Staff, trustees and patrons

Meet the people at SMK

Our team

Legendary campaigner, Sheila McKechnie, believed in the importance of people being able to shape their world. This is the founding principle of SMK today. Since 2005, we have grown into a core team supported by a very active Board of Trustees all bringing with them a wide and diverse range of skills and backgrounds.

Sarah Thomas

Sue Tibballs

Chief Executive

Sue is a charity leader, campaigner and commentator who has worked in the social change sector for approaching thirty years.

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Previously she was CEO of Women in Sport, where she oversaw a spectrum of campaigns aimed at unlocking the potential of women’s sport. She worked for The Body Shop in the late 90’s where she was responsible for the global roll out of the pioneering Ruby campaign, which first made the connection between body image and self-esteem.

In her twenties, she devised the award-winning Bag ‘n’ Bin It campaign for the Women’s Environmental Network; co-founded the Women’s Communication Centre which hosted the high profile What Women Want campaign; and worked for the British Government supporting their role in the Fourth UN World Conference on Women.

She is Chair of the campaigning platform 38 Degrees and Chair of Judges for Haymarket’s Purpose Awards; has an Honorary Degree from Liverpool John Moore’s University for her work in women’s health; and was awarded an OBE for “services to sport” in the 2013 New Years’ Honours list.

Sarah Thomas

Chloe Hardy

Director of Policy and Communications

Chloe has twenty years’ experience of campaigning, public affairs and policy influencing in both the not-for-profit and charity sectors.

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Before joining the team at SMK, Chloe worked for various charities and trade bodies including Action for Children and the National Housing Federation. She has campaigned on green energy, social housing, waste reduction, fuel poverty, child neglect and early-years development.

Chloe puts most of her energy into working for greater social justice, seeking clarity of purpose, travelling and Doctor Who – sometimes all at the same time. She will ask you a LOT of questions.

Sarah Thomas

Emma Boyd

Head of Marketing and Communications

Emma has worked in the charity sector over the past 20 years, in the arts, human rights and more recently women’s rights sectors.

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Emma began her career in visual arts management and later campaigning and communication projects that focused on prevention, behaviour change and awareness raising in the UK and globally, specifically projects on gender-based violence. More recently, Emma’s consultancy work has focused on the communications, fundraising and campaigning needs of small to medium charities particularly digital asset development and strategic communications.

Emma is a Clore Foundation fellow from the Women and Girls Leadership Programme and works as a communications mentor. Emma is also a Trustee with Oxfordshire based charity Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse.

Sarah Thomas

Megan Poyiadzis

Events and Programme Manager

Megan joined SMK in January 2015, after previously working in the NHS as a Retinal Eye Screener.

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Megan graduated from Birkbeck University in 2017, with a BSc in Community Development and Public Policy. Megan has previously volunteered with children’s charities, facilitating half-term painting and cooking classes for primary school children, as well as helping to organise a large-scale annual Christmas event for vulnerable children and families to celebrate on Christmas day. When she’s not working, you’ll find her making music or reading a book.

Sarah Thomas

Rummena Begum

Projects Assistant

Rummena joined SMK in 2018, after previously completing a voluntary placement undertaking market research.

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Rummena is a 2018 graduate from Queen Mary University, and has a degree in BA Geography. Rummena’s experience comes from collaborating with Citizens UK by completing qualitative and quantitative research tasks. Additionally, Rummena volunteered at a youth centre for over a year, as well as for an organisation that attempts to tackle social deprivation by inspiring young people, through grassroots sports.

Currently Rummena is involved in one of SMK’s most important projects: The Power Sharing Project, doing various tasks such as literature reviews, assisting with ongoing workshops, and general research.

Sarah Thomas

Emma Burnell

Head of Training and Consultancy

Emma Burnell is a lifelong campaigner for change and a voice for those who seek to enact it.

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Emma has campaigned on housing, employment rights, apprenticeships and the environment. She is an expert in political communications and has a unique understanding of local political leadership. She has worked for leading think tanks such as the New Local Government Network (NLGN) and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

She is a widely published journalist and even a stand-up comic and playwright. She will definitely tell you a bad joke, but will also help you with all your organisational needs.

Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas

Power Sharing Project Lead

Sarah has twenty years’ working in the charity sector, working in leadership roles at a range of community and educational projects. 

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Passionate about inclusive, participatory approaches to social change, Sarah’s work has focused on co-creating services for children and families and for people with disabilities. Her intention is always to foster reflective, collaborative relationships in pursuit of a kinder, more just and sustainable world. Prior to joining SMK, Sarah completed an MA in Power, Participation and Social Change.

When she’s not working, you’ll find Sarah walking her unruly sheepdog on the Sussex Downs or spending time with family and friends.

Our Board

SMK is very lucky to have such a highly skilled and dedicated Board of Trustees that bring with them a rich and diverse variety of perspectives and experiences. Most are campaigners and social change experts in their own right working across civil society.

Sarah Thomas

Patrick Steen

Head of Global Content at Unilever | Digital Communications and Marketing | Social Media Strategy

With over a decade’s experience building powerful digital communities, Patrick has a passion for harnessing the voices of many to change the opinions and policies of companies, regulators and governments.

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At Which?, he built a digital innovation team that grew one of the largest supporter bases in the UK, and helped pioneer data-led engagement tools which influenced positive social change for UK consumers. Whether in mobilising half a million people to change the law on nuisance calls, or collecting evidence of the millions lost to bank scams, the consumer actions Patrick has led have resulted in high-profile media and tangible policy outcomes. In addition to advising The Law Society and FTSE 250 company Capita, Patrick most recently partnered with Purpose Union. At this social purpose agency, Patrick specialises in advising global clients on digital movement building. This includes leading the social media release of a global climate action song which engaged people in almost every country of the world.

Sarah Thomas

Zainab Ali Khan

Documentaries at Netflix

Zainab joined Netflix in 2019, working in the commissioning team for Original Documentaries. Zainab has held several roles across non-profits, The World Wide Web Foundation and The ONE Campaign.

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As Chief of Staff at the Web Foundation, Zainab worked closely with the CEO and co-founders Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Rosemary Leith to manage global campaigns including the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web.

At ONE, Zainab worked across media, advocacy and project management – coordinating national, regional and global projects including ONE’s involvement in the G7 and G20 summits. She also worked closely with the Youth Ambassador programme, managing their 2017 annual gathering in Brussels.

Zainab began her career at ITV News as a researcher for current affairs programmes ‘Tonight’ and ‘On Assignment’.

Sarah Thomas

Bushra Ahmed

Chair, Small Charities Coalition

Bushra Ahmed is a businesswoman, fundraiser and community strategist. She is involved in relationship building between local government, police, charities, business and community.

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Bushra is best known for establishing West Croydon Voice after her family business was burned down by rioters in the 2011 riots, taking part in media interviews and lobbying at the highest levels for compensation for the Riot Victims. She is the former chair of  the Small Charities Coalition and Vice Chair of the Asian Resource Centre Croydon. She is also on the Civic Futures leadership programme at the GLA, the steering group of the Broad Green Big Local and the IAG for Crystal Palace Football club. Bushra enjoys her voluntary work at the Mosque and is passionate about increasing diversity and changing cultures on voluntary and corporate boards.

Sarah Thomas

Deborah Doane

Partner, Rights CoLab and Freelance Consultant

Deborah is a partner at RightsCoLab where she works on the future of civil society. She has appeared as a spokesperson across radio and television, and blogs for the Guardian.

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Prior to joining Rights CoLab, she was Director of the Funders’ Initiative for Civil Society (FICS), a private philanthropic collaborative working to create a more enabling environment for civil society. Earlier roles have included Director of the World Development Movement and founder/Director of the Corporate Responsibility Coalition (CORE) of 120 NGOs in the UK that achieved ground-breaking changes to UK Company law, to embed social and environmental accountability. She also held leadership roles at WWF and the New Economics Foundation.
She has been a trustee of numerous organisations, including the Fairtrade Foundation, and is currently a Director of Finance Uncovered.

Sarah Thomas

Pete Moorey

Head of Digital Impact & Sustainability Campaigns at BT

Pete Moorey is Head of Digital Impact & Sustainability Campaigns at BT, responsible for BT’s Skills for Tomorrow campaign, which aims to help 10 million people to make the most of life in the digital world. Pete is acting interim Chair at SMK. 

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Before joining BT, he was Director of Advocacy and Public Affairs at Which?, where he ran the consumer champion’s campaigns – securing changes to laws, regulation and consumer behaviour in the financial services, utilities, transport and retail markets. Pete was previously the Head of Public Affairs at the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Head of Campaigns & Communications at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. As a consultant, he has advised numerous organisations on their campaigns and comms strategies including Scope, Save the Children, the British Chambers of Commerce, the Royal College of Nursing and the Rail Ombudsman.

Sarah Thomas

Stuart Davis

Finance Director at Client Earth

Stuart is a qualified Management Accountant (CIMA) and is currently Finance Director at ClientEarth.

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Previously Stuart was Head of Finance at Elrha, a charity devoted to funding innovation and academic research to enhance humanitarian responses. Prior to this, he has held finance roles at international NGOs such as VSO and Amnesty International, and he has extensive prior experience in the private sector.

Sarah Thomas

Moira Fraser-Pearce

Director of Policy, Campaigns and Influence at Macmillan Cancer Support

Moira joined Macmillan in 2016 focusing on ensuring the organisation’s influencing work meets the changing needs of people affected by cancer across the four nations of the UK.

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Moira has 18 years’ experience in health, disability and care in the voluntary sector policy and campaigns work. In her previous role as Director of Policy at Carers Trust, she led work to influence the Care Act in England, improving rights to assessment and support for unpaid family carers. She also played a key role in securing amendments to the Children and Families Act 2015, giving young carers in England legal rights to assessment and support for the first time. She has previously held roles at RNIB and Mind and has a background in psychology and educational research.

Sarah Thomas

Cecilie Hestbaek

Senior Innovation Manager at Elrha

Cecilie has been a trustee at SMK since 2016. In her role with Elrha, a global charity that supports humanitarian research and innovation, she oversees a team that manages a wide range of innovation portfolios.

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Cecilie has worked with innovation in environmental technology, charity programming and civil society activism, and before joining Elrha in 2016 she advised charities and funders on strategy, evidence and innovation at think tank and consultancy NPC.

Cecilie has served as a trustee of several campaigning organisations, and most recently has focussed on political campaigning as an activist in the Green Party.

Sarah Thomas

Kimberly Garande

Outreach Officer, We Belong

Kimberly joined as Outreach Officer at We Belong in October 2019 and is dedicated to changing how society relates to marginalised groups.

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Kimberly was born in Zimbabwe and migrated to the UK aged 9. She applied for student finance in 2015 and realised that her immigration status became the barrier to going to university because it meant she wasn’t eligible for a student loan. In the same year, Kimberly attended a Leadership Academy, which provided support and importantly awareness that she was not alone. In 2018 she started university alongside work as a Culturosity Facilitator; promoting youth development through creative learning of equality and diversity principles. She recognises the importance of young people seeking out opportunities for further development and challenging societal constraints.

Sarah Thomas

Sarah Wootton

Chief Executive Dignity in Dying

Sarah Wootton has been Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying since 2008, after leading campaigns in reproductive rights and gender equality at the Family Planning Association and Equal Opportunities Commission.

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Under her leadership, the campaign for choice at the end of life has moved from the margins to the mainstream in Parliament, the courts, the medical profession and the media. Sarah established and is also Chief Executive of Compassion in Dying, Dignity in Dying’s sister charity which supports people to have greater control over their deaths within existing laws. In June 2020 Sarah co-authored the book, ‘Last Rights: The case for assisted dying’, published by Biteback as part of their ‘Provocations’ series of short polemics on contemporary issues.

Sarah Thomas

Rhea Stevens

Head of Policy and External Affairs at Community Housing Cymru

Rhea is a creative, strategic campaigner with extensive experience of delivering significant policy change who now works at Community Housing Cymru.

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Rhea previously worked for Save the Children, Cardiff as their senior Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns Manager and worked as a Campaigns Coordinator for Age Cymru, where she developed and delivered the Rule Out Abuse campaign which secured the desired legal change to the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.

Rhea is currently an Advisory Board member for Children’s Social Care Research and Development and Institute of Welsh Affairs. She was previously a Volunteer Women’s Rights Champion for Cardiff Women’s Aid.


Our founding five patrons all knew Sheila personally and have each played an important ambassadorial role for the Foundation over the years. .

Sarah Thomas

Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP

Gordon Brown was a friend of Sheila McKechnie for over thirty years and became a patron of the Foundation at the time it was established in 2005. Gordon Brown hosted the Foundation’s reception for the Sheila McKechnie Awards 2007. He has emphasised the importance of campaigners contribution to democracy in Britain and continues to support the Foundation’s work to develop the next generation of campaigners.

“To fight for justice is not some abstract idea – it is far more important than that. It is a practical demand that real wrongs must be righted, that injustices be rectified, that abuses be removed and unfairness’s remedied. Let Sheila’s energy, Sheila’s unending courage and, Sheila’s lifetime dedication to justice, inspire us and drive us forward in the days and years ahead”.

Sarah Thomas

Jon Snow

Broadcaster and writer

Jon Snow is an English journalist and television presenter. He is best known as the longest-running presenter of Channel 4 News, which he has presented since 1989. Snow has held numerous honorary appointments, including Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University from 2001 to 2008.

“We want to make it possible for another Sheila, another passionate informed campaigner, to break out and raise a voice from beyond organised politics on behalf of those denied rights and opportunities.”

Sarah Thomas

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin

Delyth has over 20 years experience as a campaigner and was the first Chief Executive of Breakthrough Cancer responsible for orchestrating the high level of awareness and momentum behind the issue of breast cancer in the UK. Sheila was a hugely important role model for Delyth throughout her career.

“It’s time we recognised the campaigners out there whose efforts help create a better future for their communities – the people who can be bothered, who write that letter and ask that question, who organise that petition and who could do even more with support, help and recognition. The Sheila McKechnie Foundation hopes to support, empower and name these campaigners and thank them for what they do for us all.”

Sarah Thomas

The Lord Rogers of Riverside CH

Richard Rogers is an award winning architect and the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate. He has received a number of awards including the RIBA Gold Medal in 1985, the 2006 Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement (La Biennale di Venezia) and the 2007 Tau Sigma Delta Gold Medal. Richard was awarded the Légiond’Honneur in 1986, knighted in 1991 and made a life peer in1996. Most recently, in 2008, he was made a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour. Richard Rogers is an award winning architect and the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate. He has received a number of awards including the RIBA Gold Medal in 1985, the 2006 Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement (La Biennale di Venezia) and the 2007 Tau Sigma Delta Gold Medal. Richard was awarded the Légiond’Honneur in 1986, knighted in 1991 and made a life peer in1996. Most recently, in 2008, he was made a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour.

Sarah Thomas

Alan Grant

Sheila’s partner and formerly champion of education at the Financial Services Authority.

“Sheila’s eye for an issue worth campaigning about may have been largely intuitive, but her campaigns were always based on careful research of the facts, identifying practical solutions, and absolute integrity.”

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