Monsur Khan

Research Associate

Monsur is a passionate believer in people and partnerships. He brings 25 years of experience leading the delivery of community programmes in local government and voluntary sector settings, supporting and advising senior Councillors, stimulating organisational growth in the third sector and working with grass roots communities and civil society groups.

Previous work: Monsur’s senior management experience and a commitment to working by building and nurturing relationships with longer term goals in mind has been tested and developed through direct experience of working with complex and competing stakeholders during the Grenfell ‘emergency’ and the ‘recovery’ periods.

Other interests: Monsur can be found taking long walks in the UK countryside, combining his love of landscape photography and desire to be among nature.

Dr Ambreen Shah

Research Associate

Ambreen has worked in the not-for-profit sector for over 20 years, supporting charities to achieve maximum impact. She brings knowledge of policy, communications, grant funding and social/evaluative research and experience. She is passionate about social and racial justice. 

Previous work: Ambreen worked at the National Lottery Community Fund (then The Big Lottery Fund) in their evaluation and policy functions, ending her time there as Deputy Director of England. She also worked at the Design Council as Director of Policy, Research and Communications. 

Other interests: Ambreen is a non-executive director at Smallwood Trust and Charity Bank championing their work on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. She sits on the advisory group of Migration Exchange. She is also an Associate of Getting on Board. 

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Gilly Green

Research Associate

Gilly has over 30 years experience in grant-making and the voluntary sector and has developed responsive, devolved, participatory and proactive grant-making programmes. She now has her own consultancy business, undertaking strategic reviews, programme development and facilitation. 

Previous work: Gilly was UK Director of Comic Relief for over 15 years until 2018, overseeing the strategic direction of funding, managing an annual budget of about £40m.  

Her experience has fine-tuned her skills in reach, communications and risk management. 

Other interests: Gilly is a Trustee of Rosa and is a founding trustee of Tonic Living – a fresh approach to older LGBT housing and care. She was awarded an OBE for services to tackling domestic violence in 2007 and is a long-time foster parent.

Chris Mills

Research Associate

Chris has experience of grant-making, programme evaluation, governance and financial management. At IVAR, he has worked on a range of strategic reviews and programme evaluation projects for grant- making trusts. Chris has a particular interest in how grant-making trusts can improve their processes and practices.

Previous work: As a former chartered accountant, Chris has worked in the charity sector in both financial and general management roles. He also has experience working for grant-making trusts, which includes leading the Racing Foundation in its formative years. He has a Masters degree in Voluntary and Community Sector Studies from Birkbeck, University of London.

Other interests: Chris is currently undertaking a PhD on volunteering in sport.

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Marilyn Taylor

Visiting Research Fellow

Marilyn’s work with IVAR mainly focusses on Big Local and place-based funding, and she was also involved, independently, as a learning advisor for the Community Organisers Programme. 

Previous work: Marilyn has carried out research in the voluntary sector for many years, first from within the sector at the Community Development Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and then, until 2009, as an academic at the Universities of Bristol, Brighton and the West of England.  

Other interests: Marilyn is a Visiting Professor at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is also Chair of the Research Advisory Group for NCVO, serves on the Editorial Boards of the Community Development Journal and Voluntas, and is a trustee of Involve. 

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Richard Usher

Research Associate

Richard’s work with IVAR has focussed on role of community-based organisations in achieving social change. He has expertise around community engagement; recruitment and management of volunteers; and partnership working between local authorities and the NHS. 

Previous work: Richard’s experience informs his practical and problem-solving based approach to research. His MA in Anthropology of Development informs his work and interest in sustainable development. 

Other interests: He is an independent consultant and Director of Just Ideas Sustainable Solutions Ltd, focussing on on research and evaluation, particularly examining outcomes frameworks, evaluation processes and participatory approaches to evaluation and learning. 


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Rebecca Moran

Research Associate

Rebecca is a published researcher with a Masters in Research Methods from Nottingham University. She has considerable experience in combining qualitative and quantitative research methods notably in a portfolio of survey work that she has led at IVAR.

Previous work: Over the past seven years, she has carried out primary research and literature reviews to support work on community assets, collaboration, capacity building and social investment as well as the governance of small organisations.

Other interests: Rebecca is currently undertaking a review for a regional third sector infrastructure organisation about the way they collect and make best use of data. She also volunteers for a children’s charity, helping to organise monthly, running-based activities that inspire healthier, happier and more confident children.

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Miranda Lewis

Research Associate

As an IVAR Associate, Miranda has worked on a number of evaluations, including CollaborationNI, Clore Social Leadership, the Atlantic Philanthropies learning partnership and Detention Action’s litigation on the Detained Fast Track initiative.

Previous work: She has worked in the voluntary sector since 1998. Previously Miranda was Associate Director and Head of Qualitative Research at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) thinktank, where she led work on understanding public attitudes to policy change and was head of IPPR’s flagship programme on the role of government and public behaviour change. Miranda published widely at IPPR and as media spokesperson regularly appeared on most news channels. Before IPPR, Miranda worked in Voluntary Service Overseas’ advocacy team for several years, working on policy and campaigns on HIV.

Photo of Mike Aiken
Mike Aiken

Research Associate

Mike’s worked with IVAR since 2004 on projects concerned with community development, advocacy, state/third sector representation mechanisms, community participation, impact and measurement, and community asset ownership. 

Previous work: Mike has designed and delivered short courses at international universities and across the UK. He’s worked in the sector for over 20 years at the Development Trusts Association, Community Matters and SCADU and remains active in local community action, national networks and campaigns. 

Other interests: Mike holds an MA in Social Policy and a PhD from the Open University he remains a Visiting Research Fellow. He is an active member of the VSSN (UK), Social Policy Association Action Research Network (CARN) and European Social Enterprise Research Network (EMES, Belgium). 

Photo of Helen Garforth
Helen Garforth

Research Associate

Helen is a specialist facilitator, writer and researcher with expertise in participatory learning and engagement, a passion for turning talk into action, and the skills to support people to explore different ways of doing things. Her work with IVAR focuses particularly on the facilitation of cross sector partnerships, including the Health and Social Value and Building Health Partnerships programmes. 

Previous work: Her professional and academic background enables her to bring an understanding of sustainable development to her work. Her career, including as CEO of a national charity, equips her with a wealth of practical experience and networks to tap into. 

Other interests: Helen is Director of Just Ideas Sustainable Solutions Ltd, a small consultancy supporting mainly public and voluntary sector organisations involved in social and environmental justice. 

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