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Black History Month at London South East Colleges: ‘Saluting our Sisters’

As part of its ongoing EDI programme and to mark this year’s Black History Month, leaders at London South East Colleges shared some of their own, inspiring experiences with students yesterday.

The special event took place at the College’s Bromley Campus. Talks were given by Janet Curtis-Broni, Group Chief People Officer; Fadia Clarke, Deputy Principal, Study Programmes and Quality; and former College Governor, Chin Okunuga. 

The speakers spoke about their lives and backgrounds – including some of the challenges they faced growing up. 

Janet Curtis-Broni is Group Chief People Officer at LSEC and heads up its EDI strategy. She spoke about moving to Ghana at the age of seven, unable to speak the language but being supported by some outstanding teachers. She said:  

“If I see something that’s not right, I challenge it. If you have a problem with my colour, that’s your problem, not mine. No matter what barriers you encounter in life, believe in yourself, and keep on going in order to realise your aspirations.”  

Fadia Clarke, Deputy Principal, Study Programmes and Quality at LSEC, talked about her career success in engineering. She said:  

“Because of the strength of my voice, I managed to succeed as a female engineer in a male-dominated industry. It’s important to question. If something isn’t right, you need to stand up and say it. By doing that, doors have opened to me. Do not accept difference as a challenge.” 

Chin Okunuga, a former LSEC Governor and one of only two black female COOs in NHS, was born in Zambia and studied in the UK. She said:  

 “I have faced racism but I have not let it define me. I am very very proudly black. Gen Z, Gen X, you are the generations that are going to make changes in this country.”  

Chair of London & South East Education Group, Stephen Howlett CBE, DL, also attended. He spoke to students about the importance of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and the work being done at LSEC to fully embed this across the curriculum.   

Stephen encouraged students to come forward with their ideas to promote and improve EDI across the college, and apply for EDI grants. He said: 

“I went to an FE college like you and that transformed me. It’s been really inspiring to hear our three speakers today and they have emphasised how crucial EDI is for this college and for the society we live in. We’re putting a lot of resources towards EDI as an organisation and I would encourage you all to get involved.” 

A Q&A session then followed, giving the audience an opportunity to ask speakers questions. Students attending the event included Georgiana and Ralica, both studying business. They said: 

Georgiana: “It’s shocking to know that people are going through this. To hear from these women, it was really motivating and resonated with me as a young person. To hear them say that we can accomplish anything was inspirational.” 

Ralica: “The panel was really inspirational. It was very interesting to hear different perspectives and interpretations from the three speakers. Some of the topics they brought up were quite emotionally touching. To learn about their creativity and experience was a lesson to us all in the room that anything is possible.” 

As part of the day’s proceedings, Stephen Howlett conferred a fellowship on Chin Okunuga. Having joined London South East Colleges’ Board as a non-executive director in 2020, Chin now leads on EDI and is a member of the College’s EDI Steering Group. She has worked in the NHS for over 25 years and continues to be a champion of EDI and a role model to young people. 

LSEC’s Fellowship programme recognises individuals and employers who make an outstanding personal contribution to supporting the college and its students. The Fellowships reflect the robust, strategic and meaningful connection that people have to our organisation and the support they provide.  

To date, 11 Fellows have been conferred, representing a range of industries and different skill specialisms.    

For more information about LSEC’s Fellowship Programme, visit: Honorary roles recognise outstanding support provided to college and its students (  For more information about LSEC’s EDI strategy and grants programme, visit: Equality and Diversity (

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