Trust Staff

Poonam Joshi is the Executive Director of the Trust. She has over 20 years' experience of working on a range of human rights issues. Prior to joining the Trust, Poonam was the Director of the European Office for Trust grantee the Fund for Global Human Rights, where she was also responsible for work on the enabling environment for civil society. Between 2010 and 2012 Poonam worked as a consultant to the Sigrid Rausing Trust, where she was Acting Director of the Women’s Rights programme and from March 2011 developed the Trust’s new grantmaking strategy for the Middle East and North Africa. She also worked for seven years with Amnesty International UK’s women’s rights programme, where she represented AIUK as a gender expert on a range of issues including political participation in Egypt and Libya, human trafficking in the UK, religious fundamentalism, and counter-terrorism. Poonam is a qualified solicitor, and began her career as a family and criminal legal aid lawyer in London. She holds a Masters in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and a BA in English from Oxford University.

PROGRAMME STAFF

Beth Fernandez is the Trust's Director of Programmes. She has worked within human rights civil society organisations for ten years and has managed numerous human rights capacity-building projects in the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union. She joined the Trust from ILGA-Europe where she worked to support LGBTI organisations in conducting strategic human rights advocacy, monitoring and documenting violations, and planning for strategic litigation. Prior to that she worked for Interights where she managed training projects for lawyers on international human rights standards. She has also volunteered for refugee service and policy organisations. She holds a Masters degree from University College London in Human Rights, and a BA in Politics and Russian from the University of Leeds.

Maha Abushama (currently on maternity leave) is Programme Officer for Human Rights, with a special focus on Human Rights Defenders. She came to the Trust from Amnesty International's International Secretariat, where she worked for several years as a Campaigner on Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Her responsibilities included leading on the development of campaigning and advocacy strategies to address human rights violations, including conducting desk-based and field research into specific human rights concerns and individual cases. Previously she was a Senior External Relations Officer at the Palestinian NGO the Youth Development Association, and an External Relations Officer for the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC). She holds an MA in Human Rights Theory and Practice from the University of Essex and a BA in English Literature and Translation from Birzeit
University, Palestine.

Sophie Adwick is Senior Programme Officer for Conservation. She holds over 15 years’ multi-country experience in the design, implementation and evaluation of applied conservation and biodiversity research. Prior to joining the Trust, Sophie was Assistant Manager of the Zoological Society of London’s Asia Conservation Programme. Her responsibilities included developing, managing and overseeing programmes and projects in countries across the region such as China, Russia, Indonesia and Thailand, working closely with local ZSL teams and partners. In previous positions, she has led organisational strategy and policy on wildlife trade in the EU and UK, developed and delivered national-scale training and capacity-building courses, and provided evidence-based, technical advice and recommendations on wildlife issues to internal and external stakeholders. Sophie has extensive international field experience gained across Asia, Africa, Central and North America, and Europe. She holds a Masters in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management from Oxford University and a BSc (Hons) in Zoology from the University of Edinburgh.

Rachel Aveyard is Programme Associate. Prior to joining the Trust, she was a Programme Manager at BBC Media Action. She has seven years of experience in research, policy and programme roles with experience in media development, community resilience, gender equality and human rights. She holds an MSc in International Development from University College London, and a BA (Hons) in Geography and Politics from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Tim Cahill is Programme Officer for Human Rights. Prior to joining the Trust he headed Amnesty International’s Brazil team for over 10 years. During this time he did extensive work on issues including prisons and torture, indigenous peoples’ rights, slave labour, land rights, and threats and killings of human rights defenders. His main area of expertise is public security, social exclusion and human rights, leading him to devise dynamic new strategies to address systemic urban violence in Brazil and in Africa. Previously he worked at the Portuguese for Africa section of the BBC World Service. Tim has an MA in Political Science from the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of London and a BA in Portuguese, Brazilian and African studies from King’s College London.

Laura Cools is Programme Associate for Human Rights. Prior to joining the Trust, she worked as Research and Policy Advisor at Impunity Watch, the Netherlands, where she coordinated the gender and transitional justice programme in Burundi and Guatemala. Previously, she was a Project Officer at the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law in The Hague, a researcher at Impunity Watch in Burundi, and a Programme and Advocacy Officer at the Coalition for the ICC in New York. She has acquired further experience in transitional justice, gender and human rights at ICTJ, UN OHCHR, Refugee Law Project Uganda, Aprodeh Peru, UN-LiREC Peru, and the diplomatic representations of Belgium in Chile and Geneva. Laura holds and MA in Human Rights from Columbia University, New York, as a Fulbright Scholar.

Chiara De Luca is Programme Associate for Women’s Rights. Prior to joining the Trust, she served as Communications Officer at the International Catholic Migration Commission, one of the UN Refugee Agency’s implementing partners, in Geneva. She has also worked as a researcher, media analyst, and campaign coordinator at several major environmental and human rights organisations, including Greenpeace International and Survival International. She holds a BA in Communications and Psychology from John Cabot University, Italy, and an MSc in Sustainable Development from the University of St Andrews, UK.

Teresa Drace-Francis is Programme Officer for Arts. Prior to joining the trust she was General Manager at Iniva, a visual arts organisation working predominantly with British artists of African and Asian descent. She has previously worked at Gasworks, Cubitt as well as independently advising and lecturing. Between 2007 and 2011 Teresa worked at Arts Council England leading on artists’ workspace and international networks among other strategic initiatives and supporting arts organisations in London, including South London Gallery, Camden Arts Centre and the Photographers’ Gallery. Teresa holds a BA in Art History from Cambridge University and a Masters in Management from Queen Mary University.

Kapil Gupta is Programme Associate for LGBTI Rights. Prior to joining the Trust he worked as a Projects and Information Officer at the Human Dignity Trust. He has global experience in strategic litigation and technical assistance on international human rights law, comparative constitutional law with particular focus on matters relating to LGBTI rights. He has also worked closely with civil society organisations, litigants, and governmental and inter-governmental bodies on matters pertaining to security and communications around human rights litigation in the Caribbean, South Asia, East and West Africa. He completed his MA in Human Rights Practice under the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship (2008-10) of the European Commission. He holds a bachelor’s degree in law from the National Law Institute University, Bhopal (India).

Janek Lasocki is Programme Officer for Human Rights with a focus on freedom of expression. Prior to joining the Trust, he worked on supporting human rights and civil society in Russia through capacity building and international advocacy at ARTICLE 19 in London and People in Need in Prague. Previously he worked as Advocacy Coordinator at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). Janek holds a BA in Russian & History from UCL and an MSc in European Studies from LSE.

Tom Lee is Senior Programme Officer for Transparency and Accountability/Environmental Protection. He was a Research Assistant in the strategy division of the British Red Cross, where he was involved in the implementation of an innovative research agenda. Tom holds a BA in History from the University of Bristol and an MA in East Asian Regional Development from the University of Leeds.

Fabien Maitre-Muhl is Programme Officer for Human Rights, with a special focus on Transitional Justice. Prior to joining the Trust he worked with various organisations including Plan International UK, UNHCR in Cote d’Ivoire and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Fabien also worked with various civil society organisations in Colombia where he did research on the guarantees of non-recurrence, the participation of victims in reparations processes, and the prosecution of the crime of forced displacement. Fabien holds an LLM in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex.

Sophie Pollak is Programme Officer for Human Rights (maternity cover). She came to the Trust from the Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) where she worked for several years as a Legal and Grants Officer managing MLDI’s emergency legal assistance programme. Prior to this, she was a Projects Attorney for a number of international law firms in London. Sophie also gained experience in international human rights law, advocacy and research in a number of NGOs including Amnesty International, the Global Human Rights Clinic and the Essex Business and Human Rights Project. She has worked as a consultant providing legal and policy advice on a variety of human rights issues including the rights to water and sanitation for the UN and NGOs in Geneva, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Admitted to the bar in New Zealand in 2013, she holds an LLM in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex and an LLB and BA in History and Film, Television and Media Studies from the University of Auckland.

Radha Wickremasinghe is Senior Programme Officer for Women's Rights. She was the Programme Manager for Asia at Womankind Worldwide prior to joining the Trust. Previously, she was a Programme Manager at Christian Aid, managing their partnerships in Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Thailand and Cambodia. She was the Coordinator of the Dalit Solidarity Network UK, and a freelance consultant conducting research and evaluations of humanitarian and development programmes. She holds a BSc honours degree in Economics (Trade & Development) from the London School of Economics, and a post-graduate Diploma in Development Management from the Open University.

ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF

Matt Francis is the Trust’s Finance Director. He came to the Trust from the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts where he was Head of Finance, and previously worked at BBC Media Action. Matt started his career as an auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers, specialising in UK charities and the wider public sector, and also worked for Moore Stephens LLP, where he undertook fieldwork on over 30 EU and UN international assignments. In addition to his full-time roles Matt is a Trustee of the Media Legal Defence Initiative, and a Board Director of UK100. He holds a BA (Hons) in Politics from the University of Warwick and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales.

Lucy Doig is the Trust’s Office and Communications Manager. Before coming to the Trust she spent five years as Senior Caseworker and Office Manager for Joan Ruddock, the Member of Parliament for Lewisham Deptford and a former Climate Change Minister. Lucy holds a BA (Hons) in Combined Arts from Durham University.

Sheetal Patel, the Major Grants Administrator & Finance Officer, previously worked at the emergency healthcare organisation MERLIN, where her job involved travelling to various conflict zones to train staff and evaluate Merlin's financial systems. Before that she worked at Imperial College, London. She holds a qualification from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

Zoe Rowlandson is the Trust's Programme Coordinator. Prior to joining the Trust she spent eight years working in the charity sector, including grantmaking foundations such as the Firelight Foundation where she was the Executive Assistant. Previous to that, she worked in the IT industry specialising in customer relationship software. Zoe is also a qualified Nutritional Therapist and holds a BSc in Nutritional Medicine from the University of West London.