Sara Wong

Communications and Research Officer

Sara is from Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA where she graduated with a BA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota. Her work experience ranges from state-level party politics to non-profit research. She participated in two study abroad courses that include a social justice course at the University of Cape Town, SA and an exchange in the social sciences department at the University of Amsterdam, NL. Her study abroad experiences left her wanting to engage in social policy and development in a more global context. She is currently studying a Master’s degree in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London where she is writing her graduate dissertation on collective culture/the arts and social change. Sara joined the team in October 2016 and does research and produces resources for Why Comics?, and gives a variety of other support including fundraising and event management.

Sara Wong

Communications and Research Officer

Sara is from Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA where she graduated with a BA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota. Her work experience ranges from state-level party politics to non-profit research. She participated in two study abroad courses that include a social justice course at the University of Cape Town, SA and an exchange in the social sciences department at the University of Amsterdam, NL. Her study abroad experiences left her wanting to engage in social policy and development in a more global context. She is currently studying a Master’s degree in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London where she is writing her graduate dissertation on collective culture/the arts and social change. Sara joined the team in October 2016 and does research and produces resources for Why Comics?, and gives a variety of other support including fundraising and event management.

Dr Benjamin Dix, Senior Fellow at SOAS, University of London

Founder and Director

Dr Benjamin Dix has worked as a Communications Manager for the United Nations and various international NGOs across Asia and Africa for over 12 years. After working as a photojournalist across India for 7 years, Ben was based in LTTE controlled Vanni, North Sri Lanka with the UN from 2004 – 2008 throughout the recent conflict. He has a BA in Political Geography of South Asia (SOAS, University of London, 2002) an MA in Anthropology of Conflict and Violence (University of Sussex, 2011) and a Doctorate in Anthropology: Graphic Violence: Representing Conflict and Migration through Narratives and Illustrations (University of Sussex, 2016). Ben is a PRINCE2 Practitioner and has also recently been awarded a Senior Fellowship from SOAS. He is also SOAS’s Alumni Ambassador. In 2012, Ben founded PositiveNegatives to produce comics that explore complex subjects including conflict, migration and asylum. The work endeavours to combine literature, journalism and education. Visual storytelling engages audiences of all ages, backgrounds and levels of literacy. Approaching subjects like conflict and forced migration through the prism of personal narratives emotionally engages general readers and students alike. Ben founded Why Comics? in 2016 to increase the impact of the portfolio, and as the ethnographic comics had always been so successful in schools across the world. Teachers and students across wide demographics said that they found learning through the visual communications tools very effective, and made them want to learn more. 

 

Emily Oliver

Managing Director

Emily has a track record of launching and scaling high impact initiatives aiming to shape our critical systems more equitably, deepen public discourse, and creatively spark critical awareness. Her experience ranges from launching peoplefund.it (which become the UK's largest crowdfunding platform, Crowdfunder), to establishing the arts service for the London Borough of Newham. Using a cross-sector approach, she has been working for over a decade with a diverse spectrum of organisations, including education providers, the Arts Council of England, and Fortune 500 Global companies. Deeply committed to supporting marginalised groups, her experience includes working with undocumented migrants, refugees and homeless communities. She is qualified as a PRINCE2 project manager, forest school leader, and is the first UK-based practitioner of Stanford University’s meditation course. She is currently studying a masters scholarship in Sustainable Leadership.

Emma Saville, MSc

Education Programme Manager

Emma has worked extensively in the non-for-profit sectors for many years, principally in charities, NGOs and educational settings, she helped found Why Comics? in 2016. She speaks Portuguese and fluent Spanish, as she lived in Costa Rica, Cuba and Brazil for several years doing social research and working for various charities, community groups and capacity-raising NGOs around women's advocacy work, human trafficking and conflict. Emma is PRINCE2 Practitioner qualified, with an excellent track record of strong organisation skills. She received a First-Class BA with Honours in Latin American Studies from the University of Liverpool and an MSc in Violence, Conflict & Development Studies from the SOAS University of London. After working for the Home Office in Managed Migration in 2006, Emma has worked for various NGOs, schools and universities including the SOAS, University College London (UCL) and the Centre for Post-14 Centre of Education, Institute of Education, University of London. Emma is a trained counsellor which assists greatly in carrying out field research for PositiveNegatives. In addition, she was part of the highly successful team that won the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (UCL) Director's Prize for Public Engagement (2014/15) due to the attained level of diverse stakeholder engagement & impact.

Rachel Shapcott, MSc

Chief Research Officer

Rachel recently graduated with both a BA in Fine Art from Coventry University and an MSc in Psychology from the University of Westminster. Rachel’s combination of creativity and logic has allowed her to work closely with artists and take pivotal roles in the production of exhibitions and art fairs. Since the completion of her Psychology MSc, Rachel has been working as a Mental Health Social Therapist in Tower Hamlets. She became passionate about Human Rights issues after volunteering at the Helen Bamber Foundation, an organisation committed to protecting asylum seekers. Her role included researching the mental health needs in survivors of modern slavery and working closely with clients from countries all over the world. Rachel joined the team in October 2016 and does in-depth research for PositiveNegatives and helps oversee educational resources for Why Comics?, as well as providing a variety of other support across the board for the senior management.

Elettra Pellanda, MA

Education Programme Officer

Elettra arrived in London in 2014 after completing her BA in Philosophy in Milan, Italy, where she also worked with Greenpeace and gave private tuition in a variety of subjects to high school students. Her interest in cultural studies, education and environmental issues drove her to volunteer for different non-profit associations around Europe and South America. After attending a presentation by Kumi Naidoo at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Elettra ended up taking a part-time MA in History of Art and Archaeology at the same university. At the same time, she enjoyed curating a personal blog on art and aesthetics. Elettra is currently volunteering part-time giving ESOL classes in Tower Hamlets and plans a career in Education Development through which to fulfil her ideal of art and culture as powerful means for education. Elettra joined the team in February 2017, and does research, communications support and produces educational resources for Why Comics?, as well as providing a variety of support to the team, including fundraising.

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