As Elrha’s CEO, Jess has developed and led the organisation from its early beginnings in 2009 to its place today as a leading global actor in humanitarian research and innovation. Jess works closely with our Board of Trustees and leadership team to ensure we have the vision, strategy, talent and experience to deliver transformative results in humanitarian action.
Jess serves on a number of strategic Boards for UK research and innovation, including the UKs Disaster Research Group, and the Strategic Advisory Group for the Global Challenge Research Fund.
Jess is passionate about challenging the lack of investment in research and innovation in the humanitarian system, and is committed to working with others to make sure the the challenges faced by people affected by crises get the attention they need, so they can be addressed by the very best that global science, research and innovation can offer. Jess drives Elrha to explore and demonstrate how meaningful partnerships between people affected by crises and scientific and innovative communities can become transformative agents of change and ultimately realise their right to humanitarian action informed by evidence of what works.
Thaïs joined Elrha in May 2021 as Director of Finance and Operations, being responsible for the provision of effective operational support (HR, finance, procurement, admin etc.) to teams across Elrha. She is also responsible for ensuring Elrha meets donor and statutory requirements and is accountable to our Board and other stakeholders.
Prior to joining Elrha, Thaïs worked for more than 20 years with different international humanitarian organisations, including Save the Children UK more recently. During this time, she worked for nearly a decade in humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, Southern East Asia and East Africa, as project manager and country director. Working from London, she provided expertise and support to country programmes in fundraising, funding management and donor relationships.
Starting to work as a volunteer in an international NGO while still at university, she has never thought of working in any other sector. She brings her long and varied experience to ensure the organisation has what is needed to run activities smoothly.
Anne has been the Head of our Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) programme since 2015. Whilst she oversees all elements of the programme, the major focus of her work is to ensure that research outputs influence policy and practice.
Before joining Elrha Anne spent more than 20 years managing international development programmes in the South-East Asia region. She has a public health background specialising in sexual and reproductive health and rights, and has worked for many years with NGOs and the United Nations Population Fund to increase access to services for marginalised and excluded people.
Anne brings to her role a commitment to using evidence to improve humanitarian practice.
As Portfolio Manager in the R2HC programme, Simon oversees the relationships with R2HC’s portfolio of funded research studies and works with the R2HC Funding Committee to manage our grant assessment processes.
Simon previously founded the international development programme at The Waterloo Foundation where he managed a diverse portfolio of grants. He is a funding committee member for BBC Children in Need in Wales, and is a Trustee of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA) where he helps oversee the Wales-Africa (Hub Cymru Africa) programme.
Simon’s experience in managing grant partnerships is helping R2HC funded grantees to deliver cutting-edge research in humanitarian contexts.
Gillian is the Senior Humanitarian Health Research Advisor for the R2HC programme. She joined Elrha in 2022 and works to ensure that the research that we fund meets the priority needs of the humanitarian community and is shared with the right people to make change. She engages with public health researchers globally to ensure that Elrha-funded research is rigorous, ethical, and responsive to the needs of people affected by crisis.
Gillian has a clinical background as a nurse, and worked in humanitarian public health for NGOs, the UN and with research institutions prior to joining Elrha. She has nearly completed her Doctorate of Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she researched how communities engaged with responses to Ebola outbreaks in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Gillian’s passion for bringing people with shared interests together enables her to connect communities, humanitarian practitioners, researchers and policy makers at all levels to generate and use evidence to solve complex humanitarian problems.
Cordelia is the Senior Research Impact Advisor for the RH2C programme. She joined Elrha in 2019 and has responsibility for supporting and facilitating R2HC grantees in achieving impact through their research. She also works with the RH2C team to engage with and strengthen communities of humanitarian policy and practice, to promote collaboration and increase uptake of evidence.
Cordelia came to Elrha after seven years in the international development sector with a track record in policy research, engagement, influencing, and communications. Previously she was Senior Policy and Engagement Adviser at Development Initiatives, where she led policy and advocacy for the ‘Financing for Development’ workstream.
Cordelia loves to meet new people from all around the world, learn from others, and build connections that can inspire positive change in the world.
Jess joined Elrha in 2020 as a Senior Programme Officer within the R2HC team. She supports with the oversight of R2HC’s portfolio of funded research studies and with the grant assessment processes.
Jess has over 10 years of experience in the development sector, working in monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning (MEAL) and programme coordination within a variety of iNGOs, including Meningitis Research Foundation, Restless Development and Riders for Health.
Jess has a particular interest in ensuring meaningful engagement with people affected by crises is central to our work.
Claudia joined R2HC as a senior programme officer in 2021 to support the management of R2HC’s portfolio of funded research studies and support the application process to this fund.
Claudia joined R2HC from Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund, where she was a programme officer supporting the HIF’s innovation grant-making in the areas of GBV, disability and older age inclusion, and scale. Prior to joining Elrha, Claudia worked in corporate and foundation fundraising for Mercy Corps Europe.
She has an MA in International Development and is passionate about the role that research and innovation can play improving the lives of people around the world.
Cecilie leads Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) programme, which supports problem-led, responsible and impactful humanitarian innovation.
Cecilie has over a decade of experience working with research and innovation across the private, public and voluntary sectors. Before joining Elrha in 2016 she advised charities and funders on evidence, strategy and innovation at UK think tank and consultancy NPC, and prior to this she worked with environmental technology innovation in Denmark. In her time with Elrha, Cecilie has been part of doubling the HIF’s size and shaping the programme’s focus on technical problem areas alongside the testing of systems approaches to building innovation skills and capacity in the humanitarian system.
Cecilie is particularly interested in how humanitarian innovation can become more responsive to the needs of people affected by crisis and how it can become a vehicle for participation and accountability in the sector.
Ian is an innovation management and grant-making specialist with 15 years’ experience in the international development and humanitarian sectors. He is passionate about employing structured funding, innovation management methods and evidence in support of humanitarian practitioners and social entrepreneurs looking to solve complex challenges.
Since joining Elrha, Ian has built up our work on locally-led innovation and innovation skills and capabilities, as well as working on our scale portfolio. He currently oversees all three areas. In particular, Ian is highly engaged in managing strategic partnerships with the Asia Disaster Risk Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN) and the Start Network through the Community-Led Innovation Partnership.
In previous roles, Ian has led and worked on brand projects, digital campaigns and content strategy and development at Bond, Save the Children, Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre and Oxfam. He holds an MSc in Globalisation and Development from the University of Manchester and a BSc in Disaster Management and Technology from the University of Birmingham, and he is a Fellow of The RSA.
As Portfolio Manager, Mambwe is the lead support on the management of the HIF’s varied portfolio of innovation grants and the operational delivery of its innovation programme. She also manages and develops the HIF’s grant making systems and processes.
Before joining Elrha in 2016, Mambwe worked in charity and human rights organisations in the UK and South Asia, previously supporting a team of human rights lawyers.
Her legal background provided her with an attention to detail that helps to ensure effective coordination of the HIF team and its processes.
Since joining our team in 2020, Ruth has led on the WASH and scaling innovation areas of work within our HIF programme. She now manages the development of our work across the WASH, gender-based violence (GBV) and disability and older age inclusion areas of work.
For the past ten years, Ruth has been working across the development and humanitarian sectors to understand how research and innovation can improve outcomes for those affected by crisis. Before joining us, Ruth worked for a non-profit consultancy designing and scaling innovative financing programmes in the WASH, health and education sectors across East and West Africa. She has also worked in monitoring and evaluation and research roles for non-profit, public and private sector actors, and provided technical assistance to the government of Sierra Leone for two years.
Ruth is interested in how bringing together actors from different disciplines and perspectives can enable solutions to complex problems in the humanitarian sector that have until now remained unsolved.
Björn joined Elrha in late 2020 to develop the support offer of our Humanitarian Innovation Fund, including new tools and resources for our grantees and the wider humanitarian innovation community.
He brings a wealth of experience, from his work with Oxfam Australia where he was Research Lead for the first blockchain-based CVA pilot in the Pacific, and as an educator at RMIT University where he taught design and innovation theory with a focus on complex systems and community-led solutions for our built environments.
His passion for healthy systems—particularly social and environmental—and a profound belief in human creativity has motivated his career-long exploration of complex, dynamic and networked problems and the most efficient and effective way to address them.
Sarah joined Elrha in 2021 as an Innovation Manager, leading our Humanitarian Innovation Fund’s work on the inclusion of people with disabilities and older people.
Before joining Elrha, Sarah focused on using participatory and inclusive methodologies to ensure that communities affected by interventions have a voice in their design and delivery. Most recently she has focused on innovations to access and quality of sexual and reproductive health services in West and Central Africa, whilst also building the capacity of organisations to become more inclusive of people with disabilities.
People with disabilities and older people are too often excluded from decisions that affect their lives, yet their expertise and experience is invaluable. Sarah is keen to strengthen the role and influence of older people and people with disabilities in the humanitarian sector.
Isabel joined our team in 2022 as Innovation Manager for the Community-Led Innovation Partnership. She supports the development of locally driven solutions to humanitarian problems identified by people affected by crises. Isabel brings more than 13 years of experience in the field of social innovation, design thinking, organisational management and international development to the role.
Prior to joining Elrha, Isabel spent the last ten years leading the award-winning social enterprise, Sanima, which provides informal urban settlements in Lima, Peru, with a container-based sanitation service. As co-founder and CEO, Isabel helped to build a local team of 25 people, before taking on a role as adviser and Chair of the Board. Isabel has an academic background in international business management and gender studies, with an interest in postcolonial theories in development. In the past, Isabel has also worked in microfinance in Tanzania, Madagascar and Tajikistan, and, most recently, as strategy consultant for the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural rights in Chile.
Isabel cares deeply about making social innovation work from the perspective of those at the receiving end of systemic injustices, and she is passionate about bringing creativity, strategic thinking and agile work methodologies into the social innovation process.
Gary joined Elrha in 2022 as an Innovation Manager within the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) leading work across the gender-based violence (GBV) and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) portfolios.
Prior to joining Elrha, Gary worked as part of Nesta’s Challenges team where he designed and delivered innovation competitions to stimulate solutions to pressing social and environmental issues. He has also previously been awarded a prestigious Churchill Fellowship research grant to explore accessible social innovation. He holds certificates in Human Centred Design, Innovation Management and Community Organising, as well as an M.A. in Public Administration and Public Policy.
Gary is passionate about the selection, assessment and evaluation of high-potential innovation projects and is keen to play a role employing this in the humanitarian sector.
Ian joined Elrha in 2022 as an Innovation Manager with the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF). His focus is on scaling innovation and addressing gender-based violence (GBV).
Ian is a protection, conflict and gender specialist, with over a decade’s experience in humanitarian responses. He has worked on innovations for mapping displacement and GBV and improving how communities affected by conflict interact with humanitarians and peacekeepers to identify and communicate their needs.
He is passionate about how good ideas can be put into practice, and how products or processes that are proven to work can scale up and be adopted more widely.
Rob joined Elrha in 2022 as an Innovation Manager within the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF), and leads on work across the Scaling Innovation, and the Disability and Old Age Inclusion portfolios.
Throughout the last eight years, Rob has worked in a variety of humanitarian and development contexts, including managing access-to-education initiatives in refugee and migrant settings on the Thai-Myanmar border, and working with UNICEF to better integrate Ghana’s social protection programmes and systems. Rob brings significant experience in designing and managing grant-making portfolios, holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Systems Thinking, and an MSc in Development Management.
Rob is passionate about how systems thinking perspectives can be applied to humanitarian contexts and innovations, and how these approaches might lead to more inclusive and scalable innovations.
Jake joined our Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) team as a Programme Officer in 2022 to support the management of grants, portfolios and operational delivery.
Before joining us, Jake worked as a communications officer for an international development organisation focusing on improving the lives of those affected by HIV & AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
Having spent time living and volunteering in Malawi, Jake brings with him a passion for the humanitarian sector and a drive to use innovation to improve the humanitarian support that is offered to communities affected by crises.
Catriona has led the Finance & Grants team and looked after Elrha’s financial management, reporting and compliance since 2019.
After training as an auditor with KPMG in London and qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, Catriona became a key member of the team establishing and managing KPMG Mongolia, living for five years in Ulaanbaatar. Upon her return to the UK in 2017 she took a career break to study for an MSc in Middle Eastern Studies with Arabic at Edinburgh University, before joining Elrha.
Catriona has volunteered with many different charities over the years, and is particularly enthusiastic about applying her professional skills in support of projects which are making a difference internationally.
Lucy was born and bred in the charity sector, working in the environmental and humanitarian sector before joining Elrha in 2012.
As Grants Manager she works closely with the programme teams to develop effective and flexible funding models and systems. She also ensures the correct management of sub granting mechanisms and internal compliance are adhered to.
Lucy is passionate about supporting grantees with developing robust internal processes and overall business development.
Julia is our Finance Manager and joined Elrha in 2021 as part of the Grants Operations and Finance team. She oversees our internal financial processes, ensuring that programmes and activities run smoothly and efficiently, whilst also supporting financial forecasting and reporting.
Before joining Elrha, Julia trained in audit at Deloitte LLP, where she gained her qualification as a Chartered Accountant. Over this time, she gained experience leading teams and working with large and complex clients across a range of industries. In 2021 she decided to move into not-for-profit and apply her skills and knowledge to the humanitarian sector.
Julia has a BSc in Ecology and Wildlife Conservation and is passionate about sustainability and wellbeing. She enjoys being able to fuse her experience and interests together to support our mission.
Ariella joined Elrha’s Grant Operations and Finance Unit in 2020. She is responsible for coordinating the operational aspects of Elrha’s grant making and procurement, supporting risk management in relation to projects funded by Elrha, and ensuring appropriate systems and processes are in place to comply with all donor requirements.
Before joining Elrha, Ariella worked for an organisation focused on improving access to quality education for children in humanitarian settings. She has an MSc in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and experience in trust and foundation fundraising, donor reporting and award management.
Rachel joined Elrha as Contracts Manager (Grants) in 2020 to manage the contracting process for Elrha’s Grantees, she has since transitioned into her new role as Donor Compliance Adviser where she supports colleagues across Elrha to ensure policies and processes are in place to comply with all donor requirements. Rachel continues to lead on the set-up of agreements with new grantees as well as providing support on procurement contracts.
Rachel has a Law Degree LLB and prior to joining Elrha, she worked on the other side of grants contract negotiations as a Contracts Negotiator at Imperial College London.
Rachel is thrilled to be a part of Elrha and contributing to our work in the humanitarian sector.
Vivienne joined our team in February 2022 as the Head of Policy Engagement and Communications (PEC). Vivienne is leading on shaping our identity, brand, and policy narrative as we develop our new strategy, the policy engagement and communications for the Global Prioritisation Exercise, and supporting the PEC team to deliver strategic and impactful communications and engagement.
Previously, Vivienne led the communications for a portfolio of projects and programmes at the Institute of Development Studies. She also managed a team of research communications and impact specialists to define the research communications process and establish clear principles on delivering communications and engagement throughout the lifetime of research. She has worked on a range of issues including health and nutrition, child labour, gender equality and humanitarian crises.
Vivienne believes strongly in the ‘show don’t tell’ principle, which underpins her entire approach for translating evidence and knowledge into engaging and targeted communications.
Catalin joined Elrha in 2020 as a Digital and Creative Communications Manager, and he is responsible for developing and implementing our digital communications strategy.
Catalin brings over seven years of experience in strategic communications working in various roles across international development, social entrepreneurship, e-learning and the built environment.
His passion for digital storytelling will help us deliver creative and data-driven communications enhancing the impact of our work in humanitarian research and innovation.
Zainab joined our team in 2022 to help disseminate the life-changing impact of the research and innovations we support. She is responsible for shaping Elrha’s media strategy.
Zainab brings over ten years of experience across government, international think tanks and not-for-profit sectors, with a solid track record in managing media products and campaigns across multiple markets. Before joining our team, she worked at the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in roles spanning communications, research and policy.
Given her passion for stakeholder communications, Zainab is keen to help Elrha and our partners share their work with the world.
Ziad serves as a Senior Programme Manager at Elrha. He joined us in 2021 as the Research Manager for the Global Prioritisation Exercise, an ambitious research programme that aims to support the global humanitarian community to identify priorities for research and innovation funding. Ziad leads on the strategic development, operational management and delivery of this initiative.
Prior to joining us, Ziad worked for several years with civil society and humanitarian organisations in Syria, gaining first-hand experience in conducting research and designing interventions in situations of conflict. Ziad completed his undergraduate training as a pharmacist and received an MSc in Global Health and Development from University College London.
Ziad’s passion to create a more inclusive humanitarian system is helping him bring the voices of communities affected by crisis into the research and innovation policy conversation.
Having studied a first degree in Social Sciences, and an M.A. in History at the School of Oriental and African Studies, Helen has always been drawn to working for value-driven international organisations that work to create a better world.
After a period of working as a senior administrator in the International Labour Office in Geneva, she returned home to Wales and continued to work for organisations with similar international outreach and missions; the International Baccalaureate and Elrha. She joined Elrha in 2015 and uses her extensive administrative experience to support Elrha’s Board of Trustees and its Senior Management Team.
Helen is responsible for managing the admin team and HR processes and is the focal point for colleagues in our London and Cardiff offices. Helen loves working for Elrha and the opportunity to contribute to Elrha’s ongoing success.
Sarah is our Head of HR and Operational Support and is responsible for overseeing all HR policies, procedures and advice within Elrha, including recruitment, induction, training and performance, and supporting our staff to thrive. She is also responsible for operational support which includes coordinating facilities management IT, IT support, events management, health and safety and travel security.
Sarah holds a Masters in Strategic Human Resource Management and has developed her knowledge and experience across a wide range of HR matters, having held previous strategic and advisory HR roles working in international development, and within the public, private and third sectors both in the UK and internationally.
With a passion for delivering organisational development and inclusive work practices, Sarah enjoys working in innovative and collaborative environments which aim to bring about positive change.
Pau joined Elrha in 2019 as MEAL Coordinator supporting the delivery of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning processes across our programmes.
With a background in engineering and anthropology, he holds an MSc in impact evaluation, and ten years’ experience in the international development sector, specialising in programme management and evaluation. Before joining the Elrha team, Pau worked for a range iNGOs, including UNICEF and OXFAM and has experience in the UK and overseas.
Pau is passionate about the role rigorous evidence plays in improving humanitarian action effectiveness.
Victoria is Elrha’s Business Development Lead. She leads the development and implementation of our Business Development Strategy to ensure Elrha has sustainable income and a resilient funding portfolio so we can keep doing the great work we do.
Victoria takes her experience from a diverse range of fields, from psychology and neuroscience to documentary television. She has been working within the world of International Development for the past five years. Before joining Elrha she worked at CARE International UK as the Framework Manager and as Programme Development Specialist.
Victoria is especially interested in the future of international development and the humanitarian sector, and finding new and sustainable ways of supporting people affected by crisis and poverty.
Liz joined Elrha in 2016 and has led on shaping Elrha’s identity, voice and place in the humanitarian community, while leading on Elrha’s strategic communications and supporting the entire team to share what we do, why we do it and the impact of our work.
With a degree and background in journalism, Liz is a Chartered PR Practitioner with over a decade of experience in strategic communications in the humanitarian, international development, healthcare, research and not-for-profit sectors, holding senior communications and campaign roles in both in-house teams and agency. She was extremely proud to be awarded the CIPR’s (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) Outstanding Young Communicator Award in 2017.
With a keen interest in behaviour change, change management and stakeholder communications, Liz is a determined and passionate communicator, with a strong belief in its power and ability to unite, connect and empower people around the world.
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