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We are fortunate to have a fantastic Board of Trustees from a range of backgrounds.


They bring a wealth of knowledge about education, childhood development, business, and strategy. All our trustees are volunteers and meet regularly with our CEO to set strategy, oversee the work of the charity and ensure funds are effectively and appropriately spent.

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Peter Ryan

Chair of Board

Peter has a marketing and business background gained from mainstream multinational consumer goods companies across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.


He then started a number of UK businesses in the food, traceability and parking services area before founding the MicroLoan Foundation, a micro-finance charity that provides business training, mentoring and small business ‘start-up’ loans to poor women in rural sub-Saharan Africa.


Peter has a strong affiliation to Africa and is keen to bring his skills to help Lively Minds scale up its operations.

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Remus Brett


Remus spent the past 10 years setting up and growing a management consultancy business, Finalta, which was acquired by McKinsey in 2011. During this time, Remus took the business from concept to a global company with nearly 100 employees in four regional offices.

Remus had the opportunity to meet our Founder, Alison Naftalin, in 2014 and was hugely impressed with the work we were doing and Alison’s vision for our future. Remus brings hands-on experience of scaling a business and says he is “passionate to use these skills to help Lively Minds further extend the impact of the fantastic work being done in Ghana and Uganda".


Suzannè Butah


Suzannè is a UK and Ghana qualified solicitor based in Accra.


After completing her training contract at a City firm, she spent 9 years in oil and gas with the in-house legal department of Tullow Ghana Limited. Currently, she is the legal director and company secretary of Guinness Ghana Breweries PLC (a listed Diageo subsidiary) and a member of its executive team.


A frequent coach and mentor, she is a passionate supporter of people development at all levels and believes Lively Minds’ mission to empower and enliven through creative early learning can lead to an important step change in the resilience of the peoples and communities who adopt it.


Lydia Obaye


Lydia is a Chartered Company Secretary with a law degree and a masters in Corporate Governance.


Lydia has worked in financial services and regulation the majority of her company secretarial career, with the main focus of her experience to date being developing and improving complex governance frameworks and facilitating effective decision-making. 


Lydia has always been keenly aware of and frustrated by the differences in opportunities afforded to children depending on where they were born, so was drawn to Lively Minds due to its empowering approach to bettering the lives of children in rural Uganda and Ghana. 

Gordon Carver Trustee

Gordon Carver


Gordon first met Ali, Lively Minds’ Founder, in 2013 while he was running a Girls’ Education NGO in Ghana.


After seeing the superb Lively Minds model in action in several rural Kindergartens, Gordon was an immediate Early Childhood Development convert and therefore, when Ali asked him to join the Board of Trustees five years later, Gordon instantly accepted.

Gordon has spent over a decade working in the education and international development sectors, and has lived in Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana, in each of which he has helped launch new education organisations. Gordon is now the Chief Executive of a UK education charity which owns and operates 3 independent schools and 2 Academies. Gordon looks forward to helping support Lively Minds in its next phase of growth and continuing to champion the importance of early childhood development.  

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Esther Awovi Akafia


Esther is an Entrepreneur, an Attorney, and an experienced International Development professional with over 20 years’ experience working and leading global teams. Esther’s work has included Corporate Attorney for Opportunity International, a global microfinance organization, Africa Director for Human Resources for FINCA International- a global microfinance & International Development organization, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of FINCA Microfinance Bank, Nigeria, a fellow at RSF Social finance in Sans Francisco and McCain institute USA and the Founder and CEO of Pioneers International Academy.

Esther’s areas of interest include leadership, education, and entrepreneurship. In the last 5 years, Esther has been focused on establishing schools in Africa and is determined to enable learners to develop their capacity to make an impact in Africa and beyond. Her motivation stems from how education has changed her own trajectory and given her opportunities globally. At Lively Minds, Esther aspires to support the CEO and her team to expand their outreach, impact and ultimately prepare young minds for success in education.

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Erin Williamson

Treasurer and Chair of Finance and Audit Committee

Erin was appointed trustee in the role of treasurer and as chair of the finance and audit committee by the board in January 2023. Erin is a Chartered Accountant and a proven business leader who uniquely combines over 20 years of risk management, audit and financial oversight with strategic and commercial expertise.


She is well versed in the design and implementation of robust governance operating models and has broad international experience in the financial services and technology industries, spanning Europe, North America and Asia Pacific, with a demonstrated track record of articulating and executing growth strategies. 

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