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Palmela Witter

Palmela is Project Manager for ‘Positive Futures Fund’, Southwark Council’s Knife Crime Community Safety programme. Palmela has over 20 years’ experience of working in local government and across the voluntary and community sector, both in a paid and a volunteer capacity, as well as an MSc in Voluntary and Community Sector Studies from Birkbeck, University of London.

Kamna Muralidharan

Kamna is Projects & Policy Officer at Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Co-Chair of Funders for Race Equality Alliance (@AllianceFRE), a member of The Edge Fund, and a Trustee at The Otakar Kraus Music Trust. Kamna’s background is in grassroots community development at Newham Asian Women’s Project; and she has an MA in Social Anthropology of Development from SOAS.

Anneessa Mahmood

Anneessa is Director of Member Services at the Community Transport Association UK and a Trustee of Wrexham Glyndwr Students’ Union. Between 2015 and 2017, Anneessa was a Youth Leadership Group Member of the Commission on Islam and Public Life; she is currently completing a Masters in People and Organisational Development at the Roffey Park Institute. 

Richard Jenkins

Biography coming soon

Gilly Green

Gilly has over 30 years’ experience in grant making and the voluntary sector. Gilly is an experienced senior manager and as UK Director of Comic Relief  for over 15 years until 2018, she oversaw the strategic direction of funding, managing an annual budget of about £40m. Gilly has developed responsive, devolved, participatory and proactive grant making programmes.  Her experience in a  high profile charity with significant public engagement has fine-tuned her skills in reach, communications and risk management. Gilly has many years’ experience of collaborative working, especially with Trusts and Foundations.  

Having now established her own consultancy business, Gilly undertakes strategic reviews, programme development, facilitation and organisational reviews. She also undertakes regular grants assessments for the City Bridge Trust to ensure a direct continued connection with the VCS. Gilly also works regularly  as an Independent consultant for the Kings Fund, managing the Cascading Leadership programme, a distinctive peer-to-peer leadership programme for the VCS.  Gilly has been an associate at IVAR since 2018.

Other interests

Gilly is a Trustee of Rosa, the UK’s only Women’s Fund and is  a founding trustee of Tonic Living – a fresh approach to older LGBT  housing and care. Gilly was awarded an OBE for services to tackling Domestic Violence in 2007.  She has a particular interest in refugees and migration and is a long time foster parent to an unaccompanied minor from east Africa.

Sonakshi Anand

Sonakshi is a Senior Researcher at IVAR, leading the Building Health Partnerships (BHP) programme. Her broad interests are in livelihoods, health, women empowerment, political economy, rural and urban poverty and community -led development.

Previous Experience

She is an action researcher with experience of enabling better livelihoods for different rural communities in India. In her previous work, she has contributed to writing research proposals, designing and implementing projects, leading training programmes and facilitating dialogues among stakeholders for influencing government policy. She has experience of working with different national and international donor agencies in India including  International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Ford Foundation, World Bank.

Other interests

With a background in sociology and psychology, coupled with a M.A in Development from India, she is passionate about contributing towards making people’s lives better through action research. Out of work, she can be found in the kitchen experimenting with new cuisines. She loves to visit vintage markets, museums and never misses an opportunity to travel.

Heather Petch

Heather Petch has over 30 years’ experience in the public and voluntary sectors including roles in housing, homelessness, community and advice projects. She has held two chief executive roles: Girls Alone Project, which accommodated and supported 50 young women; and, latterly, HACT, the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust which developed and tested community-based and supported housing solutions.


Since 2011 Heather has been working as a freelance consultant and facilitator with housing associations, supported housing, and community-based organisations, as well as charitable trusts and foundations. She undertakes evaluations, provides interim management and advises on and facilitates organisational change and strategic development.  Recent assignments have included: interim chief executive at the Building and Social Housing Foundation (now World Habitat); supporting the merger of LIFT and Crisis to form Crisis Brent; and interim management of economic justice and migration programmes at Barrow Cadbury Trust. Heather sits on the board of the Cardinal Hume Centre which provides housing and employment, welfare and immigration advice to young people and homeless families in central London, and is an adviser to the Joseph Rowntree Foundations’ Housing and Poverty programmes, including chairing its housing advisory board. She is an advisory board member of the social investment agency, Commonweal Housing, and is currently providing long-term evaluation support to the iterative evaluations of two of its projects.

Dr Vita Terry

Vita is an experienced researcher and has a long standing interest in the voluntary sector, actively participating in the refugee sector in different capacities such as a policy researcher and volunteer, and for several years has been a trustee of a small local HIV charity.

Previous experience
Before joining IVAR, she worked as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership, Open University, working on projects such as Lloyds Bank Foundation ‘The Value of Small’; Tracking the Transforming Rehabilitation programme; an Erasmus funded project on Entrepreneurial Leadership across European countries; and a collaborative leadership project. She has also worked as a Research Fellow at the Institute for Research into Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham, on projects including health seeking behaviour of residents in super-diverse areas and gender-based violence experienced along the refugee journey. She has been affiliated with the Third Sector Research Centre through working on the ‘Real Times’ project, and based there whilst undertaking an ESRC funded Social Policy PhD. Her PhD research project investigates how asylum seeker and refugee voluntary sector organisations navigate these challenging and complex times, with a particular focus on organisational change, and bringing back the role of actors and agency. Vita has also experienced working in a government setting whilst undertaking an ESRC funded internship at the Welsh Assembly.  

Other interests
More broadly Vita is interested in researching migration, integration, and issues around ethnic minority communities. Vita enjoys adopting different qualitative methods to co-produce research, including ethnography, visual methods and film-making. Outside of work, Vita enjoys hiking up mountains, autumnal walks with her dog and reading.

Annie Caffyn

Annie is a researcher with analytical and practical experience in the social sector and is committed to working towards equality and the widening of access to social opportunities. She is currently working on a social technology project at IVAR, exploring the barriers and opportunities that small voluntary organisations face in a digital environment, and the ways in which technology can be made more usable and relevant for the delivery of social welfare services.

Previous work
Before joining IVAR, Annie worked in rehabilitation centres and on education projects in Africa and the UK. She has a degree in History and Education and a Masters in Developmental Psychology from the University of Cambridge and worked as a researcher for the Tudor Trust.

Other interests
Annie enjoys being outdoors and practicing yoga in her spare time.

Chris Mills

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.