Penny Mordaunt MP

Minister for Disabled People

Penny Mordaunt was appointed Minister of State for Department for Work and Pensions on 15 July 2016. She was elected Conservative MP for Portsmouth North in 2010. 

Penny worked for Conservative Central Office, becoming Head of Broadcasting under William Hague. In 2000 she served as Head of Foreign Press for George W. Bush’s presidential election campaign.

In Parliament, Penny served on the European Scrutiny Committee, Defence Select Committee, and as chairman of the APPGs for Life Science and for Ageing and Older People. In autumn 2013 she was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Defence, Rt Hon. Philip Hammond MP. She served as Minister of State for the Armed Forces from May 2015 until July 2016.

Penny worked as an aid worker in post-revolutionary Romania before and during university. She was director of communications at Kensington & Chelsea Council and the Freight Transport Association and was a director of Diabetes UK, the Community Fund and the Big Lottery Fund. In 2004 Penny founded a media company, which she sold in 2010.


Roy O'Shaughnessy

CEO, Shaw Trust

Roy joined Shaw Trust as Chief Executive in October 2012 following the merger between Shaw Trust and Careers Development Group (CDG). Prior to his appointment he had been Chief Executive of CDG which he joined in 2008. 

Before CDG, Roy spent four years at children's charity St Christopher’s Fellowship, and had been chief executive of a number of organisations in the USA. He has an extensive change management background as well as experience with corporate, government and voluntary sector organisations. Roy is a Fellow of the Institute of Employability Professionals and serves on the board of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers. In addition he is a member of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, for which he chairs a special interest group on welfare to work.


Laura Owens

President, Transcen Inc

Laura has over 30 years of experience, with a strong background as a national leader in the disability employment field. Laura is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Exceptional Education Department where she teaches courses focusing on high school inclusion and transition from school to work.

She is also the founder and President of Creative Employment Opportunities, Inc. (CEO), in Milwaukee, which she founded in 1991. Prior to joining TransCen, Laura served as the Executive Director of APSE (the Association of People Supporting Employment First), a national organization focusing on the advancement of integrated employment for citizens with disabilities. She is an internationally known speaker having presented to businesses, organizations, schools, and at conferences in Ireland, Croatia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Chile, and Portugal.


Huw Davies

Chief Executive, British Association for Supported Employment

Huw has been the chief executive of BASE since 2008. Previously, he chaired the association from its formation in 2006 and chaired one of its predecessor associations, AfSE, from 2002 to 2006. His background is in managing supported employment services. He established Bury EST in 1993 and managed it until 2008. The local authority service provided employment support for disabled jobseekers, care leavers, recovering drug misusers, minority ethnic communities and job retention projects. The service had extensive involvement in transnational projects and had strong links with local employers through an employer forum.

Huw is a member of the Council of the European Union of Supported Employment and will be representing UK and Ireland at the new World Association for Supported Employment.


Jan Hutchinson

Director of Programmes, Centre for Mental Health

Jan Hutchinson is Director of Programmes and Performance at Centre for Mental Health, leading the Centre's Employment Programme and managing research staff. She previously ran a large Individual Placement and Support service in Essex and currently advises government departments on IPS.

Jan qualified as a mental health social worker 23 years ago and has managed Local Authority, NHS and third sector mental health services. Jan holds Masters degrees in Applied Social Studies and Diversity Management and is also a Non-Executive Director at Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. 

Jan is leading the Centre for Mental Health's work in supporting the NHS ambition to double access to Individual Placement and Support (IPS) services in England.


Diane Lightfoot

CEO, Business Disability Forum

Diane Lightfoot took up the post of Chief Executive Officer at Business Disability Forum in February 2017 after moving from her role as Director of Policy and Communications for United Response, a leading national charity that works with disabled people. In her 13 years at United Response, Diane also had responsibility for leading the development and delivery of the organisation’s employment services and is passionate about the role that good work can have in transforming disabled people’s lives. Before joining United Response, Diane spent four years at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) as head of marketing, communications and membership and prior to that was head of marketing at the Pre-school Learning Alliance, a national early years educational charity.


David May

Director of Transformation and Soft Services, Sodexo

David joined Sodexo in 2006 as Technical Operations Director at GSK Research and Development and has, since then, fulfilled multiple client facing national, regional and global roles in outsourced technical, logistical & facilities management services, including his current role at Johnson & Johnson.

Sodexo provides a wide range of facilities and support services to around 50 Johnson & Johnson sites across Europe. In this role David is responsible for delivery, development and improvement of operational and commercial outcomes across the account, including CSR targets in support of J&J's strategically important Social Impact through Procurement initiative.

David is passionate about this challenging work and the potential for corporations to adapt their ways of working to do better for society. He is currently looking to expand supported internships, where the potential exists, across the whole account.


Lara Roberts / Mrunal Sisodia

National Network of Parent Carer Forums

Lara is a parent of two teenage children, one of whom has learning and communication difficulties due to having Down Syndrome. She is an active member of the West Sussex Parent Carer Forum and has been the South East Steering Group member on the NNPCF for the last four years. Lara has delivered lectures at the local university to trainee social workers on the importance of the Children and Families Act 2014 and Care Act. She believes that at the core of this work lies the need to support care professionals right from the beginning of their training to help shape how they communicate and look after families. She’s seen local Parent Carer Forums evolve into a powerful force over the last five years and looks forward to seeing how their influence develops.


Mrunal is the proud father of two children. His son was born very prematurely and he has cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, learning difficulties and an insatiable lust for life. Mrunal is the East of England steering group member for the National Network of Parent Carer Forums and since July 2017 has the pleasure of serving as national co-chair of the organisation.

Mrunal is a passionate advocate of participation and co-production and believes that the direct, authentic voices of all sectors of the community must be involved in making decisions about how the services they use are commissioned, built and delivered.

Prior to joining the NNPCF Steering Group, Mrunal was a director at Leonard Cheshire Disability and has extensive experience of the charity sector - developing strategy, business plans and new services. In a previous life, Mrunal was a director of strategic change management at Deutsche Bank and has over 20 years of experience of leading large, complex organisations and change programmes.


Louise Wright

Deputy Director of Apprenticeships Strategy, Programme Management and Communications, Dept for Education

Louise joined the Department for Education in November 2016 as Deputy Director for Apprenticeships Strategy and Programme Delivery. Much of her career has been in the Department for Work and Pensions and BEIS. In previous roles, Louise worked within benefit fraud deterrent legislation, disability rights, employment policy, and IT modernisation.

Before joining DfE, Louise undertook a secondment in Wandsworth Council where she worked on joining up commissioning on health and social care. She has 2 children and is lucky enough to be accompanied by her faithful friend guide dog, Ramble. The favourite part of Ramble's job is when someone takes her for a walk in St James’ Park.

Outside work, Louise enjoys playing the flute and singing with the Putney Choral Society and she's currently studying for a performance diploma.