Our People

We are a dedicated team who are passionate about what we do. Find out more about us, where we’ve come from and what we do at Future First.

Our Team

Our Advisory Council

Chloe Smith

Conservative MP for Norwich North


Fiona Millar

Education Campaigner and Journalist


David Laws

Former Schools' Minister


Baroness Estelle Morris

Former Secretary of State for Education


Dr Sarabajaya Kumar

Teaching Fellow at UCL


Abby Ross

Alumni Programme Manager


abigail.ross@futurefirst.org.uk

Abby joined Future First in 2021 following four years working in secondary schools in Italy and London. She studied Religion, Philosophy and Ethics at King's College London and then went on to gain an MSc in the Psychology of Mental Health at the University of Edinburgh. Currently completing a part-time training to become a child and adolescent psychotherapist, Abby is passionate about improving outcomes, attainment, and wellbeing for young people of all backgrounds

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Akeem-Chavez Williams

Alumni Programme Manager


akeem.williams@futurefirst.org.uk

Akeem joined Future First after 4 years of working in Higher Education at Russell Group Universities.

They graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2014 in Film & Television, during their degree they focused on LGBT issues in the media and progressed on to an MA in Screen Industries researching Transgender teenagers on television.

Through their career in Higher Education, Akeem spent time visiting UCAS and recruitment fairs for teenagers and young adults considering their options post-GCSE and post-A level, it was this aspect of their roles that sparked their passion for helping young people achieve their potential, especially those from lower income backgrounds and minority groups who they have encouraged and supported to achieve great things.

Akeem's passion for working with young people comes from understanding the struggles of being in a marginalised demographic whilst working towards goals that are more easily obtainable by children raised in more privileged backgrounds. In their role, Akeem hopes to inspire young people to do great things and to never let their background or circumstance hold them back.

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Alaya Seoudy

Alumni Programme Manager


alaya.seoudy@futurefirst.org.uk

Alaya studied History at King’s College London, graduating in the summer of 2020.

During her time at university, Alaya volunteered for several projects and charities that focused on justice within education, especially amongst people from a migrant and refugee background.

From her personal experiences, relying on social-mobility organisations and also from her voluntary experiences. Alaya felt naturally inclined to work for justice in education and social mobility.

Alaya hopes to build young people’s resilience and confidence. People from a so-called low socio-economic background may have to work twice as hard as the rest. But, to be aware that there are lots of organisations open to supporting them. Alaya hopes to inspire young people to recognise the different pathways that are open to them and to go out and achieve everything they set their minds to.

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Alex Kiami

Alumni Programme Co-Ordinator


alexandra.kiami@futurefirst.org.uk

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Charlotte McGill

Alumni Programme Manager


charlotte.mcgill@futurefirst.org.uk

Charlotte joined Future First in 2022 following several years working as an ESL teacher abroad. After studying Historical Archaeology at the University of York, Charlotte worked for a large nature conservation charity in their retail and licensing team. Working across the public, private and third sectors has given Charlotte exposure to many walks of life. It was during her international teaching and voluntary work that Charlotte saw first-hand how inequalities can affect children's prospects - and the power of education to change that.

A strong believer in equality, Charlotte is always looking for ways to level the playing field. Hoping to open opportunities for young people, but maybe more importantly, motivate and inspire them to believe in themselves and take every opportunity.

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Dan Cere

Alumni Programme Manager


dan.cere@futurefirst.org.uk

Dan joined Future First in 2022. Dan read English & Related Literature at the University of York, and following graduation worked for the play, youth and education charity Manchester Young Lives. He completed a PGCE with the University of Manchester, and has taught English Language & Literature in South Manchester for 6 years. He also held management responsibilities within school, working as Head of Year 11 for three years.

Dan has a passion for supporting pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, and has co-ordinated mentoring and intervention programmes to engage, motivate and improve the outcomes of boys and pupil premium students. A keen writer, he has also written a 50 years history of his former employers MYL, which is due to be published in the coming months. A keen advocate for social justice, equality and inclusion, Dan relishes the chance to work with Future First, and is excited to connect more children with the opportunities and experiences often reserved for the most privileged.

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Duncan Grant

Partnerships and Development Director


--Bio coming soon--

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Emily Barnes

Regional Programme Manager


emily.barnes@futurefirst.org.uk

Emily joined Future First in 2021. Her career started in the arts and heritage sector, as part of the learning teams within a range of cultural organisations, including English Heritage. Prior to joining Future First she was Programme Manager at an educational charity exploring careers in construction. Originally from the North East of England, Emily is passionate about levelling the playing field for students across the country, ensuring that every young person feels inspired to reach their potential.

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Emma Partridge

Project Manager


emma.partridge@futurefirst.org.uk

Emma joined Future First in 2022. She studied Politics and International Relations at the University of Bath, which sparked her interest in social mobility and inequality. She has volunteered for charities in events and project management for a number of years, and before joining Future First managed projects at a reading charity.

Originally from County Durham, Emma is incredibly passionate about ensuring no young person feels held back due to where they come from. Having personally seen the difference positive role models have made in her life she is passionate about supporting Future First in ensuring young people have access to these, and feel inspired and confident to achieve whatever they aspire to.

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Farhanah Begum

Operations Manager


farhanah.begum@futurefirst.org.uk

Farhanah was born and raised in Tower Hamlets, East London. She joined Future First in 2021 as our Operations Manager.

She has spent a number of years working for charities and enterprises that focus on supporting young talent with a focus on improving social mobility. Farhanah has a strong background in careers education within secondary schools and post 16 education. Her experience in CSR has allowed her to successfully manage volunteering opportunities and programmes for corporates including Barclays, KPMG, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan. Previously, she worked for community organising charity, CitizensUK, where she led the operations of a living wage jobs campaign encouraging companies to provide meaningful opportunities to young people in STEM industries.

Through her own lived experience, Farhanah has always had a passion for developing young people. Her journey demonstrates the reason why positive interventions and role models are key to a young person's success, confidence and self belief.

In her spare time, Farhanah likes to mentor young people, participate in creative projects and be a part of diverse networks.

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JoAnne Jones

Operations Manager


joanne.jones@futurefirst.org.uk

JoAnne joined Future First in September 2021 having worked in the NHS for 19 years, working within and across complex partnerships in both strategic and operational roles. JoAnne brings with her transferable skills to the Operations Manager role at Future First.

Most importantly however she is a parent to two teenagers, and is Chair of Governors at her local school and so knows how important it is for all young people to access relatable role models, and to have the opportunity to flourish, particularly those children who are furthest away from opportunity.

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Jonika Kinchin

Social Media Manager


jonika.kinchin@futurefirst.org.uk

Jonika joined Future First in 2021. Starting her career as a journalist across consumer and B2B publications, she has almost a decade of experience working across social media, creative content and wider digital marketing for brands and organisations.

Prior to joining Future First, she focussed on content marketing, PR, media and much more for a social care charity and a further education organisation.

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Katy Kilpatrick

Alumni Programme Manager


katy.kilpatrick@futurefirst.org.uk

After finishing her degree in Criminology and Sociology from the University of Liverpool, Katy went on to complete a PGCE in Primary Education and was a teacher in both Manchester and London for four years. During this time Katy became interested in Special Needs within education and completed a Masters in Special Educational Needs and Inclusive Education in Manchester, writing a dissertation on the inclusivity of children with Austistic Spectrum Disorders. This further ignited Katy's passion for inclusion and equality which makes her excited to work at Future First with children and young people from different backgrounds. Katy's career in education has shown her how important it is for young people to have guidance and good role models to help them become a well-rounded person who will continue to thrive.

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Laura Grigg

Operations Coordinator


laura.grigg@futurefirst.org.uk

Laura joined Future First in December 2020. She has completed a BA in Sociology, where she developed her interests in social structures and social mobility. Laura has a background in the charity and public health sectors, having worked for a leading charity for older people and for the NHS for a number of years.

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Laura Underwood

Business Services Director


laura.underwood@futurefirst.org.uk

Laura joined Future First in August 2015 to work with schools and colleges across London and the South West and lead a team of Alumni Programme Officers. In 2017, Laura moved into Future First's operations team as Head of Digital, working with the tech team on the development of the alumni portal to ensure it meets user needs. In 2019, Laura became Business Services Director.

Prior to joining Future First, she worked for an education trade body in various roles, from finance and HR through to marketing and events. She has a Master’s in Education, Gender and International Development from the Institute of Education and a BA in French and Linguistics from the University of Manchester.

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Leon Ward

Programme Innovations Director


leon.ward@futurefirst.org.uk

Leon was born and raised in Grimsby. He joined Future First in 2021 as our first Programme Innovations Director. He joined us from Speakers for Schools where he was Head of Wales. Prior to that he was Programme Manager, Wales and the West of England for First Give; growing the charity outside of London into Wales and then latterly into the West of England.

Leon is also Deputy Chair of Brook Young People; the UK's largest young people's sexual health and relationships charity. He also wrote the inaugural Young Trustees Guide in partnership with the Charities Aid Foundation.

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Lorraine Langham

CEO


lorraine.langham@futurefirst.org.uk

Lorraine joins Future First having worked with us as an interim.

Her career spans the private and public sectors, including local and central government, where she held Board level positions in 4 London Boroughs and spent 7 years working at Ofsted, including as the Chief Operating Officer and right hand person to Her Majesty's Chief Inspector. In the private sector she established a successful Joint Venture Company providing communications and management consultancy support to a wide range of clients, including charities. 

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Milly Moss

Communications Support


milly.moss@futurefirst.org.uk

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Naomi Barker

Programme Director


naomi.barker@futurefirst.org.uk

Naomi studied Religion, Philosophy and Ethics at King’s College London before gaining a PGCE at the University of Exeter and teaching on the Isle of Wight. As a member of the Teach First Leadership Development Programme she particularly focused on supporting students from lower socio-economic backgrounds and is passionate about improving the life outcomes of young people. Most recently she has completed an MA in Sociology at the University of Warwick, including a dissertation on the impact of the Fundamental British Values policy in schools.

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Paul Marinko

Press Officer


paul.marinko@futurefirst.org.uk

--Bio coming soon--

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Ric Pestano

Product Manager


ric.pestano@futurefirst.org.uk

Ric joined Future First in 2022, he has 20 years experience as an agile project manager and Professional Scrum Master, primarily working for a digital agency specialising in solutions for the media rights industry across the globe. He was also a founder of the CheckYourFood Group, an organisation with the aim to make the world's nutrition information easily accessible to the public, as well as providing nutrition tools for healthcare training, nutrition professionals, and food production industries.

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Zarida Zaman

Regional Programme Manager (South)


zarida.zaman@futurefirst.org.uk

Zarida started her career in fashion design and moved into education after discovering teaching was more satisfying. After becoming a published author and teaching at London College of Fashion and Central St Martins, she moved into course management and spent several years delivering creative courses for international students. In 2020 she completed an MDes in Social Innovation and joined Future First as Regional Programme Manager in 2022.

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Christine Gilbert

Chair


christine.gilbert@futurefirst.org.uk

As Chair, Christine leads the Future First board and supports the senior leadership team to ensure Future First has maximum impact on schools and colleges across the country. Christine is probably best known for her role as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector at Ofsted. However, she has also been a teacher, headteacher, director of education and local authority chief executive. Christine received a CBE in 2006 for services to education and local government.

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Amy Finch

Trustee


Amy Finch is Head of Learning and Impact at Spirit of 2012, a Big Lottery devolved trust that funds projects across the UK. She is particularly interested well-being, connectedness and social capital. Amy was a staff member at Future First between 2013-2016. She applied to be a Trustee in 2018 because she believes the organisation offers a rare opportunity to level the playing field by delivering system-wide change. Amy is a former History teacher and has previously served as a Vice-chair of governors and Girl Guide leader.

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Deji Davies

Trustee


Deji is the Executive Director at J.P. Morgan, working on the European Loan Trading desk. A supporter of Future First since he joined the alumni network at in his old school in 2008, Deji joined the board in 2010. Deji is the founder of a mentoring programme between J.P. Morgan and South Camden Community School, encouraging City workers to engage with and support young people at the school. He has a degree from Oxford University in Economics and Management.

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Heather Lauder

Trustee


Heather is a Financial services Executive who has spent over 30 years in Financial services, such as NatWest, RBS, was part of the exec team who set up Tesco bank and part of the turnaround and sale team at Northern Rock, Virgin money and latterly was the Chief Operations Director then the Chief Customer Officer at the Co-Operative Bank. She has also been a trustee on the Board of the National Museums and Galleries for 5 years where she Chairs remuneration committee. She is also the Chairwoman at Dow Schofield Watts and a Non executive director with Zurich Assurance Ltd.

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Lindsey McMurray

Trustee


Lindsey founded Pollen Street Capital in 2013 after leading the spin out from RBS. She has been a private equity investor for more than 15 years with a particular focus on the financial services sector. Since 2005 she has led the team managing the RBS Special Opportunities Fund. Prior to RBS, Lindsey spent six years at Cabot Square Capital, Ltd., a London-based private equity firm where she was a Partner, focusing on operating investments in real estate and other asset backed investments, together with investments in the financial services sector. Lindsey has a First Class Honours degree in Accounting and Finance and studied for an MPhil in Finance from Strathclyde University.

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Michael Ter-berg

Trustee


Michael’s background is managing and investing in global education services (careers information, international schools and colleges) and risk based information software businesses. He is actively involved in the commercialisation of University technologies. He chairs the Commercial Board at the University of Liverpool and manages two spin out companies at City University London. Prior to this he was CEO of an investment group investing in education and CEO of one of the UK’s most successful University spin outs (UCL). Michael has an MSc and Sloan Fellowship from London Business School.

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Sally Nelson

Trustee


Sally is Chief People Office at Fidelity International (FIL) with responsibility for global human resources and corporate affairs. She has been with the firm for 19 years. Prior to this, Sally worked at PwC in Human Resources for 12 years. Sally is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development and is also a qualified secondary school teacher of English language and literature.

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Chloe Smith

Conservative MP for Norwich North


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Fiona Millar

Education Campaigner and Journalist


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David Laws

Former Schools' Minister


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Baroness Estelle Morris

Former Secretary of State for Education


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Dr Sarabajaya Kumar

Teaching Fellow at UCL


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