James Kofi Annan - Chair of the Board

President, Challenging Heights (Ghana)

James founded Challenging Heights in 2003 to protect children from slavery and trafficking, ensuring that no child endures what he went through himself as a child. A former child slave as of the age of six, James was forced to work in the fishing industry of Volta Lake for seven years before he managed to escape.

He was able to leave and attend university where he earned a bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s degree in Psychology, James. At Challenging Heights, he now manages a team of over 70 staff at Challenging Heights. In his quest to promote every child’s right to education and a loving family, James has driven a number of social and commercial initiatives.

He is a successful fundraiser and advocate, engaged with policy makers and stakeholders both nationally and internationally. For his dedication and commitment to the education and protection of children, James has won a number of prestigious awards, including the World’s Children’s Prize 2013, the Grinnell Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize 2011 and The Frederick Douglass Freedom Award.

Rita Panicker - Vice-Chair of the Board

Director, Butterflies (India)

Rita spent her early years at a residential public school in Pune, a progressive city in Western India. Exposed to social work while in college, she devoted weekends to a residential school for tribal children run by her aunt in Kerala. Once Rita decided to spend her life working for disadvantaged children, she registered at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Bombay and majored in social welfare administration. Soon after her graduation, she worked in the field of community health. After five years, Rita enrolled in the master’s program in development studies at the Institute of Social Sciences in Den Haag, the Netherlands. Upon her return to India, she taught at the Tata Institute, where her interest in street children grew. By the time she moved to Delhi in 1987, Rita had resolved to work with and for street children and founded the national NGO Butterflies. Rita was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1993. Watch a TEDx Talk by Rita.

Chaste Uwihoreye

Director, Uyisenga Ni Imanzi (Rwanda)

Chaste has 12 years’ experience working with children directly and indirectly affected by the Rwandan genocide and HIV/AIDS epidemic. A highly respected youth psychologist with a Masters in Clinical Psychology, Chaste has worked extensively with traumatised communities in Rwanda, creating a programme for the psychosocial support and livelihood development of orphans and widows. He has spearheaded projects for female victims of violence during conflict, victims of torture and serial rape, children-soldiers and young orphaned heads of households. He is also a talented youth mobiliser. In 2011, he established the Mwulire Peace Centre in Rwamagana, a community centre providing social, emotional and economic support for communities and promoting community solidarity. He has conducted several pieces of research which focus mainly on trauma in children and adolescents and he is passionate about empowering young people to effect change, particularly through training and education.

Omattie Madray

Executive Director, ChildLinK Inc (Guyana)

Omattie has over 20 years’ experience across the business and development sectors in strategic development, administration, finance, organisational and project management. Over the past 12 years, Omattie successfully lead the transition of EveryChild Guyana, a country office of EveryChild UK, to ChildLinK, a leading local NGO that advocates for policy changes and contributes to Guyana’s child protection system to safeguard children. Omattie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, a Diploma in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Yared Degefu

Executive Director, Forum on Sustainable Child Empowerment (Ethiopia)

Yared’s first exposure to children’s issues was in 1995, whilst working with the Jesuit Refugee Service. He went on to work at Mary Joy Development Association in Ethiopia, where he served as a Programme Head. In 2003 he joined the joint office of CAFOD, Trocaire and SCIAF, where he served for nine years, supporting many local partners’ programs that included care for children. Yared was a co-founder and active member of CAFOD’s multi-country HIV team, where he co-authored tools and guidelines. He has a BA in Management and an MBA training in Project Management. Yared joined Forum on Sustainable Child Empowerment (FSCE) in 2014.

Estella Duque Cuesta

Director, Taller de Vida (Colombia)

Estella founded Taller de Vida in 1994, after leading a group of women who faced socio-political violence in different areas of Colombia. Together they wanted to help transform the lives of children, young people, families and communities facing forced displacement, disappearance and armed conflict.

As a psychologist, with Master’s degrees in Systemic Family Therapy and Clinical Nursing, and a Systemic Coaching specialist, Estella has developed innovative methodologies for psycho-social intervention from rights-based and differential approaches. In addition, she has developed peace education processes that contribute to her work as a human rights activist and promoter of peace-building in Colombia.

Isabel Crowley

Chief Executive, JUCONI (Mexico)

Isabel has been working in the field of human rights for more than 35 years. She has spearheaded a range of measures to ensure the development and well-being of Mexican children and young people. These include birth registration, laws to protect the rights of children and adolescents, creating of the National System for the Comprehensive Protection of Children and Adolescents (SIPINNA) and ‘10xInfancia’, an initiative that includes ten priority actions to advance the agenda of the rights of children. Isabel joined JUCONI in late 2016.

Ian Hanham

Co-opted Trustee

Ian brings to our Board a strong knowledge on financial leadership and UK-charity governance. An accountant, Ian joined EveryChild in May 2010 from the British Red Cross where he was Head of Financial Planning and Reporting. Prior to this he worked in the international oil and gas sector in a variety of financial management, business performance and corporate governance roles. Ian is currently Deputy Finance Director at WaterAid.

Jane Dekker

Co-opted Trustee

Jane joined our Board at the end of 2014 bringing extensive experience in international Human Resources. Jane’s professional career spans over two decades with senior roles within the private sector oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and food industries as well as in local government. The majority of her Human Resources experience has been in international environments supporting senior management teams on strategic HR issues, whilst based in the UK and abroad. Jane works with a number of voluntary organisations in the Scottish Highlands where she now lives with her husband.

Trevor Pearcy

Co-opted Trustee

Trevor was an EveryChild Board member from 2006 to 2016. A retired English solicitor, Trevor has been involved in the voluntary sector for over 25 years and was Chair of the Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV charity, in the early 1990s. For over 25 years Trevor worked for IFPI, the international trade association for the music industry and was its Director of Administration and Planning, 1993-2006. From 2007 to 2010, Trevor held an executive role at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.