We are excited to announce our first three great speakers who will be appearing at our Centenary Conference. Look out for more speaker announcements over the coming weeks!

Prof. Esther N. Gicheru, Principal, The Co-operative University College of Kenya

Esther holds a PhD in Organizational Development and Transformation from Cebu Doctors’ University, Philippines, a Masters in Co-operative Management and Organizational Development from Leicester University, UK, and a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Nairobi.

With this she brings a wealth of experience of over 36 years in the Co-operative sector spanning the Ministry of Co-operative Development and Marketing, where she has served under various capacities for 12 years and the Co-operative College of Kenya. She has contributed to the co-operative movement both locally and internationally and especially within the Co-operative education profession, having served as Principal of the Co-operative College of Kenya for a period of 24 years.

Andy Burnham - Mayor of Greater Manchester

Andy Burnham was elected as Mayor of Greater Manchester in May 2017. 

Prior to this Andy was MP for Leigh from 2001. In government, Andy has held Ministerial positions at the Home Office, Department of Health and the Treasury. In 2008 he became Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, before returning to Health as Secretary of State in 2009.

In opposition, Andy has served as Shadow Education Secretary, Shadow Health Secretary and Shadow Home Secretary.

Andy lives in Leigh, Greater Manchester, with his wife and three children. He is a keen supporter of Everton FC.

Angela Rayner - Labour Member of Parliament for Ashton-under-Lyne, Droylsden and Failsworth

Angela did not have a privileged upbringing and never went to public school or university. She was brought up on a council estate and left her local comprehensive at 16 with no qualifications and a baby already on the way, after being told she would ‘never amount to anything’.

Angela has spoken about how Labour’s Sure Start centres gave her, and her friends, the support they needed to become better parents and to grow and develop as young adults.

After a spell at the local FE College, Angela started working as a care worker for Stockport Council where she gained experience at the sharp end of public services. Much of her time was spent providing one-to-one care to elderly people in their own homes, looking after their personal hygiene, preparing meals, listening and showing empathy.

She was soon put forward by her women work-mates to speak for them as a union rep with UNISON. “I was mouthy,” she says, “and I would take no messing from management.” She rose through the ranks of the trade union movement with her direct experience of low pay, long hours and zero hours contracts, to become the most senior elected official of UNISON in the North West of England.

In 2015, Angela Rayner became the first woman MP in the 180-year history of her Ashton-under-Lyne constituency. She was soon promoted to the shadow whip’s office by the new Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and then went on to hold the position of Shadow Pensions Minister, before becoming a member of the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Education.

Away from Parliament and politics, Angela is married to Mark, who is also a UNISON official and has three sons.