Alumna of the Year 2021

Voting for GDST Alumna of the Year 2021 is now closed. Our finalists and their incredible achievements are celebrated below. We will be announcing the winner in June.

Amy Williams

Shrewsbury High School

Amy Williams is founder and CEO of Good-Loop, an ethical online advertising platform, created to meet the urgent need for more ethical, transparent and effective online advertising.

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    Good-Loop technology creates and distributes ‘ethical ad formats’ to premium websites and social platforms globally. Once someone chooses to engage with the advert they then unlock a free donation, funded by the advertiser, and can choose which cause they would like to support. The charities it partners with include WaterAid and Save the Children.

    Good-Loop is also the only advertising technology company in the world to achieve B-Corporation status, donating 50% of revenues from every single ad to charities around the world.

    Amy is also Forbes 30 Under 30; Ad Age’s 2020 Women to Watch and a UN Women Global Innovator. She recently appeared on UN Women’s Impossible to Ignore campaign in Times Square, New York.

GDST alumnae

Camilla Bowry

Croydon High School

Camilla is the founder of charity Sal’s Shoes, delivering shoes to children living in poverty around the world. Sal’s Shoes (named after her son) began in 2013 after Camilla collected a bag of her son’s outgrown but not outworn shoes.

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    Reluctant to throw her son’s shoes away, but unable to find a suitable charity to take them, she sent them to a friend overseas who delivered them to a children’s oncology ward.

    Seven years on, over two million pairs of shoes are walking again in 49 countries, and more than 20,000 pairs alone have found their new feet here in the UK since the start of the first national lockdown, helping children in poverty during the pandemic.

    Sal’s Shoes has received backing from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Marks & Spencer, whose recent donation reached children at an IDP camp in Nigeria. Not satisfied with this, Camilla has now set up Clemie’s Clothes (named after her daughter), which finds new owners for children’s fancy dress outfits around the world.

GDST alumnae

Isabella West

Newcastle High School for Girls

Isabella is the founder and CEO of fashion rental brand Hirestreet and rental technology platform Zoa – offering a sustainable and affordable alternative to fast fashion consumption.

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    Launched in 2018, Hirestreet, has helped consumers save over £900,000 by renting instead of buying. With industry-leading relationships with top fashion retailers including Whistles, Ghost and French Connection, Hirestreet has quickly amassed more than a million site users.

    Isabella’s second business, Zoa, was launched in 2021 to lower the barriers for retailers looking to offer their own-brand rental service. Already working with leading global brands, Zoa offers rental technology, cleaning, fulfilment, and customer service. Isabella states that the decision to white-label her rental platform was born out of a decision to stop thinking “brand-first” and start thinking “industry-first”

    Isabella and her businesses have received numerous accolades over the last three years including (but not limited to): Drapers Sustainable Fashion Recommerce Award 2021, Forbes 30 Under 30, Drapers 30 Under 30, NE Young Business Person of the Year and GBEA’s NE Disruptor of the Year.

GDST alumnae

Karen Pollock CBE

South Hampstead High School

Karen Pollock CBE is an activist and Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust. She has been praised by politicians across the spectrum for her work in Holocaust education and remembrance and works continually to motivate future generations to speak out against intolerance.

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    Her “Lessons from Auschwitz” initiative has attracted particular acclaim – a programme that has enabled thousands of students from every background to visit the Auschwitz concentration and death camp, as has her Ambassador Programme which has provided unique opportunities and mentorship for young people.

    A passionate and outspoken campaigner, Karen writes articles and makes regular appearances in the national and international media discussing Holocaust related issues, antisemitism, racism and equality. Karen is unafraid to call out anti-Jewish racism where she finds it – most recently in her statement on the Equality & Human Rights Commission’s report into antisemitism in the Labour party.

    Karen was awarded an MBE in the 2012 New Year Honours and the CBE in the 2020 Birthday Honours for services to Holocaust education.

GDST alumnae

Liz Williams MBE

Sydenham High School

Liz Williams MBE is one of the most senior women in the country in the digital space, CEO of FutureDotNow, and Chair of Good Things Foundation, the UK’s largest charity helping people gain the support and skills they need to transform their lives.

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    She also reacted fast to Covid-19 and mobilised the business world to set up DevicesDotNow, an emergency campaign to get digital connectivity to those in most need.

    She is one of the Top 30 most influential women in UK IT (Computer Weekly), sits on the board of the Government’s Digital Skills Partnership and was appointed a Social Mobility Commissioner in 2018.

    Liz was awarded an MBE in the 2019 Birthday Honours for services to digital literacy and social inclusion.

GDST alumnae

Dr Nicola Rollock

Streatham & Clapham High School

Dr Nicola Rollock is an academic, consultant and public speaker specialising in racial justice in education and the workplace.

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    Working tirelessly to challenge racism and inequality, she is widely known for her research into the career experiences of Black female professors and the ensuing exhibition, Phenomenal Women, which displayed at London’s Southbank Centre during October 2020. Also in 2020, Nicola appeared in the award-winning two-part Channel 4 documentary called The School that Tried to End Racism.  At the end of 2020, following a nomination by Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Nicola was included in the Duke & Duchess of Sussex’s list of ‘next generation trailblazers’ for “challenging prejudice and contributions to British society”.

    Nicola is Senior Adviser (Race & Higher Education) to the VC at the University of Cambridge.  She is a member of Wellcome Trust’s Diversity & Inclusion Steering Group and its newly formed Anti-Racism Expert Group, along with the British Science Association’s Equality & Diversity Advisory Group. Nicola is also Specialist Adviser to the Home Affairs’ Select Committee’s Macpherson 21 Years On Inquiry.

    She has written for the FT and British Vogue and is currently writing her first sole-authored book ‘The Racial Code’ to be published by Penguin Press later this year.

    Photo credit Elliott Franks

GDST alumnae

Dr Nikki Kanani MBE

Sutton High School

Dr Nikki Kanani MBE, has been consistently at the forefront of the fight against Covid, and played a leading part in the roll-out of the largest vaccination programme in the health service history, launching the NHS blueprint to increase vaccine confidence – a critical part of the roll-out.

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    Nikki is a GP and Medical Director for Primary Care for NHS England and NHS Improvement, the first woman ever appointed to this role. She did all this while continuing to work as a GP in her south east London practice.

    She was awarded an MBE in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to primary care, and is a member of The King’s Fund General Advisory Council. With her sister, Dr Sheila Kanani (Wimbledon High School alumna and Alumna of the Year finalist in 2011), she co-founded STEMMsisters, a social enterprise supporting young people to study science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine.

GDST alumnae

Samira Ahmed

Wimbledon High School

Samira Ahmed is a multi-award-winning journalist, writer and broadcaster, who last year made history by winning a landmark case against the BBC for equal pay on Newswatch.

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    Samira has worked on a range of prestigious programmes including Art of Persia on BBC4, Front Row on Radio 4, Newswatch on BBC1 and the podcast How I found My Voice and Channel 4 News.

    She was voted the British Broadcasting Press Guild Audio presenter of the year 2020, and the Stonewall Broadcaster of the year 2009 for her C4 News film about the shocking treatment of lesbian women in South Africa.

    Samira is a trustee of three charities: The Centre for Women’s Justice, UK Feminista and Action for Stammering Children, and an honorary fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford. She also has an honorary doctorate from City, University of London for services to journalism.

    In January 2020, Samira won a landmark sex discrimination employment tribunal against the BBC for equal pay on Newswatch. Samira said, “At school I was taught to work hard, aim high and seek to be judged on my own abilities. That’s still all I’ve ever asked, so I wasn’t afraid to go to tribunal. I wanted everyone to see the truth. I hope my case has shown how ingrained discrimination still is in the work place, the need for women and men to work together as allies, the importance of being in a union to protect hard won rights, and I am proud that Ahmed v BBC is now a landmark case that stands in the history books as we continue try and end sex discrimination once and for all.”

Previous winners include:

2020 – Louisa Blake, Birkenhead High School Academy, Founder of social initiative Looby Lou’s Lovely lunches

2019 – Olivia Colman CBE, Norwich High School, Oscar and BAFTA-winning actor

2018 – Dr Nirupa Murugaesu, Notting Hill & Ealing High School, Clinical Lead for Molecular Oncology at Genomics England

2017 – Dame Cressida Dick DBE, Oxford High School, the Met’s first female Commissioner

Recognising achievements

The Alumna of the Year award was launched in 2011 to recognise the many varied achievements of our alumnae. All staff, students and alumnae are encouraged to submit nominations for the award.

The winner – who will be announced in June – will be interviewed for the alumnae magazine, GDST Girl for Life, and is awarded £500 to donate to a charity of their choice.

Candidates

Candidates will be recognised based on the below criteria:

  • Championing a charitable cause
  • Achieving outstanding academic or professional success
  • Driving environmental or social change
  • Being a pioneer or achieving success in a challenging field

Terms and conditions:

The nominated alumna must be over the age of 18
The award is only open to living alumnae
The nominator must have the consent of the alumna being nominated and permission to provide their email address to the GDST
The nominee must agree that if they are successful in being shortlisted they consent to publicity relating to the award
The nominee must have attended a GDST school

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