Elias grew up in his native Palestine before moving to Britain in pursuit of a University education. Elias moved to Northern Ireland in 1991 where he studied and worked in business and finance before subsequently gaining qualifications in computing. Since 1999, Elias has been a lecturer in ICT and now teaches at the Belfast Metropolitan College.
Elias has a wealth of experience in the voluntary sector having served on a number of committees and has been a member of the Northern Ireland sub-group of the Advisory Board on Naturalisation and Integration.
Elias is interested in Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) issues and understands the difficulties encountered when attempting to settle and integrate in their new environment. He believes that education, empowerment and the promotion of human rights as well as the recognition and acceptance by the majority communities would not only benefit BME groups and individuals but would greatly benefit the whole of our society.
Elias has been the Chairman of Bryson Intercultural since 2006 and is currently Chairman of An Munia Tober.
Matt grew up in the height of the troubles with a keen interest in community work from an early age.
Matt graduated in Youth and Community Work in Jordanstown before moving to Berlin in 1985 where we qualified as a Social Educator while working on numerous social projects. Following the fall of the Berlin wall, Matt returned to Belfast and spent years delivering community relations projects in rural and urban areas.
Matt completed an MSc in Education and Contemporary Society at the University of Ulster in 2000. In 2010 he initiated a widely regarded inclusion project with BME young people in Lisburn, work which has received rewards and media coverage. As former Chairman of the Tor Bank Special School Parent Staff Association, he led a lobbying campaign that resulted in the construction of a new school.
Matt is currently Vice Chairman with the Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust. With the UNESCO Centre, he is currently investigating the impact of the divided system of education on the career choices of teachers.
Sophy Bryson has been involved in the voluntary sector for over 40 years and has experience in a number of charitable organisations including NIACRO, refugee charity NICRAS, Save the Children and Citizen’s Advice to name but a few.
Sophy became a member of Bryson Executive Committee in the early 1980’s. For over 35 years, Sophy has offered support and guidance to the group, including during her nine years as Honorary Secretary. Sophy learnt about the work of Bryson through her Father-in-Law Edwin Bryson, a member of the executive team who amongst other achievements, secured the head office, now known as Bryson House.
Sophy is passionate about social justice and has a particular interest in care, having spent several years serving the Bryson Care committee. She is currently a member of Bryson Intercultural and An Munia Tober and is particularly interested in the inclusion and integration of all in our society.
Janet has thirty years of language teaching which has included French, Spanish and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).
Janet has experience in secondary, grammar and Further Education sectors. She spent two years teaching in Tanzania, where she gained insight into learning as an adult through learning Swahili.
Janet has 11 years recent experience in teaching ESOL classes in which she delivered a wide range of levels from beginners through to advanced level. She has also been a teacher assessor on the City and Guilds Skills for Life accreditation for the last seven years.
Janet has played a key role in developing the Open College Network language skills accreditation programme. She was also part of the team who developed the syllabus for the accredited Steps programme for Modern Languages at Belfast Met.
Currently Janet teaches ESOL class at the Chinese Welfare Association and teaches English to refugees at NICRAS.
Janet has been a member of Bryson Intercultural board since 2011 and has used her experience to develop an accredited programme with Open College Network (OCN) NI for vocational purposes in the Care Sector for non-native speakers of English.
Hazel Francey spent most of her working life with Belfast City Council where she led the Good Relations Unit and had responsibility for equality, community relations, race relations, diversity and social inclusion issues. Her previous roles within the City Council included community development, policy development and corporate planning.
Hazel is a Commissioner with the Equality Commission for NI and is Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of National Museums NI. She is a member of the Board of Governors of two local schools, Wellington College Belfast and Rosetta Primary. She is also a member of the Board of the ArtsEkta organisation and a Director on the Board of the Ullans Academy.
Hazel graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a degree in Social Science and obtained an M.A. in Environmental Planning from the University of Nottingham. She was a qualified chartered town planner and spent her early working life with Belfast City Council as a community development officer. Her later career in equality and community relations led to her interest in the city’s growing diversity and she is keen to promote better integration of new arrivals to Belfast with our established communities.
Carmel Hanna qualified as a state registered nurse and state certified midwife in Belfast City Hospital and the Royal Maternity Hospital, later working in Accident & Emergency, Intensive Care and general medicine before moving into social services.
Carmel became an SDLP Belfast City Councillor for Balmoral in 1997 and was elected as MLA for South Belfast in 1998, winning re-election twice before retiring in 2010. She served as Minister for Employment & Learning in the NI Executive and as Chair of the Assembly Standards & Privileges Committee and as Vice-Chair of the Environment Committee. She is an internationalist and a social democrat with a life-long interest in the developing world. She was founder and first chair of the Assembly All Party Group on International Development and, since her retirement, has worked on a voluntary basis in Africa.
Carmel has been a member of the Bryson Intercultural Board since 2010 and is committed to encouraging an integrated, welcoming and inclusive society for all in Northern Ireland.