Phoenix Trustee Biographies

Ali Sinclair

Ali became Chair of Trustees on 31 August 2019. She has been a Phoenix Trustee since 2006.

Ali is a highly experienced freelance business coach, project manager and workshop leader, working extensively in the social enterprise sector with organisations such as Voluntary Action Leicestershire and Learning for the Fourth Age. She is also a Trustee of the Attenborough Arts Centre at the University of Leicester

Having originally trained in software and worked on leading edge technological developments with simulation and digital processing, Ali is interested in the combination of art and technology in community engagement.

Favourite place in Leicester
Watching live dance performances at Attenborough Arts and Curve.

Suzanne Overton-Edwards

Suzanne is Vice Chair of Trustees, and is a long serving member of the Phoenix board. Suzanne has considerable leadership experience in education including as Principal of Gateway College (2010-2017) and Vice Principal of City of Westminster College (2002-2010).

Suzanne has a great commitment to lifelong learning and in her early career worked to develop literacy, numeracy and key skills in a number of influential roles in London. She has a particular interest in students’ transition into and out of educational organisations. In her spare time she enjoys visiting art galleries, watching films, dance and drama, and having dinner with family and friends.

Favourite place in Leicester
Bradgate Park. I love it because it reminds me of Richmond Park in London. It is a place where I have enjoyed many hours of walking, talking and sharing food with my family and friends. I get a lot of pleasure from seeing other people making the most of such a beautiful public space and, of course, it is wonderful seeing the deer.

Dilip Kavi

Dilip joined Phoenix’s Board of Trustees in January 2024.

Dilip recently retired as Group Chief Executive of one of the largest hybrid public-private property companies in England. He has a strong attachment to Leicester having attended secondary school here as well as living and working in the surrounding cities for decades.

He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and has an MBA with professional work experience across multiple industries to provide fresh insight and support to the Board as a Trustee. He is eager to promote the importance of The Arts Sector across the multicultural community of Leicester.

Dilip comes from a family with a background in the Arts. His father and grandfather were prolific writers of poems, novels and theatre plays in many different languages. Dilip enjoys reading, skiing, and spending long weekends with his three young grandchildren.

Favourite place in Leicester

I grew up in the Belgrave Area and the ‘Golden Mile’ will always be a place close to my heart. I regularly take visiting friends and family to the area for a delicious meal at one of the many fine restaurants, followed by a walk to Abbey Park.

Adam Clarke

Adam is a councillor in Leicester and was appointed to the board by the city mayor in 2023. He was first elected to Leicester City Council in 2011. He served on the city council executive for nine years and was deputy city mayor between 2017 and 2024.

After a turbulent school and college journey, mostly in Leicester, Adam graduated from Bretton Hall College with a First in Theatre Arts and Education in 2000. He went on to manage ‘the old’ Phoenix Arts film and live learning and outreach programmes, before developing his career primarily in the heritage sector managing site specific, regional and national projects promoting access to culture.

Now completely immersed in the political and cultural life of the city, Adam is passionate about promoting ethical manufacturing in Leicester and the city’s journey to net-zero – alongside the co-benefits of decarbonisation, which include benefits for placemaking, biodiversity, health and well-being and the local economy.

Adam is also a Director of Curve Theatre, the Leicester Riders Foundation and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Favourite place in Leicester

Sitting directly opposite the old scoreboard at Grace Road in the sunshine.

Kaaeed Mamujee

Kaaeed brings to Phoenix his commercial and financial knowledge and skills together with board level experience over the past 15 years.

A qualified Chartered Accountant, his experiences include Non Executive Director and Chair of the Audit & Risk Committee within the NHS in Leicestershire and Rutland. He has also been Chair of the Board and the Investment Committee for CABA (Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association) as well as his day joy as a Partner at M Cubed Chartered Accountants where he is passionate about helping client sustain and develop their businesses.

He is enthusiastic to support Phoenix as it embarks on the next stage of its life after the successful completion of its building project.

Favourite place around Leicester

He loves the canal walk near Wistow. The canal path has beautiful views of the surrounding countryside and the canal waters adds an extra element of stillness and tranquillity.

Catherine Kersey

Catherine brings to Phoenix extensive experience in hospitality, food & beverage and commercial business development.

She is currently responsible for all commercial operations at Northumbria Students Union. Previously Catherine worked in commercial operations management for both Broadway cinema, Nottingham and Tyneside cinema, Newcastle, developing their food and beverage offers and diversifying their commercial income.

In Newcastle she managed the development and launch of Tyneside’s Bar Café, and Vicolo coffee and cocktail bar. As a Trustee Catherine is providing insight and guidance to the Board in the design, transition and growth of Phoenix’s food and beverage offer and other commercial opportunities. She is keen to see Phoenix continue to develop and thrive, to support Leicester’s growing cultural offer and to provide a creative community hub in the centre of the city.

Benedict Carpenter van Barthold

Ben has been active in the visual arts since the late ’90s. He is passionate about arts education. He studied sculpture at Chelsea College and the Royal College of Art, London, and has a PhD from Manchester Metropolitan University. As a practicing artist, he completed a number of publicly-sited sculptures and was awarded the Jerwood Sculpture Prize in 2001.

Originally from the West Midlands, Ben came to Leicester when he joined De Montfort University in 2013. He worked there for five and a half years, latterly as Associate Professor Fine Art and Associate Head of School of Visual and Performing Arts. In 2019 he joined Nottingham Trent University as Principal Lecturer Fine Art.

Ben is Chair of the Contemporary Visual Arts Network, East Midlands. He and his children are keen patrons of Phoenix. He became a Phoenix Trustee in April 2017.

Favourite place in Leicester
I live near Clarendon Park, and I love the independent shops and bars there. The breakfast at Dos Hermanos is a terrific start to the weekend. I recommend a Virgin Mary and a plate of bubble and squeak.

Colin Sharpe

Colin is a Head of Finance at Leicester City Council and has been the finance link with Phoenix for five years. He became a Council nominee trustee in 2014. Professionally, he is a Fellow member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

Colin was born and bred in the Leicester area. His job brings involvement in a range of venues and projects around the city including De Montfort Hall, city centre improvements, the exciting redevelopment of the former Haymarket Theatre and the ambitious Leicester Cathedral Revealed project. He is keen to see Leicester achieve the profile it deserves and for citizens to have wide ranging opportunities to develop their skills and interests.

Favourite place in Leicester
Taking a break at lunchtime to explore the area around Wharf Street, Belgrave Gate and Bedford Street, visualising it before twentieth century redevelopment and imagining the changing way in which people lived and worked there over the years.


Jane Smith

Jane is originally from Leicester and apart from 4 years in London as a student, has lived here all her life. Jane did a degree in Drama and Theatre Studies at Middlesex University, graduating in 1995 and followed this by training as a Dramatherapist at the University of Hertfordshire graduating in 1996. Jane also gained a BSc in Systemic Practice and Family Therapy at the University of Derby in 2005.

Jane has worked as a therapist in secure settings and for the past 20 years in the social care sector, primarily working to support families and young people. Jane is passionate about working with teenagers and using creativity to enable them to achieve their potential. Jane is a highly skilled therapist and offers a variety of interventions including consultation alongside developing and delivering trainings on a variety of themes and issues to individuals and groups.

Jane has a keen interest in industrial and social history and is a member of a number of industrial history organisations and museums, volunteers for two local industrial history organisations and is a co-opted committee member of the Leicestershire Industrial History Society. Jane was previously on the board of another organisation for 3 years.

Jane has been a frequent visitor to Phoenix for the past four years and was initially a member of the Membership Advisory Group prior to being selected to be a Trustee.

Favourite place in Leicester
So many to choose from! Apart from Phoenix and the area around the cathedral and Guildhall, I would say the Abbey Pumping Station; I love watching the Gimson Beam Engines when they are working and seeing other vintage vehicles and various aspects of social history on display there.

Jill Cowley

Jill joined Phoenix’s Board of Trustees in 2022. She was recently appointed interim Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Design and Humanities at DMU, having previously been Head of School for Humanities and Performing Arts, responsible for strategic leadership, including enterprise and commercial activity, and resource management.

A graduate of Lancaster University, Jill is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and an alumnus of Aurora and the Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme (Advance HE). Jill also works regularly as a consultant, external examiner and external panel member, both nationally and internationally.

Beyond academia, Jill is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Association of British Climbing Wall’s National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme, with particular responsibility for diversity and inclusion.

Professor Justin Smith

Justin is Professor of Cinema and Television History at De Montfort University, and Visiting Professor of Media Industries at the University of Portsmouth. He is the director of the Cinema and Television History Institute at DMU and co-director of research in Creative and Heritage Industries. Justin is the author of Withnail and Us: Cult Films and Film Cults in British Cinema (I.B. Tauris) and co-author, with Sue Harper, of British Film Culture in the 1970s: The Boundaries of Pleasure (EUP). He has published widely on post-war British cinema and television, has led projects on Channel 4 and British Film Culture (2010-14) in partnership with the British Universities Film and Video Council, and Fifty Years of British Music Video (2015-2018) in collaboration with the British Film Institute. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of the Royal Television Society.

Justin also researches and sings traditional English folk songs, particularly any associated with his native Isle of Wight, and occasionally performs there and at folk festivals from Sidmouth to Whitby.


Favourite Place in Leicester

Apart from Mattioli Woods Welford Road, Justin loves to spend time at the New Walk Gallery and Museum. It’s a local treasure trove with a wonderfully eclectic permanent collection and high quality special exhibitions offering something for everyone.

Lisa Jones

Lisa is the Global PR and Events Manager at Triumph Motorcycles. As a Chartered PR Practitioner, she is experienced in developing stakeholder relations and building community engagement. Her career has spanned the media, third sector, e-commerce, retail, leisure, fast-moving consumer goods, automotive and technology sectors. She is a parent governor for a primary school in Leicestershire and became a Phoenix Trustee in May 2016.

Favourite place in Leicester
Strolling through Abbey Park with my family and dog – feeding the ducks and climbing the Abbey walls.

Shobna Bazzaz

Shobna Bazzaz joined the Phoenix Board in October 2019 and brings with her extensive business and commercial experience from across several blue chip companies. She has had a broad range of experience supporting various business sectors and roles, mainly focusing on business partnering and driving business performance and change.

Currently Shobna is heading up a European position at HSBC, prior to which she was working with Mars. She also brings with her insights from her time at Capital One, Next, Boots and the University of Leicester. Initially having trained as a chartered accountant at KPMG, she has also gained an Executive MBA from The University of Nottingham. Shobna is keen to use her experience, skills and connections to support Phoenix in its ambitious growth plans, driving value, seeking efficiencies and ensuring a sustainable business model.

In addition, Shobna sits on the board at Primary, an Arts based charity in Nottingham. Outside of work Shobna has a keen interest in Health and Fitness and has completed several half marathons and cycling events. Shobna also has a passion for Music and the Arts, her tastes are both broad and eclectic.

Favourite place in Leicester
The Botanical Gardens in the Summer.

Prof Surinder Sharma DL

Surinder was appointed as the first ever National Director, Equality & Human Rights for the Department of Health and the NHS. He has over 40 years of experience of leadership in achieving cultural organisational change and championing equity, fairness, diversity and inclusion. He is the Co-Director for the Centre for Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement, University of Leicester.

His career has spanned working in leadership roles for: a regulator at the Commission for Racial Equality; as a Commissioner for the Equal Opportunities Commission; in broadcasting at the BBC; in retail at Littlewoods; in manufacturing at the Ford Motor Company (Europe); in Pharma at Novartis AG; and in Government at the Department of Health and the NHS.

He served as an elected member on Leicester City Council, as Justice of the Peace in Leicester, as High Sheriff of Leicestershire and as a Council Member of Aston University. He serves on various charities including: Chair of Leicester Race Equality Centre, the National Space Centre, Charity Link and as an Independent Person for Leicestershire County Council.

He has been recognised for his services and was appointed as the Deputy Lieutenant for Leicestershire, Alderman for the City of Leicester, and awarded honorary doctorate degrees and professorships from 7 UK universities.

Favourite place in Leicester
The Botanical Gardens and New Walk.