Our trustees and directors | ActionAid UK

Our trustees and directors

Girish Menon, Chief Executive, ActionAid UK

Girish Menon

CEO

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

Orla Fee

Director of Communications and Public Engagement

I have two decades’ experience in communications roles across health care, human rights and the charity sector. In that time I have worked in research, publishing and communications with a variety of organisations including the Royal College of Physicians, the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and Queens’ University Belfast. I hold an LLM in Human Rights, Emergency Law and Discrimination from QUB.

I believe that ActionAid’s human rights-based approach, working with women and girls living in poverty in the global south and focusing on long-term transformative change, as well as making sure we embed feminist behaviours into our ways of working, is what makes us impactful and resilient.

Through our communications and public engagement I am committed to putting women and girls at the heart of everything we do and making sure their voices are heard.

Ed Tait

Ed Tait

Director of Fundraising

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, ActionAid UK Director of Policy, Advocacy and Programmes

Jillian Popkins

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.

ActionAid Chief Operating Officer John Good

John Good

Chief Operating Officer

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 interim co-Chairs, John Monks and Helen Pankhurst, our board has to listen to the needs of women and girls 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.

ActionAid Trustee John Monks

John Monks

Interim co-Chair

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.

ActionAid Trustee Helen Pankhurst

Helen Pankhurst

Interim co-Chair

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.

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. 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.

Doris Afresh ActionAid UK trustee

Doris Afreh

Giving back is really important to me. Action Aid’s mission is compatible with my commitment to civic responsibility and desire to improve the life chances of those less fortunate.

I am currently Director of People at St Christopher’s Fellowship, a children’s charity providing accommodation and support to children in care in the UK and Isle of Man. We recognise the value, talents and skills within all of our young people and support them to reach their full potential, regardless of their previous life experiences.

Working at Board level, I have guided the organisation on the impacts of strategy from a people perspective, constantly striving to provide healthy conditions for a motivated and stable work force to thrive. I have also volunteered as a School Governor and Trustee for another charity. Joining Action Aid as a Trustee is a great opportunity to help provide brighter futures for the most vulnerable women and girls across the globe. I am delighted to be part of this worthy mission.

Eva Appelbaum

Eva Appelbaum

I am a digital leader with over 20 years’ experience in the industry. In my career I have held some pivotal roles: the first digital director at Amnesty International; social and digital director for WPP’s media agencies in South-East Asia; and digital transformation leader at the BBC. Now I run a boutique consultancy supporting businesses and their people through digital change.

I am honoured to be a new Trustee for ActionAid UK. My connection with the charity goes back a decade when I advised on transformative digital strategy, first as a consultant and later as a member of the digital advisory board. As a life-long feminist and mother to a daughter, I feel particularly close to ActionAid’s focus on women and girls, and its embodiment of feminist leadership principles.

ActionAid Trustee Catharine Brown

Catharine Brown

After a career in commercial marketing and working as a strategy and marketing consultant, I am now Chief Executive of Designability, a charity which creates new products and technologies designed to meet the needs of disabled people. I have worked with the management teams and trustee boards of many UK charities and am delighted to be a member of 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 women and girls 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.

ActionAid trustee Paul George

Paul George

My career has been in professional services. For the last ten years or so I have spent most of my time working with governments and businesses across Africa and South Asia. Some of the most important and inspiring work has focused on the education and empowerment of women and girls.

Over the years I have partnered with ActionAid teams several times and I have always been deeply impressed by their expertise and commitment. So I was absolutely delighted to get the opportunity to be involved as a trustee. I want to help ActionAid deliver its mission through building fair and effective partnerships.

ActionAid Trustee Sophie Healy-Thow

Sophie Healy-Thow

I am a 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.

ActionAid Trustee Joanna Maycock

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.

Abdul trustee

Abdul Shiil

I am a director at Sahan Cares C.I.C, a social enterprise empowering disenfranchised and low-income BAME members of the community in West London to gain new qualifications and employment within the health and care industry. I was recognised by the Federation of Small Businesses and SME National Awards in the Younger Entrepreneur of the year category in 2019 as well as holding fellowships with the School For Social Entrepreneurs, EY Foundation and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business programme in partnership with Said Business School.

I love what Action Aid stands for as a charity and the amazing successful projects and fundraising missions the charity carries out around the world. I am really excited about joining the Action Aid family as a trustee as it aligns with the principles I and my company stand for and live by everyday - which is heartfully supporting and empowering those in need to do better, and cannot wait to be a part of Action Aid's active support network and embark on this new journey with hopes and silver linings.

Shantha Sinha

Shantha Sinha

As an Indian child rights activist I believe in the principle that ‘no child must work and every child must attend full time formal day school’ as a non-negotiable. I founded the M Venkatarangaiya Foundation which has been responsible for withdrawing over one million children from child labour and stopping over 20,000 child marriages. As a former Professor of Political Science at the University of Hyderabad, I also headed the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

 I am passionate about ActionAid, and have been on the board of ActionAid India for many years. Joining the Board of ActionAid UK is an opportunity for me to contribute to our work globally, and to make sure that the views of women and girls living in poverty and injustice are reflected on the board of ActionAid UK.

ActionAid Trustee David Todd

David Todd

Treasurer

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.

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.

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Footnotes

Page updated 14 August 2020