The Democratic Society (Demsoc) is a UK-based membership organisation that aims to make democracy work for the 21st century. We are trying to build a more participative democracy, based on good information, transparent government, and open decision making. A small team manage the day-to-day running of Demsoc, and undertake projects with government at a local, national and international level. Our project work funds Demsoc, and we are a non-profit organisation. We work mainly with governments, but we are independent of political parties. It is important to us that we remain politically neutral, so that we are able to work with, and include, anyone who wishes to get more out of their democratic rights.
Demsoc’s day-to-day work is undertaken by a small staff team, led by Anthony Zacharzewski as Director.
Anthony runs Demsoc from day to day. He has spent over a decade working on his two main interests – tech and politics – and thinking about how emerging social and network technologies can improve government and political participation. In 2006, he was one of the founding members of Demsoc, along with Andy Martin, Andrew Hardie, Helen Cammack and Ben Rowland. His working life has been spent in central and local government. At various times he has been speechwriter at the Department of Health; secretary to the Cabinet Committees on health, food and agriculture; a member of the national Sure Start team, and project leader in the Treasury’s internal think tank, the Productivity and Structural Reform Team. He joined Brighton & Hove City Council as Head of Policy in 2006, where he was responsible for strategy, community relations, and sustainability. After nine months on the authority’s board as Acting Director of Strategy & Governance, he left to work for Demsoc in February 2010.
Susie Latta manages Demsoc’s projects. In a wide ranging career she has managed many complex projectsin the private, public and charitable sectors, both in the UK and overseas. She began her career as a manager with J Sainsbury plc before going on to do public relations for new store openings. She was director of a British children’s charity in Russia and has spent a number of years living in the Arabian Gulf and North Africa where she worked as a journalist and editor; a business adviser and for the British Council. More recently she has worked as project manager and leadership development consultant for clients including the UK Fire and Rescue Services and HM Prison Service; and as a policy officer for Kent Police Authority, where her work included public engagement. She organised the annual Summit of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) in 2011 and 2012 and an international policing conference for the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) in 2013.
Projects for Demsoc include a local structures audit for the British Medical Association, NHS Citizen, the Zero Heroes project for Lewes District Council and facilitation of workshops for Health Education England.
Alistair is the Community Engagement and Scotland Lead for Democratic Society. Having recently completed a Masters in International Communications at the University of Leeds his interests lie in the impact of the Internet on democratic engagement and relationships between politicians and citizens. His thesis was titled Nick Clegg on Facebook: an Empirical Study of a Politician’s use of Web 2.0 and its Possible Impact on Democracy. He has also acted as research assistant to Prof Stephen Coleman working on projects relating to political communication.
Niamh joined Demsoc as a Democratic Engagement intern in 2015. She supports our Scottish based projects from our Edinburgh Office. Prior to joining Demsoc staff, she worked for the Scottish Parliament in a political communications role for Patrick Harvie MSP. Niamh studied Law and Politics at the University of Glasgow and specifically focused on public law, the EU and democracy studies. Niamh has a keen interest in Europe and previously worked with the European Youth Parliament on engagement and outreach programmes.
Kelly has recently joined Demsoc as a Democratic Engagement intern. She studied Anthropology & Development Studies at the University of Sussex, before undertaking two year terms as the President of the Students’ Union, where her work included developing structures for democratic participation and community engagement.
Millicent has spent over a decade working on increasing citizens’ engagement with policy making and bringing people into democratic processes. Before joining DemSoc in 2015 she had worked for the Scottish Government, Scottish Civic Forum, European Parliament, the Association for Citizenship Teaching (England) and the Financial Times. In 2015 she also stood for the UK Parliament herself. “I want to change the way politics is done. I want to enable and inspire more people to engage in decision-making and I want to see a parliament that’s more representative of the people. I believe in working together for a fairer society.”
After a 20 year career in the British and European civil service, Antonia is now working with Demsoc in Australia. She has just completed a Masters at the University of Melbourne, where her research focused on organisational networks. A former school governor, she is convinced of the importance of civic understanding and engagement from a young age.
Demsoc’s work is overseen by a Board of Governors, who have responsibility for setting the direction of the organisation, approving work programmes and preserving the independence and values of the organisation. TheGovernors are elected or appointed under the terms of our Articles. They serve three-year terms.
Liz Owen is Head of Customer Insight at the Department for Energy and Climate Change and Policy Fellow of the Centre for Science and Policy at the University of Cambridge. Her work creates, uses and interprets evidence on customer behaviour, attitudes and values. Prior to joining DECC, Liz worked as a research consultant, initially helping international blue chip companies to understand their brand image and inform new product development, moving on to focus on policy research for public sector clients including Defra, DECC, Energy Saving Trust, Carbon Trust and the Sustainable Development Commission. Liz has a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Brasenose College, Oxford.
Catherine is Chief Executive of social technology firm Public-i, and a specialist in social media and eDemocracy with a background in technology delivery. She has worked with online communities and social networking tools for over 10 years. Initially developing learning applications at the London Business School, she was founder director of Etribes.com – an online community consultancy that specialised in working with third sector organisations such as Christian Aid, YMCA and YHA. During the last year Catherine was awarded a PhD at the University of Sussex, and her research interest was in the social impact of Web 2.0 tools in a democratic context
Andy is an internationally recognised thought-leader in digital democracy, democratic innovation and transforming engagement. He works with parliaments, governments and civil society organisations right around the world to make democracy work better, strengthen leadership and to make our democratic architectures more open and transparent. Andy is an experienced researcher, consultant and leader and the Founder of Democratise, Chairman of Do It UK and a Governor of the Democratic Society. He has a reputation as a pioneer in the field of digital media and civic activism. Andy is not afraid to speak truth to power and has a breadth of knowledge and experience that makes him a formidable voice that cannot be ignored. He’s also a regular speaker and commentator on democracy, innovation and social activism. In the past he has been Director of Digital Democracy at the Hansard Society and Deputy Chair of the New Zealand Government’s Digital Strategy Board, he holds a PhD from Monash University, Australia in critical theory, democracy and ICT.