Meet the Board
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.
Joel Davis is the CEO of Tutors United; a social enterprise that hires, trains and pays university students and provides affordable tutoring to primary school pupils who need it the most. Joel is a trustee of the multi-national charity School for Social Entrepreneurs and has been a key advisor in helping UK wide funders develop their offer to engage and support young people in social entrepreneurship.
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.
As Chair, Joe leads our non-executive board and is responsible for setting the strategy and governing of YFF's social purpose. He 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.
Alex is a graduate from the University of Warwick where he studied Politics and International Studies. He became passionate about issues of social mobility and inequality after seeing the underrepresentation of working class and state educated people at university. Alex volunteers as a tutor with the Refugee Council in Barnsley to provide English classes to help refugees integrate into the local community.
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 Institute and the Home Office.
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 a champion for youth employment and ensures 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.
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.
Meet the Team
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.
Kerri-Anne is working as the Executive Assistant to the director of grants and investments. She has a degree in business management and has worked in various sectors. She also volunteers for ASNA, a charity that helps support families of young people with special needs and has a love for music.
Jason leads our Strategy & Innovation directorate, responsible for Youth Futures’ strategy, partnerships, policy and communications. Previously, he was Deputy Chief Executive of Step Up To Serve, the time-limited charity set up to coordinate the #iwill campaign. Jason led on strategy and partnership development at Teach First, taught English at two secondary schools in London, and served as the Cabinet Member for Finance & Health for the London Borough of Haringey. He is also a trustee of Shelter, the national housing charity.
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 has particular expertise in theory-led evaluations and ensuring co-design is part of evaluation and programme delivery and ensures that rigorous and youth-informed principles are used in all of YFF’s evaluation and evidence processes.
Anna shapes and delivers our organisational strategy by leading our stakeholder management and connecting insights to find solutions to drive systemic change. Key to this is developing our relationships with youth and youth employment organisations, public bodies, Government departments and employers. Anna is also driving forward Youth Voice, ensuring young people are at the heart of everything we do. Prior to Youth Futures, Anna worked in youth policy for central government, as well as in a range of frontline, policy and research roles in the charity and voluntary sector. Anna has been involved in youth and community initiatives from a young age, and outside of work she volunteers to support children and young people.
Deuvaunn began his career with the Montserrat Legislative Assembly, going on to volunteer with Youth Employment UK and serve as a member of Lambeth Youth Council and the London Youth Assembly. Deuvaunn passionately believes that young people should be involved in decisions that affect them. As our Strategy Officer Apprentice, he is responsible for leading our youth participation strategy and embedding it across the organisation.
James was one of the initial team working with our Chair, Joe Montgomery, creating Youth Futures Foundation's governance, operational systems and policies, and leading the preparation work for Youth Futures to pass its “strategic & operational readiness” assessment by DCMS and the National Lottery Community Fund. James is now responsible for Finance, IT, Legal and HR functions, supports the CEO and the Board on governance matters and is responsible for the operation of the Board’s Audit, Finance & Investment and Organisational Development committees. James has a background in company and business unit start-ups, building on his general management and finance experience at Unilever.
Catherine Fitzgerald commissions and manages research studies within the Research team and is currently leading the organisations research agenda on systems change. She is passionate about participatory research approaches and co-design and has specialist research interest in racial and intersectional inequalities in the labour market and mental health. She is an active member of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group. She has over six years’ experience working for an international funder, Comic Relief, in the research and policy teams and an MSc Social Policy (Research).
Aron supports our grant holders with the delivery of their grants, enabling them to deliver high quality, impactful projects. He manages a varied portfolio of grant holders, with a particular focus on the Infrastructure programme. Aron began his career in Accounting and Finance, before moving to grant making with Leeds Community Foundation.
Dr Shivonne M. Gates is a mixed-methods social researcher, with over eight years’ experience conducting and managing research projects and evaluations. Her areas of expertise include youth studies, education policy, language and ethnicity, sociolinguistics and critical race theory. Prior to joining Youth Futures Foundation, Shivonne was a Senior Researcher in the Children and Families team at NatCen Social Research and a Doctoral Researcher in Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London.
Chris leads our Impact and Evidence team. Previously he was Deputy Director of Evidence and Impact at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, where he has worked as Head and Deputy Director of Policy and Research, since joining the organisation as Poverty Programme Manager in 2003. He previously served as a policy analyst with the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and Senior Research Officer at the Home Office. He is a current member of the Social Security Advisory Committee.
Charlie is involved in the operations and every day running of the business to help support with the processing of transactions in the company to ensure that we meet our financial obligations as a charity. He helps support the management of accurate data including the grants sector to ensure that we are in-line with our predictions mentioned in our business plan and are on track with the budgets set out each year.
Claire supports our grant holders with their YFF-funded projects, enabling them to get the most out of their funding journey with us. Prior to joining Youth Futures Foundation, she was a Funding Officer at The National Lottery Community Fund and a project co-ordinator in academia and the charity sector. She is particularly passionate about improving outcomes for disabled young people and in bridging the North-South divide.
Charlotte is Executive Assistant to the Anna Smee (CEO) and Joe Montgomery (Chair) and has been in the role since August 2020. Charlotte’s main role is to provide effective business support to the Board, CEO and Senior Leadership Team. Charlotte has 10 years EA/PA experience, working mainly within the public sector and Higher Education. Charlotte is passionate about Youth Future’s vision, her career as an Executive Assistant, and her role as a PA Mentor, coach and networker. Charlotte cycles in the Yorkshire dales in her spare time, enjoys cooking and loves listening to music.
Helen leads the creation and delivery of our marketing and communications strategy to grow our organisational influence and impact. Previously, Helen worked at the West Yorkshire Combined Authority as Head of Marketing. Her recent work includes coordinating the #4sparks campaign to attract Channel 4’s National HQ to Leeds, and marketing FutureGoals, the region’s flagship careers inspiration and support initiative.
Hannah manages evaluations of our funded programmes to provide evidence of effective approaches to support young people into meaningful work. She is a social researcher with experience in theory-led evaluation and participatory approaches. Prior to joining Youth Futures Foundation, Hannah was a Research Manager at Learning and Work Institute where she conducted research and evaluation projects spanning labour market, welfare reform and skills policy.
Lekan oversees the delivery of our ‘What Works’ grant programmes. His career, prior to joining Youth Futures Foundation, includes experience within a leading social investment fund, grant giving with a focus on young people and capacity building support. In his spare time Lekan has held charity Board positions and is currently involved as a trustee for a local youth focused organisation based in London.
Sope leads our work using research to help policy makers, practitioners and employers make smart decisions about supporting young people towards and into work. Prior to joining YFF, Sope was the Gender, Equity and Social Inclusion Lead at Oxford Policy Management, where for over five years she worked on research and evaluations on social development issues. Sope has worked on global studies and research in 17 countries.
Matthew leads the development and delivery of our grant making programmes. He brings a wealth of experience and expertise having built his career on working with people and communities with the National Lottery Community Fund and establishing Talent Match. Outside of the office, Matthew is committed to supporting and coaching young people and is heavily involved with local youth work in the West Midlands.
Anna joined the Youth Futures Foundation as CEO in November 2019. Before this, Anna was Chief Executive of the national charity UK Youth, supporting young people from diverse backgrounds to develop life skills through youth work. Prior to that she was Director of Ventures at The Young Foundation, harnessing social enterprise and investment to tackle inequality. Her work has seen her emerge as one of the leading voices for youth opportunities and employment in the UK. Anna has a BSc in Economics from Southampton University, the Investment Management Certificate (IMC) and an MBA from London Business School. In her early career she worked in finance in the UK and Australia, building her reputation within leading corporates EY, Allianz, Aviva and Suncorp before setting up and leading a boutique strategy consulting firm. In addition to her CEO role at Youth Futures, Anna is co-founder and co-chair of the Youth Employment Group (YEG), which was established to mobilise a cross sector response to rising youth unemployment in the wake of Covid19, and a mentor to a number of young people entering the world of work.
Reena is a communications creative with an interest in developing accessible content. She supports the delivery of our marketing and communications strategy. Prior to joining Youth Futures Foundation, Reena worked to influence mental health policy, welfare support and wellbeing initiatives in Scotland and England; as part of the Scottish Government’s flagship campaign ‘Think Positive’, and as Sheffield Students’ Union’s Welfare Officer. She also has an interest in audio production and has an unmatched knowledge of Desert Island Discs.
Dilys heads the development and delivery of Youth Futures Foundation’s grant making programmes. She brings a wealth of experience having built her career working with charities and philanthropists in the UK and overseas. She has led international partnerships, multi-country programmes, and generated millions for charities. Dilys conducts research in African Philanthropy at SOAS, University of London.