Our Team

Founder

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 to visiting projects, donors and attend conferences, 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 awarded a CBE in the 2013 New Year’s Honours List for services to women’s issues and to charities in both the UK and overseas.

Corporate Services Staff

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 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 Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualified and has a degree in Accountancy from the University of Kent.

Ashleigh Pike

Executive Office Manager

Ashleigh joined us in January 2019. Originally from New Zealand, she worked as an Executive Assistant for a Member of Parliament. Since moving to Britain she’s worked in the charity sector in both Edinburgh and London. Ashleigh is passionate about people and culture. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology from University of Victoria Wellington and undertook further studies in Educational Psychology.

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External Affairs Staff

Sian Hawkins

Director of External Affairs

Sian Hawkins joined the Foundation in April 2019. She has 15 years of experience working on women’s rights, from frontline support roles with survivors of domestic abuse and sex workers to high level policy and advocacy roles. She joins us from Women’s Aid in England as Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns. Sian has a Bsc in Psychology and a Masters in Human Rights. Sian in on maternity leave from October 2019 until summer 2020.

Ashlee Charlton

Senior Communications Manager

Ashlee joined the team early in 2018. Originally from Australia, Ashlee has been in London for three years and brings over six years’ experience in the non-profit sector. She 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 degrees 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 experience in event management working with TEDxUCL Women and Civil Society Media. She holds a BSc in Anthropology from University College London.

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Partnerships Staff

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. Prior to her consulting career Sally was the Director of Fundraising for Children in Crisis. Throughout her career she has also worked for Age UK, Whizz-Kidz and Red Bull UK.

John Graham

Head of Corporate Partnerships

John joined the Foundation in 2019. He has extensive experience in identifying and working with corporate partners, designing strategy and also in event management. John has a BSc in Social Sciences from the London South Bank University and a MSc in Social Policy and Planning from London School of Economics.

Alex McCall

Senior Partnerships Manager – Individuals

Alex joined us in 2019. She has experience with major donors, trusts and foundations as well as corporate fundraising in both the UK and USA. Alex is passionate about equal rights and opportunities for women, and started her own initiative to combat period poverty for homeless women. As Chair of the Prince’s Trust Network for Women she worked to close the gender pay gap.

Hayley Matthews

Senior Partnerships Manager –
Trusts and Foundations

Hayley joined us in 2019. Formerly the Head of Development at YouthNet, she has extensive experience working with Trusts and Foundations. Before this, Hayley was a Cabinet Member for Crime Prevention and Public Safety at Brent Council. She has a BSc in Psychology from University of Manchester and a Post Grad in Local Government from Birkbeck College, University of London.

Kirsty Wood

Fundraising and Partnerships Manager

Kirsty joined the Foundation in 2017. She brings almost ten years of fundraising experience 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. Kirsty is currently on maternity leave until late 2019.

Georgia Beattie

Partnerships Officer

Georgia joined the Foundation in September 2019 and is passionate about advocating for women’s rights across the globe. She has experience working with charities and trusts in both the UK, Africa, and South East Asia. Most recently, Georgia interned with a charity in Zimbabwe and Zambia which focused on supporting young people, at-risk groups, and community development. She holds a BSc in International Business Management from the Royal Agricultural University.

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Programmes Staff

Emily Scott

Director of Programmes

Emily joined us in 2019. Formerly the Head of Women and Markets at CARE International UK, she is experienced in leading global teams in markets, value chains and dignified work. She’s also done retail management, marketing and programme management in Indonesia, Myanmar and India. Emily worked as a VSO small business advisor in Tanzania and holds a MSC in Responsible Business Practice from Bath University.

Deepika Malik

Head of Entrepreneurship

Deepika joined us 2015. She has ten years’ experience in international development, philanthropy and corporate strategy, and previously worked at C&A Foundation in Switzerland and at 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.

Rosie Greenfield

Programme Officer – Entrepreneurship

Rosie joined the Foundation in 2019. She previously worked in programmes and volunteer management at Fine Cell Work, a charity which teaches textiles to prisoners all over the country. Rosie holds a LLB in law with International Relations and a LLM in Criminal Law from the University of Sussex. Her studies focused on women’s rights issues in international criminal law including modern slavery, sexual offences and terrorism.

Elizabeth Wells

Senior Programme Manager – Entrepreneurship

Elizabeth joined us in March 2019. Elizabeth previously worked at Coffey International Development where she oversaw the delivery of governance and justice reform projects in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe for donors such as DFID and the EU. 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.

Vera Borsboom

Senior Programme Manager – Entrepreneurship

Vera joined us in the summer of 2019. She joins us from Y Care International, where she developed and managed projects supporting vulnerable young people in becoming entrepreneurs by providing business, finance and vocational training in Myanmar, Sierra Leone, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Vera studied Cultural Anthropology and has a Master’s in International Development from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Sian Watters

Head of Mentoring

Sian joined the Foundation in early 2019. She has a decade’s experience working in international development with Save the Children and Oxfam as well as experience of working in corporate social responsibility 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

Programme Manager – Mentoring Intakes

Efe joined us in 2019. Previously with Ambition Institute as a Programme Manager, she led on recruitment and delivery of their Governance Leadership Programme in partnership with the Confederation of School Trusts. Before that Efe worked for causes supporting trafficked women and human rights activists. She is passionate about women’s empowerment as well as youth and community development work.

Jetske van Dijk

Programme Officer – Mentoring

Jetske joined the Foundation in June 2019. She has a Masters in International Relations, specialising in International Security, from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.  Previously she worked as Development Officer at Child to Child, a London-based international children’s charity promoting child participation. Jetske has experience mentoring from supporting two refugees to learn Dutch and adjust to life in the Netherlands.

Ashleigh Hamidzadeh

Programme Officer- Mentoring

Formerly, a volunteer for the Foundation, Ashleigh joined the us in 2018. She is passionate about empowering women entrepreneurs and economic advancement. Ashleigh holds a Law LLB Honours, a LLM in International Business Law and a MA in International Politics (Globalisation, Poverty and Development) from the University of Newcastle. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Intellectual Property Law at King’s College London.

Hannah Bishop

Programme Manager – Mentoring Relationships

Hannah joined us in May 2019 and is passionate about leveraging the power of technology to support entrepreneurs. She spent eight years’ in the arts and cultural sector and most recently was a Product Manager for the Customer Relationship Management system at Art Fund. Hannah has a BA in Fine Art from the University of Brighton and is a trustee of the East End Women’s Museum.

Dermot Nicholas

Programme Officer – Mentoring

Dermot has a Master’s in Conflict Resolution and Governance from the University of Amsterdam. His thesis focused on cultural performances in contested spaces. He previously worked for a peace and reconciliation centre in Northern Ireland before management positions in the civil service and hospitality. While in Amsterdam he volunteered with Leger des Heils to help refugees integrate into Dutch society.

Hanan Noor

Programme Officer – Mentoring

Hanan has an MA in Human Rights Law from SOAS University of London and BA Honours in International Relations from Queen Mary University of London. Hanan has experience working with Queen Mary University of London’s Refugee Action and has also volunteered for both Amnesty International and Green Kordofan. Hanan joined the Foundation in September 2019.

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Vera Borsboom

Senior Programmes Manager – Entrepreneurship

Ashleigh Hamidzadeh

Programme Officer – Mentoring

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Trustees

Jessica Learmond-Criqui

Chair

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.

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.

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.

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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