Assist Womens Network is 10

Come and celebrate 10 years of Assist on Teesside helping and supporting Business Women past, present, and furture. Our impressive lineup of speakers including Dianne Casey, Dinah Bennett, Deb McGargle, Claire Preston, Yasmin Khan, Anna Turley will inspire and motivate you. The 10 year celebration event will also be a fantastic opportunity to network and join the conversation in making women in business stronger in the Tees Valley.  Please book through our Eventbrite

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Event Speakers

Ruth Winden

Ruth Winden grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. But instead of taking on the German family business, she made her way in the careers world in the UK! This year, Ruth is celebrating her 20 th anniversary of Careers Enhanced Ltd and Older Yet Bolder.

Ruth’s clients are experienced professionals, in the UK and globally, from as far as Norway, Dubai, Singapore and Peru. Her other passion is for so-called “older workers”, the over 50s who have so much to offer but often struggle to remain or re-enter the work place, due to age discrimination. And women are affected even more badly – something Ruth is trying hard to change, one client at a time. After moving to Teesside in 2006 from abroad, ASSIST became a lifeline. She still remembers the launch at Crathorne Hall! Ruth has always been a staunch supporter of women in business – she founded “Women of the World” as an expat in Amsterdam, joined the WIN Board in the North East of England and in 2015 she was invited to the Board of “Career Thought Leaders”, a US Think Tank, building a global network of career professionals. Ruth is an enthusiastic collaborator, learner, and innovator. Standing still is never an option! How we succeed is by drawing on our resilience, our passion and vision, supporting each other, nurturing our networks and pushing ourselves to new heights. Ruth loves the North East, the people, the culture, the landscape. Even the Parmo!

Dianne Casey

Dianne worked in the community sector for over 25 years. creative facilitator, disabled Standup poet.  She was a Teenage mum , single parent , single woman , now a young nanny that lives in a shoe. Her writing is honest, from the heart with a punch of 'woman on a mission' attitude!

she has advised projects throughout UK about women’s empowerment and widening Participation Current projects include performing poetry with a purpose.  An active member of Assist supporting businesswomen in Tees Valley, Tees Women Poets collective years/ & girl powering in Teesside for Girlkind NE, its-like-growing-up-as-a-girl-in-the-north-of-england- 104615?__twitter_impression=true Co~creator with women from across the North, on the production of CrackleDust with company_others unveiling stories of women's resilience, a call to action and a sharing of power. Work published for Disability on Line The Gentian

Dinah Bennett OBE FHEA

Dinah, is the founder Director of for International Consultants  Entrepreneurship and Enterprise (ICE Ltd)  has been a catalyst for women’s economic empowerment for over twenty five years with particular expertise in  supporting women to start and grow businesses in non- traditional sectors and in bridging the knowledge gap between lending institutions and  entrepreneurs.

Dinah has technical expertise is Women’s economic empowerment, enterprise and entrepreneurship education, private sector development and  SME Relationship Management Programmes for Banking Professionals. She has worked at policy and practice level in countries  across all continents. Early on in 1997, while working at Durham Business School, she saw how many small businesses succeed or fail depending on the relationship that they have with their stakeholders, particularly their bankers. She has developed designed and delivered an international programme which encourages bankers to take a more holistic approach to the small, medium and micro business which has demonstrated major impact for the past 20 years. Core to this programme is a focus on women- owned and run businesses.  In 1999 Dinah conceived, set up and ran Women Into the Network (WIN), a multi- disciplinary programme to assist women’s entrepreneurship and enterprise development by integrating women into existing networks. She also initiated the North East Women Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. In 2002 WIN was selected as the UK best practice model for supporting women’s entrepreneurship. In 2010 Dinah spun WIN out of the University of Durham and handed over to an independent board of trustees. Leaving academia in 2010 to extend her reach more globally, Dinah set up  ICE Ltd  ICE helps institutions and individuals understand the small business community and put in place effective enterprise strategies and polices. Working internationally with policy makers, business support institutions and directly with nascent and existing women business owners to build success with business start-ups and scaling for  growth. Through ICE, Dinah also designs and delivers business and entrepreneurial development programmes internationally. Dinah is the Global Lead for Entrepreneurship at Women’s Economic Imperative and a member of the T20, think tank of G20.

Deborah McGargle

Deborah McGargle is a startup lawyer. She is currently Chief Legal Officer and part of the founding team at London based Seedlegals, a SaaS platform in the #legaltech space which has successfully automated the fund raising process removing the need for human lawyers to be involved in the transaction.

Having always loved the law, Deborah qualified as a Barrister in 1999. Her career includes significant General Counsel roles at Rolls Royce PLC and Siemens PLC. During 2016 she worked with the Techstars program in Boston, MA. She is currently Chief Legal Officer and part of the founding team at London based SeedLegals, a SaaS platform in the #legaltech space which has successfully automated the fund raising process removing the need for human lawyers to be involved in the transaction. The SeedLegals team has grown to almost 20 colleagues and has recently moved offices to Holborn, looking out over Lincoln’s Inn Fields which is where Deborah’s career first started 20 years ago. Her other roles include being a mentor for the Cherie Blair Foundation for women, an advocate for the British American Business Council of New England and a non- executive director for a number of high growth tech companies. She jointly runs a virtual support group for women in technology and has been a supporter of women’s networking for over a decade. Deborah has personally raised in the region of £450 million in startup funding for teams around the world, she is passionate about tech startups and scale ups, investment, artificial intelligence, disruptive technology, and supporting female founders.

Yasmin Khan

Yasmin has secured the role of a Government Advisor in Wales, she provides expertise on how most effectively to implement the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015. Her work includes working with victims, survivors and stakeholders to shape and inform improvements in the way services are planned, commissioned and delivered.

As a strategic leader and partnership builder she is Founder and Chief Officer- Halo Project Charity National Charity -Award winning National Charity and held a plethora of senior advisory roles and proactively highlights service gaps, identifies potential improvements and opportunities with respect to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Yasmin has a well-respected reputation within the International community, with a clear focus on facilitating successful change management through strategic knowledge and understanding of Equality and Diversity. She is a College Governor with portfolio responsibilities for standards and safeguarding as well as a Board of Trustee for Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation. Yasmin has worked with communities and particularly women in addressing inequalities in the field of employment, education and training. Establishing a Strategic Community Partnership to provide support for Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence Victims in the North East of England, Yasmin has established a pioneering programme of work across the Tees Valley This has resulted in developing the first Forced Marriage/HBV case scrutiny group across the UK. Yasmin has a wealth of experience in the field of Equality & Diversity and as such held the position of Chair of the Strategic Independent Advisory Group for Cleveland Police and CPS NE Race Scrutiny Group. Yasmin has successfully led a multi-million pound European programme -EQUAL where she promoted a cultural shift in the Housing Sector. This programme has mainstreamed BME employment programmes within Europe and the UK as well as improved supplier diversity for SME’s. Yasmin has been awarded the Citizen of the Year and Mayor’s Award for her contribution for her contribution to the Diversity and Inclusion works she undertakes and in 2014 been involved in a Parliamentary briefing as part of a UK Summit to stop early childhood forced marriages and violence against women agenda. She continues to provide innovation and better outcomes for victims by addressing issues such as lack of housing and inequalities in service provision and has recently been awarded the 2018 Tees Business Women Inspirational Award. Yasmin has recently been appointed as the International Ambassador for the HARM (honour abuse research matrix) Network.

Claire Preston

Claire Preston is Teesside Businesswoman of the Year and CEO of award winning local company, Lexonik, who are on a mission to raise literacy levels locally, nationally and internationally. The far reaching success of the company stems from an innovative and prescriptive teaching programme developed here, in Middlesbrough by Founder Director Katy Parkinson.

Claire won that prestigious local title due to her work as CEO of Lexonik, as well as her support for local charities and commitment to the aspiration and education of young people in the region. She and Lexonik have also recently received recognition of global activity as Dept for International Trade Northern Powerhouse Export Champions, which Claire hopes will also add value to her voluntary roles as local board member for national charity Young Enterprise and the Teesside University Business School. An experienced, manager, teacher and trainer, Claire has over 30 years experience within a range of organisations, including general, personnel and training management, corporate development, product development, business operations, and strategy. Passionate about equality of opportunity, Claire’s lifelong interest in education and professional development in particular, has been applied in a range of teaching and management roles in the charitable, hospitality and commercial sectors as well as working in a variety of education settings and as a teacher of English in Barcelona and Japan. Other previous roles include the management and development of day services for adults with learning disabilities and training and work placement officer for adults with special needs. Claire is in no doubt that her current role is definitely the most rewarding to date, but is also convinced that the best is yet to come, with ambitious plans for Lexonik improving literacy and changing lives globally.   A busy and admittedly guilt ridden mother, when not doing the work she loves or watching hockey matches in North Yorkshire, Claire enjoys spending time travelling (for pleasure!)- whether exploring new places or visiting friends around the world with her ‘incredible’ 12 year old daughter, Lwle.

Anna Turley

Anna was first elected as the Labour and Cooperative MP for Redcar at the 2015 General Election. She was re-elected in 2017 with over 50% of the vote.

Before entering Parliament, Anna worked for over 10 years as a public servant seeking to tackle social exclusion, poverty and worklessness. Under the last Labour government, Anna was proud to be part of the team that brought in the Family Nurse Partnership scheme that supports vulnerable young mums and their children, as well as programmes for adults with severe challenges around substance abuse, homelessness and exclusion. In Parliament she serves as Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Steel and Metal Related Industries, and on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee.

Chloë Clover

Chloë Clover the Creative Director of Wander Films founded the high impact video production company whilst travelling the world!  Since returning to Teesside Chloë has become a rising video marketing specialist, focussed on changing the way businesses use video. It’s all about those WanderVidz. #BeatTheScroll

Wander Films create high impact and engaging video helping businesses to #BeatTheScroll on social media. Chloë Clover, and business partner Lou Tonner, are two young females in a male dominated industry and quickly making a name for themselves in the North East! With a super stoked approached to creating highly engaging content for their clients, the duo also keep their own followers up to date with tips, trick and advice to help us ’Wanderers’ get started, in the world of online video. Their Epic Vlog packages are seeing them working with some big names in Teesside as well as London based brands too. A youthful fresh approach to business and marketing is turning heads in all the right places. Definitely ones to watch for the future!

Kudzai Pasirayi

Kudzai is the author of numerous titles including the popular children's book series " Mischievous Ralphie in Action " with the best - selling title " Ralphie & the Lost Milk Bottle. She really lives a creative life; full of travel, writing, and new people. You can find her published work on Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble’s and more

Kudzai is the author of numerous titles including the popular children's book series “Mischievous Ralphie in Action " with the best - selling title " Ralphie & the Lost Milk Bottle. " The work led to the nomination of the 2016 ZIM Achievers Award Writer of the Year. Kudzai also won the Teesside Enterprise Award in 2015. She really lives a creative life full of travel, writing, fashion, food love and new people. You can find her published work on Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble’s and more. She has a strong presence online under the name " Kudzai Pasirayi, " which she has been working hard for the past five years. Her work expands into a variety of forms including blogging, photography, etc. Kudzai lives up Northeast of England in the town of Middlesbrough.

Emma Chesworth/Free Period

I am running a campaign in Middlesbrough called The Eighth Plinth – female representation is at the heart of it. I say The Eighth Plinth because when I launched the campaign last year, there were seven statues in Middlesbrough – all of men! However, there are now eight as another statue has been erected during this time. My campaign is looking to secure the first female statue – and following a public vote it will be of Ellen Wilkinson MP.

I decided to launch The Eighth Plinth campaign because in 2015 I ran a small one day event called Middlesbrough Hidden Women. It was part of the two week Discover Middlesbrough festival. I handed out maps in Centre Square outside mima and people followed a trail around the town centre. In seven different venues there was a large poster highlighting a different woman – all of whom had made a great positive impact here in Middlesbrough and further afield. Lots of people came to do the trail and the feedback was really positive. But there was one overriding comment that kept coming back from people – How did we not now about these women??? That got me thinking that people of course should know who they were but they were not given the prominence they deserve. Hence, The Eighth Plinth campaign started.


  • 10/05/2019
  • Time

    2:00 pm


    Middlesbrough Town Hall