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our staff

All our field work is carried out by our specialist local staff teams in Ghana and Uganda. Their work is facilitated and supported by our small team in the UK. Meet our senior management team…

Alison Naftalin

Alison Naftalin – Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Alison founded Lively Minds in 2008 following a trip to Ghana where she saw the complex challenges facing rural communities, but also saw the huge opportunities for change and development. She took a year’s break from her work as a Government Lawyer to return to Ghana, and then Uganda, to make these ideas a reality, drawing on her past experience working with young people.

Between 2008-2012 Alison ran Lively Minds on a purely voluntary basis alongside her job as a Government Lawyer. In recognition of her efforts in 2010 she was a finalist in the Vodafone World of Difference Award, in 2011 she won the prestigious Civil Service Award for Volunteering, in 2012 was short-listed for a Ghana UK-Based Achievement Award and in 2013 was a finalist in the Clarins Dynamisante Woman of the Year Award. In September 2012 The Waterloo Foundation generously gave us a grant to cover Alison’s salary and allow her to work for the charity full time. Alison now divides her time between Ghana, Uganda and the UK.

Alison worked as a lawyer in Central Government for 7 years, working in the Treasury Solicitor’s Department, Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Defence. Before that spent 2 years training at Clifford Chance LLP. Prior to that she studied Modern History at St John’s College, Oxford University.
Find out more about how Alison set up Lively Minds


David Abukari - Country Manager, Ghana

David Abukari – Country Manager, Ghana

David runs our operations in Ghana. He previously worked as a teacher and also in community-development projects for CALID. David was introduced to Lively Minds through Action Aid in 2008 and helped set up one of our first Play Centres in Wayamba village.

“I saw the potential Lively Minds could have and wanted to encourage expansion into more remote communities.”


Joshua Buluke – Programmes Manager, Uganda

Joshua Buluke – Country Manager, Uganda

Alison first worked with Joshua in 2008 to set up a Play Centre in his own village, Buwagi. Alison was extremely impressed by Joshua’s excellent teaching skills and quick grasp of the learning through play concept. When Alison left Uganda Joshua was keen to stay involved in the work of Lively Minds.

After leaving school, Joshua studied at a teacher training college and from there taught in Kampala. He was the Director of HOGU, a Community Based Organisation in the village of Buwagi, Jinja. HOGU educates the community about HIV/AIDS through music, drama, and dance. Joshua also founded Twin Primary School in his village.


Sarah Kanyonga – Country Manager, Uganda

Sarah Kanyonga – Development Manager, Uganda

Sarah was the founder of Samika Counselling Centre, one of Lively Minds partners. She started Samika to provide support and counselling to the many vulnerable single women and widows who were struggling alone.

When Alison first came to Uganda she partnered with Sarah to set up a Play Centre in her village using the women from Samika as the volunteers. Alison was hugely impressed with Sarah’s drive, creativity and enormous dedication.

“I saw the impact the Play Centre had on my community, and so was keen to become involved and help continue Lively Mind’s work”.

Previously Sarah worked as a primary school teacher and then deputy headmistress at St Gonzaga Primary School for five years. She also worked as the Child Development Officer for Jinja Child Development Centre for 15 years.


Owen Atindaana – Head of Bolga office, Ghana

Owen was a previous teacher of agric studies. He started working for Lively Minds in February 2013 and took on responsibility for the Bolga office in May.


Alhassan Hussein – Project Officer, Ghana

Alhassan Hussein – International Volunteer Coordinator, Tamale, Ghana

Alhassan befriended Alison on her first day in Tamale. At the time he was working for Maltiti Girls Development Centre, an NGO providing extra classes for girls. He’s also worked for Cosmic Volunteers, placing international volunteers in local NGOs.

Alhassan helped Alison set-up a Play Centre in Vittin village. He continued to mentor the volunteers in Vittin and eventually started working in the kindergarten at the primary school.


Julia visiting one of our Play Centres in Ghana

Julia Scodie – Fundraising & Marketing Manager, UK, London

Julia has been working for Lively Minds part time since 2011. She has over 10 years experience in the charity sector working for a number of well-known charities project managing various fundraising and awareness campaigns. Julia met Alison through a mutual friend and watched with admiration as Alison set up and grew Lively Minds to where it is today. When she found out Lively Minds were looking for a fundraiser she jumped at the chance to get involved and help make a difference. Julia is also a qualified fitness and Pilates instructor, so as well as helping you with your fundraising, she can provide you with advice and support if you’re taking part in one of our challenge events!