Public Health Register for over seven years. A Labour MP for 13 years, David helped establish the Climate Change Act 2008 and was a Government Minister in the Department for Energy and Climate Change where he contributed to the UK’s preparations for the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. David has an abiding interest in politics and history and is delighted to have joined the Trust. He also chairs a health technologies cluster in the West Midlands and supports fundraising for St Paul’s church in the Jewellery Quarter, which is where David lives.
Having graduated from Birmingham University in Drama and French, Kate has worked in the cultural and charitable sector all her career, initially as an actor and director in theatre, arts in education and community arts and then a programmer of theatre, dance and live literature. She was Drama Officer and Director of Performing and Combined Arts at West Midlands Arts/Arts Council England in the 90’s and 2000s. For the past 20 years she has worked as a freelance consultant for many arts and charitable organisations across the UK, including a decade as Arts Adviser to the Baring Foundation. She is currently Chair of the Birmingham-based Feeney Trust, is a member of the Advisory Council of the Churchill Fellowship Trust and is herself a Churchill Fellow, having researched the role of the Arts in Japan particularly in the context of an ageing society and regeneration and is a practising Coach and Facilitator.