‘Any society that does not succeed in tapping into the energy and creativity of its youth will be left behind’ Kofi Annan
I have always believed in the potential of young people to change the world. And have always worked to improve outcomes for all young people, especially those that may not have a voice or indeed a seat at the table.
Throughout my career I have had the privilege of championing equality in over 200 organisations across four continents. From representing the voice of seven million young people on the international stage including at the G8 and G20 summit. To designing innovative leadership programmes to empower women and girls to navigate male-dominated spaces. To holding big businesses to account on their recruitment practices to attract more diverse talent.
Prior to joining the NUS, I was Chief Executive of a charity supporting students and young people from non-traditional and under-represented backgrounds turn their time in education and training into an employment outcome. I oversaw a network of over 30, 000 students and graduates across London, the South East and the Midlands. During my 7-year tenure I actively managed the charity’s strategic direction pivoting from a university student-led social action project to an organisation delivering multi-year central government and local authority tenders worth up to £4m. I oversaw a staff team of up to 200 during peak programme delivery, supporting 1000’s of young people annually.
Joining NUS was a natural next chapter in my own personal journey. A perfect fit that brought all of my experiences into a movement that I had sincere affinities towards. A movement with such an important mandate and such great history. I joined the NUS as the Director for Race Equity and Inclusion in September 2018 to lead on the organisation’s equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work at an executive level. This included providing advice and guidance to Student Unions / Student Associations on matters related to EDI, supporting communities of practice and delivering on our five-year Race Equity Plan.
A highlight to date has been the launch of the Rise Leadership Programme one of the first programmes of its kind in the UK to address both sides of the equation; white managers and Black aspiring leaders in a joint programme designed to create a culture and practice of inclusive leadership to prepare the ground for accelerating black talent within the student movement.
Since joining NUS, we have entered into a period of turnaround change management and organisational reform. As we seek to simplify our complex corporate and democratic governance structures in order to be able to better respond to the needs of our membership. My role has evolved and in addition to our EDI work I now oversee the work we deliver through our charitable services including driving our work on excellence in students’ unions / student associations.
My role at the NUS has definitely strengthened my knowledge and understanding of issues related to the education sector and understanding the experiences of students. Most importantly it’s shown me the stand-alone value that SUs / Student Associations provide in championing student voice and our role as a national membership body to ensure we continue to develop and build effective relationships with colleagues across the movement, including elected officers, board members and key sector stakeholders.
Barbara Kasumu – Director of Race Equity & Inclusion, NUS