Just six weeks into being Chief Executive of Tutors United, I already feel like I’ve got the best job in the world. I’ve had the warmest of welcomes from our fantastic founder and outgoing CEO Joel Davis, our super talented team and dedicated trustees, and our wonderful partners and funders. I’m so struck by the hope, passion and impact that infuses everything about TU, and I can’t wait to build on Joel’s incredible legacy over the coming months and years. I’m lucky to have inherited an exciting strategy to grow our core tutoring programmes into new areas, cultivate new partnerships, and increase our influence on education policy and practice both nationally and locally.
I’ve come to TU after nearly four years as CEO of Birthrights, the human rights in childbirth charity. I took over from a founder there too, working with staff and partners to grow the reach of our frontline advice and training programmes, triple our income, double the team, and embed inclusion at the heart of our strategy. I’m most proud of our successful advocacy to protect women’s rights in the face of stringent NHS Covid-19 restrictions, and the inquiry into systemic racism within maternity care, led by an expert panel of Black and brown women with lived and professional experience, which gathered hundreds of individual testimonies and culminated in a landmark report in 2022.
From 2010-18 I was an elected councillor in Tower Hamlets alongside my charity career. (Yes, I was exhausted!). So I have bags of local government knowledge and networks too. I worked closely with housing associations, schools, youth groups, universities, children and families in my patch (Bethnal Green) and across the borough. I also led in cabinet on our successful children’s social care improvement programme, which went from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’ in two years. Although I’ve retired from politics, I’m still active in Tower Hamlets as the independent chair of our health and social care partnership, convening senior leaders to integrate our services and support for local people.
Now, I’m so happy to be back ‘home’ in the children’s sector, after previous roles as a Director at Unicef UK and The Children’s Society, where I led advocacy teams to achieve policy and practice change for young people facing poverty, neglect, abuse and rights violations. One of my favourite campaigns at The Children’s Society was focused in Greater Manchester, where we worked with young care leavers and to develop a charter that was adopted by all 10 councils to improve support for children in care. The young campaigners were so creative and came up with a brilliant stunt that we did at markets and shopping centres city-wide – a giant twister Board to show how complicated and upsetting moving between multiple care placements is for children. This eye-catching campaigning generated regional media coverage, digital engagement and loads of petition signatures! We also worked closely with councils behind the scenes to shore up their support for the charter. The power of such youth-led work is clearly baked into TU’s ethos and model too, which I saw recently when visiting one of our programmes and observing an amazing tutor work his magic.
Outside of work, I’m a queer mum of two boys (aged 6 and 3), oboist in two amateur orchestras, and champion of LGBTQ+ rights – as there was far too little leadership and representation when I was growing up and starting out in my career. So spinning lots of plates… but I have so much energy and excitement for leading TU into its next phase – bring on 2023 and beyond.