Founders and directors

Mebrak Ghebreweldi - Founder, Director & Facilitator

Originally from Eritrea, Mebrak is the founder and director of two organisations. Vandu Language Services (VLS) is a business established in 1999 to provide interpreting, translation and health and social care advocacy to public and private sector organisations in and around Sussex. The second organisation is Diversity Resource International (DRI), a social enterprise that provides research, executive coaching, business management and leadership training to cross sector organisations in the UK and Africa. Mebrak is the Social Entrepreneur in residence at the University of Brighton. She is a well-regarded public speaker, facilitator, business start-up mentor and coach. Through her entrepreneurial work, Mebrak has established a strong professional reputation in offering effective support, guidance and inspiration to international migrants, has been recognised by the public and private sector for her strong leadership attributes, and is a member of several public sector policy advisory boards. Mebrak was a member of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) from 1978-1994. As a young female independence fighter she was a barefoot doctor and then a Morse code radio operator until Eritrea gained its independence in 1991. Mebrak came to the UK as an international student to study business at Bachelor and Masters Level. She has successfully combined her experience of war and conflict with leadership and business education. Mebrak pursued a career as a social entrepreneur and is called upon to share her practical experience of how to start, develop, grow and run small businesses and social enterprises in the UK. Mebrak is a mother, role model and inspiration to those who dare to start from scratch and succeed in life.

Dr Yaa Asare - Director & Facilitator

Yaa’s background is in community development with migrant communities. She has long been involved in devising curriculum resources for schools, supporting teachers and students to explore cultural diversity through imaginative and connected ways. She has many years of experience as an equalities trainer, researcher and consultant specialising in issues of racial and cultural diversity. Since coming to the University of Brighton in 2004, Yaa has developed her interest in diversity by devising filmed resources for use in schools and universities named Unfolding Identities. These resources aim to give a voice to those young people who may be perceived as being ‘different’ and are intended to encourage the dismantling of myths and stereotypes and encourage an appreciation in the classroom of what contributes to making each of us who we are. Yaa lectures at Brighton University in the School of Applied Social Studies, the School of Education and at the International Summer School at Sussex University. Yaa has been a Director of Diversity Resource International since its inception and since this time used her knowledge to comprise and deliver courses to support the objectives and to enable people to maximise their personal and employment potential. Yaa’s research interests are now developing to global exploration of how young people construct their identities, particularly in conjunction with issues of nationhood, race and ethnicity. Her doctoral thesis (2010) explored how teachers in ‘white majority’ schools understand and teach about the 'Other' how is cultural diversity perceived and delivered and how effective is the cultural diversity curriculum? Yaa has recently carried out action research in Eritrea (2016) (carried out a DRI programme) and before this in Ghana (2012), exploring how pupils perceive their own national identity and their perceptions of the West in comparison. She is presently complementing this research by investigating the experience of young Eritrean asylum seekers, what were their expectations of the West and have these been met by the reality of living here? Yaa is committed to action research both in implementation and in the use that the research is put to. She hopes that the research carried out with Eritrean young people may be used in dialogue with the Department of Education in Eritrea to influence the curriculum and the myths that may be perpetuated about life in the West.

Ivan Rudd - Director

For over 15 years Ivan has worked with leaders at Board level in the NHS and community sectors, including Chief Executive and Public Health positions. He specialises in health management and Public Health and Wellbeing in communities. He has a national award for community development work connecting communities to health services. His skills include supporting managers to lead (and health teams to understand and achieve) the desired outcome expected by users of their services. As an example Ivan led the merger of two departments refocusing the activity on patient outcomes and supported the team to become one of the top 10% performers in the UK National Health Service (NHS).