Managing Director: Jay Baker is a Fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs who has a wealth of history in grassroots community media as well as in managing projects. After attending a BA (Hons) degree in Media, he went traveling to gain experience in active communities, before gaining youth work qualifications in order to run media workshop projects at council level with young people. After council funding expired, he took initiative and promptly set up a community group to continue film projects for disadvantaged teenagers via the third sector.
Moving to Canada after making his own independent feature-length documentary films of his own, he honed his skills in the field further by running workshops, speaking at universities, and mobilising over two hundred people to his movie premiere there, all of whom gave him the humbling experience of his first ever standing ovation.
It was there and then that he publicly elaborated on his passion for democratic exchange of information in society, and, alongside Dr Herbert Pimlott of Wilfrid Laurier University, announced his desire to develop an alternative media company called SilenceBreaker Media, with several key activists assisting him with developing the initial business model. Still – careful to avoid the mistakes of his ex-colleagues whose community groups had failed – he felt something was missing.
Going back to Britain after further travels, he completed his first book on alternative media and the importance of changing the mainstream rather than opposing it or being co-opted by it. The research and writing of this book, P***ing in the Mainstream, was a learning curve in itself and swept Jay into much more interesting theoretical waters that started to carry SilenceBreaker Media forward into uncharted areas.
It was when he was accepted into the School for Social Entrepreneurs, initially spending three days on a residential at Dartington Hall – where the school’s founder, Michael Young, had attended – that an epiphany occurred, and Jay had his clear, innovative vision for a sustainable community media company to work with partners in empowering underprivileged people: SilenceBreaker Media had its business model. Jay spent no less than the next ten months at SSE developing this vision daily, before graduating on July 15th, 2010.
Known for his principles, public speaking and social skills, Jay is able to forge partnerships and mobilise people for projects; more of a natural collaborator than a competitor. An experienced blogger with a wide social network online, his belief is that these tools should not be exclusive, and that through this social enterprise, all people regardless of background can become SilenceBreakers. As Managing Director, Jay is responsible for the day-to-day running of the entire organisation, makes key decisions, line-manages personnel, and represents the company in the community.
Research & Development Director: Jane Watkinson is a first-class Sociology graduate from Leeds University, and has a first class Masters degree in Politics & Research Methods from the University of Sheffield, having completed her work-based dissertation comparing and contrasting the social enterprise sector in Sheffield and Pittsburgh within the context of socio-economic changes since the 1970′s and 80′s onwards. Jane’s experience – and future experiences – regarding social research tools are of particular use when it comes to social auditing and the 3BL. She has also spearheaded the campaign for net neutrality and supplied an invaluable, mammoth amount of research into the subject.
Jane regularly maintains a top 300 UK political blog at her website and has received some welcomed recognition, being quoted by The Independent, The Guardian, and The Wall Street Journal.
Jane has been involved in voluntary work, working as a Signpost Agency Administrator for Age Concern. Jane has also played soccer since she has been able to walk and has various awards to show for it, having played for several teams, including Sheffield United, and currently plays for AFC Unity, the club she co-founded herself to help tackle misconceptions about women in the sport while raising its profile.
Like Heather, Jane met Jay through social networking: both were contributors to The Blog Paper, and after finding themselves re-tweeting each other’s work on Twitter, decided to meet up to discuss advancing their collaborative powers, the end result being Jane utilising her range of skills to join the SilenceBreaker Media team. As Research & Development Director, Jane focuses on evaluation and accountability, gathers evidence for projects, and handles the daily grind of the SilenceBreaker Media gears.
Chair: Heather Paterson has worn many hats – activist, youth worker, blogger, factory worker, artist, festival coordinator, DJ, charity worker, and now Chair of the Board of Directors for SilenceBreaker Media. She is a firm believer in the DIY/personalisation ethic, and over the past decade has been involved with numerous projects campaigning for social justice and working to support vulnerable people and communities.
Born in Liverpool in 1981 – the year of the infamous Toxteth riots during which, for the first time in the UK outside Northern Ireland, tear gas was used by police against civilians – Heather grew up in Thatcher’s Britain witnessing first hand the effects of recession in a city with one of the highest unemployment rates in the UK. The 80′s also saw the citywide boycott of The Sun newspaper (which continues to this day) following the false reporting of the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans died. Continuing to her teenage years, Heather witnessed the three years long Liverpool dockers strike, one of the longest disputes in Britain’s industrial relations history. It is against this backdrop that Heather is unsure how anyone could not be aware and active.
She moved to Sheffield in 1999 to study at Hallam University where she was elected as Hallam Union’s LGB Officer. Heather then went onto work as a Youth Worker with the Sheffield LGB Youth Initiative for five years and most recently in her queer activism helped organise Sheffield’s first ever LGBT Pride event and coordinated T’Other Stage, the Women’s / Trans / Alternative performance space. Heather believes that sharing information is key to community involvement, which is what attracted her to SilenceBreaker Media.
She is herself an active and successful user of social networking with her blog, Always Thinking, which focuses on various issues broadly surrounding human rights, now boasting an online readership in excess of 30,000. Ironically, she met SilenceBreaker Media founder Jay Baker through Rupert Murdoch’s MySpace, when they realised they had been moving in the same circles, yet failed to actually meet; another example of technology bringing people together. After subsequent years of supporting each other, they have come together to work on SilenceBreaker Media.
Director: Catherine Moggridge grew up in Southampton and joined a youth theatre, where she developed a great passion for theatre and later enjoyed assisting in delivering the sessions for younger groups. She had a brilliant experience studying theatre at Lancaster University, where she learnt about and experimented with lots of theatrical forms.
Catherine was invited to join Point Blank Theatre in Sheffield and devised and acted in their professional touring productions, which explored the contemporary political landscape through a physical performance style. She also set up and delivered a range of participatory projects and worked with a broad range of people on a gutsy community production about the city and its rich history. This was where she developed a commitment to broadening access to the performing arts. She went on to set up Double Take Theatre, in nearby Rotherham, where she developed methods to involve the diverse communities of Rotherham in the devising process for creating professional touring productions.
Catherine then trained as an FE teacher and has taught BTEC Performing Arts and ‘A’ Level Drama and Theatre in several colleges. Currently Participation Coordinator at The Broadway Theatre, Barking, Catherine has developed a participation programme designed to engage the diverse communities of East London with the professional programme.