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Chief Executive Officer
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Ben has been CEO of the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) since 2015. He has 30 years’ experience of working internationally, with an emphasis on global health and disability work. He has worked extensively across Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia during this time, harnessing expertise from across the UK health community, in the NHS and in specialist medical charities such as Sue Ryder and Sense, to benefit the development of health and social care in low and middle-income countries. For the last fifteen years he has been in leadership roles, building a strong track-record in advocacy and programme innovation, and working closely with UK Government departments and UN agencies. His knowledge of the INGO sector is further informed by periods chairing BOND Working Groups and taking active roles in health networks such as STOPAIDS, the network he directed from 2010 to 2015. Ben has led an active voluntary life in the UK throughout this time, serving as a Councillor and acting as a Trustee of several charities. He became a Fellow of the RSA in 2019 and is a member of the BBC Charity Appeals Advisory Committee. Ben has an MSc in Development Management from the Open University and an MA in History from Edinburgh University.
At THET, Ben leads an organisation that is pioneering a health partnership approach to the training of health workers across 30 countries in Africa and Asia. Health partnerships harness the skills of staff from the UK National Health Service in ways which bring mutual benefit to all involved, a vision of co-development that speaks to the new era of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Deputy Chief Executive Officer
Louise is an experienced manager of international development programmes and organisations with specific thematic expertise in health and social development and on policy influence. Louise has geographic experience across Africa, Asia and Latin America and spent 12 years living and working in Brazil.
During her professional career working for a range of international health and development organisations, including NGOs and research institutes, Louise has developed a strong track-record in partnerships, programme design and management, capacity development and the generation and use of evidence to inform policy making and practice.
Originally trained as a nurse, Louise has a BSc in Philosophy and Sociology and an MSc in Environmental and Development Education. At THET, in her role as Head of Programmes, Louise leads the Country Programmes and Grants Management teams.
Chief Operating Officer
A CIMA-qualified Chartered Management Accountant, Saf has over 20 years of experience working within the non-profit and INGO sector.
With considerable experience leading teams in cross-divisional projects, Saf has supported senior management and Board members during her career, providing strategic leadership and operational support during the implementation of finance systems and change management phases at International Organisations.
At BBC Media Action, in her role as Head of Project Finance, Saf led a team of Project Accountants during a significant finance transformation project, delivering financial management training and guidance to Country Directors, Finance Managers and project staff based in country offices across Africa, Asia, and MENA regions.
Saf continues to engage in volunteering and was appointed by Medical Aid for Palestinians in March 2023 as an Independent Member of the Audit, Risk and Governance Committee. She has previously held positions as a Trustee at The Charity Finance Group and completed a six-year tenure as an Independent Member of the Audit and Risk Committee with UNICEF UK, where her role included providing guidance and recommendations for the Board on a range of policies, including oversight on financial reporting, risk, HR, governance, and internal controls. Saf has a BSc (Hons.) in Mathematics with Business Studies from Queen Mary University of London and a PGCE in Mathematics from Kings College London.
Director of Programmes
Richard joined THET in November 2014 as Grants Officer. He has a Masters degree in International Development from the University of Edinburgh. Prior to working with THET, he spent two years in Nairobi initiating a refugee education programme, and he previously worked in fundraising and communications for London-based NGOs.
Acting Head of External Engagement
Zoë Gray is a strategic advocacy, policy, and communications professional with 20-plus years’ of experience and expertise spanning health, human rights, and international development. She specialises in advancing equitable and inclusive health and development and raising the voices of marginalised populations.
In NGOs and as a consultant, she has set direction and developed strategies for advocacy and communications. Accustomed to using many channels and fora for advocacy, she has led staff, allies, and partner NGOs to secure advocacy and policy changes in UK and overseas across health, disability, poverty reduction and minority rights.
She has extensive experience of high-level representation, including chairing and presenting alongside high-level officials and politicians. She has delivered advocacy and policy events at World Health Assembly, UN General Assembly, and many in Africa and Asia. Zoë brings extensive field experience and, thus, sensitivity to local realities. She has held strategic roles on health, disability, minority rights, and gender inclusion. Zoë is a trained journalist and has an MSc in Development Studies.
Head of Research, Evidence and Learning
Edward joined THET in February 2012. He has a BA (Hons) in Political Studies and a Masters in Development Studies from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He has worked in various development organisations including Oxfam and Volunteer Service Abroad and has travelled and volunteered in India and Africa, including Zambia.
He has also worked in a political environment, for a Member of Parliament in Wellington.
Jessica joined THET in January 2020 as a Grants Officer, becoming Programmes Coordinator in July 2021. She has a Research Masters (MSc) in Global Health from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and a Bachelor’s degree in International Social Policy from the University of Leeds, completing an international year at the Australia National University, Canberra.
Her previous work includes field research in Lao PDR with the Lao Tropical and Public Health Institute, developing the National Public Health Research Agenda, and with the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Chatham House, looking at the role of Civil Society Organisations in the control of Antimicrobial Resistance. Prior to this, Jessica worked for the international organisation Teach For All as a Global Development Analyst, and worked with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) in Cebu City, the Philippines.
Kat joined THET in June 2020 as the Country Programmes Coordinator for Somalia/Somaliland, Ethiopia and Myanmar. She graduated from the University of Sussex in 2014 with a Master’s degree in Conflict, Security and Development.
Following this, Kat spent time working for NGOs in humanitarian settings such as the West Bank and Gaza, South Sudan, and the Bangladesh – Rohingya response in the field of protection and human rights.
Research, Evidence and Learning Manager
Zoe is an experienced research scientist with expertise in using empirical evidence to support and develop programme designs and interventions for international development. Prior to joining THET, Zoe was Head of Global Research at The Donkey Sanctuary, where she led a team delivering research to demonstrate that healthier working animals are better able to support human health, livelihoods, and rural economies in marginalised communities in LMICs.
Born and raised in the Middle East, Zoe spent ten years living and working in Africa and is passionate about a One Health approach to global public health. She has a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Bristol and is a strong advocate for the use of data to understand development outcomes and drive future change.
Jonathon is an experienced communications professional with over three years’ service working at the House of Commons for two MPs, both of which were strong advocates for global health initiatives and supporting international development. During this time, as part of his roles in Dr Dan Poulter MP’s office, Jonathon was introduced to the valuable and important work of THET through APPG Global Health.
Before joining THET, Jonathon refined his public relations and corporate communications skills as part of the account management team at a sustainability-focused PR agency based at MediaCity in Manchester.
Jonathon has a BA (Hons) degree in Business Management with Law from the University of Liverpool and a MSc in Global Governance and Ethics from University College London (UCL).
DIASPORA ENGAGEMENT ADVISOR
Kokila Swamynathan MSc ACP joins THET on secondment from the Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board , Wales. Kokila completed her bachelor’s degree in Nursing in India and started her career in the UK in 2001. During this time, Kokila has worked in various NHS trusts in England and Wales and the independent sector. She has long championed the importance of Inclusion and Diversity, is the executive lead for the British Indian Nurses association Wales Region and is a member of the Wales Chief Nursing Officer’s Ethnic Minority strategic group. Kokila was awarded a Highly Commended Extraordinary Contribution to Covid -19 Response by the Ethnic Minority Welsh Women Achievement Association 2021 and was a finalist at the National BAME healthcare awards in 2022.
She has also received a Lifetime achievement award from the Chennai Kongu Nanbargal Sangam, Tamil Nādu. Kokila is passionate about eliminating health inequalities and promoting inclusive healthcare settings by celebrating the contribution being made by diaspora staff. Her secondment is sponsored by Sue Tranka, the Chief Nursing Officer of Wales and is funded by the Welsh Government.
Beatrice joined THET in February 2018. She graduated from the University of Manchester in 2014 with a Master’s degree in International Development, before spending time working for the NHS and as a teacher in Central Kalimantan, Borneo.
Prior to joining THET, Bea worked for international development charities working on monitoring and evaluation, and innovation.
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