Our trustees and directors

  • Headshot photo of Halima Begum, ActionAid UK CEO

    Dr Halima Begum, CEO

    Halima was born in a remote village in Bangladesh. Living conditions contributed to the partial loss of her eyesight as a child, sensitising Halima from an early age to the important role that development agencies like ActionAid UK can play in building a just and fairer world. 
    Raised and educated in the East End of London, she first joined ActionAid in 1999, shortly after graduating from the LSE. During this first spell, Halima helped set up the Global Campaign for Education before moving on to hold senior positions with the UK Government’s Department for International Development, the British Council and LEGO Foundation. 
    Much of Halima’s subsequent career has been spent working overseas with partners including the EU, the World Bank, the UN – and above all, with grassroots communities – to help achieve the sustainable development goals. Among them, climate change in Europe, food insecurity in Africa, and post-conflict reconstruction in Asia. With ActionAid UK’s particular focus on women and girls, Halima’s experience leading the UK’s work on girls’ education in Bangladesh and Pakistan feels especially significant to her. 
    On leaving her role as CEO of the Runnymede Trust, Halima “returned home” to ActionAid UK in 2023. Her goal, working with a wonderful team and stakeholders, is to ensure that ActionAid UK continues to play a leading role in achieving the sustainable development goals, shifting power closer to communities, and building that just and fairer world she has aspired to since childhood.

  • John Good, Chief Operating Officer

    John has spent 15 years working in developing countries in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. His experiences have shown him that if there is to be change, it must be driven from the grass roots upwards.

    John believes that the approach that ActionAid takes, enabling local communities to understand and demand that their rights are respected, is the best way to bring about lasting change in alleviating poverty and injustice and creating long-term positive change.

    The work ActionAid carries out is complex, but with limited funds available John wants to ensure those funds are used to maximise the impact we have on people’s lives.

  • Orla Fee, Director of Communications and Public Engagement

    Orla has two decades’ experience in communications roles across health care, human rights and the charity sector. In that time she has worked in research, publishing and communications with a variety of organisations including the Royal College of Physicians, the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and Queens’ University Belfast. She holds an LLM in Human Rights, Emergency Law and Discrimination from QUB.

    Orla believes that ActionAid’s human rights-based approach, working with women and girls living in poverty in the global south and focusing on long-term transformative change, as well as making sure we embed feminist behaviours into our ways of working, is what makes us impactful and resilient.

    Through our communications and public engagement, Orla is committed to putting women and girls at the heart of everything we do and making sure their voices are heard.

  • Liz Mickel

    Liz Mickel, Interim Co-Director of Fundraising

    Liz has worked in fundraising for over 18 years in a variety of organisations across a mix of income streams. She is passionate about efficiency and making the smartest use of our resources to maximise our contribution to the work in the ActionAid Federation.

    Liz has been at ActionAid UK since late 2017, but was a supporter long before that, so she has a long engagement with our vital work and human rights based approach. She is proud to be a leader in fundraising, to empower our talented team in raising the income that will support transformational change for women and girls.

  • Shade

    Shade Odupelu, Director of People & Culture

    Shade spent some of her formative years, including school, in Nigeria. She has lived experience of some of ActionAid’s priorities and the challenges that women and girls face.

    Shade is proud to be working for ActionAid UK particularly because we support women and girls around the world who face unequal treatment in their communities because they happen to be born female.
    Shade has over 25 years’ experience at a strategic level for organisations including Save the Children, Salvation Army, Teach First, and Livability. She leads organisational change to help improve performance, governance, and culture, and builds accountability levels to make the workplace a thriving environment for everyone.

Although Shade expertise is in human resources, she has also overseen volunteering, information technology, office administration, data protection, and front-line service delivery during her career.

    She holds a Master’s in human resources management and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. She is a trustee for Churches Together Kenley and Purley Food Hub, and mentors young women in Human Resources.

Shade is committed to contributing positively to ActionAid's mission, and to developing a deeper understanding of intersectional feminism, transgender and racial equity. She is especially focused on how these issues impact our employees and rightsholders in the communities we serve.

Our trustees

Our board of trustees has to listen to the needs of women and girls living in poverty, and balance that with being accountable to our supporters for using their money in the best possible way.

They make sure we are true to our mission and values, set our strategic direction, check our progress is in keeping with our strategy, and see that we comply with the Charity Commission guidelines.

  • ActionAid Board of Trustees Chair, Rajiv Vyas

    Rajiv Vyas, Acting Chair

    As an active campaigner for inclusion, equality and diversity, Rajiv is both honoured and proud to be able to serve on the board of trustees.

    He has over 27 years of experience within the Financial Services sector and has undertaken several voluntary governance roles at other not-for-profit organisations and in local government.

    Rajiv is currently an active member of the All-Party Parliamentary Corporate Governance Group. He is a Principal of the Institute of Operational Risk, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Freeman of the City of London.

    Rajiv intends to use the experiences he has gained over his professional career to add value to the wider work of ActionAid in eradicating injustice, alleviating poverty, and creating positive long-term and sustainable futures.

    Rajiv is the Deputy Chair and currently the Acting Chair of the Board of Trustees.

  • Stella Abani

    Stella Abani

    Stella has over 25 years senior management experience across the public, private and third sectors. Most of her work has been focused on on addressing inequality and ensuring that inclusion is at the heart of developing new services and programmes.

    Stella has experience of working in non-executive director roles and is delighted to join ActionAid UK as a trustee. She is passionate and committed to delivering ActionAid’s ambition to achieve social justice and eradicate poverty.

    Stella is looking forward to working with the trustees and team at ActionAid UK.

  • Amina Folarin

    Amina Folarin

    Amina is a UK Group CEO at OLIVER agency, which designs, build and run in-house marketing ecosystems for brands. She will be helping to solve the challenges of modern marketing while making the business a force for good in the world.

    Previously, Amina was a global chief inclusion and people officer at the same agency, and oversaw a 500-person-strong recruitment and diversity and inclusion team to support brands, as well as secured a #40 spot on The Times’ Best Places to Work list.

  • Sophie Healy-Thow

    Sophie is a student on a mission to educate young people about food security, climate change and injustice. At 16 she won both the Google Science Fair and the European Union Contest for Young Scientists with a team project entitled ‘Combating the Global Food Crisis: Diazotroph Bacteria as a cereal crop growth promoter’. Through her work, Sophie met some inspirational people and began to think about how she might be able to change the world for the better. The people she met also sparked her interest in food security, climate change and educating the next generation, especially women and girls.

    In 2015 Sophie was invited to be a Global Youth Leader by the United Nations at the Global Goals Mobilising Generation Zero Hunger Conference in New York. She also gave a TedX talk entitled ‘Food Security: Everybody’s Business’. Sophie is a Youth Ambassador for the ONE Campaign and the ISPCC and in 2014 she was named one of Time magazine’s top 25 most influential teens.

    Working with ActionAid offers Sophie the opportunity to help make tangible improvements to the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people and she hopes that by adding the voice of youth she can really make a difference. "It is a privilege to be an ActionAid Trustee and work with change-makers and professionals who are at the forefront of international development working to end global poverty and injustice," she said.

  • Abdul Shiil

    Abdul is a director at Sahan Cares C.I.C, a social enterprise empowering disenfranchised and low-income BAME members of the community in West London to gain new qualifications and employment within the health and care industry. He was recognised by the Federation of Small Businesses and SME National Awards in the Young Entrepreneur of the Year category in 2019. Abdul also holds fellowships with the School For Social Entrepreneurs, EY Foundation and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business programme in partnership with Said Business School.

    Abdul loves what ActionAid stands for as a charity and the amazing successful projects and fundraising missions the charity carries out around the world. He is really excited about joining the ActionAid family as a trustee, as this aligns with the principles he and his company stand for and live by every day: supporting and empowering those in need to do better. He can't wait to be a part of ActionAid's active support network and embark on this new journey.

  • Anne Tutt

    Anne Tutt, Treasurer

    Anne is a finance professional by background, with more than 30 years board level experience in private, public sector and not-for-profit organisations as finance director and non-executive director.

    In her not-for-profit experience Anne has focused on governance, risk management, finance strategy and development in the Global South.

    She is passionate about helping everyone, regardless of their race and background, to have the opportunity to fulfil their potential and she is totally committed to ActionAid’s feminist principles and focus on women and girls.

    Anne is delighted and honoured to be appointed a Trustee & the Treasurer of ActionAid UK and to become part of the team of ActionAid International.

  • Trustee

    Fikerte Woldegiorgis

    Fikerte is delighted to join ActionAid UK as a trustee and thrilled to be part of our mission to achieve social justice, gender equality and poverty eradication by working with women and girls living in poverty and exclusion.

    Fikerte has extensive experience of Marketing and Digital Transformation in the commercial sector, as well as in Leadership and Organisational Change Management. She is also a passionate champion for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, advocating for marginalised groups that are excluded from fully participating in various commercial sectors.

    The ActionAid trustee role is an exciting opportunity to apply these skills and experience in the not-for-profit sector and to benefit the causes that Fikerte cares about most. She is inspired by the passion and commitment of the ActionAid team, and she looks forward to supporting us in our fight against poverty and injustice.

Bond Governance Award 2018

In February 2018, ActionAid UK won the inaugural BOND International Development Award for Governance, a new category created to recognise NGOs who practise and promote good governance within their organisation. 

ActionAid UK staff and board members collect the Bond Governance award.

ActionAid UK staff and board members collect the Bond Governance award. Photo: BOND

The award was given in recognition of the Board’s work around diversity and the decision to implement feminist principles across the whole organisation.


Top image: (L-R:) Deymi, Aura, Aura and Blanca holding pictures they've drawn for their sponsors during message-collection time as part of ActionAid's child sponsorship programme in Guatemala. Photo: Karin Schermbrucker/ActionAid.

Page updated 24 August 2023