Children and young people are the voice of the future. Our keynote addresses will share the opportunities and inspiration that can be gained from the younger members of our community.
Colin Low – Lord Low of Dalston CBE
Colin has been President of Visionary since 2010. Former Chair, now Vice President of RNIB, and former President of the European Blind Union (EBU) and the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI). Colin taught Law and Criminology at Leeds University before becoming Director of the GLC’s Disability Resource Team. He then carried out research into theories of disability as Senior Research Fellow at City University and was appointed to the House of Lords in 2006. He was a member of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (1994-2007); the Disability Rights Task Force (1997-1999); and the Disability Rights Commission (2000-2002); and chaired the Low Commission on the future of advice and legal support on social welfare law.
Fiona returned to Visionary as Chief Executive in June 2019 following a short time working with Thomas Pocklington Trust, where she took a lead in developing TPT’s collaborative relationships. Fiona is delighted to be back in Visionary and is very much looking forward to the next exciting stage in the Visionary journey.
Previously, Fiona was Chief Executive of Visibility, a sight loss charity in the west of Scotland. Before joining Visibility, she was the Scottish Director of Breast Cancer Care. Prior to that Fiona worked in social action broadcasting. She is a member of the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Visual Impairment and is also a trustee of two grant-giving trusts – The Corra Foundation and The Blindcraft Trust. Fiona has also been a trustee and elected president of Scottish Council on Visual Impairment and a trustee of ACOSVO (the Association of Chief Executive Officers for Scotland).
Ruth Ibegbuna was a secondary school teacher in Bradford and then Manchester who in 2007 founded the award-winning social action and youth leadership programme RECLAIM. The Manchester-based charity worked to create young leaders from working class communities and to remove the stigma attached to many northern marginalised communities.
Ruth was listed in The Sunday Times as one of the 500 most influential people in the UK, in The Debrett’s 500 in 2016. She was also listed by Virgin as one of the top six female change makers internationally and British Airways selected her in 2019 as one of their 100 Modern Britons.
Ruth’s latest venture is the Roots Programme, a radical cultural exchange programme for influencers from hugely different backgrounds; also for young people from state and private schools, to create a more compassionate, curious, civilised and united UK. Ruth is also in the process of creating a new school in South Manchester called Rekindle, designed to create a nurturing and supportive space for the young people who need it most.
Baljeet Sandhu is founder of the Knowledge Equity Initiative (KEI) at the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale University and founding partner of the 2027 Programme, a collaboration with leading UK organisations and funders to diversify the UK philanthropic sector and bring community power into grant giving. Baljeet’s core interests span education, innovation, entrepreneurship and social and economic justice. Prior to joining Yale, she was the founding director of the Migrant & Refugee Children’s Legal Unit (MiCLU) and founding partner of Kids in Need of Defense UK. Baljeet was awarded Young Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year in the UK in 2011 and was presented with the DVF International Award during the Women in the World Conference at the United Nations in April 2017.
Baljeet has spoken widely on the need for equitable and inclusive leadership opportunities for people and communities with lived experience of social and environmental issues in not-for-profit, funding, education, public and private sector organisations. Most recently, she helped establish and launch the national Lived Experience Movement (LEx Move).
Naqi Haider Rizvi
Naqi Rizvi is an engineer by qualification, a banker by profession and a sportsman by passion. Despite being the only one in his entire batch with a physical disability, he graduated with the highest grade to obtain a degree in Industrial Engineering. He then pursued further education and completed his master’s degree in Systems Engineering and Technology Management from University College London and graduated with an excellent grade. Naqi went on to secure a job with a world-renowned bank as an international student and now works in their head office in Canary Wharf. He is passionate about sports and is presently ranked third in the world in the men’s category of blind tennis. He has also run 2 half marathons and regularly takes part in sporting tournaments related to cycling, goal ball, tennis and running.
Naqi is passionate about spreading the message of hope and perseverance and has spoken at several events including TEDx talks Losing Sight Without Losing Vision and conferences in Malaysia and Oman. He is very keen to make a difference to the world around him and won a global diversity award with Barclays in 2018. He also sits on the steering committee of the employee network to promote disability and mental health. Naqi has lived in four different countries and hopes to make the UK his permanent home.