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Our team

Our board of trustees

  • Professor Dame Carol Black


    Carol chairs the Think Ahead board and has provided a dedicated commitment to the organisation since we were founded in 2014. As a former consultant rheumatologist she provides expert advice to the Department of Health and Public Health England on a range of health and social care policy areas, conducting many reviews and consultations. She is also the Principal of Newnham College Cambridge and Chairman of the Nuffield Trust for health policy.

  • Dr Ruth Allen

    Board member

    Ruth is Chief Executive of the British Association of Social Workers and has been a qualified social worker since 1994. Ruth was formerly Director of Social Work for South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust and Research Fellow at St George’s University of London. She is Chair of the national Social Care Strategic Network for mental health, and an advisor to the Chief Social Worker for adults. Ruth is currently working with the Department of Health on the ‘Social Work for Better Mental Health’ initiative, and she is a spokesperson for social work and social care in a variety of other forums.

  • Professor David Croisdale-Appleby OBE

    Board member

    David is Executive Chair of the Government Standing Commission on Carers, Dementia UK, and the Public Health Advisory Committee at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. He is also the board member for Higher Education, Medical Education and the NHS Leadership Academy at Health Education England. A former Chair of Skills for Care and Hft, in 2014 David authored the Croisdale-Appleby Review, Re-visioning Social Work Education for the UK government. He is the UK Ambassador to the Nelson Mandela Legacy Programme, including the creation of the first specialist paediatric hospital for the 14 nations of South African Development Community.

  • James Darley

    Board member

    James has headed up the Teach First graduate recruitment department since 2004 and has seen Teach First grow from a ‘modest’ recruiter to become the largest graduate recruiter in the UK. James was previously European Head of Graduate Recruitment at Credit Suisse. He also sits on the board of Frontline – the graduate programme for children’s social work – and chairs the board of Police Now, another fast-track programme.

  • Professor Sir Julian le Grand

    Board member

    Sir Julian has been the Richard Titmuss Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics since 1993 and was awarded a knighthood for services to social sciences and public service in 2015. In addition to his academic writing and career, Julian has worked as a Senior Policy Adviser at Number 10, and chaired the Social Work Practices Working Group for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (now the Department for Education). He was also the Chair of the National Reference Group for Health and Well-Being for the Department of Health.

  • Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP

    Board member

    Norman has been the Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk since 2001. He was appointed Minister of State for Care and Support at the Department of Health in September 2012 and served in this position until the end of the Coalition Government in May 2015. As Health Minister, Norman worked to reform the care system and led the drive to integrate health and care, with a greater focus on preventing ill-health. He also challenged the NHS to ensure that mental health was treated with the same priority as physical health, including introducing access waiting standards.

  • Donald Peck

    Board member

    Donald is active in the charity and social enterprise sector, with his background in development finance and venture capital. Donald has successfully set up and invested a number of venture capital funds for CDC and Actis in India. He chairs a social business in Latin America and, until recently, a health charity operating in 12 of the poorest developing countries. Donald is also Treasurer of IPPR.

  • Lord Dennis Stevenson

    Board member

    Dennis is the Founder Chairman of the mental health research foundation, MQ: Transforming Mental Health. He was the originator of the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill which reached the statute book in 2013. Dennis has also been the Non-Executive Chairman of Pearson, GPA and HBOS. In the not for profit sector, Dennis has chaired the House of Lords Appointments Commission, and is Chair of Trustees of the Tate, Chairman of Aldeburgh Music, and Chancellor of the University of the Arts London.

Our Service User and Carer Reference Group

  • Chair: Dr Sarah Carr

    Members: 13 service users and carers

    We believe it is crucial to involve people with lived experience of mental health problems, and accessing mental health services, in designing and implementing our programme, to ensure that the needs of service users and carers are represented and reflected in everything we do.

    Think Ahead’s Service User and Carer Reference Group was established in November 2014. It is chaired by Dr Sarah Carr, who is an expert in service user involvement in research and development within mental health and social work, and brings her own lived experience of accessing mental health services.

    The fantastic service users and carers in the group provide us with a wealth of knowledge, experience, and invaluable advice. Their input fundamentally shapes our work. For example, since the group’s creation it has been involved in developing:

    • Our approach to participant recruitment and assessment.
    • The design of practice placements.
    • The programme’s academic curriculum.
    • Our brand and our communications strategy.

    The Service User and Carer Reference Group meets regularly throughout the year.

Our Head Office team

  • Ella Joseph

    Joint Chief Executive

    Ella has been Joint Chief Executive of Think Ahead since it was founded in 2014. She brings over 10 years senior leadership experience across a number of Whitehall departments managing large teams and complex projects in key areas of social policy and education. Most recently, Ella led the government’s work on special educational needs and on children’s health and wellbeing. She is passionate about giving adult mental health the level of interest, innovation, and support it deserves.

  • Natalie Acton

    Joint Chief Executive

    Natalie has been Joint Chief Executive of Think Ahead since it was founded in 2014. Prior to joining Think Ahead, she worked as a senior manager in a number of government departments including HM Treasury, the Department for Education, and the No.10 Policy Unit, and as an Assistant Director at Lewisham Council. Natalie has a long-standing interest in mental health issues, and holds a postgraduate diploma in adult psychotherapy in addition to her master’s degree in public administration.


  • Matthew Brown

    External Relations Director

    Matthew is responsible for Think Ahead’s brand and communications strategy. He was previously Head of Communications and Campaigns at the Royal Society of Chemistry, and has also held management and advisory roles with the Confederation of British Industry and the UK civil service. Matthew holds a PhD in physics from the University of Cambridge, and is a fellow of the US Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

  • Lyn Curry

    Finance and Operations Director

    Lyn has worked in the finance and accounting industry for the last 15 years, more recently focused on the not-for-profit sector.

    She was previously the Finance Director at Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust, a charity reliant on fundraising income to operate, developing robust governance and finance procedures as it doubled in size. Before this she was with the endowed grant giving charity Trust for London. Lyn also has experience of working in private accounting practices and a local authority.

  • Kate O’Regan

    Programme Director

    Kate is responsible for developing and delivering the Think Ahead programme. Having worked as a social worker for over 25 years, Kate has extensive experience of working in senior operational roles to deliver integrated services and strategy across a wide range of mental health settings. In addition to this, Kate has worked for the Care Quality Commission as a Mental Health Act Commissioner. Kate has an MBA from the Open University, and is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She has also developed and delivered a number of management and leadership programmes in a freelance consultancy role.

  • Ivan Wise

    Recruitment Director

    Ivan leads the attraction and selection of participants for the Think Ahead programme. He was previously Head of Staffing at The Challenge, recruiting thousands of youth workers for the National Citizen’s Service residential and community programme. Before that, he led a national project for WorldWide Volunteering, promoting voluntary work in schools, prisons and care homes and assessing candidates for the Vodafone World of Difference scheme.

  • Iman Ali

    Recruitment Associate

  • Jacqui Bell

    Practice Specialist

  • Alan Bough

    Finance and Operations Manager

  • Catherine Charlery

    Executive Assistant to Chief Executives

  • Sally Chan

    Programme Associate

  • Amanda Colclough

    Practice Specialist

  • Ellen Haile

    Finance and Office Administrator

  • Rebecca Hall

    Programme Manager

  • Joe Jervis

    External Relations Associate

  • Aurora Justice

    Recruitment Associate

  • Nicola Lancaster

    Practice Specialist

  • Katie McPhillimy

    External Relations Associate

  • Binita Mehta

    Recruitment Associate

  • Alex Reuben

    Digital & Corporate Strategy Associate

  • Elliot Trevithick

    Evaluation and Impact Manager

  • Frances Turner

    Practice Specialist

  • Jingyi Ye

    Programme Administrator