Our Trustees and Directors | ActionAid UK

Our Trustees and Directors

ActionAid UK trustees, directors and staff

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 Partnerships
  • Organisational Effectiveness

Girish Menon

CEO

Girish Menon

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.

Janet Convery

Director of Public Engagement

Janet Convery, Director of Communications, ActionAid UK

My first job in the international development sector was working for the British Overseas Aid Group (BOAG), (an umbrella agency representing ActionAid, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam and Save the Children), which gave me an opportunity to see how they all worked on the ground.

ActionAid won my heart. Every day around the world small victories are won by the people we work with because we have listened to their needs and supported them to shape a better future. That is what keeps me coming to work every day.

Helen McEachern

Director of Fundraising

Helen

I was first approached by a face to face fundraiser to join ActionAid. I decided to become a supporter because I thought the combination of working directly with the world's poorest people and campaigning on the big issues that are keeping them poor really made sense. The more I learnt as a supporter, the bigger the difference I thought they were making. When a job came up that made sense for me, I was thrilled and went for it.

Ten years later I am still here because I really believe we are doing the right things to end poverty. I have been able to meet many people whose lives have been changed through ActionAid. We put people first by being patient and supportive in the process of change whilst being brave enough to challenge the deeply rooted issues that contribute to poverty.

Dorcas Erskine

Director of Policy, Advocacy and Programmes

Dorcas Erskine

My background is in working as a specialist on preventing and supporting women who have experienced violence, most recently in the Middle East. I started my career in the UK parliament and in corporate firms before joining the non-profit sector. Amongst other organisations, I worked with ActionAid Tanzania, the International Rescue Committee and a charity supporting female victims of trafficking.

ActionAid has long been unique in supporting and championing the voices and dignity of some of the world's most vulnerable people - particularly women and girls. I am delighted to be back.

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, Margaret Casely-Hayford, 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.

 

Margaret Casely-Hayford

Chair

Margaret

As Chair, I work closely with all the members of the Senior Management Team, especially the Chief Executive. I am also a Non-Executive Director of NHS England and a member of the Met Police Oversight Panel into police corruption.

It’s important to me to work with an organisation that not only carries out humanitarian work, but is also focussed on establishing rights and responsibilities; because that is where individual dignity and opportunities for individuals to be involved in the realisation of their own destiny spring from.

So many charities have an objective of ‘’ending poverty’, which can seem like a frighteningly endless task. ActionAid is not only focussed on inequality but tries to deal with this by helping people, especially women and children, build their own resilience through education, and changes in systems, techniques and technology.

Marilyn Aniwa

131969

As an independent development specialist, I decided to become involved in ActionAid’s work because I enjoy supporting marginalised communities and vulnerable groups. I love to see change taking place at the grassroots level through empowering people. I get satisfaction from being part of an ongoing discussion on how to end global poverty.

As a board member of ActionAid Ghana I have seen first hand the impact of ActionAid interventions on communities and individuals, and the overwhelming change it inspires.

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.

Colin Byrne

ActionAid Trustee Colin Byrne

I am the UK and EMEA CEO of Weber Shandwick, one of the world's leading global public relations firms, with over 30 years’ experience spanning corporate communications, public affairs, politics and NGOs. Prior to this I spent five years as international communications director of The Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum, and was Chief Press Officer for the British Labour Party and deputy to the then Communications Director Peter Mandelson.

I am a Visiting Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, part of the University of Oxford, and regularly lecture and comment on public relations and politics. I am a trustee of The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and an active supporter of The Media Trust and War Child.

I chose to become a trustee of ActionAid because I think the organisation is truly global and innovative in its approach, impact and focus, and has clear priorities which will lead to real, sustainable change.

Alex Cobham

ActionAid Trustee Alex Cobham

'Development' is fundamentally about redressing imbalances of power - and ActionAid has led the sector in seeking to achieve genuine power-sharing across its federated country members. What better base could there be for the challenge to major inequalities, including those relating to gender, which runs through all ActionAid's work?

I have long shared ActionAid's commitment to fight inequality and injustice, as a development economist and Director at the international Tax Justice Network.

Rosalind Eyben

ActionAid Trustee Rosalind Eyben

I have a lifetime of experience working in the international development sector, including over 20 years as a practitioner in Africa, Latin America and India and also in management, research and teaching development here in the UK.

Rather than emphasise the traditional divide between rich countries which raise funds and poorer ones which spend them, ActionAid chooses to recognise the more complex modern reality, and members of the international federation, which includes ActionAid UK, seek to work together in a spirit of equality, democracy and accountability.

I visited ActionAid's work in ActionAid Burundi and was impressed by the dedication and skill of the staff helping to rebuild communities devastated by years of conflict. I saw for myself how our rights-based approach to strengthening citizen voice was working in practice.

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

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

131981

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.

Gemma Peters

ActionAid Trustee Gemma Peters

I am Executive Director of Fundraising and Supporter Development at King’s College London and King’s Health Partners.

My career has been built on helping organisations communicate their work in a way that attracts, retains and develops new supporters. My contribution to the board is my unrelenting focus on that.

I am also an ActionAid donor and campaigner, and I feel that makes a real difference to people’s lives.

ActionAid is the only organisation I know that puts poor people, especially women and girls, in the driving seat of changing their world.Whether you are campaigning, donating, sponsoring a child, volunteering or talking about our work to your friends you are changing lives for the better. It takes a little effort, but it makes the world of difference to the poor people you stand in solidarity with.

Helen Pankhurst

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.

Patricia Whaley

ActionAid Trustee Patricia Whaley

I recently retired after 10 years as Director of Finance and Resources for Forum for the Future, a charity that promotes sustainable development.

My focus is on how to manage ActionAid’s resources as effectively as possible so we can maximise our impact in the UK and internationally.

I like our holistic, long term view of why poverty happens and what needs to change in order to eliminate it. I was also impressed by ActionAid’s bold move to give up UK ownership and control of international work so that we could ‘walk the talk’ of sharing power with our country programmes. ActionAid supporters can feel confident that their funds will make a long term difference.

You may also be interested in…

Each year we produce our Trustees’ Report and Accounts, showing how we've achieved our objectives and how we've spent our income.

Come and join the ActionAid team! Check out our latest job and volunteer opportunities and help us change lives for good.

We rely on the generosity of our supporters to help us raise money. In return, we're committed to treating our supporters with honesty and respect.

Footnotes

Photos: Steve Forrest/ActionAid