Introducing our speakers

Morning speakers

Cit Lennox, SWAMP
Glasgow, Scotland

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Cit Lennox is a Youth Worker for SWAMP based in Pollok, Glasgow. SWAMP is a community development trust that uses creative arts to give young people an alternative route in life and to empower social change. Cit works primarily on a youth TV project creating a TV channel run by and made for young people.

In 2019 SWAMP was an anchor organisation delivering Glasgow City Council’s PB process in the Pollok area, supporting a citizens panel of young people who came together to decide on how best to disperse over £200,000. Culminating in a vibrant and positive ‘Big Night In’ voting event the process was decided on by young people, with funds being spent to support young people’s priorities.

Josh Lerner, Participatory Budgeting Project
New York City, USA 


Josh is co-founder and Co-Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP), and director of the new Global PB Hub. PBP is a nonprofit organization that empowers people to decide together how to spend public money across the US and Canada. 

Through programs that PBP has launched and supported, 534,000 people in 30 cities have directly decided how to spend $337,000,000. This work has been recognized by the Obama White House as a model for open government, and by the Brown Democracy Medal as the best practical innovation advancing democracy around the world. Josh completed a PhD in Politics at the New School for Social Research and a Masters in Planning from the University of Toronto.

Paul Johnston - Director-General Education, Communities and Justice
Scotland - @PaulJScotGov


Paul Johnston took up his role as Director-General for Education, Communities and Justice in July 2017. Prior to this role, Paul was Director-General for Learning and Justice from June 2015. He was Director for Safer Communities from January 2013 to June 2015, with responsibility for police, fire, resilience, defence, security, drugs policy and community safety.

He was appointed to the Senior Civil Service in October 2007, carrying out a number of roles before being appointed to Director level as Head of the Advocate General's Office in April 2011.

Paul is a qualified lawyer and joined the Scottish Government Legal Directorate in May 2000.

International panel

Dr Oliver Escobar, University of Edinburgh
International panel chair


Dr Oliver Escobar is Lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Edinburgh. Oliver’s areas of research, teaching and practice are democracy, politics, policy, participation and collaboration.

He is Trustee of Democratic Audit UK, Beltane Public Engagement Fellow, member of the Scottish Government’s Participatory Budgeting Working Group, and Director of ClimateXChange’s Citizens’ Juries. Oliver has trained and worked with hundreds of public engagement practitioners, and is involved in developing democratic innovations across various policy arenas in Scotland and beyond.

John Maritim - Elgeyo Marakwet County Government
Kenya -

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John has served for more than a decade in the public sector as an Economist. Currently, he is the Director of Economic Planning and Budgeting and the Open Government Partnership Point of Contact for Elgeyo Marakwet County, Kenya which is one of the sub-nationals governments participating in the OGP Local Program. He is responsible for economic planning, policy formulation, and budget management processes. Additionally, he coordinates the institutionalization of emerging practices such as participatory budgeting on behalf of the county government.

His passion to integrate citizen voices and incorporate best practices to inform governance processes was born of his desire to institute acceptable, open, participatory, inclusive and sustainable culture in the development process in Kenya.

He holds a Master's degree in Development Economics (International Development Studies) from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), Japan and a Bachelor's degree in Economics from Moi University, Kenya, amongst other qualifications.

Giovanni Allegretti Coimbra University, Centre for Social Studies


Architect, planner and senior researcher at the Centre of Social Studies of Coimbra University, he coordinates the PhD “Democracy in the XXI Century”, being Visiting fellow at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg. He published books and articles on participatory planning and budgeting, dealing with issues related to participatory systems, insurgent citizenship and platform economy. 

Giovani has been a member of the “Democracy and Democratization of Communication” in the University in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, from 2014-2019 and Co-chair of the Independent Authority for the Guarantee and Promotion of Participation of Tuscany Region (Italy). 

He coordinated the international Project ‘Enabling Multichannel Participation Through ICT Adaptations’ on the relation between PB and information technologies, and presently coordinates the Portuguese unit of the project ‘Inovar Juntos’ on urban social innovation. As a consultant, evaluator and trainer for the ideation and management of participatory processes, he has been working in more than 40 countries for the World Bank, the Council of Europe, United Cities and Local Governments, the German Cooperation Agency, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Swedish Association of local Authorities.

Daniely Votto, DVotto Consultoria para Cidades
Porto Alegre, Brazil -

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With a master's degree in Social Science, Daniely develops sustainable urban projects for cities in partnership with National and International Governments, Organizations and Private Sector, focusing in open government, gender, and urban mobility.

Daniely worked for over 5 years as Urban Governance Manager at WRI Brasil, a non-profit organization that implements environmentally, socially and financially sustainable urban solutions to improve people’s quality of life in cities, Daniely also worked as the International Relations Officer for Porto Alegre Municipality for over 3 years, including on international networking for PB. She was also the VP of Shirley Ann Sullivan Educational Foundation for over 4 years.

Afternoon panel: Where next?


Claire McPherson - Deputy Director for Public Bodies and Public Service Reform
Scotland -

Claire McPherson is the Scottish Government’s Deputy Director for Public Bodies and Public Service Reform with responsibility for Community Empowerment, Community Planning Partnerships and the Local Governance Review.  

Claire has held a number of roles in the Scottish Government including: Deputy Head of the First Minister’s Policy Delivery Unit; Head of Cabinet, Parliament and Governance team in Cabinet Secretariat; and Senior Policy Adviser in the Constitution and Strategy Directorate. Prior to joining the Scottish Government, Claire began her career in the UK Government, working in a range of strategic and policy roles for the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales.

 Fiona Garven, Director of Scottish Community Development Centre & PB Scotland


Fiona has been involved in the development of PB in Scotland through her role on the PB Working Group and the establishment of PB Scotland in 2015. With over 1,000 members, PB Scotland is a learning network for community members and practitioners looking to share their experiences of PB from across Scotland. 

Fiona has also supported community involvement in decision making as part of the Scottish Government’s Local Governance Review and implementation of the Community Empowerment Act. Across SCDC Fiona’s main areas of interest are community-led approaches to health and wellbeing, community empowerment and democratic participation. 

She is a Non-Executive Director of the Poverty Alliance and North Ayrshire Women’s Aid.

Councillor Jennifer Layden
Glasgow, Scotland -


Following her election in May 2017 as Councillor for Calton Ward, Jen was appointed as City Convener for Equalities and Human Rights. A role that has expanded to include community empowerment.

As political lead, Jen is focusing on a number of key areas within Glasgow City Councils strategic plan around Resilient and Empowered communities. This includes the implementation of participatory budgeting, third sector concordat and a new grant fund. Jen currently serves on the City Administration Committee, Glasgow’s Integrated Joint Board, Glasgow Violence Against Women’s Partnership, and is Chair of Glasgow’s Community Planning Partnership.

Glasgow City Council has demonstrated a strong commitment to embedding PB across the City. It has invested in a deliberative form of mainstream PB targeting areas of greatest deprivation. Its ambition is to make over £20m of city government spending subject to participatory budgeting.

Tressa Burke, Chief Executive Officer, Glasgow Disability Alliance
Glasgow, Scotland -

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Disability Activist and Equalities Campaigner Tressa Burke, one of GDA’s founder members, has been CEO since 2006, steering GDA from its fledgling vision of strengthening voices and tackling social isolation, to the multi-award-winning community of 5000+ disabled people and groups it is today.

For over 25 years, Tressa has held senior leadership roles in third and public sector organisations developing people led programmes which build voices, confidence and capacity to participate and contribute to  families, communities, workplaces and wider society.

With personal lived experience around disability as well as the cumulative impact of multiple discrimination, Tressa acts as strategic collaborator with Glasgow City and Scottish Governments across a range of areas including social care, social security and participative democracy. She is currently a member of the First Minister’s National Advisory Council for Women and Girls.  

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