Community champions for Digifest 2023

Celebrating extraordinary people supporting communities.

Delegates listening to speaker at Digifest

Welcoming our community champions of 2023 

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.  

Our community champions for 2023 

  • Alison Harvey, Cardiff University for her transformation work helping develop computer vision tools and work as co-chair of the global IIIF Archives Group
  • Chris Banks, Imperial College London, who can move 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, helping link members, Swansea University, and suppliers by answering queries and ensuring members and staff and learners have the best possible learning experience
  • Erika Neck, The College, Merthyr Tydfil, inspiring FE LRC community peers through engaging and inspiring presentations and sessions
  • Dr Flavio Azevedo, University of Cambridge for being the driving force behind Framework for Open and Reproducible Research Training
  • Geena Vabulas, Karten Network / Policy Connect who works 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, for empowering practitioner research in FE with FEresearchpodcast and the Learning and Skills Research Network - among others - supporting peers and amplifying their work
  • Joy McLean, West College Scotland who plays a vital part of the FE LRC leadership team, delivering workshops and sharing knowledge on how a library can use freely available digital tools
  • Kelly Edwards, Harlow College who leads digital and quality teams to improve practice for teachers and students from conception to full implementation. 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 who is part of the FE LRC leadership team, committed to the community by sharing knowledge, encouraging peer-to-peer support and participation
  • Niamh Tumelty, The University of Cambridge who is a constant source of invaluable support, helping the Digital Research community grow while shaping policy
  • Rachel Öner, Öner Consultancy an advocate for the NATECLA community helping it excel by setting up online events, a working group, easing concerns, and providing unwavering support
  • Seima Mahmood, Bradford College who is constantly researching, testing, and inspiring other teachers. Creating the Global Learning Project to enhance digital skills with participants from Bradford College, Wales, and Poland
  • Susan Robbins, University of Sussex an unsung hero bringing people together to share best practice for the University of Sussex professional development events and termly symposia
  • Valerie McCutcheon, University of Glasgow who is a community pioneer 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

And our community champion finalists  

  • Alina Tasadaq, Leeds Trinity University  
  • Monika Worthington, Bradford College  
  • Sarah Waddington, Socially Mobile (CIC and PR Leadership School)  
  • Kerry Heathcote, College of West Anglia  
  • Jonathan Selvage, Chelmsford College  
  • Dominik Lukes, University of Oxford  
  • Stacy Vipas, Askham Bryan College  

With thanks to 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.