Founder and CEO of two pioneering cultural charities,
now supporting leaders to make a difference.
Throughout my life I’ve been committed to helping others. This has usually involved tapping into creativity and imaginative ideas to enable change. I suppose at the heart of it all, I believe in the uniqueness of people; that everyone matters.
My journey began as a teenager visiting isolated older people once a week (biscuits, tea and listening) before working with Tibetan refugees in India (a tough, humbling experience, that built my confidence and fuelled ideas of social justice).
I developed into a ‘starter-upper’ and social entrepreneur. I founded two national charities, building them successfully, before handing over the reigns to others. I founded Music for Change (promoting understanding between cultures through music) in a bedroom in Canterbury in 1997. By 2003, Music for Change employed 9 members of staff, reaching over 60,000 young people annually through workshops and performances.
Later I founded People United (exploring the synergies between arts and kindness) in 2006. Over 11 years, I poured my heart and energy into People United, as it pioneered work across the UK exploring arts, wellbeing and social change. Collaborating closely with the social psychology team at the University of Kent, People United is now renowned for bold, positive projects and well-researched evaluation.
As a founder and CEO, I gained experience across a range of areas: from managing people and partnerships, fundraising and strategy, to operations and project delivery. Turning dreams into reality; and understanding that to have an impact, big ideas and themes need to be balanced with rigour and professionalism.
Leaving both organisations was hard, but I believe that it is healthy for founders to pass on the baton when the organisation is in a strong position, and for it to evolve with new impetus.
After a period of working as an independent coach, a qualified counsellor, mentor, advisor and facilitator. I am now working at ACEVO – the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations – as Head of Member Support. This involves providing emotional support and guidance to charity leaders from across the UK.
I continue to provide coaching and mentoring support to a small number of individuals as well as working as a volunteer counsellor at Pilgrims Hospice and Community Counselling Service.
I was part of the first cohort of fellows on the Clore Leadership Programme (2004-2005), I have a Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling and a Diploma in Transformational Coaching accredited by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC). I am a member of British Association for Council and Psychotherapy (BACP).