News / Black History Month

Bristol’s BME Powerlist 2018 revealed

By bristol247, Monday Oct 1, 2018

Bristol’s inaugural BME Powerlist showcases the city’s 100 most inspiring, successful and influential black and minority ethnic people.

Published on Monday, October 1 to mark the beginning Black History Month, the project aims to celebrate excellence across a broad spectrum of fields – from activism to arts, politics to business – and provide role models for the next generation.

The Bristol BME Powerlist has been 18 months in the making and is a joint partnership between the University of Bristol, Bristol Students’ Union and Bristol24/7 to showcase and celebrate diversity across the city; with a panel of ten judges whittling down 500 nominations to 100.

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The project’s founder, Chanté Joseph, said: “The social discourse around inclusion and diversity is changing, it has gone beyond the tokenism and moved into a space of structural reform and meaningful actions. This list is the latter, we will be recognising community leaders and influencers that have gone above and beyond to shape and serve the communities around them.

“This BME Powerlist is a way of creating hypervisibility for some of Bristol’s unsung BME heroes and giving them access to the university. I hope this list will be the start of a greater, mutually beneficial relationship between students and the community and will provide students with a wider support network of inspiring individuals and opportunities.”


Here is the full Bristol BME Powerlist 2018:


Dr Paul Stephenson. Photo by Sarah Koury – KoLAB Studios

Rana Busharat Ali Khan: President of the Human Rights Movement UK, Basharat has shown a lifelong commitment to campaigning on social issues affecting minority communities.

Chris Mills: Chair of the 100 Black Men in the Room initiative, Chris has helped lead a number of men’s mental health initiatives.

Desmond Brown: Chair of Bristol’s Commission for Race Equality and founder of Growing Futures, Desmond sits on a number of advisory panels and is a campaigner for justice.

Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley & Zakiya Mckenzie: The pair led the Ujima Radio Green and Black project, which aims to dismantle stereotypes of why BME communities weren’t engaging with Bristol’s ‘green scene’.

Layla Ismail: Development manager of Refugee Women in Bristol, Layla is a champion for African/Somalian women fighting against female genital mutilation.

Mena Fombo: Described as one of Bristol’s biggest influencers on issues of equality, representation and education, Mena is the driving force behind the international campaign, ‘No. You cannot Touch My Hair’ and creator of the South West’s Black Girl Convention.

Mya-Rose Craig: A naturalist, conservationist and environmentalist, Mya-Rose writes the successful Birdgirl Blog and has appeared on radio and TV.

Nura Aabe: Founder of Autism Independence and TedX speaker, Nura built on her own experience of having a child with autism to help support others and raise awareness of autism in the Somali community.

Dr Paul Stephenson: The civil rights activist helped to highlight the racism that black people faced everyday in the UK and led the victorious Bristol bus boycott in 1963. His dedication, resistance to discrimination and challenge to the status quo has inspired much other work in Bristol.

Roy Hackett: One of the founders of St Paul’s Carnival, Roy fought discrimination to become the first black employee and foreman at St Anne’s Board Mills. He was prominent in the 1963 Bristol bus boycott and has been continually involved in BME community organisations.


Vanessa Kissule is Bristol’s second oficial city poet

Kirtis Clarke: A programme assistant at Arnolfini, Kirtis is a pioneer of today’s design community and is paving the way for BME creatives in the city.

Jasmine Thompson: A talented artist and illustrator, Jasmine draws attention to social justice issues through her work. She was recently commissioned to put together a mural at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Jasmine Reavenall-Nuete: A contributor and sub-editor of Bristol is the New Black and Gal-Dem, Jasmine was also a dancer, model and choreographer for FUZE, the UK’s largest student-run charity event.

Vanessa Kisuule: A writer, performer and burlesque artist, Bristol city poet Vanessa has performed at an array of renowned poetry events, represented the UK in two European Slam Championships and won more than ten slam titles. Her one-woman show Sexy is currently on tour.

Malaika Kegode: Spoken word poet Malaika was recently published by Burning Eye Books. She runs Milk Poetry at The Room Above and the Tobacco Factory Theatres, giving platforms to both established and aspiring artists.

Rayan Wilson: The founder and owner of Back 2 Action sports and rehabilitation firm, Rayan is also a successful sports agent and champion for sickle-cell sufferers around the world.

Dr Edson Burton: A writer, historian and film programmer working across Bristol’s arts, education and third sectors, Edson is committed to bringing organisations and influencers together to disrupt current narratives of race, class and aspiration.

Christelle Pellecuer: The multi-talented Christelle is a makeup artist and a creative director who has run several fashion shows celebrating the artistry of designers from diverse BME backgrounds. She has recently curated a photographic exhibition of African queens.

Miles Chambers: Bristol’s first city poet, Miles is a performance poet, social commentator and chef. He appears at important community events, helping to raise awareness of issues.

Dr Jose Lingna Nafafe: Jose has advanced the history on resistance to enslavement through groundbreaking academic research, which African Voices Forum shared at the Afrika Eye Film Festival in 2017. This has provided the basis to bring African history, told from the perspective of Africans, into the school curriculum.


Silas Adekunle. Photo by Sarah Koury / KoLAB Studios

Annie Budd: Head of internal recruitment for Opus Talent Solutions, Annie is a promoter of change and inspires many with her ability to balance a high-powered career with being a single mother.

Clayton Planter: Founder of Street2Boardroom, a community interest company which helps people use their sometimes illegal ‘street skills’ to get off  the street, Clayton works to break cycles of deprivation.

Dr Solomon Fubara MBE: The managing director of CEED Charity, a consultancy firm which offers help and advice to small businesses, Solomon is commended for his contributions to employment, training and business development within BME communities.

Glyn Blaize: Glyn runs Northstar, a rapidly expanding tech startup, and has been active in local community projects; mentoring young offenders and teaching communications to young people from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds.

Karl Brown: A solicitor in a top law firm, Karl champions social mobility and devotes time and expertise mentoring young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Marti Burgess: In addition to leading the corporate team at Gregg Latchams, Marti is chair of St Paul’s Carnival, sits on the board on Bristol Cultural Development Partnership and is part-owner of Lakota nightclub. She is a tireless advocate for BME and business issues in the Bristol community.

Melissa Toney: Described as an unsung hero, Melissa is one of the UK’s leading female black criminal defence lawyers. She routinely supports and mentors budding law students.

Mohammed Sadiq: Managing director of GENeco, the company known for the world’s first poo-powered bus, Mohammed was also appointed chair of Bristol Green Capital Partnership in 2016. He advocates for diversity in the environmental sector.

Poku Osei: Founder and CEO of social enterprise Babbasa, set up to respond to high levels of youth unemployment in Bristol’s ethnically diverse inner-city communities, Poku supports predominantly BME young people realise their potential.

Silas Adekunle: While still an undergraduate student at UWE Bristol, Silas took robotics classes into schools, before setting up Reach Robotics. He became the youngest recipient of an Arts Council REACT Grant and featured in 2018’s Forbes’ 30 under-30 in Europe list.


Abdul Malik. Photo by Sarah Koury / KoLAB Studios

Abdul Malik: Chair of Easton Mosque, Abdul has been at the forefront of the community for many years. He is also an award-winning business owner and was the first Islamic city council member from south Asia.

Anndeloris Chacon: The driving force behind Bristol Black Carers charity, Anndeloris is an experienced nurse who provides important support for young people who face enormous challenges as young carers.

Jean Smith MBE: CEO of Nilaari, a charity which offers culturally appropriate services to people with mental health issues, offending and re-offending behaviour, and problematic substance use.

Khalil Abdi: Founder and chair of Bristol Horn Youth Concern, Khalil is a dedicated community leader who strives to bring better community cohesion, reduce anti-social behaviour and empower young people.

Lynn Mareno: Described as a cornerstone of Bristol, Lynn has faced challenges as a dual heritage woman fighting systematic racism since the 60s. Her development of the RISE Awards has raised awareness of the important contribution the Afro-Caribbean community makes to the city.

Orville Lynch: A maths teacher who works as one of two behaviour managers at St Mary Redcliffe & Temple School, Orville has also helped run the Going for Gold programme for year 10 BME students at the school, to help them celebrate their heritage and develop different skills.

Ruth Pitter: Ruth’s work with Voscur; her creative directorship with Breathing Fire – Black Women’s Theatre Company, and her many other roles show a tireless commitment to social inclusion.

Shaddai Tembo: An influential role model in the community, Shaddai oversees the Bristol Men in Early Years Network, working to challenge gender inequality, and regularly writes about gender in early years.

Yasmin Olaad: Yasmin is the founder of Super Learner Club, a social enterprise that aims to provide inspirational learning and life coaching to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Zehra Haq: Zehra is the founder of Dhek Bhal, a group that has grown into an organisation that promotes health and social well-being of south Asian people living in Bristol and south Gloucestershire.


Marvin Rees. Photo by Sarah Koury / KoLAB Studios

Afzal Shah: A Labour councillor for Easton since 2013, Afzal has helped organise a number of initiatives, including the UK’s largest street Grand Iftar, and is a member of Avon & Somerset Constabulary’s police & crime panel.

Amanda Chappell: Amanda works in public health and champions the rights and needs of those most affected by health inequalities.

Carole Johnson: A Labour councillor for the Ashley ward, Carole was appointed deputy chair of Avon & Somerset Magistracy, the first black female in the South West to hold this position.

Chye Lim: A former PCSO, Chye has provided support to the Chinese community in Bristol and helped give them a voice. He also works closely with Bristol Central Cadets.

Cleo Lake: Appointed lord mayor of Bristol in 2018, Cleo is a Green councillor for Cotham, campaigner and community activist. She also organised the first BME Green Party gathering.

Hibaq Jama: The city’s first Somali councillor, representing Lawrence Hill, Hibaq has been working as Bristol’s international trade and investment ambassador since 2016.

Kermal Singh: Kermal has done a lot of outreach work with young people of BME backgrounds to ensure they understand and trust the police, as well as encouraging them to consider policing as a career.

Marvin Rees: The first directly elected mayor of African-Caribbean descent in Europe, Marvin has pledged to tackle inequality and make Bristol a fairer city for all. He founded the Bristol Leadership Programme, which helps people from disadvantaged backgrounds to realise their ambitions.

Saida Bello: A housing law solicitor and currently chair of Bristol City Council’s BME employees group, Saida is an ambassador for the council and participant on the mayor’s Stepping Up Programme.

Thangam Debbonaire: First elected MP for Bristol West in 2015, Thangam secured a landslide victory in the 2017 General Election. She is a champion for equality and has campaigned against domestic violence.


Nikesh Shukla. Photo by Sarah Koury / KoLAB Studios

Alex Lathbridge: A rapper, scientist, podcast producer, community organiser and voice for change, Alex uses his many talents to make science and technology approachable to the BME community. He was one of the first black men to guest on the Royal Institution Christmas lectures.

Beulah Aidoo: The creator and curator of The Creamy Crack Rehab – a popular natural hair blog, that inspires others.

David Ellington: From his groundbreaking sign language performance for Channel 4’s Rio Paralympics trailer, to his pioneering work with Watershed’s Deaf Conversations about Cinema programme, David continues to break down barriers and stereotypes.

David Olusoga: A historian and broadcaster, as well as presenter of the BBC Two documentary, Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners. David also informs people on the history of black people in Britain and writes for the Guardian.

Michael Yong: Bristol Post reporter Michael covers some of the most important social issues in the city, particularly homelessness, the housing crisis and education.

Mike Jenkins: Mike works on film projects across the whole of Bristol and creates content which touches on a number of important issues and topics.

Nikesh Shukla: The writer and author is working to change the face of publishing; breaking down barriers for BME writers and creatives. Until recently, Nikesh was also the editor of Rife Magazine, giving a platform to young people in Bristol.

Primrose Granville: An award-winning broadcast journalist, Primrose is an advocate for young people, volunteers for various UK and international NGOs and promotes Bristol at every opportunity.

Rob Mitchell: An innovative multimedia producer, Rob has been the leading force behind some inspirational media productions, particularly within the community sector. He was producer of The Mayor’s Race about Marvin Rees’ journey to become mayor of Bristol.

Shawn Sobers: Co-founder of TV production company Firstborn Creatives, Shawn is also an associate professor at UWE Bristol and the convener of the Bristol Photography Research Group.


Grant Marshall aka Daddy G of Massive Attack

Bentleigh Burgess: Co-owner of Lakota, Bentleigh was a driving force behind making the club the institution it has become.

Chad Edwards: A musician and producer, Chad helps Bristol artists create music and has toured with Bristol-based talent, as well as performing internationally.

Darcie Howell: The front woman of Drunken Butterfly, Darcie is one of the few women of colour on the punk scene nationally. Darcie was co-organiser of Bristol LaDIYfest in 2016 and 2017, and is one of the DJs and creators of Bad Reputation.

Dionne Draper: Dionne created and runs Sing with Soul, delivering pop-up choirs, community choirs, confidence-building workshops and more. She wrote the song We Rise for the Bristol Women’s Voice celebrations for the centenary celebration of women’s suffrage.

Elanzo Burgess: General counsel and head of legal for Rocket Entertainment, part of the group owned by Sir Elton John and his husband. Elanzo is also one of the owners of Lakota nightclub and helps run the Burgess family’s property portfolio.

Grant Marshall: As founder member of Massive Attack, Daddy G has redefined music in Bristol. He has also been at the forefront of debates around austerity and the place of refugees in our society.

Laura Lewis-Paul: Founder and creative director of alternative record label, Saffron Records, which focuses specifically on female musicians and creates a platform for new talent to be heard.

Luke Taylor: A former rapper with regular rotations on BBC Radio 1Xtra, Luke is now the CEO of independent record label Out The Box Music and artist management company Proud Lion Management.

Yame Aibangbee: Aerospace engineer Yame is co-founder of Ego Entertainment, which hosts niche events in the South West such as White Lies, Life Style and No Sleep.

Yewande Adeniran: A talented DJ and also an activist against sexism, rape culture, mental health stigma, racism and gender-based violence, Yewande started Intervention, a project aimed at bringing together self-defining women who want to learn how to DJ.


Lara Lalemi. Photo by Sarah Koury / KoLAB Studios

Aisha Rana-Deshmukh: Bristol University student Aisha helps keep BME culture alive and relevant with her involvement in organisations such as Bollywood Dance Society and the Islamophobia Awareness Month campaign.

Ajlaa Mokhtar: UWE student Ajlaa is considered a female influencer in Malaysia. She inspires her followers with her determination and ability to pursue her PhD with three young children.

Almas Talib: Bristol University student Almas has always been at the forefront of the fight against Islamophobia in Bristol. She is also the interfaith representative of the Islamic Society and has regularly challenged white-washed curriculum content on her course.

Arian Ali Ghanbari: UWE student Arian is one of the founders of Solarnest, a social enterprise developing a housing platform with the aim of tackling cost and environmental effects.

Asha Mohammed: Bristol University student Asha has worked relentlessly as an outreach worker with IntegrateUK, fighting against FGM. She won a Wonderful Women 2018 award from Bristol Women’s Voice.

Cassandra Lek: Bristol University student Cassandra started the project The Streets of Singapore to raise awareness and funds for homeless people. Her work caught the attention of Channel News Asia and Cassandra is now working with the Minister of Social & Family Development in Singapore to tackle the homeless situation.

David Charles: President of the Association of Veterinary Students, the Bristol University student is also a past executive committee member for the National Student Fundraising Association.

Joshua Greenidge: Joshua started at Bristol University through a foundation year with no prior qualifications and has gone on to add multiple achievements to his name, from reforming the Bristol Entrepreneurs Society to winning an Alumni Association student award.

Lara Lalemi: A pillar of the QTIPOC student community at Bristol University, Lara put on the first BME LGBT+ event at the Students’ Union and was the BME LGBT+ rep for the BME network. She also organised a new Diversity in STEM event to platform speakers from minority groups in science.

Maheera Zubair: Bristol University student Maheera has been the treasurer for the Islamic Society and secretary for the BME Network. She is an international ambassador and volunteered in Bahrain for a women’s empowerment project.

Neha Maqsood: Bristol University student Neha hosted the award-winning radio show Will I Ever be a Doctor? and won the Equality & Diversity Award at the Bristol SU Awards. She starred in Sister in Arms, which has been shown at film festivals internationally.

Noha Abu Al Magd: Bristol University student Noha sits on the NUS National Executive Committee, where she champions rights and works to combat institutional racism and more. Noha has written and spoken extensively on whiteness in the curriculum and combating inequality.

Pratik Popat: Bristol University student Pratik helps students gain internships or jobs in finance through his involvement with Bristol University Trading Society. He also regularly organises volunteering activities and prayer sessions for the Hindu Society.

Pravanya Pillay: Pravanya has dedicated her time as a Bristol University student to widening access to performing arts and comedy for BME people.

Radhika Jani: Bristol University student Radhika has fought for rights, liberation and celebration of people of colour. From her work as a course rep, to becoming a BME officer and being president of Bollywood Dance Society, she has been successful in bringing minorities together.

Sheila Namukose Bamugemereire: In 2016, as vice president of Bristol University’s chapter of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Sheila co-hosted an event on race and the UK legal system, which subsequently helped give rise to a new module in the Law School, Race and Law.

Simmone Ahiaku: Bristol University student Simmone is part of the UK Youth Climate Change Coalition and is currently working on an online platform to raise awareness about climate change in an intersectional way.

Tasian Joseph: Tasian is proud to have overcome hardship to secure a place at Bristol University.

Vanessa Wilson: A social activist, Vanessa is the current student living officer at Bristol University. As a student, she hosted G-R-O-W-N on Burst Radio, a space she used to explore her own views on sexuality, identity, race, gender, politics and mental health.

Zain Choudry: Former president for the Students’ Union at UWE, Zain led the UK’s largest student campaign against Islamophobia across the city, #IAMBristol.


Dr Foluke Adebisi with Dr Louise Owusu-Kwarteng (University of Greenwich)

Alex Mormoris: As the race equality programmes officer at UWE Bristol, Alex has helped to drive a major new race equality programme, Equity.

Alisha Airey: As BME project officer for the Faculty of Health & Applied Sciences, Alisha supports and mentors BME students who work on the NHS frontlines, dealing particularly with issues of institutional racism.

Amy Laurent: A teacher at Bristol University, who does work on the boundaries between the university and the city, Amy has co-created taster courses since 2009 for the university with local community organisations.

Emmanuel Adukwu: A senior lecturer in biomedical science at UWE, Emmanuel is also co-founder of the Aspiring Professional Hub, creating the platform to help BME students with their career. He was also creator and director of UWE Bristol Africa Week.

Foluke Adebisi: A teaching fellow in the Law School at Bristol University, Foluke pioneered the creation of the first Pan-African Conference in Bristol.

Michelle Alexis: Passionate about equality, Michelle is co-chair of the BAME staff advisory group at Bristol University, as well as co-chair of the Women’s Equality Network Wales.

Mohamud Mubarak: As a Somali refugee, Mohamud uses his background in creative ways as a lecturer at UWE. He has helped and inspired countless BME students to achieve their potential and works tirelessly in his own community to promote higher education.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah: Pro vice-chancellor for research and enterprise at Bristol University and chair of the university’s equality, diversity and inclusion steering group, Nishan is a champion for positive change.

Professor Paul Olomolaiye: Pro vice-chancellor and executive dean of the Faculty of Environment and Technology at UWE, Paul is renowned amongst his colleagues as an inspirational leader. He lays a huge emphasis on a world class education and cross functional subject collaborations.

Dr Zainab Khan: BME staff forum coordinator at UWE and faculty representative on the Race Equality Task Force, Zainab has been at the forefront of the newly-launched Equity talent management programme. She is also the curator of The Link, Bristol’s largest BME professional networking event, which takes place at the university during Black History Month.

Everyone named on the list, panel judges and members of the city are invited to an event on Saturday, October 27 to engage in conversations with students and increase BME engagement in local communities. 

Main photo by Kolab Studios

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