The Birmingham-based Lunar Society has elected 33-year-old Waheed Saleem as its new chairman for a two-year term.
The society hosts debates and discussions on major issues ranging from scienti?c discovery to heritage and economics, taking its inspiration from the original 18th century Lunar Society which brought together such 18th century luminaries as James Watt and Matthew Boulton.
Walsall-born Mr Saleem has pledged to use his term to focus on major current issues such as poverty and social exclusion.
He said: “During my term, the Society will be at the forefront of developing solutions through intellectual debate with the leading thinkers on the big issues.
“The major challenges of the age can only be tackled by thinkers coming together from across science, politics, business and the social sciences, and that’s exactly what the Lunar Society has always been about.
“I want us to help develop practical solutions on tackling poverty and social exclusion in the region, and work to deal with the issues of an ageing population. We will work to promote the next big innovation in science and technology, working with academic institutions, entrepreneurs and businesses.”
Mr Saleem said long term unemployment and economic growth would be high on the agenda, as would informed debate on immigration and social cohesion in the time of austerity.
He said: “Our forefathers were radical thinkers and innovators. Today’s Lunar Society will once again take on that mantle.”
Mr Saleem went to a comprehensive school in Walsall before attending the London School of Economics and gained a BSc in Social Policy. He was a senior manager in the NHS and currently has a diverse portfolio of non-executive posts including chairing the Right Care Right Here Partnership, a strategic partnership between the NHS and Local Authorities. He is also chair of Groundwork West Midlands, a leading environmental charity and a non-executive director of Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust.
Alderman Michael Wilkes, a former Lord Mayor of Birmingham, has been elected as the Society’s vice chair.
The Lunar Society, founded by some of the 17th century’s finest thinkers, was re-founded 20 years ago to encourage debate around all aspects of the development of the West Midlands.
It has more than 300 members including leading academics such as Christine Braddock and industrialists Lord Bhattacharyya, Sir Adrian Cadbury, Lord Wedgwood and Jerry Blackett.