James is Chair of Tenteleni. He got his first taste of chairing at the age of 20 as President of Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU).
His professional background is in fundraising and communications – working first on integrated marketing campaigns at Guide Dogs and helping to re-launch its new subsidiary, Blind Children UK. He is now at Brasenose College, Oxford working on regular and major gifts.
James has taken on the role of Young Chairs’ Convenor for AoC and will organise informal get-togethers for members and non-members under 40.
Tenteleni is a youth-driven, volunteer-run charity that supports the development of young people in the UK and Africa.
We work with in-country partners to meet the needs of the local community. We partner with like-minded local organisations in communities to create opportunities for our volunteers to work alongside national volunteers to ensure sustainability and cultural exchange.
When and why did you become a Chair?
I joined Tenteleni as Chair in July 2015. Tenteleni had advertised for an external Chair and encouraged applications from those under 30. I knew that I could bring something different to the charity, taking the Chair with little prior knowledge meant that I could bring a new perspective to the Board. Besides, not many charities ask for Chairs under 30 so I couldn’t say ‘no’!
I enjoyed my time at RUSU and I felt that my fellow trustees and I made a real difference. I loved the Chair role and was delighted that Tenteleni felt my skills and experience matched their needs.
What do you most enjoy about Chairing?
I get a real buzz out of working with our dedicated volunteers and I feel proud of the charity’s achievements; that’s what drives me to do all I can to make a difference at Tenteleni.
My fellow trustees are equally dedicated, work well together and are never afraid to speak their mind. They inspire me to do my best and I relish the role that I have been given.
Do you have a key tip or lesson to share with your fellow Chairs?
Young people can add real value to Boards yet only 0.5% of the trustee population is aged 18-24 compared to 12% of the total adult population. In the same way as encouraging all types of diversity is essential, having a variety of ages on a Board means that opinions and standpoints are balanced leading to measured and positively transformational changes for a charity.
I am proud to be serving a second charity as Chair at the age of 24. I still have lots to give and even more to learn but I hope to develop my charity career such that I will make a difference for years to come.
Why did you join AoC?
Being the newbie on a board is daunting at the best of times, never mind when you are expected to chair. There is so much to learn so I have relied on the AoC as a source of excellent seminars and briefings for Chairs.