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Children in Scotland's Annual Conference 2024. 29-30 May 2024 Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. White text on pink background with dandelion puff motif.

Speakers & Presenters

Headshot of Dr Mhairi Aitken. She is a white woman with long brown hair.

Dr. Mhairi Aitken
Ethics Fellow, Public Policy Programme, Alan Turing Institute

Panelist, Day One

Dr Mhairi Aitken is an Ethics Fellow in the Public Policy Programme at The Alan Turing Institute, a Visiting Senior Lecturer at the Digital Environment Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London and an Honorary Senior Fellow at the University of Wollongong, Australia. At the Alan Turing Institute Mhairi leads research on AI and children’s rights, as well as working across a range of topics including data justice, ethics of Generative AI and emerging AI policy and regulation. Mhairi was included in the 2023 international list of “100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics” and is a frequent contributor to media discussions around AI and data.

Headshot of Amal Azzudin, a woman of colour with medium complexion brown skin and curly hair

Amal Azzudin

Morning Keynote, Day Two

Amal is a human rights activist based in Scotland. She has a BA in Community Development and an MSc in Human Rights and International Politics from the University of Glasgow. She is currently a freelancer working with the West of Scotland Development Education Centre to produce an anti-racism resource for teachers. Amal has 11 years of experience working in the mental health and wellbeing sector. Amal is well known as one of the Glasgow Girls, a group of seven girls from Drumchapel High School who campaigned to stand up against dawn raids, detention, and deportation of asylum seekers in Glasgow. In 2016, Amal was named as one of the Saltire Society’s Outstanding Women in Scotland and she won the University of Glasgow's World Changing Alumni in 2018. Amal spoke at Children in Scotland’s annual conference in 2017 and it is fantastic to have her back to discuss how the refugee crisis has developed in the following years.

“It takes all of us to make a difference in children’s lives. Collectively we can make a positive impact on their realities”

Headshot of Dr Alexia Barrable. A younger white woman with shoulder length brown hair and brown eyes.

Dr. Alexia Barrable
Lecturer in Psychology and Education at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

Afternoon Keynote, Day Two

Dr Alexia Barrable is a lecturer in Psychology and Education at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. Her research primarily explores human-nature interactions in a variety of spaces, including formal educational settings. In the past she has looked at how our interactions with nature and the pedagogies employed can promote (or hinder) our nature connection: the construct that describes a subjective positive relationship with the natural world. She is also keen to understand how childhood nature interactions have an impact on adult nature connection, as well as our health and wellbeing across the lifespan.

Headshot of Anthony Conroy, Yopa

Anthony Conroy
Head of Scotland, Yopa Property

Sponsor, Keynote introduction Day 2

Anthony lives in just outside Glasgow . He is married and has two children, Oliver 10 and Rosa 7. He has worked in the property industry for 18 years, seven of those with Yopa. Once half of the Scottish team, Anthony now oversees 28 agents and covers part of the North East of England. He attributes the success of Yopa to the dedication of the agents and support staff at all levels. This has helped the Scottish business grow into a runaway success. Outside of work Anthony is a keen sportsman with an interest in football and boxing. However, family comes first and foremost.

Headshot of Ken Cornish. A middle aged white man with a light brown beard and short hair.

Ken Corish
Online Safety Director, South West Grid for Learning

Panel Moderator, Day One

Ken is Online Safety Director with South West Grid for Learning Trust. He draws on twenty years as a teacher and school leader and ten years as a School Improvement Adviser with Plymouth’s ICT Team.

Ken’s broad canvas of experience has seen him work with a wide range of agencies including UK government and the European Commission. Ken regularly speaks at conferences around the world. He has been involved in developing multiple resources, frameworks and tools to increase the wellbeing and safety of children and young people when they are online including the multi-award winning 360 degree safe online safety self-review tool, the BOOST toolset for children’s settings, and the SEL tools SELMA and ENABLE. His latest work is ProjectEVOLVE, an innovative set of free resources and knowledge mapping to support young people’s online lives.


Headshot of Molly Cuddihy, a young woman with short brown hair

Molly Cuddihy
Youth Ambassador for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity

Keynote, Day One

Molly Cuddihy is the Youth Ambassador for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, Co-Founder of the charity, Every Thank You Counts, co-ordinator for the highly acclaimed Radio Therapy Podcast, a volunteer with Make-A-Wish International and former secretary and donor recruitment coordinator for the Glasgow University Anthony Nolan Trust.

Molly is a passionate advocate for the rights of children and young adults, particularly those living with and progressing from cancer and other serious illness.

Molly has been recognised and awarded with numerous community and national awards however it is her engagement with and support of those seriously ill children and young adults that brings greatest reward.

“In life, adversity is inevitable. It's how we choose to handle these challenges that defines our path to success”

Headshot of Natlie Don, Minister for Children, Young People and Keeping the Promise

Natalie Don
Minister for Children, Young People and Keeping the Promise, MSP/BPA

Keynote, Day Two

Natalie Don was born in Paisley and grew up in Bridge of Weir. Natalie attended Gryffe High School and then went on to study History at University of Glasgow. Before and during her time at University, Natalie worked in a variety of sales roles working her way up to Manager of a local food retailer. Natalie was elected as the Member of the Scottish Parliament for Renfrewshire North and West in 2021. Prior to this, she served as the Councillor for Bishopton, Bridge of Weir and Langbank.

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Nicola Killean
Children and Young People's Commissioner

Adult Chair, Day One

Nicola Killean is the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland. She and her team are responsible for protecting and promoting the human rights of everyone under 18 in Scotland, or up to the age of 21 if they have care experience.

Nicola has spent most of her career supporting children and young people from communities facing particular challenges and disadvantages. Nicola was founding Chief Executive Officer of the charity, Sistema Scotland. She oversaw the launch and growth of the charity which delivers Big Noise programmes, using music and nurturing relationships to support over 3,500 children and young people across Scotland.

Nicola was awarded an OBE in 2020 for services to music, children and community cohesion.

“I am delighted to be co-chairing Children in Scotland’s Annual Conference alongside a young person. The conference is a fantastic opportunity to exchange knowledge and reflect on how children’s rights are being delivered in Scotland”

Headshot of Gregory Metcalf. He is a white man with bright blond hair.

Gregory Metcalfe
AI Project Lead, National Programmes, Children’s Parliament

Panelist, Day One

Gregory Metcalfe has been leading the Children's Parliament project ‘Exploring Children’s Rights and AI’ since its inception in 2022. Prior to working in the Children's Human Rights field, he worked as a primary school teacher and across a range of education and freelance roles as well as completing the MA Education: Culture, Language & Identity at Goldsmiths.

headshot of a young white person

Changing Our World

Young Person Chair Day One

Mhairi is a member of Changing our World (CoW) who lives in Inverclyde, and is the Founder & CEO of Youth STEM 2030, a social enterprise empowering youth globally as STEM changemakers, researchers & innovators for a just and sustainable future.

Mhairi is passionate about young people’s voices being heard in every room where decisions are being made, and works to enable meaningful, inclusive and participatory youth inclusion, especially within STEM and sustainability.

Mhairi has a strong focus on equity and inclusion, has a passion for ocean conservation and enjoys spending time in nature on long walks with Gordon the dog.


Headshot of Olive, a teenage girl with blond hair and white skin.

Changing Our World

Young Person Chair Day Two

Hi! My name is Olive, I’m 16 years old and I live in a small town just outside Edinburgh.

I first got involved with children in Scotland in 2018 when I participated in their heritage hunters project. Since then, I have had the privilege in taking part in a variety of different projects, and been a part of Children in Scotland’s advisory group Changing our World (or COW) for several years. Some issues I think are really important to children and young people are mental health and access to mental health services, education, and diversity and equalities.

Headshot of Jimmy Paul. A mixed-race man with glass, short dark brown hair and a close beard and mustache.

Jimmy Paul
Head of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit

Morning Keynote, Day One

Jimmy heads up the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit following a career managing health and social care services, working in care reform in Scotland (most notably as a co-chair at the Independent Care Review), and as director of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland. Jimmy leads the SVRU in its work reducing violence across Scotland using evidence-based solutions. As part of that work, he is committed to ensuring those who have lived experience are at the heart of the mission to make Scotland the safest country to live in.

“The world has changed drastically in recent years with the pandemic, the cost of living, and changes in social media. I’m looking forward to exploring this in my keynote address and advocating for compassion and collaboration”

Headshot of Steven Sweeney. He is a middle-aged white man with brown hair.

Steven Sweeney
Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire & Board convenor, Children in Scotland

Adult Chair, Day Two

Steven is a board member of Children in Scotland and the Chief Executive of Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire, the Third Sector Interface for South Lanarkshire.

He previously led Aberdeen FC and its partner charity to be named by the UEFA as the Best Professional Club in the Community in Europe, largely due to a strong emphasis on children's participation in physical activity and sport, their education, and contributing to the wider community.

His background is in teaching and coaching, with a particular interest in soft skills, personality and character development.

Steven has a BSc in Sports Studies and a PGDE in Education.

He recently relocated from Aberdeen back to Paisley to be closer to a wider family support network. Steven lives with his wife Cheryl and two girls.

Headshot of Judith Turbine. She is a middle-aged white woman with brown hair.

Judith Turbyne
CEO Children in Scotland
Welcome & Closing Notes Days One & Two

Dr. Judith Turbyne became Chief Executive of Children in Scotland in August 2021.

She has spent most of her professional life working in and with the charity sector. For much of that time she worked in international development, with charities challenging global poverty and inequality. She worked in Latin America and the Caribbean for many years, in local frontline organisations and with multinational funders, before moving to Dublin to work as the CEO of Progressio Ireland.

Judith returned home to Scotland in 2013 as Head of Engagement with the Scottish Charity Regulator where she has had the pleasure of working with many charities across Scotland. She is currently the Deputy Chair of the Corra Foundation.

She has a PhD from the University of Bath which looked at empowerment in development. Aside from her wonderful friends and family, the things that make her most happy are mountains, music, running, cricket and a good book.

Headshot of Steph Wright, a woman of color with medium toned skin and short brown hair.

Steph Wright
Head of Scottish AI Alliance

Panelist Day One

Steph has a diverse background ranging from astrophysics to genomics in academia and film & TV to dance in the arts and the third sector. A project and programme management professional, she loves to develop and build collaborations across organisations to help people with their data/AI journey.

Steph led on Data Lab’s efforts in support of the Scottish Government in developing Scotland’s AI Strategy and she’s now leading on the delivery of the strategy’s vision for Scotland to be a leader in the development and use of trustworthy, ethical and inclusive AI. She is also Co-Founder of Diverse AI and was recognised as one of the 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics in 2023 and one of the Top 10 Women in Tech in Scotland in 2023.


Teal Kibble logo. A K with hands where the spaces in the K should be.
Road Safety Scotland logo, red triangle with scottish flag.
Harmeny Education Trust Logo. A place to live, a space to thrive. On the left is a large H filled with a design of mountains, river, and sun.
Yopa logo in blue

Annual Conference 2024 Hub

All things Annual Conference 2024

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Programme – Day One

Check out the programme for the 29 May, day one of the conference

Check out day one

Programme – Day Two

Check out the programme for the 30 May, day two of the conference

Check out day two

Exhibition Hall

Check out our virtual exhibition hall before walking through the real one!

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