Fay Sharpe (she/her), Fast Forward 15 Ltd.
Director, Business & Mentorship
One of the founding shareholders of Zibrant (acquired by BCD M&E in 2016), Fay has over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience working in the hotel, hospitality, and event management industries. She has worked at a strategic level as a leader with specialist expertise in marketing, internal communications, brand values, culture and engagement and as women’s advocate.
Fay has won numerous awards; M&IT Personality of the year 2018, Mentor of the Year - Shine Awards, Hot 50 Awards Event Legend, UKCEM Industry Leader 2016, Executive PA award for Boss of the Year, Lloyds TSB CBI’s First Women of Tourism and Leisure award Event 100 winner, and Recipient of the TIME's top 50 companies for women to work for.
In 2014, Fay launched the Fast Forward 15 women’s mentoring initiative, recognised by industry associations and her peers. Members of the programme include corporations, agencies, and government and regulatory bodies. In 2018, Fay was awarded the 'Mentor of the year' and an Honorary Doctorate for her services to the sector from UWL.
Passionate to support good causes, Fay has completed numerous charity challenges. She has worked with a number of key universities in promoting women in events and has been a Chair of Trustees of the Muscle Help Foundation for the last 7 years.
Abi Wright (she/her), She Stands Ltd.
Director, Programming & Wellbeing
With 20 years experience in Alexander Technique, yoga, and coaching, Abi created a movement founded on the idea that girls and women should never have to apologise for taking up space. She Stands raises awareness around the impacts of gender stereotyping on posture and creates trainings to shape a more gender equal society. The mission is for females to grow up feeling at home in their bodies with the confidence to stand tall and own their space - from young girls in schools to women in the workplace.
In 2019, Abi co-founded Festival of The Girl, a not-for-profit initiative whose ambition is to inspire and engage girls of primary school age to realise their full potential. Being the first festival of its kind means they are reaching girls all over the UK and the world, and creating a lasting impact by inspiring future leaders in all sectors, industries, and endeavours.
Understanding that there is still so much to be done to create an equal society Abi co-founded Arrive in Politics in 2021.
Inspired by her daughters, Margot and Nancy, Abi hopes She Stands, Festival of The Girl, and Arrive in Politics can create genuine change so that all children can grow and develop surrounded by strong role models in a world that supports and nourishes them.
Emily Balcombe (she/her), Political Gender Expert
Director, Communications & Content
Emily's background is in American politics and she has worked in the U.S. House of Representatives, for local and state-wide political campaigns, in Congressional Affairs for a transatlantic think tank, and in international trade law. She currently serves as the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Administrator for the United Colleges Group, where she is building partnerships and developing sustainable programmes to embed a culture of inclusion for staff and students.
Emily was organising a forum on advancing women of colour in transatlantic leadership during the 2016 election - when Clinton lost, she realised her passion was advocating for closing the political gender gap. This passion led her to pursue an MSc in Gender, Policy and Inequalities at LSE, where she analysed how economic systems, government policies, and social programs are often developed and executed through principles of exclusion and privilege, rather than equality and protection.
Emily researched how the question of electability in media coverage creates gendered perceptions of women presidential candidates for her Master's dissertation. She is passionate about supporting women who want to run for office, which she plans to do herself someday.