Our non-executive board set our overall strategic direction and contribute expert skills and knowledge to Youth Futures Foundation.

Our Founding Chair is Joe Montgomery. Joe has extensive experience in the public and community sectors, with a focus on ensuring services benefit the most disadvantaged people.

We are in the process of appointing three more board members.

Joe Montgomery

Joe brings extensive experience from the public and community sectors, with a focus on ensuring services benefit the most disadvantaged. He has served as the government's Director General for Places and Communities and previously led the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit under the same title. He holds several other non-executive roles and has been a Civil Service Commissioner since June 2017. As Chair, Joe leads our non-executive board and is responsible for setting the strategy and governing of YFF's social purpose.

Jenny North

Non-executive Director
Jenny North is currently the Deputy CEO at Dartington Service Design Lab. Previously Director of Policy and Strategy at Impetus, she has also held positions at Relate, the Maternity Alliance, New Policy Insititute and the Home Office.

Julia Cleverdon

Non-executive Director
Dame Julia Cleverdon DCVO CBE is a lifetime campaigner who has worked tirelessly to promote opportunities for disadvantaged young people. As  Co-founder of the #iwill campaign, Vice Patron of Teach First and Vice President of Business in the Community, she encourages collaboration among senior leaders from business, government, education and the most disadvantaged communities to build a more robust and sustainable civil society.

Laura-Jane Rawlings

Non-executive Director
Laura-Jane Rawlings is the CEO of Youth Employment UK, the leading voice and expert on youth employment issues in the UK. Laura-Jane is recognised as a champion for youth employment and ensuring the voices of young people are heard, providing insight and expertise to many groups such as the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Youth Employment, she sits on two ESF National Sub-Committees; Employment, Skills and Social Inclusion and Equality and Diversity and has led a number of inquiries and research projects on the subject.

Simon Woolley

Non-executive Director
Lord Simon Woolley is a political and equalities activist. He is the Founder and Director of Operation Black Vote, the Chair of the Advisory Group to the Race Disparity Audit and is a former Commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Simon was knighted in the 2019 Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to race equality. He was made a life peer in October 2019.

Tony Hawkhead

Non-executive Director
Sir Tony Hawkhead is currently Lay Vice-Chair of the new NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and a former Non-executive Director at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). He has held several high-profile charity positions including CEO at Groundwork UK and Action for Children. He is soon to take up his position as Chair of trustees at Cruse Bereavement Care.


Anna Smee

Anna began her career in asset management and financial services, before joining the Young Foundation as Director of Ventures. Her recent work at UK Youth has seen her emerge as one of the leading voices for youth opportunities and employment in the UK. She is a powerful advocate both in Whitehall and with employers and has developed an extensive knowledge of youth provision across the country

James Endean

Interim COO

James is leading the creation of Youth Futures Foundation’s governance, operational systems and policies required to take on the £90m of dormant assets funds we have been awarded and to become a fully operational  organisation. As Interim COO, James was one of the initial team working with our Chair, Joe Montgomery, creating the organisation and is now responsible for Finance, IT, Legal, HR and Comms functions. James has a background in company and business unit start-ups, building on his general management and finance experience in Unilever.

Felix Adenaike

Interim Finance & Operations Manager
Felix has worked in a variety of roles in the further education sector. He has been responsible for financial management, planning, audit and the wider corporate services. Felix has been involved in new business start-ups in the education and commercial sectors. He is passionate about lifelong learning.

Eleanor Stringer

Head of Strategy & Policy
Eleanor has been overseeing the strategy and policy work of Youth Futures Foundation during the set up phase and is now leading on ensuring our approach is evidence-informed. Eleanor joins us as a secondee from Education Endowment Foundation and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience of using evidence to improve outcomes for disadvantaged young people. At Education Endowment Foundation, her work included managing large grants that were robustly evaluated to assess their impact on students' learning and producing evidence-based guidance reports for schools. Before that she worked at Social Finance and New Philanthropy Capital. Having experienced long-term unemployment in her family when growing up, she is aware of the damage this can cause. She is keen to make sure that we find out what works, in order to insulate young people against the chances of spending long periods out of the labour market.

Matthew Poole

Interim Director of Programmes
Matthew is leading the development and delivery of programmes for the Youth Futures Foundation, ensuring grantmaking excellence to all our partners to enable young people to build successful futures. Matthew joins us as a secondee from the National Lottery Community Fund, where he most recently established and led the regional grant-making team across the Midlands, and previously was responsible for Talent Match a significant investment aimed at support young people find work. His career has been built on working with people and communities to transform systems and services to help people and communities become less dependent, more self-reliant and ultimately vibrant. Outside of the office, he’s committed to supporting and coaching young people and is heavily involved with local youth work in the West Midlands.

Anna Darnell

Policy and Partnerships Manager
As Policy & Partnerships Manager, Anna is helping to shape and deliver our organisational strategy by leading our stakeholder management and ensuring that YFF has strong relationships with relevant youth/youth employment organisations, as well as public bodies and Government departments. She is also driving forward the vital role of Youth Voice within YFF. Anna joins us as a secondee from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), where she was a Policy Advisor in the Youth and Social Action Team, leading on a number of different youth funding streams, supporting youth services policy development and was closely involved in the early policy work that supported YFF’s creation. Prior to this, Anna worked in the charity sector in a mixture of policy, research and frontline information services at Relate and Gingerbread.

Caroline O’Dwyer

Communications and content consultant
Caroline has over 20 years’ experience working on communications and campaigns. She has worked in senior roles in the private, public and charity sector. As co-director of communications and campaigns for a youth legal charity she worked on many high profile campaigns which influenced national policy, including success at the Supreme Court. She has corporate communications management experience as well as working on grassroots campaigns. She has extensive experience of both proactive and reactive media relations. She has many years’ experience of press management; branding; writing, commissioning and editing content. As head of communications for a national public body with over 1,200 staff, Caroline was responsible for all press, PR, publications, website, and public information content. As the first person in her family to go to university, she is passionate about education and social mobility.

Jane Colechin

Head of Evidence and Evaluation
Dr Jane Colechin is a social researcher with a decade of experience working on high profile labour market, education and welfare reform evaluations and studies. Jane began her career in academia, where she researched the growth of evidence-based policy making in early years education and care policy.  Wanting to have more impact on policy, she moved to the charity sector, working for a national parenting charity on parental working rights and lobbying for shared parental leave. Jane joins us from the Learning and Work institute, where for the last six years she has led a number of large scale impact evaluations of employment, in work progression and welfare reform programmes for national and local governments.  Jane has particular expertise in theory-led evaluations and ensuring co-design is part of evaluation and programme delivery and will seek to ensure that rigorous and youth-informed principles are used in all of YFF’s evaluation and evidence processes. Out of work, Jane is a parent of twin pre-schoolers and is on the committee for her local twins trust club.  When she gets any spare time, she loves to go for long cycle rides or go for country walks via a decent pub or two!



Youth Futures Foundation is starting to build a panel of evaluators with the relevant skills and experience to conduct high quality evaluations of youth employment initiatives funded through our Impact grants. This is an opportunity to play a founding role in this collaborative endeavour to generate robust findings that can be used to improve outcomes for disadvantaged young people.
We are beginning the Expression of Interest stage now, as we expect to require evaluators to start working with projects in summer 2020. However, at this stage we will only select a small number of teams, given that some of our funding activities are likely to be delayed by the Covid 19 pandemic. We anticipate there will be further opportunities to join the panel in the future.


Youth Futures welcome the latest UK data on youth employment released by ONS today, which show a continued rise in the number of young people who are in education, training or work. 


‘A few weeks into my new job and I am working with our committed team to refine our strategy and pave the way for the Youth Futures grants programme to open in the first quarter of 2020.’ New CEO, Anna Smee, outlines way forward for Youth Futures Foundation.