Driving Social and Economic Change Conference

Join us as we explore taking collaborative action to address the well being of our citizens through coordinated action, that not only supports individuals to fulfil their potential but also meets the needs of our business sector. 

Driving Social and Economic Change Conference


Join us on Thursday 24 January at La Mon Hotel & Country Club, as we explore taking collaborative action to address the well being of our citizens through coordinated action, that not only supports individuals to fulfil their potential but also meets the needs of our business sector.  

Our keynote speakers Professor Sir Harry Burns, Dorte Neilsen and Steve Orr will share their extensive knowledge of development; challenging us to think differently about the link between social & economic well-being and explore good practice.  

Click here to see the final agenda for the conference. 

Attendance Fee 

£38.57 (includes VAT and booking fee) 

This price includes both morning refreshments and a hot lunch.  


Who should attend? 

Delegates who will have an interest in this event will be people in:

  • Business 
  • Local Government 
  • Education  
  • Health    
  • Community and Voluntary Sectors 
  • Government Departments.  

Keynote Speakers  

Sir Harry Burns  

Sir Harry Burns graduated in medicine from Glasgow University in 1974. He trained in surgery in Glasgow and was appointed as a Consultant Surgeon and in the University Department of Surgery at the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow in 1984. Working with patients in the east end of Glasgow gave him an insight into the complex inter-relationships between social and economic status and illness. He completed a Masters Degree in Public Health in 1990 and shortly afterwards was appointed Medical Director of The Royal Infirmary.  

In 1994, he became Director of Public Health for Greater Glasgow Health Board, a position he occupied until 2005. During his time with Greater Glasgow Health Board he continued research into the problems of social determinants of health and in 2005, he became Chief Medical Officer for Scotland. In this role, his responsibilities included aspects of public health policy, health protection and, for a time, sport.  

He was knighted in 2011 and in April 2014, he became Professor of Global Public Health at Strathclyde University where he continues his interest in understanding how societies create wellness. In 2014, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, presented him a lifetime achievement award from the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament for Public Service.   


Dorte Neilsen  

Dorte Nielsen, M.Sc., is the founder of Creative Thinker and the Center for Creative Thinking in Copenhagen. Dorte Nielsen is a creativity expert, author and keynote speaker.  Born in Denmark, she studied at The Graphic Arts Institute of Denmark and later at The School of Communication Arts in London. Dorte Nielsen holds a Master of Science degree in Creativity from the International Center for Studies in Creativity, Buffalo, New York.  

For most of the 90’s Dorte Nielsen worked in advertising in London. Her creative work won her recognition at the Cannes International Advertising Festival, D&AD, the British Television Awards, Epica, London International Advertising Awards, Campaign Poster Awards among others.

Since moving back to Denmark, Dorte Nielsen has been teaching and researching creative thinking at the Danish School of Media and Journalism, where she founded the Creative Communication education, a bachelor degree programme for art directors and conceptual thinkers. Under her leadership Creative Communication became one of the most award-winning advertising bachelor programmes in the world.

After her success training creativity at university level, Dorte Nielsen took her uniquely effective creativity curriculum to primary schools. Dorte Nielsen is the author of nine books (including The secret of the highly creative thinker) and numerous articles on creativity and creative thinking.

Dorte Nielsen is the founder of FourSight Denmark and hold the position of Chairman of Creative Circle, the Danish society for the creative industries, which holds the biggest creative award show in Scandinavia, celebrating creative excellence.


Steve Orr 

Steve Orr is Chief Executive Officer of Catalyst Inc and serves on the Board of Directors. Before being named CEO in November 2018, Steve was Director and Co-founder of Connect, Catalyst Inc’s not-for-profit network of experienced entrepreneurs, business professionals and top research talent dedicated to the creation and scaling of innovation companies in Northern Ireland.   

Connect helps over 800 local entrepreneurs to aim higher and succeed faster each year.

Prior to Connect, Steve co-founded Kineticom, Inc a San Diego, California based technical talent firm in 2000. In 2006 Kineticom was ranked #33 on the Inc 500, the list of the fastest growing privately held companies in the US. Previous to Kineticom, Steve worked in Buckinghamshire, UK and San Diego and San Francisco, California for S.Com Ltd and S.Com Inc. Steve earned a BSc in Business Information Technology from University of Northumbria. 





Heather McKee BSc (Hons) MSc FRSA FCMI

Heather McKee is the Director of Strategic Planning, Quality and Support at the South Eastern Regional College (SERC) with overall responsibility for the leadership and management of the strategic planning, quality, international development, and student support functions.  

Heather has over twenty years’ experience leading collaborative approaches to development, towards meaningful change within communities, working proactively with the community, voluntary and statutory sectors to achieve agreed outcomes. Before moving to the Further Education sector, Heather held a number of senior leadership roles in local Government including leading strategic development of the Newry, Mourne and Down District community plan within a multi-agency, cross sector environment of partnership and collaboration.   

Heather is actively building on the collaborative foundations created through community planning to drive lifelong learning opportunities and benefits for communities through the strengths of the FE Sector.


Workshop Speakers

Patricia Flanagan

Patricia has over 25 years of experience working in the Enterprise and Education sectors in Northern Ireland. Since a visit to Stanford University in 2010 Patricia has worked exclusively in Design Thinking and Creative Problem Solving. She pioneered the use of design thinking in third level education in Northern Ireland, developed award winning enterprise education curriculum and works regularly with Queen’s University Belfast. She frequently collaborates with Catalyst Inc delivering programmes to promote innovation and entrepreneurial mind-sets.  

In 2014 Patricia founded Rejig, a specialist training and design thinking Consultancy Company. Her primary focus is on developing creative problem solving approaches to stimulate innovation in client companies. Patricia is a specialist facilitator and has designed and delivered a wide range of design thinking programmes and workshops to help clients build innovation capacity in their own organisations. Patricia has a particular interest in social innovation and has recently worked extensively with the community and voluntary sector in NI, introducing them to creative problem solving techniques. Her principal aim is to integrate creative thinking at all levels of education in Northern Ireland. Patricia has designed and delivered design-thinking programmes in primary schools, secondary schools, with undergraduates and with postgraduates. She has also trained teachers and lecturing staff encouraging them to integrate these processes into their own teaching.  She recently designed and opened a space for creative thinking and prototyping at WorkWest called the Thinc Lab. She has also run a number of large scale Innovation Camps giving young people the opportunity to learn creative thinking tools to solve local social challenges.

Patricia was the former CEO of the craft development agency in Northern Ireland and ran her own craft retail business in Belfast, Craftworks. She serves on the Board of Craft Northern Ireland and previously sat on the board of Museums and Galleries Northern Ireland for 7 years.

Patricia has undergone extensive training in creative problem solving in USA and Europe. Patricia is a qualified facilitator for the FourSight Creative Thinking System.


Jenny Hanna

MSc BSc PG Dip PG Cert Jenny has over 25 years’ experience working in Health and Wellbeing, with a professional background in nursing and health visiting.  

Her interest in nursing grew from her experience during her teenage years in Africa where school holidays were spent working in a rural hospital and community health programme in Uganda.  Her nursing elective was spent in South West Uganda working with the Community Health AIDS Outreach Team and this has underpinned her long term passion for addressing the wider determinants of health. 

After a period of time working for the National Health Service in the North East of England and Northern Ireland, 3 children and a career break she returned to work as a Community Development and Health Trainer and Facilitator within the Community & Voluntary sector working across NI, Republic of Ireland and mainland Europe with a variety of communities, local government, NGO’s and statutory bodies.  

Jenny is passionate about keeping people well physically, mentally and socially and understands the complexity of the processes involved in making this happen.      

In 2018, Jenny founded GreenSpace, a company dedicated to encouraging and educating people, groups and communities on how to make the best use of their natural environment to enhance their health and wellbeing.


Jo Watson

Jo Watson, Director of JW Associates NI which provides business consultancy and coaching services. She is an Associate Lecturer at the Ulster University specialising in Leadership and is a conference speaker on CSR and the social economy. JW Associates NI helps businesses integrate their CSR strategy with their business development opportunities creating growth and a culture of staff wellbeing.  The Associates also develop innovative strategies for charities and social enterprises. Contact jowatson@jwassociates.org for more information.







Nicola Doran  

Over the last two decades Nicola Doran has worked within Local Government, the Criminal Justice System, the Youth Service and in the Charity and Voluntary Sector. Throughout this time Nicola has been an active community leader and has remained involved in community work on a voluntary basis serving on various voluntary committees within her local area.

In 2009 after identifying a gap in support and services in Northern Ireland for families dealing with Gender Identity issues Nicola became a founding member of the family gender support organisation SAIL. (www.SAILNI.com)

In 2010 in recognition for her work in developing the organisation Nicola became a recipient of the UnLtd Social Entrepreneur Award.

To raise revenue to support the work of SAIL Nicola set up Mighty Goals Creative Consultancy and has written directed and produced two short films Trans and Traffic.

Available to view on Youtube at : SAIL Social impact Films

Currently the Chair of the Board of Directors of SAIL and Creative director of Mighty Goals Nicola has responsibility for the overall strategic direction and business development of SAIl NI and leads Mighty Goals as a creative consultant raising money through social enterprise to further her work within the community sector .


Conference Workshops  

At the conference you will have the chance to take part in one of our following workshops:

1. Unlocking talent, fulfilling potential: Does education create aspiration and hope?  

2. Social Inclusion: Working in partnership to improve social mobility. 

3. Business growth: Invest in your people, invest in your business. Delivering competitive advantage through supporting inclusive growth.    


Click here to register for the conference and see the full agenda. 


Join the movement; from here it’s possible...


For any other enquiries, please contact Rebekah Cunningham at rcunningham@serc.ac.uk.