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Who We Are

Aspire Black Suffolk is led by black female professionals with a shared passion and vision; to change lives, empower communities and raise awareness of the key issues surrounding race, equality and inclusion in Suffolk and beyond.

We are unique. Our genesis was the pioneering exhibition, Power of Stories, which was a milestone in the UK heritage sector and a catalyst for positive change. Our work extends the legacy of the exhibition, aiming to bring unity and greater tolerance to our society.
Photos by John Ferguson.

 Tonia Wilson (She/Her) - Director of Learning & Development

Tonia Wilson is dedicated to advancing youth and community development, boasting over three decades of experience working with families and young individuals, with a specialized emphasis on addressing inequality, diversity, gender-based violence (GBV), and fostering inclusion. Her journey began as a Social Worker in 1998, where she navigated roles within the statutory sector, before transitioning to the third sector.

Motivated by the imperative for equitable  services for women across various sectors  such as health, education, Arts and the workplace, Tonia established WHISPER (Women Who Inspire Support and Provide Empowerment Resources). WHISPER offers comprehensive training, consultancy, and tailored programs for organizations, aiming to uplift and empower women. Additionally, through Aspire Black Suffolk, Tonia designs and delivers dynamic training programs, and EDI training packages for organisations.

Accomplishments include establishing WASSUP (Women Against Sexual exploitation and violence Speak UP), advocating for systemic change for women and girls. Co-directed a theatre production spotlighting inequalities in services for youth coping with trauma. Recognized in Glamour Magazine's list of the 15 most influential Black Women of 2022. Also, served as a co-author of Elimu - the Little Book of Knowledge.


Offered (but declined) an MBE in 2021, Tonia also works as Project Manager and Safeguarding Trainer for Volunteering Matters (formerly known as CSV).


Ellisha Soanes (She/ Her) - Director of Business Development

Ellisha is an award-winning Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Specialist. She is also Head of Equality Diversity Inclusion for several colleges and adult education in East Anglia, and as a lecturer has worked in the education sector for the past 7 years, and in the health and social care/ Public Health sector for over 10 years.


Ellisha is an advocate for change on social mobility and was highly influential as one of the first Further Education lecturer to facilitate Black History across the year, in the UK. Her achievements include co-author of Elimu - the Little Book of Knowledge, which is being used across schools in Suffolk.

She also mentors young people in the community and collaborates with businesses and community projects to empower others and create new opportunities. Ellisha has worked closely with the Department of Education, and continues to do so on creating changes. She has been featured in national journals as column writer and papers such as The Guardian and was recently honoured in Glamour magazine for being Top 15 Trailblazer Black Women in the UK, and is United Nations Women’s delegate.


Franstine Jones BEM (She/Her) - Director of Compliance


Franstine has been working towards ending discrimination and injustice throughout most of her life. 

A public speaker and media spokesperson, Franstine has also been an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant for 20 years.


She has spoken at the Public Policy Exchange, Westminster Briefings, the House of Commons 50 years celebration of the Race Relations Act, Cambridge University and Amnesty International. She also represented the National Black Police Association at the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Race Discrimination in Geneva. The national media often call on her as a spokesperson on key race-related stories.

Franstine was the first woman and police staff in the history of the National Black Police Association to be elected as the President, and was awarded the British Empire Medallion (BEM) in the 2022 New Year's Honours List for her for services to minority ethnic communities in Suffolk. She was among the few BEMs to be invited to the King's Coronation.

Franstine is also the CEO of BInspyred and sits on the boards of local community groups and University of Suffolk.

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