Our trustees and directors | ActionAid UK

Our trustees and directors

ActionAid UK is governed by our high calibre Board of Trustees, and managed by our CEO and four directors. Click below to meet the team.

Our directors

Our Chief Executive and four directors together make up our Senior Leadership Team. They are responsible for the day-to-day decision making and for managing our four departments:

  • Public Engagement
  • Fundraising
  • Policy, Advocacy and Programmes
  • Organisational Effectiveness

Girish Menon

CEO

Girish Menon, Chief Executive, ActionAid UK

My experience in international development now spans 30 years: as well as my term at ActionAid India I have worked for Plan International, DFID and most recently WaterAid, where I was Deputy CEO and Director of International Programmes, responsible for 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.

ActionAid has inspired courageous thinking and action on human development and promoting human rights. I feel immensely privileged to lead ActionAid’s work in the UK. I am excited about the contributions we can make to global efforts that respect the rights and dignity of the poorest and most excluded people.

With over four decades of history in the UK, we have a great opportunity to work with our supporters, partners, volunteers and staff to seek lasting solutions to poverty and injustice.

Orla Fee

Director of Communications and Public Engagement

Orla Fee - AA UK Director of Public Engagement and Communications

I join ActionAid from the Royal College of Physicians, where since 2012 I was Head of Corporate Communications. I have fifteen years’ experience in strategic communications across health care, human rights and the charity sector, having worked with the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (London), Round Hall Sweet & Maxwell (Dublin) and Queens’ University (Belfast). I was a volunteer with More United’s 2017 General Election campaign and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. I hold an LLM in Human Rights, Emergency Law and Discrimination from Queen’s University, Belfast.

Working with ActionAid UK as Director of Communications and Public Engagement is a wonderful opportunity to bring the skills and experience gathered over my career so far together with my commitment to gender equality, which has developed further through volunteering.

ActionAid is specifically focused on impactful programmes to improve the lives of women and girls – and I hope to make a significant contribution to its success in the coming years.

Ed Tait

Director of Fundraising

Ed Tait

I am absolutely delighted to be joining ActionAid as Director of Fundraising. I am a values-based fundraiser, who believes passionately in the cause and organisation I work for.

I spent 15 years at the UK homelessness charity Crisis in roles spanning supporter appeals, supporter services and legacy and philanthropy fundraising, before becoming their Director of Fundraising in 2012.

I have always wanted to work for an international NGO, and admired ActionAid in particular for the way in which it combines direct work on the ground with a campaigning and influencing role. I am particularly excited to be joining ActionAid now as it embarks on an exciting new strategy to focus on the rights of women and girls. I really look forward to helping ActionAid achieve great success in the coming years.

Jillian Popkins

Director of Policy, Advocacy and Programmes

Jillian Popkins, ActionAid UK Director of Policy, Advocacy and Programmes


My career began in the NGO development sector in 1993 as a VSO volunteer. I completed an MSc in Development Studies before joining DFID where I worked in China, the UK and Ethiopia, responsible for governance and conflict before becoming the founding Country Director of what is now the Girl Effect. I join ActionAid from UNICEF in China, where I was Chief of Social Policy.

In all of my roles I have enjoyed working in teams and partnerships to develop and deliver strategy, fundraise and ensure impact and good governance — all with a focus on addressing poverty and discrimination and promoting rights.

Joining ActionAid UK is a very special move for me personally. In 1997, I was an intern for ActionAid Nepal, which taught me how to turn human rights values into effective programmes and showed me dynamic, committed people working as an effective team. I am so excited to have the opportunity to be part of ActionAid’s leading work on women’s and girls’ rights, and to join an organisation embracing feminist principles and whose brand is synonymous with raising the voices of the communities from the Global South.

John Good

Chief Operating Officer

ActionAid Chief Operating Officer John Good

I have spent 15 years working in developing countries in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. My experiences have shown me that if there is to be change, it must be driven from the grass roots upwards. 

I believe that the approach that ActionAid takes, enabling local communities to understand and demand that their rights are respected, is the best way to bring about lasting change in alleviating poverty and injustice and creating long-term positive change.

The work ActionAid carries out is complex, but with limited funds available we will ensure those funds are used to maximise the impact we have on people’s lives.

Our trustees

Led by our Chair, Marie Staunton OBE, our board has to listen to the needs of women and children living in poverty, and balance that with being accountable to our supporters for using their money in the best possible way.

They make sure we are true to our mission and values, set our strategic direction, check our progress is in keeping with our strategy, and see that we comply with the Charity Commission guidelines.

Marie Staunton CBE

Marie Staunton, Trustee and Chair of ActionAid UK

As Chair, I work closely with members of the Senior Management Team, especially the Chief Executive. After training as a human rights lawyer, I have worked in international development for over 30 years including Amnesty, UNICEF and Plan International. I also chair the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

My experience has shown me how poverty is handed down from grandmother to mother to daughter, but I have also met inspiring women and girls who are breaking that cycle by claiming their right to education, to live in safety and to decide if and when they marry and have children. ActionAid has a tradition of challenging itself to change and develop its governance to serve people living in poverty and injustice and I joined the Board because I want to be part of that change.

 

Kath Abrahams

Kath Abrahams

I have worked in the charity sector for 20 years, specifically in fundraising, marketing and communications. I am Director of Engagement and Fundraising at Diabetes UK, and Vice Chair of The Institute of Fundraising. I passionately support ActionAid’s mission to work towards a world where poverty is eradicated and where there is justice and equality for all. I believe that focussing on the rights of women and girls is the best route to achieving that mission.

I am particularly supportive of the adoption of feminist leadership principles across ActionAid to create an inclusive culture that brings out the best in people, and creates an environment which empowers people to achieve change together.

Noelie Audi-Dor

ActionAid Trustee Noelie Audi-Dor

After recently graduating with an MA in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics, I have been campaigning and lobbying around the issues of climate change. As a youth, I consider it essential to contribute to empowering our voices by creating spaces where young people’s ideas are respected and listened to. I have been engaged in the organisation of the Conference of Youth 11, coordinating a global youth manifesto on climate change, as well as actively participating in the UK Youth Climate Coalition.

I was eager to join an organisation where the main focus is to serve as a voice amplifier. ActionAid recognises people’s strength and abilities, but also works to tackle the wider structural causes of poverty. By working towards these complementary objectives, ActionAid is ensuring long-lasting and effective power shifts.

 

Catharine Brown

ActionAid Trustee Catharine Brown

After a career in commercial marketing, I am now a strategy and marketing consultant, working with commercial and voluntary sector organisations across the UK to plan and deliver success. I have worked with the management teams and trustee boards of many UK charities and am delighted to have recently joined ActionAid’s board.

Like others, I feel that the organisation’s mix of emergency relief, long term support and campaigning for the rights of the world’s most vulnerable people is unique.  I hope my experience of fundraising and communications across the sector will help ActionAid to encourage more people to understand and support our vital work, and change the futures of people living in poverty.

 

Giles Fernando

ActionAid Trustee Giles Fernando

I am an intellectual property barrister and I worked for 16 years in one of London’s leading chambers. I was also editor of a media law journal for five years. I am currently concentrating on work that leads to tangible social change.

It is a privilege to be part of ActionAid. I try to bring my legal analysis to board deliberations and consider the international legislative contexts that affect our programmes.

By supporting ActionAid, I know that I am helping an organisation with the power and determination to make a lasting and positive difference to the world.

Sophie Healy-Thow

ActionAid Trustee Sophie Healy-Thow

I am an 18-year-old student on a mission to educate young people about food security, climate change and injustice. At 16 I won both the Google Science Fair and the European Union Contest for Young Scientists with a team project entitled ‘Combating the Global Food Crisis: Diazotroph Bacteria as a cereal crop growth promoter’. Through my work I met some inspirational people and I began to think about how I might be able to change the world for the better.  In particular they sparked my interest in food security, climate change and educating the next generation, especially women and girls.

In 2015 I was invited to be a Global Youth Leader by the United Nations at the Global Goals Mobilising Generation Zero Hunger Conference in New York.  I also gave a TedX talk entitled ‘Food Security: Everybody’s Business’. I am a Youth Ambassador for the ONE Campaign and the ISPCC and in 2014 I was named one of Time magazine’s top 25 most influential teens.

Working with ActionAid offers me the opportunity to help make tangible improvements to the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people and I hope that by adding the voice of youth I can really make a difference. It is a privilege to be an ActionAid Trustee and work with change-makers and professionals who are at the forefront of international development working to end global poverty and injustice.

Joanna Maycock

ActionAid Trustee Joanna Maycock

I have been Secretary General of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) since May 2014. The EWL is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), working to promote equality between women and men.

As a lifelong feminist, I have 20 years’ professional experience in senior leadership and governance positions in European and International Civil Society, such as being a former President of CONCORD, the European Confederation of Development NGOs. Prior to joining the EWL, I worked in Brussels for ActionAid International developing and implementing EU campaigns on aid effectiveness, women’s rights, and policy coherence for development. I was the ActionAid International representative on the Board of ActionAid The Gambia for three years, so joining the Board of ActionAid UK is an exciting opportunity.

I have also been involved in strengthening organisational development and civil society governance, with a particular focus on the concept and practice of feminist leadership. I have established a network of women civil society organisation leaders in Brussels, and am working to develop this into a global network.

John Monks

ActionAid Trustee John Monks

I am currently launching the global digital business design practice for DigitasLBi, a digital marketing and technology company which helps organisations transform for the digital age.

ActionAid’s strategy includes a digital first approach, and my contribution to the board is my knowledge of digital technologies and how these can be used to reach more people with our messages, engage more people in our campaigns and raise more money for our great work.

I believe that technology is changing the relationships between people everywhere and we can lead some of that change for the good.

A world without poverty is a real possibility now more than ever, and the work ActionAid does can make that happen and make it happen sooner.

 

Helen Pankhurst

ActionAid Trustee Helen Pankhurst

I am a women’s rights activist and senior advisor to CARE International, based in the UK and in Ethiopia.

I’m delighted to be joining ActionAid as a trustee, an organisation I have long been impressed with because of its strong campaigning record, the strides it has made towards a devolved governance structure and most fundamentally, because of the focus on tackling poverty and injustice.

David Todd

 
ActionAid Trustee David Todd

I am passionate about the vital role ActionAid plays in the lives of people in places of unacceptable poverty, from helping provide a safety net in times of disaster, to campaigning to right injustices which perpetuate inequality.

I want to take my years of experience in the international development sector and combine it with my professional expertise in risk, governance and finance, to add as much value as I can to the organisation through my role as Treasurer of ActionAid UK.

ActionAid, by design, doesn’t work in easy places! My aim is that we spend every donation, large or small, as wisely and well as we possibly can to maximise our impact.

 

 

 

Patti Whaley

ActionAid Trustee Patricia Whaley

I recently retired after 10 years as Director of Finance and Resources for Forum for the Future, and prior to that was Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International. I have been on the Board on ActionAid for a number of years as a Chair and prior to being appointed as Chair I was the Vice Chair and the Treasurer. I am also a trustee of several other charities, and I am on the Board of ActionAid Ireland.

I believe that our mission of putting women and girls’ rights at the heart of everything we do is the best way to end poverty. My role is to ensure that we stay true to that mission and work together to support women to challenge the social norms which leave them vulnerable to violence and exploitation. It’s a big responsibility, but also a huge pleasure to lead such a vibrant and committed organisation. ActionAid supporters can feel confident that their funds will make a long term difference.

 

Bond Governance Award 2018

In February 2018, ActionAid UK won the inaugural BOND International Development Award for Governance, a new category created to recognise NGOs who practise and promote good governance within their organisation. 

ActionAid UK staff and board members collect the Bond Governance award.

The award was given in recognition of the Board’s work around diversity and the decision to implement feminist principles across the whole organisation.

Footnotes

Page updated 8 July 2019