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.
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 800 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.
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.
Heather has over two decades’ experience in organisational leadership, coalition building and advocacy. 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 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.
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 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.
Shaheen Hashmat is Senior Project Coordinator in the Executive Office at Girls Not Brides, managing the day-to-day delivery of activities led by the Executive Director, Deputy Executive Director and Board Chair.
Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Shaheen worked at Save the Children International as a Global Campaign Officer and as Executive Assistant to the CEO, the former Prime Minister of Denmark.
Her previous work with the British Pregnancy Advisory Service deepened Shaheen’s interest in the links between forced marriage and sexual and reproductive health issues. She has been a vocal campaigner against forced marriage in the UK since 2009, winning the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation’s ‘True Honour’ award in 2016.
Shaheen holds a BA in English with creative writing from Brunel University, and is currently writing a book on the lifelong impact of forced marriage.
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.
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 in 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.
As Member Engagement Assistant at Girls Not Brides, Dhanishtha supports the ongoing outreach and engagement with the partnership’s 800+ 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.
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.
Alexandra Newlands is Girls Not Brides‘ National Partnerships Officer and is based in London, UK. Alexandra provides critical support to French and English-speaking national partnerships and coalitions working on child marriage.
Prior to this position, Alexandra was the Africa Engagement Officer, supporting the implementation of Girls Not Brides’ strategic priorities in Africa and analysing policy and programmatic developments related to child marriage on the continent.
Alexandra brings her experience of working in the Development Cooperation DG of the European Commission. She also has over four years of experience with World Vision Brussels and World Vision International where she worked on advocacy for children’s rights at the European Union level, and supported national offices to develop their child health and nutrition advocacy. 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 French, English and Spanish.
Louise Jenkins is the Senior National Partnerships Officer within the partnership team. She acts as primary liaison to a number of Girls Not Brides National Partnerships in selected countries, providing critical support to strengthening national partnerships and other networks/alliances at the national level.
Louise has over a decade of experience working with feminist movements, civil society, INGOs and governments on women’s and girls’ rights, specialising in ending violence against women and girls. Louise has a proven track record of building robust relationships with a wide range of partners, stakeholders and donors both nationally (in the UK) and internationally. Prior to joining Girls Not Brides Louise worked as an independent consultant working on projects for a variety of clients including the World Bank Uganda on a gender based violence diagnostic and FORWARD UK on their award winning schools programme on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Louise holds an MA in Gender, Violence and Conflict from the University of Sussex and speaks basic Swahili.
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.
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.
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 an MSc in public policy from the London School of Economics.
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.
As Global Policy & Advocacy Officer at Girls Not Brides, Zoe develops global-level policy strategies, recommendations and initiatives, and supports the engagement and alignment of member organisations in global advocacy.
Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Zoe worked at Freedom United, designing and running international advocacy campaigns on the subject of modern slavery, which included campaigns around forced child marriage. Zoe also previously worked at the Commonwealth Secretariat in the Youth Policy Division and at Amnesty International, working on a range of different human rights campaigns. Zoe has an MA in International Relations from Kings College London.
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.
As Senior Programme Officer, Alessandra 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 Alessandra worked at Plan International’s Asia regional office, where she worked on building the organisation’s child marriage programming model and conducted multi-country research on drivers of child marriage.
Alessandra speaks fluent French, Italian and English and basic Spanish. She holds an MSc in Development Studies from SOAS and a Social Anthropology BA from Sussex.
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.
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.
As Research and Policy Associate, Arwyn supports the Learning Team by tracking child marriage trends globally, fact checking and analysing information on child marriage hot spots, and conducting desk-based research and evidence syntheses, particularly related to integrating solutions for ending child marriage into other sectors.
Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Arwyn worked for UNDP in Laos and for Marie Stopes International (MSI) in London. Most recently she worked in Ethiopia as a technical writer documenting MSI’s programme and research activities under SIFPO 2, a major USAID funded initiative to strengthen family planning programmes globally. Arwyn is particularly interested in how child marriage intersects with other aspects of development, such as sexual and reproductive health and education.
Arwyn holds an MSc in Population and Development and speaks English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and basic German.
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.
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).
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 worked in Myanmar as an editor and journalist for The Myanmar Times newspaper. She has previously worked in communications for various NGOs including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Save the Children Myanmar. She has also worked as a consultant on various international development projects in Myanmar and Papua New Guinea.
Charlotte holds an MSc in Global Governance and Public Policy from Birkbeck, University of London. She speaks Burmese and is currently learning Arabic.
As Communications Assistant, Ettie supports both digital communications and media. Ettie previously worked at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) across communications and policy advocacy, and before this held roles in finance and education. She also co-runs a small charity that teaches sexual consent to young people.
Ettie holds an MSt in English Literature from Oxford University.
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.
As 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.
As 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.
Alexandra is the Event Coordinator for the Girls Not Brides 2018 Global Meeting, responsible for the management of all aspects of the meeting design, planning and delivery.
Alexandra brings over 15 years of experience working exclusively with not-for-profit institutions organising international meetings and large-scale congresses held worldwide. Prior to this, she worked in the film industry as an executive producer. She believes in creative and thought-provoking approaches to events and has a strong interest in managing sustainable meetings.
Alexandra holds a Master’s Degree in Cinema from the Geneva University of Art and Design. She speaks fluent French, English, Portuguese and Spanish.