Thomas Acton – Patron
Professor Thomas Acton OBE ran the first Gypsy Council Caravan Summer School in 1967, was a student helper at the first World Romani Congress in 1971, completed a PhD on British Gypsy Politics in 1974 and has been working with Roma, Gypsy and Traveller organisations and writing books and papers ever since. He is Emeritus Professor of Romani Studies at the University of Greenwich, a visiting professor at Corvinus University Budapest and Senior Research Fellow at Buckinghamshire New University.
Roza Kotowicz – Chair
Roza Kotowicz was brought up in a traditional Lovari Roma family in Poland. Through her work with the Roma Support Group, she has impacted on the whole of the field of Gypsy/Roma/Traveller community work in the UK. By combining an important high-profile unpaid voluntary role with her family responsibilities and by promoting the interests of Roma groups across the spectrum rather than just her own community, Roza acts as a powerful role model to all Roma women in general.
Andrew Nash – Treasurer
Andy Nash works in the international finance team of one of the top five development agencies in the UK. He previously worked for an audit firm specialising in not-for-profit entities. In addition, he has significant experience working with minority interest groups in the UK and also further afield, including having spent a year and a half working in La Paz, Bolivia. When not working or helping with our finances he can be found out in the countryside hiking, climbing or kayaking.
Peter Norton – Secretary
Peter started out as a Residential Social Worker in a multi-role children’s home in Islington LA. He later qualified as a Primary School Teacher in 1988 (B.Ed. Hons.), and has taught in Waltham Forest and Newham Local Authorities.
In 1999 he became the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Education Consultant in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, where there are now some 600 identified Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children and young people. He has travelled extensively across Europe on a wide range of Gypsy Roma and Traveller assignments, and has also co-authored several GRT resources for schools.
Sharon Elliott has over a decade of operational management experience in the charity sector with a legal background in the education and criminal justice system. She manages diverse teams of professionals (e.g. legal advisors, youth workers, community workers) to ensure the best outcomes for service users in line with quality standards, health and safety regulation, organisational policies and procedures. She also has professional experience of dealing with all staffing concerns including appraisals, grievance and disciplinary procedures. She has lived and worked in Newham for many years and understands the cultural richness and diversity of the communities in the borough as well as some of the acute challenges that they face. Furthermore, as a daughter of migrants, who lived in Newham for over 10 years, she has lived through the experience of integrating with the community and is keen to support other migrant communities.
Michaela Jarosinska graduated from Jagiellonian University of Cracow with a master’s degree in Psychology. She is a member of Polish Psychologists’ Association and International Academy of Investigative Psychology (IA-IP). Michaela joined FPWP Hibiscus charity as a project worker in July 2008. She provides support, advice and advocacy to Foreign National and BMER women in female prisons.
Cecylia Kierpacz is an advocate of Roma women’ rights and acts as a role model through combining her family responsibilities with professional and voluntary commitments. She is passionate about Equal Opportunities for Roma, as well as gender equalities.
Cornel Rezmives has been an active promoter of democracy and human rights in Romania, prior to the revolution in 1989 and following the fall of Chausescu’s regime. As a member of the Roma ethnic minority in Romania, he has worked towards promoting Roma human rights as a political activist, elected councillor and by supporting other Roma leaders through training and empowerment. He has been involved in supporting Roma in France, Portugal, Germany and Spain. Currently he endeavours to support and empower the Roma community in the UK both in a capacity as a volunteer support worker and a trustee of the Roma Support Group.
Mircea Rostas’s dedication to creating opportunities for younger generations of Roma in the UK, makes him a fervent advocate for enhancing educational outcomes of young Roma. His other areas of interests include disabled people’s rights and health inequalities experienced by Roma community members in Romania and the UK.
Leon Wisniewski’s area of expertise involves conflict resolution and Roma history, including recent Roma migrations from Eastern Europe. Being an enthusiastic facilitator of intergenerational dialogue, he also advocates for Roma Older People, highlighting their perspective, concerns and aspirations. Leon Wisniewski has been actively campaigning for Roma rights in Poland and the UK since 1990s.
Anthea Wormington was Gypsy, Roma, Traveller Education Services’ Co-ordinator for L.B. Newham until 2011. She was President of NATT+ (National Association of Teachers of Travellers and other Professionals) from 2007 to 2009 when she was proactive in both raising the profile of Roma students and implementing Gypsy, Roma, Traveller History Month nationally.