Our team

To ensure that the Partnership operates as a strong global network, the collective work of Girls Not Brides members is supported by a secretariat based in London, UK. We also have staff in Delhi, India; Nairobi, Kenya; Dakar, Senegal; and Manchester, UK.

To contact the Girls Not Brides team, please email info@GirlsNotBrides.org.

Executive Team

Lakshmi Sundaram

Lakshmi Sundaram

Executive Director

As Executive Director, Lakshmi Sundaram is responsible for ensuring that Girls Not Brides delivers on its strategy and advances our collective efforts to end child marriage. Since joining Girls Not Brides in 2012, Lakshmi has taken the Partnership from a special project of The Elders to an independent legal organisation, and overseen its expansion to more than 700 members. She is particularly interested in broadening our understanding of effective approaches to address child marriage, and ensuring that the funding, policy and programme support are available to ensure that girls around the world can thrive.

Lakshmi is experienced in forging alliances across the public, private and NGO sectors, encouraging diverse people and groups to join forces for change. Her background is in global health partnerships, including at the World Economic Forum’s Global Health Initiative and at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics in Switzerland, with Voxiva in the United States and with the Ministry of Health in Rwanda.

Lakshmi holds a BA in Biochemistry from the University of Cambridge, as well as Master of Public Health and Master of International Affairs degrees from Columbia University. She is a Global Leadership Fellow of the World Economic Forum. A Swiss citizen, Lakshmi is fluent in French and English, and speaks some Tamil, German and very basic Spanish.

Heather Hamilton

Heather Hamilton

Deputy Executive Director

As Deputy Executive Director, Heather is responsible for ensuring that Girls Not Brides delivers on its strategy and advances our collective efforts to end child marriage. She leads on ensuring that partner engagement translates to substantive progress toward ending child marriage at the global, regional and national levels, and on the development of staff.

Most recently, she worked at the UNICEF Asia-Pacific Regional Office on the Public Finance for Children Initiative. Previously, she led several coalitions and networks on global issues as Executive Director of the Connect U.S. Fund, a multi-foundation grant making initiative, and as Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff at Citizens for Global Solutions. She has significant experience in organisational leadership, advocacy and strategic communications, and has led numerous multi-organisational messaging initiatives on advocacy goals. She holds a Master of Arts magna cum laude in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, with a concentration on gender in conflict. She speaks English and French.

Luna Atkins

Luna Atkins

Aide to the Executive

As Aide to the Executive, Luna provides executive support and advice to the Executive Director, Deputy Executive Director and Board Chair, and facilitates the work of the Board of Trustees. In addition, Luna manages and coordinates secretariat-wide planning, and monitoring and evaluation. She also project manages discrete areas of work, such as the year-long consultation process to develop Girls Not Brides’ 2017-2020 strategy.

Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Luna worked at Amnesty International’s Secretariat, providing executive support and project management support to the Secretary General, and prior to that coordinating the work of the International Board. Luna speaks English and Spanish.

Michelle Wisson

Michelle Wisson

Donor Engagement Officer

Michelle is the Donor Engagement Officer at Girls Not Brides. Michelle works with donors to increase international funding to end child marriage and with members to build their capacity to access available resources. Michelle’s work also supports Girls Not Brides’ own fundraising.

Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Michelle was a Senior Development Officer at Camfed International, developing and maintaining relationships with Camfed’s major donors and partners, and supporting programme management in order to multiply opportunities for girls and young women. Michelle holds an MPhil in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies from Cambridge University.

Partnership Team

Leila Billing

Leila Billing

Head of Partnership Development

As Head of Partnership Development at Girls Not Brides, Leila is responsible for all aspects of member engagement across the partnership. She has extensive experience of working closely with civil society organisations in southern Africa and Asia to promote the rights of children and young people. She has a Master’s degree in Gender and Development and speaks fluent Mandarin and proficient French.

Megan MacGarry

Megan MacGarry

Senior Member Engagement Officer

As Senior Member Engagement Officer, Megan works within the Partnership team to develop and lead on strategic engagement with all of Girls Not Brides members, and to ensure ongoing capacity building and empowerment of the global partnership.

Megan has extensive experience working within coalitions, across a range of sectors and issues, all primarily focused on the protection of human rights and the strengthening of civil society. Prior to joining the Girls Not Brides team, she has worked at End Water Poverty, the global coalition working to stop the water, sanitation and hygiene crisis, as well as for CIVICUS: World Alliance of Citizen Participation, as part of their Convening team. Megan has a Master’s Degree in Development Studies and Bachelor of Social Sciences in Politics and English.

Lara van Kouterik

Lara van Kouterik

Partnerships Manager

Lara van Kouterik is Partnerships Manager at Girls Not Brides. Lara provides critical support to strengthening Girls Not Brides National Partnerships and other networks/alliances the organisation works closely with at national levels. Moreover, she acts as primary liaison for a range of Girls Not Brides National Partnerships in selected countries, ensuring the cultivation of strong relationships between National Partnership and the Girls Not Brides secretariat.

Prior to joining the Girls Not Brides team she worked as Senior Programme Officer Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights at Simavi in The Netherlands, where she developed and managed different SRHR programmes and worked closely with an alliance of civil society organisations on Kenya.

Before that she worked as a Programme Officer at Mama Cash, a Women’s Fund based in Amsterdam. Lara holds a MSc in Cultural Anthropology and International Development Studies and has a background in HIV/Aids, Gender, Women’s Rights and SRHR. She worked and lived in Zambia and Zimbabwe for several years.

Dhanishtha Kuruvilla

Dhanishtha Kuruvilla

Member Engagement Assistant

As Member Engagement Assistant at Girls Not Brides, Dhanishtha supports the ongoing outreach and engagement with the partnership’s 600+ member organisations. She handles new membership requests from aspiring member organisations and explores ways to increase collaboration between the secretariat and the partnership.

Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Dhanishtha worked at a children’s rights network in Brussels where she focused on advancing European children’s rights initiatives. She holds a Master of Laws (LLM) in Human Rights from University College London and an MSc in Childhood Studies. She speaks English, French and Spanish.

Policy & Advocacy team

Heather Hamilton

Heather Hamilton

Deputy Executive Director

As Deputy Executive Director, Heather is responsible for ensuring that Girls Not Brides delivers on its strategy and advances our collective efforts to end child marriage. She leads on ensuring that partner engagement translates to substantive progress toward ending child marriage at the global, regional and national levels, and on the development of staff.

Most recently, she worked at the UNICEF Asia-Pacific Regional Office on the Public Finance for Children Initiative. Previously, she led several coalitions and networks on global issues as Executive Director of the Connect U.S. Fund, a multi-foundation grant making initiative, and as Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff at Citizens for Global Solutions. She has significant experience in organisational leadership, advocacy and strategic communications, and has led numerous multi-organisational messaging initiatives on advocacy goals. She holds a Master of Arts magna cum laude in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, with a concentration on gender in conflict. She speaks English and French.

Jennifer Woodside

Jennifer Woodside

Director of External Relations

As the Director of External Relations, Jennifer oversees both the Advocacy and Communications Teams, ensuring that Girls Not Brides effectively delivers strategic, integrated advocacy and communications to target audiences

Before joining Girls Not Brides in 2016 as the Interim Head of Communications, Jennifer was the Communications Director for three years at The Elders. Prior to that, she was the Head of Advocacy and Communications for over seven years at the International Planned Parenthood Federation, a global development NGO working on sexual and reproductive health and rights in over 150 countries.

With dual Canadian and British passports, Jennifer has extensive policy and communications experience on both sides of the Atlantic having worked for the UK and Canadian governments. An expert in reproductive technologies and women’s health, she has a BA (Hons) from McGill University in Montreal and has a MSc in public policy from the London School of Economics.

Matilda Branson

Matilda Branson

Policy Officer

As Policy Officer at Girls Not Brides, Matilda tracks policy developments and formulates policy positions on child marriage at the national and regional levels, and is responsible for identifying international advocacy opportunities on ending child marriage, particularly around UN resolutions and implementation of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Matilda worked with CARE Australia on their Mekong portfolio, with UNICEF Nepal coordinating the development of Nepal’s national strategy to end child marriage, and with UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia on social policy. She has also worked with different grassroots organisations on women’s rights issues in Malaysia, Mozambique and Papua New Guinea. Matilda has an MA in Gender and Development and enjoys horse riding. She speaks fluent English and Spanish, and conversational Nepali.

Shipra Jha

Shipra Jha

Head of Asia Engagement

As Head of Asia Engagement, Shipra is responsible for supporting membership engagement and national partnership development and the secretariat’s work on learning and impact assessment. She is also responsible for developing Girls Not Brides’ engagement strategy in South Asia.

Shipra has sixteen years of experience of working at the local, national as well as regional level in South Asia with grassroots groups, international organisations and the Government of India. With a background in designing programmatic interventions to promote gender equality, Shipra also has extensive experience of alliance building.

Before Girls Not Brides, Shipra worked at Oxfam GB developing a campaign aimed at reducing social acceptance of violence against women in South Asia. Most recently she was working with Room to Read, heading one of their largest state operations in India.

Shipra has a Master of Philosophy in International Law, a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Bachelor in Political Science. Shipra is fluent in Hindi/Urdu and English and has a working knowledge of several other South Asian languages.

Françoise Kpeglo Moudouthe

Françoise Kpeglo Moudouthe

Head of Africa Engagement

Françoise Kpeglo Moudouthe is Girls Not Brides’ Head of Africa Engagement. Based in Dakar, Senegal, Françoise leads the development and implementation of Girls Not Brides’ strategy in Africa and works to strengthen the Partnership’s presence in the region.

Françoise also contributes to the broader Girls Not Brides’ strategic, programmatic and communications work with the Africa regional perspective and oversees the Girls Not Brides representation in Dakar.

Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Françoise was a Policy Officer at The Elders, where she supported the organisation’s work to promote peace-building and gender equality, and played an active role in the Girls Not Brides incubation process. Françoise speaks English and French.

Ruth Koshal

Ruth Koshal

Senior Africa Engagement Officer

As Senior Africa Engagement Officer, Ruth plays a central role in informing, supporting and influencing selected regional processes pertaining to child marriage in Africa. She also provides critical support to Girls Not Brides’ efforts to understand, stimulate and strengthen policy developments in selected focus countries in Africa. Ruth is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Ruth worked with Save the Children International and World Vision advocating for child rights by influencing regional institutions for over 16 years. She has experience in the areas of advocacy, strategic planning, programme development and research at the national, regional and global levels.

Alexandra Newlands

Alexandra Newlands

Africa Engagement Officer

Alexandra Newlands is Girls Not Brides‘ Africa Engagement Officer and is based in London, UK. She supports the implementation of Girls Not Brides’ strategic priorities in Africa and analyses policy and programmatic developments related to child marriage on the continent.

Alexandra brings her experience of working at the European Commission and 4 years with World Vision Brussels and World Vision International, focusing first on advocacy for children’s rights at the European Union level, and then on supporting national offices to develop their child health advocacy activities at local and national levels. She also has field experience in Mexico and Malawi where she worked on child rights issues, child participation and related social accountability mechanisms.

Alexandra speaks fluent English, French and Spanish.

Learning team

Ellen Travers

Ellen Travers

Head of Learning

As Head of Learning, Ellen leads Girls Not Brides strategy on learning for impact and designs initiatives to help inform and advance policies and programmes which seek to end child marriage and support married girls.

Ellen works to highlight solutions being taken to address child marriage in different countries, and to enable members to learn from each other about effective approaches to end the practice.

Prior to this, Ellen worked in the NGO sector in Cambodia, as well as in the human rights departments of the Irish and UK Foreign Ministries. Ellen speaks English, French and Irish, and basic Italian and Spanish.

Julie Rialet

Julie Rialet

Research & Policy Associate

As Research & Policy Associate, Julie works within the Learning Team to conduct research, highlight solutions to address child marriage and support members to learn from each other.

Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Julie worked for Tostan International in West Africa, where she conducted research on female genital cutting, child marriage, and the implementation of Tostan’s human rights-based Community Empowerment Programme. She has also worked for the Kering Corporate Foundation in Paris, which supports projects that prevent violence against women in Europe, America, and Asia.

Julie is fluent in French, English, and Italian, and holds a Master’s degree in Social Sciences and Project Management from Sciences Po Rennes, France.

Kate Whittington

Kate Whittington

Programme Officer

As Programme Officer, Kate conducts research and policy analysis on developments related to child marriage as well as working closely with members to support evidence-based advocacy.

Prior to joining Girls Not Brides Kate worked for the Girl Hub, a strategic partnership between DFID and the Nike Foundation on their Girl Specialist and Monitoring and Learning teams, providing technical support on adolescent girl issues to their projects and country offices.

Sophie Legros

Sophie Legros

Research and Policy Intern

As an Research and Policy Intern, Sophie supports the Learning Team’s research and policy analysis on issues related to child marriage and reviews the latest evidence to support advocacy and communications.

Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Sophie worked with Coaches Across Continents, a global partnership supporting sports and educational programming for community-led social change, heading their Monitoring and Evaluation and Curriculum Development teams. She is currently pursuing an MSc at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Communications Team

Fiona Carr

Fiona Carr

Head of Communications

As Head of Communications, Fiona is responsible for strategic communications which showcase the work of Girls Not Brides around the world.

Prior to joining the Girls Not Brides Fiona worked for several NGOs including Plan International, Oxfam GB and Marie Stopes International overseeing the development of a wide range of communications initiatives including websites and other digital tools; media/PR campaigns; brand strategies and films in countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Honduras and Sierra Leone. She has also worked with partners across Africa, Asia and Latin America to develop their communications capacity. She began her career in the UK and Australian health and public sectors before moving into the private sector working on projects in the USA, Hong Kong and the UK. She has over 20 years’ experience in strategic communications.

Fiona holds a BSc in Speech Sciences from University College, London, and studied International Relations at Harvard and Advanced Project Management at Stanford in the USA.

Sophie Drouet

Sophie Drouet

Digital Communications Officer

As the Digital Communications Officer at Girls Not Brides, Sophie works to harness the power of digital media to advance the Partnership’s collective efforts to end child marriage.

Sophie leads on the continued development of the Girls Not Brides website and its content, oversees the organisation’s social media channels and email communications, and assists with the development and branding of communications materials.

Sophie speaks fluent English and French and holds a MSc in Gender and Social Policy from the London School of Economics (LSE).

Charlotte Rose

Charlotte Rose

Media and Communications Officer

As Media and Communications Officer, Charlotte works with the media to raise awareness of child marriage and showcase the work of Girls Not Brides members around the world.

Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Charlotte was based in Myanmar where she worked as an editor and journalist at The Myanmar Times newspaper. She has worked in communications for various NGOs including World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Save the Children Myanmar, and as a consultant on international development projects in Myanmar and Papua New Guinea.

Charlotte holds a MSc in Global Governance and Public Policy and a BA in Development Studies. She speaks English and Burmese and is currently learning Arabic.

 

 

Operations Team

Beata Ekert

Beata Ekert

Head of Finance and Operations

Beata is the Head of Finance and Operations overseeing the financial, legal and HR operations at Girls Not Brides.

Before joining the team, she was the Finance and Services Manager at The Elders (2008-2014). Her previous roles included the Finance and Executive Manager of the Open Society in London (2004-2008), the Company Secretary and Treasurer of the Inter-University Foundation, Oxford (1996-2004), and the Senior Programme Coordinator of the Stefan Batory Trust, Oxford (2001-2006).

In the early 90’s Beata recruited British lecturers for Polish universities and helped to organise summer schools for young leaders in Poland. She was Deputy Director of the ‘Solidarity’ Foundation in Rzeszow, Poland (1989-1991) responsible for fundraising and contract negotiations. Beata loves gardening and grows her own bonsai.

Charlotte Janiszewski

Charlotte Janiszewski

Operations Assistant

Operations Assistant, at Girls Not Brides, Charlotte provides day-to-day support for the Secretariat; developing and managing relations with service providers and suppliers in addition to coordinating international travel and events for the global partnership.

Charlotte was involved in the organisation and logistical planning of the Girls Not Brides Global Member Meeting held in Casablanca in May 2015.

Vimbai Ndume

Vimbai Ndume

Finance Assistant

As the Finance Assistant, Vimbai provides support to the Girls Not Brides team and to the Head of Finance and Operations in delivering high quality financial information for both internal and external entities.

Before joining Girls Not Brides, Vimbai worked in the finance department of Refugee Action since 2012. She speaks English and Shona.

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