Community champions

Celebrating extraordinary people supporting communities.

Delegates listening to speaker at Digifest

Across education and research, our communities bring people, institutions, and sectors together. These inspirational groups provide a lifeline to help people and institutions adapt and learn. We have been amazed with the quality of nominations for 2023 and would like to give a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to submit.  

Welcoming our community champions of 2023 

Alison Harvey, Cardiff University
Nominated for her transformation work helping to develop computer vision tools and work as co-chair of the global IIIF Archives Group.

“I'm passionate about demystifying all things digital, and building bridges to help cultural organisations with minimal resources support learning, teaching, research, and creativity.”

Chris Banks, Imperial College London
Nominated for moving effortlessly from strategic to practical thinking and support negotiations for the needs of the sector. Also, for chairing the content expert group and tackling issues to save money.

Chris Price, Swansea University
Nominated for helping link members, Swansea University, and suppliers by answering queries and ensuring members, staff and learners have the best possible learning experience.

Erika Neck, The College, Merthyr Tydfil
Nominated for inspiring FE LRC community peers through engaging and inspiring presentations and sessions.

“Sometimes as a librarian I feel our services and skill set are often overlooked via a misunderstanding of what our role entails, so this reward brings about much recognition and validation of our work and its importance to the community.”

Dr Flavio Azevedo, University of Cambridge
Nominated for being the driving force behind Framework for Open and Reproducible Research Training (FORRT). This interdisciplinary community aims to integrate open scholarship principles into higher education and to advance research transparency.

Geena Vabulas, Karten Network/Policy Connect
Nominated for working with infectious enthusiasm for changing lives with assistive technology by using research to push boundaries of what is possible for disabled people in the Assistive Tech community.

Jo Fletcher-Saxon, Ashton Sixth Form College
Nominated for empowering practitioner research in FE with the FEresearchpodcast and the Learning and Skills Research Network, as well as supporting peers and amplifying their work.

Joy McLean, West College Scotland
Nominated for playing a vital part in the FE library LRC leadership team, delivering workshops and sharing knowledge on how a library can use freely available digital tools.

“Being recognised as a community champion is amazing!  It brings recognition of the importance and value of the community amongst not only its own members but within the wider education sector.”

Kelly Edwards, Harlow College
Nominated for leading digital and quality teams to improve practice for teachers and students from conception to full implementation. Also for supporting colleges across the country to review their strategies and develop new approaches for the use of tech.

Lisa Charkiewicz, South Essex College of Further and Higher Education
Nominated for being part of the FE LRC leadership team. Lisa is committed to the community by sharing knowledge, encouraging peer-to-peer support and participation.

“I can only hope the community expands, opening opportunities for Learning Resources colleagues to be recognised for their continuous development and amazing work. Being in a community with others alike is reassuring, encouraging and helpful.”

Niamh Tumelty, The University of Cambridge
Nominated for being a constant source of invaluable support, helping the Digital Research community grow while shaping policy.

Rachel Öner, Öner Consultancy
Nominated for being an advocate for the NATECLA community and helping it excel by setting up online events, a working group, easing concerns, and providing unwavering support.

“Being nominated means so much. NATECLA is a unique organisation run by volunteers and supported by its members. Without this community, the organisation would simply not exist. This award is received in the name of our organisation.”

Seima Mahmood, Bradford College
Nominated for constantly researching, testing, and inspiring other teachers. Seima created the Global Learning Project to enhance digital skills with participants from Bradford College, Wales, and Poland.

Susan Robbins, University of Sussex
Nominated for being an unsung hero by bringing people together to share best practice for the University of Sussex professional development events and termly symposia.

Valerie McCutcheon, University of Glasgow
Nominated for being a community pioneer and leading developments in open research by being quick to share community outputs and bring people together for (ARMA) Open Research Group Special Interest Group and the Open Research Scotland community - and many others.

“It is a genuine belief that working together we can reach solutions more efficiently.  also have a passion for inclusivity and like to ensure that as many people as possible have access to the same information and support.”

Our selection panel 

  • Chair: Natasha Veenendaal, head of community engagement, Jisc 
  • Co-chair: Carolina Barnes, community engagement apprentice, Jisc 
  • Chris Melia, educational developer, DigiLearn sector, Centre for Collaborative Learning University of Central Lancashire and 2022 community champion 
  • Dawn Green, Karten Network and 2022 community champion 
  • Lisa Barnes, UK head of relationship management, Jisc  
  • Richard Beggs, lecturer in HE practice, ALT’s Active Learning Special Interest Group, Ulster University and 2022 community champion 
  • Samantha Ahern, University College London, Association for Learning Technology (ALT) and 2022 community champion

The community champions programme is helping highlight fantastic communities across education and research. Find out about the additional support we can provide to your community group.

2022 community champions

  • Angela Dynes, Northern Regional College - Nominated for being a great advocate for the library sector and her dedication to making a difference and improving the overall experience of students and staff
  • Andrea Quantrill, Kirklees College - Nominated for providing invaluable support through convening a group of TLA managers on LinkedIn and a Teams site
  • Ben Haddock, Sandwell College - Nominated for giving up his spare time to provide live sessions for people across the FE sector to join at the end of a working day, to support teaching on a wide variety of platforms
  • Chloë Hynes, Cc Consultancy - Nominated for developing PDNorth, a vibrant online community helping practitioners in FE and Skills
  • Chris Melia, University of Central Lancashire - Nominated for his leadership, influence and facilitation in the DigiLearn Sector Community
  • Dawn Green, Karten Network - Nominated for working tirelessly to promote access to technology to support inclusion, opportunity and enhanced quality of life for students who have the most complex and profound disabilities
  • Jamie Giarraputo, South Thames Colleges Group - Nominated for sharing resources and ideas extensively to support teachers using various platforms during the pandemic
  • Jane Daniels, Cardiff Metropolitan University - Nominated for being a passionate advocate for the value and impact of good quality metadata in libraries including chairing the CILIP Metadata and Discovery Group and involvement in others
  • Joshua Vicente, University of Exeter - Nominated for aiding in the career development and learning of hundreds of early career learners as a volunteer mentor in the Prospects Discord Virtual Careers Fair
  • Kelly Herbert, Harlow College - Nominated for leading the Harlow College Coding Club, offered to the local community of primary and secondary schools
  • Louise Pratten, Weston College - Nominated for extensive work as a coach, mentor and advocate for integrating technology to enhance teaching and learning, including leading an AoC action research group for digital technology
  • Malvika Sharan, The Alan Turing Institute - Nominated for building a community of open science contributors called the Turing Way and training others to adopt community building approaches to their work
  • Matthew Deeprose, University of Southampton - Nominated for his commitment to accessibility excellence and inclusion including forming and supporting communities of practice and ensuring resources are shared widely
  • Richard Beggs, Ulster University - Nominated for a range of impactful work “as a driving force for digital change” in particular as a member of Active Learning Special Interest Group
  • Samantha Ahern, University College London - Nominated for her work as a sensible and rational voice advocating for technology-enhanced learning
  • Sim Barbaresi, Bangor University - Nominated for his passionate and enthusiastic chairing of the Higher Education Wales Information Technology
  • Tracey Stanley, Cardiff University - Nominated for playing a leading role in bringing together the Wales FE Libraries Forum annual conference and (in response to Black Lives Matter) the Excluded Voices conference

2020 community champions

  • Alex Harding, Runshaw College - Nominated for their commitment to facilitating the of sharing of best practice and providing future IT needs within a tight budget
  • Ben Watson, University of Kent/Accessibility Community - Nominated for being a valued contributor to the accessibility community, working collaboratively with other accessibility specialists to set standards and provide open, practical guidance
  • Dr Paul Holland, Swansea University - Nominated for being an active and passionate partner, working cross-sector in Wales to recognise digital technology as an enabler to collaboration, removing boundaries so that students can work together between organisations, across sectors and even across nations
  • Esam Baboukhan, City of Westminster College - Nominated for his passionate and highly engaged contribution to community activities, helping staff enhance their abilities to embed digital into their teaching and learning
  • Fil McIntyre, Beaumont Collage Lancaster/TechAbility - Nominated for being a community connector with extensive contacts and experience in assistive technology in education.
  • Laura Hutton, Forth Valley College/Assistive Technology Network - Nominated for being an enthusiastic and passionate participant of the AT Network Steering Group, providing a positive influential force across the sector
  • Marieke Guy, Royal Agricultural University - Nominated for being a regular sharer of knowledge and experience that is of value both inside and outside of her organisation
  • Nick Sheppard, Jisc UK ORCID Consortium - Nominated for being an active member of the Jisc UK ORCID Consortium, playing a key role in the community mailing list, discussion, strategy and planning
  • Stefanie Wilkinson, Yorkshire Advance Practitioner group/Barnsley College -Nominated for being unquestionably passionate about enhancing the teaching and learning space for students through supporting staff from both across the region
  • Steven Hope, EduFuturists/Leeds City College - Nominated for being an outstanding advocate of FE and all things teaching and learning. Sharing future-focused learning through podcast conversations and community events
  • Tom Duff, City of Glasgow College - Nominated for being a supporter of active collaborative learning across the sector
  • Sarah Butcher, Academic Applications Forum - Nominated for being the secretary of the long-standing community group, playing a leading role in organising events that bring together IT managers from HE and FE
  • Jon Hofgartner, Weston College - Nominated for being an innovator and driver for adoption of digital technologies that support collaborative learning, with community at the heart of practice