Board members as of April 2019

Compass has a new Board as approved by the AGM of 6 April 2019. The members are introduced below, in no particular order.

Ruth Lister

I’m a Labour peer (since 2011) and emeritus Professor of Social Policy at Loughborough University, a former Director of the Child Poverty Action Group and now its hon president. I’m also president of the Social Policy Association and recently joined the board of the High Pay Centre. I live in Nottingham. I’ve sat on the Compass management committee since late 2010 and have chaired it for nearly 8 years.

I’ve agreed to stay on for about a year to provide continuity during the transition to the new Board and governance structure. But even when I step down Compass will remain my political home and anchor, all the more precious in these turbulent times. I see my main role over the coming year as helping to steer Compass through the initial phase of this new exciting chapter, supporting the over-stretched staff and paving the way for whomsoever takes over as Chair of the Board. I also want to help with the work on a good society and contribute to the Common Platform (reflecting my own work on poverty, inequality, women’s and children’s rights, asylum and refugee issues, citizenship and social justice generally).

Edward Saperia

I have spent my career exploring how technology can be used to nurture and empower communities. For four years I have been the dean of Newspeak House, The London College of Political Technologists, an independent residential college that studies and supports emerging communities of practice across the public sector and civil society in the UK. Previously I have been conference director for Wikipedia’s Global Summit, head of community strategy for The Green Party of England and Wales, the creative director of a boutique digital agency, and endured a career in investment banking.

The public and civic institutions whose everyday operations shape our lives are struggling to adapt to modern times, and the fallout has undermined the very identity of our nation. At the same time, humanity is rapidly discovering new knowledge and tools that promise the possibility of a much brighter world – healthier, more educated, more equal, more democratic, more sustainable. The transition from here to there will require shifts in perspective that may need us to re-imagine ourselves, and experience changes that have never happened within our lifetimes. I recognise Compass as one of the few organisations in the UK taking an agile and systems-based approach to stewarding this process, and I’m excited to join its board to help explore how its network can participate in this mission.

Mark Cooke

Mark Cooke is a Chartered Accountant with over 40 years’ experience of financial management, having worked in senior roles across all of the public, private and third sectors. He is currently Chief Operating Officer of a major trade association. He has been Treasurer and a member of the Management Committee of Compass since it began, developing its systems as it has grown, and working to keep it solvent. He has served on the Finance and General Purposes Committee for the whole of the time it has been operating.

He also has extensive experience of the governance of not for profit organisations, wrote the original constitution of Compass and has played a leading role in overseeing the governance changes now proposed.

Stephanie Leonard

Stephanie Leonard is a community organiser and the founder and director of Act Build Change: a learning community supporting people to organise around the world for social and environmental justice. 800 visitors a month take our free community organising training, share lessons and connect with others to take action in their communities. Members include people who have never taken action before and want to start, to organisations such as Oxfam and the NHS. Offline, Act Build Change works in movement building, organising and leadership development across the Charity, University, Social Enterprise and public sectors.

Previously an organiser for Citizens UK, Stephanie spent most of her organising with young people – especially those without permanent status. Collectively they secured a Deputy Mayor for Integration in 2017 (1st time in UK history). Working with residents in Camden and Islington, they organised for the resettlement of 29 Syrian families into the boroughs. With workers, she won 4 Living Wage campaigns putting thousands of pounds back into staff pockets. For three years she was a guest lecturer in community organising for the MSc Social Development Practice at University College London.

Roger Lawson

I am a strategic communications consultant, specialising in working with not for profit organisations. I have worked with countless large and small organisations including WWF, Oxfam, Greenpeace and many more to help them to build campaigns, create movements and grow funding support. I first came into contact with Compass in the 2017 election when I supported Dr Louise Irvine in her attempt, as the Progressive Alliance candidate, to unseat Jeremy Hunt in South West Surrey. Having been initially involved in her 2015 campaign, I wanted to help more this time and was very involved in creating campaigning and social media messages and content. Since then I have been helping Compass to grow support and funding for some of their most critical projects.

My motivation for now wanting to join the Compass Board is to help Compass reach more people. Our political system is broken – it’s driven by short-term, party political issues that leave millions of people disenfranchised and important, long-term issues ignored. If Compass is to be successful in changing this, we need to grow the membership base to provide both funding and the voice of influence that we’ll need to really change politics and create a better society for all.

Andy Martin

I am the founder and Director of Firetail, a strategy consulting firm based in London that works around the world with organisations dedicated to social progress. I have spent my career working with people trying to make a positive difference to society. Over the years, I have worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations, the International Science Council, Malaria No More, Comic Relief, the Royal Society of Chemistry and Anthony Nolan, among many others. I also work as an advisor to start-ups and social ventures. As well as running Firetail, I am Vice President of the board of the New Humanitarian, an independent NGO dedicated to putting quality, independent journalism at the service of the millions of people affected by humanitarian crises. I also sit on the board of a small environmental charity in Sussex.

I am excited to join the new board of Compass. I have joined the board because I am an optimist. I believe a more democratic, sustainable and equitable society is possible, but the only way you get the future you want is to build it. There are big, important, interconnected questions facing society. Our traditional ways of doing politics aren’t helping us to solve them. Compass is one of the few places trying to work out what comes next, in a positive, open and inclusive way.

Neal Lawson

I’ve been the chief strategist, speaker and fundraiser for Compass for 15 years. We have done okay, but we now need to do much, so much better. Compass now needs to be a sustainable and powerful organisation in its own right – beyond any particular individual. If we got anything right, it was the early call that our political and party system is broken and so for all that time we have been on a steady journey to where the new energy and creativity is. The only question is how we bend the culture of the 21stcentury to our values of much greater equality, democracy and sustainability.

As the old dies, but is not yet dead, we need to give life to the new. To be decisive in all this, Compass has to grow up. The new Board will be dedicated to growing the organization: its strategy, message, reach and resources. We have assembled an unbelievably great team of people to help do this. I would ask every member not just to back the organisational shift, not to just support the new board, but to put time and money into what we are doing – because we called the political breakdown right and we get the sentiment of what needs to happen next. The last 15 years have just been a practice session for this moment. Politics is now lost. It needs a Compass.

Recruited Board members to be confirmed at the next AGM (2020). These members were appointed after voting for the 2019 Compass Board had begun.

Sarah Sultoon

Sarah Sultoon is a journalist and writer, with a background in linguistics and communications. A passionate storyteller, Sarah spent 15 years at CNN in international news, working extensively in the Middle East, Africa and the USA before moving into editorial management. She is also passionate about commercial fiction, with a Master of Studies in Creative Writing from Cambridge University.
Raised on BBC parliament radio, her first words were “order order” and a precursor to a childhood steeped in both local and international politics; from joining her parents on demonstrations against the poll tax to lobbying for improved state education. She joins Compass in a bid to be part of the solution that repairs our broken political system, to fight for a politics that is more advocate than adversary, and to ensure this message is communicated as effectively as possible to empower a fairer, happier and thriving society for all.

Shelagh Wright

I’m a committed internationalist working with networks all over the world to develop the capacity and connectivity of creative and cultural activists to change systems at the individual, local, community or city level.   I applied to be part of the Compass board to help the next phase and shape the intersection of multiple approaches and groupings, acting as a seedbed of political and system innovation to test new ways of doing things to tackle major issues like growing xenophobia, a lack of affordable housing, public spaces and basic services for citizens, and the powerful, local, ripple effects of unchecked global capitalism. I want to help make connections with others engaged in similar experiments, and enable Compass to contribute to and learn from being part of a global solidarity network.

We know that we have to be concerned as much with how we do things as with what we do. There’s a need to radically democratise and feminise political space as key to transformation by bringing ‘other’ voices into the debate; reducing hierarchy; decentralising decision-making; listening more; celebrating dialogue; and putting care, co-operation, relationship and people’s lived experience at the heart of a new politics.  This is a kind of politics that includes rather than alienates, and we urgently need to make that possible right now.