Panel of Judges

Patrick Vernon


Patrick Vernon is a cultural historian and founder of Every Generation and the 100 Great Black Britons campaign. He is a patron of Santé, a charity that aims to improve asylum seekers’ rights and health access.

Patrick is a social commentator and campaigner and has been at the forefront of several high-profile campaigns on cultural heritage and social justice in the UK over the last decade.

He has used experience in senior management in the voluntary and public sector plus his passion in for cultural history to develop new models of thinking around transformation changes in service development, equalities, innovative thinking for social change.

He is a trained life coach and mediator where his experience and knowledge has been used for leadership development and public speaking from grass roots organisations to public and private bodies.

Professor Mala Rao


Professor Mala Rao is a Senior Clinical Fellow at the Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Imperial College London, Medical Adviser to NHS England on Workforce Race Equality, and Vice Chair, WaterAid UK.

She has worked as a NHS consultant, and the Director of Public Health underpinning her public health practice with research, audit, and development. In 1997, she established England’s first evidence-based cancer network, having persuaded 120 clinicians in her Health Authority to work with her towards this common goal.

She spent six years in India, where she led several research and development projects aimed at improving access to good quality health care for the poor. Dr. Rao has worked closely with the Indian and UK governments, the World Health Organization, frontline health staff at primary health centres and hospitals, and other organizations to reform health care policies and practice with benefits to millions of disadvantaged people.

In 2003, she became the Head of Public Health Workforce for England, at the Department of Health, London. Her ‘Teaching Public Health Networks’ program has evolved into the UK Healthy Universities Network.

Dr Shera Chok


Shera is a GP in East London and the Medical Director for the Tower Hamlets GP Federation. She has also been the Chief Clinical Information Officer at Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust, a role that was unplanned but immensely rewarding. She was the Director of Primary Care at Barts Health and the Medical Director for NHS Lambeth, leading on clinical governance, quality, service redesign and cross-organisational working.

Shera has held national and international leadership roles as a member of the national Independent Reconfiguration Panel, clinical advisor to the NHS Vanguard programme and the Sciana Network, sponsored by the Health Foundation, to share innovation across European countries.

She founded the Shuri Network, the first national NHS network for women of colour interested in digital health in 2019 to encourage BME women to lead and engage with digital transformation and to increase diversity in leadership.

Nesta Williams


Described as ‘a dynamic driver for inclusive leadership’ by a number of senior figures across the health care economy. Nesta Williams, a transformative leader is currently an Equality Engagement and Organisational Development Consultant.  She is a clinical expert in primary care and has worked across a number of specialisms and environments including prisons. Nesta is a specialist advisor in workforce planning. Nesta’s research interests are focused on systems leadership and whole systems change. She has developed a new model which examines ways to maximise the benefits of collaborative working across professional and multi-disciplinary boundaries.

Edith Akenkide


Senior Mental Health Social Worker & Team Manager at Haringey Council in partnership with BEH Mental Health Trust.

Edith is an approved mental health professional (AMHP) who has worked in the industry since 19916.

She is passionate about creating an NHS and local authority that are fair places for all people using the services – particularly those suffering from mental illness and from BAME backgrounds.

Edith has used her role to address the unfair assessment and detention of BAME people who are over-represented in mental health admissions.

She has extensive experience working under the guidance of the Mental Health Act (MHA) in coordinating mental health act assessments and making applications for the detention of individuals suffering from a mental disorder in a hospital – bound by the Code of Practice.

In 2016, she joined the North Essex Partnership Trust and established its first BAME Network.  She has been working with BAME Networks ever since to ensure a fairer NHS.

In 2018, Edith was nominated for a BAME inspirational leader award at the 2018 Windrush Awards and also won an award for Equality and Diversity RCN in 2018.

Dal Babu


Dalwardin Babu is a distinguished and highly experienced former police officer, serving for more than 30 years in the Metropolitan Police and the former borough commander of Harrow.

Dal has extensive board level experience in policing, community safety, child and adult safeguarding, and also particular interest and expertise in equality and diversity and mental health law.

He was the first chair of the National Association of Muslim Police which worked with home secretaries, chief constables and community leaders and in 2010 he was elected to the National Police Superintendent Association of England and Wales.

In 2010 he was awarded an OBE for services to the police and communities. Other awards include: the London High Sheriff Award for work with young people (2011), and the London Peace Award for community engagement (2011).

Dal is a director of a school academy and a trustee for Médecins Sans Frontières, House of Illustration, and the Artichoke and Comedy School. He is involved with a number of charities in London.