James Kofi Annan - Chair of the Board

President, Challenging Heights (Ghana)

James founded Challenging Heights in 2003 to protect children from slavery and trafficking, ensuring that no child endures what he went through himself as a child. A former child slave as of the age of six, James was forced to work in the fishing industry of Volta Lake for seven years before he managed to escape.

He was able to leave and attend university where he earned a bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s degree in Psychology. At Challenging Heights, he now manages a team of over 70 staff. In his quest to promote every child’s right to education and a loving family, James has driven a number of social and commercial initiatives.

He is a successful fundraiser and advocate, engaged with policy makers and stakeholders both nationally and internationally. For his dedication and commitment to the education and protection of children, James has won a number of prestigious awards, including the World’s Children’s Prize 2013, the Grinnell Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize 2011 and The Frederick Douglass Freedom Award.

Isabel Crowley - Vice Chair of the Board

Chief Executive, JUCONI (Mexico)

Isabel has been working in the field of human rights for more than 35 years. She has spearheaded a range of measures to ensure the development and well-being of Mexican children and young people. These include birth registration, laws to protect the rights of children and adolescents, creating of the National System for the Comprehensive Protection of Children and Adolescents (SIPINNA) and ‘10xInfancia’, an initiative that includes ten priority actions to advance the agenda of the rights of children. Isabel joined JUCONI in late 2016.

Yared Degefu

Executive Director, Forum on Sustainable Child Empowerment (Ethiopia)

Yared’s first exposure to children’s issues was in 1995, whilst working with the Jesuit Refugee Service. He went on to work at Mary Joy Development Association in Ethiopia, where he served as a Programme Head. In 2003 he joined the joint office of CAFOD, Trocaire and SCIAF, where he served for nine years, supporting many local partners’ programs that included care for children. Yared was a co-founder and active member of CAFOD’s multi-country HIV team, where he co-authored tools and guidelines. He has a BA in Management and an MBA training in Project Management. Yared joined Forum on Sustainable Child Empowerment (FSCE) in 2014.

Estella Duque Cuesta

Director, Taller de Vida (Colombia)

Estella founded Taller de Vida in 1994, after leading a group of women who faced socio-political violence in different areas of Colombia. Together they wanted to help transform the lives of children, young people, families and communities facing forced displacement, disappearance and armed conflict.

As a psychologist, with Master’s degrees in Systemic Family Therapy and Clinical Nursing, and a Systemic Coaching specialist, Estella has developed innovative methodologies for psycho-social intervention from rights-based and differential approaches. In addition, she has developed peace education processes that contribute to her work as a human rights activist and promoter of peace-building in Colombia.

Lyudmila Sorokina

Director, Partnership for Every Child (Russia)

Lyudmila Sorokina founded Partnership for Every Child Russia in 2009 with other senior members of staff of the EveryChild branch in the Russian Federation. Lyudmila holds a degree in engineering from Leningrad University and started to work with NGOs as a volunteer in the mid-1990s. Lyudmila is a passionate advocate for children’s rights and in particular for their right to live in a family. She has extensive experience of working with parents of children with disabilities and of leading a dedicated team of social work professionals, researchers and activists to create change for children.

As Director of Partnership for Every Child, she has been instrumental in driving forward the creation of new types of family support and family-based care services in Russia, working in partnership with government and NGO partners and supporting the institutional and administrative sustainability of these new services.

Blessing Mutama

National Programme Manager, FOST (Zimbabwe)

Blessing has over 16 years’ experience in NGO project design, planning, implementation, and Monitoring & Evaluation in the areas of, Childhood development, Rural Development, Education Development, Youths and Adolescents Development, Administration and Training Development and Management. These programmes have groomed him into a seasoned development practitioner.

Blessing is the National Programme Manager for Farm Orphan Support Trust of Zimbabwe (FOST). Since 2002 he has advocated for the support of children particularly the orphans and vulnerable children, and has represented the plight of children in farming areas at provincial, national, regional and international forums. He is the current outgoing Board Chairman for a Community Based Organization called Youth Dialogue Zimbabwe. Blessing has also done a lot of consultancy work for REPSSI with expertise in Psychosocial Support. He has been involved in conducting national and regional Psycho Social Support trainings for Early Childhood Development teachers, Primary and Secondary School teachers, Headmasters, Nurses, caregivers, health workers, volunteers, case care workers and REPSSSI partner NGO staff.

Krishna Thapa

Director, Voice of Children (Nepal)

Krishna has been working for the last 25 years to protect children in Nepal who are separated from their families and those who are vulnerable to sexual abuse, especially boys. He founded Voice of Children in 2000 after long consultations with children who were living on the street. He has established two thematic networks in Nepal, a national alliance of organisations working with street children and the National Child Protection Alliance.

Krishna has developed the ‘ladder approach’ methodology, which provides opportunities for separated children to develop gradually and reintegrate with their family. The methodology is now used by the Nepalese government and all organisations working with street-connected children. It has played a vital role in formulating and amending several policies related to child protection.

Dr. Abla El-Badry

Director, Hope Village Society (EGYPT)

Dr. Abla El Badry has been working for more than 26 years as an advocate for street children. Her advocacy has resulted in the change of laws in Egypt in 2008, for orphans, street children and young street mothers.

She was the first in Egypt to introduce a mobile care service centre for street children, and to establish shelters for them at Hope Village Society, providing the psychological, health and social care environment they need, and love. She has created a positive social impact by advocating for the rights of children and young mothers. She has also enabled the development of social and economic enhancement for their families through micro-credit loans.  She is now leading a new initiative to develop a foster family system for street children who are not covered by the government system of foster care.

Ian Hanham

Co-opted Trustee

Ian brings to our Board a strong knowledge on financial leadership and UK charity governance. An accountant, Ian has worked in the not for profit sector since 2007 in a variety of finance and organisational management roles – he is currently the Director of Finance and Information Systems at the Nuffield Foundation. Prior to moving into the not for profit sector he worked in the international oil and gas industry for 16 years. Ian is also the Chair of ECPAT UK, and is a trustee of Kindled Spirit.

Jane Dekker

Co-opted Trustee

Jane joined our Board at the end of 2014 bringing extensive experience in international Human Resources. Jane’s professional career spans over two decades with senior roles within the private sector oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and food industries as well as in local government. The majority of her Human Resources experience has been in international environments supporting senior management teams on strategic HR issues, whilst based in the UK and abroad. Jane works with a number of voluntary organisations in the Scottish Highlands where she now lives with her husband.

Trevor Pearcy

Co-opted Trustee

Trevor was an EveryChild Board member from 2006 to 2016. A retired English solicitor, Trevor has been involved in the voluntary sector for over 25 years and was Chair of the Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV charity, in the early 1990s. For over 25 years Trevor worked for IFPI, the international trade association for the music industry and was its Director of Administration and Planning, 1993-2006. From 2007 to 2010, Trevor held an executive role at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.

Patrick Obonyo

Co-opted Trustee

Patrick is a talented professional with more than 15 years of experience in philanthropy, organizational assessment and development, strategy development and programme management and fundraising.

Early in his career, Patrick established an educational leadership development programme in East Africa. He later moved into Philanthropy with a role at Porticus Amsterdam to advise the board of the foundation on social investments in Education, Health, Civil Society, and Church and Faith. At the IKEA Foundation, Patrick led their Education work and currently manages programmes on Employment and Entrepreneurship. Patrick sits in the steering committee of the International Education Funders’ Group (IEFG).