FOUNDER AND PATRON
Debo is the Founder of BLD Foundation and it’s first Chair. She is a non-practising solicitor and the founder and Chair of Totally Management Ltd. She was called to the Bar (Inner Temple) in 1989 and was admitted as a solicitor in 1992. She has also been a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria since 1986.. She is the publisher and Editorial Director of the ground-breaking Black Letter Law publication which showcases the achievements of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals within the legal profession. The Legal Gateway Scheme, which includes the Today's Children, Tomorrow's Lawyers (TCTL) and the Legal Launch Pad (LLP) programmes was her brainchild
In 2009, The Lawyer magazine named Debo as one of its Hot 100 lawyers of 2008. She was named as Outstanding Solicitor of 2012 by the Black Solicitors Network (BSN).
Dame Linda Dobbs
became Britain’s first non-white High Court judge in 2004. She was appointed to the Queen’s Bench Division, which involves sitting in the Divisional and Administrative Courts and the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal. Called to the Bar in 1981, she became a Queen’s Counsel in 1998. Amongst other appointments, she was chair of the Bar Race Relations and Professionals Standards Committees and Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association. She has been awarded five honorary doctorates.
Dame Linda is a contributing editor to a number of legal publications and has lectured extensively to university and Bar students, magistrates, police and other professionals. She undertakes pro bono work helping to train lawyers and judges in Africa and the Caribbean. She is the Director of International training at the Judicial College. She is also the Senior Liaison Judge for Diversity and is involved in many initiatives to raise awareness about the judiciary and to encourage a wider pool of applicants to the bench.
She was voted as one of the 100 Great Black Britons and named as one of Britain’s 100 most influential people of African or African Caribbean heritage.
Baroness Verma became the Minister for Energy and Climate change at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Prior to this appointment she was the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Spokesperson on Universities in the House of Lords on 15 September 2011 and she led on all BIS business on universities in the House of Lords.
She was the Department for International Development Spokesperson in the House of Lords from 20 May 2010-15 September 2011 and was also the Lords Spokesperson for the Cabinet Office and for Women and Equalities, as well as being a Government Whip.
Baroness Verma became a Conservative Life Peer on 22 June 2006, as Baroness Verma of Leicester in the County of Leicestershire. She was an Opposition Whip in the Lords from 2006 until 2010, and during that time, was Opposition Spokesperson for various departments, including Health, Education, Children, Schools and Families, and Universities and Skills.
Baroness Verma has a strong interest in diversity, gender issues and international affairs, particularly in the South Asian Region and Africa.
She has received numerous awards including the following awards:
- The President’s Award from the Government of India – Pravasi Bhartiya Samman
- Distinguished Fellowship of the Institute of Directors, India
- Honorary Doctorate from the University of Wolverhampton (UK)
She supports and is Patron of several charities and organisations including:
- The DIL Trust (UK)
- The World Council for Corporate Governance
- Overseas Indian Association - School and Higher Education facility.
- Indian Institute of Director
Omosuyi Fred-Omojole (Chair of the Board)
Omosuyi Fred-Omojole is an associate in the Energy, Infrastructure and Project Finance Group at Dentons. He trained at Slaughter and May, completed a nine months secondment to Aluko & Oyebode, a leading commercial law firm in Nigeria, and worked as an associate at Linklaters.
Omosuyi was in the Class of 2008 of the Legal Launch Pad (LLP) programme, where he completed an internship to Barclays PLC. He graduated in Law from the University of Buckingham with a First-class honours degree and has a postgraduate degree in Law (Corporate & Commercial) from the London School of Economics.
Francis is an Associate in the Energy and Natural Resources team at Squire Patton Boggs, the International law firm.
Francis read Politics and Law at Aston University, and has a Masters in Law (LLM) in International Business Law from BPP Law School in London. Francis is passionate about diversity, and regularly speaks at events which help to connect candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds to the resources they need to flourish within the international legal sector.
Francis was in the Class of 2010 of the Legal Launch Pad (LLP) programme.
Joan Deslandes is the Head Teacher of Kingsford Community School in Newham. Under her leadership, Kingsford gained national and international recognition and her leadership has been recognised as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. Her school was the first school to introduce compulsory lessons of Mandarin to its curriculum in the United Kingdom to and became one of the first Confucius Classrooms in the world in 2007. In 2010, she was awarded the SSAT Confucius Institute Excellence Award for her ‘outstanding contribution’ to Chinese learning within the United Kingdom.
Joan has twice been named by the Evening Standard as one of London’s 1000 most influential people. She is the co-founder of The 100 Group, enabling leading state and independent schools to work together.
Joan sits on a number of government forums and is a member of the 48 Group Club, an exclusive network committed to promoting positive relations with China. She is also a governor of the London Academy of Excellence in Newham.
Stephanie is Assistant Vice President at Barclays within its Litigation, Investigations and Enforcement team. Her role involves managing a number of litigation cases covering the various business areas in the Bank including Corporate, Barclaycard and Wealth.
Stephanie read Law at the University of Kent and graduated in 2009. She trained at Barclays during which she was seconded to magic circle law firm Allen and Overy where she worked in the Derivatives, Structured Finance and Banking Department. She qualified as a solicitor in 2015.
She was part of the Legal Launch Pad Class of 2009 and remains passionate about helping other aspiring lawyers.
Henry Goldstein is the Principal of Maurice J Bushell & Co Chartered Accountants in the City. Henry has over 30 years’ experience advising Small & Medium Enterprises and individual professionals on wide-ranging matters. Henry is also a trustee of a number of charities.
Judith Shepherd experience in the legal profession spans over 20 years including as a former corporate finance partner at a US law firm before joining the Barclays Group as a Deputy General Counsel in 2006.
Judith was named in the FT’s 100 Influential Women list. She is also a panel member of the UK Women in Law Advisory Board, she is an Honorary Fellow of the Society for Advanced Legal Studies and on the advisory board of the Linklaters Law & Business School.
Solomon Wifa is a Partner in the Asset Management Group at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. Solomon previously held the position of London Managing Partner of O’Melveny & Myers, one of the world’s top 30 law firms. He is also one of the youngest-ever Managing Partners of such a global-sized firm in the City of London. Solomon specialism is Investment Funds, particularly - China, sub-Saharan Africa, India, Turkey and Central and Eastern Europe, building the firm’s private equity practice in the UK virtually from scratch. He is a member of the Investment Funds and Securitisation Practice. Solomon was named in the 2012 Powerlist, which profiles Britain’s 100 most influential people of African or African Caribbean heritage and in January 2013 was also named by The Lawyer Magazine as one of the Hot 100 Lawyers of 2012.
Tan Ikram is a District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts) and the Deputy Lead Diversity and Community Relations Judge. Prior to joining the bench, he had a successful career as a defence advocate. Tan was called to the Bar (Inner Temple) in 1990 and admitted as a solicitor in 1993. He served as the President of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association between 2007 and 2008 and has also lectured extensively on criminal law and justice. He is Visiting Fellow in Juvenile Justice at London South Bank University. He is a contributing editor to the latest edition of Archbold Magistrates' Courts Criminal Practice (Sweet & Maxwell) and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of West London in 2012.
Tony Williams is the founder and Principal of Jomati Consultants LLP, a UK-based international management consultancy for the legal industry.
Tony, a qualified lawyer in England and Wales, Hong Kong and Victoria, Australia has more than thirty years’ experience in the legal profession, including wide-ranging top management roles as the former Worldwide Managing Partner of Magic Circle law firm, Clifford Chance and the worldwide managing partner of Andersen Legal.
He is also a founder member of Halsbury’s Law Exchange, an independent and politically neutral legal think tank which contributes to the development of law and the legal sector and the Consultant Editor of Law Business Review. Tony is an expert on The Times law blogs.
He is the founder and Chair of the Jomati Foundation, which provides financial assistance in the area of legal education and access to Law.
Tricia Eghagha worked in investment banking and financial services for three years before obtaining a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management from Durham University. She provides administration and programme support to the foundation. She enjoys managing people in general and young people in particular, and has held several roles in HR and recruitment.
Annabel is the Legal Launch Pad Co-ordinator. A former senior manager in the financial services sector, Annabel has over 14 years’ experience as a qualified management trainer. She is an experienced coach and mentor and a recruitment and selection specialist with extensive experience of interviewing and assessing (particularly graduate, senior manager and executive level appointments), use of competency frameworks, delivery and management of selection centres as well as market-leading expertise in the graduate recruitment and development arena for companies such as Lloyds TSB, Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Fujitsu Services.
An influential figure in the graduate recruitment arena, Annabel has appeared as guest speaker and panellist at numerous industry events and conferences, including the Association of Graduate Recruiters’ Conference and the UCAS Graduate Employability Conference. She was on the AGR Conference planning team from 2003 to 2005 and from 2005 to 2008 was on the judging panel of the TARGET National Graduate Recruitment Awards.
Claire Boakes read Interactive Computer Game Design at the University of the Arts London. She provides the BLD Foundation's IT, Media and Administrative support.