Our board

Ruth Lesirge – Chair

Founding Trustee
Ruth is an experienced voluntary sector leader, previously chief executive of a national welfare services organisation (Eldercare) and a policy and action research foundation (mental health and learning disability).
A Trustee of London Film School and Bishopsgate Institute, Ruth has 35 years’ experience of work within the public and third sectors, including a previous career as Principal of an adult and community education service.

John Williams – Vice Chair

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John has a professional background in public relations, advertising and marketing. He is a co-founder and former Chair of the communications consultancy Fishbun Hedges (now Fishburn). He served as a Charity Commissioner for five years up to 2010, and has extensive trustee and Chair experience.

John has been Deputy Chair of ChildLine and Chair of the governance think tank Tomorrow’s Company. He has also chaired a commercial theatre production company and a regional tourist board, and is a long serving board member at Business in the Community and more recently became a trustee of the Institute of Business Ethics.

Kate Sayer – Treasurer

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Kate is a chartered accountant. In her day job with Sayer Vincent, she provides consultancy services to charities, supporting them through change and re-structures. Kate is the author of several books published by the Directory of Social Change and is an Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Management at Cass Business School. She is also a non-executive director at Charity Bank and Development Initiatives Poverty Research, a non-profit working to eradicate chronic poverty in the world.

Danny Curtin – Trustee

Danny Curtin
Danny works across the charity sector, in particular in faith based organisations, in the field of learning disabilities and in youth work. He was the founding Chair of the charity Million Minutes, a youth advocacy and fundraising charity, and served for five years as national President (effectively CEO) of the YCW, a Catholic-inspired youth charity.
Danny has developed his role as a strategic advisor, including serving as the current part-time Executive Director at Books Beyond Words. He also works with a range of charitable organisations helping to develop their capacity, governance and fundraising.

Helen Baker – Trustee

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Helen has held board level executive and non-executive roles in the voluntary and public sectors for over 35 years. Her work has spanned health and social care, housing and education and has included chairing NHS trusts and both local and national charities. She has been on the boards of three central government arms-length bodies.

Her current roles include chairing Dimensions UK and Charityworks, the national graduate programme for the non-profit sector which she also co-founded. She is a Deputy Lieutenant for Oxfordshire.

Chris Cornforth – Trustee

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Chris Cornforth is Emeritus Professor of Organisational Governance and Management at the Open University Business School in the UK. He joined the Open University Business School in 1988 to develop an innovative new management programme for people working in the voluntary sector. His research has focused primarily on the governance of voluntary and non-profit organisations. He was part of a team commissioned by the UK Government’s Home Office in 2003 to develop a strategy for improving the quality of governance in the voluntary and community sector, and served on the steering groups overseeing the development and implementation of national occupational standards for board members. He was a board of the Association for Research on Nonprofit and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) and was a board member and then Chair of the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN). He has published widely in academic journals and books, and in a range of publications for practitioners.

Chris was a founder member of Oxfordshire Co-operative Development Agency and served as a board member and then Chair for a number of years. He was a board member of Oxford Citizens Housing Association from 2004-12, and then a member of the Isis Community Board until Autumn 2013.

Nalini Varma – Trustee

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Nalini is a qualified social worker with experience of working in and with local authority social services departments and over 30 years management experience including as chief executive of a young people’s charity (Rainer Foundation). She has held trustee positions in numerous organisations and has also been a board member of a non-departmental public body.

Nalini has considerable experience of grant making as a former trustee, Chair of the UK Grants Committee and the Give it Sum Committee at Comic Relief; as a former trustee of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and as a member of the England Committee of the Big Lottery Fund.

She is a Lay Member of the Nursing & Midwifery Council, the General Pharmaceutical Council and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Tribunal.