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, 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.

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, 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.

Joe Collenette

Interim Director of Corporate Services and Planning

Joe joined the Foundation in 2018. He has over a decade’s experience in the international development sector with Save the Children and HelpAge International. He has a background in strategy, change management and programme management with experience in countries including India, Lebanon and Nigeria. Joe studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Oxford and is currently studying for an MBA with Smartly.

Elaine Hake

Communications Director

Elaine joined the Foundation in 2014 following seven years at the domestic violence charity, Refuge, where she managed the organisation’s communications and policy activity. Previously she worked as a journalist. Elaine holds an MSc in Gender, Policy and Inequalities from the London School of Economics.

Annabel Azim

Enterprise Development Programme Director

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.

Dee Brecker

Fundraising and Partnerships Director

Dee joined the team in 2018, after over four years at Carers UK, where she was Director of Fundraising, Communications and Engagement. She brings over 15 years’ fundraising experience across multiple income streams for domestic and international NGOs. She has a BSc. from the University of Bristol, an MSc. from UCL and professional qualifications in Marketing and Coaching.

Ashlee Charlton

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

Interim Communications and Events Officer

Previously a volunteer for the Foundation, Abi joined the team in 2018. She has a background in the non-profit sector working with international organisations Ethiopiaid and the UBS Optimus Charity Foundation. Abi also has further experience in event management, working with TEDxUCLWomen and Civil Society Media. She holds a BSc in Anthropology from University College London (UCL).

Ellenor Baron

Senior Fundraising and Partnerships Manager

Ellenor joined the Foundation in 2014, bringing with her over seven years of fundraising experience. She previously worked for international children’s charity EveryChild, and has experience working abroad in Chile and Mexico. She is fluent in Spanish and holds a BSc in International Development Studies and Spanish from University of Swansea.

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.

Annie Johnson

Fundraising and Partnerships Officer

Annie joined the Foundation in 2018. She previously worked overseas in both Europe and Peru. Prior to this she was Fundraising and Partnerships Assistant at Comic Relief, and volunteered at a number of NGOs. She holds a BA in English Literature from Newcastle University.

Sofia Olsson

Enterprise Development Programme Manager

Sofia joined the Enterprise Development Programme team in 2014. She has a background in the not for profit sector, working with international programmes focusing on gender and environmental issues, and has particular expertise in the area of women’s rights. Sofia holds an MSc in Globalisation and Development from School of Oriental and African Studies.

Deepika Malik

Enterprise Development Programme Manager

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.

Albha Bowe

Interim Enterprise Development Programme Manager

Albha has worked in the international development sector for 14 years. She started her career as a technical gender adviser, working in Cambodia, Uganda and Guinea Bissau. She has several years of experience in programme management and has managed programmes in Africa, South and South East Asia and Eastern Europe. Prior to joining the Foundation, Albha was the Director of Programmes with an international literacy charity.

Nick Chadwick-Williams

Enterprise Development Programme Officer

Nick joined the Foundation in 2015. He holds a BSc in Economics from the University of Bath and an MSc in Emerging Economies and International Development from Kings College London. Nick is fluent in Spanish and has previously worked for the Bank of England and held voluntary roles with Teach A Man To Fish in the UK and Progressio ICS in Honduras.

Evangeline Arethwala

Mentoring 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 is currently studying part-time for 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.

Gabriela Rodriguez Ramirez

Mentoring Programme Officer

Gabriela joined the Foundation in 2017, after completing her BA in Political Science and International Development at McGill University. She has previously worked in the areas of Customer Relations, Administration and Fundraising. Gabriela is fully trilingual (English, French, Spanish) and has held voluntary roles with various local and international organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Helping Hands, AIESEC Brazil and The Boys and Girls Club of Montreal.

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.

Yvonne Olang

Office Manager and PA to CEO

Yvonne joined the team in 2017. She brings over six years’ experience in administration support services, including executive Personal Assistant through to managing a large team of business support services administrators. Born in Kenya, she is passionate about international development, education and women’s economic empowerment. She holds a BSc in Sports Science from Kingston University.

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.

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.

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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