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Announcing Lady Unchained as NCJAA Co-Chair as Anna Hermmann steps down

Announcing Lady Unchained as NCJAA Co-Chair as Anna Hermmann steps down

Announcing Lady Unchained as NCJAA Co-Chair as Anna Hermmann steps down

The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance is delighted to announce Brenda Birungi aka Lady Unchained has been appointed as Co-Chair of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance in July 2022. 

Brenda has been actively involved with the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) for a number of years, joining the Alliance’s earlier Steering Group and becoming a member of the Advisory Board when it was formed in 2021. Having been a guest speaker at many events, in 2020 she chaired the annual Anne Peaker lecture. In July 2022, she joined Simon Ruding as Co-Chair of the NCJAA, bringing her passion, energy and expertise to the forefront of the work of the Alliance. 


“For 13 years I have been fighting through my poetry to prove there is life after prison. I have used each opportunity on my journey to connect with organisations that can help me prove that to be true. I am honoured to have been asked to become co-chair for NCJAA and I know I have big shoes to fill, but I will wear them with pride. I bring my lived experience. I bring my culture. And my understanding of what it really means to be behind the door then navigate life after prison, in services that often only see us as a label or number. I bring voices that often get left out of conversations that affect them the most. My aim is to bring change to the systems that once made me feel I would never break the cycle of reoffending so one day others can get the same opportunities in the future.”

Brenda Birguni aka Lady Unchained, NCJAA Co-Chair

Anna Herrmann has been Interim NCJAA Co-Chair since 2020. Anna stepped down from Co-Chair in July and will continue her term on the advisory board as a member. 

The NCJAA has navigated all kinds of opportunities and challenges over the last couple of years, not least Covid19 and an organisational restructure, under Anna’s stewardship alongside fellow Co-Chair Simon Ruding. Everyone at the NCJAA thanks Anna for her hard work and dedication through her term. 

janette photo for NCJAA

“It has been wonderful to have Anna in the co-chair role and to have had the opportunity work so closely with her. Her experience and advice have been invaluable in helping to guide the Alliance through the last couple of years and I’m deeply grateful for support she has given me as I have settled into my role. I am beyond thrilled for the co-chair batton to be passed to Lady Unchained; whose energy, passion, and advocacy for lived experience will play an exciting role in shaping future chapters for the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance.”

Janette Kilner, NCJAA Manager

Anna Herrmann

“Working with Clinks and the Alliance staff team, the Alliance Advisory Board and Simon Ruding, as the co-chair, has been a huge privilege over the past two years, steering the Alliance through some significant staffing changes and undertaking a period of review of its governance arrangements, to ensure a strong and robust infrastructure moving forward. It was also a time that the arts and criminal justice sectors was massively disrupted by Covid and we witnessed the huge resilience and creativity of the sector, and I am proud that we were able to shine a light on some of this activity, and promote it in our Creativity in a Restricted Regime publication. As I step down as co-chair it gives me great pleasure to be handing  over the reins to Brenda Birungi aka Lady Unchained. It feels absolutely right that this inspiring woman who has achieved so much through her own lived experience and creativity, will be leading the Alliance in its next chapter, alongside Simon. I offer Brenda and the Alliance my full support, and believe that with a strong structure in place, it can now become more outward facing, supporting artists and arts organisations working in the system on a day to day basis, influencing those in power, driving forward best practice and new understanding, and placing lived experience at the heart of all it does.”

Anna Herrmann, Interim NCJAA Co-Chair, July 2020 – July 2022

The NCJAA adopted a Co-Chair model in 2020 with the appointment of interim Co-Chairs, testing the practicalities over the last 2 years. Being able to share the role and responsibilities across two Co-Chairs has been beneficial in all ways. For information about the NCJAA Advisory Board and how to get involved, please contact artsalliance@clinks.org