Diane Howse (Chair)

Diane Howse is an artist, curator and producer with extensive experience of developing a wide range of projects across the cultural spectrum.
She has worked with many different organisations throughout her career but has had a specific involvement with Harewood House Trust in Yorkshire; she has been instrumental in developing the trust’s cultural policy and has overseen a continuously changing programme of exhibitions and projects across Harewood by a wide range of practitioners. Her work there includes founding the Terrace Gallery in 1989. She was centrally involved in the development and presentation of a year-long programme of exhibitions and events at Harewood in 2007 commemorating the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade which culminated in a series of performances of Geraldine Connor’s theatrical spectacular Carnival Messiah. She was a friend and professional associate of Geraldine Connor and played a key role in establishing the Geraldine Connor Foundation after Geraldine’s death in 2011.

Photo of Diane Howse

Teo Connor

Teo Connor was Geraldine’s niece and currently works as a designer for Apple. With more than a decades worth of experience in design, Teo is an entrepreneurial individual who has directed her own companies and co-founded The W Project, a series of exhibitions and events which celebrates women in the creative industries. An inspirational woman herself, Teo is a keen collaborator and has been instrumental in mentoring young creatives all over London.

Photo of Teo Connor

Diane Dickson

Born in Egypt and refugee to France, Diane Dickson performed in ballets for many years across Egypt and Dijon and worked as a translator in France and England. Whilst in England, Diane met her husband and followed her passion by completing a City and Guild’s in fashion and design at Wharfdale College. In a generation where few woman worked, Diane successfully established her own fashion company, D.D.co, which has been running for over 35 years, supplying designs to 5,000 stores and several well-known brands on the high street. Geraldine Connor approached Diane to help in the commercial side of Carnival Messiah via fundraising. Diane continues to support the cause of the Foundation to this day.

Judith Hartley

Judith qualified as a chartered accountant with Price Waterhouse and worked in a number of industries before moving into the charity sector in 2003 as Finance Director and Company Secretary of Northern Ballet Limited.

She has a wide-ranging remit at Northern Ballet with responsibility for areas such as HR, compliance, legal and secretarial and IT, in addition to her specialist knowledge of charity finance matters.

Earlier in her career Judith acted as a teacher, parish councillor and school governor and brings a strong financial knowledge to the Board of Trustees of the Geraldine Connor Foundation.

Ken Reid

Ken Reid was Director of Creative Arts at Leeds City College before retiring in July 2019 after 40 years of service. He currently chairs the Creative Engagement Advisory Group at Leeds Playhouse and is a trustee of Leeds Theatre In Education company. A number of Ken's students and staff were involved in both Carnival Messiah productions directed by Geraldine and he saw at first hand the huge growth in confidence, skill and ambition which the productions brought to the participants.

Sheila Howarth

Sheila Howarth is a teacher, community ambassador and costume maker for Leeds West Indian Carnival. Sheila was named Leeds Most Inspiring Teacher two years running (2015, 2016) for her ability to be a role model and reach out to young people. She has sat as a member of the board for the Leeds West Indian Carnival. In 2014 the Sea Dragon costume designed by Sheila and Raymond Wilkes won the Carnival Queen title, then in 2016, the pair also won the titles for Prince, Princess, King and Queen, the first time a designer has won all four titles. A long-time friend of Geraldine Connor, Sheila can often be seen showing her support at our workshops and events.

Photo of Sheila Howarth

Christella Litras

Christella Litras is a songwriter, musician, composer, vocal arranger, record producer and founding member of Caution Collective. Christella has a strong interest in world music, is heavily interested in Caribbean music, and is known for her collaborations and tours with world musicians such as Ella Andall and Motown legends like Martha Reeves. A protégé of Geraldine Connor, she is heavily involved in the Foundation and contributes to many of our creative projects.

Stella holding her guitar, looking at the camera

Khadijah Ibrahhiim

Khadijah Ibrahiim was born in Leeds and is of Jamaican parentage. She is a literary activist, live artist, theatre maker, producer, and Artistic Director of Leeds Young Authors. Educated at the University of Leeds, she has a BA (Hons) in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies and an MA in Theatre Studies. Hailed as one of Yorkshire’s most prolific poets by BBC Radio, she has appeared on many international stages. Her poetry collection, Another Crossing, was published by Peepal Tree Press and premiered at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2014.