Stella was elected as the Labour and Co-operative MP for Walthamstow in May 2010. Prior to that Stella was Head of Campaigns at the Scout Association; working to support young people across the country in developing their own advocacy skills. Stella was proud to work for an organisation which helps nearly half a million young people to develop the skills and confidence they need in life to thrive. Formerly, Stella was also the Deputy Director at the Involve, leading a team of researchers developing new ways to revitalise British democracy.
Fascinated by the potential of collective endeavour to change the world, Stella has interests in community ownership and co-operative models for service delivery. It’s also why she has a history of involvement in community campaigning in the Waltham Forest area since her family moved there in 1999. As a local councillor Stella worked closely with other local residents to achieve change; from community resource centres like Lea Bridge library and The Mill in St James Street, to the campaigns to save the EMD cinema and the Walthamstow Dog Track. As the MP she has sought to support a range of groups to work with local public services as well as each other, for the benefit of the area, using grassroots activism to lead national social and economic change. Whether taking on the payday lenders to secure a cap on the cost of credit, developing the various 7Days4Stow projects to address the impact of austerity on Walthamstow, fighting and winning the battle for the Butterfields estate, or running leadership workshops for women, Stella works with residents and activists around the country.
Stella's approach to working with others in Walthamstow has been informed by her experience of local government. Serving on Waltham Forest Council between 2002 and 2006, performing a range of roles including being the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Chief Whip whilst a councillor for Lea Bridge ward in the south of Walthamstow.
Stella has also been part of the Labour movement for many years and is passionate about political ideas as she is about people.
Stella has sought to contribute to debate, discussion and decision making within progressive politics throughout her life. Locally, in Walthamstow as a branch secretary, GC delegate, LGC delegate or a campaign organiser. Nationally she has sought to be involved in the Co-op Movement, the Fabian Society, Community Trade Union, Progress and SERA. Since being elected Stella has continued to engage with organisations and campaigns that seek to empower people to make positive change which is why she is on the National Committee of Movement for Change and involved with the UK arm of One Billion Rising.
Stella's academic career also reflects her concern to understand what works in tackling poverty and how public policy can support community development. Her PhD in social psychology won the 2005 Richard Titmuss Prize at the London School of Economics.