As part of Women’s History Month, your Students’ Union has contacted women in leadership within the University, the local community, and the Students’ Union itself to feature them on our Her Story. Each individual featured has a link to the University of Greenwich in one way or another and it’s a huge privilege to feature them as part of this year’s Her Story. Women all across the University, your Union stands in solidarity with you and we’re extremely proud to be celebrating Women’s History Month. Remember… #GREGirlsCan!


Liz Jones

Liz Roberts

Kani Hinshelwood

Adiya Aimanova

Kate Dawson

Denise Hyland

Kadie Songu

Kia Hanly

Muibat Arinade Adedoja

Shabina Begum

Ann Brightwell

Seneo Mwamba

Vivian Van Lent

Professor Susan Lea

Virginia Malone












Dr Liz Jones

Executive Headteacher, Abbey Manor College

I lead an organisation that is committed to social justice and gives students permanently excluded from school the opportunity to achieve and be successful.  My students are alienated from mainstream education and have extreme difficulty in accessing learning and an aversion to authority.

I am also Chair of the Board of Trustees for Greenwich S.U., and was the first woman President of Aston University Guild of Students.

Random fact-I ran a marathon.

Don’t really do inspiration but these women make me proud of my gender-Jennifer Ennis-Hill, Rosalind Franklin, Marie Curie, Victoria Wood and sometimes Adele…

Liz Roberts

Student Staff

I would say I hold two quite big leadership roles in my respective sports teams. I coach the cheerleading team, and have for the past two years! And I’m also the chairlady of the lacrosse team. Through these roles, I’ve not only built confidence in myself, but also in others. I’ve learned a variety of life skills as a leader that I’m proud to be able to put on my CV.

Two fun facts about me are 1. I am fluent in Russian! And 2. My brother looks just like Ed Sheeran

A female that inspires me is Emma Watson, I really admire all her work and the causes that she stands for, she’s smart, independent, and a role model for young girls and women everywhere (including myself).

Kani Hinshelwood

President and Captain of the University of Greenwich Badminton Club
- studying Information Systems

I’m an active person trying out many unusual sports and societies, ranging from underwater-hockey to competing in a Welsh folk dancing team. I’ve completed my Gold & Diamond DofE, climbed Mt Fuji (whilst utterly hungover) and received the Andrew Davis award for ‘Bravery, Courage and Fairness on the pitch’.

I’m a qualified freediver, badminton coach and am undergoing my mountain leadership qualification. I play the cornet, competing across Wales, England and Europe (nothing is better than band camp). I have been volunteering for a renewable energy charity since I was 10, and am now an investor in their community wind farm.

Anna Kessel is a sports journalist for the Guardian and the Observer and author of the book 'Eat Sweat Play'. This book discusses all the issues, problems, victories and achievements by women across all types of sport, age and abilities. This book intrigued me from the very start and I urge everyone to read it, regardless as to whether they participate in a sport or not. It will make you want to get out and kick a football, run a 5k or start fencing. #thisgirlcan.

Adiya Aimanova

Student Ambassador and International Students’ Officer at the Students’ Union, University of Greenwich

Adiya was awarded a global mobility scholarship as part of the partnership between the University of Greenwich and Santander Universities in year one to study intensive Spanish language in Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria, Valparaiso Chile.

Adiya was elected to represent the University of Greenwich students on the annual NUS national conference for 2016/2017 academic year.

Adiya was awarded the following certificates for being an active member of the Students’ Union: 'Best New Volunteer', 'Tessa Blackstone Certificate for Outstanding Volunteering' and 'Bronze Volunteering Certificate for the Sustainability Hub'.

Adiya was awarded Diploma of Honors for her outstanding academic performance in Russian and English Translation Studies at linguistic college in Kazakhstan.

One of the most inspirational women for me is my mother. She was brought up in a large family in the period of the Soviet Union in Almaty, Kazakhstan. In spite of a very difficult time, along with my father, she would never give up but work for the main purpose of maintaining her family, including my sister and myself.

Kate Dawson

Head of Membership Services

A woman that inspires me is Reni Eddo Lodge – she is a formidable Guardian journalist who is not afraid to challenge people’s perceptions. I met her when I was a student and she was involved in the student movement, she oozed confidence of a strong women leader who was passionate and extremely knowledgeable. I knew that that was the type of leader that I wanted to be and always look to her writing and twitter for inspiration!

Denise Hyland

Lead of the Council

Cllr Denise Hyland has been a Member of the Royal borough of Greenwich since 2006, and was elected the first ever woman Leader of the Borough in 2014, having previously been the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills.

Her portfolio as Leader includes Strategy and Finance, Resources, Communications and Community Consultation, and Emergency Planning. She is also a Ward Councillor for Abbey Wood.

Denise sits on the Children’s Trust Board and Planning Board. She has also been a school governor at two primary schools.

Denise has lived in the borough since university and has raised her family here. She has a background in education and has worked as a youth worker, community education manager and teacher/manager in Greenwich for over 30 years. Her experience was as an English and Drama teacher, manager and examiner, and also a Gifted and Talented Co-ordinator.

After finishing teaching full-time, Denise set up an education consultancy, working across London and Essex, and with her business partners produced curriculum materials and career guides for use in schools. She has experience of being an Achievement Mentor in secondary schools in Southwark and Lambeth and has also worked as an English specialist guiding departments to improve their examination results and build capacity. 

Denise has been a BAFTA judge, and was filmed for Channel 4, teaching Shakespeare to inner city students. She has also co-produced exemplar projects for the Creative and Media Diploma, and worked on a Performing Arts Apprenticeship scheme with a range of high profile arts venues in the capital, such as English National Ballet, English National Opera, English Touring Opera, Royal Albert Hall, Hackney Empire, The Gate and others.

Cllr Hyland is Chair of the Council’s Cabinet and of the General Purposes Committee, and is a member of the Planning Board and the Standards Committee.

For the Royal Borough, Cllr Hyland is also a member of the following outside bodies:

  • London Councils Leaders’ Committee
  • Children’s Trust Board
  • Health & Wellbeing Board (Chair)
  • Destination Greenwich / Visit Greenwich
  • Greenwich Enterprise Board
  • Growth Boroughs Joint Committee
  • Royal Parks Board
  • By personal invitation, Denise chairs the World Heritage Site Steering Group


 One Woman who inspired Denise

Violette Reine Elizabeth Szabo GC (néeBushell; 26 June 1921 – c. 5 February 1945) was a French-born British Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent during the Second World War and a posthumous recipient of the George Cross. On her second mission into occupied France, Szabo was captured by the German army, interrogated, tortured and deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany, where she was executed.

This poem by Leo Marks was used in the war as code and used in the film Carve her name with pride about Szabo's life

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours.
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause.
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

Kadie Songu

Finance Manager

I am the Finance Manager and Accountant at the Student’s Union University of Greenwich. My job is to provide strategic Leadership and management framework of the overall control of the Union’s financial and accounting functions.  I am responsible for all statutory reporting, Compliance, audits, financial control and planning as well as developing and implementing policies and procedures for the efficient administration of the department.
Life is a journey, and as I make this journey; lots of people inspire me every day. I learn as I go along either by their values, dedication, commitment, handwork or through the impact they have made on the lives of people around them. My late mum supported and inspired me to work hard, she worked hard to provide me with the best education. Her inspiration and support helped me to achieve my dream of becoming a Chartered Certified Accountant.

Kia Hanly

Corporate Events Director, Quintessentially - best friend of John Schless

With over ten years experience leading event teams delivering brand experiences for high profile global brands, such as: ITV, Microsoft, AOL, L'Oreal, Facebook & Cartier.

At Quintessentially the leadership team includes several influential, rockstar women who I learn from daily.

I am constantly inspired by my friends and family, the fantastic things they achieve and the generosity of spirit they show.  I am influenced on a daily basis by men & women alike who are passionate about empowering each other to be the best version of themselves.

In my teenage years my dancing teacher taught me passion and respect. I was inspired by Irene, she embodied grace, passion and quiet determination to help those around her become the best they could. She sent me a card before she passed away saying 'follow your dreams wherever they may follow' & it is one of my most prized processions & something I try to live by. We can achieve anything we set our mind to.

In my role at ITV I was extremely fortunate to meet Fru Hazlitt who is one of the most exceptional, influential and inspiring women. Fru has achieved so much professionally whilst being truly authentic, kind hearted and approachable, she always shows so much courage, energy & passion in everything she does. Fru taught me when hiring, hire 'nice people' who you like & trust - it goes such a long way.  Fru looks fabulous daily and isn't afraid to stand out.

My mum is one of life's greats, she has the biggest heart & gets energy from making those around her happy.

I am extremely lucky that the list of women who inspire me is endless & found in so many walks of life. I do believe the empowerment of women rests with both men & women & I surround myself with people who motivate me to be the best I can & who believe I am capable of achieving whatever I set out to.

Muibat Arinade Adedoja

ACS Society

 My name is Muibat Arinade Adedoja. I  am in my second year studying Adult Nursing. Charity Officer for African and Caribbean Society. I am proud of myself as I organise charity walk for mental health every year. 

 My mother is my biggest inspiration. She is very hardworking and a virtuous woman.she motivates me to be who I am today and supported me in every situation of my life. 

Likewise I am also inspired by Maya Angelou. She made me realise that if you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. 

'To the women who are breaking barriers, we salute you' - The Hidden Figures 

Shabina Begum


I graduated from the University of Greenwich in 2008 with an Upper Second in Law.

In 2016 I spoke to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York about domestic violence and early and forced marriage. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights then invited me to join an expert workshop in Geneva, focusing on Child, Early and Forced Marriage.

Having been called to the bar in 2009, I was awarded the Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship in 2012, conducting legal research on acid violence in Sri Lanka, Cambodia and India.

The following year I joined Dawson Cornwell, one of the UK’s leading international family law firms.   

In 2016 I received the Alumna of the Year award from the University of Greenwich and in February 2017 I was recognised by the British Bangladesh Power and Inspiration Awards as one of the top 100 influential British Bangladeshis.   

Shorufa Bibi, my mother, has taught me how to smile even through adversity, and stay determined even when my motivation is at a low point. She raised me to believe my actions should always benefit others. She keeps me grounded and makes me strive further, so I can reach out to more people. 

I have had the privilege of working with Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE QC (Hon), the leading international child abductions lawyer in the UK. Despite being in the field for 30 years, she continues to campaign relentlessly against honour based violence. Her passion to fight for the greater good, and for women, children and the most vulnerable, remains fresh and she never misses a trick. 

Sara Hossain, the leading human rights lawyer, is one of the most influential women in Bangladesh and globally respected for her work. She has taught me how Bengali women can be powerful and graceful whilst changing the world.


Ann Brightwell

Olympic champion.World record-breaking athlete.

I attended the Dartford College of Physical Education (one of the university’s predecessors) from 1960-1963. At this time I was already an international athlete.

At the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo I was favourite for the 400m but was beaten into the silver medal despite recording my fastest ever time and breaking the existing world record.

It was a huge disappointment, but I turned my attention to the 800m. I had only raced this three times before leaving for Tokyo and had no aspirations. Competing in both events meant six hard races in six days.

Yet in the final I won gold and broke the world record.

The physical curriculum at Dartford College was intense, as was the academic timetable, and it was difficult to fit in the specific training to further my athletic career. However, with the encouragement and support of the staff I was fortunate enough to keep my fitness as well as continue my teacher training.

What women or woman inspired you and why?

For me, an inspirational woman was my mother who was born in 1911, lost her father in the Great War, had a very hard early upbringing, lost three babies before I was born and suffered the loss of her son - my older brother - at the age of 18 in a motorcycle accident. She never lost her spirit despite all this and endowed me with her steely resilience.

I was six when the 1948 Olympics were held in London and the Dutch housewife Fanny Blankers Koen who won four gold medals there inspired me when women's athletics was still in its infancy.

Finally, my good friend Mary Bignal Rand, now Reece, was an established athlete before me. She epitomised the grace and beauty of the sport and like Fanny was a pioneer of the acceptance of sport for women. 

Photo: Lucinda Marland / Drew Gardner.

Seneo Mwamba

Second Year Events Management Student, Business Faculty Officer

One thing I have been proud to achieve during my time at Greenwich is being elected Volunteering and Community Officer for 2017/18. I am proud to be representing the students in giving back to the Greenwich Community and expanding the volunteering reach to the student of Greenwich. I am also happy to be a part of the CoppaFeel! society a charity that works to promote and bring awareness to breast cancer in young people. I have been a of CoppaFeel! for 3 years spreading the message on campus and bringing awareness to the students of Greenwich.

A few women that inspire me are Oprah Winfrey, Ava DuVernay, Shonda Rhimes, Kelly Cutrone and Sophia Amoruso. These women have inspired me to follow my dreams and have demonstrated to me the value of dreaming, passion, determination and the definition of creating success out of hard work. These women are the ultimate GirlBosses and serve as role models for me in terms of what having a dream and ambition can do for you and the opportunities you can create to give back and open doors for people in a wider scale. They are truly inspirational and represent how powerful women can be in whatever they want to be.

Professor Susan Lea 

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), Community psychologist by training, and a national teaching fellow. 

A couple of lines about what women or woman inspired you and why? I’ve been inspired by many women in my life; however, my mother is a powerful influence.  She taught me compassion, humour and about striving to do your best in everything you do.

Virginia Malone

 Head of Library Services, University of Greenwich

I have been with the University for 29 years and been lucky enough to have worked in many of its libraries, we have 3 campus libraries  now  but when I started there were 13 libraries altogether so lots of opportunity to move about and develop your skills and career. I have worked with many great teams of people.

Stockwell Street library is the tenth library I have worked in and planning it and developing the service has been a career highlight. I was delighted when the library team were shortlisted for the Outstanding Library Team in the Times Higher Leadership and management awards in 2016.

I think any woman who can get herself and children out of the house in the morning washed, clothed and fed deserves a medal. I don’t have children and getting myself organised in the morning is hard enough!

I think some of our students who juggle studying, working and raising a family are inspirational.

Vivian van Lent

Vice President Education SUUG

I moved to the UK during the infamous moving-in weekend back in 2013 to study my HR degree at Greenwich. Throughout my studies I got involved in the Students’ Union as a volunteer, programme representative, student staff, part time officer and eventually a sabbatical officer.

In a world with so many amazing, inspirational women my mother always stood out for me.

She is one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. It is her encouragement and passion that motivated me to follow my own ideas and dreams. And more importantly she made me believe that I can achieve anything I want in life.