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Headshot of Diane Lightfoot, CEO of Business Disability Forum. She's a white woman with mid-length brown hair. In the photo she is wearing a black blazer and sitting at a desk.Diane is responsible for leading and shaping all aspects of Business Disability Forum’s strategy and delivery and for representing the organisation at the highest levels of business and government.

Diane sits on a number of boards including the Government’s Disability Expert Advisory Panel and the Institute of Coding’s Diversity & Inclusion Board. She is Chair of the Disabled Students’ Stakeholder Group, a Commissioner for the Disability Commission, chaired by Lord Shinkwin and hosted by the Centre for Social Justice, and co-Chair of the Disability Charities Consortium. She is also Chair of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation. 

Diane joined Business Disability Forum in February 2017 after moving from her former role as Director of Policy and Communications for United Response, a leading national disability charity. Whilst at United Response, Diane also took on the strategic leadership of the organisation’s employment services as a whole and she is passionate about the role that good work has to play in transforming people’s lives. Prior to joining United Response, Diane was Head of Marketing at two membership charities – NCVO and the Pre-school Learning Alliance after beginning her career in local government.

Connect with Diane on Linked In 

Image of David Goodchild

David’s focus is on introducing organisations to the benefits of working with Business Disability Forum (and the options available); illustrating our whole-organisational approach to disability inclusion.

Over his 16 years at Business Disability Forum, David has also been responsible for the marketing and communications, events, tailored training, consultancy, strategic alliances, and project development teams.

Prior to joining Business Disability Forum, David’s career was mainly focused on media and publishing; beginning as a journalist and moving through the ranks with various publishing houses as features’ writer, editor, publisher and ultimately with directorial roles responsible for newspapers, supplements, e-commerce, marketing, events and contract publishing.

For a short period in the late 90s, David moved away from publishing to take on a role as business development director for a growing web development company, seeing annual turnover during his tenure rise from £2m to £6m. His clients at that time included EMI, Interflora, Boots, Delia Smith, IPC Media, Emap, Reed and many more.

Headshot of Bela Gor.


Bela is responsible for the design and content of Business Disability Forum Events including Conferences and new products such as Toolkits.

She is a lawyer with over 20 years’ experience of disability discrimination law including providing:



•       high-level consultancy support to business and government agencies, leading reviews and improvement processes for organisations including banks and government agencies.

•       best practice guidance including the People Manager and Mental Health Toolkits.

•       e-learning on disability and mental health.

•       regular analyses and updates on discrimination law.

•       training on disability discrimination, mental health and the law.


Image of Angela MatthewsAngela joined BDF in 2013. She has worked in BDF’s advice and consultancy teams, and she is now Head of Policy and Research. She is an adviser to and research partner on several academic research projects related to work, health, and disability. She delivers BDF’s responses to public policy consultations and leads research engagement with disabled employees in BDF’s member organisations.

She regularly contributes to human resources, occupational health, and workforce inclusion publications, and she also enjoys writing for disability ‘lifestyle’ magazines. She has appeared on BBC Radio 4, speaking on topics including women’s work and care ethics and the disability employment gap, and has given evidence at various Parliamentary Select Committee inquiries.

Prior to joining BDF, Angela worked in diversity and equalities management in the education and public sectors. She has been a HR specialist in disability and workplace adjustments, disability-related employee casework, equalities data management, and employee relations. She has also worked in dementia care services and occupational therapy in mental health and physical rehabilitation services (NHS).

She holds academic qualifications at postgraduate research level in legal and human rights philosophies, discrimination and human rights law, theology and religious studies, and inequalities and discriminations in multi-faith and interreligious dialogues.

Angela’s current research projects at BDF include language and culture change in disability workforce reporting methodologies, workplace adjustments, and interventions for better transitions between higher education and employment.

Connect with Angela on LinkedIn  

Image of Adrian WardAdrian leads the teams responsible for all relationships with Business Disability Forum’s Members and Partners as well as overseeing our consultancy and learning and development services. Adrian is an experienced disability consultant and has an extensive background in human resources within the public sector, specialising in diversity and inclusion.   

Adrian spent several years as a regional diversity and inclusion manager providing strategic guidance and advice to a large operational business area within the public sector. Prior to that he was the Chief Welfare Officer leading a team of staff counsellors and had overall responsibility for the department’s wellbeing strategy. 

Before joining Business Disability Forum, Adrian led a diversity and inclusion experts team within a large Civil Service organisation specialising in all aspects of disability as well as leading on Public Sector Equality Duty work. Adrian has practical experience of developing departmental policies (including disability-specific policies) and procedures and overseeing effective implementation of these.  

Adrian is also a qualified mediator with nearly 15 years of conflict resolution experience across the public, private and third sectors. As well as providing mediation services Adrian has developed a neutral diagnostic tool designed to help organisations resolve disability-related complaints, grievances or systemic issues using a constructive, blame-free process. 

Adrian and his son are season ticket holders at Brentford Football Club so weekends are often consumed watching the beautiful game. 

Lara DavisLara Davis joined Business Disability Forum in November 2021 and has over 25 years’ experience in marketing communications in the public, private and not for profit sectors.

Previous roles include Head of Communications for national charity Citizens Advice and working for a health and education specialist communications consultancy.

Prior to joining Business Disability Forum, Lara worked as a freelance marketing communications specialist in the charity sector, providing her expertise to a wide range of charities.

Image of Barnaby PowellBarnaby is responsible for HR and facilities management at BDF. He also leads the BDF’s internal Accessibility Working Group, whose aim is to ensure everything BDF does internally for staff is as accessible and useable as possible. 

Barnaby joined BDF in 2007 and has previously worked in HR in both private and public sector organisations. 

When not at work Barnaby enjoys cycling, martial arts and football. 

Image of Ruth Fisher

Ruth is the Learning and Development Manager at the Business Disability Forum. Her key departmental responsibilities include managing a team of trainers; working with clients to determine their current and emerging development needs; designing learning programmes; delivering learning solutions, assessments, and evaluation.

Ruth has several years of experience working in learning and development both as an in-house specialist and a private consultant helping businesses to meet strategic objectives through tailored learning solutions. She has a background working in Diversity and Inclusion and supporting and advising senior leadership in both HR and Organisational Development capacities.

She started her career in her native Canada and has since gained experience working in diversity, education, and learning globally. Her career focus is primarily on the outcome of enhancing personal and organisational capability and helping people reach their full potential, by helping them to unlock their thinking and removing barriers. She has brought this focus to her work and a volunteer with local organisations.

Her professional experience includes leading initiatives that develop and promote good practice in equality and diversity, mental health, performance management, customer experience, sales, marketing, learning and development, organisational change, and employee engagement. Ruth enjoys working with diverse audiences and has had the opportunity to work with clients across Europe, Asia, North America, and Africa, and has worked with global organisations including EUROClio and UNESCO.

Ruth continues her efforts to help build better businesses by supporting in being better at building people.

Image of Lucy RuckLucy joined Business Disability Forum in 2014. Since then, she has been leading the Technology Taskforce. This includes developing the resources available as part of the Knowledge Hub. This combines a large selection of best practice guides and case studies, which are about how our Members and Partners have become more Disability Smart by using technology. 

 Lucy also manages the Customer Taskforce and the Northern England Network bringing her expertise and energy to these groups. 

Lucy has previous experience of working within private, public and third sector organisations, predominantly within their ICT departments. Her knowledge brings a combination of technical understanding, communication, and customer service skills. Whilst working at a local authority, Lucy was also the Chair of the staff disability network. 

In 2015, she supported Scope with their DDA 20 campaign and was involved in a short film that they made, marking the 20th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act. 

Lucy is a lifetime member of the Limbless Association, and sat on their board of directors as a trustee. 

Image of Michelle WickendenMichelle joined Business Disability Forum in 2013. She worked for several years within local authority as the Disabled Students Manager, working with students entering Higher Education – providing financial support via the Disabled Students Allowance. 

Michelle worked at the Student Loans Company (SLC) as Student Finance Consultant working with higher education and universities providing information, advice, and guidance on changes within student finance’.

Shortly after commencing this role, Michelle was seconded to the position of Diversity Manager within the SLC working with both internal and external stakeholders to implement the changes of the Equality Act 2010.

This included undertaking equality impact assessments, customer insight surveys, chairing disability working groups, presenting at seminars and providing training to internal and external stakeholders in workshop style events. She was responsible for developing and delivering SLC’s roadshows, which targeted at the Disabled Students Allowance 2009/2010, 2010/2011 before moving in 2011 to the role as Business Development Manager for a specialist provider in disability services in independent assistive technology training.   

Sarah joined Business Disability Forum as the Team Lead of the Disability Partners. Her career and interest in disability began as a teacher in a large secondary mainstream school in Walsall. Following this role, Sarah focussed her work on special educational needs (SEN) teaching for 3 years in specialist SEND schools.

The transition of young people from education into the world of work was of particular interest and concern to Sarah, particularly the depressing employment statistics of people with learning disabilities. Sarah became the Careers Lead at a specialist school, supporting the students’ transitions from this setting. This role saw her work with a cross-sector of business as she created opportunities for the students she supported.

With a keen interest in working with businesses to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities, Sarah became the Business Partnerships Manager for ThinkForward and their DFN MoveForward program. In this role she supported young people with learning disabilities transition into sustained employment. Sarah led a local authority commission to improve the outcomes of the supported internship programs in Warwickshire to ensure that more young people with learning disabilities gained employment. She was invited to sit on a panel of speakers at the national SEND conference in June 2022 to share supported internship best practice with education professionals.

Away from work Sarah enjoys being with her family and friends – she can often be found in the Warwickshire countryside walking their beautiful dog, Alfie!

Hazel joined Business Disability Forum in January 2021 following more than 20 years of delivering Recruitment and HR solutions to the Private and Public sectors.  Having been an enthusiastic champion of disability best practice and Vice Chair of a disability network, Hazel now combines her experience of working with and supporting large complex organisations with her expert knowledge of recruitment process, employee value propositions and her passion for disability inclusion. To underpin her professional experience Hazel is currently studying CIPD Level 5 in HR Management.

Hazel is a Prince2 Practitioner and has experience of delivering people and organisational change projects with a keen interest on utilising data to help shape informed decision making and evidencing impact and outcomes.

Outside of work, Hazel has developed her knowledge of the Education Industry having been a School Governor of a large Academy Secondary School in Milton Keynes since 2015 and is the Chair of the Learning and Curriculum Committee.  She has also recently become a Governor of a Federation of 5 Infant Schools and will be the link Governor for her local village school.

Being a carer of a parent with a brain injury and an in-law with Alzheimer’s has allowed Hazel to gain a better understanding of mental health conditions and has a particular interest in mental health.

Daniel joined Business Disability Forum in 2020. As a Senior Business Disability Partner, he works alongside several organisations, providing advice and support to enable them to become disability smart. In addition, he supports the work of the Global Taskforce, keeping members connected and supporting their work to enable it to reach a wider audience and have an even greater impact.

Daniel has held various roles in account management and, for the past ten years has primarily worked in the third sector, unearthing a passion for accessibility and work in Diversity and Inclusion.  Leading the Autism Friendly Team at The National Autistic Society, Daniel worked with a variety of businesses, supporting their journey to better welcome autistic customers and employees. With a particular interest in neurodiversity and mental health, he currently sits on the Independent  Gatwick Accessibility Panel (IGAP), which aims to help Gatwick become the most accessible airport in the world.

Outside of work, Daniel performs stand-up comedy and has run several comedy nights around London.

Image of Emily Jackson

Emily joined BDF in 2015 and has extensive experience advising public and private sector employers on disability best practice, inclusion, and the law.


In her role as Senior Disability Business Partner, Emily works closely with BDF Partner organisations to enable them to achieve their strategic aims on disability inclusion and to adopt leading practice across all areas of the business.


Her key interests are workplace adjustments and supporting businesses to implement robust adjustment processes, barrier-free recruitment, policy making and The Equality Act 2010.


Emily studied Sociology and Politics at the University of Birmingham, graduating with a 2:1 BA Hons in 2011.


Outside of work, Emily loves cooking, politics and current affairs, 60’s Motown, 70’s disco, 80’s electro and gardening. She is also an avid football fan and spends her weekends watching her beloved Leeds United FC and local team 1874 Northwich.

Sandra’s career spans the private, public and education sectorsShe is an experienced consultant and has worked with organisations across a range of sectors. She also has experience in the employability and skills arena including training and coaching, managing internship and degree apprenticeship programmes, and supporting disabled people to enter, return to and remain in work. 

Sandra on LinkedIn

Close-up photo of Katie CoatesKatie studied Law at the University of York and has a continued interest in employment law, professional ethics, equality and human rights. In work, her passion lies in neurodiversity, inclusive built environments and disability representation and inclusion at all levels.

Katie started her working life in retail and ophthalmics before beginning a career in the disability inclusion sector as an Employment Advisor in the third sector; supporting job seekers and employees with disabilities and health conditions, and their direct line management. She then moved into project management, designed and leading a successful initiative in the social housing sector, mentoring and coaching tenants facing complex barriers into employment, education and training, and advising employers and organisations on adjustments and inclusion for their disabled employees and service users.

Outside of work, Katie runs a small business creating handmade watercolour paints and hand-lettered items. She enjoys discussing politics, ethics and current affairs, exploring the countryside, traveling as much as possible and recently learning to play golf with varying degrees of success.

Katie on LinkedIn

Midge has a long history of managing relationships within the corporate and charitable sectors. She has a passion for creating barrier-free workplaces and a particular interest in neurodiversity. In 2020 Midge was awarded the Postgraduate Certificate in Health Research from the University of Stirling and is undertaking further postgraduate study with the University of Nottingham in Mental Health Research. 

Image of Keith HarrisKeith joined Business Disability Forum in 2007. His experience is in building and maintaining effective business relationships with a wide range of members across the public and private sectors, supporting them to further their disability agenda over time. He specialises in supporting organisations in the legal, retail, central government, and higher education sectors to increase accessibility, productivity and profitability. 

Prior to joining Business Disability Forum, Keith owned a fish restaurant so retains a keen interest in food and wine. 

Outside of work, Keith is a proud husband with 2 kids, and is a huge fan of jazz music. 

Connect with Keith on LinkedIn 

Image of Courtney SwabyCourtney joined Business Disability Forum in 2014. Courtney’s proven strength is in his ability to build and manage different types of relationships at all levels of a business. He has extensive experience in listening and understanding the needs of organisations and being able to impart his knowledge of disability as it affects business. The organisations he works with often comment on how visible Courtney’s passion is for the inclusion of disabled people and that you sometimes have to treat people differently to treat them fairly”.   

Courtney specialises in supporting organisations within the finance, emergency services and law enforcement, IT, and insurance sectors. He is also a member of the accessibility and passenger stakeholder group for London City airport. 

His previous role was with an organisation that looked at the accessibility of websites. Courtney is a qualified mentor and is trained in counselling. 

Courtney has spoken at events on disability in BAME communities and on businesses getting the foundations of disability inclusion in place. He is also a regular attendee at WharfAbility, a network of corporate professionals across London who are engaged in the disability inclusion in business agenda. 

Outside of work, Courtney is the frontman for a covers band, The Love Handles. 

Connect with Courtney on LinkedIn. 

Image of Karan SnuggsKaran joined Business Disability Forum in 2017. Karan has a varied background with 20 years’ experience within the NHS . A change of career Karan moved into Welfare to Work, as a senior consultant worked on various government contracts aiding long-term unemployed lone parents back into work. As a trained Mediator Karan has extensive experience and an understanding of both building and maintaining relationships.

Karan has a large family and enjoys spending time with them.

It’s not all about the family, Karan is diehard Chelsea FC fan and member of the club for over 50 years.

Image of Alan CollinsAlan joined Business Disability Forum in early 2021. After many years in financial services, Alan became a consultant working with an NHS Trust helping the development of a Social Enterprise for Work Rehab. In 2016 he set up Ability First, a not-for-profit social enterprise supporting those with life changing health conditions to build up self-confidence and engage with their potential. Alan is passionate about helping remove barriers for those with long term conditions and increasing the opportunities for everyone to give the best of themselves. Alan is an avid fan of Reading Football Club and sees it as “Karma” for mistakes he must have “made in a former life”.

Rebecca Elliott

Prior to joining BDF, Rebecca had a varied career, joining the private sector as a Wills and Probate Legal Executive after university.  After some years in legal practice, she also operated a social enterprise, providing accredited legal support staff training and then moved into the public sector, working in Welfare to Work.

Most recently she worked in the third sector on employability contracts, delivering Individual Placement and Support within Primary Care Networks, supporting disabled people to retain their jobs or move into new roles, often with workplace adjustments.

In her spare time, she is studying an MSc in Strategic Human Resource Management.

She enjoys creative writing and contributed an essay to “The Book of Hope: 101 Voices on Overcoming Adversity” (by Jonny Benjamin MBE and Britt Pfluger) joining other celebrities writing about mental health and disability including, Katie Piper, Lemn Sissay, Alistair Campbell, Elizabeth Day and Dame Kelly Holmes.

When she gets the chance, she also loves to crochet!

Connect with Rebecca on LinkedIn

Sara BartlettSarah oversees BDF’s media and press work. She has worked as a communicator in the disability sector for over 15 years.

She started her career as a parliamentary researcher and advisor. She then moved into the charity sector where she has led teams across the areas of press, public affairs and campaigns.

Sarah is passionate about sharing stories and experiences to help improve the lives of disabled people.

Sarah also enjoys writing. She has researched and authored several resources for Business Disability Forum, including Business Disability Forum’s Inclusive Communication Toolkit.

Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn

Georgina Wright

Known as GeorgeGeorge joined BDF in October 2020 as part of the Advice Service, giving guidance to members and partners on all aspects of disability in the world of business.

George has split her career between the commercial sector, working mainly in retail and the service industries, along with the third sector, working with local authority, charity, arts, housing associations and various non-profit organisations as a consultant. Her roles have given her extensive experience in Management, HR (specialising in employee relations, sickness and adjustments, absence, and performance management) and Learning and Development.

Through her years of experience of the operational challenges that businesses face and a BSc (Hons) in Business Management, George appreciates that unique (and sometimes creative) solutions are necessary to overcome the obstacles that disabled people face getting in to and remaining in work.

George is an outgoing and personable post graduate CIPD qualified practitioner with a passion for upskilling managers and organisations with the tools, knowledge and confidence to enable everyone to thrive at work.  In addition, she is familiar with developing organisational policies and procedures and is an experienced mediator, helping to repair relationships when these have broken down.  She is well versed in unpicking the nuances that complex scenarios can present!

Owning some nonvisible disabilities – including a spinal cord injury – and having several friends and family members with nonvisible long-term conditions, George is strongly interested in the impact on people of nonvisible disability both inside and outside of work.  George is acutely aware of the challenges that having nonvisible disabilities or conditions can pose in life. In addition, she is extremely interested in intersectionality and the distinctive challenges and barriers individuals face due to their unique set of personal circumstances.

Outside of work, George has enjoyed volunteering for the Spinal Injuries Association, The Fairtrade Foundation, Crisis and more recently as part of a local Mutual Aid group assisting local residents facing food poverty due to the impact of COVID-19.  She also enjoys being on the Advisory Board of Out For Good a national LGBT+ organisation which supports LGBT+ communities to break down barriers while making a difference locally through voluntary projects.

A coffee and red wine lover, George is a keen but inexperienced gardener and although she loves being creative in the kitchen, she hasn’t quite mastered the art of sourdough just yet!

Connect with Georgina on LinkedIn

Georgina WhiteheadGeorge joined Business Disability Forum in October 2022 and is responsible for the organisation and delivery of Business Disability Forum’s events programme.

George has over 20 years’ experience in events and marketing, predominantly in the not-for-profit sector. Previous places of work include University College London, Action for Children, Pancreatic Cancer UK and Age UK.  She has organised events of all sizes and scopes including receptions at the Houses of Parliament, No.10 and Clarence House, large scale conferences and high-level round tables and briefings.

Image of Rick WilliamsRick is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and has been working in the field of disability and equality for 20 years. He is an experienced consultant and trainer with a high level of expertise in disability issues, their impact on individuals, and their importance to organisations. 

Rick has worked with many organisations in a wide range of areas at both a national and international level. He has worked with many Business Disability Forum Partners and Members and has a proven track record of providing project-based consultancy to support organisations develop their approach to employing disabled people and achieving barrier-free services. As part of this work he was one of the co-authors of the ClickAway Pound reports which assessed the impact of inaccessible websites on both business and disabled people. 

Prior to working in the field of disability, Rick was employed at a senior level in the Health and Safety Executive and, before leaving in 2001, was the Regional Development Manager for the London and South East Region. These factors, combined with his visual impairment, give him a unique understanding of how to support organisations in becoming disability-smart. 


Jan has been working in the field of access and inclusive design for over twenty years. She is a registered occupational therapist and gained a postgraduate diploma in Environmental Access from the Architectural Association in 1997. Since then Jan has developed extensive experience of working with many organisations across the UK to assist them in developing environments and services that are inclusive and welcoming. Jan’s experience extends across a wide range of settings including cinemas, museums, historic buildings, offices and the countryside. Her advice is straightforward and practical – based on her knowledge and considerable expertise in access consultancy and many years of experience of working closely with people who experience barriers to access. Jan is also an experienced group facilitator and frequently carries out consultation as part of a wider access consultancy brief.

Graeme is a Senior Consultant with Business Disability Forum with a career in IT starting in the 1980s which led him to becoming an expert in Digital Accessibility in the early 2000s. His work in this field was recognised in 2009 by being awarded Outstanding Contribution by an Individual at the UK Financial Sector Technology Awards. In 2010 he wrote the procurement annex for BS 8878, a British Standard on Web Accessibility.

Transitioning into a full-time disability management role at Lloyds Banking Group in 2010, he became recognised as an expert on matters relating to disability in business and a well-known agent of change. His key achievements included creating an award-winning approach to making workplace adjustments for disabled employees at Lloyds Banking Group, and leading the creation of the Dementia Friendly Financial Services charter whilst representing the UK banking sector on the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge 2012-15. 

Graeme takes a pan-business approach to helping companies embed best practice on disability and inclusion with workplace adjustments as a core focus. His clients include Channel 4 Television (where he was their Disability Specialist and created their free guide for the media sector on employing disabled talent), Ofcom, Financial Ombudsman Service, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and RNIB.

He was a member of the steering committee that formed the Government’s Disability Confident scheme and still works closely with the Office of Disability Issues on the scheme and other elements of Government support such as Access to Work and the recently published framework for voluntary disability data reporting.

Graeme was awarded an MBE in 2016 for his services to people with dementia and disabilities.

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