Panelists and Workshop Leaders Bios

Panel: Digital Events // March 22nd

Jess Brough

Jess Brough is a writer, a psycholinguistics PhD student at the University of Edinburgh and the Founder and Technical Director of Fringe of Colour – an Edinburgh-based multi-award-winning arts initiative for Black people and People of Colour. Its second online arts festival Fringe of Colour Films will take place from the 1st – 15th August 2021 at

Jess has written for gal-dem, The Skinny and the Glasgow Film Festival, and has been published with an essay in The Bi-Bible: New Testimonials and a short story in Scottish literary magazine Extra Teeth and The Best of British Fantasy 2019 anthology.

Panel: Digital Events // March 22nd

Mike Press & Hazel White

Hazel White and Mike Press are the co-directors of Open Change, a Dundee based innovation company – and Design Associates of the Design Council. Open Change delivers design-led organisational change projects for clients who include the Scottish Government, Greater London Authority, Creative Scotland and NHS Scotland. They both have experience of running online education and events over a number of years, which has increased significantly in the last year. Alongside UK-wide online training delivery, they also run the Distanced Gathering – an acclaimed fortnightly zoom based event that attracts up to 70 people.

Panel: Digital Events // March 22nd

Graham Main

Graham Main is a producer specialising in community participation models and is the founder of Big Burns Supper (2011), Le Haggis (2013), Carlisle Fringe (2015), and Young Fringe (2004). He has held roles for major arts organisations across Europe, including Dublin Fringe Festival, Dublin Opera, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, St. Patricks Festival, Communidad Madrid and most recently seconded as the General Manager of the Harold Pinter Theatre presenting Ian McKellen on Stage in 2019. In 2017 he led the British Council’s Festivals Academy for Producers of the Future in Brazil in collaboration with the London Festival of Theatre.

Workshop: Filmmaking with Patrick Rooney // 24th March

Patrick Rooney

Patrick Rooney is an award-winning freelance filmmaker, working under the title of DEAR FRIEND Films. He produces a variety of high quality, professional video and film content: from feature films, short films and documentaries, to promotional videos, showreels and other online content. Based in Glasgow, Scotland, Patrick continues to work with a variety of international clients, as well as collaborate with other production companies across the U.K.


Panel: Creating a Campaign // 29th March

Sophie Amono

Sophie is the founder of Edinburgh based social media agency Stuffs; a black owned, woman led creative studio that produces social media campaigns for brands across the UK and Europe. Over the last ten years her career has seen her work with some of biggest brands in contemporary communications including Dazed Digital, Bulletproof, The Times, and NOT JUST A LABEL. Her path to agency ownership was born out a desire to fill the gap she saw in ethnic minority and female leadership within the creative industries – a path which has seen her now go on to grow a team of over 100 members of staff and influencers – and where her personal efforts are now focused on advocacy work with underrepresented groups. Sophie is also on the Creative Scotland Equalities, Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Group with the vision to help drive impactful change for underrepresented creatives across Scotland, with a keen focus on women and ethnic minorities within the media, digital and technology industry..

Panel: Creating a Campaign // 29th March

Karen Larbi


Karen Larbi is a campaigner, trainer, facilitator and recovery advocate. She currently works at Campaign Bootcamp as a Trainer, previously working as a Campaigns Assistant at the National Union of Students and at Rethink Mental Illness on the Time to Change campaign. She is the Founder of POC In Nature, an online platform dedicated to helping people of colour explore the healing power of nature, environmental justice and land-honouring ancestral traditions. She provides experiential training on power and privilege, supporting access to nature for under-represented groups, mental health and intersectionality, and is passionate about social justice, spirituality, recovery and ecology.

Panel: Creating a Campaign // 29th March

Kirstin McEwan

Kirstin is a freelance digital marketing manager, content creator and photographer based in Edinburgh. Kirstin has built a successful portfolio of clients in the arts, culture and music sectors and works with organisations, brands and creatives to create meaningful, impactful and standout campaigns and visuals that will enhance and showcase the work of her clients across all digital platforms. Kirstin is passionate about working with people who make positive change in the creative industries and her current work focuses on cultural regeneration, radical arts initiatives and music creation in Scotland.

Workshop: An Introduction to Crowdfunding // 31st March

Kaye Symington

Kaye is co-founder of Paved With Gold, a crowdfunding and marketing agency based in Glasgow and London. Kaye supports makers and founders to launch their ideas and turn their businesses into loved brands. She has developed and worked on programmes aimed at creatives alongside organisations like The Design Council, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government. She guest lectures on branding and crowdfunding at Stirling University, Glasgow Caledonian University and gives talks on behalf of Kickstarter. Giving people the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Panel: Graphic Design: A Round Table // 5th April

Niall Smillie

A BA(Hons) graduate from the University of Ulster School of Art, Niall has over 25 years of experience in the design and creative industry. Prior to establishing Fourtwentyseven, Niall has held positions as Creative Director with leading design studios in both Belfast and Glasgow and has gained a wealth of experience in these positions working on brand and design projects for organisations in both the public and private sectors. His skills and experience have been gained while working with a wide range of clients including Audi, Sony, Benetton, Top Shop, Activision, Absolut, The Famous Grouse and Coca-Cola.

Panel: Graphic Design: A Round Table // 5th April

Jamie Stryker 

Jamie is a graphic designer and illustrator from Chico, California. Jamie graduated from California State University, Chico in 2018 with a degree in Communication Design, receiving Summa Cum Laude honours, with additional time spent abroad studying design at Edinburgh Napier University. She has experience working in the realm of apparel design and now works as a freelance designer based in Dumfries serving an eclectic array of clients near and far, working on a variety of design projects from animated videos, to logos/branding and more. She also enjoys more traditional printmaking methods, such as screen-printing, lino, cyanotype and risograph.

Workshop: An Introduction to Graphic Design // 7th April

Alan Cameron

I’m Alan Cameron, a freelance multi-disciplinary designer, illustrator and film maker.  I graduated in Visual Communications from the Glasgow School of Art, and spent a number of years in Glasgow making music videos, and establishing myself in the world of design.  I am now based in Dumfries & Galloway and work with a wide range of clients from small local companies to major national organisations across the UK. 

I offer a diverse range of specialisms built on years of experience bringing my creative ideas to the needs of my clients.  I am experienced in a broad range of Adobe programs: Illustrator, Premier, InDesign, After Effects and Photoshop.

Workshop: Podcasting // 14th April

Halina Rifai

Since 2009, Halina Rifai has run music site and podcast, Podcast. She has also been a PR & Marketing manager within the industry and she currently leads this role at Scottish Women Inventing Music. She also works as a podcast producer and has produced various series including A Sonic Hug (mental health), Glasgow Short Film Festival, Barclay’s and Word Up! (The Big Light network) for BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Sounds.


Workshop: Building Your Voice // 19th April

Russell Dornan

Russell Dornan (he/him) is the Digital Media Content Manager at National Museums Scotland (on secondment from V&A Dundee) where he looks after digital content across the website and social media channels. He commissions editorial content and develops digital projects for museums, from games to webcomics, looking for unexpected and challenging ways to tell stories in relatable and authentic ways.


Panel: Inclusive Communication // 21st April

Winston Denerley

I am a third year British Sign Language Interpreting and Translating student at Heriot-Watt University. I come from a deaf family with deep roots in the deaf and British Sign Language (BSL) community, and this has allowed me to gain a wealth of knowledge about this beautifully unique and diverse community. The exciting thing is that I am still learning so much as the landscape of the BSL and deaf community, with its rich language and history, is changing so much all the time! During the Soap Box, I hope to pass over as much of my knowledge and experience to better equip you with essential equality skills for your businesses and projects.

Panel: Inclusive Communication // 21st April

Janis McDonald

Janis McDonald is currently the Chief Officer of the Scottish Council on Deafness. Janis has a nursing background and has worked in the Public and Third Sectors. Her thematic specialities include, addictions, homelessness, equalities and deafness. 

Working over a number of years in service provision, local and national intermediates, and a range of locations in Scotland, has allowed her to develop a range of skills, experience, and knowledge. She is now particularly interested in quality and standards, good governance and communication equality.


Workshop: How to Write A Creative Brief // 26th April

Grace Cardazo

Grace Cardozo is Sleeping Giants’ Managing Director. She has over 25 years’ experience in youth work and community development, project management, fundraising, planning and self-evaluation, consultancy and inter-agency work, and is particularly admired for her engaging, effective and interactive training and facilitation style. Grace is also a Non-Executive Director on the board of NHS Dumfries and Galloway. 

A passionate advocate for equality and social justice, community empowerment and effective community engagement, she strives in all her roles to build others’ capacity to include and listen to the voices of the most marginalised members of our communities. 

Panel: The New World of Work // 28th April

Mallath Abbas

@biomecollective | @maltron3D

Malath Abbas is a freelance game designer, artist and producer working on experimental and meaningful games in Scotland. Malath is a founding member of Biome Collective, a creative studio, community of freelancers and digital space for people to create, collaborate and explore new frontiers in games, digital art and technology. Malath has produced and created games and interactive installations including Killbox and Shpeel, as well as founding and producing the game festival Arcadia that aims to empower marginalised voices in the game sector.

Panel: The New World of Work // 28th April

Lindsay Mason Ross

Despite ambitions of a university education, on the shoogly advice of her parents, Lindsey left Dumfries Academy at 17 with a handful of Highers to work in the local Post Office. She made up for it in later life, graduating with a degree in Computing in 1998, followed by a Masters Degree in Digital Marketing at the age of 56. Her career has been built on her ability to spot new opportunities and change direction. Lindsey spent many years in public sector work, and now flies solo, managing a busy diary as a Humanist Celebrant, and providing freelance digital marketing consultancy to small and microbusinesses. 

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