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The Unicorn theatre is delighted to announce that Dr Vanessa Ogden will succeed John Langley as Chair of the Board of Trustees with effect from 18 March 2021 Vanessa Ogden will bring a wealth of experience from an extensive and highly regarded career dedicated to education, the well-being of children and young people and the arts. Vanessa also has wide experience in successfully leading and developing Boards, both in the charity sector and in the governance of education.

Vanessa said ‘I am delighted to be the new Chair of the Unicorn Theatre. The inspired programming of new work is led by a brilliant team in Justin Audibert and Bailey Lock and It’s a privilege to join them, together with their team, the trustees, ambassadors and our patrons - in leadership of the Unicorn. The importance of this theatre for children and young people, as a safe space in which to explore identity, stretch creative potential and deepen imagination, is as vital now as it has ever been. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected children more than others in many ways and the Unicorn has a key role to play in rebuilding, healing and enriching their future - and ours. I am looking forward to this exciting journey over the next few years.'
Justin Audibert Artistic Director said ‘I am absolutely delighted that Vanessa is joining the Unicorn at this pivotal moment in our history. We are greatly looking forward to working with her to reopen our building and welcome children and families back into our beautiful Tooley Street home once again. I am certain that Vanessa’s passion for the arts, and her deep commitment to making lasting change in the lives of children and young people from all backgrounds, make her the perfect Chair for the Unicorn.’

Dr Vanessa Ogden is the founding CEO of the Mulberry Schools Trust, a multi-academy trust (MAT) in London, UK. The Trust is committed to raising standards in challenging contexts and includes Mulberry School for Girls, Mulberry Academy Shoreditch, Mulberry University Technical College and Mulberry Academy London Dock. The MAT has a Teaching School, a parent and community centre with a professional theatre and a new STEM Academy, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix. Vanessa led the construction of Mulberry UTC, a college for students aged 15 – 19 with a focus on high quality technical learning in the arts. It houses a teaching theatre modelled on the Dorfman: the National Theatre’s technologically innovative 2020 production ‘Anna’ was developed there before transfer for performance.

Vanessa has been the serving headteacher of Mulberry School for Girls for 15 years. Mulberry has a reputation for outstanding work in the arts in education, led by a dedicated, specialist team of arts practitioners and educators. Their work with young people is devised, original arts work which has won national acclaim including an Edinburgh Fringe award. This team has also led the development of community theatre in Wapping, Shadwell and Whitechapel, bringing outstanding productions from the Donmar Warehouse and the National Theatre to local people as well as providing a platform for the voice, visibility and exceptional talent of those within the school’s community.

Vanessa is a designated National Leader in Education and has undertaken a range of trouble-shooting school-toschool support over the past decade. She is a Visiting Academic Fellow at the UCL Institute of Education and she has a doctorate specialising in education policy and school improvement. Vanessa has published both academic and professional writing on education.

Vanessa is the Chair of the Fair Education Alliance. She features in the ‘Female Lead’ book by Edwina Dunn, highlighting the work of 50 female leaders in the UK and the USA. She has won the ‘Mentor of the Year’ award for the Women of the Future programme and she was listed in the 2020 Kindness in Leadership awards. She is a trustee of the Women of the World (WOW) Foundation. Vanessa is proud of her long-standing commitment to inner city education and the voice of women. In 2015, she led the visit to Mulberry of the former First Lady, Michelle Obama, to launch her Let Girls Learn campaign. She was invited to take a group of 20 students to the White House to visit the First Lady in the following autumn – and from there, commenced the Girl Leading and Global Girl Leading projects which build a global sisterhood of girls advocating for girls.

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