About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

As a group, these Judges offer a wealth of experience and insights regarding democracy and civic participation, and the need for innovation in this field. The Judges will support Nesta to find and award the 10 best innovations in democracy and civic participation in the UK.

Chrystal Genesis - Stance Podcast


Chrystal Genesis is a journalist and curator from London. She runs Stance which is an independent award-winning arts and culture podcast. She leads on creating courses, workshops and performance programmes for young people at Southbank Centre, and she is also executive producer of Southbank Centre’s Violet Nights podcast.

Previously, Chrystal worked at the BBC producing multi-platform arts and current affairs content. This included content for the Today Programme, The World at One, Woman's Hour and PM, The World Affairs Unit and BBC World. Chrystal curates and chairs festival talks and performance programmes for organisations including the BFI, Tate, Women of the World Foundation and University of the Arts London.

Sir Paul Grice - Queen Margaret University


Sir Paul Grice joined QMU as Principal and Vice-Chancellor in 2019 and was formerly Clerk and Chief Executive of the Scottish Parliament. He was knighted in the New Year Honours List 2016 for services to the Scottish Parliament and voluntary services to higher education and the community in Scotland.

He has held the position of Clerk and Chief Executive of the Scottish Parliament since its inception in 1999, leading the delivery of all services to the Parliament alongside acting as its principal adviser on procedural and constitutional matters. Sir Paul served as a member of the University Court of Stirling and as a member of the Economic and Social Research Council and is a board member of Policy Scotland at the University of Glasgow.

Tim Hughes - Involve


Tim is director of Involve and an expert in public participation and open governance. He has led Involve to embark on a radical new strategy to put people at the heart of decision-making in the UK.

Tim has advised national, devolved and local governments in the UK on designing and facilitating effective participatory processes. He has overseen and co-lead facilitated large deliberative processes, including the Citizens' Assembly on Brexit and Citizens' Assembly on Social Care. He has led the UK Open Government Network, including through developing two open government action plans with the UK government. He has worked with multilateral organisations - including the OECD, Council of Europe and Open Government Partnership - to improve the practice of participation and open government globally. And he has researched and written on topics including public participation, open government and democratic reform.

Before joining Involve, Tim was a researcher for the National School of Government's Sunningdale Institute.

Dan Lawes - YouthPolitics UK


Daniel is an activist from Manchester. In 2016 he founded the non-profit organisation YouthPolitics UK, with the aim of providing young people with the skills needed to enact positive social change and to engage them with the democratic process. Since its formation, YouthPolitics UK has expanded nation-wide, with branches in London and Edinburgh. The youth led organisation ensures that young peoples’ voices are heard in the current political climate by offering free training programmes and providing opportunities to discuss issues with high profile decision makers. Daniel is an ambassador of HRH #iWill Campaign and has been awarded The Diana Award and a National Democracy Award from the UK Government for his work.

Stephanie Leonard - Act Build Change


Stephanie Leonard is a community organiser and founder of Act Build Change: a learning community supporting people to organise around the UK. We provide open source, high quality community organising training to thousands of citizens every year, to act on the biggest issues of our times.

Previously an organiser for Citizens UK, Stephanie worked mostly with young people - specifically those without permanent status. Collectively they secured a Deputy Mayor for Integration in 2017 (1st time in history), supporting 80,000 young people get better access to citizenship. Working with residents in Camden and Islington, she fought for the resettlement of 29 Syrian families into the boroughs. With workers, she won 4 Living Wage campaigns putting thousands of pounds back into staff pockets. For three years Stephanie taught the practical module in community organising for the MSc Social Development Practice at University College London.

Miriam Levin - Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport


Miriam is Head of Community Action and Giving at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Her career spans central government, public, private and third sectors. In her current role, she runs several national programmes, including trialling deliberative democracy to open up local government decision-making to residents through citizens’ assemblies; creating active and mobilised citizens through community organising training; growing new Place Based Giving schemes; and supporting partnerships of citizens, civil society organisations and local authorities to work together to tackle issues through social action.

Prior to this she was responsible for community mobilisation around Neighbourhood Planning and Community Rights in the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Anthony Lilley - Magic Lantern Productions


Anthony is a media and arts producer, strategist and consultant. As CEO of Magic Lantern Productions, he has BAFTA, RTS and Peabody awards to his name. His credits include FourDocs (C4), Dr Who, Top Gear and many others (BBC) and web, mobile, TV, games and strategy projects for numerous clients around the world. He currently spends most of his time working on Scenario Two Ltd, his commercial theatre venture with John Berry CBE.

Anthony holds a specially created Chair in Creative Industries at Ulster University and has previously been Visiting Professor at the Universities of Ulster, Bournemouth and Oxford. He is a Member of the Circle of Cultural Fellows at King’s College, London and sits on the Arts and Humanities Research Council where he is currently Chair of the £80million Creative Industries Clusters Programme.

He is also a trustee of the Crafts Council and continues to chair the board of the internationally renowned artists group, Blast Theory.

Peter Macfadyen - Flatpack Democracy


Peter has worked in social justice for 40 years. Trained as a gardener, he then worked with disabled people and disability rights organisations in Africa and India. His work with Comic Relief has focussed on grants assessing and supporting ways to reduce the impact of climate change on poor people.

He founded Sustainable Frome and is a Director of Frome’s Renewable Energy Co-op. Through these he better understood both the missed opportunities and potential of local government, leading to his role in initiating Independents for Frome (IfF), the group of individuals whose take over of Frome Town Council is the focus of Flatpack Democracy. Peter chaired key committees and served as both mayor and leader of the council. Recycling, reusing, organic, growing, cooking, grandfathering and bicycling are all central to his activity.

Kitty Von Bertele - Luminate


Kitty works forLuminate, a philanthropic organisation with the goal of empowering people and institutions to work together to build just and fair societies.

Prior to joining Luminate, Kitty was a civil servant at the UK Department for International Development, where she developed and implemented their digital strategy. Before that she worked at the Open Government Partnership. Kitty has also served in various other roles in the UK government, including Senior Policy Adviser for transparency and open data in the Cabinet Office, where she managed the team responsible for open data policy across government.

Kevin Davies - National Assembly for Wales


Kevin joined the National Assembly for Wales in 2009, and has worked in a variety of roles which seek to engage the public in democracy during that time, from delivering tours, community engagement, digital participation, committee consultations, and events.