Toria Buzza – Co-Founder, Non-Exec Director and Chair of the Board
Toria is an experienced senior manager, who has worked in housing, community development and regeneration for over 10 years. She is passionate about social justice. She enjoys working with communities and those who love and excel at what they do. She believes when good people work together, fantastic things happen.
She is the Wellbeing Lead in Cheshire West for Housing and responsible for partnership development and delivery of the Community Impact Strategy programme which invests in community partnerships and projects. Working with stakeholders including the Council, NHS, Mental Health Trust, Community and Voluntary Sector (CVS), Staff and Tenants, a varied programme has been created, which is monitored using an ‘outcome focussed’ approach. She oversees the Wellbeing Service, a unique service which offers person centred wraparound support to tenants to enable them to maintain their independence in their home and sustain their tenancy.
As Chair at We Make Places her primary role is to support strategic direction and partnership development. Toria is proud that the organisation has developed partnerships across Europe and are delivering a number of key projects including; Urban Workbench an open facility for members of the community to develop their skills.
Toria sits on We Make Places’ Staffing and Remuneration Working Group
Throughout her career she’s worked on tremendously exciting projects from the Atlantic Gateway parklands strategy, revitalising the Bridgewater Canal through a successful £3.5 million bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund and blazing a trail through the development of an anti-poverty strategy for Ellesmere Port. In her spare time Toria is a keen footballer and runner.
Mark Bennett – Co-Founder and Non-Exec Director
Mark is an experienced Architect, having worked in private practice for the last 15 years before recently setting up his own practice mbed Architecture. He has experience of working on heritage, sports and leisure, community, commercial, education & regeneration schemes. In the housing sector, Mark has extensive residential experience having led many private, social, mixed-tenure and HMR Pathfinder projects.
In 2014 he formed his own practice after working in commercial practices for 20 years.
MBed Architects are RIBA Chartered Architects based in Liverpool with two decades of experience designing and delivering hundreds of projects across the North West and beyond.
“A commercially-minded and client-focused Architect with excellent urban design and master planning skills can be hard to find, but Mark is certainly that. He has guided us from the outset and enabled us to realise the full potential of our site, maximising the value and marketability of our asset.”
S.B, Land Owner and Developer, Manchester
Design and delivery led, MBed work collaboratively and creatively using innovative design and architecture to generate appropriate and sustainable built environment solutions. They listen, to understand.
Mark’s vast depth of experience supports We Make Places around land and building projects, including our own premises.
Steve Threlfall – Co-Founder, Director and Creative Director
Steve has been a designer since 1996, having trained as an architect and product designer before founding studios in Liverpool and London. Stakeholder involvement is at the heart of Steve’s work, designing, learning spaces, exhibitions, retail, public realm, workplaces and products.
Steve has led on design projects at a variety of scales, responsible for budgets and teams on projects from £1k to £1m+, including work on the design of over 40 schools and colleges across the Building Schools for the Future and Academies programmes. In 2012, Steve co-authored the publication ‘The Optimum Primary School’.
As a Director and co-founder of We Make Places CIC and in his role as Creative Director ‘Urban Workbench’ Steve is building upon his experience of working on ‘making’ projects with communities. Steve is passionate about the connections between people that can be facilitated through the collaborative construction of objects and places. – Like ‘breaking bread’, but with drills and saws!
In 2015, Steve was invited to participate in the European Cultural Foundation’s Idea Camp in Botkyrka, Sweden, progressing to gain an R&D funding award. The research process involves a 1 month residency with Medialab Prado in Madrid in June 2017. Through this programme Steve has made valuable connections with artists, designers and change-makers across Europe, all engaged in giving citizens voice in place-making.
Steve is a part-time Senior lecturer at MMU in Interior Design, with a research focus on socially engaged practice, linking to his practice-based research at We Make Places CIC.
Kate Stewart – Co-Founder, Director and CEO
Kate is a creative business practitioner with a wealth of experience in the design & education sectors. She is also well known as a Crowd funding expert and regeneration consultant, supporting projects creating public spaces, buildings & events.
Kate is one of the founders of Friends of the Flyover & successfully led their crowd funding campaign for feasibility funds and was artistic director of several Flyover Takeovers. Now as CEO for We Make Places (the CIC formed by Friends of the Flyover) she continues to lead on our community engagement and cultural programmes.
All of Kate’s work is about the right partnerships & collaborations with other creative individuals & businesses with different skills. She has a background in theatre, business planning and project management and sector specific business support for the creative sector. She has been self-employed for almost 30 years and has won various accolades as an entrepreneur – from being a Cosmopolitan Woman of Achievement, Social Entrepreneur of the Year to more recently, being named as one of the Leaders of Liverpool & as Independent Business Champion of the Year at the Merseyside Independent Business Awards 2014. She has been listed in the WISE100 on 3 occasions.
Kate has also taught business skills to creative students at LIPA, JMU, Hope and Liverpool University as well as to students at the Centre for Business Organisations and Society at the University of Bath. She was also recently listed as one of the top 30 most influential scousers to follow on Twitter! She is slightly greyhound obsessed and whilst continuing to live well with AS is a keen walker and yoga practitioner.
Mo Gnanalingham – Non-Executive Director
Mo is married with two young boys and lives in Liverpool. He is an avid cricket player, who also enjoys reading, going for walks and cooking South Indian food. He wants to make a difference to the community in which he lives and works.
He is a medically qualified, dedicated and accomplished healthcare professional with over 25 years’ experience gained in hospital settings, specialising in Paediatric Intensive Care. A seasoned trainer, teacher, facilitator, executive coach, mentor and mediator with extensive experience delivering comprehensive lectures and programs. An excellent communicator (both written and verbal) demonstrated in day-to-day clinical roles, including facilitation and education of individuals, groups and teams. Mo has established a portfolio of coaching and mentoring roles, acting as both a mediator and facilitator guiding professionals and healthcare bodies through crisis situations.
As a Non-Executive Director at We Make Places he helps to increase community resilience, by giving a voice to those who normally struggle to be heard and supporting people, places & businesses to challenge their perceptions and fulfil their potential. Mo provides the team with support and guidance on strategic growth.
An analytical thinker with a methodical approach to problem solving, as well as displaying advocacy, counselling, and negotiating skills in clinical and non-clinical environments, Mo demonstrates an adaptable leadership style, building structured teams and encouraging flexibility and collaboration. Mo is part of our Arts & Culture Working Group.
Sally Griffiths-Parry – Non-Executive Director
Sally lives in Liverpool and is passionate about the impact of development on local communities. Her interest in working with locally founded We Make Places stems from her desire to use her professional skills to make a difference. Originating from a low-income background with a disability Sally was supported in her education and career via scholarships and access schemes. She is pleased she is now able to take the opportunity to make a difference for others by helping to change the urban landscape for those experiencing difficult circumstances and those who are under-represented.
As a Specification Manager her role involves engaging with and attracting commercial clients in social housing and the wider housing market. She has led a department of business analysts in rewriting processes for a leading UK manufacturer and creating an information management platform and then to implement the policy and strategy. Sally is a culture change facilitator, which involves leading culture shaping sessions with people from all departments and levels, coaching them in unlearning long-held assumptions and behaviours which can be damaging to both the culture and the people in the organisation.
Sally’s MBA includes Marketing, Finance, Managing Operations, Managing People, Strategic Change and Consultancy, International Consultancy, Leadership Development. She understands the legal and moral role of a trustee and the importance of good governance for a charitable organisation and of diversity and collaboration.
Sally is part of our Staffing and Remuneration Working Group.
Andy Minnis – Non-Executive Director
Originally from the Wirral, Andy lived in Liverpool for many years before moving away – to London, then Reykjavik, then back to London again before settling in New Brighton on the Wirral. He is a Health and Safety Adviser and has worked in Life Sciences and Higher Education for the past 18 years. Currently Head of Health and Safety at UK Biobank. In previous roles Andy has supported education and research across large organisations, ensuring a safe working environment and protecting staff, students and visitors from harm.
Andy is also a NED / Trustee at University of the Arts Student Union, so part of the board and also chair of the Audit Committee. Working with 6 other Trustees, to provide scrutiny and oversight of the union’s activities to make sure the organisation supports students in the most effective way.
Andy was also a co-founder and Director of Threshold Festival, a 2-day event held each spring in Liverpool for 10 years, with the final festival being in 2022. The specific focus was on grass roots art and music and emerging talent, providing a platform for artists to reach new audiences; to experiment, collaborate and celebrate creativity across Merseyside.
Continuing his creative side, Andy is also a musician, having previously collaborated with Guillotines, Frakture and a.P.A.t.T. and been the orchestra & blogger for Getintothis.
Andy supports the team with Risk Assessments and sits on our Arts & Culture Working Group