Institute Of Neurodiversity ION launches simultaneously in UK, Europe & Australia “to give a voice in the world to all neurodiverse individuals”

17th November 2021, 4:58 pm

We are pleased to announce today the public launch of the UK chapter of the global Institute Of Neurodiversity ION, a single organisation giving a voice in the world to all neurodiverse groups. ION’s purpose is to influence for an equal, inclusive world in which neurodivergent individuals are well understood, represented, and valued equally to all other people.

ION’s vision is to be a significant part of developing a world where neurodivergent individuals are spotlighted for positive things as opposed to negative and to help create a world where neurodivergent individuals feel accepted, represented, included, empowered, and heard.

Founded by former Chair of the Institute of Directors and governance expert Charlotte Valeur with a global steering group of neurodivergent individuals and allies, the Institute Of Neurodiversity ION is based in Geneva, Switzerland and is the world’s only umbrella organisation that represents all neurodiverse groups. It aims to have 1 million members drawn from 100 countries by 2025. It is starting operations in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Australia, with more to follow.

By bringing all neurodiverse groups together, the ION creates a single, unified community which supports and celebrates the multitude contributions of neurodivergent people throughout all sections of society. Unfortunately, neurodiversity has long been regarded as something to “overcome” or assimilate, a view ION seeks to challenge. To this end, ION will lobby government and industry, the education and charity sectors, to promote a greater understanding of the reality of being neurodiverse and to work toward eliminating institutional discrimination.

This activity will include:

  • Building more awareness around the reality of being neurodiverse.
    • Ensuring neurodiverse voices are part of educational, research and mental health programmes developed for our community.
  • Providing leadership training.
  • To providenetworking opportunities to foster a deeper sense of community among neurodiverse groups.

Some immediate tasks for the organisation include challenging research programmes on neurodiverse groups by highlighting the unintended, future consequences that research may have. Another is to call for reform to common conversion therapies that aim to “cure” neurodiversity but include cruel practices and have misguided aims of changing us to be different to what we naturally are.

Charlotte Valeur, Founder, said: “We’re a vertical slice of society – in all colours, cultures, industries, countries, we are doctors, we are cleaners, we are everywhere.”

Ms Valeur has had a 35-year career in financial services and the broader corporate world as a Non-Executive Director. She has been called a boardroom diversity champion partly thanks to the charity she founded, Board Apprentice, now also a phrase used globally to refer to senior professionals gaining board experience through occupying a seat at the board room table reserved for education of tomorrow’s directors.

While at the Institute of Directors, Ms Valeur revealed in an interview with The Independent that she was autistic, a move that sparked a national conversation about workplace neurodiversity at the time.

Charlotte Valeur continued: “Neurodiverse individuals all have different ways of thinking that have value. The route to equality for us all is not through making society comfortable with our existence, it is to educate society into breaking down those barriers and being inclusive of all types of viewpoints in the world.”

Morwenna Stewart added: “After our global launch in October, I’m delighted to lead the launch of ION in the UK. There are many wonderful neurodiverse/divergent people and businesses globally. At ION we’re excited to bring that work under one umbrella and to welcome our one million members by 2025. Each country franchise – overseen by ION Global, Switzerland – will help to make a world that celebrates neurodiverse people, so they can thrive and contribute their best.”


What is Neurodiversity 

Humans are hugely diverse in many ways. We’re all unique with our own life experiences and personal preferences. Our differences bring richness and greatness to the world. 


Neurodiversity (ND) is one form of diversity. Neurodiverse groups include ADHD, autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and Tourette syndrome. People who are ‘neurotypical’ are those whose brain works in the way that society expects. 


Neurodiversity describes these natural variations in the human brain, which affect sociability, learning, attention, and mood. Judy Singer, the sociologist, coined the term in 1998 and journalist Harvey Blume helped to popularise the word. 


The medical profession groups neurodiverse people into diagnostic conditions. This helps us understand the challenges that people may experience. However, everyone’s different, even within neurodiverse types. 


About the Institute Of Neurodiversity ION

The Institute Of Neurodiversity is a global neurodiversity member organisation. Our goal is to bring together one million neurodivergent people, and our allies, from 100 countries. We are a not-for-profit social franchise headquartered in Switzerland. We have franchises in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Australia and are continuously expanding our global reach. 


Charlotte Valeur’s Biography 

Charlotte Valeur has over 35 years’ experience in finance, primarily as an investment banker in Denmark and the UK. She is an experienced FTSE Chair, Non-Executive Director, and corporate governance expert, serving on a variety of boards – as well as delivering training, conducting board reviews, and advising boards on corporate governance. She is a visiting Professor in Governance at University of Strathclyde and on the advisory board of the Moller Institute at Churchill College, Cambridge University. 
Charlotte has been a director of 8 public companies, including three appointments as the Chair. She has taken part in a complete restructuring of NTR Plc, the sale of REG Plc to BlackRock and, as Chair, overseen a $8bln Merger of FTSE250 Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate Plc with its US NYSE listed parent. She currently Chairs Blackstone Loan Financing Plc. Charlotte also has board experience with a range of unlisted companies including international engineering firm Laing O’Rourke, BT Pension Fund, Chair of Institute of Directors U.K. and is the Founder and Chair of Board Apprentice. 


Morwenna Stewart’s Biography 

Morwenna Stewart has 25 years’ experience in marketing and communications; including writing, editing, and training. She has worked in diverse sectors, such as banking, IT, non-profit, charity, education, healthcare, and the NHS. Morwenna has worked with global medical experts through roles for medical journals (such as the British Medical Journal) and has undertaken systematic reviews of medical interventions. She has worked in communications roles for public sector and civil service regulators – such as Ofsted, Care Quality Commission (CQC), and the National Audit Office. 


Morwenna has established teams, functions, and employee resource groups. She is an accredited Executive Coach, partnering with people from entry-level to CEO – with expertise in neurodiversity, leadership, and team development. Morwenna is passionate about ethics, social justice, and equality. She has personal lived experience, and family experience, of neurodiversity. Morwenna is proud to host ‘ION Stories’ (ION’s podcast) which celebrates neurodiverse lived experience (available on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon/Audible, and Google podcasts). 


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