Senior staff


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.

James Awini.jpg

James Awini

Ghana Country Director

James was appointed as Ghana Country Director in 2021. This marks a rise up through the organisation, having been appointed as Regional Manager for the Upper East in 2014, and risen up to Deputy Country Director in 2020. 

He has been involved in all aspects of Lively Minds work in Ghana. This includes being instrumental to our growth in the Upper East region; fundamental to the set-up and expansion of the Lively Minds Together radio show; and a key figure in the establishment of the Ghana Government's Lively Minds Programme Working Group.

Prior to joining Lively Minds, 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 holds a Bachelor of Education in Social Sciences from the University of Cape Coast and a Master's in Political Science from Osnabruck University, Germany.

Ug CD John profile for website.png

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 holds a Bachelors degree in Social Sciences (Majoring in Economics) from Makerere University and a Masters’ in Education Planning and Curriculum Studies from Ndejje University. 

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.


Max Townsend

Chief Operating Officer

Max joined Lively Minds in January 2022, after building a successful career in the UK tech industry.

Max's wealth of experience includes joining a London-based tech start-up as a Manager, progressing through the ranks to be the company's first Head of Retail, and spearheading a programme of nationwide expansion. After more than four years at that company, he joined another tech firm in London as Chief Operating Officer. He has spent the past three years there building and nurturing a strong team, and gaining a wealth of experience.

Max went to school in the UK and Hong Kong and studied at the University of Westminster.

In joining Lively Minds, Max is fulfilling an ambition to use his private-sector experience in the non-profit world. He is excited to bring the skills he has developed in the tech scene - including as a COO - to the unique challenges at Lively Minds.

Emma Profile .png

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), and enjoys reading and walks with her family.


Katie Godfrey

Head of Monitoring and Evaluation

Katie joined Lively Minds in October 2021 as the Head of Monitoring and Evaluation.

Katie has ten years of professional and voluntary experience in international education in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. She joined Lively Minds from CAMFED International, and her voluntary experience includes previous membership of the Executive Committee of the UK Forum for International Education and Training.

Katie’s professional experience includes the management of evaluations, survey design and data analysis. She has led monitoring, evaluation and learning activities for programmes at all levels of education, from pre-primary to tertiary. Katie is particularly interested in the intersections of gender, socio-economic status and disability on educational access and outcomes, and has a passion for helping people to understand data and use it effectively to improve programme quality and outcomes.

Katie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Studies, and a Master of Research (MRes) in International Development. She is based near London, is a keen runner and walker, and enjoys spending time exploring the more remote corners of the UK.

Wumi photo.jpg

Ayowunmi Nuga

Head of Curriculum

Wumi joined Lively Minds in March 2022 as the Head of Curriculum.


Wumi has spent numerous years working and volunteering for NGOs and has an expertise in international development, gender equality and non-formal education. She previously worked for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girls Scouts where she supported national Guide and Scout organisations to update their youth curriculum and remodel their approach to adult training. Wumi has also worked alongside FAO, UNEP and UNAIS to develop curriculums and lead programme teams for education and climate change initiatives benefiting girls and young women in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Wumi holds a BA (hons) in Development and Peace Studies from the University of Bradford and started an MSc in Education, Power and Social Change from Birkbeck, University of London, in 2020.  


Wumi is an active volunteer and runs a Brownie group in her spare time. She has volunteered for various organisations in, China, Ghana, Honduras and Mexico. Wumi currently sits on the Board of Trustees for the international youth volunteering charity Project Trust and is a founding member of their Diversity and Inclusion Working Group.

MicrosoftTeams-image (3)_edited.jpg

Elorm Haligah

Director of Ghana Partnerships

Elorm joined Lively Minds  as Director of Ghana Partnerships in April 2022. With over 10 years of experience, Elorm is government relations expert and has worked with Parliamentarians in over 50 countries specifically in the Commonwealth. He worked in the UK Parliament for 5 years and designed programmes for MPs to better their understanding on parliamentary procedure, international trade, cyber security and gender scrutiny. As a consultant he has also run projects for both young people and senior executives to develop their political literacy and service provision respectively. Elorm also ran the Great Debate Tour, the UK’s largest ever debate tour targeted at ethnic communities on university campuses, discussing social and political issues.


Lesley White

Head of Marketing and Communications

Lesley joined the team as Head of Marketing and Communications in July 2022.


Lesley has thirteen years of experience in international education and development and has worked within global higher education and international development research.

Previously, Lesley worked in UK universities in international student engagement, marketing, and forging educational partnerships within North America, Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. Before joining Lively Minds, Lesley worked at the Institute of Development Studies, leading the Impact, Communication and Engagement unit for the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa programme. The extensive, multi-million FCDO programme worked in eight countries to empower women and girls and eradicate agricultural poverty. 

With a passion for creative writing and human-centred stories, Lesley studied English Literature and Film at the University of Aberdeen. A lover of the creative arts, Lesley is a Trustee for an arts and mental health charity in Brighton.


Lesley looks forward to creating meaningful content that positively impacts Lively Minds and combines her interest in education, development and effective story-telling. 

220727-Bio Picture-Kennelly.jpg

Tristan Kennelly

Director of Special Projects

Tristan joined the Lively Minds team in July 2022 after a successful career in the military.


Tristan has over twenty years’ experience as a leader, manager and trainer in the Australian Defence Force. Tristan gained significant knowledge and skills within multi-agency settings, focussed on capacity building, modernisation and strategic planning. Tristan was fortunate to have developed, led and supported high-performance teams in both training and operations.


Tristan thrives on solving complex problems, empowering leadership within teams and fostering positive people-centric cultures. He is excited to bring his knowledge, skills and energy, in tackling challenges and seizing opportunities with the Lively Minds team.


Tristan holds a bachelor degree in management from the University of New South Wales and a masters degree in defence studies from the Australian National University.


Tristan has relocated to Devon, England with his wife and two young children. He enjoys outdoor adventures with the family and is a keen runner, sailor and climber.

Jon Mills.jpg

Jon Mills

Head of Finance

Jon joined Lively Minds in July 2022 as Head of Finance. 

Jon has over a decade of experience in finance, having worked in various roles in both the commercial and charitable sectors in the UK and in Asia, mainly Malaysia.  

Previously, Jon worked as Head of Finance for an education provider based in West Sussex. Being a new charity, he led the finance function and set up financial controls and financial reporting whilst developing the finance, IT and facilities teams. He was also an executive member, playing a key role in formulating and implementing the long-term strategy. He is keen to apply his finance knowledge to Lively Minds and help them to achieve the next steps of their ambitious journey.  


Jon went to school in Malaysia and holds an MBA from Grenoble Business School in France. He is also a qualified accountant. When Jon is not working he enjoys travelling and spending time with friends and family.