Our team

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In this article

Our senior management team

Anna Bird
Chief Executive Officer

Anna joined Contact as CEO in June 2023. She is an experienced leader in the not-for-profit sector, where she has been influential in campaigning on behalf of disabled people.

Before joining Contact, Anna was CEO of the European Movement. There, she grew support for the organisation and was responsible for designing and implementing their new strategy.

Previously, Anna has led political influencing campaigns at Scope, the Fawcett Society and Mind. At Scope, she led the development of the organisation’s strategy, impact framework, and a roadmap for the rollout of new research and policy work. At the Fawcett Society she was Acting Chief Executive.

Mark Davies
Director of Income Generation 

Mark was appointed Director of Income Generation at Contact in November 2019. 

Mark has over 20 years’ fundraising experience in the charity sector. He was Director of Development at the London’s Air Ambulance Charity for six years before joining Contact, leading on income growth. Previous roles include Assistant Director at Centre of Cell, a science education centre based at Queen Mary, University of London, and Development Manager at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. 

Mark is a Trustee of Box Clever Theatre Company. 

Kelly Hains
Director of Family Support Services

Kelly joined Contact in November 2021. Before joining Contact, she was the Head of Contact Centre Strategy & Customer Experience at the National Autistic Society, leading 14 nationwide services, including two award-winning specialist teams.

Kelly has worked in the local authority and charity sector for over 25 years, primarily within information, advice and support. She has experience across several fields across the sector, including addiction, mental health and disability, and for the last 10 years she has focused on autism.

Kelly also supports voluntary organisations to design and implement volunteer-led support services and programmes.

Rachel Millington
Director of Advice, Communications & Engagement

Rachel joined Contact as a Director in March 2020. 

Rachel has worked in communications for nearly 20 years, primarily within communications and creative agencies. During this time she has worked across global brands, charities, and NGOs, leading on comms and digital projects. 

Rachel has a postgraduate diploma in Marketing and is a volunteer for a local environmental charity. 

Suzy Russell
Director of Finance & Resources

Suzy joined Contact in August 2023 as interim Director of Finance and Resources and from January 2024 has joined Contact in this role on a permanent basis. Suzy is the senior management team lead for Finance, IT, Facilities, HR and Inclusion, and Organisational Development.

Before joining Contact, Suzy was Director of Finance, Performance & Impact with the Ramblers Association – a charity and national membership organisation. Before that, she held financial and executive leadership roles in the commercial and retail sectors.

Suzy is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA) 

Our Trustees 

Angela Kitching, Acting Chair 

Angela is Contact’s Vice Chair of Trustees. In her day job, she is the Director of Campaigns, Policy & Research for the Royal British Legion, and previous to that she worked at Age UK in roles ranging from Parliamentary Advisor to Head of External Affairs.

In her personal life, Angela has two children including Thomas, who has very complex disabilities as a result of a genetic disorder.  She was closely involved in a parent carer-led campaign to save respite care for medically-complex children and their families in Hertfordshire.

Angela is passionate about ensuring families of disabled children have the right support and information to advocate for what their children need.  

Eleanor Christie, Treasurer

Eleanor is part of the senior global leadership team at Nando’s.  Eleanor qualified as a chartered accountant during her time at KPMG and has spent 20 years working in different large corporate organisations.

Eleanor lives in St Albans with her husband and three children.  Eleanor is active in the community as a school Governor and volunteers with other local charities. 

Sarah Church

Sarah joined Contact in 2022. She works as the Chief Executive of Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care, a charity that provides support to people approaching the end of their lives. She is particularly interested in making sure that each person has an experience that is tailored to them, and that services are organised in a way that makes sense to the person on the receiving end.

Sarah worked as a Civil Servant for most of her career, mainly in the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). She has worked on food and farming issues for many years. 

Sarah has twin boys, one of whom has a serious disability.  She is passionate about making sure that the needs of the whole family are catered for: siblings in particular.

Ben Clarkson

Ben is Chief Operating Officer at Asthma + Lung UK, the UK’s leading lung health charity.

A CIPFA qualified accountant, Ben started his career in the public sector with the Audit Commission, where he led audits across a range of local government and NHS clients. From there, he moved into the not-for-profit sector with Macmillan Cancer Support, where he was Head of Financial Operations, and then the London Community Foundation as Director of Finance and Resources.

Ben also sits on the CIPFA Charities and Public Benefit Entities Forum and was previously a trustee of Lewisham Speaking Up, a charity that supports adults with learning disabilities. 

Ben spends his spare time running, whether that’s along the streets of Bromley borough or running around after his three children. He’s also a part-time cyclist and music lover.

Gyll Curtis-Machin – Scottish Trustee

Being autistic herself, Gyll is a passionate believer in speaking out for equality and diversity and changing public perception of what it means to be autistic. She wishes to be part of the creation of innovative opportunities for a more neurodiverse culture.

Gyll graduated with an Honours degree from the University of Stirling. Her eclectic career has taken her across all corners of the UK and abroad. She has worked as a university lecturer, publisher, editor, entrepreneur, and adviser in various charities and schools supporting and mentoring children and adults for over thirty years.

She has worked with autistic entrepreneurs to identify business ideas and launch micro-enterprises. She has co-designed/facilitated post-diagnostic courses for autistic adults and parent carers with ARGH (Autism Rights Group Highland).

Gyll sat on an Autism Advisory Forum led by Inspiring Scotland for the Scottish Government and completed a Lived-Experience Leadership programme with Inclusion Scotland. 

Kate Fleck – Northern Ireland Trustee

Kate has worked in the voluntary sector in Northern Ireland for over forty years, both in paid roles and volunteering. Most of these roles have been in the health and social care arena. They have included senior management roles working with children, young people and adults with disabilities and/or long-term conditions.

Kate has experience in chairing committees and boards, having recently stepped down as Chair of Open College Network NI (the number one awarding body in Northern Ireland for vocational and technical qualifications) and Chair of Safeguarding Committee of Family Fund UK. She is currently a member of the South Eastern Local Commission Group and has recently been appointed to the BMA PLG (Patient Liaison Group). Her greatest achievement is being awarded Chief Officers of the 3rd Sector Leadership Award for Lifetime Commitment to the Third Sector in Northern Ireland, voted by peers, in 2022.

Outside of work, Kate enjoys reading, walking, music and theatre, and her family are really important to her.

Jamie Holmes 

Jamie has first hand experience living with a child with a disability. His daughter, Holly, has Right Sided Hemiplegia. Having had amazing support in the early days of Holly’s life he was keen to give something back and so joined the Board of Trustees of HemiHelp back in 2016 and was Chairman from October 2017.  He supported the transition of the charity into Contact, successfully concluding in April 2018. 

Jamie is a keen community fundraiser through his passion for running stupidly long distances, and he constantly marvels at his friends’ and family’s generosity when asked to part with their money for great causes. 

His day job is running a very exciting start-up business aimed at making geospatial information more obvious. By using highly accurate digital models of cities his business brings to life the impact of planning decisions and, coupled with the vast amount of data available to us all, can help us all make the best decisions about our cities’ futures. 

Janet Leach 

Janet retired from the London Borough of Enfield in June 2019, having worked in the public sector in the field of special educational needs and disability (SEND) for 42 years and having also held a number of positions within the voluntary sector.  

Janet is a qualified social worker, most recently completing an MSc in Voluntary Sector Management, researching into the impact of poverty on disability and the value of voluntary sector interventions. Janet has extensive board and leadership experience and has championed parent partnerships throughout her career. Most recently Janet partnered with the London Borough of Bromley to jointly support the implementation of the SEND reforms across London.  

Janet is currently Chair of Governors at Waverley Special School in Enfield and is a special school representative on Enfield’s School’s Forum. She is a committee member of the International Short Breaks Association (ISBA), which organises a biannual international conference for all those who need and use short break/respite services. ISBA conferences are also aimed at policy makers and programme administrators.  

Janet has always been active within her local community, fundraising for disability charities and Breast Cancer Now. She is married with three adult children, and her family were delighted and thrilled when she was awarded an MBE in 2016 for services to SEND. 

Laura Riach

Laura has worked in the charity sector for over 20 years and is currently the proud Head of Fundraising and Communications for the Bone Cancer Research Trust.

Laura has three children, two of whom are autistic with ADHD. She is hugely passionate about ensuring that there is support available for families with disabled children who are facing many inequalities in society, especially in education, where Laura’s personal experience has revealed that in many cases parents face sanctions instead of the support they desperately need.

Laura is incredibly proud to join the board of trustees at Contact to represent parent carers and to lend her fundraising and communications expertise to ensure that Contact is there for everyone who needs support. She has volunteered for many other charities throughout her career and is currently also a Trustee for the Ella Dawson Foundation, which supports young adults and their families to live well with cancer.

Charles Sladdin

Charles is the Creative Director at Purple Banana, a sustainability-driven design and communications agency specialising in helping brands that do good effectively communicate their purpose. He founded the agency after five years of working in the design and marketing industry, including spending two years as the design lead at a national UK charity.

Using his experience within the third sector, Charles regularly advises purpose-driven businesses on digital strategy and brand engagement. He is a keen advocate of the Young Trustees movement, empowering young people to share their lived experiences and expertise on the trustee boards of charities.

Charles currently lives in London, but is moving north in September with his partner to be closer to family.

Jamileh Tufal -Welsh Trustee

Jamileh is Head of Brand & Customer Communications at Principality Building Society, the UK’s 6th largest Building Society.

After graduating University in Bristol, she has spent over 20 years working in communications roles across the UK and Australia. The bulk of her career was spent in agencies, where she worked with brands across a range of sectors from FMCG to not-for-profit. Jamileh has held a number of voluntary roles over the years, including a number of years spent working as a Telephone Counsellor to young people for Childline in London. 

Jamileh returned to her hometown of Cardiff a few years ago, which allows her to be near to her nieces and nephews, and her godchildren, one of whom has complex learning difficulties.

Vice Presidents 

  • Nick Crean 

Patrons 

  • Patricia Astley 
  • Sir Al Aynsley-Green 
  • Samantha Cameron 
  • Georgina David
  • Josephine Fitzalan-Howard 
  • Henry Hoare 
  • Ruth, Lady Morris of Kenwood CBE 
  • Francesca Martinez 
  • Nigel Nicholls
  • Vivienne Parry
  • Susan Reizenstein 
  • Paul Riseborough 
  • Philippa Russell OBE 
  • Clare Smyth
  • Paul Soames 
  • Claire Tomalin 
  • Angus Walker 
  • Elinor and Dafydd Wigley AM