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

Matt Lent

Chief Executive Officer


matt.lent@futurefirst.org.uk

Sue Crabtree

Press and Publicity Officer


sue.crabtree@futurefirst.org.uk

Joy Upchurch

Regional Lead - London and South


joy.upchurch@futurefirst.org.uk

Emma Fay

Head of Innovation and Development


emma.fay@futurefirst.org.uk

Sophie Rice

Alumni Programme Officer


sophie.rice@futurefirst.org.uk

Beth Goddard

Regional Lead- North & Central


beth.goddard@futurefirst.org.uk

Anna Aitken

Regional Lead - London and South


anna.aitken@futurefirst.org.uk

Amy Cuffley

Project Manager - Alumni & Programmes


amy.cuffley@futurefirst.org.uk

Lucy Wooldridge

Alumni Programme Officer - Devon and Somerset


lucy.wooldridge@futurefirst.org.uk

Alex Fleming

Head of Partnerships & Development


alex.fleming@futurefirst.org.uk

Cath Foster

Head of Marketing & Communications


cath.foster@futurefirst.org.uk

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 LSE


Our Alumni

Alex Shapland-Howes

Director of Operations at Place2Be


Anna Darling

Advocacy and Campaigns Manager at Lumos


Debbie Penglis

Director of Real World Learning and Partnerships at School21


Fiona Simpson

Widening Participation Coordinator at Higher Education Progression Partnership (HEPP)


Petrina De Gouttes

English Teacher and trustee of the Shakespeare Schools Foundation


Daniel Chow

Senior Enterprise Coordinator at the Greater London Authority


Amy Finch

Head of Learning and Impact at Spirit of 2012


Jess Black

Communications Officer at Camden Council


Shanade Johnson

Student Network Manager for Elevation Networks


Matt Lent

Chief Executive Officer


matt.lent@futurefirst.org.uk

Matt joined Future First as Chief Executive Officer in January 2018. Previously Matt was Director of Partnerships and Policy at UK Youth, leading on cross-sector partnerships, income generation, impact management and national policy.

He has worked in the education and voluntary sectors for 25 years, and since 2004 in charity leadership; as Director of Operations at School Councils UK - a national education charity specialising in youth participation and active citizenship in schools, and more recently leading on the delivery of the successful Social Impact Bond funded, education-to-employment initiative, ThinkForward. Matt also founded the social enterprise, Treetop Training and Education, providing a range of consultancy, training, professional development and project management services to the education and youth sectors.

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Melanie Robinson

Chief Operating Officer


melanie.robinson@futurefirst.org.uk

Melanie became part of the Future First team in January 2015 as our Director of Operations, joining from Project Oracle where she supported youth organisations to develop their impact evaluation. She has over ten years’ experience across the social, public and private sectors. Her experience includes five years working with the education charity MyBnk. She joined the organisation at the start-up phase and led its expansion to work with over 400 schools and youth organisations across the UK and initiating similar organisations around the world. Prior to joining MyBnk she trained as an Actuary, and has a degree in Economics from the University of Nottingham.

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Chloe Halpin

Director of Programmes


chloe.halpin@futurefirst.org.uk

Chloe joined Future First in July 2015 as Director of Programmes, leading the programmes team to ensure excellent delivery across our member schools and colleges.

Chloe brings with her significant experience of developing youth engagement programmes in both the not-for-profit and private sectors. Chloe has worked for the Prince’s Trust designing and delivering pre-employment training programmes for NEET young people, in addition to developing in-house apprenticeship and graduate schemes in the construction sector. Chloe recently completed an Executive MBA at Henley Business School and is now studying for an Msc in Charity Accounting and Financial Management at Cass Business School.

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Charlotte Parish

Alumni Programme Officer


charlotte.parish@futurefirst.org.uk

Before joining Future First in 2017 as an Alumni Programme Officer, Charlotte lived in France teaching English and studying at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Lyon. For the past year she has been a Mental Health Advocacy worker for a local charity in Edinburgh, collaborating with a team of volunteers to support and empower vulnerable members of the community. She is committed to improving the lives of disadvantaged young people and volunteers for youth organisations around London. Charlotte also has a first class honours degree in French from the University of Edinburgh.

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Alexandra Kiami

Alumni Programme Officer


alexandra.kiami@futurefirst.org.uk

Alex joined Future First in 2018 as an Alumni Programme Officer for the North and Central team.

Alex studied Combined Arts at Durham University before going on to gain a PGCE at the University of Manchester. Over the years, Alex has worked in schools throughout the Greater Manchester area, initially as a Teaching Assistant with a focus on Special Educational Needs and then later as a Primary School Teacher.

More recently Alex has worked as a Customer Services Team Leader for Dogs Trust Manchester where she specialised in customer relations as well as the implementation and delivery of volunteer and staff training.

Alex is passionate about the benefits of building alumni communities in state schools and colleges and strives to raise aspiration through her role as Alumni Programme Officer.

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Sue Crabtree

Press and Publicity Officer


sue.crabtree@futurefirst.org.uk

Sue joined Future First in spring 2012 as our Press and Publicity Officer.

Sue has significant experience in print and TV. She’s worked in front of the camera and behind the scenes, newsreading, reporting on and presenting half hour documentaries on social, economic and political issues in Britain and abroad for broadcasters including BBC and ITV. Through bringing up three daughters, Sue’s helped with literacy in schools and developed an interest in education, specifically special needs and children in care. She’s written for The Daily Mail, Daily Express, Sunday Telegraph and Observer. She has a BA in Communication Arts and Media from Leeds University.

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Nabila Qureshi

Alumni Programme Officer


nabila.qureshi@futurefirst.org.uk

Before joining Future First as an Alumni Programme Officer in 2017, Nabila volunteered as a tutor and coach for a number of years. She worked with organisations such as Team Up and University Education, supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to motivate and encourage them to realise their full potential. Nabila has a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Oxford. At university Nabila developed access and welfare schemes for minority students, regularly coordinating events to ensure their support and inclusion.

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Joy Upchurch

Regional Lead - London and South


joy.upchurch@futurefirst.org.uk

Joy joined Future First in January 2017 to work with schools and colleges across the South East and lead a team of Alumni Programme officers in this region.

Joy has a background in volunteer recruitment and management. She has previously worked for Raleigh International, recruiting young people for overseas voluntary programmes, as well as Oxfam where she managed a team of volunteers organising events for the national Oxjam Music Festival. She spent most of 2016 working abroad with the YMCA, which developed her interest in working with young people from various backgrounds. Joy has a degree in Geography from the University of Bristol.

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David Knoll

Developer


david.knoll@futurefirst.org.uk

Dave joined the team in April 2014 as a Developer. He works on all aspects of Future First’s tech offering, but prefers ‘back-end’ aspects such as database work.

He has previously worked in IT support and IT recycling/refurbishment, and has volunteered for a charity which sends refurbished computers to schools and community projects in Africa. In his spare time, David designs, builds and programs small computers based on 1980s-era processors.

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Emma Fay

Head of Innovation and Development


emma.fay@futurefirst.org.uk

Emma joined Future First as an Alumni Officer in August 2016 before heading up our Innovation and Development unit in 2017. Prior to working at Future First, she was an English teacher for three years in East London and Essex. She has been a Widening Participation Advocate for King’s College London, improving social mobility for students living in deprived areas and has led numerous youth groups which campaign for human rights. Emma has a PGCE in Secondary English from King’s College London and a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford.

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Andy Jessop

Project Coordinator


andy.jessop@futurefirst.org.uk

Andy joined Future First in 2016 to coordinate projects run in partnership with our employer partners.

Andy previously worked for a school governor recruitment charity where his passion for improving the lives of young people grew.

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Martin Campbell

Alumni Programme Officer


martin.campbell@futurefirst.org.uk

Martin joined Future First as an Alumni Programme Officer for the North & Central team.

Before joining Future First Martin was a Support Worker at two specialist colleges in Manchester, assisting young people with learning difficulties and disabilities, complex health needs, communication disorders and autism. Martin has also worked as a Play and Youth Worker at the Addy Young People's Centre in Manchester, running engaging activities for children. Alongside his role at the youth centre, Martin worked as an 'Explainer' at the Museum of Science and Industry, where he delivered interactive science shows to school groups and the general public. Martin studied History at the University of Manchester, where he completed an internship facilitating the training of peer mentors.

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Harry Pritchard

Alumni Assistant


harry.pritchard@futurefirst.org.uk

Harry joined Future First in 2017 to assist the alumni department. Harry left Sixth Form in 2015 to go travelling. He returned with the determination to help improve the lives of young people after the experiences he encountered.

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Sophie Rice

Alumni Programme Officer


sophie.rice@futurefirst.org.uk

In 2017, Sophie joined Future First as an Alumni Programme Officer to work closely with schools and make a difference to the lives of young people.

Before joining Future First, Sophie completed a BSc Honours in International Studies with The Open University. Studying international development reinforced her belief that education is the best investment in society, and is the best way to prepare people for their futures. She went on to gain a PGCE at the University of Sussex. Sophie has three years experience working in schools in Essex and Brighton, as a teacher and volunteer. She believes that anyone should be able to achieve what they want to, regardless of their background and is committed to having an impact through sharing this message.

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Beth Goddard

Regional Lead- North & Central


beth.goddard@futurefirst.org.uk

Beth joined Future First in January 2017 to work with schools and colleges across the North and Central Regions and lead a team of Alumni Programme Officers in the Manchester office.

After training to teach at the University of Brighton, Beth worked as an an English teacher for 10 years in Sussex, Surrey and Greater Manchester. Beth's teaching experience in the state comprehensive sector developed her interest in how a student's background can impact their future, and she has also volunteered as a mentor for young people with a social justice charity. Her experience as a lead teacher of both GCSE and A level has also led to a sound appreciation of the importance of career education in schools. Beth has a first class degree in English Literature from the University of Sheffield and an MA in English Language from the University of Lancaster.

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Anna Aitken

Regional Lead - London and South


anna.aitken@futurefirst.org.uk

Anna joined Future First in August 2017 to work with schools and colleges across the South East and lead a team of Alumni Programme Officers in this region.

Prior to this, Anna taught Modern Languages in two London secondary schools, having completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme in 2015. Outside of work, she is involved in a number of refugee and migrant support networks in Hackney as a volunteer English teacher. She holds a degree in French and German from the University of Oxford.

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Amy Cuffley

Project Manager - Alumni & Programmes


amy.cuffley@futurefirst.org.uk

Amy joined Future First in 2017 as an Alumni Programme Officer and now manages projects to develop and grow the Future First programme.

Prior to this, Amy worked as a Primary school teacher in the London Borough of Bexley. She gained her PGCE from the UCL Institute of Education as part of the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. Amy is committed to empowering young people to achieve fulfilling futures. She continues to volunteer her time to youth based organisations that support the educational and personal success of young people, both in the UK and abroad. Amy also has a first class honours degree in Geography from the University of Exeter.

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Lucy Wooldridge

Alumni Programme Officer - Devon and Somerset


lucy.wooldridge@futurefirst.org.uk

Lucy joined Future First in 2016 as an Alumni Programme Officer to work with schools across Cornwall Devon and Somerset.

Prior to this, she worked for a charity that supports and advises single parent families. As a Programme Lead, she provided delivery and development of projects to support single parents in building the skills and confidence needed to return to work, training or education.

Lucy draws on her own experiences of growing up in the South West to strive to improve social mobility in the area and is committed to delivering projects that support young people to improve their confidence motivation and skills. Lucy has a degree in Contemporary Performing Arts from the University of Central Lancashire where she first worked on youth community projects.

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Emily Clifton

Alumni Programme Officer


emily.clifton@futurefirst.org.uk

Before joining Future First in 2018, Emily tutored English to pupils from underprivileged backgrounds, in order to prepare them for their GCSEs, and volunteered at Refugee Action Kingston's homework club. She is committed to ensuring pupils from all walks of life have equal educational opportunities. Emily has a master's degree in Romantic and Victorian Literature from Durham University and a degree in English Literature from the University of York.

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Laura Underwood

Digital Officer


laura.underwood@futurefirst.org.uk

Laura joined Future First in August 2015 to work with schools and colleges across the South West and lead a team of Programme and Alumni Officers. In 2017, Laura moved into Future First's tech team to become our Digital Officer.

Prior to that, she worked for an education trade body in various roles, from finance to HR, through to marketing and events, working directly with both private English language schools and further education colleges. She has recently completed a Master’s in Education, Gender and International Development at the Institute of Education, where her interest in education grew and she decided to look for opportunities within the state education system. Laura has a BA in French and Linguistics from the University of Manchester.

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Alex Fleming

Head of Partnerships & Development


alex.fleming@futurefirst.org.uk

Alex joined Future First as Head of Partnerships & Development in June 2018 to grow and develop Future First’s work with schools and beyond. Alex has a background in education, working in schools as Head of Department for Philosophy & Religious Studies in London and Hong Kong. Most recently, he co-managed a social-enterprise which facilitates sustainable development projects for ethnic-minority communities in South East-Asia, partnering with schools and student volunteers from all around the world.

Alex has a PGCE in Religious Studies from Oxford University and is currently completing a Masters Degree in Education at University College London.

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Cath Foster

Head of Marketing & Communications


cath.foster@futurefirst.org.uk

Cath joined Future First as Head of Marketing & Communications in June 2018 to develop Future First’s strategic marketing plans. She joins from education charity Ambition School Leadership where she led national marketing campaigns building a network of exceptional school leaders to transform the lives of children who need it the most.

Cath has a background in marketing and education, having worked on award winning campaigns for the Department of Education, Salford University and Manchester Business School. She also worked developing community relationships and volunteering projects for young people at the University of Manchester. Cath has a CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing and a BA in English Literature from Cardiff University.

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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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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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Robin Tombs

Trustee


Robin studied at Bristol University and worked at PwC to hone his financial accounting and business skills between 1993-97, before working alongside Noel Hayden in IDM. IDM was sold to Gameplay in 1999 and in 2001 Robin co-founded Gamesys alongside Andrew Dixon and Noel Hayden. Outside Gamesys, Robin invests in start-ups and is a trustee of Zing, a charity which supports charities helping young people to realise their potential. Robin is married, with three kids and enjoys playing and watching lots of sports.

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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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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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Sally Nelson

Trustee


Sally is Chief of Staff at Fidelity International (FIL) with responsibility for global human resources, corporate affairs, corporate property services and the FIL Foundations. Prior to this, Sally was FIL's Global Head of Human Resources and responsible for performance evaluation, compensation and benefits, recruitment and senior search, employee relations and succession planning. Sally joined FIL in 1999, first as a Senior HR Executive Director in 2004. Prior to this, Sally worked at PwC in Human Resources. Sally is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.

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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 LSE


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Alex Shapland-Howes

Director of Operations at Place2Be


Alex was Managing Director at Future First from September 2011 for five years. Under Alex’s leadership Future First grew from working with 14 schools to more than 10% of all secondaries nationwide. Alex also led Future First to gain its first place in the government’s best practice guide for careers education.

Based on his achievements at Future First, Alex was awarded the Skoll Scholarship at the University of Oxford, Said Business School, enabling him to undertake an MBA. Following this, Alex joined the children’s mental health charity, Place2Be. There he leads the work with all partner schools (managing over 350 clinicians!), oversees the research and evaluation team and has responsibility for growing the organisation’s income from commissioning.

Prior to his role at Future First, Alex was Head of Maths at The Petchey Academy, Hackney and Head of Year 9 and 10 at London Academy, Edgware. He holds a first class degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Warwick.

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Anna Darling

Advocacy and Campaigns Manager at Lumos


During her time at Future First First Anna was promoted from Alumni Officer to Senior Communications and Policy Officer. In her role she told Future First’s stories to the public, policy makers, schools and young people. Anna led an organisation- wide rebrand to modernise the charity, developing brand guidelines and a new website.

Anna is now Advocacy and Campaigns Manager at Lumos, an international children’s charity founded by J.K. Rowling to end the institutionalisation of children around the world. She leads Lumos’ political and public campaigns. Anna’s role involves working with the UN, civil society and national governments to ensure their policies and funding supports children to grow up in loving families, rather than in orphanages. She recently gave evidence about children living in orphanages and other institutions at the United Nations in Geneva.

Prior to her role at Future First, Anna was Advocacy and Network Development Assistant at the Consortium for Street Children. Anna studied Politics and International Development at the University of Glasgow before doing a Masters in International Child Studies at King’s College London, in which she spent time in South Africa doing research with young girls living on the streets.

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Debbie Penglis

Director of Real World Learning and Partnerships at School21


During her time at Future First Debbie was promoted from Programme Officer to Director of Programmes in which she managed the school/college-facing team to support partners with establishing alumni communities and facilitate events. Debbie ran Future First’s first ever Back to School Week. The i Newspaper reported on events each day and Debbie delivered events across eight cities, working with over 1000 young people in the process.

Debbie is now Director of Real World Learning and Partnerships at School 21, a pioneering 4-18 free school in East London. Debbie manages the many hundreds of relationships that the school has with organisations and individuals and sits on the senior leadership team, playing a key role in shaping the school’s vision and strategy.

Before joining the Future First team, Debbie worked in a secondary school in North London for six years, first as a teaching assistant and then as a psychology teacher.

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Fiona Simpson

Widening Participation Coordinator at Higher Education Progression Partnership (HEPP)


Fiona was a Programme Officer at Future First, delivering quality career focused events. Whilst at Future First, Fiona helped to increase the number of events delivered in Yorkshire and the North of England, helping to grow our geographical reach.

Fiona is now working with young people to provide accurate and impartial information to encourage progression into higher education at the Higher Education Progression Partnership. She also has a keen interest in writing and has had several articles published on websites and in the local newspaper.

Prior to joining Future First, Fiona studied Drama at University and had worked on multiple community youth projects such as the National Citizen Service.

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Petrina De Gouttes

English Teacher and trustee of the Shakespeare Schools Foundation


Whilst at Future First, Petrina led the development and launch of ‘Co-Teaching in the Classroom’, a resource for teachers on how to use alumni in the classroom to link the curriculum to the world of work. ‘Co-Teaching in the Classroom’ has become a core strand of Future First’s work, and Petrina now delivers teacher CPD sessions on the topic on a freelance basis.

Petrina currently teaches English at a school in East London and is a trustee of the Shakespeare Schools Foundation, a cultural education charity. Petrina was inspired to re-train as a teacher following her experience of working in a number of youth-focused roles for notable organisations as well as Future First including The Young Foundation, UpRising and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Petrina holds a degree in English Literature from the University of Reading.

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Daniel Chow

Senior Enterprise Coordinator at the Greater London Authority


Whilst at Future First Daniel was promoted from Programme Officer to Project Manager – Employer Partnerships, in which he managed one of our biggest employer partnerships and facilitated events in schools across the country.

Daniel is now Senior Enterprise Coordinator at the Greater London Authority. He works with schools across East London to build a network of business volunteers that can support schools to develop an effective careers and enterprise strategy and increase employer encounters.

Prior to joining Future First Daniel taught Maths and Statistics at an East London Girls’ school as part of the Teach First Programme. Daniel has a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of York.

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Amy Finch

Head of Learning and Impact at Spirit of 2012


Whilst at Future Fist Amy was promoted from Senior Programme Officer to Head of Innovation and Development. She worked with corporate partners to run, design and deliver employability sessions with young people. Amy successfully established one of Future First’s biggest employer partnerships, helped to design our first teacher training sessions and led on the production of Future First’s Digital Toolkit.

Amy is now Head of Learning and Impact at Spirit of 2012, a charitable trust that funds projects that improve wellbeing and social cohesion by supporting people be more active, creative and connected. Amy supports projects such as the Hull 2017 City of Culture and Women of the World festivals to understand and evaluate their impact.

Before joining Future First, Amy spent three years teaching History and worked as a researcher at the BBC in Operations, Policy & Strategy.

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Jess Black

Communications Officer at Camden Council


Whilst at Future First Jess was promoted from Alumni Assistant to the role of Communications Officer, in which she took a leading role in the development and implementation of our communications strategy.

Jess is now Communications Officer at Camden Council. She delivers campaigns across the council and develops strategic communications plans.

Jess has a first class honours degree in Journalism from City University London.

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Shanade Johnson

Student Network Manager for Elevation Networks


Whilst at Future First, Shanade lead the In-House Project, where she was a part-time member of staff at six schools in the South East. One of her biggest achievements was planning and delivering 17 workshops in one school in just 7 weeks.

Shanade is now the Student Network Manager for Elevation Networks, a youth employment charity. Shanade works with university students across the country, delivering various campaigns and events for employers across the academic year. She is also coordinates the Student Leadership Development Programme for 12 university students passionate about social action.

Prior to joining Future First, Shanade taught English at a school in North London following the completion of her PGCE at UCL Institute of Education. Shanade has a degree in English Literature and Media Studies from De Montfort University.

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