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Back to Our People

Our Staff

Our staff make City Year UK happen! They share our commitment to tackling educational inequality and giving young people the skills they'll need in their future lives.

Programme Team

headshot of Dean Thomas-Lowde
Dean Thomas-Lowde
Head of Programmes (DSO)

For the past 20 years, Dean has worked as a Senior Leader in Education, Consultant and Director in some very challenging urban environments. Dean’s previous roles have seen him establish himself as a business leader in education, with responsibility for growth and educational experience. He understands that working to develop a different approach is vital.

Who is your hero?
My dad. A man who always taught me to never stop learning, strive to achieve your goals and always be the person you want to be.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
Maya Angelou’s "I know why The Caged Bird Sings".

What is your best career advice?
Kaizen: a Japanese business philosophy, meaning continuous improvement.

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headshot of Beth Gilbert
Beth Gilbert
Programme Manager, West Midlands and Greater Manchester

Beth is talkative, enthusiastic and passionate about empowering young people to achieve. Beth is City Year UK’s Programme Manager for Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, and her role at City Year UK is to lead her teams of Impact Officers as they support the City Year Mentors in their schools.

Who is your hero?
My mum and dad. They raised me to know that they would support me through everything - I aspire to show others the love that they showed me.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee - I first read this when I was 13, and it was the first book to make me realise how powerful books can actually be!

What is your best career advice?
Seek to do what you love; then you’ll love what you do.

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headshot of Ryan Pollock
Ryan Pollock
Programme Manager, London

Ryan is City Year UK’s Associate Programme Manager in London, where he leads his team of Impact Officers to thrive in their work as they support their City Year Mentors. Ryan believes in the power of young people to make a difference and is committed to creating a positive impact through his work and actions.

Who is your hero?
My hero is Johnny Cash, a man who used his fame to campaign for important causes like Native American rights and prison reform. Although he had many demons and made numerous mistakes, his example shows how we all have the ability to overcome our flaws and be a force for good in the world.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
Based on a true story of a horrific murder of a family in Kansas, "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote is a mesmerising, in-depth character study which humanises the two young men who committed the reprehensible act.

What is your best career advice?
Don’t trust your gut; it is often wrong. Instead, do as much research as you can into career options and rank your options according to the most important criteria to you. Pursue your top options, and revise your plan every six months to keep on track.

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Headshot of Christina Bryan
Christina Bryan
Associate Manager for National Learning & Development, West Midlands

Christina is in her seventh year of service with City Year UK, and takes pride in her role as the Associate Manager for National Learning and Development. She is committed to and conscientious about what she does, and strives to create conditions for young people to thrive. The mission of City Year, the collective workforce behind it and the passion of the City Year Mentors on the front line continues to inspire and energise her, year after year.

Who is your hero?
My oldest brother has always been a beacon of love and light, a role model and a fundamental figure in shaping my character and pushing me to succeed.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry. Interconnected characters collide set against the backdrop of a shifting Indian landscape from Independence to 1975’s State of Emergency.

What is your best career advice?
Take pride and put care into what you do. Seek support when you need it. Don’t be afraid to try new things and make mistakes. Appreciate people/colleagues at all levels.

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Kimboshane Barnes
Impact Officer, London

Kimboshane is a City Year UK Impact Officer, based in London. Kimboshane has over 10 years of experience working with children and young people, with a background in secondary education where she worked as a Deputy Head of Year. Kimboshane believes in providing a stimulating environment for children and young people to uncover their strengths and thrive.

Who is your hero?
I don’t have one, however, there are many people that I appreciate for various reasons and aim to apply any knowledge they have imparted on to me.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
“Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown. This book discusses the power of vulnerability in all aspects of life and the strength it holds.

What is your best career advice?
Dip your toes in anything that feels right, it is better to make a decision based on experience rather than assumption. Don’t be a wisher, be a doer!

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Mia Benton
Impact Officer, West Midlands

Mia is a City Year UK Impact Officer based in Coventry. She joined City Year in November 2022. Mia has worked across different sectors of youth work over the last nine years, from a summer camp in New York to working with young people through her own animal therapy centre. Mia enjoys seeing her volunteers make a difference to inner-city schools and is proud to manage two teams of amazing City Year Mentors.

Who is your hero?
My hero is Carrie Hope Fletcher.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
The most powerful book I have read is “Wonder” by R. J. Palacio.

What is your best career advice?
If you want something bad enough, you can make it happen.

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Hope Coffey
Impact Officer, Greater Manchester

Hope is an Impact and Programme Officer for City Year UK and is based in Greater Manchester. She studied Psychology at the University of Manchester, during which she completed a placement year with City Year UK, serving as a City Year Mentor. Hope is incredibly passionate about social justice, and is dedicated to fighting for equality and empowering others.

Who is your hero?
My hero is Emma Watson. I am so inspired by her passion and work towards equality, and she uses her platform to advocate for social change which I think is incredibly powerful.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
The most powerful book I’ve ever read is "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak - this book changed my life. It is written so beautifully and really gives you a different perspective on the world. I couldn’t recommend enough.

What is your best career advice?
My best career advice would be to take every opportunity and go out of your comfort zone! It will give you so much experience and skills and will definitely shape your interests.

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Jennifer Distin
Impact Officer, West Midlands

Jennifer has over 25 years teaching experience with children and young people in primary, secondary and college settings. Her roles have ranged from teaching the primary curriculum to health education and employability. Her role with City Year is as an Impact Officer and she is proud to serve in Birmingham.

Who is your hero?
My parents and their generation - they rose above the storms of prejudice, isolation and opposition determined to give the next generation opportunities to rise, flourish and ‘mek dem proud’.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
The Bible - deep, profound, enriching and practical.

What is your best career advice?
Go for opportunities that challenge and take you out of your comfort zone.

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headshot of Elin Finnegan
Elin Finnegan
Associate Impact Manager, West Midlands

Elin is City Year UK's Coventry-based Associate Impact Manager, with a wealth of educational experience and a lifelong love of learning. In her role, her main priority is to ensure the very best outcomes for the young people she works with, and to bring positivity to those around her. She is an idealist who strives for a better future for all, and the ethos and culture of CIty Year UK empowers her to work towards this vision.

Who is your hero?
Not necessarily a hero but in awe of her bravery: Edith Cavell. She saw beyond discrimination, helped those in need and sacrificed her life whilst helping others.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale - it reinforced my own beliefs but also helped me to influence others' way of thinking too.

What is your best career advice?
Always enjoy what you do; that’s when you will be at your most productive. Embrace change and be flexible.

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Amy Fuller
Senior Impact Officer, London

Amy is an Impact Officer serving in London. She has a variety of experience in the public and social enterprise sectors, from working in a school for girls with autism to working in a library, and she is interested in how education can be a force for generational change.

Who is your hero?
I try to be my own hero!

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
I love dipping into "Women Who Run with the Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola Estés - it’s full of myths and stories from communities across the world.

What is your best career advice?
My advice would be that your career path won’t always be straightforward, and that’s OK - it’s about taking the next step and learning more about yourself.

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Angela Harrison
Impact Officer, London

For the vast majority of her career, Angela has worked as a primary school teacher. She joined City Year UK in January 2023, and is very proud to serve as an Impact Officer in London. Her skills and experience are now being utilised to support her team of volunteers and positively impact the young people they support. She believes every child matters and all children should have the same opportunities available to them.

Who is your hero?
My Mum! Despite life not being easy she always had time for others and always knew when to just listen or when to provide practical support. Her advice was always invaluable and I can only aspire to be a fraction of the person she was.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
I am a bit of a bookworm and have read so many powerful and inspiring books, but most recently having read 'The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse' by Charlie Mackesy I realised it is full of timeless wisdom for both adults and children alike; we can all take inspiration from it.

What is your best career advice?
Be happy at work. If you aren’t, change jobs. You can never be the best you can be if you are unhappy.

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Daisy Hart
Impact Officer, London

Daisy is a City Year UK Impact Officer, based in London. After completing a degree in geography, with a human focus, Daisy participated in City Year as a City Year Mentor. She then went on to work as a teaching assistant in which she realised how important the social emotional focus of City Year is.

Who is your hero?
My two closest friends; they have constantly had my back, supported me whatever always bring out the best in me.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"Girl, Woman, Other" by Bernadine Evaristo: interesting to get so many different perspectives that I otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to.

What is your best career advice?
If you want to do something, there is always a way of doing it - just push yourself out of your comfort zone. Often, the only thing stopping you is yourself. Even with many barriers compared to others, if you want it, you can go for it.

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Ashleigh Owens
Impact Officer, West Midlands

Ashleigh is an Impact Officer proudly serving in the West Midlands. With a background in charity work, Ashleigh is passionate about making a difference and giving back. Ashleigh supports two teams of young volunteers and believes that they have the power to make a huge difference in the lives of their students, and have a positive impact on the future.

Who is your hero?
My Hero is my Grandma, She always looks out for her family and others and is so resilient and strong, even through her most challenging times. There is not a day where I don't pop in to see her for a cup of coffee and a chat, and of course to see what jobs she has for me that day!

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
I am a bit of a bookworm, so I'm not sure what the most powerful book I have read would be. However, I have just finished reading "Orphans of the Storm" by Celia Imrie, which is a true story. I don't want to give too much away, but it is definitely worth a read and as it is a true story you can actually see photos of the family online.

What is your best career advice?
Enjoy what you do and don't be afraid to take on new challenges. Nothing is impossible!

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Sally Savarizadeh
Senior Impact Officer, Greater Manchester

Sally is a City Year UK Impact Officer serving in Greater Manchester. Sally has worked in Primary Education for many years before joining City Year UK in August 2022, and hopes to utilise this experience to develop and coach the City Year Mentors to enable them to offer the very best support to young learners across the region.

Who is your hero?
My hero is Malala Yousafzai. As a mother of young women, she inspires me and reminds me not to take education for granted. I would like for my daughters (and for the young people that we reach) to recognise the power in education, and to appreciate and value the opportunities that lie ahead of them.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
One of the most powerful books that I enjoyed reading to pupils was "Holes" by Louis Sachar as it provoked powerful and challenging discussions around diversity and prejudice.

What is your best career advice?
Go for it! Be the change and make it happen. You are responsible for your own growth, you can drive self improvement and improvement in others.

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Jawaria Suleman
Impact Officer, West Midlands

Jawaria works as a City Year UK Impact Officer in the West Midlands. She has background in education as a teacher, co-ordinator, and evaluation officer. Jawaria is an outspoken champion for ending educational inequality, and a strong supporter of youth development.

Who is your hero?
My hero is everyone who persevered in the face of adversity.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"Who Moved My Cheese?" by Spencer Johnson.

What is your best career advice?
Every failure is learning.

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Zhauni Walker
Senior Impact Officer, London

Zhauni is currently working as an Impact Officer, based in London. Last year, she completed her placement year with City Year as a School Service Leader. Zhauni is currently completing her final year of her undergraduate degree in psychology as an aspiring Educational Psychologist. She is ultimately devoted and committed to the ongoing progression and development of children/young people.

Who is your hero?
My hero is Beyonce because of her dedication to perfecting her craft in very intricate and thoughtful ways.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"Small Island" by Andrea Levy.

What is your best career advice?
Be and do your best! Present the best version of yourself. First Impressions can make a lasting effect.

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Holly Wilson
Impact Officer, West Midlands

Holly is a City Year UK Impact Officer, based in the West Midlands. Holly has a background in primary school teaching and she is passionate about giving young people equal opportunities to succeed.

Who is your hero?
My hero is my Grandma. Despite having a difficult life, she continued to be stoic and put others before herself.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
The most powerful book I have read is "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" because it was the first chapter book I read and it ignited my passion for reading.

What is your best career advice?
Do something you enjoy! Life is too short to be unhappy.

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Jenny Workman
Impact Officer, West Midlands

Jenny is an Impact Officer who is committed to supporting children and young people. She volunteered as a City Year Mentor in 2019/20, while completing her degree in Psychology and Business, later returning to City Year as a School Service Leader. Now, Jenny is proud to be an Impact Officer and to manage a team of passionate mentors in the West Midlands.

Who is your hero?
My sister has always been the person who gives me strength to do things I'm afraid of.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"This is How You Lose the Time War" by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. It's written in a unique way that could have easily seemed like a gimmick, but that feels so natural for this story and characters. I loved this book, and would recommend it to anyone.

What is your best career advice?
Find a purpose in your work that always guides your actions.

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Louise Workman-Dent
Impact Officer, London

Louise is a City Year Impact Officer, based in London, UK. She has over 15 years of experience teaching and leading in the education sector, including leading management teams as Curriculum Director in a large, merged college. Her focus has always been supporting less advantaged young people to break down barriers and reach their potential.

Who is your hero?
I don’t have one specific hero, I am inspired by stories about women who work to benefit others and the society they are part of - who want to make long term, positive differences in their communities and personal circles.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
I’ve just finished reading "The Lido" by Libby Page. It’s a beautiful reminder of the importance of community, reaching out for help and what people can achieve when they work together. It’s also all about cold water swimming which I love!

What is your best career advice?
My best career advice is to seek to follow what you feel is your personal mission, rather than attaching yourself to a particular organisation or targeting a particular job role. Your career will change and develop over time and having a clear mission or thing you want to do/contribute to can be your guiding light as you explore different opportunities.

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Kelvin Zane
Impact Officer, London

Kelvin is an Impact Officer in London who studied French and English at UCL. After obtaining a PGCE in French and English, he worked in Brent, Harrow, Enfield and Hillingdon before becoming the Head of the British Section at the Lycee in South Kensington. Kelvin moved to the charity sector to support volunteers in mental health, the NHS, in safeguarding and also volunteers at the Sea Cadets.

Who is your hero?
Joanna Lumley.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
“A Suitable Boy” by Vikram Seth.

What is your best career advice?
All work experiences, even bad, are helpful for learning and development.

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Volunteer Recruitment & School Partnerships

headshot of Louisa van der Heyden
Louisa van der Heyden
Head of School Partnerships and Volunteer Recruitment

For the past nine years, Louisa has worked within the third sector as part of recruitment, sales and partnership teams. She has led regional sales teams across the North West and Yorkshire for NCS The Challenge, and was thrilled to be able to join City Year UK in 2019 as the Schools Partnership and Volunteer Recruitment Manager, leading both teams nationally.

Who is your hero?
A hard one! I don’t think I have one particular hero but am inspired by lots of different people I have in my life: friends, family, colleagues past and present...

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini.

What is your best career advice?
Don’t over-complicate things, keep it simple and get the basics right first.

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Lucy Church
Senior School Partnerships Officer

Lucy is a City Year UK School Partnership Officer and is committed to helping young people grow in their self esteem, stand out and shine. Lucy had a career in advertising and then pivoted to being in the third sector. Before being at City Year UK, Lucy worked at CoramBeanstalk for many years, supporting children in primary schools across London to foster a love of reading and making their voices heard.

Who is your hero?
My Dad who died when I was young. He was really funny, modest, kind, driven and had a strict moral code but he had a real sparkle and was dearly loved by everyone.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
Difficult one! It might be a bit of a cliche to recommend it but for me it has to be "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone". I bought this book when it first appeared and I LOVED it. I became entranced by Hogwarts, their magical world and all the characters. I have then re-read them with my children who became equally spellbound and so I was able to enjoy them all over again. Therefore, these books will always have a special place in my heart.

What is your best career advice?
Things generally have a way of working out! Remain true to your values and beliefs and take opportunities to grow. And don’t be hard on yourself.

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headshot of Usaama Kaweesa
Usaama Kaweesa
National Volunteer Recruitment Manager

Usaama has been a City Year Mentor, Team Leader, Recruitment Officer and is now the National Volunteer Recruitment Manager. He is someone who lives to encourage others, to get young people’s voices heard and for them keep learning and improving themselves, and to create genuine positive change.

Who is your hero?
Barack Obama.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"Black and British: A Forgotten History" by David Olusoga.

What is your best career advice?
“You’re very opinionated, you ought to think about getting involved in politics.” - A-level Law teacher.

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David Hushie
Recruitment Officer, London

David is the recruitment officer for the London cohort. He studied Psychology at Coventry university, where he served as a City Year mentor during his placement year. David enjoys seeking out new challenges and learning opportunities. He is passionate and dedicated to nurturing the next generation of changemakers.

Who is your hero?
My hero is my mum. She's very hard working and selfless.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
The Bible

What is your best career advice?
Take risks. Sometimes calculated risks can lead to significant rewards. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

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Kirstie Owens-Durnall
Recruitment Officer, West Midlands

Kirstie is a Recruitment Officer in the West Midlands, and has also been an Impact Officer at City Year UK, as well as a City Year Mentor from 2016 to 2017. Kirstie is passionate about giving back, and hopes that the volunteers gain as much from the programme as she did. One of her favourite tasks has been co-writing the Christmas Pantomimes for the West Midlands.

Who is your hero?
My Grandma. She is the strongest person I know, and always puts others before herself, even in her most challenging times. She is an inspiration and I don’t go a day without seeing her. I would love you all to meet her, but you can’t leave until you’ve had at least a cup of tea and a biscuit!

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"We're Going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rose. Though not overly profound, I remember being in Year 1 and being fascinated by the rhythm of it. This book really opened my eyes to the world of reading.

What is your best career advice?
Always put everything in writing.

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Rouxin Shou
Recruitment Officer, Greater Manchester

Rouxin is a Recruitment Officer in Greater Manchester, and is deeply committed to supporting volunteers. She has spent years volunteering herself in various capacities, including mentoring, culture exchange and event coordination. Rouxin enjoys bringing together people from diverse backgrounds to share their experiences and learn from each other.

Who is your hero?
My mum and dad, who always support me in my life.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell. I read this book many times, still remember the classic line which influences my life: Tomorrow is another day.

What is your best career advice?
Venture outside your comfort zone.

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External Relations

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Amy Smock
Senior Development Manager (Corporate)

Amy joined City Year UK in November 2016 as part of our Development Team. Having worked in the Charity sector for over 13 years (at organisations including Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity and the British Heart Foundation), Amy has a wealth of experience working with companies, building relationships between the organisations, and supporting the delivery of their Corporate Social Responsibility goals.

Who is your hero?
My mum, she is incredibly strong and has been a great role model to me.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee.

What is your best career advice?
Own your mistakes, there is always a solution to any problem.

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Obinna Nwosu
Development Manager (Trusts, Foundations & Statutory)

Intuitive ronin musicologist, specialist DJ, art agitator, resistance advocate and renegade for social change that believes art can be an instigator, a mechanism for transformation and a strategy for making, creating and fighting for freedom; elitist for the people and now making trust and foundation funding happen for City Year UK.

Who is your hero?
Toni Morrison - every word full of power and meaning, and carefully placed..

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back" by Public Enemy - ideas that unlocked my understanding of the world.

What is your best career advice?
Love it and lead it...

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Gabriele Canavan
Development Officer

Gabriele is the Development Officer at City Year UK. With a background in the charity and education sectors, Gabriele is passionate about improving the lives of young people and working towards tackling social inequalities, and previously served as an Impact Officer at City Year in London.

Who is your hero?
My heroes are my two nieces. Since they were born, they have inspired me to continue to make the world a better place for them and other young people’s future.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
The most powerful book I’ve ever read is actually a children’s book: "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein. I love reading, but this one has stuck with me since childhood, which I have passed down to my nieces. The lesson to appreciate what you have and ultimately to take care of yourself and have boundaries is an important one!

What is your best career advice?
“You can do anything you set your mind to…”

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Ashley Nyamhunga
Development Coordinator

Ashley is City Year’s new Development Coordinator based in the Black Country. She is a bubbly, energetic and passionate individual, committed to the empowerment and advancement of young people. She has directly experienced the transformative impact of City Year's work, having served as a City Year Mentor with Team Ubuntu in 2022.

Who is your hero?
My hero is my brother, a consistent source of honesty, love, humour and support. He is a person I can always rely on and the best big brother a person could ask for.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"The Autobiography of Malcom X" as told by Alex Haley.

What is your best career advice?
What you put in is what you get out.

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Ruxandra Connolly
Head of Marketing and Communications

A multifaceted creative professional with 15+ years of marketing, digital and advertising experience spanning the arts & culture, education and commercial sectors, Ruxandra is currently leading the marketing and communications strategy at City Year UK. Working closely with all teams, Ruxandra manages a variety of major marketing campaigns and initiatives, both on- and offline, while implementing a full rebranding process across all platforms. Outside of work, she is also a photographer and writes fiction.

Who is your hero?
I don’t have a hero as such, but there are a handful of people that I look up to or am inspired by, at the top being my mum who is the most selfless and resilient person I know and my daughter who is constantly teaching me something new about myself and life in general.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
Hard to choose just one… “Steppenwolf” by Hermann Hesse and Marilynne Robinson’s trilogy "Gilead" / "Home" / "Lila" - I read them at completely different times (late teens / late twenties), but they stuck with me as, in essence, they all explore what it is that fills our life with meaning.

What is your best career advice?
Don’t settle for comfortable, settle for something that you love doing. Getting there (or finding out what that is) can feel disheartening at times, but do not shy away from taking risks and keep exploring your options.

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Alec Jetha
Social Media and Content Officer

Alec is the Social Media and Content Officer in London at City Year UK. After working in independent radio, he developed a passion for supporting volunteers and community projects. Alec believes in the power of collective action and community strategising - two principles he always tries to implement in his work.

Who is your hero?
Hard to pick one, but studying Abdullah Öclean had a huge influence on me, especially the way he theorises gender, oppression and democracy. Or, I’d pick Sun Ra for his amazing contributions to music and his wittingly-cryptic persona.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
Not the most powerful book, but I recently finished reading “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which had me thinking about it long after reading.

What is your best career advice?
A piece of advice I picked up from watching interviews with filmmaker Mark Jenkins: whether it’s the most difficult job in the world or not, make sure you love the process of your work.

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Central Services

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James Hunt
Head of Human Resources and Operations

Over the past 6 years, James has worked in the third sector, starting his work in HR at the NCS The Challenge before joining the City Year UK team. A committed people and operations generalist, James is currently completing two masters degrees: MBA, MSc HRO, alongside his work for CYUK.

Who is your hero?
Stephen Fry, who said, ‘“I am a lover of truth, a worshipper of freedom, a celebrant at the altar of language and purity and tolerance. That is my religion, and every day I am sorely, grossly, heinously and deeply offended, wounded, mortified and injured by a thousand different blasphemies against it”.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"On Liberty" by John Stuart Mill.

What is your best career advice?
"You must be the master of your own kingdom" - Guy Ritchie

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headshot of Sophie Segal
Sophie Segal
Head of Impact and Data

Sophie oversees data collection, monitoring and evaluation across the organisation. This includes the data strategy and systems to efficiently provide real time insights into the impact of City Year UK. Sophie has always advocated for children with special educational needs and empowering young adults to achieve their potential. Sophie’s degree focused on child development, autism spectrum, mental health, public health and social psychology. Coupled with her practical life experience (being a Mummy to two young children with ASD and sensory processing difficulties), this positively informs her approach to supporting others through the City Year ethos.

Who is your hero?
Oscar Wilde.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
Maya Angelou’s "I know Why The Caged Bird Sings".

What is your best career advice?
You should take criticism seriously because you might learn something. You have to be resilient enough to keep moving forward, whatever the personal setbacks that come your way. And that takes having a sense of humour about yourself and others.

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Sofia Becerra
Associate Impact and Data Manager

Education is Sofia's passion. The knowledge and skills she has acquired from her years as a primary school teacher have helped her support her team of volunteers with the work they do with children. As Associate Impact and Data Manager, she feels she can help make a difference to our upcoming generations.

Who is your hero?
Ludovico Einaudi - I admire his extraordinary talent.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"The Bookseller Of Kabul" by Asne Seierstad - a fascinating story which really puts our own lives into perspective.

What is your best career advice?
Keep your doors open and don’t be afraid to explore your options and try new paths.

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headshot of Alison Vaughan
Alison Vaughan
Head of Finance

As Head of Finance, Alison is responsible for the day to day operations of the Finance Department and all financial reporting. She is a chartered accountant, and began her career with EY, where she worked in the audit practice. Alison first got to know City Year through her role as an Investment Manager with Impetus-PEF, the organisation who helped bring City Year to the UK.

Who is your hero?
Jacinda Ardern - for her compassionate and empathetic response to the Christchurch shootings and her leadership in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"This is Going to Hurt" by Adam Kay. Kay's humorous diary of life as a junior doctor does not prepare you for the dark ending where he retells the sad events, the impact on him and his decision to give up medicine.

What is your best career advice?
Don’t be afraid to make big changes in your career. Opportunities don’t always arise at convenient times but don’t let that stop you seizing them.

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headshot of Mahjabin Monzur
Mahjabin Monzur
Finance Manager

Mahjabin initially joined as a Finance Officer and is now the Finance Manager at City Year UK. She has been with the charity for the past five years. She is a part-qualified accountant (ACCA affiliate), with over eight years of experience working in the charity sector focusing on disadvantaged youth, particularly from BAME communities. She is responsible for overseeing the City Year Mentors’ payment process across the sites, managing and supporting the Finance Officer as well as business partnering with other departments of the organisation, led by the Financial Controller. She is also a mum to two little boys.

Who is your hero?
My parents who have been my pillars of strength every step of the way.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
"Reclaim Your Heart" by Yasmin Mogahed.

What is your best career advice?
Believe in yourself, seek to learn from your mistakes and be truthful and dedicated in what you set out to do.

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headshot of Mariyam Sowe
Mariyam Sowe
Finance Officer & Operations Coordinator

Mariyam worked at a five-star hotel for five years before joining City Year UK in 2017 as Operation Coordinator as well as Finance Officer. Having a rich experience in customer service, this role enabled her to work hand-in-hand with staff, volunteers and external customers which she is very passionate about.

Who is your hero?
Anita Smith - founder of the Bansang Hospital Appeal. The Bansang Hospital Appeal is an award-winning charity dedicated to improving healthcare delivery in a remote region of The Gambia. Since 1992, its founder Anita Smith (MBE MRG) has dedicated her life to reversing its once terminal decline.

What is the most powerful book you have ever read?
The Quran which is a source of guidance.

What is your best career advice?
Never give up on your dreams, do not let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. Like they say, the only disability in life is a bad attitude.

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