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Vanessa Norris

Vanessa is the Events Coordinator, managing IVAR’s portfolio of events.

Previous work
Vanessa started her career at the BBC, working on a range of community engagement campaigns such as People’s War (an online archive of World War Two experience), The Big Read (finding the UK’s best loved books), and Breathing Places (creating spaces for nature).  After a career break to bring up her two children, Vanessa then worked as a primary Teaching Assistant.  More recently she coordinated Reading Oasis, a literacy campaign for the charity United Way UK which places library resources into primary schools.

Other interests 
Vanessa has always been passionate about working on campaigns which engage local communities and affect positive social change.  She has a degree in English, Film and Drama from Reading University and outside of work loves to read, hike and practice yoga.

Emily Dyson

Emily leads IVAR’s work to share insights gathered through research in a way that is clear, relevant and useful. 

Previous work
Before joining IVAR Emily led on evidence and strategy for #iwill, a communications campaign aiming to support more young people to get involved in social action. She has experience of engaging wide and diverse audiences from her time rotating between government departments on the Civil Service’s graduate programme where she worked closely with ministers, the military, charities, businesses, young people and civil servants across Whitehall.

Other interests
Emily enjoys developing research and bringing together stakeholders to shape communications that drive social change. Outside of work, she is a keen ceramics student and takes joy in cultivating her allotment.

Genevieve Brooks-Johnson

Previous work
Genevieve has over 10 years’ experience working within voluntary sector communications. After a marketing internship at the Old Vic Theatre, she moved into the voluntary sector as a volunteer and later an employee of the National Deaf Children’s Society. After a career break to complete a Masters degree in Medical Anthropology, she joined Sense, followed by Booktrust (running their annual events calendar) and then a legal PR agency before joining IVAR in 2014.


Other interests
In her spare time, she is part of a philosophy club and volunteers at a local library running the Baby Rhymetime session.

Richard Hopgood

Richard is also a trustee of Escaping Victimhood and was Director of the Henry Smith Charity for 10 years, prior to which he was Director of Policy for the Archbishops’ Council and Deputy Secretary of the Church Commissioners.

Nicola Steuer

Nicola is Director of the London School for Social Entrepreneurs. She has worked in the Voluntary sector for over 15 years including in the roles of Programme Director at Cripplegate Foundation, Programme Director and Head of the Centre for Wellbeing at New Economics Foundation (NEF), and Deputy Director and Consultancy Manager at the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES).

Jane Hatfield

Jane is Chair of the Board of trustees of IVAR. She has been involved with the organisation since its inception having developed an interest in action research when doing her Masters in Voluntary Sector Organisation at the London School of Economics.     Jane is chief executive of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, a membership body working to raise standards in contraceptive/sexual and reproductive healthcare across the UK. She has worked in the voluntary sector for over 25 years including at National Council for Voluntary Organisations, roles tackling HIV/AIDS and improving cancer care as Director of Policy and Research at Breast Cancer Care.     Jane has a particular interest in how voluntary organisations can work effectively in partnership with other sectors while retaining their independence. She has an MBA from Cranfield University and believes that the business sector has a great deal to learn from the non-profit sector – and occasionally vice versa.

Marilyn Taylor

Her work with IVAR has mainly focussed 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 been carrying 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.   Publications include “Public Policy in the Community” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) and (with Alison Gilchrist) “The Short Guide to Community Development”, now revised for a second edition with Policy Press (2016).    

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.

Tim Jones

Tim has been a trustee since 2006. He met Ben Cairns when they were both serving as governors at their children’s primary school. Tim is a Chartered Accountant and he works currently as Finance Director for Oxford Computer Group.     Previous work   He has worked in a number of positions over his career, ranging from senior positions at British Telecom, to being the Treasurer of an Oxford College – very different propositions in terms of size, scale and governance, in fact in almost every respect!     Other interests   Tim works in a number of voluntary positions. He remains a school governor, and has been Treasurer and Trustee for both Oxford Youth Choir and Oxford University Rugby Football Club. He enjoys cycling and wishes he could spend more time skiing.

Sam Brier

Sam has led the development of the Partnership Improvement Programme and been a facilitator of the Building Health Partnerships and the Health and Social Value programmes, as well as the strategic review work with organisations funded by the Tudor Trust and Lankelly Chase.    
Sam was chief executive of Kids, a national charity for disabled children, for seven years. Prior to that he was executive director of Norwood, a charity providing services to children and adults with learning disabilities.     He has a Masters degree in Public and Social Administration and a PhD in strategic decision-making in voluntary organisations.

Leila Baker

Leila was the Head of Research at IVAR for almost 10 years. She oversaw a portfolio of research and evaluation and led studies for the Big Lottery Fund, Charity Commission and the Child Sexual Exploitation Funders Alliance. She is particularly interested in small community-based organisations and has carried out research into their contribution to social change, their advocacy role and their experience of social finance. Over the past few years, Leila has developed learning partnerships with a number of voluntary organisations that are breaking new ground in their field and want to use research, evaluation and facilitation to help them learn and adapt their work. Recently created learning partnerships are with Commonweal Housing and Parents 1st.

Previous work

Leila is an experienced researcher and evaluator who has been working in the voluntary sector for twenty years, starting out as a volunteer in homelessness hostels in London and Oxford and later managing and commissioning research you for Shelter. Leila has worked as a volunteer, practitioner and trustee as well as researcher with a wide variety of small voluntary and community organisations, local authorities and housing associations as well as national charities and think tanks.

Other interests

She co-designs and delivers the Research into Practice course for doctoral students at the Institute of Education and is Chair of Waltham Forest Citizens Advice.