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 and Dakar, Senegal.

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 900 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.

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 in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, with a concentration on gender in conflict. She speaks English and French.

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.

Marina Agiejew

Marina Agiejew

Donor Engagement Associate

As Donor Engagement Associate, Marina supports Girls Not Brides’ own fundraising activities, as well as efforts to increase the amount of funding in the field of child marriage more broadly.

Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Marina worked at ActionAid, where she liaised closely with the senior leadership team to manage cross-organisational projects and ensure successful delivery of day-to-day activities. She has previously worked on child marriage programmes in Bangladesh with VSO International.

She holds a History BA from King’s College London and speaks fluent Polish and conversational Russian.

Shaheen Hashmat

Shaheen Hashmat

Senior Project Coordinator

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.

Partnership Team

Leila Billing

Leila Billing

Director 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.

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 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.

Dhanishtha Kuruvilla

Dhanishtha Kuruvilla

Member Engagement Associate

As Member Engagement Associate at Girls Not Brides, Dhanishtha supports the ongoing outreach and engagement with the partnership’s 1000+ 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.

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.

Alexandra Newlands

Alexandra Newlands

National Partnerships Officer

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

Louise Jenkins

Senior National Partnerships Officer

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.

Macarena Espinar

Macarena Espinar

Member Engagement Assistant

As Member Engagement Assistant at Girls Not Brides, Macarena supports the ongoing outreach and engagement with the partnership’s 1000+ member organisations, with a focus on the Latin American region.

Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Macarena worked in Israel to promote the rights of asylum seekers in the country. She also has experience working on membership engagement at the International Council for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, a civil society coalition.

Macarena holds an MSc in International Relations and Development, with a specialisation on Global Refugee Studies. She speaks English, French and Spanish.

Africa Team

Yvette Kathurima Muhia

Yvette Kathurima Muhia

Head of Africa Engagement

Yvette Kathurima Muhia is the Senior Officer for Africa Engagement at Girls Not Brides. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Yvette leads the secretariat’s engagement with African regional and sub-regional intergovernmental institutions working to address child marriage. Yvette also supports Girls Not Brides members in Africa to monitor policy developments relating to child marriage as well as holding governments accountable for their implementation.

Yvette has over 10 years’ experience in programming on women’s rights, advocacy, resource mobilisation, grant management, coordination of regional networks and meeting facilitation. At the global level, Yvette has worked to amplify the voices of African women at the United Nations through the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and the Commission on Population and Development (CPD), and was instrumental in ensuring the voices of African women were included in the 2030 Agenda through the intergovernmental processes of the Open Working Group.

Yvette speaks English, Swahili and basic French.

Mundia Situmbeko

Mundia Situmbeko

Africa Engagement Officer

Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Mundia worked in Manchester on local and national strategies to tackle gender based violence, specifically FGM and child marriage as well as working on more comprehensive refugee resettlement programmes. She has also conducted extensive research with other organisations to bring social issues pertaining to women/girls and the youth to national attention. Mundia has been involved in the development of complex social/gender indices with the UN and AU, and used these to assist African governments to shape their national policies to balance gender inequalities in the economic, social and political spheres.

Mundia holds an MSc in Development Economics (with Gender Studies) from SOAS and is fluent in English and French.

Asia Team

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.

Divya Mukand

Divya Mukand

Partnerships Officer for Asia

Divya has thirteen years of experience working at the local, national and international level with grassroots groups and international organisations. While she has worked and led large scale projects on the themes of livelihoods and gender, child rights and youth development, the base of her work has been partnerships strengthening and coalition building.

Prior to Girls Not Brides, Divya has worked at Save the Children and Oxfam GB. Most recently she was working with Pravah, an Indian NGO that is a leading youth development organisation, heading their partnerships work. She has a Masters in Development Studies from the London School of Economics.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Eugenia Lopez Uribe

Eugenia Lopez Uribe

Senior Officer

As Senior Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, Eugenia is responsible for developing Girls Not Brides engagement strategy in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Eugenia has more than 25 years of experience of working in sexual and reproductive rights and health, gender, HIV, human rights and youth in Latin America with rural, indigenous and marginalized populations. Eugenia has extensive experience in advocacy and alliance building at the national and regional level.

Eugenia has a Masters in Political and Social Studies and a Bachelor in Sociology. Eugenia is based in Mexico.

Policy & Advocacy team

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 an MSc in public policy from the London School of Economics.

Matilda Branson

Matilda Branson

Senior Policy & Advocacy Officer, National

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.

Zoe Birchall

Zoe Birchall

Policy & Advocacy Officer, Global

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 a Masters in International Relations from Kings College London.

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.

Rachel Yates

Rachel Yates

Head of Learning

As Head of Learning (maternity cover for Ellen Travers) Rachel 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.

Rachel 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.

Alessandra Tranquilli

Alessandra Tranquilli

Senior Programme Officer

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.

 

Julie Rialet

Julie Rialet

Research & Policy Officer

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.

Arwyn Finnie

Arwyn Finnie

Research and Policy Associate

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.

Communications Team

Fiona Sinclair

Fiona Sinclair

Head of Communications

As Head of Communications, Fiona is responsible for strategic communications for Girls Not Brides, including oversight of brand, media and digital. She leads the communications team, highlighting the work of the partnership and its members across the world.

Fiona has broad communications experience in the international development sector, including roles at Development Initiatives, Oxfam GB, People In Aid (now the CHS Alliance) and as a freelance consultant. She also has nearly a decade of experience in corporate PR and strategic communications for multinational technology clients.

Fiona has a BA (Hons) Modern Languages (French and Spanish) from the University of Oxford.

Yasmin Macé

Yasmin Macé

Senior Digital and Content Editor

As Senior Digital and Content Editor, Yasmin is responsible for developing Girls not Brides’ digital communications strategy and showcasing the work of members, girls and women around the world through storytelling and content.

Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Yasmin worked at War Child UK where she used digital platforms, multimedia content and stories to raise awareness and mobilise support for children affected by conflict in the Middle East and Africa.

Yasmin has a degree in Politics and French from the University of Bristol. She is fluent in French and is currently learning Arabic.

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 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.

 

 

Ettie Bailey-King

Ettie Bailey-King

Communications Assistant

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 The Schools Consent Project, a small charity that teaches sexual consent to 11-18 year olds across the UK.

Ettie holds an MSt in English Literature from Oxford University.

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 ’90s 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

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.

Vimbai Ndume

Vimbai Ndume

Finance Assistant

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.

Eleanor Munif

Eleanor Munif

People Manager

As People Manager, Eleanor leads on Girls Not Brides human resources, organisational culture and cross-team planning.

Eleanor has worked in the charity sector for over 12 years. She was previously Chief Operating Officer at Redthread, a charity working to end youth violence in the UK. She has also worked as director of a programme supporting disadvantaged children in their education and as a consultant at Deloitte.

Eleanor has a History BA from the University of York and a Voluntary Sector Management MSc from Cass Business School.

Laia Surrallés

Laia Surrallés

Events Assistant

As the Events Assistant for the Girls Not Brides 2018 Global Meeting, Laia provides support in the overall planning, organization and logistics of this meeting.

Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, she worked on the organization of several arts-related events, both national and international. Laia holds a degree in International Business, and is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Catalan.

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