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Cohort two

2021 - 2022 Jane Slowey memorial members

About the recipients:

“My journey to where I am today has its challenges, but my determination and motivation helped me achieve. From arriving to the UK as a teenager and having to learn a new language and becoming the CEO of this incredible organisation Savera UK. A charity that make change happen that stand against harmful traditions and practices. I have been able to work across services including the NHS engaging and working across diverse communities to improve mental health and inequalities with special focus on Women, children and young people.”

What does it mean to you to be part of a programme for women chief executives in the social sector?

“This will no doubt be an amazing opportunity to be amongst high achievers and strong women representing diverse BAME women.”

Why is it relevant to you to be part of a network of civil society leaders?

“Leading an organisation that is working and campaigning for positive change on issues that are cultural silent and political, the network will allow me to share and again experiences and support.”


Twitter: @afrah58

“As someone who has always been passionate about education and the development of young people, I am really excited to be appointed as the new CEO of nurtureuk.

“Previously, I was the deputy chief executive for youth social action charity City Year UK. At City Year UK, I led all of the charity’s external facing activities including school sales, recruitment, partnerships, public affairs, communications and development.

“My background in marketing and communications spans multiple not-for-profit and commercial sectors and I have had the opportunity to put that passion into practice in a variety of roles within the education sector; from teaching young children to marketing to students and mentoring graduates on their career aspirations. I look forward to sharing my experience with the team to help drive the mission and growth plans of nurtureuk.”


LinkedIn: Arti Sharma

Benaifer Bhandari came to Hopscotch from the world’s leading health organisation dedicated to women, La Leche League. She brought a passion for robust governance ensuring every action has reflected Hopscotch’s mission and insisting deeply that every BAME woman coming to the Centre is offered support in a person-centred and trauma informed way. With reflective practice at the centre of her team, Benaifer has seen excellent staff satisfaction and retention, even in these challenging times. Under her leadership Hopscotch has steadied and set the seeds for growth.

What does it meant to you to be part of a programme for women chief executives in the social sector?

“To lead work that centres on a marginalised community within a marginalised community is both extremely rewarding and challenging. Having a gift of a programme to enhance my work, and that too with other BAME women, feels unbelievable. That ACEVO sees the value in this means everything.”

Why is relevant to you to be a part of a network of civil society leaders?

“When I stop growing and learning is when I will retire from this work. Until then there is so much to do and being part of a team of leaders in this field is the perfect place for growth for me – I can’t wait to build meaningful connections with the bold vision in mind of a fairer society.”


LinkedIn: Benaifer Bhandari

Twitter: @Benaifer

Instagram: benaifer_b

Facebook: benaifer.bhandari

“I have worked within Student Unions since graduating over 20 years ago and am passionate about empowering young people to believe in themselves and taking advantage of opportunities to enable us to grow and develop.

“I struggled to recognise myself within the University context; receiving my Bachelors degree is my most proud achievement and opened up so many more opportunities including my career within Unions and successfully completing my MBA.

“I am married with two young children and fundamentally believe in challenging my own and societal barriers to encourage my children to only be limited by their imaginations.”

What does it mean to you to be part of a programme for women chief executives in the social sector?

“I was so inspired by the opportunities that the Jane Slowey memorial fund provided. I am honoured to be part of this network and to allow myself to be shaped by such inspirational women in fields I wouldn’t normally engage with. I welcome the chance to be honest and open about challenges I experience in a safe and supportive environment and to not only share with these women but also grow alongside them. I hope that the relationships I forge as part of this group continue long after the programme is complete.

“It’s too easy to pull ourselves and one another down by comparing ourselves to our perception of success, possibly perceived in others, without acknowledging their realities. There is something extremely powerful in women supporting one another. The added benefit of acknowledging intersectionality and exposing ourselves to other people’s lived experiences excites me and I’m looking forward to this next chapter of my story.”


LinkedIn: Colina Wright

The Lewis Foundation which provides free gifts and support to adults going through cancer treatment in hospital. The charity provides around 3000 gifts to 9 NHS hospitals around the Midlands.

What does it mean to you to be part of a programme for women chief executives in the social sector?

“I am so proud to be a part of this programme. It is going to be a privilege to work with, learn from, share and grow with fellow BAME women chief executives working in different organisations. Having founded a charity, I have never had the opportunity to connect with people who understand what I am going through, talk to or share experiences with. This is why I am so excited about being a part of a programme with amazing women CEOs.”

Why is it relevant to you to be part of a network of civil society leaders?

“As someone new into the role of a CEO and new in the charity field having set up The Lewis Foundation 4 years ago, being a part of this network is going to provide so much value to me, personally and professionally. I am looking forward to being a part of a network of leaders or want to connect and support each other in our growth, so we feel strong and confident leaders in doing our roles.”


LinkedIn: Lorraine Lewis BCAh

Twitter: @Lorraine1984198

Instagram: lorraine_lewisbca

Marchu is a campaigner advocating for the rights of refugee, migrant and Black women. She is passionate about empowering marginalised women to speak up about their experiences, and enabling them to use their voices for change. Marchu has co-authored research reports and contributed to chapters in books. She has also delivered training for refugee and Black women and leaders from the migration and women’s sector. Marchu holds a MA in ‘Human Rights, Culture and Social Justice’ from Goldsmith University. In 2018, Marchu was named as ‘Outstanding Female Leaders Doing Good in the UK’ by global Good Award and ‘women human rights defenders’ by Amnesty International 2018.

What does it mean to you to be part of a programme for women chief executives in the social sector?

“I’m delighted to be given this opportunity to be part of this exciting programme that specifically supports BAME women in leadership. I am looking forward to working and being inspired by everyone in my cohort.”


LinkedIn: Marchu Girma

The Circle NGO was founded by singer-songwriter and activist Annie Lennox and isfocussed on the rights of women and girls. Prior to becoming CEO, Raakhi spent 16 years in international development with the likes of Oxfam and Unicef UK leading their Ambassador and Leadership functions, covering a breadth of fundraising, communications, advocacy, and campaigning initiatives. Raakhi is also a trustee for Reclaim, a youth leadership and social change organisation.

What does it mean to you to be part of a programme for women chief executives in the social sector?

“Having a strong peer network of like-minded women who are going through similar journey as a new CEOs will be invaluable. I can’t wait to get stuck in and spend time with the Cohort. What a wonderful legacy Jane Slowey has left and this is the time for women from all backgrounds to rise!”


Twitter: @raakhishah

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