Lord Simon Woolley is the Leicester born founder and director of Operation Black Vote. He is a leading equalities activist and politician who is also the first black man to head an Oxbridge College, becoming head of Cambridge University’s Homerton College in 2021. He is the trustee of the charity Police Now and the founder and director of Operation Black Vote.
Born and raised in Leicester in the early 60’s Lord Woolley grew up on a ‘hard-working council estate’. He formed the internationally heralded Operation Black Vote in 1996 as he discovered research on the potential impact of the black vote. The not-for-profit organisation aims to address the democratic deficit amongst Black British and ethnic minority people in the UK. Under his stewardship, Operation Black Vote is estimated by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to have encouraged millions of people to vote.
Simon Woolley was appointed to the Equalities Commission in 2009 where he worked on grassroots campaigns highlighting racial discrimination alongside Naomi Campbell and Jesse Jackson. Simon has done tremendous work in aid of disadvantage people and in addressing racial inequality. He served as commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission and was the advisory chair of Government of the trailblazing United Kingdom Race Disparity Unit.
He secured £90m in funding working alongside the Open Source Foundation in order to encourage disadvantaged young people to work. In 2010 and 2011 Simon was voted as the Daily Telegraph 100 most Influential people. He was also voted onto the Evening Standards Most Influential People in 2010 and has held a place on the Powerlist every year since 2012. His work has been recognised by the academic world, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Westminster.
Simon’s work has also been recognised by esteemed politicians, he was nominated him for Life Peerage as a Crossbencher in the House of Lords by former Prime Minister Theresa May in 2019. Also in 2019, Simon received his knighthood for his services to race equality and was created Baron Woolley of Woodford in the London Borough of Redbridge. He has also sat on the Lord’s Youth Unemployment Committee since January 2021. Simon is a distinguished speaker and highly sought after particularly for talks on the subject racial inequality. He is also a highly popular Black History Month speaker he brings a wealth of knowledge and natural ability to any conference or stage.
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