Dr Maren Thom

lecturer; writer; acting & vocal trainer; co-host of the Performance Anxiety podcast

Dr Maren Thom has worked in film and theatre, and teaches film, speech and stage-work at university level. Her research and writing focuses on performance and representation as both social and artistic concepts. After working in academia she is now a freelance writer and leads acting workshops for teaching staff at universities.

Maren’s chapter ‘The Backlash Against Woke Aesthetics’ was published in The Conformist Rebellion in January 2022 by Rowman and Littlefield Int.

Maren is co-host of Performance Anxiety: the podcast which aims to celebrate and dissect the performances everyone’s talking about.

Follow Performance Anxiety on Twitter @perform_pod

Ben Plimmer

Engineering Program Manager in International Infrastructure

Ben is an engineering graduate from the University of Sheffield. Since graduating he has worked on international infrastructure projects at a major tech firm as an engineering project manager. The most notable project he has contributed to being the 2Africa cable system, landing in 3 continents and at commencement was the longest cable system in the world spanning over 45,000km. During university he also gained experience in nuclear and aerospace sectors and is up for talking any engineering you like!

In his ‘spare time’ Ben has also set up a charity, reads copious amounts of philosophy and plays a variety of sports very averagely!

Matthew Patten

political & communications director, Centre for Social Justice

Matthew is the Political & Communications Director for the Centre for Social Justice, the UK’s leading think-tank tackling the root causes of poverty and social breakdown.   

Previously, he was Chief Executive of the Mayor’s Fund for London, CEO of The Lord’s Taverners, and founding CEO of global sports and entertainment agency, M&C Saatchi Sponsorship.

Matthew was a Member of the European Parliament and sat on the EU’s Employment & Social Affairs Committee and was spokesperson for children & young people.

His non-executive Director roles have included St John Ambulance, London Funders, The Oxford Literary Festival, The Centre for Brexit Policy, and Chair of Governors at Ipswich High School. 

Matthew describes his greatest achievement as delivering his third son. The midwives were late, there was nothing else to be done, and fortunately his wife knew exactly what to do.

Follow Matthew and the Centre for Social Justice on Twitter – @csjthinktank

Kathryn Bragg

statistician

Kathryn is a currently a statistician working in the Civil Service, however she spent many years in education, teaching English and psychology both in the UK and abroad. She debated competitively in high school in the USA and continued to stay involved in debate as a tournament judge while studying psychology at UNC Chapel Hill. She later pursued an MA in Applied Linguistics (TEFL) at the American University in Cairo, which kickstarted her career in international education, teaching in Egypt, the USA, Thailand and Jordan before settling in the UK in 2013. 

Felice Basbøll

student of history, Trinity College Dublin

Felice is a 21-year-old student from Copenhagen, Denmark studying history at Trinity College Dublin. She volunteered at the Battle of Ideas 2022, and is currently interning with Ideas Matter, helping to organise the Living Freedom Summer School, and the Academy, as well as supporting the Academy of Ideas with the Battle of Ideas 2023.

Felice has written for online publications on free speech, activism, and university life and is hoping to pursue a career in journalism. She is the president of the student run non-profit organisation Nordic Study Abroad Community which runs an annual conference for high school and university students, and she is the treasurer of the Trinity College Hiking Society. Until last year she was also a competitive figure skater and placed third at the Danish national championships in 2021.

Sophia Blackwell

marketing manager, Hodder Education

Sophia Blackwell works as a marketing manager at Hodder Education and as a freelance writer, editor, and radio journalist making arts programmes and podcasts.

Sophia holds a BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford. Shortly after graduating, she discovered the two main passions of her adult life – publishing and performance poetry. She has worked in publishing since then and is also the author of three collections of poetry and a novel, and her most recent non-fiction book, The Poetry Writers’ Handbook, was published by Bloomsbury in 2022. Sophia’s projects this year include hosting events for Migrant Help, teaching a 5-week online poetry course for Bloomsbury and performing at Camden People’s Theatre this summer.

Follow Sophia on Twitter @sophiablackwell

Lucy Chambers

freelance organisation designer and facilitator

Lucy Chambers works as a freelance organisation designer and facilitator.  She runs TechtoHuman.com, a website dedicated to exploring ways to talk about technology in plain, accessible language.

Lucy holds a BA (Hons) in Modern and Medieval Languages (specialising in German and Russian) from the University of Cambridge. After graduating, she embarked on a brief career in journalism. This rapidly evolved into a career teaching journalists and NGOs how to leverage data as evidence. From there she moved into product management and tech consultancy for a broad range of clients from NGOs to multi-million dollar global enterprises. Her topics of life-long study are power dynamics, how the brain works and participatory decision making.  

Follow Lucy on Twitter @lucyfedia

Ben Daunter

Ancient History Undergraduate at Durham University

Jascha Krekeler

student of social work, Hochschule Darmstadt

Jascha was a student at Helmholtzschule Frankfurt where he completed his full time education in 2018. He has worked as a daycare worker and as an integration assistant in an elementary school. He is now studying social work at Hochschule Darmstadt.

Karen Speier

Key Account Manager, Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und Technologie GmbH

Karen is the Key Account Manager at Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und Technologie GmbH. Berlin Partner supports economic growth, promotes business, technology and innovation, and presents the advantages of capital to companies, investors and talents.