UPEN Vice-Chair Elections

We are delighted to announce that we received ten nominations from individuals wishing to stand as UPEN Vice Chairs and will therefore be moving to an election.

In January 2022 UPEN members approved the creation of a set of new Vice Chair roles for the organisation. An appointment process was also set out and agreed. The call for nominations (including self-nominations) was published on 26th Jan and closed on 16th February. If more than four nominations were received the appointment process indicated that the suite of nominees would be presented to members for selection. As such candidates were invited to provide a very short nomination statement of no more than 200 words outlining why they wanted to be a Vice Chair and the skills or expertise they would bring to the role. See below their nomination statements.

We are delighted to announce that we received ten nominations from individuals wishing to stand as UPEN Vice Chairs and will therefore be moving to an election. The candidates for these positions are:

No. 1 Joseph Clarke, Keele University.

No.2 Victoria Schuppert, Brunel University.

No.3. Justin Fisher, Brunel University.

No.4 Arlene Holmes-Henderson, Oxford University.

No.5 Nicola Buckley, University of Cambridge.

No.6 Gareth Giles, University of Southampton.

No.7 Leaza McSorley, University of Sunderland.

No.8 Des McNulty, Glasgow University.

No.9 Hannah Durrant, Cardiff University.

No. 10 Kayleigh Renberg-Fawcett, CAPE, UCL.

Given UPENís increasing visibility and the continual growth of the projects, activities and opportunities it is being invited to contribute to, a decision has been taken to appoint six vice chairs (three for an initial term of one year, three for two years).

To cast your vote, please use the linked google form. One vote equals one institutional member. The ballot will be open for three weeks from Monday 14th March 2022, closing at 17.00 on Friday 1 April 2022. Institutions will be encouraged to consider different dimensions relating to equality, diversity and inclusion when making their selection. Where possible, institutional representatives are encouraged to seek input from other active UPEN members within their university.


It would also be very helpful if all UPEN members could check the website to ensure that their institutional representativeís details are accurate and up to date. This can be done very quickly by clicking on your institutionís logo at†https://www.upen.ac.uk/members/our_members/. To update them, please email the UPEN Manager on†l.e.bea@sheffield.ac.uk.


No. 1 - Joseph Clarke, Keele University.


While Iím still relatively fresh faced in the world of knowledge exchange, I have a deep sense of mission about what Iím trying to do at my host institution Ė Keele University. Keele can boast a wealth of successful policy engaged research and we have big ambitions to grow in this space. My role as Development Manager for Engagement, Partnerships & Impact is very much focussed on galvanising that policy engaged community and growing it into something more cohesive, focussed and effective. With a BA in Politics from the University of Liverpool; an MSc in Public Policy from the University of Birmingham; years of experience in local government; and many more years of experience working in an international setting, I understand, more than most, the importance of engaging effectively with policy makers. I understand the benefits that it brings to both the quality of research, as well as to the positive impact that it can have on society as a whole. Good policy relies on good insights from our academic community, but the real trick is in bridging the gap between those two worlds to develop strong and trusted relationships between policy makers and academics. I firmly believe that UPEN is key to doing this and I very much hope to be able to play a role in supporting UPEN in this endeavour.†

No.2 Victoria Schuppert, Brunel University.


In short, I put myself forward for the post of Vice Chair because I fit what you want. The knowledge mobilisation and nexus between academia and public policy UPEN provides, matches my previous and current work as Research Impact Officer at Brunel, made evident by the successful delivery of relevant work streams (REF and non-REF impact case studies; portfolios to demonstrate our research to external stakeholders; communications with national and international organisations to extrapolate the benefits that have occurred on both sides, and more). This is accentuated further by Brunelís partnership with the Cabinet Officeís Open Innovation Team Ė since 2019, Iíve been supporting academics to work closely with government officials to develop ideas in key policy areas, which resulted in a†number of REF2021 impact case studies. As a result, I have gained extensive experience in†developing case studies and funding proposals which generated impact of research on a range of policy areas (educational, social justice, legal, urban, intelligence) and know how to communicate research findings to policymakers. Currently, the Chair of UPEN and I work on establishing links between UPEN and World Bank. That ongoing work serves as an excellent base for additional work I could deliver as Vice Chair and support UPEN further in other projects and initiatives.

No.3. Justin Fisher, Brunel University.


I am Professor of Political Science and Director of Brunel Public Policy at Brunel University London. I am well placed to make a very positive contribution to UPEN as both an experienced deliverer and facilitator of policy engagement. In terms of delivery, I have advised and delivered evidence to numerous inquiries for governments and parliaments, both in the UK and overseas. As a facilitator, I have established the Policy Unit at Brunel (www.brunel.ac.uk/bpp) and delivered substantial policy engagement across the University. I am fully committed to the ĎTeam Scienceí approach to research and policy engagement. Just as research cannot occur on any scale without an active partnership between academic and professional staff, so policy engagement will only flourish by similar collaboration. It is vital that the UPEN executive reflects this essential partnership.

I believe strongly in UPENís mission, and if elected will strive to ensure that UPEN not only promotes the excellence of UK research to policy-makers, legislators and regulators, but also helps convince universities and their staff that policy engagement is an essential part of their mission. My expertise in the delivery and facilitation of policy engagement makes me well placed to deliver on all of these goals.

No.4 Arlene Holmes-Henderson, Oxford University.


I am a mid-career Arts and Humanities academic and an advocate for collaboration between professional services staff and academic staff at all levels, and across the sector, to improve policymakersí engagement with research. I find policy engagement fascinating, fun and fulfilling and want to be UPEN Vice-Chair to being some positivity to the sector, especially with academic audiences. I have led successful research and public policy partnership projects with both government and parliament and know that regular, clear communication with stakeholders is absolutely vital. In 2022-2023, I am a British Academy Innovation Fellow working with the MoJ, DfE, DCMS, BEIS, Ofqual and Ofsted at the intersection of research, policy and practice. As UPEN Vice-Chair, I will ensure that projects are realistically-scoped, deadlines are met and members are kept informed every step of the way. Investing in the future is important to me. I speak annually at the Arts and Humanities Research Council/Institute for Governmentís ĎEngaging with Governmentí course, ensuring that each cohort of early-career researchers knows how to get started. Since 2021, I have been one of five Oxford University Policy Leaders, and I will bring my skills, experience and insights from this role to the UPEN Vice-Chair position. And a Glaswegian accent!

No.5 Nicola Buckley, University of Cambridge.


Iím Associate Director at the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP) at the University of Cambridge, where I direct the Policy Fellowships, working with 100 policy makers each year, creating bespoke professional development programmes, each meeting 10-25 researchers 1:1. I also organise Policy Workshops with academics and policy partners. Iím committed to the value of sharing knowledge in policy engagement. I value the work of UPEN. Iím the Cambridge lead in the CAPE project, as well as working with several other UPEN members on CSaPís Affiliate programme where we connect Policy Fellows with researchers at other universities including Bath, Bristol, Southampton and Sheffield. Before joining CSaP, I was Head of Public Engagement at University of Cambridge. I worked on several good practice development projects with the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement, and I see the value of coordinating centres in university knowledge exchange. I would be pleased to help with UPENís work and sub-committees, and to act as an ambassador. I frequently speak on academic-policy engagement at workshops for both researchers and policy makers. I have a successful track record of grant applications and began my career as a fundraising manager in the voluntary sector.

No.6 Gareth Giles, University of Southampton.


I have worked in knowledge brokerage for the last six years at a leading research intensive university and am well connected across the sector. In my role within the UPEN Futures sub-committee and Executive Committee I have advocated for collaborative and creative ways to fund and develop the benefits that UPEN can deliver to its stakeholders. In my role as co-chair for the ARI Sub-Committee I have worked collaboratively the wider network membership by seeking prioritisation of departments to engage with and worked collaboratively with the subcommittee and co-chair to deliver a number of high level engagement events using my excellent influencing, communication and organisational skills.

Using this set of skills and experience I think I would be well placed to move UPEN towards a sustainable future in national coordinating centre model. Thank you for your consideration of my EoI.

No.7 Leaza McSorley, University of Sunderland.


Through my involvement with UPEN I have worked on the development of Areas of Research Interest (which are produced by government departments providing information on their priority research topics/questions).The project, supported by UPEN, had the challenge of developing research priorities for government, funders and academics looking to the (very different and uncertain) medium to longer term. I led a sub-group for the Government-Office for Science on ĎProductivity, Business and the National Economyí. I am also a member of the ESRC funded Productivity Instituteís Yorkshire, Humber and North East Productivity forum. As Vice President of UPEN I would welcome the opportunity to continue to develop this work, building academic-policy engagement across the wide range of UPEN membersí interests. My focus would be to identify opportunities for constructive engagement with policy-makers that will make a positive difference: improving policy processes and outcomes. As Professor of Enterprise here at the University of Sunderland it is important to me that we strengthen the diversity of expertise in academic-policy engagement. Not only diversity in the people, but diversity in the type of institution and the geography of engagement.

No.8 Des McNulty, Glasgow University.


Des McNulty is one of the founder members of UPEN, playing a key role in ensuring that UPEN takes account of the politics of the devolved nations as well as those of Westminster. Before joining Glasgow University in 2012, he was an elected member of the Scottish Parliament where he served as Minister for Social Justice and as Chair of the Parliamentís Finance Committee. He helped to set up Policy Scotland and became Dean for Public Policy. He was then appointed as Assistant Vice Principal in 2017, responsible for civic engagement and place leadership. Having recently retired, with more time to devote to his various policy interests, Des is keen to contribute his experience as a policy practitioner in senior posts in local government and the devolved government in Scotland as well as his experience in senior roles in universities to support early and mid-career public policy colleagues and the development of the public policy community in UK universities. Especially in the context of the UK governmentís levelling up agenda, it is important to maintain a focus on central-local relations and the emergence of regional government in England including how that might impact on Scotland and Wales.

No.9 Hannah Durrant, Cardiff University.


I welcome the opportunity to serve as Vice Chair of UPEN. I have been involved in UPEN since its inception and have forged strong links between the network and the Wales Centre for Public Policy (Cardiff University) since my appointment there in 2018. I have been an active member, contributing to both the Areas of Research Interest (ARI) and Regional and Devolved Administration sub-committees. In both in have brokered opportunities for policy engagement in Wales, for example through policy-research partnership projects at the national and local level in Wales and the development of Senedd ARIs. I have presented at member universities on mechanisms for policy engagement in Wales and hosted a UPEN members meeting (May 2019), attended by members of the Welsh Parliament. I have actively championed exploration of the role research evidence can play in addressing common and divergent policy priorities across the four nations and sought to ensure UPEN can realise its commitment to being a UK-wide community of universities and policy professionals. If elected, I look forward to being able to support the Chair and sub-committees of UPEN further in the role of Vice Chair, and continue to represent and promote the value and contribution of UPEN to policy-research engagement across the UK.

No. 10 Kayleigh Renberg-Fawcett, CAPE, UCL.


I bring a strong background in business development, deep networks in and expertise of academic policy engagement across all levels of government and geographies, and a proven track record of building grassroots fora into sustainable networks. Combined with my existing knowledge of UPENís purpose and passion for seeing it grow and stabilise, I will utilise this to -
Support the Chair by:
- Drawing on my experience working across UPENís diverse membership, which grew from 30 to 80 UK HEIs

- Bringing in action-orientated insights generated through the £10m Research England CAPE project, to support strategic thinking on:
- what works (and doesnít);

- what systems are needed;

- and how to advance EDI across engagements.

Support the committees by:
- Building on my work securing ESRC funding for UPENís Future and establishing 6 committees.

- Sharing insight through my role as co-chair of the EDI committee and membership of the international committee.

Represent UPEN externally by:
- Championing UPEN as a more democratic, inclusive and systematic means of research-policy engagement.

- Prioritising policy stakeholders that represent all four nations (at a national, regional and local level) and opportunities to learn from international stakeholders.

I wish to be considered for VC as I remain committed to Ė and excited about Ė UPENís future. I believe my track record with UPEN, policy partners and business places me in a strong position to support UPEN in its next phase.

Posted 10/03/2022 13:45