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.

Trustees

Mathias Terheggen

Dr. Mathias Terheggen has been welcomed as the Cherie Blair Foundation’s new Chair. Mathias 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.

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.

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.

Lesley Robinson

Lesley is a Director of the Money Advice Service, with responsibility for corporate services and the Service‘s crisis debt programme in the UK.

Her background is as a chartered accountant with experience as a commercial operating officer in fast-moving consumer goods, leisure and media companies.

She specialises in change management.

Lesley spent 7 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 UK non profit women’s network.

Tanya Joseph

Tanya is a communications expert who has worked at the highest levels of the public, private and NGO sectors supporting them across communications disciplines including public and corporate affairs, reputation management, and behaviour change campaigning. She was the architect of the award-winning This Girl Can campaign which in its first years inspired 2.8 million women and girls to get active.

The daughter of South African political activists who played a key role in the fight against Apartheid, she has from an early age been committed to tackling social injustice. She was previously Vice-Chair of the Fawcett Society, which has campaigned for gender equality for over 150 years and she currently serves on the board of Liberty, the human rights organisation.

Chris Lane

Having been a lawyer for an international law firm for a number of years, Chris then moved in the not-for-profit sector. He has worked within it for five years, for a human rights organisation based in sub-Saharan Africa and then global humanitarian agencies Save the Children and Merlin.

Most recently, following being asked to start up a new charity, Chris is the Director of Global Operations at the Humanitarian Leadership Academy,.

He 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.

Olga Miler

Olga is a marketing and innovation expert, specializing in women and finance, sustainability, customer experience and gender-smart investing. She has been broadly recognized for her transformational achievements to change the financial services industry for women and gender equality with features in the global press such as BBC News, CNBC, the Financial Times, Bloomberg and The Guardian and won numerous awards including ‘Inspirational Woman of the Year 2019’ by CityWealth Magazine.

Olga is a TEDx speaker and frequently speaks at international conferences on innovation, diversity and sustainability. Following her career at UBS she has co-founded her own start-up – SmartPurse – a financial toolkit for women and writes as a columnist for Watson-News the blog “Women & Money”. Olga has two children and lives in Zürich and London.

Staff name

Position

Description

Staff name

Position

Description

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.

Bella Hailemariam

Director of Finance and Corporate Services

Bella joined the team in January 2021, after working for over 20 years in senior finance positions in the not-for-profit sector. She has an MSc in Fiscal Studies from the University of Bath and is a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). She is extremely passionate about providing the tools to empower and educate women, both professionally and personally, and has established a voluntary organisation to support girls in rural Ethiopia to gain a university education.

Ashleigh Pike

Senior Governance and Operations 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.

Staff name

Position

Description

Staff name

Position

Description

Staff name

Position

Description

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.

Lulu Nunn

Senior Communications Manager

Lulu started at the Foundation in Autumn 2019. She is a feminist and disability inclusion activist, and cares deeply about social justice. A Fine Art graduate, prior to joining us Lulu worked in the arts sector for over 10 years. There, her roles encompassed curating, events, project management, audience development, marketing, communications and fundraising, as well as founding and running her own non-profit art and writing platform.

Sini Maria Heikkila

Senior Advocacy Advisor

Sini Maria joined the Foundation in November 2020. She is an experienced human rights and humanitarian advocacy professional with a passion for women’s rights and gender equality. Over the past 10 years, she has worked for organisations such as Tearfund, the Finnish League for Human Rights and UN Women. Sini Maria holds a Masters degree in Human Rights Law from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

Sarah Daniels

Senior Communications Officer

Sarah joined the team in Summer 2020. A PR and communications professional, she joined the charity sector in 2019, when she worked for Comic Relief as a Media Officer on their Sport Relief 2020 campaign. Previously, Sarah worked for a national PR agency for a wide range of business and consumer clients, specialising in financial services and fintech. A passionate intersectional feminist, she holds a BA in French and English Literature from the University of Birmingham.

Lulu Nunn

Senior Communications Manager

Lulu started at the Foundation in Autumn 2019. She is a feminist and disability inclusion activist, and cares deeply about social justice. A Fine Art graduate, prior to joining us Lulu worked in the arts sector for over 10 years. There, her roles encompassed curating, events, project management, audience development, marketing, communications and fundraising, as well as founding and running her own non-profit art and writing platform.

Sarah Daniels

Senior Communications Officer

Sarah joined the team in Summer 2020. A PR and communications professional, she joined the charity sector in 2019, when she worked for Comic Relief as a Media Officer on their Sport Relief 2020 campaign. Previously, Sarah worked for a national PR agency for a wide range of business and consumer clients, specialising in financial services and fintech. A passionate intersectional feminist, she holds a BA in French and English Literature from the University of Birmingham.

Partnerships Staff

John Graham

Director of Partnerships

John joined the Foundation in 2019. He has extensive experience developing partnerships with corporate partners, working on change-making campaigns and leading fundraising and events teams. John has a BSc in Social Sciences from the London South Bank University and an MSc in Social Policy and Planning from London School of Economics where he focused on International Development and the Third Sector.

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. Alex is currently on maternity leave, returning Autumn 2021.

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.

Nora Bendžius-Drennan

Partnerships Development Manager

Nora started at the Foundation in Autumn 2020. She has experience developing partnerships with the Trusts and Foundations, individual, and corporate fundraising sectors. Nora is passionate about women’s rights and social justice. She completed her BA in International Relations at the University of Exeter and has a Master’s degree in Understanding and Securing Human Rights at the School of Advanced Study (University of London) where she focused on gendercide, forced migration, and international development.

Helen Hayes

Senior Campaign Administrator

Helen joined the Foundation as Office Manager and PA to the CEO as maternity cover in 2015. She has a background in the charity sector and was the office manager for the Children’s Heart Federation and the National Appropriate Adult Network. Helen’s previous experience also includes communication and event management roles for the literary charity Book Trust and the international development organisation VSO. After working as an Executive Assistant for a Single Family Office for three years, followed by working as a PA to the CEO of Nimax Theatres, Helen rejoined the Foundation as maternity cover in 2021.

Georgia Beattie

Senior Partnerships Officer

Georgia joined the Foundation in September 2019. She has experience working with charities and trusts in 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.

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.

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.

Sally Walker

Senior Programme Manager – Entrepreneurship

Sally joined us in April 2021. She has over 10 years’ experience working in NGO project management, with a passion for education and female economic empowerment. Formerly Acting Head of Programmes and Impact at Teach A Man To Fish, she oversaw the design, development and delivery of education and enterprise projects in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Sally holds an MA in Education and Development, a BSc (Hons) in International Business and is a TEFL trained teacher.

Dermot Nicholas

Senior Programme and MEL Officer

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.

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 Manager – Mentoring

Jetske has been with us since June 2019. She has a Masters in International Relations, specialising in International Security, from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Previously she worked as Development Officer at Child to Child, a London-based international children’s charity. Jetske is a trustee of Cities for Children, a CIO that supports street-connected children in Pakistan.

James Mitchell

Programme Officer – Mentoring

James joined the foundation in September 2019 after a period of voluntary work with a children’s charity in Ukraine. James has a BA Honours degree in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, where he directed his focus specifically on the politics of Central African countries. James is fiercely committed to supporting women’s empowerment in developing countries, as well as environmental causes.

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.

Dermot Nicholas

Programme Administrator – 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.

Start typing and press Enter to search