Sarah Newton MP

Minister for Disabled People, Health & Work

Sarah Newton was appointed Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions on 9 November 2017. She was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office from 17 July 2016 to 9 November 2017. She was elected Conservative MP for Truro and Falmouth in May 2010.

Sarah served as Assistant Government Whip from May 2015 until July 2016. Sarah was previously a councillor on Merton Council. During her time in Wimbledon, she served as the head of Friends of Cannizaro Park.

Sarah was a marketing officer for IBIS, Citibank and American Express. After working for American Express for 4 years she became Director of Age Concern England. Sarah is also Founder and Initial Director of the International Longevity Centre.

Dr Adam Boddison

Chief Executive, NASEN

Dr Adam Boddison is the Chief Executive for nasen (National Association for Special Educational Needs) with responsibility for strategic direction and operational delivery across the full breadth of nasen’s activity. He is also the Chair of the Whole School SEND consortium, which is leading on the delivery of the government’s SEND Schools’ Workforce contract.  Adam is a National Leader of Governance, Chair and Vice-Chair of two Local Authority primary schools and a Trustee at two Multi-Academy Trusts, which span primary, secondary and specialist settings.  Adam is a Trustee of the Potential Trust, a member of the National SEND Forum and a Fellow of the RSA.  

Prior to this, Adam held a number of senior education roles including Director of the Centre for Professional Education at the University of Warwick and Academic Principal for IGGY (a global educational social network for gifted teenagers).  He has published a range of mathematics books and is a qualified clinical hypnotherapist.


Katharine Davies

Team Leader (Preparation for Adulthood, SEND Unit), Department for Education

Katharine has recently joined the SEND, Alternative Provision and Attendance and Behaviour Unit in the Department for Education and leads on preparation for adulthood (including pathways to employment and supported internships) for young people with SEND. She has previously worked on Targeted Youth Support reforms – working with Local Authorities and the voluntary sector to improve services for vulnerable young people. More recently Katharine has worked on the academies programme, leading the development and implementation of a capital budget.



Richard Elliot

Human Resources Manager, Manpower

Richard is a senior human resources professional with the Manpower Group and has over 20 years’ experience of supporting large organisations with their HR strategy. He currently sits on the steering committee of Aspierations, a CIC set up to support individuals with Asperger’s in the workplace, and is also a member of the Disability Confident Business Leaders Group, a group comprising of leading figures in the business community who work with government on its aspiration to halve the disability employment gap.

A regular speaker on the topic of disability in the workplace, Richard’s drive and commitment to supporting individuals with disabilities stems from having an autistic son and wanting to create an environment whereby employers see the huge talent and potential that this largely untapped talent pool possesses. 

Carmel McKeough

DFN Project Search

Carmel has been passionate about promoting the employment of people with learning disabilities since 2002, speaking at numerous conferences in Europe and providing advice and guidance on how organisations’ policies and practices can be adapted to create a fairer workplace for people with disabilities. She now works for Project SEARCH as a Program Specialist in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Europe. She was previously Deputy Chief Executive at Blackpool Council.

Carmel began her career in HR in the retailing business. She worked her way through the management ranks from Management Trainee to Regional Personnel Manager before moving to the South East to take on the role of Personnel and Training Manager for an international marketing company. In 1993 Carmel moved into the public sector and became the Diversity in Employment lead at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. In 2002 she went on to become the Head of Human Resources in Stockport Council in Greater Manchester. 

Carmel is a trustee of a disability charity in Blackpool, an associate of North West Employers network and now has her own consultancy business.

Lauren Melleney

Project Manager, NHS England

Lauren is a Project Manager for NHS England and has led work on expanding investment in IPS services as part of the NHS Five Years Forward plan.

Lauren has been working in NHS England’s Adult Mental Health team since the beginning of 2016, working across the programme but notably leading work on increasing access to Individual Placement and Support (IPS) services nationally, and supporting work on the Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) standard. Prior to this, Lauren worked in Medical Communications, before completing a master’s degree in Global Mental Health. 



Graham Quinn

CEO, New Bridge Group

Graham is the CEO of the New Bridge Group, a cluster of organisations based in Oldham that support the learning, social and pastoral needs of over 700 children and young people with additional needs between the ages of 4 and 25. Graham fervently believes that young people should be given the skills and attributes to enable them to contribute and participate in their communities and society as a whole, and the group works to create appropriate and high quality individual pathways.

Graham has spent over 25 years in the SEN field – he has previously been a headteacher, deputy and senior teacher in five other schools and this is his third headship. Graham is the chair of the Special Schools Academies Trust (SSAT) SEN headteachers’ steering group, a network representing the views of 450 special schools across the country. He is a National Leader of Education and plays a key role as chair of Special Schools’ Voice, a national organisation representing the views of special schools and working to influence educational thinking and policy at national level. He also advocated for young people with disabilities on the 2012 Olympic group.

Sean Russell

Director of Implementation, West Midlands Mental Health Commission

Sean Russell is Superintendent within West Midlands Police and is the Force lead for Mental Health. He is seconded to the West Midlands Combined Authority as the Director of Implementation for the Mental Health Commission. Recently he has been appointed at the Director for implementation of the Mental Health Commission Action plan and is working across the West Midlands Combined Authority footprint to reduce the burden of mental ill health, improve people’s lives and encourage healthier more productive communities. This includes the Thrive IPS initiative.

Sean has a keen interest in policing mental health and the impact this has for both the service user and the police. He is the lead for the MH triage project where Nurses, Ambulance staff and Police attend together to persons in crisis providing a ‘one stop shop’ approach to mental ill health delivery. He is involved in the National Liaison and Diversion Pilot where mental health staff work more closely with the Criminal Justice System. 

Mrunal Sisodia

Co-Chair, National Network of Parent Carer Forums

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.

Adam Swersky

Director, Social Finance

Adam is a Director at Social Finance and leads the health and employment team. He designed and launched the world’s first Social Impact Bond to support people with mental illness into work. He is currently working with DWP, DH and NHS England on a number of their flagship health and employment programmes, including the West Midlands Combined Authority health-led trial of Individual Placement and Support (IPS) and IPS Grow.

Adam was previously a Project Leader at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), where he worked across the public, private, and social sectors. This work ranged from forecasting social investment demand in England to developing the tourism strategy for Iceland. He was previously seconded to the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), where he helped to secure funding for a malaria treatment programme in Niger. Adam has an MBA from INSEAD and a BA in Economics from Cambridge. He is currently also a Councillor in the London Borough of Harrow, where he is the cabinet member for Finance and Resources.

Ben Willmott

Head of Public Policy, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Ben leads the CIPD’s Public Policy team, which works to inform and shape debate, government policy and legislation in order to enable higher performance at work and better pathways into work for those seeking employment. His particular research and policy areas of interest include employment relations, employee engagement and well-being, absence and stress management, and leadership and management capability.

Ben joined the CIPD in 2003. He started his career in regional journalism and prior to joining the CIPD was news editor and employment law editor at Personnel Today magazine. He has an LLM in Employment law from Kingston University.