Our Team


Cherie Blair

Leading Queen’s Counsel, wife of the former British Prime Minister and committed campaigner for women’s rights, Cherie set up the Foundation in 2008 to help women build small and growing businesses in low and middle income countries so that they can contribute to their economies and have a stronger voice in their societies.

Cherie is actively involved in the foundation, generously and tirelessly giving her time and resources to ensure its success. Travelling internationally, visiting projects and speaking on behalf of women around the world, our founder is an ambassador for women entrepreneurs everywhere, encouraging other non-profits, corporations and governments to do more to support women business owners.

Cherie was an Ambassador for London 2012, supporting the bid to host the Olympics in the UK and was awarded a CBE in the 2013 New Year’s Honours List for services to women’s issues and to charity in the UK and Overseas.


Helen McEachern

Chief Executive Officer

Helen joined the team in 2017 after over a decade at ActionAid, most recently in the role of Director of Fundraising for ActionAid UK. She brings over 20 years’ experience in international NGOs and has held senior leadership positions at Greenpeace, ActionAid UK and ActionAid International. Helen has a BSc. in Social Policy from Birkbeck, University of London, and an International Executive MBA from the IE Business School in Madrid.

Andrew Forrester

Director of Finance and Corporate Services

Andrew joined the Foundation in January 2019. He has twenty years senior management experience gained through trade unions, the charity sector and most recently an international NGO. Andrew is CIMA qualified and has a degree in Accountancy from the University of Kent.

Annabel Azim

Interim Head of Programme Strategy

Annabel joined the Foundation in 2014. She has 15 years’ experience in international development across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Her areas of expertise include: entrepreneurship, women’s and youth participation, civil society capacity building, and monitoring, evaluation and learning. She has worked for a range of organisations in the not-for-profit and private sectors. Most recently, she was Chief Performance Officer at Insaan Group, a philanthropic investment fund that supports innovative social enterprises. Annabel holds an MA in International Studies from the University of South Carolina and an MSc in Social Research Methods from the London School of Economics.

Donatella Fregonese

Interim Programme Director

Donatella joined the team in May 2018. Prior to joining the Foundation, Donatella was Head of Programme Funding at ActionAid UK. She has over 10 years’ international development experience, and has managed women’s rights and environmental programmes across Asia and Africa. Donatella holds a BSc in Economics from the Ca’ Foscari University (Italy) and an MSc in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Allison Kahn

Mentoring Programme Director

Allison joined the Foundation in 2011. She has scaled our pioneering mentoring model to reach thousands of women, mentors and partners in over 100 countries, developed web applications to support participants and enable knowledge-sharing, and ensured the programme impacts the women entrepreneurs we support. Allison brings over a decade of experience in the non-profit sector, with expertise in strategy, M&E, partnership development, communications, volunteer engagement and project management. She holds degrees from the London School of Economics and Macalester College.

Sally Bateson

Director of Partnerships

Sally has two decades’ worth of fundraising and marketing experience, including eight years on the management team at Compton Fundraising Consultants. Previous to her consulting career Sally was Director of Fundraising for Children in Crisis. She has also worked for Age UK, Whizz-Kidz and Red Bull UK.

Ashlee Charlton

Senior Communications Manager

Ashlee joined the team in 2018. She brings over six years’ experience in the non-profit sector. Ashlee has worked across marketing, digital, events and fundraising remits for charities focused on development, disability and the climate. She holds a Masters in International Relations from the University of Sydney and Bachelors degree in Humanities and Commerce.

Abi Sargeant

Communications and External Affairs Officer

Previously a volunteer for the Foundation, Abi joined the team in 2018. She has a background in the not-for-profit sector, working with international organisations Ethiopiaid and the UBS Optimus Charity Foundation. Abi also has further experience in event management working with TEDxUCL Women and Civil Society Media. She holds a BSc in Anthropology from University College London

Kirsty Wood

Fundraising and Partnerships Manager

Kirsty joined the Foundation in 2017. She brings almost ten years of fundraising experience and joins us from Christian Aid, where she worked as a Trusts and Foundations Officer. Kirsty previously spent over three years working in Sierra Leone, where she is the founder of a charitable primary school for girls. She holds an MA in Social Anthropology from the University of Aberdeen.

Vaneza Lourenco

Partnerships Officer

Vaneza joined the team in 2019. She previously worked for NACUE as an Enterprise and Delivery Coordinator where she led on NACUE’s flagship annual events. She has been involved in running events for several years since leaving education including EY Foundation’s ‘Big cycle ride’ where she worked as a Fundraising and Events Coordinator. She is passionate about community development work and has an active interest in the entrepreneurial world due to her previous role in Zambia where she worked as a Business Consultant Leader overseeing 6 SME’s.  She is fluent in Portuguese and holds an LLM in International Law and Relations.

Elizabeth Wells

Entrepreneurship Senior Programme Manager

Elizabeth joined the Foundation in March 2019. Elizabeth previously worked at Coffey International Development where she oversaw the delivery of governance and justice reform projects in numerous countries, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe for donors such as DFID and the European Union. She has a particular interest in exploring how mobile technology can be used to improve development outcomes. Elizabeth holds an MA (Hons) in International Relations and Social Anthropology from the University of St Andrews and an MSc in Conflict Studies from the London School of Economics.

Deepika Malik

Head of Entrepreneurship

Deepika joined the foundation in 2015 with nine years’ experience in international development, philanthropy and corporate strategy, having previously worked at C&A Foundation in Switzerland and the American India Foundation. She also led a management consulting start-up focused on social initiatives in India. Deepika studied Strategic Leadership in Financial Inclusion at Harvard Business School, and has an MBA from the IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Sian Watters

Head of Mentoring

Sian joined the Foundation in early 2019. She has over a decade’s experience working in the international development sector with Save the Children and Oxfam as well as experience of working in CSR at a leading bank. She has a background in HR, programme management and capacity building with experience in countries such as Pakistan, Haiti and Ethiopia. Sian has a BSc in Business and Economics from Oxford Brookes University.

Efe Olokpa

Mentoring Intakes Programme Manager

Efe joined the Foundation in 2019. She previously worked for Ambition Institute as a Programme Manager where she led on the recruitment, development and delivery of their Governance Leadership Programme in partnership with the Confederation of School Trusts. Prior to Ambition Institute, she worked for charities supporting formerly trafficked women, human rights activists and CSR initiatives. Efe is passionate about supporting women’s economic empowerment as well as youth and community development work.

Evangeline Arethwala

Senior Programme Officer

Evangeline joined the Foundation in February 2017. She has previously worked in the development sector in India at both grassroots and managerial levels, where she worked extensively on issues related to child sexual abuse in the tourism sector, women’s rights and youth mentoring. She holds an MA in Development Studies from the University of Sussex and an MA in Social Work from the University of Mumbai.

Katrina Struthers

Senior Programme Officer

Katrina joined the Foundation in October 2016 after working in the community and charity sector in support and advocacy roles. Prior to this, she worked in East Africa as a photographer for sustainable development organisations, after co-founding a social enterprise. Katrina also brings experience of international development in India and Uganda. She holds a BSc in Human Rights with Photography and a MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies.

Dagmara Franczak

Mentoring Programme Officer

Dagmara joined the Foundation in 2018. She holds an MSc in Public Policy from UCL and a BA from Macalester College. Her research and work experiences are focused on international human rights, social justice issues and European affairs. She held roles in EU, American and Polish political institutions, an NGO focused on children of incarcerated parents, and worked directly with refugees and asylum seekers. Dagmara has lived in four countries, speaks five languages and joins a volleyball team wherever she moves.

Justin Webb

Mentoring Programme Officer

Justin joined the Foundation in 2017. He previously worked in a customer relations role, and takes pride in ensuring that people always receive the best customer service possible. Justin has volunteered for Samaritans, providing a listening ear and support to people experiencing emotional distress. Justin holds a BA in Criminology from the University of Lincoln and has experience working abroad as an au pair in Barcelona.

Mona Soussi

Mentoring Programme Officer

Mona joined the foundation in 2019 after completing a Master’s Degree in Development Management at the University of Birmingham. She previously gained experience in customer support whilst working as a Healthcare Assistant. Mona has volunteered with children awaiting their refugee status in Birmingham’s largest Asylum centre. She has also engaged in fundraising and advocacy efforts with Student Action for Refugees. Mona holds a B.A in International Relations from the University of Birmingham.

Amy Robinson

Mentoring Programme Officer

Amy joined the Foundation in 2019. She holds a Bachelors degree in Social Work and a Masters in International Development Studies from the University of New South Wales. Amy is passionate about International development and the economic empowerment of women. She has previously worked in various roles across community development and social work sectors in Australia. Amy brings over six years of experience in working in the community and charity sector in the areas of disability, youth support and advocacy, project and events management.

Tim Barry

Mentoring Software Developer

Tim has been providing software development and coding support to the Mentoring Programme since early 2014 through our ongoing partnership with Make More Digital. Tim works to refine and advance our code base and online platform, which enables us to run the programme through our bespoke UMS and offer a range of key learning and peer-to-peer knowledge resources to our mentees and mentors . He holds a National Diploma for IT Practitioners (Software Development) and has been coding for almost 10 years.

Ashleigh Pike

Executive Office Manager

Ashleigh joined the Foundation at the beginning of 2019. Originally hailing from New Zealand, she worked as an Executive Assistant for a Member of Parliament before embarking on her UK adventure. Since moving to Britain she has worked in Edinburgh and London within the charity sector. Ashleigh is passionate about people and culture, a fact that is reflected in her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology from Victoria, University of Wellington, NZ, as well as her further study of Educational Psychology.


Jessica Learmond-Criqui


Jessica is a solicitor and (non-practising) barrister specialising in employment law and executive immigration. She is dual qualified in the United Kingdom and in The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago where she was born. Jessica is a Governor of Brookfield School and UCL Academy and is Chair of the Safer Neighbourhood Panel in her local community.

Chris Lane

Having been a lawyer for an international law firm for a number of years, Chris has now worked in the not-for-profit sector for five years, for a human rights organisation based in sub-Saharan Africa and then global humanitarian agencies Save the Children and Merlin, before being asked to start up a new charity, the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, as Director of Global Operations. Chris is passionate about equipping people in developing or vulnerable countries to survive and thrive and, in particular, the role played by women. Chris is also a trustee of the Royal Pinner Educational Trust.

Lesley Robinson

Lesley is a Director of the Money Advice Service, with specific responsibility for corporate services and for the Service‘s crisis debt programme in the UK . Her background is as a chartered accountant with many years experience as a commercial operating officer in fast-moving consumer goods, leisure, media and ICT companies, and specializing in change management. She spent seven years working in Sub-Saharan Africa running an ICT company with direct operations in 12 countries. She is also a non-executive director of LIFEbeat, a charity for teenagers and acts as Treasurer for a not-for-profit women’s network in the UK.

Christine Svarer

With more than 15 years working in international development, Christine has substantial global experience in women’s economic empowerment, private-sector development, financial inclusion, value chain development, entrepreneurship, cross-sector partnerships, and social enterprise. Christine is a Director in BSR’s (Business for Social Responsibility) Women’s Empowerment practice and leads HERproject – a collaborative initiative bringing together global brands, their suppliers, and local NGOs to empower low-income women workers in global supply chains. Prior to BSR, Christine was the global director of women’s economic empowerment at CARE International, leading the organization’s global work to support 30 million women. Christine also previously worked on building leadership training programs for sustainable development at Lead International and for the United Nations Development Programme in Nicaragua.

Mathias Terheggen

Dr. Mathias Terheggen is a social-sector expert and globally experienced professional and executive that works with philanthropists, foundations and corporations. Since two decades his work addresses social and environmental challenges from both sides of the social/private sector interface. Mathias serves social enterprises, foundations and start-ups as consultant, advisor, board member and shareholder. He holds a PhD in physics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and has worked as senior strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company, as Global Head Philanthropy Services at UBS, COO of the Asia Philanthropy Circle in Singapore and Managing Director of the EDGE Certified Foundation.

Sarah Kitakule

With over 25 years of experience in international organisations from the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, United States Agency for International Development to the International Labour Organisation, Sarah has extensive experience as an advocate for women’s economic empowerment and gender equality. Her current role is Women Entrepreneurship Advisor for Care International. She has been a board member of several women’s networks, has provided leadership to private sector associations and, was the elected Chairperson of the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association for three years. She has mentored young professionals and was recognized as a nominee for the British Council Woman Professional of the Year Award.

Rosanne Gray

Rosanne’s passion is tackling the world’s biggest environmental and social challenges by harnessing the power of business to provide lasting solutions. She currently heads up a tech start up that empowers SMEs to reach their potential online, having previously led Virgin Unite, the entrepreneurial foundation of the Branson Family and Virgin brand, incubating new initiatives such as Carbon War Room, Ocean Unite and the B Team. Prior to Virgin Rosanne founded CottonConnect, a pioneering business creating more sustainable cotton supply chains. Rosanne started her career at Shell, building her business acumen in marketing and sales roles in Africa and Europe before joining the Shell Foundation, where she brought development ventures to scale.

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