Introduction to the new Speaker of Hackney

Councillor Susan Fajana-Thomas became the 111th civic representative of the borough when she was elected as the Speaker of Hackney, 2011/12, at Hackney Council’s Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 18 May.

Cllr Fajana-Thomas, 47, chose to settle in Hackney 20 years ago after leaving Nigeria as an award-winning broadcast journalist as she found the borough welcoming and accommodating.

Despite the early challenges she experienced trying to re-establish her professional career after arriving in the UK, she was determined to study and pursue her interests and now works as a Community Engagement Communicator for one of the Metropolitan Police Authority funded boards.

In the last fifteen years she has been extremely active in the local community, including work as a Mentor on the London Refugee and Asylum Mentoring Scheme; as the vice Chair of Stoke Newington Housing Panel, where she helped to galvanise residents’ support for Hackney Homes to achieve two star status; and as the Chair of Howard Road Resource Centre Management Committee.

She remembers her father helping people within their community with a great passion during her childhood, and credits his optimistic and energetic approach as having influenced her various community activities in adult life. She said: “My father taught me from a young age that no success is complete without helping others.”

Mother-of-two, Cllr Fajana-Thomas was elected as a Stoke Newington Central ward councillor in May 2010. She is now honoured and privileged to have been elected as the Speaker of Hackney, which she sees as a vote of confidence from fellow members, and a role that will compliment and reinforce her engagement with communities across the borough.

She intends to make an outreach agenda the core of her term, integrating her professional skills into the role. She said: “I will work to strengthen community cohesion by building trust and engaging all community groups through inclusiveness and participation.

With support from her Consort, and son, Emmanuel Tunde Taiwo II, 18, Cllr Fajana-Thomas wants her time as the Speaker to be an example of new ideas, approaches and civic engagement at its best.

She intends to use social media to connect with residents, particularly young people, and added: “I will promote and participate in as many events as possible, such as youth activities; activities for older people; business openings; community group and voluntary organisation events.

“Above all, I will be an approachable, hard-working, communicative and responsive Speaker.”

Cllr Fajana-Thomas’s chosen charity for 2011/12 will be officially announced at the next Council meeting.

For more information about the new Speaker, or if you want her to attend an event, call: 020 8356 3350; email: or write to: Speaker of Hackney, c/o The Speaker’s Office, Room 72, Hackney Town Hall, Mare Street, E8 1EA.

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