Senior staff

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Alison Naftalin

Chief Executive Officer & Founder

Alison founded Lively Minds in 2008 following a trip to Ghana where she saw the complex challenges facing rural communities and huge opportunities for change.

 

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 voluntary basis alongside her job as a Government Lawyer. In recognition of her efforts in 2010, she was shortlisted for the Vodafone World of Difference Award. In 2011, she won the Civil Service Award for Volunteering and in 2012, was short-listed for a Ghana UK-Based Achievement Award.

 

In 2013, she 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.

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Sheena Lahren

Chief Operating Officer

Sheena is the Chief Operating Officer for Lively Minds.

 

She was previously the Ghana Country Director, where she led the team in taking the Lively Minds programme through their 3-year “test and transition for scale” phase from 2017 to 2019. She has a master’s in Public Administration from Washington University with a specialisation in international development.

 

Her wide career background touches on corporate training and curriculum development, primary school education, youth sexual health interventions and in monitoring and evaluation.

 

Sheena is passionate about the work we do at Lively Minds. She sees the rapid population growth in Africa as an urgent opportunity to build a generation of lively minded individuals who will ask the right questions and solve the myriad of complex challenges that the continent and the world will face in the future.

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Chris Lewis

Head of Monitoring & Evaluation

Chris joined Lively Minds in 2015 as Head of Monitoring & Evaluation.

 

He has 6 years' experience working in information management and analysis, including for two NHS Foundation Trusts in the United Kingdom and for a multinational minerals company.

 

Chris has also worked as a tutor and a teacher.

 

He holds a master's in mathematical modelling from University College London and an undergraduate mathematics degree from the University of Cambridge.

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Geoff King

Content Director

Geoff joined Lively Minds in January 2019, bringing 10 years of research, communication and behavioural insight experience.

 

He has previously worked as Research Team Leader at research and communication consultancy ComRes, Head of Marketing and Communication at FusePump (part of Wunderman Thompson Commerce), and as a Senior Consultant at Brook Lyndhurst.

 

Geoff developed his expertise in behaviour change and behavioural insights during his 7 years at Brook Lyndhurst. He worked on similar topics as a visiting researcher at the Centre for Sustainability at the University of Otago (New Zealand), and went on to set up a Behavioural Insight Unit at ComRes.

 

Geoff’s experience in international development prior includes leading a youth entrepreneurship project in rural Tanzania with Raleigh International. Following the project he developed a new entrepreneurship curriculum and research materials for Raleigh. He has also volunteered in Ecuador and Brazil.

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Nii Doodo Dodoo 

Ghana Country Director

Nii manages the Ghana team across the offices in Tamale and Bolgatanga.

 

Nii joined Lively Minds in 2021, bringing two decades of leadership experience from across West Africa. Most recently, he was a manager at Solidaridad West Africa where he led the training strategy and systems for the region in addition to management responsibilities.

Nii has managed diverse country projects and teams for international organisations such as VSO, Restless Development, and Youth Challenge International. As well as consultancy experience with KPMG, he brings extensive experience of working in the education sector and working with rural and marginalised communities.

Nii holds an MBA from GIMPA Business School (Ghana) and an MSc in Development Management from the Open University (UK).

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John Kamwaka Twesigye

Uganda Country Director

John joined the Lively Minds team in Uganda in April 2021.

 

John was previously a Technical Programme Manager for Education at World Vision Uganda: leading, managing and maintaining delivery of the Field Office’s strategy and overall education programming portfolio.

John’s previous experience has seen him engage with numerous national level stakeholders in Uganda. He brings rich experience of managing international relief and development programmes, and strengthening education systems, as well as extensive knowledge of working with rural communities.

John is excited that Lively Minds’ Early Childhood Development goals align with his beliefs. John is focused on leading the Uganda country team towards the organisation’s vision to ensure the programme’s scalability.

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James Awini

Ghana Deputy Country Director

James is the former Regional Manager for the Upper East and now manages the Ghana team along with Nii.

 

Prior to joining Lively Minds in 2014, James worked for 12 years as a teacher in Ghana’s primary and secondary schools. He also worked with Grassroots Africa as a Capacity Building Officer, providing training and creating platforms for communities to engage with their local governments.

He was instrumental in our growth in the Upper East region, working with Ghana Education Service to expand the programme from 7 communities in 2 districts to 114 communities in 3 districts.

 

James manages multi-sector stakeholder relations, whilst mentoring his team and education officials to grow and meet their targets. He brings his analytical skills to the organisation to ensure that programme data is used to identify, celebrate or solve challenges and successes.

He holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Cape Coast and a master's in Political Science from Osnabruck University, Germany.

Clair Taylor

Clair Taylor

Finance Manager

Clair joined Lively Minds in June 2020 as the international Finance Manager.

 

After studying Economics and Business Management at Newcastle University, Clair went on to train as a Chartered Accountant at Deloitte, qualifying in 2008.

 

Since qualifying, she has worked at Kaplan, a professional education provider for several years before moving to a business outsourcing company where she undertook several commercial roles before becoming Head of Finance.

 

Clair has gained significant finance knowledge and experience in the private sector at a senior level, with a particular focus on financial reporting and commercial accounting. She is now pursuing a long-standing ambition of using her finance skills towards a worthy cause in the NGO sector.

 

Clair is based in Sheffield where she lives with her husband and two young children. Outside of work she can be found running and cycling in the Peak District and spending time with friends and family.

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Emma Crompton

HR & Learning & Development Manager

Emma joined Lively Minds in October 2020 as HR and L&D Manager.

 

Emma has worked in the NGO sector for over 13 years in a variety of HR roles. She has worked at International NGOs Christian Aid and CAFOD supporting programmes across the world. More recently, Emma has consulted with a number of NGOs across East Africa on HR change management projects.

 

Emma is a certified Executive Coach and a certified Mediator and is passionate about supporting individuals to unleash their potential. She was elected to the Board of ICF Kenya as the Organising Secretary for the year 2021.

 

Emma holds an MBA from Strathmore University in Kenya and a Masters in Personnel and Development from the University of Westminster in the UK. She also holds a BA in American Studies and English from the University of Sussex in the UK.  Emma has also studied abroad at IESE in Barcelona, Spain and Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA.

 

Emma lives in Nairobi, Kenya, with her husband and three young children. When Emma is not at work she loves learning, is an active volunteer (including for Stanford Seed and pro-bono coaching), reading and walks with her family.