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.

Lisa Cromer

Sue Tibballs

Chief Executive

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

Read more

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.

Lisa Cromer

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.

Read more

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.

Lisa Cromer

Rob Abercrombie

Deputy Chief Executive

Rob’s career mixes nearly twenty years in the social sector, with commercial experience as a strategy consultant.  He has worked both for charities and funders and specialises in not-for-profit strategy and strategic philanthropy.

Read more

Before joining SMK Rob was Director of Programmes at The Royal Foundation, where he oversaw the separation of the philanthropic affairs of the Cambridge and Sussex households. He was Director of Research & Consulting at NPC for 7-years, leading NPC’s consulting work with charities, foundations and philanthropists. During this time he developed expertise in systems change (authoring Lankelly Chase and NPC’s introduction to the topic) and strategic philanthropy, working with many of the UK’s leading Foundations. 

Rob started his career working with young homeless people in Leeds and in community development in North Kensington. He was Head of Strategic Intelligence at Which? during Sheila McKechnie’s tenure as Chief Executive, and then spent some years as a strategy consultant working mainly on public service reform.  

Lisa Cromer

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.

Read more

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.

Lisa Cromer

Megan Poyiadzis

Events and Programme Manager (currently on maternity leave)

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

Read more

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.

Lisa Cromer

Rummena Begum

Digital Marketing and Projects Officer

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

Read more

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.

Lisa Cromer

Sarah Thomas

Power Sharing Project Lead

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

Read more

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.

Lisa Cromer

Chris Fairley

Events and Programme Manager

Chris is a campaigner, trade unionist and amateur carpenter from Luton, who joined SMK in March 2021. 

Read more

Before working at SMK Chris was a researcher and organiser in HOPE not hate’s Policy Team, exploring vulnerability and resilience to the far right and fascism in England and Wales. He also worked at Cambridge House, a social justice and anti-poverty centre in South London. 

He’s the founder and head of Britan Has Class, a collective of young Working Class activists fighting class inequality; a co-founder of In Your Corner, a campaign to protect and expand Independant Advocacy (a key part of the UK’s human rights framework); and a Director of the New Economy Organisers Network. 

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.

Lisa Cromer

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.

Read more

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.

Lisa Cromer

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.

Read more

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’.

Lisa Cromer

Bushra Ahmed

Former 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.

Read more

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.

Lisa Cromer

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.

Read more

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.

Lisa Cromer

Pete Moorey

Head of Campaigns and UK Advocacy at Christian Aid

Pete Moorey, recently joined Christian Aid and was previously 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. 

Read more

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.

Lisa Cromer

Stuart Davis

Finance Director at Client Earth

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

Read more

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.

Lisa Cromer

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.

Read more

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.

Lisa Cromer

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.

Read more

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.

Lisa Cromer

Richard Lane 

External Affairs at StepChange

Richard leads the External Affairs department at StepChange, the UK’s largest debt charity, who help more than 600,000 people a year with their financial problems. His role oversees the charity’s policy, campaigning, marketing, communications and digital functions.

Read more

Richard has worked across the charity sector in a number of roles, including leading the communications and campaigns teams at the national disability charity, Scope, and working on campaigns and public affairs at the LGBT charity Stonewall where he worked on the equal marriage campaign and the national Rainbow Laces campaign to tackle homophobia in sport. 

Prior to working in the charity sector Richard worked at the Fabian Society, a leading think tank on social justice issues, PoliticsHome supporting their US politics coverage, and spent time working on the 2008 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. 

Lisa Cromer

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.

Read more
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.

Patrons

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

Lisa Cromer

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”.

Lisa Cromer

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.”

Lisa Cromer

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.”

Lisa Cromer

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.

Lisa Cromer

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.”

Sign up and get our newsletter

To be part of a more powerful civil society, sign up for news, upcoming events, training and consultancy.   

We will always respect your privacy. Read our Privacy Policy or click here to unsubscribe