New Fellowship programme for political and civic leaders to launch with Stormont event

A new Fellowship programme to support, develop and build the capacity of 24 of Northern Ireland’s mid-career political and civic leaders will launch live from Parliament Buildings on Thursday 2 September.

The Fellowship aims to strengthen democratic institutions and ensure that the current and future cadres of political and civic leaders in Northern Ireland are best placed to lead into the next decade and navigate through complexity. Streamed online live from Parliament Buildings, this event celebrates the launch of the inaugural Fellowship class, giving attendees the chance to meet the Fellows themselves.

Featuring present and future leaders from Northern Ireland and beyond, the event will include discussions from leading policymakers, business leaders and public figures on the collective challenges facing our region. The speakers include the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Kate Nicholl, Sir David Sterling, former Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, and Margaret Ritchie, former MP and Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick.

The leadership symposium is the first step in the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building’s ambitious effort to spark a new conversation exploring the Spirit of Possibility in Northern Ireland. The Fellowship’s Advisory Board, which includes prominent Northern Irish business and academic leaders, will host panel discussions with a range of guest speakers.

The event includes an address from John Healy, the Fellowship Advisory Board Chair and Vice President of Allstate NI, and Professor Karise Hutchinson, Advisory Board Vice Chair and Professor at Ulster University. Through collaboration across the political, local government, business and civic society realms, this launch event seeks to spark a new conversation that realises Northern Ireland’s potential for progress and innovation.

The Fellowship is delivered by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building (CDPB), working with key stakeholders and facilitators from the business sector and leading academic institutions. The programme is supported by Allstate NI, Devenish, FinTrU, Fujitsu NI, Ulster Carpets, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Fellowship’s Advisory Board, who will speak at the launch event, include:

  • John Healy, Managing Director at Allstate NI (Chair)
  • Professor Karise Hutchinson, Professor of Leadership at Ulster University (Vice-Chair).
  • Darragh McCarthy, CEO, FinTrU;
  • Owen Brennan, Chairman, Devenish;
  • Deepa Mann-Kler, CEO, Neon and Visiting Professor, Ulster University;
  • David Clements, Managing Director, Fujitsu NI;
  • Nick Coburn, Managing Director, Ulster Carpets.

Guest Speakers for the Fellowship launch event include:

  • Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Kate Nicholl;
  • Claire Sugden MLA, MLA for East Londonderry;
  • Louise Warde-Hunter, Principal and CEO of Belfast Metropolitan College;
  • Margaret Ritchie, former MP and Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick;
  • Tara Grace Connolly, UN Youth Delegate;
  • Sir David Sterling, Former Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service;
  • Amanda Ferguson, Journalist and Broadcaster.

John Healy, Vice President at Allstate NI and Chair of the Fellowship Advisory Board, said:

“I am thrilled to be speaking at the launch of the Fellowship in what will be a special event live from Parliament Buildings. This symposium celebrates the beginning of the first Fellowship programme which promises to give our emerging political and civic leaders the knowledge, skills, and relationships they require to lead Northern Ireland into the next decade.”

“The chosen 24 candidates will be joined by a group of esteemed business, political and civic society leaders who will discuss the collective challenges we face in NI and abroad. The speakers include experienced policymakers, influential public figures, and esteemed business leaders from the Fellowship Advisory Board.”

“I am looking forward to what promises to be a fantastic occasion and hope to see many attendees tuning in online to join the event.” 

Karise Hutchinson, Professor of Leadership at Ulster University and Vice-Chair of the Fellowship Advisory Board, said:

“Given our troubled past in Northern Ireland, we often neglect to be ambitious for the future. The Fellowship programme seeks to start a new conversation here, one that explores the Spirit of Possibility in Northern Ireland. From Covid-19 recovery to continued political instability, the societal challenges we face require a new, innovative method of thinking. This leadership symposium is an ambitious event gathering business, political and civic leaders to discuss how, through strong collaboration, we can achieve meaningful results.”

“I am very proud to be supporting the launch of this year’s fantastic programme alongside my colleagues in the Advisory Board. I would encourage all those interested to register for this excellent event.”

The Fellowship Launch and Leadership Symposium will take place on Thursday 2 September, 2021 between 9.30am-12.45pm. The event will be streamed live from the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

To register for the event, visit: LINK.

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