Meet our judges, who all have experience of charity governance and the voluntary sector. Read about the judging process.

Michele Acton

Michele is Chief Executive of Fight for Sight, the UK’s leading eye research charity that funds pioneering research to stop sight loss and treat eye disease. She co-chairs the Vision 2020 UK Eye Research Group and is also a Trustee of the Centre for Ageing Better where she chairs the Finance Committee. The Centre, part of the What Works Network, is a Cabinet Office initiative and funded by the Big Lottery Fund. It aims to improve the way government and other organisations create, share and use high quality evidence for decision-making. After graduating from Trinity College, Oxford with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Michele began her career as an investment banker advising companies across a wide range of sectors on raising finance and mergers and acquisitions. After 15 years working in the sector for Barings, Merrill Lynch and HSBC, she decided to change careers and became the Chief Executive of UCL Hospitals Charitable Foundation before joining Fight for Sight at the end of 2006.

Tesse Akpeki

Tesse is a consultant, facilitator, trainer and relationship development adviser. She coaches and works internationally, nationally, regionally and locally. She is Principal Consultant for Onboard, the Governance Development Programme run by Bates, Wells Braithwaite LLP and also an NCVO approved consultant. Tesse has acted for household names such as the Royal Institute of British Architects, Independent Age, IPPF, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Friends Provident Foundation, CAF, Amnesty International, Mencap, Citizens Advice, Inner Activist (Canada), Clore Social Leadership Programme as well as a range of community development organisations. She is passionate about working with organisations to create, implement change and build relationships. For nine years Tesse was Head of the Trustee and Governance Team at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) (leaving in 2005), where she developed a passion for working with infrastructure and umbrella groups. Tesse is a Governor at International Student’s House and chairs its Governance and Nominations Committee.

Dawn Austwick

Prior to joining the Big Lottery Fund, as CEO, Dawn was Chief Executive at Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and previously Deputy Director of the British Museum, Project Director of Tate Modern, a Principal Consultant at KPMG and Theatre Manager of the Half Moon Theatre. Dawn has an MBA from the London Business School and an honorary doctorate from London Metropolitan University. She is a Trustee of Historic Royal Palaces, and was a Director of Big Society Capital during its start-up phase until September 2013. In her spare time Dawn is a Gooner, occasionally practises yoga and goes to the theatre.

Rob Berkeley

Award-winning busybody, recovering academic and reformed social reformer, Rob currently plies his trade advising the BBC on accountability. Impatient with injustice and exasperated by wasted potential, he volunteers on the boards of Baring Foundation, and Britdoc Foundation, has previously served on the boards of Stonewall, Equality and Diversity Forum and the Oxford Access Scheme, and been Chair of Naz Project (NPL) and BGMAG. He was Director of the Runnymede Trust 2009-14, and now leads the editorial team of community journalism platform, BlackoutUK.com. Alongside his academic writing on education, social justice and community organizing, he has presented and co-produced short form documentaries, and written for The Guardian and The Independent on racial justice. His current obsession with innovations in media technology and their potential for social justice means that he watches a lot of TV/film and calls it ‘research’. Dr Berkeley was awarded an MBE in 2015 for services to equality.

Astrid Bonfield

Astrid was appointed Chief Executive of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust in June 2012. Astrid received a Doctorate of Philosophy in Social Anthropology at Manchester University. She was Director of the Zimbabwean NGO Inter-Country Peoples' Aid (1997-2001) and then a Programme Development Specialist at the Bernard van Leer Foundation in the Netherlands (2001-2003) focusing on HIV/AIDS and growing up in indigenous societies. She has a CBE. In October 2005 Astrid joined The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund as Chief Executive from the Aga Khan Foundation (UK) where she was Director of Policy. Astrid served on the Board of the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) from 2007 to 2010, was Chair of the European Foundation Centre (EFC) HIV/AIDS Funders Group from 2006 to 2010 and she chaired the Management Group of the Corston Independent Funders’ Coalition (CIFC) in 2011. Astrid was appointed to the Board of Big Lottery Fund in October 2012. She is a Trustee of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. Astrid received a CBE in the 2014 New Year Honours list for her services to the charitable sector in the UK and abroad.

James Cochrane

James was Chairman of the British Red Cross until 2013, Chairman of the South West London NHS Strategic Health Authority and NHS Innovations London, Vice Chairman of TNT, Raleigh International and on the Board of Medicines for Malaria, St George's University of London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Prior to this, James had a 30-year career in the pharmaceutical industry, resulting in his appointment to the main board of Glaxo, in charge of international operations. He has an CBE.

Tony Cohen

Tony started his professional life as a newspaper journalist, later becoming a television producer. After running a television production company in the US for several years, he became CEO of Fremantle Media, one of the largest global television production and rights companies, from 2001 to 2012. Tony is a Sloan Fellow of the London Business School and a Fellow of the RTS and RSA. He is also on the board of trustees of the Arvon Foundation. He joined the Barnardo's Trustee Board in 2011 and became Chair in 2014.

Dan Corry

Dan joined New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) as Chief Executive in October 2011, following a varied career at senior levels in public policy and economics including Head of the Downing Street Policy Unit and Senior Adviser to the then Prime Minister on the Economy. In addition to working at senior levels of government, Dan ran the New Local Government Network think tank and was Senior Economist at the IPPR in the 1990s. Dan is a Visiting Fellow at Southampton University, a member of the Greater Manchester Economic Advisory Panel, of the Research Committee of the ESRC (the funding body for social science academic research in the UK) and a trustee of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing. He is a member of the advisory board of social investment leader Big Society Capital and of venture philanthropy funder Impetus-PEF. Dan has written widely on economics and public policy as well as about issues in the non-profit sector.

Susan Fey

Susan started her career as a French teacher. Her career spanned education, training, business support, economic development and regeneration. Her final job before retirement from employment was Chief Executive of London East Training and Enterprise Council (LETEC). Since her retirement, she has undertaken a number of roles including being a magistrate for 14 years in Barking and Dagenham, non-executive director of Havering Primary Care Trust, non-executive Chair of a private training company, trustee of Age Concern, Havering – now Tapestry, Chair of Trustees and Upper Warden at Worshipful Company of Educators, and member of Clinical Governance at a local Hospice. She has an OBE.

Agnes Fletcher

Agnes is passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion and has promoted these values in her professional life for more than 20 years. Described by the Equality and Human Rights Commission on her appointment as statutory independent reviewer of its Disability Committee as "a widely respected expert on equality", she provides consultancy and training on the Equality Act 2010 and associated issues. Agnes has had several public appointments and governance roles, as a trustee and Committee Chair with Shape Arts, a Vice-Chair of RADAR (now Disability Rights UK), as a trustee of POhWER, and as a trustee and Committee Chair at Scope. She is currently a Community Governor at her local primary school. Her recent publications are 'Tackling disability and health-related barriers to progression within the Civil Service', a research report for the Cabinet Office, and 'Taking Charge', Disability Rights UK's practical guide to living with a disability or health condition.

David Gold

Following a 20-year career in the City - 15 years at UBS Asset Management - David moved to the charity sector as head of the London division of Business in the Community (BITC), where he gained first-hand experience of the issues facing charities and social enterprises (particularly relating to homelessness, volunteering and diversity. David is now CEO of Prospectus, deputy chair of The Foyer Federation, a patron of charities Greenhouse Schools and Prisoners Abroad, and serves as a member of the development committee for both the Dartington Hall Trust and the Sheila McKechnie Foundation. A member of the Philanthropy Review Group, David acts as mentor to the chief executives of several charities, as well as regularly speaking and writing on issues relating to social enterprises, philanthropy and grantmaking. In 2012 he also joined the board of Richard House Children's Hospice.

Stephen Greene

Stephen is the CEO and a co-founder of RockCorps, a Global Youth Movement that leverages music to inspire youth to give back to their communities. RockCorps gets volunteers to earn their ticket to these gigs by committing four hours at a RockCorps community project. In 2012, Stephen was appointed by the UK Prime Minister as Chairman of NCS Trust, the body that manages National Citizen Service. National Citizen Service (NCS) is 3 to 4 week experience for 16 and 17 year olds, who take part in social and personal development challenges and activities, mix with a diverse social group of peers and get trained in community action. In 2015 alone, 80,000 teens took part and over 200,000 have graduated thus far. Stephen has an MBA from U.C.L.A. and has also worked in both in the non-profit sector and in private equity. He is currently a trustee of Do-It, The Fowler Center and the Good Gym.

Vicki Hearn

Vicki is Director of Nominet Trust, the UK's largest dedicated 'tech for good' funder. Vicki is passionate about the power of the internet and digital technology to achieve social good, and the value of cross-sector collaborations for making this happen. Vicki joined Nominet Trust in 2011 from a background in education tech and has been key to the early development of the Trust’s strategic partnerships. She has also overseen the successful delivery of many of the Trust’s initiatives including the Social Tech Seed grant funding programme, Funder+ support and NT100. Vicki’s background in project management has been the foundation for the Trust’s strong reputation for process innovation and rigour.

Sara Llewellin

Sara is the Chief Executive of the Barrow Cadbury Trust, a charitable trust with Quaker roots. A focus of good governance has long been a concern of the Quakers, ranging from issues of national and international governance, to business ethics and corporate governance, all the way through to good governance ‘on the ground’ in even the smallest of community organisations. Sara’s career has been in the voluntary sector and in activism. After working for 10 years in the domestic violence movement, she was Chief Executive of St Giles Trust and then the Deputy Director of the City Bridge Trust before moving to the Barrow Cadbury Trust in 2009. Sara has had various national governance roles, including in the Big Lottery Fund and Future Builders. She is currently Vice Chair of the Association of Charitable Foundations, on the Governing Council of the European Foundation Centre and a Non-Executive Director of Charity Bank. At the local level, Sara has served on over a dozen charity boards over the last 30 years, including being the Treasurer of a local childcare social enterprise in Lewisham for over 15 years.

Alice Maynard

Alice is Chair of Swanswell, a national drug and alcohol charity that helps people change and be happy. She is a Board member of the Association of Chairs, established in 2013 to enhance the quality of chairing in the non-profit sector, through peer support and evidence-based research. From 2008-2014, Alice was Chair of Scope, a national charity working to achieve positive change in society for disabled people. She led the Board in developing a new and ambitious strategic direction that capitalised on the organisation’s strong reputation in the sector and the improvements she oversaw in its financial and management capability during her tenure. In her ‘day job’, Alice is Director of Future Inclusion, which provides business advice on strategy and governance in relation to inclusive practice. Future Inclusion has a strong specialism in transport, with clients such as Transport for London, HS2 and Network Rail. She currently chairs Transport for London's Independent Disability Advisory Group. Alice also chairs a NICE Guideline Committee on social care and is an Associate of the Business Disability Forum.

Vinay Nair

Vinay appreciates recent improvements in how he hails mini-cabs and take-aways, but he passionately believes that technology can revolutionise what really matters. He co-founded Lightful with a determination to transform how people and beyond-profit organisations use digital tools to help people to change the world. Prior to Lightful, Vinay started out in his career in investment banking and worked as an Executive Director at JPMorgan. He then spent eight years in a variety of leadership roles in the charity and social enterprise sector - with the Clinton Foundation, Acumen Fund, Social and Sustainable Capital (SASC) and the Social Investment Business. He has started two social enterprises, one making jam with HIV positive women in Mozambique, and the other in healthcare in the UK. He is a Fellow of the RSA and an expert-in-residence at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University. He is originally from India, grew up in Ireland and calls London home. He studied in Trinity College Dublin and the London School of Economics. When not absorbed in various sporting obsessions, he is busy spending time with his two young children and their sporting obsessions.

Catherine Roche

Catherine has been Chief Executive at Place2Be since January 2014. She was Chief Operating Officer from 2003, instrumental in delivering organisational growth, before becoming Deputy CEO in 2013. Originally a secondary and adult education teacher, Catherine first became involved with Place2Be in 1996, giving pro bono advice and support while a strategic planning and organisational development specialist with KPMG Consulting. She worked with a wide range of private and public sector clients across Europe and the US with KPMG's UK operation and later as part of the US based Change Solutions team. Catherine holds an MBA, magna cum laude, from Boston University, a BA (Hons) in English and French and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education, both from University College Cork.

Rachel Sandby Thomas

Rachel joined Warwick as Registrar in September 2016 and is responsible for the professional and administrative services of the University. Rachel chairs the University’s fundraising trusts in Singapore and South Africa, and is a member of the Friends groups established in the USA and Hong Kong. Prior to joining Warwick Rachel was shadow CEO of the UK Government’s Institute for Apprenticeships. This followed eight years of being a Director General in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills where she held a number of roles. Rachel graduated from St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge with a double first class honours in Law. She is a Trustee of ‘LEAP Confronting Conflict’, a charity helping young people handle conflict positively, and ‘Future-Fit’, a social enterprise helping organisations to be sustainable. Rachel was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 2012, named as one of the 2016 FTSE 100 “Women to Watch” and The Times 100 “Most Influential Lawyers”, 2012.

Janet Thorne

Janet is the CEO of Reach volunteering – the UK skills-based volunteering charity. Reach connects professionals who are willing to donate their expertise with charities which need those skills. Through its TrusteeWorks service, Reach helps boards to recruit chairs, treasurers and other trustees. TrusteeWorks recruited over 370 trustees for boards throughout the UK last year. Janet became CEO of Reach in 2012, and has led Reach through a transition to online self-service. Prior to becoming CEO, Janet worked at Reach as Director of Services, and TrusteeWorks Manager, a role in which she established the dedicated trustee recruitment service. Janet has worked in the public, private and voluntary sectors. Her roles have included Financial Director for a start-up recruitment agency, micro-credit advisor for a co-operative in Burkina Faso, credit union development for Barnet Council and community development worker in a range of settings, in the UK and abroad.

Steve Wyler

Steve is an independent consultant and writer in the social sector. He is a member of A Call to Action for the Common Good and an associate of the Carnegie UK Trust. He is a Board member of Community Links, Groundswell, and the Access Foundation. From 2000 to 2014, Steve was Chief Executive of Locality and (previously) the Development Trusts Association, building a national network of community organisations dedicated to community enterprise, community ownership, and social change. Over the previous fifteen years Steve worked for voluntary agencies and independent grant-makers. Steve has been a member of various Government advisory groups on localism, social enterprise, and the third sector (Cabinet Office, Department for Communities and Local Government, Ministry of Justice). Steve helped to establish Social Enterprise UK and the Adventure Capital Fund (parent body of Social Investment Business). He was awarded an OBE in the 2011 New Year Honours List.

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