Executive Leadership Team

Chris Vf

Dr Chris Wilson

CEO

Dr Chris Wilson is the CEO at The Brilliant Club, an education charity committed to supporting the progression of under-represented pupils to university by mobilising the research community to work with schools. During his time at The Brilliant Club, Chris has been a PhD tutor, rolled out the charity’s provision across the UK, co-founded the teacher training programme Researchers in Schools, and launched the charity’s five-year strategy, The Path to Outcomes. Chris trained as a medieval historian at the universities of Cambridge and Exeter.

Chris Vf

Dr Chris Wilson

CEO

Dr Chris Wilson is the CEO at The Brilliant Club, an education charity committed to supporting the progression of under-represented pupils to university by mobilising the research community to work with schools. During his time at The Brilliant Club, Chris has been a PhD tutor, rolled out the charity’s provision across the UK, co-founded the teacher training programme Researchers in Schools, and launched the charity’s five-year strategy, The Path to Outcomes. Chris trained as a medieval historian at the universities of Cambridge and Exeter.

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Ciara Lynch

Chief Operating Officer

Ciara joined as Operations Director in August 2016, where she oversees Finance, HR, IT, Marketing and Communications. Prior to joining the charity, she was Vice President of Operations at a financial services firm, where she worked for five years. During this time, she managed a team of analysts delivering research to credit investors and was responsible for business change and new strategic initiatives. Ciara graduated with a Master’s Degree in the History of International Relations from University College Dublin and a BA (hons) in History and Politics, also from University College Dublin, with one year spent at Sciences Po in Paris. She also has a Graduate Diploma in Law. Outside of work, she enjoys running and travelling.

Richard E Small

Richard Eyre

Chief Programmes Officer

Richard leads the Programmes Division, which encompasses The Brilliant Club’s two programmes for schools and our Research and Impact Department. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Richard worked as a public policy and strategy consultant, advising education system leaders in the UK and internationally. From 2014-2016 he worked in Washington DC as strategy director at the US Education Delivery Institute. A graduate of the Civil Service Fast Steam, Richard spent the first nine years of his career in the Department for Education and then the Home Office, serving in a range of high-profile policy and delivery roles spanning education, children’s policy and policing and security. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge, where he studied law. Richard is proud to have attended a state comprehensive school and is passionate about giving more young people fair access to the best that higher education, and life, has to offer.

Chris Vf

Dr Chris Wilson

CEO

Dr Chris Wilson is the CEO at The Brilliant Club, an education charity committed to supporting the progression of under-represented pupils to university by mobilising the research community to work with schools. During his time at The Brilliant Club, Chris has been a PhD tutor, rolled out the charity’s provision across the UK, co-founded the teacher training programme Researchers in Schools, and launched the charity’s five-year strategy, The Path to Outcomes. Chris trained as a medieval historian at the universities of Cambridge and Exeter.

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Ciara Lynch

Chief Operating Officer

Ciara joined as Operations Director in August 2016, where she oversees Finance, HR, IT, Marketing and Communications. Prior to joining the charity, she was Vice President of Operations at a financial services firm, where she worked for five years. During this time, she managed a team of analysts delivering research to credit investors and was responsible for business change and new strategic initiatives. Ciara graduated with a Master’s Degree in the History of International Relations from University College Dublin and a BA (hons) in History and Politics, also from University College Dublin, with one year spent at Sciences Po in Paris. She also has a Graduate Diploma in Law. Outside of work, she enjoys running and travelling.

Richard E Small

Richard Eyre

Chief Programmes Officer

Richard leads the Programmes Division, which encompasses The Brilliant Club’s two programmes for schools and our Research and Impact Department. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Richard worked as a public policy and strategy consultant, advising education system leaders in the UK and internationally. From 2014-2016 he worked in Washington DC as strategy director at the US Education Delivery Institute. A graduate of the Civil Service Fast Steam, Richard spent the first nine years of his career in the Department for Education and then the Home Office, serving in a range of high-profile policy and delivery roles spanning education, children’s policy and policing and security. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge, where he studied law. Richard is proud to have attended a state comprehensive school and is passionate about giving more young people fair access to the best that higher education, and life, has to offer.

Hannah Lear 1

Hannah Lear

Personal Assistant to the COO and Operations Administrator

Hannah joined The Brilliant Club as Personal Assistant to the COO and Operations Administrator in August 2019. She is responsible for office organisation in the London office as well as diary management for two senior staff members. Hannah graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2017 with a degree in Sociology and Spanish. This led to her spending two years working in education in Colombia and Spain, working on her Spanish and learning more about the education sector abroad. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching yoga and travelling.

Lottie Persad

Lottie Persad

Personal Assistant to Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors

Lottie joined The Brilliant Club in August 2019 as the Personal Assistant to the Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors. Lottie graduated from King’s College London in 2019 with a BSc in Psychology. During her time at university, Lottie volunteered as a mentor for Lauriston Lights – a charity that provides a summer camp for highly academic children from low socioeconomic backgrounds – and was also a student mentor for new first-year Psychology students at King’s College London. Before attending university, Lottie lived and worked in The Netherlands for 6 months. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, cooking, and reading.

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Michelle Langley

Personal Assistant to the CEO

Michelle joined The Brilliant Club as Personal Assistant to the CEO in January 2018. Prior to joining the charity, she interned and worked in publishing for a number of years, supporting a team of literary agents at an international literary agency in her role as Receptionist and Contracts Assistant. Michelle graduated with an MA (hons) in English Literature from the University of Glasgow in 2012. Outside of work, Michelle is a keen reader and runner, volunteering as a Run Leader for A Mile in Her Shoes, a charity which encourages women who are at risk of homelessness or affected by related issues to try running as a way of exercising, socialising, lifting confidence and boosting self-esteem.

The Scholars Programme Department

Chris Vf

Dr Chris Wilson

CEO

Dr Chris Wilson is the CEO at The Brilliant Club, an education charity committed to supporting the progression of under-represented pupils to university by mobilising the research community to work with schools. During his time at The Brilliant Club, Chris has been a PhD tutor, rolled out the charity’s provision across the UK, co-founded the teacher training programme Researchers in Schools, and launched the charity’s five-year strategy, The Path to Outcomes. Chris trained as a medieval historian at the universities of Cambridge and Exeter.

ciara-lynch

Ciara Lynch

Chief Operating Officer

Ciara joined as Operations Director in August 2016, where she oversees Finance, HR, IT, Marketing and Communications. Prior to joining the charity, she was Vice President of Operations at a financial services firm, where she worked for five years. During this time, she managed a team of analysts delivering research to credit investors and was responsible for business change and new strategic initiatives. Ciara graduated with a Master’s Degree in the History of International Relations from University College Dublin and a BA (hons) in History and Politics, also from University College Dublin, with one year spent at Sciences Po in Paris. She also has a Graduate Diploma in Law. Outside of work, she enjoys running and travelling.

Richard E Small

Richard Eyre

Chief Programmes Officer

Richard leads the Programmes Division, which encompasses The Brilliant Club’s two programmes for schools and our Research and Impact Department. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Richard worked as a public policy and strategy consultant, advising education system leaders in the UK and internationally. From 2014-2016 he worked in Washington DC as strategy director at the US Education Delivery Institute. A graduate of the Civil Service Fast Steam, Richard spent the first nine years of his career in the Department for Education and then the Home Office, serving in a range of high-profile policy and delivery roles spanning education, children’s policy and policing and security. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge, where he studied law. Richard is proud to have attended a state comprehensive school and is passionate about giving more young people fair access to the best that higher education, and life, has to offer.

Hannah Lear 1

Hannah Lear

Personal Assistant to the COO and Operations Administrator

Hannah joined The Brilliant Club as Personal Assistant to the COO and Operations Administrator in August 2019. She is responsible for office organisation in the London office as well as diary management for two senior staff members. Hannah graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2017 with a degree in Sociology and Spanish. This led to her spending two years working in education in Colombia and Spain, working on her Spanish and learning more about the education sector abroad. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching yoga and travelling.

Lottie Persad

Lottie Persad

Personal Assistant to Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors

Lottie joined The Brilliant Club in August 2019 as the Personal Assistant to the Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors. Lottie graduated from King’s College London in 2019 with a BSc in Psychology. During her time at university, Lottie volunteered as a mentor for Lauriston Lights – a charity that provides a summer camp for highly academic children from low socioeconomic backgrounds – and was also a student mentor for new first-year Psychology students at King’s College London. Before attending university, Lottie lived and worked in The Netherlands for 6 months. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, cooking, and reading.

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Michelle Langley

Personal Assistant to the CEO

Michelle joined The Brilliant Club as Personal Assistant to the CEO in January 2018. Prior to joining the charity, she interned and worked in publishing for a number of years, supporting a team of literary agents at an international literary agency in her role as Receptionist and Contracts Assistant. Michelle graduated with an MA (hons) in English Literature from the University of Glasgow in 2012. Outside of work, Michelle is a keen reader and runner, volunteering as a Run Leader for A Mile in Her Shoes, a charity which encourages women who are at risk of homelessness or affected by related issues to try running as a way of exercising, socialising, lifting confidence and boosting self-esteem.

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Susie Whigham

National Programme Director, The Scholars Programme

As National Programme Director Susie oversees the impact, growth and development of The Scholars Programme. Susie has been committed to tackling educational disadvantage throughout her career and ensuring that young people from underrepresented backgrounds have the opportunities and support to reach their potential. As part of the first cohort of Teach First Susie taught English in a secondary school in South-West London. During this time she set up a charity, Trust Youth, to support Year 10 pupils to develop the skills and experience to run fundraising campaigns for national charities. She subsequently worked as a Literacy Consultant for the government’s National Strategies programme in schools. As Executive Director of Services at School-Home Support, Susie has more recently had responsibility for a range of programmes tackling the underlying barriers to learning within the home, including the Troubled Families and the Parent Support Advisor initiatives.

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Leanne Adamson

National Programme Director, The Scholars Programme

Leanne studied Joint Honours in Chemistry and Physics at Durham University, where she received a First Class BSc and MSci. Upon graduating in 2011, she joined the Teach First programme where she taught Science at Churchill Community College in Newcastle for two years. Leanne has a strong interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and is passionate about helping more pupils progress into STEM related fields. She joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer in 2013 and became National Programme Director for The Scholars Programme in 2017.

Abigail Cakebread-Andrews

Abby Cakebread-Andrews

Programme Officer - East

Abby joined The Brilliant Club in March 2018 as Programme Officer for the East of England. She graduated from Lancaster University in 2015, where she studied French and History including spending a year living and working in Paris. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Abby worked at a high school in North Wales having completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. At the same time, she was involved in a variety of volunteering opportunities and experiences with other charities. Outside of work, Abby has interests in travel, fitness and food.

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Amy Simkin

Team Administrator - North

Amy joined The Brilliant Club in July 2018 as Programme Administrator for the North of England. She studied Mathematics at the University of York, where she received a First Class BSc. During her time at university, she spent nine months living and studying Mathematics in Bordeaux. Outside of work, Amy enjoys yoga, reading and travelling both within the UK and abroad.

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Dr Andrew Fleming

Regional Manager - South

Andy joined the Brilliant Club in March 2016 as a Programme Officer for London and the South East. Prior to joining the charity, Andy completed an AHRC-funded DPhil in History at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford, looking at sainthood and politics in medieval England. He has also worked as teacher in Indonesia and the Bahamas.

Annabel Small

Annabel Marcuse

Area Director - East

Annabel joined The Brilliant Club in February 2017. As Area Director, she oversees programme delivery, recruitment and partnerships for The Scholars Programme in the East of England. Upon graduating from the University of Durham in 2013, where she studied Modern Foreign Languages, Annabel completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. She taught French, Spanish and Latin, and was Head of French in two London secondary schools prior to joining The Brilliant Club.  Outside of work, Annabel is a keen supporter of Watford Football Club.

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Dr Anna-Marie Linnell

Regional Manager - West

Anna-Marie joined The Brilliant Club in October 2016 as a Programme Officer for the London region. She studied an undergraduate and masters degree at the University of Exeter, before completing a PhD as part of the AHRC Stuart Successions Project. While working on her doctorate, Anna-Marie also established and led a community history project called Staging Exeter, which was funded by RCUK. She is passionate about helping researchers create impact from their research.

Aysha Begum

Aysha Begum

Programme Administrator - West

I am the administrator for Team West, so my responsibility is looking after all the schools in the West of England as well as Wales! I’m also recruitment administration for tutors joining the Scholars programme. I’ve previously worked in a variety of places, most recently in a comms and PR agency and before that, working on internships and events at the SOAS Careers Service. At University I studied International Relations and Economics at SOAS with a focus on East Asia and development. I’m passionate about learning languages and have spent two months working in Beijing and passionate about social mobility especially increasing access to education for women and migrant communities. Outside of work I love travelling, eating Korean food, binge watching tv shows, reading conspiracy theories and reading up on identity politics.

Claire Harrill

Dr Claire Harrill

Programme Officer - West

Claire joined The Brilliant Club in November 2017 as the first Programme Officer for Wales and the South West. In her previous life she was a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, lecturing on Chaucer and Medieval Romance, via studying Medieval Literature at LMH, Oxford as an undergraduate, then an MA in Medieval Literatures at York, and a PhD at Birmingham. She came to The Brilliant Club via being a tutor on her own course ‘Reading and Writing Medieval Women’ about the (surprisingly many) women writers of the Middle Ages. In her free time, Claire likes long walks, going to the theatre and taking selfies with her cat, Chaucer.

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David Jones

Director of Education and Development

David joined The Brilliant Club in 2015 as a Programme Officer before becoming the Teaching and Learning Manager for The Scholars Programme in March 2016. David graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2010, where he studied Modern History. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, David worked at an educational charity running supplementary schools before going to complete his PGCE at the University of Bath. David then worked as a Year 5 class teacher at Belleville Primary School in south London.

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Farzana Lodhi

Programme Administrator, Teaching and Learning

Farzana joined The Brilliant Club in September 2018 as Programme Administrator for the Teaching and Learning Team. She graduated from SOAS university in 2018, where she studied Arabic and International Relations including spending a year living and studying in Fez, Morocco. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Farzana worked as an administrator for the Widening Participation team at SOAS university, was a senior Student Ambassador, and worked with Debate Mate as a debate coach in primary schools. She has also been involved in advocating for women’s rights through volunteering opportunities abroad in Egypt and Morocco. Outside of work, Farzana has interests in travel, food, and post-colonial literature.

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Greg Scannell

National Manager - Wales

Greg joined as National Manager for Wales, in January 2017, overseeing the growth and running of The Scholars Programme following its launch in Wales in Autumn 2016. Prior to joining the charity, he was a Leadership Development Officer for Teach First Cymru supporting new teachers entering the profession with both their practice and their well-being. Greg also worked for 5 years as a Humanities teacher at a large South West Wales Comprehensive school and as an Access Assistant Coordinator at the University of Oxford. He graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Master’s Degree in Education and a BA (Hons) in Theology from the University of Oxford. Outside of work, Greg enjoys spending time with his young family and attending live music and sports events.

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Hannah Dodgson

Programme Administrator - South

Hannah joined The Brilliant Club in 2018 as Programme Administrator for the South team. Prior to joining the organisation she interned at an international development charity and worked as communications and administration assistant for The Hextol Foundation; a charity which provides working opportunities for individuals with disabilities. She graduated from The University of Liverpool with a BA Geography degree. During her time at university she held a position as course representative, was a member of the committee for the Amnesty International Society and worked on school outreach programmes. Hannah is passionate about gender empowerment, human rights and reducing inequality. She spent time volunteering in Zambia on a project reducing the stigma and prevalence of HIV and AIDS. In her spare time she likes to travel, read and listen to podcasts.

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Harriet Mok

Programme Officer - South

Harriet joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the South of England in September 2019. Harriet studied for a MSc in Infection and Immunity, and prior to joining the charity obtained a PhD in Virology from UCL. Her doctoral thesis investigated how viruses use host cells to facilitate their replication cycles. She maintains a strong interest in molecular and cellular biology and is enthusiastic about STEM outreach. Throughout her time in higher education Harriet was involved with increasing the interest of students in science subjects and worked on the equality, diversity, and inclusion committee to promote good practice in the workplace and deliver various outreach and widening participation initiatives. In addition to her love of science, Harriet enjoys yoga, climbing, and going to gigs.

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Dr Helen Carr

Regional Manager - East

Helen joined The Brilliant Club in February 2018 after completing a PhD in History at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her undergraduate degree was in Modern History at the University of St Andrews. After graduating, she trained to teach and worked for 9 years as a secondary history teacher, initially in Hull and then in Cairo. Whilst teaching, she completed a Masters in Education which investigated pupils’ responses to learning about the Holocaust. Whilst working on her PhD, she also worked at the Holocaust Educational Trust, firstly on the Trust’s outreach programme and then on the teacher training programme.

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Holly Hinks

Special Projects Officer

Holly joined The Brilliant Club in December 2017 as the Personal Assistant to the Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors. Holly graduated from the University of Nottingham with a BSc in Psychology. At university, Holly worked as a student ambassador for the Widening Participation team and was a Social Secretary for the University Trampolining Club. Before joining The Brilliant Club, she worked as a Team Leader for the National Citizen Service summer programme and then as a Product Support Assistant for a learning journal software company.

Jade Lawson

Dr Jade Lawson

Programme Officer - North

Jade joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer in the North of England in August 2019. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Jade completed her PhD in contemporary German and World Literatures at the University of Leeds, in which she examined how female authors reflected simultaneously upon both traumatic memory and current political, societal and environmental concerns. During her PhD, Jade worked in Educational Engagement and Outreach at the University of Leeds and also worked with Leeds Development Education Centre on a number of education research projects.

Joanna Pickets

Joanna Pickets

Programme Officer - South

Joanna joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the South of England in September 2019. Prior to this, Joanna studied English Literature and Philosophy at the University of Bristol where she was involved in a range of school outreach programmes. She then completed the Teach First programme and taught English at two secondary schools in London. During her teaching summer holidays, Joanna delivered Limited Resources Teacher Training with the organisation LRTT in Tanzania and Nepal. Following this, she worked as a Programme Officer and Head of Enrichment (organising tuition and university trips for pupils from under-represented backgrounds) at the educational charity Team Up. Outside of work, Joanna enjoys travelling, swimming and running.

Kathryn Van De Wiel

Dr Kathryn van de Wiel

Programme Officer - West

Kathryn joined The Brilliant Club after completing her PhD in Classics and Ancient History at The University of Warwick. Her doctoral thesis investigated the classification of apotropaic phallic imagery found at the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, particularly in terms of the sites’ celebrated rediscovery during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Accordingly, she maintains a strong interest in the heritage and cultural sector and popular engagement with the ancient past. Throughout her time at Warwick, Kathryn was heavily involved in the design and delivery of various outreach, widening participation and public engagement initiatives, including devising and overseeing the Classics Department’s Sutton Trust Summer Schools. In her free time, she enjoys being a nerd in museums and art galleries, visiting historical sites across the UK, going to the gym, and drawing.

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Dr Katrina Roberts

Regional Manager - North

Katrina joined as Programme Officer for the North of England in August 2016. Prior to joining the charity, Katrina graduated from The University of Sheffield, where she studied a PhD in Reproductive Biology and Genetics at undergraduate. Katrina’s PhD research project involved investigating the interactions between a common herpesvirus and human sperm.

Laura Johnstone

Laura Johnstone

National Manager - Scotland

Laura joined as National Manager for Scotland, in August 2019, to continue the development of The Scholars Programme in Scotland following its launch in 2017. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Laura was Senior Programme Coordinator for FOCUS West, a widening access organisation forming part of the Scottish national Schools for Higher Education Programme. Prior to this, Laura worked for the University of the West of Scotland as part of the Student Recruitment team and has previously worked within University of Strathclyde in various schools outreach and widening access roles. Laura studied LLB Law at University of Strathclyde as well as obtaining a PGDip in Environmental Entrepreneurship at the same university. Outside of work, Laura enjoys baking, being outdoors and spending time with family.

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Dr Lauren Mottle

Programme Officer - North

Lauren joined the Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the North of England in March 2019. Before joining the Brilliant Club, Lauren worked with the charity as a PhD Tutor and completed her PhD in History at the University of Leeds. Her PhD research examined the anti-war protest of American soldiers and veterans during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. She is originally from New Jersey in the United States and loves to cook, bake and read in her spare time and ride horses any chance she gets!

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Lydia Wiles

Regional Manager - South

Lydia joined The Scholars Programme as a Programme Officer in September 2017. She gained a BA (hons) History degree from the University of Birmingham before completing the Teach First leadership development programme, where she taught History at a secondary school on the Isle of Dogs. During her time teaching, Lydia was Head of Holocaust Education and KS3 History.

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Maria Crawford

Programme Officer - West

Maria previously worked in Outreach at Aston University, University of Birmingham and with Aimhigher West Midlands, running programmes for schools from disadvantaged backgrounds. Prior to that, she studied Music at University of Southampton where she was involved in the STEM Roadshow, taking researchers work out into the wider community in accessible and interactive formats.

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Dr Natalie Day

Area Director - North

Natalie joined the Brilliant Club in April 2016 as a Programme Officer for the North of England. Prior to joining the charity, Natalie completed an ESRC-funded PhD in Sociology at Newcastle University, exploring the formal and informal sexual learning processes of young heterosexual women in Northeast Brazil.

Nikita Vyas

Nikita Vyas

Programme Officer - East

Nikita joined the Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the East of England in August 2019. Prior to this, Nikita studied French and English at the University of Leicester where she was involved in a range of school outreach programmes. She then completed Teach First programme and taught French at a secondary school in North East Lincolnshire. Nikita has also worked in higher education and has spent several years living and working in France. Unsurprisingly, she is a complete Francophile and loves cooking, cats and exploring new (preferably French-speaking) places.

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Polly Mason

Programme Administrator - East

Polly joined The Brilliant Club in September 2018 as Programme Administrator for the East of England team. Prior to this, she graduated from the University of Oxford, where she studied French and Spanish, before moving to Santiago de Chile for a year to work as an English teacher. She also has experience in journalism and has spent time living and working in France and Spain. Outside of work, Polly’s interests include vegan cooking, reading, and climate justice.

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Phoebe Rudgard

Programme Officer - South

Phoebe joined The Scholars Programme in August 2019 as a Programme Officer for the South of England. She graduated with a first-class degree in Philosophy and Politics from The University of Bristol in 2016 before completing the Teach First Leadership Development Programme, teaching for two years in a primary school in Essex. Whilst there, she helped to introduce Philosophy for Children into the curriculum, promoting critical thinking within the classroom. She is also passionate about educating students from a young age on global issues including refugee rights and women’s equality. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Phoebe spent time volunteering within limited resource contexts in both Greece and Nepal. Outside of work, she enjoys travelling, cooking and listening to podcasts.

Rosa Smith

Rosa Smith

Area Director - West

Rosa joined The Brilliant Club in September 2017 and worked as part of the Researchers in Schools team before moving over to The Scholar’s Programme as Area Director in August 2019. She graduated from the University of Exeter, where she studied English. Prior to joining the charity she completed the Teach First Programme and taught English for five years at a secondary school in South-East London. During this time she was also KS5 lead and then Head of 6th form. She remains committed to improving access to selective universities and raising student aspirations.

Siri Minsaas

Siri Minsaas

Programme Officer - South

Siri joined The Brilliant Club in August 2018 as a Programme Officer. She graduated with a degree in international relations from Durham University in 2014, and then spent a year as Junior Common Room President at her college in Durham.  Siri then did her teacher training with Teach First, working as an English teacher at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, Hartlepool. After moving to London, Siri worked as an English and media studies teacher at Highlands School in Enfield. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, she completed her MA in Educational Leadership at the University of Warwick, focusing on the value of aspiration in schools. Outside work, Siri enjoys travelling and baking.

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Sophie Callin

Programme Officer - North

Sophie joined the Brilliant Club as Programme Officer for the North of England in August 2018. She studied Mathematics at the University of York and, upon graduating in 2015, trained to teach through Teach First. Sophie first taught at a small community school in West Yorkshire, developing an interest in the barriers facing students in rural areas, and then at Huntington School in York, one of the first Research Schools in England. Outside of work, Sophie enjoys exploring the Yorkshire countryside and going back to her beloved home, the Isle of Man.

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Steph Hamilton

Area Director - South

Steph joined The Brilliant Club in August 2015 as The East of England Regional Director. She graduated from Durham University in 2012, where she studied Anthropology. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, Steph was Head of Biology and Aspirations Coordinator at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, Hartlepool, where she taught for three years, after training with Teach First. As part of her role Steph was also the Lead teacher for The Scholars’ Programme at Dyke House, seeing many of her own pupils through the programme. Steph is passionate about extending access opportunities to rural and coastal communities, an interest which has grown out of her work in the North East and which prompted her to join and lead The Brilliant Club’s expanding of the South of England team.

Teresa Phipps

Dr Teresa Phipps

Programme Officer - Wales

Teresa joined as Programme Officer for Wales in August 2019. Before joining The Brilliant Club she worked on a research project at Swansea University, researching and publishing on women’s access to justice in medieval towns, looking at their involvement in different types of litigation as well as local policing and regulation. This was also the subject of her PhD research completed at the University of Nottingham in 2015. She also worked as an outreach officer working with primary schools in the Widening Participation team at the University of Nottingham. Away from work, she enjoys going to the gym, cooking and admiring other people’s dogs.

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Dr Victoria Symons

Programme Officer - South

Researchers in Schools Department

Chris Vf

Dr Chris Wilson

CEO

Dr Chris Wilson is the CEO at The Brilliant Club, an education charity committed to supporting the progression of under-represented pupils to university by mobilising the research community to work with schools. During his time at The Brilliant Club, Chris has been a PhD tutor, rolled out the charity’s provision across the UK, co-founded the teacher training programme Researchers in Schools, and launched the charity’s five-year strategy, The Path to Outcomes. Chris trained as a medieval historian at the universities of Cambridge and Exeter.

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Ciara Lynch

Chief Operating Officer

Ciara joined as Operations Director in August 2016, where she oversees Finance, HR, IT, Marketing and Communications. Prior to joining the charity, she was Vice President of Operations at a financial services firm, where she worked for five years. During this time, she managed a team of analysts delivering research to credit investors and was responsible for business change and new strategic initiatives. Ciara graduated with a Master’s Degree in the History of International Relations from University College Dublin and a BA (hons) in History and Politics, also from University College Dublin, with one year spent at Sciences Po in Paris. She also has a Graduate Diploma in Law. Outside of work, she enjoys running and travelling.

Richard E Small

Richard Eyre

Chief Programmes Officer

Richard leads the Programmes Division, which encompasses The Brilliant Club’s two programmes for schools and our Research and Impact Department. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Richard worked as a public policy and strategy consultant, advising education system leaders in the UK and internationally. From 2014-2016 he worked in Washington DC as strategy director at the US Education Delivery Institute. A graduate of the Civil Service Fast Steam, Richard spent the first nine years of his career in the Department for Education and then the Home Office, serving in a range of high-profile policy and delivery roles spanning education, children’s policy and policing and security. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge, where he studied law. Richard is proud to have attended a state comprehensive school and is passionate about giving more young people fair access to the best that higher education, and life, has to offer.

Hannah Lear 1

Hannah Lear

Personal Assistant to the COO and Operations Administrator

Hannah joined The Brilliant Club as Personal Assistant to the COO and Operations Administrator in August 2019. She is responsible for office organisation in the London office as well as diary management for two senior staff members. Hannah graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2017 with a degree in Sociology and Spanish. This led to her spending two years working in education in Colombia and Spain, working on her Spanish and learning more about the education sector abroad. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching yoga and travelling.

Lottie Persad

Lottie Persad

Personal Assistant to Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors

Lottie joined The Brilliant Club in August 2019 as the Personal Assistant to the Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors. Lottie graduated from King’s College London in 2019 with a BSc in Psychology. During her time at university, Lottie volunteered as a mentor for Lauriston Lights – a charity that provides a summer camp for highly academic children from low socioeconomic backgrounds – and was also a student mentor for new first-year Psychology students at King’s College London. Before attending university, Lottie lived and worked in The Netherlands for 6 months. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, cooking, and reading.

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Michelle Langley

Personal Assistant to the CEO

Michelle joined The Brilliant Club as Personal Assistant to the CEO in January 2018. Prior to joining the charity, she interned and worked in publishing for a number of years, supporting a team of literary agents at an international literary agency in her role as Receptionist and Contracts Assistant. Michelle graduated with an MA (hons) in English Literature from the University of Glasgow in 2012. Outside of work, Michelle is a keen reader and runner, volunteering as a Run Leader for A Mile in Her Shoes, a charity which encourages women who are at risk of homelessness or affected by related issues to try running as a way of exercising, socialising, lifting confidence and boosting self-esteem.

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Susie Whigham

National Programme Director, The Scholars Programme

As National Programme Director Susie oversees the impact, growth and development of The Scholars Programme. Susie has been committed to tackling educational disadvantage throughout her career and ensuring that young people from underrepresented backgrounds have the opportunities and support to reach their potential. As part of the first cohort of Teach First Susie taught English in a secondary school in South-West London. During this time she set up a charity, Trust Youth, to support Year 10 pupils to develop the skills and experience to run fundraising campaigns for national charities. She subsequently worked as a Literacy Consultant for the government’s National Strategies programme in schools. As Executive Director of Services at School-Home Support, Susie has more recently had responsibility for a range of programmes tackling the underlying barriers to learning within the home, including the Troubled Families and the Parent Support Advisor initiatives.

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Leanne Adamson

National Programme Director, The Scholars Programme

Leanne studied Joint Honours in Chemistry and Physics at Durham University, where she received a First Class BSc and MSci. Upon graduating in 2011, she joined the Teach First programme where she taught Science at Churchill Community College in Newcastle for two years. Leanne has a strong interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and is passionate about helping more pupils progress into STEM related fields. She joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer in 2013 and became National Programme Director for The Scholars Programme in 2017.

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Abby Cakebread-Andrews

Programme Officer - East

Abby joined The Brilliant Club in March 2018 as Programme Officer for the East of England. She graduated from Lancaster University in 2015, where she studied French and History including spending a year living and working in Paris. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Abby worked at a high school in North Wales having completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. At the same time, she was involved in a variety of volunteering opportunities and experiences with other charities. Outside of work, Abby has interests in travel, fitness and food.

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Amy Simkin

Team Administrator - North

Amy joined The Brilliant Club in July 2018 as Programme Administrator for the North of England. She studied Mathematics at the University of York, where she received a First Class BSc. During her time at university, she spent nine months living and studying Mathematics in Bordeaux. Outside of work, Amy enjoys yoga, reading and travelling both within the UK and abroad.

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Dr Andrew Fleming

Regional Manager - South

Andy joined the Brilliant Club in March 2016 as a Programme Officer for London and the South East. Prior to joining the charity, Andy completed an AHRC-funded DPhil in History at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford, looking at sainthood and politics in medieval England. He has also worked as teacher in Indonesia and the Bahamas.

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Annabel Marcuse

Area Director - East

Annabel joined The Brilliant Club in February 2017. As Area Director, she oversees programme delivery, recruitment and partnerships for The Scholars Programme in the East of England. Upon graduating from the University of Durham in 2013, where she studied Modern Foreign Languages, Annabel completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. She taught French, Spanish and Latin, and was Head of French in two London secondary schools prior to joining The Brilliant Club.  Outside of work, Annabel is a keen supporter of Watford Football Club.

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Dr Anna-Marie Linnell

Regional Manager - West

Anna-Marie joined The Brilliant Club in October 2016 as a Programme Officer for the London region. She studied an undergraduate and masters degree at the University of Exeter, before completing a PhD as part of the AHRC Stuart Successions Project. While working on her doctorate, Anna-Marie also established and led a community history project called Staging Exeter, which was funded by RCUK. She is passionate about helping researchers create impact from their research.

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Aysha Begum

Programme Administrator - West

I am the administrator for Team West, so my responsibility is looking after all the schools in the West of England as well as Wales! I’m also recruitment administration for tutors joining the Scholars programme. I’ve previously worked in a variety of places, most recently in a comms and PR agency and before that, working on internships and events at the SOAS Careers Service. At University I studied International Relations and Economics at SOAS with a focus on East Asia and development. I’m passionate about learning languages and have spent two months working in Beijing and passionate about social mobility especially increasing access to education for women and migrant communities. Outside of work I love travelling, eating Korean food, binge watching tv shows, reading conspiracy theories and reading up on identity politics.

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Dr Claire Harrill

Programme Officer - West

Claire joined The Brilliant Club in November 2017 as the first Programme Officer for Wales and the South West. In her previous life she was a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, lecturing on Chaucer and Medieval Romance, via studying Medieval Literature at LMH, Oxford as an undergraduate, then an MA in Medieval Literatures at York, and a PhD at Birmingham. She came to The Brilliant Club via being a tutor on her own course ‘Reading and Writing Medieval Women’ about the (surprisingly many) women writers of the Middle Ages. In her free time, Claire likes long walks, going to the theatre and taking selfies with her cat, Chaucer.

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David Jones

Director of Education and Development

David joined The Brilliant Club in 2015 as a Programme Officer before becoming the Teaching and Learning Manager for The Scholars Programme in March 2016. David graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2010, where he studied Modern History. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, David worked at an educational charity running supplementary schools before going to complete his PGCE at the University of Bath. David then worked as a Year 5 class teacher at Belleville Primary School in south London.

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Farzana Lodhi

Programme Administrator, Teaching and Learning

Farzana joined The Brilliant Club in September 2018 as Programme Administrator for the Teaching and Learning Team. She graduated from SOAS university in 2018, where she studied Arabic and International Relations including spending a year living and studying in Fez, Morocco. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Farzana worked as an administrator for the Widening Participation team at SOAS university, was a senior Student Ambassador, and worked with Debate Mate as a debate coach in primary schools. She has also been involved in advocating for women’s rights through volunteering opportunities abroad in Egypt and Morocco. Outside of work, Farzana has interests in travel, food, and post-colonial literature.

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Greg Scannell

National Manager - Wales

Greg joined as National Manager for Wales, in January 2017, overseeing the growth and running of The Scholars Programme following its launch in Wales in Autumn 2016. Prior to joining the charity, he was a Leadership Development Officer for Teach First Cymru supporting new teachers entering the profession with both their practice and their well-being. Greg also worked for 5 years as a Humanities teacher at a large South West Wales Comprehensive school and as an Access Assistant Coordinator at the University of Oxford. He graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Master’s Degree in Education and a BA (Hons) in Theology from the University of Oxford. Outside of work, Greg enjoys spending time with his young family and attending live music and sports events.

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Hannah Dodgson

Programme Administrator - South

Hannah joined The Brilliant Club in 2018 as Programme Administrator for the South team. Prior to joining the organisation she interned at an international development charity and worked as communications and administration assistant for The Hextol Foundation; a charity which provides working opportunities for individuals with disabilities. She graduated from The University of Liverpool with a BA Geography degree. During her time at university she held a position as course representative, was a member of the committee for the Amnesty International Society and worked on school outreach programmes. Hannah is passionate about gender empowerment, human rights and reducing inequality. She spent time volunteering in Zambia on a project reducing the stigma and prevalence of HIV and AIDS. In her spare time she likes to travel, read and listen to podcasts.

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Harriet Mok

Programme Officer - South

Harriet joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the South of England in September 2019. Harriet studied for a MSc in Infection and Immunity, and prior to joining the charity obtained a PhD in Virology from UCL. Her doctoral thesis investigated how viruses use host cells to facilitate their replication cycles. She maintains a strong interest in molecular and cellular biology and is enthusiastic about STEM outreach. Throughout her time in higher education Harriet was involved with increasing the interest of students in science subjects and worked on the equality, diversity, and inclusion committee to promote good practice in the workplace and deliver various outreach and widening participation initiatives. In addition to her love of science, Harriet enjoys yoga, climbing, and going to gigs.

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Dr Helen Carr

Regional Manager - East

Helen joined The Brilliant Club in February 2018 after completing a PhD in History at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her undergraduate degree was in Modern History at the University of St Andrews. After graduating, she trained to teach and worked for 9 years as a secondary history teacher, initially in Hull and then in Cairo. Whilst teaching, she completed a Masters in Education which investigated pupils’ responses to learning about the Holocaust. Whilst working on her PhD, she also worked at the Holocaust Educational Trust, firstly on the Trust’s outreach programme and then on the teacher training programme.

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Holly Hinks

Special Projects Officer

Holly joined The Brilliant Club in December 2017 as the Personal Assistant to the Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors. Holly graduated from the University of Nottingham with a BSc in Psychology. At university, Holly worked as a student ambassador for the Widening Participation team and was a Social Secretary for the University Trampolining Club. Before joining The Brilliant Club, she worked as a Team Leader for the National Citizen Service summer programme and then as a Product Support Assistant for a learning journal software company.

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Dr Jade Lawson

Programme Officer - North

Jade joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer in the North of England in August 2019. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Jade completed her PhD in contemporary German and World Literatures at the University of Leeds, in which she examined how female authors reflected simultaneously upon both traumatic memory and current political, societal and environmental concerns. During her PhD, Jade worked in Educational Engagement and Outreach at the University of Leeds and also worked with Leeds Development Education Centre on a number of education research projects.

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Joanna Pickets

Programme Officer - South

Joanna joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the South of England in September 2019. Prior to this, Joanna studied English Literature and Philosophy at the University of Bristol where she was involved in a range of school outreach programmes. She then completed the Teach First programme and taught English at two secondary schools in London. During her teaching summer holidays, Joanna delivered Limited Resources Teacher Training with the organisation LRTT in Tanzania and Nepal. Following this, she worked as a Programme Officer and Head of Enrichment (organising tuition and university trips for pupils from under-represented backgrounds) at the educational charity Team Up. Outside of work, Joanna enjoys travelling, swimming and running.

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Dr Kathryn van de Wiel

Programme Officer - West

Kathryn joined The Brilliant Club after completing her PhD in Classics and Ancient History at The University of Warwick. Her doctoral thesis investigated the classification of apotropaic phallic imagery found at the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, particularly in terms of the sites’ celebrated rediscovery during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Accordingly, she maintains a strong interest in the heritage and cultural sector and popular engagement with the ancient past. Throughout her time at Warwick, Kathryn was heavily involved in the design and delivery of various outreach, widening participation and public engagement initiatives, including devising and overseeing the Classics Department’s Sutton Trust Summer Schools. In her free time, she enjoys being a nerd in museums and art galleries, visiting historical sites across the UK, going to the gym, and drawing.

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Dr Katrina Roberts

Regional Manager - North

Katrina joined as Programme Officer for the North of England in August 2016. Prior to joining the charity, Katrina graduated from The University of Sheffield, where she studied a PhD in Reproductive Biology and Genetics at undergraduate. Katrina’s PhD research project involved investigating the interactions between a common herpesvirus and human sperm.

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Laura Johnstone

National Manager - Scotland

Laura joined as National Manager for Scotland, in August 2019, to continue the development of The Scholars Programme in Scotland following its launch in 2017. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Laura was Senior Programme Coordinator for FOCUS West, a widening access organisation forming part of the Scottish national Schools for Higher Education Programme. Prior to this, Laura worked for the University of the West of Scotland as part of the Student Recruitment team and has previously worked within University of Strathclyde in various schools outreach and widening access roles. Laura studied LLB Law at University of Strathclyde as well as obtaining a PGDip in Environmental Entrepreneurship at the same university. Outside of work, Laura enjoys baking, being outdoors and spending time with family.

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Dr Lauren Mottle

Programme Officer - North

Lauren joined the Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the North of England in March 2019. Before joining the Brilliant Club, Lauren worked with the charity as a PhD Tutor and completed her PhD in History at the University of Leeds. Her PhD research examined the anti-war protest of American soldiers and veterans during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. She is originally from New Jersey in the United States and loves to cook, bake and read in her spare time and ride horses any chance she gets!

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Lydia Wiles

Regional Manager - South

Lydia joined The Scholars Programme as a Programme Officer in September 2017. She gained a BA (hons) History degree from the University of Birmingham before completing the Teach First leadership development programme, where she taught History at a secondary school on the Isle of Dogs. During her time teaching, Lydia was Head of Holocaust Education and KS3 History.

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Maria Crawford

Programme Officer - West

Maria previously worked in Outreach at Aston University, University of Birmingham and with Aimhigher West Midlands, running programmes for schools from disadvantaged backgrounds. Prior to that, she studied Music at University of Southampton where she was involved in the STEM Roadshow, taking researchers work out into the wider community in accessible and interactive formats.

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Dr Natalie Day

Area Director - North

Natalie joined the Brilliant Club in April 2016 as a Programme Officer for the North of England. Prior to joining the charity, Natalie completed an ESRC-funded PhD in Sociology at Newcastle University, exploring the formal and informal sexual learning processes of young heterosexual women in Northeast Brazil.

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Nikita Vyas

Programme Officer - East

Nikita joined the Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the East of England in August 2019. Prior to this, Nikita studied French and English at the University of Leicester where she was involved in a range of school outreach programmes. She then completed Teach First programme and taught French at a secondary school in North East Lincolnshire. Nikita has also worked in higher education and has spent several years living and working in France. Unsurprisingly, she is a complete Francophile and loves cooking, cats and exploring new (preferably French-speaking) places.

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Polly Mason

Programme Administrator - East

Polly joined The Brilliant Club in September 2018 as Programme Administrator for the East of England team. Prior to this, she graduated from the University of Oxford, where she studied French and Spanish, before moving to Santiago de Chile for a year to work as an English teacher. She also has experience in journalism and has spent time living and working in France and Spain. Outside of work, Polly’s interests include vegan cooking, reading, and climate justice.

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Phoebe Rudgard

Programme Officer - South

Phoebe joined The Scholars Programme in August 2019 as a Programme Officer for the South of England. She graduated with a first-class degree in Philosophy and Politics from The University of Bristol in 2016 before completing the Teach First Leadership Development Programme, teaching for two years in a primary school in Essex. Whilst there, she helped to introduce Philosophy for Children into the curriculum, promoting critical thinking within the classroom. She is also passionate about educating students from a young age on global issues including refugee rights and women’s equality. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Phoebe spent time volunteering within limited resource contexts in both Greece and Nepal. Outside of work, she enjoys travelling, cooking and listening to podcasts.

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Rosa Smith

Area Director - West

Rosa joined The Brilliant Club in September 2017 and worked as part of the Researchers in Schools team before moving over to The Scholar’s Programme as Area Director in August 2019. She graduated from the University of Exeter, where she studied English. Prior to joining the charity she completed the Teach First Programme and taught English for five years at a secondary school in South-East London. During this time she was also KS5 lead and then Head of 6th form. She remains committed to improving access to selective universities and raising student aspirations.

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Siri Minsaas

Programme Officer - South

Siri joined The Brilliant Club in August 2018 as a Programme Officer. She graduated with a degree in international relations from Durham University in 2014, and then spent a year as Junior Common Room President at her college in Durham.  Siri then did her teacher training with Teach First, working as an English teacher at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, Hartlepool. After moving to London, Siri worked as an English and media studies teacher at Highlands School in Enfield. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, she completed her MA in Educational Leadership at the University of Warwick, focusing on the value of aspiration in schools. Outside work, Siri enjoys travelling and baking.

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Sophie Callin

Programme Officer - North

Sophie joined the Brilliant Club as Programme Officer for the North of England in August 2018. She studied Mathematics at the University of York and, upon graduating in 2015, trained to teach through Teach First. Sophie first taught at a small community school in West Yorkshire, developing an interest in the barriers facing students in rural areas, and then at Huntington School in York, one of the first Research Schools in England. Outside of work, Sophie enjoys exploring the Yorkshire countryside and going back to her beloved home, the Isle of Man.

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Steph Hamilton

Area Director - South

Steph joined The Brilliant Club in August 2015 as The East of England Regional Director. She graduated from Durham University in 2012, where she studied Anthropology. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, Steph was Head of Biology and Aspirations Coordinator at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, Hartlepool, where she taught for three years, after training with Teach First. As part of her role Steph was also the Lead teacher for The Scholars’ Programme at Dyke House, seeing many of her own pupils through the programme. Steph is passionate about extending access opportunities to rural and coastal communities, an interest which has grown out of her work in the North East and which prompted her to join and lead The Brilliant Club’s expanding of the South of England team.

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Dr Teresa Phipps

Programme Officer - Wales

Teresa joined as Programme Officer for Wales in August 2019. Before joining The Brilliant Club she worked on a research project at Swansea University, researching and publishing on women’s access to justice in medieval towns, looking at their involvement in different types of litigation as well as local policing and regulation. This was also the subject of her PhD research completed at the University of Nottingham in 2015. She also worked as an outreach officer working with primary schools in the Widening Participation team at the University of Nottingham. Away from work, she enjoys going to the gym, cooking and admiring other people’s dogs.

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Dr Victoria Symons

Programme Officer - South

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Kike Agunbiade

National Programme Director, Researchers in Schools

Kike joined The Brilliant Club as National Programme Director for Researchers in Schools in October 2017. Prior to this, Kike was a Senior Education Lead at SSAT, the Schools, Students and Teachers Network, where she led on a number of high profile projects including middle and senior leadership programmes, Teaching Schools and their school improvement framework. Kike spent five years working at Teach First, where she was North London Manager, and has also worked for a range of charities in roles to support and develop teachers. Kike completed the Teach First Programme as Science Teacher in North London. She holds an MBA (Education) from Keele University and a post graduate certificate in Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education from the University of Edinburgh. Kike graduated from Merton College, University of Oxford, with an MChem in Chemistry.

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Alice Coombes Huntley

Relationships Development Officer

Alice joined The Brilliant Club in November 2019 as Relationship Development Officer. She was previously at The Noisy Classroom, promoting the use of critical oracy and debate in schools across the UK and abroad. There she delivered CPD and pupil workshops, ran national programmes, and created resources to embed oracy within the classroom. She studied English Literature at the University of Bristol and then went on to do a Masters in Victorian Literature at the University of Oxford. In her spare time Alice likes cooking, reading, playing board games and pursuing the perfect sour beer.

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Beth Williams

Programme Administrator

Beth joined the RIS team in August 2019 as the Programme Administrator. She studied History at the University of Nottingham and graduated in 2018. At university she was a student ambassador and volunteered to deliver netball coaching at primary schools around Nottingham. During the summers of her university degree, Beth worked at children’s summer camps both in Cincinnati and Spain. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Beth completed an internship with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, engaging with children across Wales about children’s rights and developing lesson plans to help counter issues such as childhood poverty and cyberbullying. Outside of work, Beth enjoys playing netball, travelling, watching documentaries, and supporting the Welsh rugby team.

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Carys Taylor

Curriculum and Development Officer

Carys joined the RIS team as Curriculum & Development Officer in October 2018. She studied Education (BEd) at the University of Auckland. Carys taught in New Zealand for over 7 years and was also part of the leadership team at her school. As part of her leadership responsibilities she researched and implemented innovative teaching practices and focused on teacher development through coaching and mentoring programmes. Outside of work, Carys is interested in travel, food and reading.

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Elena Tucker

Recruitment Administrator

Elena joined the RIS team in November 2018 as a Recruitment Administrator. Her interest in education began during her gap year, when she worked as a teaching assistant in local primary schools. She graduated from the University of Oxford in 2016, where she read History, before spending a year working in the education sector as an unqualified teacher, teaching assistant, tutor and research assistant. Prior to joining the charity, Elena completed an MPhil in Modern British History at the University of Cambridge, researching sibling relationships in Edwardian families. Having observed first-hand the lack of diversity in highly-selective universities, Elena is passionately committed to the charity’s mission of widening access for pupils from under-represented groups. Outside of work, Elena’s interests include travelling, cooking, taking photos of her dog sleeping and binge-watching series on Netflix.

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Gil Brandt

Curriculum and Development Manager

Gil joined The Brilliant Club as a member of the Curriculum and Development team for Researchers in Schools in January 2017 and again in July 2019. During this time, Gil was attaining a master’s in education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The masters focused on evaluation of teacher education programmes and researching teacher diagnosis and decision making in uncertain situations. Prior to this, Gil taught mathematics for five years in schools in London and Leeds, where he completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. Outside of work Gil is an ineffectual but passionate rock-climber and an avid fan of the greatest football team of all time – Leicester City.

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Jenny Paterson

School Programme Director

Jenny joined The Brilliant Club as School Programme Director in March 2018, where she oversees the Researchers in Schools programme participants and their progress on the programme.  Before joining the charity, she was a teacher for over 20 years, as a Head of Department for Drama and Media, Assistant Headteacher for teaching and learning and Head of Sixth Form.  She recently graduated from the University of York with a Masters in Social Justice and Education where her studies included Higher Education access and the impact of gender on educational choices.  Outside of work, she is a keen playwright and traveller.

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Jessy Ahluwalia

Recruitment and Assessment Officer

Jessy joined The Brilliant Club as Recruitment and Assessment Officer in January 2018, where she works to advertise and market the Researchers in Schools Programme, and recruit participants for the upcoming year. Before joining the charity she worked at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, as the Schools Liaison Officer working in outreach and widening participation with target state schools. Jessy graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2016 with a BA in Education and Religious Studies. Outside of work Jessy enjoys dog walking, international travel and listening to feminist podcasts. Jessy moved to London for her current role, and is enjoying exploring all the city has to offer.

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Jessica Ryan

Programme Officer

Jess joined the RIS team in September 2019 as a Programme Officer. She studied History at UCL and graduated in 2013. During this time, she worked to champion university access and social mobility in her roles as Outreach Ambassador and Horizons Mentor. Following this, she taught English in Estonia, before returning to the UK and training to teach through the Teach First programme, teaching English at a school in Bradford. She then went on to work at a school in Southwest London, where she was the Year 7 Curriculum Lead and mentored trainee teachers, alongside completing a Masters degree in Education. Outside of work, Jess enjoys hiking, wild camping, skiing and volunteering with the Scouts Association and Duke of Edinburgh Award.

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Leo Wax

Programme Officer

Leo joined the RIS team in January 2019 as a Programme Officer. He studied Politics and Spanish at the University of Leeds and graduated in 2015. Whilst at university, he was the social secretary for the Spanish, Latin American and Portuguese Society and volunteered at Nightline, a non-advisory phone line for students. He trained as a teacher through the TeachFirst programme, teaching Spanish and French at school in Bradford. He went on to teach at a school in East London where he helped to plan and deliver school wide CPD on LGBT issues surrounding staff and students. Outside of work, Leo likes to attend life drawing classes and is learning how to play the drums. He also enjoys disco music, podcasts, documentaries and politics.

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Nicholas Cater

Recruitment Director

Nicholas is responsible for all aspects of the programme’s recruitment processes, from initial attraction and advertising, through to assessment and placement. Since graduating from Durham University with a degree in Modern Languages and a Masters in Translation, Nicholas worked initially as an Accountant, then freelance translator, before finally settling on recruitment. He worked at a boutique recruitment firm in Central London where he was responsible for the delivery of several national graduate schemes. Outside of work, Nicholas enjoys keeping his languages up to scratch and is a keen traveller, particularly around Europe and Russia.

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Rachel Lawrence

Curriculum and Development Director

Rachel started working with Researchers in Schools in 2014 when she led the Initial Teacher Education programme for the RIS pilot cohort at Lampton Academy. She joined the Brilliant Club in 2016 as Curriculum and Development Director for Researchers in Schools. Rachel is responsible for designing the Researchers in Schools curriculum and the delivery of Researchers in Schools training events. Before joining the charity, Rachel taught for 14 years at Lampton Academy, she was an Advanced Skills Teacher, Head of Religious Studies and a member of the Senior Leadership team. Rachel read Theology at Trinity College Oxford before doing a PGCE at St. Mary’s University College Twickenham. She later completed an MTeach at the Institute of Education, and is currently studying an Educational Doctorate (EdD) at Kings College London. In her free time Rachel is part of a Musical Theatre group, and she enjoys performing on stage.

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Victoria Sharkey

ITE and School Partnerships Manager

Vicky joined The Brilliant Club in October 2019 as ITE and School Partnerships Manger. She has ten years of experience in schools, having worked as an English and Media Studies teacher in both secondary and special needs settings in London. Over the course of her teaching career, she held academic and pastoral leadership roles and was responsible for the training and mentoring of new teachers. Vicky first discovered her passion for teaching whilst working in a school in Paris during her year abroad, which formed the third year of her English and French degree at the University of Leeds.  Vicky is a keen traveller but when in London can regularly be found at her local Sunday night pub quiz.

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Dr Chris Wilson

CEO

Dr Chris Wilson is the CEO at The Brilliant Club, an education charity committed to supporting the progression of under-represented pupils to university by mobilising the research community to work with schools. During his time at The Brilliant Club, Chris has been a PhD tutor, rolled out the charity’s provision across the UK, co-founded the teacher training programme Researchers in Schools, and launched the charity’s five-year strategy, The Path to Outcomes. Chris trained as a medieval historian at the universities of Cambridge and Exeter.

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Ciara Lynch

Chief Operating Officer

Ciara joined as Operations Director in August 2016, where she oversees Finance, HR, IT, Marketing and Communications. Prior to joining the charity, she was Vice President of Operations at a financial services firm, where she worked for five years. During this time, she managed a team of analysts delivering research to credit investors and was responsible for business change and new strategic initiatives. Ciara graduated with a Master’s Degree in the History of International Relations from University College Dublin and a BA (hons) in History and Politics, also from University College Dublin, with one year spent at Sciences Po in Paris. She also has a Graduate Diploma in Law. Outside of work, she enjoys running and travelling.

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Richard Eyre

Chief Programmes Officer

Richard leads the Programmes Division, which encompasses The Brilliant Club’s two programmes for schools and our Research and Impact Department. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Richard worked as a public policy and strategy consultant, advising education system leaders in the UK and internationally. From 2014-2016 he worked in Washington DC as strategy director at the US Education Delivery Institute. A graduate of the Civil Service Fast Steam, Richard spent the first nine years of his career in the Department for Education and then the Home Office, serving in a range of high-profile policy and delivery roles spanning education, children’s policy and policing and security. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge, where he studied law. Richard is proud to have attended a state comprehensive school and is passionate about giving more young people fair access to the best that higher education, and life, has to offer.

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Hannah Lear

Personal Assistant to the COO and Operations Administrator

Hannah joined The Brilliant Club as Personal Assistant to the COO and Operations Administrator in August 2019. She is responsible for office organisation in the London office as well as diary management for two senior staff members. Hannah graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2017 with a degree in Sociology and Spanish. This led to her spending two years working in education in Colombia and Spain, working on her Spanish and learning more about the education sector abroad. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching yoga and travelling.

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Lottie Persad

Personal Assistant to Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors

Lottie joined The Brilliant Club in August 2019 as the Personal Assistant to the Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors. Lottie graduated from King’s College London in 2019 with a BSc in Psychology. During her time at university, Lottie volunteered as a mentor for Lauriston Lights – a charity that provides a summer camp for highly academic children from low socioeconomic backgrounds – and was also a student mentor for new first-year Psychology students at King’s College London. Before attending university, Lottie lived and worked in The Netherlands for 6 months. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, cooking, and reading.

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Michelle Langley

Personal Assistant to the CEO

Michelle joined The Brilliant Club as Personal Assistant to the CEO in January 2018. Prior to joining the charity, she interned and worked in publishing for a number of years, supporting a team of literary agents at an international literary agency in her role as Receptionist and Contracts Assistant. Michelle graduated with an MA (hons) in English Literature from the University of Glasgow in 2012. Outside of work, Michelle is a keen reader and runner, volunteering as a Run Leader for A Mile in Her Shoes, a charity which encourages women who are at risk of homelessness or affected by related issues to try running as a way of exercising, socialising, lifting confidence and boosting self-esteem.

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Susie Whigham

National Programme Director, The Scholars Programme

As National Programme Director Susie oversees the impact, growth and development of The Scholars Programme. Susie has been committed to tackling educational disadvantage throughout her career and ensuring that young people from underrepresented backgrounds have the opportunities and support to reach their potential. As part of the first cohort of Teach First Susie taught English in a secondary school in South-West London. During this time she set up a charity, Trust Youth, to support Year 10 pupils to develop the skills and experience to run fundraising campaigns for national charities. She subsequently worked as a Literacy Consultant for the government’s National Strategies programme in schools. As Executive Director of Services at School-Home Support, Susie has more recently had responsibility for a range of programmes tackling the underlying barriers to learning within the home, including the Troubled Families and the Parent Support Advisor initiatives.

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Leanne Adamson

National Programme Director, The Scholars Programme

Leanne studied Joint Honours in Chemistry and Physics at Durham University, where she received a First Class BSc and MSci. Upon graduating in 2011, she joined the Teach First programme where she taught Science at Churchill Community College in Newcastle for two years. Leanne has a strong interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and is passionate about helping more pupils progress into STEM related fields. She joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer in 2013 and became National Programme Director for The Scholars Programme in 2017.

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Abby Cakebread-Andrews

Programme Officer - East

Abby joined The Brilliant Club in March 2018 as Programme Officer for the East of England. She graduated from Lancaster University in 2015, where she studied French and History including spending a year living and working in Paris. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Abby worked at a high school in North Wales having completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. At the same time, she was involved in a variety of volunteering opportunities and experiences with other charities. Outside of work, Abby has interests in travel, fitness and food.

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Amy Simkin

Team Administrator - North

Amy joined The Brilliant Club in July 2018 as Programme Administrator for the North of England. She studied Mathematics at the University of York, where she received a First Class BSc. During her time at university, she spent nine months living and studying Mathematics in Bordeaux. Outside of work, Amy enjoys yoga, reading and travelling both within the UK and abroad.

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Dr Andrew Fleming

Regional Manager - South

Andy joined the Brilliant Club in March 2016 as a Programme Officer for London and the South East. Prior to joining the charity, Andy completed an AHRC-funded DPhil in History at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford, looking at sainthood and politics in medieval England. He has also worked as teacher in Indonesia and the Bahamas.

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Annabel Marcuse

Area Director - East

Annabel joined The Brilliant Club in February 2017. As Area Director, she oversees programme delivery, recruitment and partnerships for The Scholars Programme in the East of England. Upon graduating from the University of Durham in 2013, where she studied Modern Foreign Languages, Annabel completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. She taught French, Spanish and Latin, and was Head of French in two London secondary schools prior to joining The Brilliant Club.  Outside of work, Annabel is a keen supporter of Watford Football Club.

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Dr Anna-Marie Linnell

Regional Manager - West

Anna-Marie joined The Brilliant Club in October 2016 as a Programme Officer for the London region. She studied an undergraduate and masters degree at the University of Exeter, before completing a PhD as part of the AHRC Stuart Successions Project. While working on her doctorate, Anna-Marie also established and led a community history project called Staging Exeter, which was funded by RCUK. She is passionate about helping researchers create impact from their research.

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Aysha Begum

Programme Administrator - West

I am the administrator for Team West, so my responsibility is looking after all the schools in the West of England as well as Wales! I’m also recruitment administration for tutors joining the Scholars programme. I’ve previously worked in a variety of places, most recently in a comms and PR agency and before that, working on internships and events at the SOAS Careers Service. At University I studied International Relations and Economics at SOAS with a focus on East Asia and development. I’m passionate about learning languages and have spent two months working in Beijing and passionate about social mobility especially increasing access to education for women and migrant communities. Outside of work I love travelling, eating Korean food, binge watching tv shows, reading conspiracy theories and reading up on identity politics.

Claire Harrill

Dr Claire Harrill

Programme Officer - West

Claire joined The Brilliant Club in November 2017 as the first Programme Officer for Wales and the South West. In her previous life she was a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, lecturing on Chaucer and Medieval Romance, via studying Medieval Literature at LMH, Oxford as an undergraduate, then an MA in Medieval Literatures at York, and a PhD at Birmingham. She came to The Brilliant Club via being a tutor on her own course ‘Reading and Writing Medieval Women’ about the (surprisingly many) women writers of the Middle Ages. In her free time, Claire likes long walks, going to the theatre and taking selfies with her cat, Chaucer.

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David Jones

Director of Education and Development

David joined The Brilliant Club in 2015 as a Programme Officer before becoming the Teaching and Learning Manager for The Scholars Programme in March 2016. David graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2010, where he studied Modern History. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, David worked at an educational charity running supplementary schools before going to complete his PGCE at the University of Bath. David then worked as a Year 5 class teacher at Belleville Primary School in south London.

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Farzana Lodhi

Programme Administrator, Teaching and Learning

Farzana joined The Brilliant Club in September 2018 as Programme Administrator for the Teaching and Learning Team. She graduated from SOAS university in 2018, where she studied Arabic and International Relations including spending a year living and studying in Fez, Morocco. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Farzana worked as an administrator for the Widening Participation team at SOAS university, was a senior Student Ambassador, and worked with Debate Mate as a debate coach in primary schools. She has also been involved in advocating for women’s rights through volunteering opportunities abroad in Egypt and Morocco. Outside of work, Farzana has interests in travel, food, and post-colonial literature.

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Greg Scannell

National Manager - Wales

Greg joined as National Manager for Wales, in January 2017, overseeing the growth and running of The Scholars Programme following its launch in Wales in Autumn 2016. Prior to joining the charity, he was a Leadership Development Officer for Teach First Cymru supporting new teachers entering the profession with both their practice and their well-being. Greg also worked for 5 years as a Humanities teacher at a large South West Wales Comprehensive school and as an Access Assistant Coordinator at the University of Oxford. He graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Master’s Degree in Education and a BA (Hons) in Theology from the University of Oxford. Outside of work, Greg enjoys spending time with his young family and attending live music and sports events.

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Hannah Dodgson

Programme Administrator - South

Hannah joined The Brilliant Club in 2018 as Programme Administrator for the South team. Prior to joining the organisation she interned at an international development charity and worked as communications and administration assistant for The Hextol Foundation; a charity which provides working opportunities for individuals with disabilities. She graduated from The University of Liverpool with a BA Geography degree. During her time at university she held a position as course representative, was a member of the committee for the Amnesty International Society and worked on school outreach programmes. Hannah is passionate about gender empowerment, human rights and reducing inequality. She spent time volunteering in Zambia on a project reducing the stigma and prevalence of HIV and AIDS. In her spare time she likes to travel, read and listen to podcasts.

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Harriet Mok

Programme Officer - South

Harriet joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the South of England in September 2019. Harriet studied for a MSc in Infection and Immunity, and prior to joining the charity obtained a PhD in Virology from UCL. Her doctoral thesis investigated how viruses use host cells to facilitate their replication cycles. She maintains a strong interest in molecular and cellular biology and is enthusiastic about STEM outreach. Throughout her time in higher education Harriet was involved with increasing the interest of students in science subjects and worked on the equality, diversity, and inclusion committee to promote good practice in the workplace and deliver various outreach and widening participation initiatives. In addition to her love of science, Harriet enjoys yoga, climbing, and going to gigs.

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Dr Helen Carr

Regional Manager - East

Helen joined The Brilliant Club in February 2018 after completing a PhD in History at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her undergraduate degree was in Modern History at the University of St Andrews. After graduating, she trained to teach and worked for 9 years as a secondary history teacher, initially in Hull and then in Cairo. Whilst teaching, she completed a Masters in Education which investigated pupils’ responses to learning about the Holocaust. Whilst working on her PhD, she also worked at the Holocaust Educational Trust, firstly on the Trust’s outreach programme and then on the teacher training programme.

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Holly Hinks

Special Projects Officer

Holly joined The Brilliant Club in December 2017 as the Personal Assistant to the Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors. Holly graduated from the University of Nottingham with a BSc in Psychology. At university, Holly worked as a student ambassador for the Widening Participation team and was a Social Secretary for the University Trampolining Club. Before joining The Brilliant Club, she worked as a Team Leader for the National Citizen Service summer programme and then as a Product Support Assistant for a learning journal software company.

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Dr Jade Lawson

Programme Officer - North

Jade joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer in the North of England in August 2019. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Jade completed her PhD in contemporary German and World Literatures at the University of Leeds, in which she examined how female authors reflected simultaneously upon both traumatic memory and current political, societal and environmental concerns. During her PhD, Jade worked in Educational Engagement and Outreach at the University of Leeds and also worked with Leeds Development Education Centre on a number of education research projects.

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Joanna Pickets

Programme Officer - South

Joanna joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the South of England in September 2019. Prior to this, Joanna studied English Literature and Philosophy at the University of Bristol where she was involved in a range of school outreach programmes. She then completed the Teach First programme and taught English at two secondary schools in London. During her teaching summer holidays, Joanna delivered Limited Resources Teacher Training with the organisation LRTT in Tanzania and Nepal. Following this, she worked as a Programme Officer and Head of Enrichment (organising tuition and university trips for pupils from under-represented backgrounds) at the educational charity Team Up. Outside of work, Joanna enjoys travelling, swimming and running.

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Dr Kathryn van de Wiel

Programme Officer - West

Kathryn joined The Brilliant Club after completing her PhD in Classics and Ancient History at The University of Warwick. Her doctoral thesis investigated the classification of apotropaic phallic imagery found at the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, particularly in terms of the sites’ celebrated rediscovery during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Accordingly, she maintains a strong interest in the heritage and cultural sector and popular engagement with the ancient past. Throughout her time at Warwick, Kathryn was heavily involved in the design and delivery of various outreach, widening participation and public engagement initiatives, including devising and overseeing the Classics Department’s Sutton Trust Summer Schools. In her free time, she enjoys being a nerd in museums and art galleries, visiting historical sites across the UK, going to the gym, and drawing.

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Dr Katrina Roberts

Regional Manager - North

Katrina joined as Programme Officer for the North of England in August 2016. Prior to joining the charity, Katrina graduated from The University of Sheffield, where she studied a PhD in Reproductive Biology and Genetics at undergraduate. Katrina’s PhD research project involved investigating the interactions between a common herpesvirus and human sperm.

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Laura Johnstone

National Manager - Scotland

Laura joined as National Manager for Scotland, in August 2019, to continue the development of The Scholars Programme in Scotland following its launch in 2017. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Laura was Senior Programme Coordinator for FOCUS West, a widening access organisation forming part of the Scottish national Schools for Higher Education Programme. Prior to this, Laura worked for the University of the West of Scotland as part of the Student Recruitment team and has previously worked within University of Strathclyde in various schools outreach and widening access roles. Laura studied LLB Law at University of Strathclyde as well as obtaining a PGDip in Environmental Entrepreneurship at the same university. Outside of work, Laura enjoys baking, being outdoors and spending time with family.

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Dr Lauren Mottle

Programme Officer - North

Lauren joined the Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the North of England in March 2019. Before joining the Brilliant Club, Lauren worked with the charity as a PhD Tutor and completed her PhD in History at the University of Leeds. Her PhD research examined the anti-war protest of American soldiers and veterans during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. She is originally from New Jersey in the United States and loves to cook, bake and read in her spare time and ride horses any chance she gets!

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Lydia Wiles

Regional Manager - South

Lydia joined The Scholars Programme as a Programme Officer in September 2017. She gained a BA (hons) History degree from the University of Birmingham before completing the Teach First leadership development programme, where she taught History at a secondary school on the Isle of Dogs. During her time teaching, Lydia was Head of Holocaust Education and KS3 History.

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Maria Crawford

Programme Officer - West

Maria previously worked in Outreach at Aston University, University of Birmingham and with Aimhigher West Midlands, running programmes for schools from disadvantaged backgrounds. Prior to that, she studied Music at University of Southampton where she was involved in the STEM Roadshow, taking researchers work out into the wider community in accessible and interactive formats.

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Dr Natalie Day

Area Director - North

Natalie joined the Brilliant Club in April 2016 as a Programme Officer for the North of England. Prior to joining the charity, Natalie completed an ESRC-funded PhD in Sociology at Newcastle University, exploring the formal and informal sexual learning processes of young heterosexual women in Northeast Brazil.

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Nikita Vyas

Programme Officer - East

Nikita joined the Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the East of England in August 2019. Prior to this, Nikita studied French and English at the University of Leicester where she was involved in a range of school outreach programmes. She then completed Teach First programme and taught French at a secondary school in North East Lincolnshire. Nikita has also worked in higher education and has spent several years living and working in France. Unsurprisingly, she is a complete Francophile and loves cooking, cats and exploring new (preferably French-speaking) places.

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Polly Mason

Programme Administrator - East

Polly joined The Brilliant Club in September 2018 as Programme Administrator for the East of England team. Prior to this, she graduated from the University of Oxford, where she studied French and Spanish, before moving to Santiago de Chile for a year to work as an English teacher. She also has experience in journalism and has spent time living and working in France and Spain. Outside of work, Polly’s interests include vegan cooking, reading, and climate justice.

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Phoebe Rudgard

Programme Officer - South

Phoebe joined The Scholars Programme in August 2019 as a Programme Officer for the South of England. She graduated with a first-class degree in Philosophy and Politics from The University of Bristol in 2016 before completing the Teach First Leadership Development Programme, teaching for two years in a primary school in Essex. Whilst there, she helped to introduce Philosophy for Children into the curriculum, promoting critical thinking within the classroom. She is also passionate about educating students from a young age on global issues including refugee rights and women’s equality. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Phoebe spent time volunteering within limited resource contexts in both Greece and Nepal. Outside of work, she enjoys travelling, cooking and listening to podcasts.

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Rosa Smith

Area Director - West

Rosa joined The Brilliant Club in September 2017 and worked as part of the Researchers in Schools team before moving over to The Scholar’s Programme as Area Director in August 2019. She graduated from the University of Exeter, where she studied English. Prior to joining the charity she completed the Teach First Programme and taught English for five years at a secondary school in South-East London. During this time she was also KS5 lead and then Head of 6th form. She remains committed to improving access to selective universities and raising student aspirations.

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Siri Minsaas

Programme Officer - South

Siri joined The Brilliant Club in August 2018 as a Programme Officer. She graduated with a degree in international relations from Durham University in 2014, and then spent a year as Junior Common Room President at her college in Durham.  Siri then did her teacher training with Teach First, working as an English teacher at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, Hartlepool. After moving to London, Siri worked as an English and media studies teacher at Highlands School in Enfield. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, she completed her MA in Educational Leadership at the University of Warwick, focusing on the value of aspiration in schools. Outside work, Siri enjoys travelling and baking.

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Sophie Callin

Programme Officer - North

Sophie joined the Brilliant Club as Programme Officer for the North of England in August 2018. She studied Mathematics at the University of York and, upon graduating in 2015, trained to teach through Teach First. Sophie first taught at a small community school in West Yorkshire, developing an interest in the barriers facing students in rural areas, and then at Huntington School in York, one of the first Research Schools in England. Outside of work, Sophie enjoys exploring the Yorkshire countryside and going back to her beloved home, the Isle of Man.

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Steph Hamilton

Area Director - South

Steph joined The Brilliant Club in August 2015 as The East of England Regional Director. She graduated from Durham University in 2012, where she studied Anthropology. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, Steph was Head of Biology and Aspirations Coordinator at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, Hartlepool, where she taught for three years, after training with Teach First. As part of her role Steph was also the Lead teacher for The Scholars’ Programme at Dyke House, seeing many of her own pupils through the programme. Steph is passionate about extending access opportunities to rural and coastal communities, an interest which has grown out of her work in the North East and which prompted her to join and lead The Brilliant Club’s expanding of the South of England team.

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Dr Teresa Phipps

Programme Officer - Wales

Teresa joined as Programme Officer for Wales in August 2019. Before joining The Brilliant Club she worked on a research project at Swansea University, researching and publishing on women’s access to justice in medieval towns, looking at their involvement in different types of litigation as well as local policing and regulation. This was also the subject of her PhD research completed at the University of Nottingham in 2015. She also worked as an outreach officer working with primary schools in the Widening Participation team at the University of Nottingham. Away from work, she enjoys going to the gym, cooking and admiring other people’s dogs.

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Dr Victoria Symons

Programme Officer - South

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Kike Agunbiade

National Programme Director, Researchers in Schools

Kike joined The Brilliant Club as National Programme Director for Researchers in Schools in October 2017. Prior to this, Kike was a Senior Education Lead at SSAT, the Schools, Students and Teachers Network, where she led on a number of high profile projects including middle and senior leadership programmes, Teaching Schools and their school improvement framework. Kike spent five years working at Teach First, where she was North London Manager, and has also worked for a range of charities in roles to support and develop teachers. Kike completed the Teach First Programme as Science Teacher in North London. She holds an MBA (Education) from Keele University and a post graduate certificate in Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education from the University of Edinburgh. Kike graduated from Merton College, University of Oxford, with an MChem in Chemistry.

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Alice Coombes Huntley

Relationships Development Officer

Alice joined The Brilliant Club in November 2019 as Relationship Development Officer. She was previously at The Noisy Classroom, promoting the use of critical oracy and debate in schools across the UK and abroad. There she delivered CPD and pupil workshops, ran national programmes, and created resources to embed oracy within the classroom. She studied English Literature at the University of Bristol and then went on to do a Masters in Victorian Literature at the University of Oxford. In her spare time Alice likes cooking, reading, playing board games and pursuing the perfect sour beer.

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Beth Williams

Programme Administrator

Beth joined the RIS team in August 2019 as the Programme Administrator. She studied History at the University of Nottingham and graduated in 2018. At university she was a student ambassador and volunteered to deliver netball coaching at primary schools around Nottingham. During the summers of her university degree, Beth worked at children’s summer camps both in Cincinnati and Spain. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Beth completed an internship with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, engaging with children across Wales about children’s rights and developing lesson plans to help counter issues such as childhood poverty and cyberbullying. Outside of work, Beth enjoys playing netball, travelling, watching documentaries, and supporting the Welsh rugby team.

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Carys Taylor

Curriculum and Development Officer

Carys joined the RIS team as Curriculum & Development Officer in October 2018. She studied Education (BEd) at the University of Auckland. Carys taught in New Zealand for over 7 years and was also part of the leadership team at her school. As part of her leadership responsibilities she researched and implemented innovative teaching practices and focused on teacher development through coaching and mentoring programmes. Outside of work, Carys is interested in travel, food and reading.

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Elena Tucker

Recruitment Administrator

Elena joined the RIS team in November 2018 as a Recruitment Administrator. Her interest in education began during her gap year, when she worked as a teaching assistant in local primary schools. She graduated from the University of Oxford in 2016, where she read History, before spending a year working in the education sector as an unqualified teacher, teaching assistant, tutor and research assistant. Prior to joining the charity, Elena completed an MPhil in Modern British History at the University of Cambridge, researching sibling relationships in Edwardian families. Having observed first-hand the lack of diversity in highly-selective universities, Elena is passionately committed to the charity’s mission of widening access for pupils from under-represented groups. Outside of work, Elena’s interests include travelling, cooking, taking photos of her dog sleeping and binge-watching series on Netflix.

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Gil Brandt

Curriculum and Development Manager

Gil joined The Brilliant Club as a member of the Curriculum and Development team for Researchers in Schools in January 2017 and again in July 2019. During this time, Gil was attaining a master’s in education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The masters focused on evaluation of teacher education programmes and researching teacher diagnosis and decision making in uncertain situations. Prior to this, Gil taught mathematics for five years in schools in London and Leeds, where he completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. Outside of work Gil is an ineffectual but passionate rock-climber and an avid fan of the greatest football team of all time – Leicester City.

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Jenny Paterson

School Programme Director

Jenny joined The Brilliant Club as School Programme Director in March 2018, where she oversees the Researchers in Schools programme participants and their progress on the programme.  Before joining the charity, she was a teacher for over 20 years, as a Head of Department for Drama and Media, Assistant Headteacher for teaching and learning and Head of Sixth Form.  She recently graduated from the University of York with a Masters in Social Justice and Education where her studies included Higher Education access and the impact of gender on educational choices.  Outside of work, she is a keen playwright and traveller.

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Jessy Ahluwalia

Recruitment and Assessment Officer

Jessy joined The Brilliant Club as Recruitment and Assessment Officer in January 2018, where she works to advertise and market the Researchers in Schools Programme, and recruit participants for the upcoming year. Before joining the charity she worked at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, as the Schools Liaison Officer working in outreach and widening participation with target state schools. Jessy graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2016 with a BA in Education and Religious Studies. Outside of work Jessy enjoys dog walking, international travel and listening to feminist podcasts. Jessy moved to London for her current role, and is enjoying exploring all the city has to offer.

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Jessica Ryan

Programme Officer

Jess joined the RIS team in September 2019 as a Programme Officer. She studied History at UCL and graduated in 2013. During this time, she worked to champion university access and social mobility in her roles as Outreach Ambassador and Horizons Mentor. Following this, she taught English in Estonia, before returning to the UK and training to teach through the Teach First programme, teaching English at a school in Bradford. She then went on to work at a school in Southwest London, where she was the Year 7 Curriculum Lead and mentored trainee teachers, alongside completing a Masters degree in Education. Outside of work, Jess enjoys hiking, wild camping, skiing and volunteering with the Scouts Association and Duke of Edinburgh Award.

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Leo Wax

Programme Officer

Leo joined the RIS team in January 2019 as a Programme Officer. He studied Politics and Spanish at the University of Leeds and graduated in 2015. Whilst at university, he was the social secretary for the Spanish, Latin American and Portuguese Society and volunteered at Nightline, a non-advisory phone line for students. He trained as a teacher through the TeachFirst programme, teaching Spanish and French at school in Bradford. He went on to teach at a school in East London where he helped to plan and deliver school wide CPD on LGBT issues surrounding staff and students. Outside of work, Leo likes to attend life drawing classes and is learning how to play the drums. He also enjoys disco music, podcasts, documentaries and politics.

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Nicholas Cater

Recruitment Director

Nicholas is responsible for all aspects of the programme’s recruitment processes, from initial attraction and advertising, through to assessment and placement. Since graduating from Durham University with a degree in Modern Languages and a Masters in Translation, Nicholas worked initially as an Accountant, then freelance translator, before finally settling on recruitment. He worked at a boutique recruitment firm in Central London where he was responsible for the delivery of several national graduate schemes. Outside of work, Nicholas enjoys keeping his languages up to scratch and is a keen traveller, particularly around Europe and Russia.

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Rachel Lawrence

Curriculum and Development Director

Rachel started working with Researchers in Schools in 2014 when she led the Initial Teacher Education programme for the RIS pilot cohort at Lampton Academy. She joined the Brilliant Club in 2016 as Curriculum and Development Director for Researchers in Schools. Rachel is responsible for designing the Researchers in Schools curriculum and the delivery of Researchers in Schools training events. Before joining the charity, Rachel taught for 14 years at Lampton Academy, she was an Advanced Skills Teacher, Head of Religious Studies and a member of the Senior Leadership team. Rachel read Theology at Trinity College Oxford before doing a PGCE at St. Mary’s University College Twickenham. She later completed an MTeach at the Institute of Education, and is currently studying an Educational Doctorate (EdD) at Kings College London. In her free time Rachel is part of a Musical Theatre group, and she enjoys performing on stage.

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Victoria Sharkey

ITE and School Partnerships Manager

Vicky joined The Brilliant Club in October 2019 as ITE and School Partnerships Manger. She has ten years of experience in schools, having worked as an English and Media Studies teacher in both secondary and special needs settings in London. Over the course of her teaching career, she held academic and pastoral leadership roles and was responsible for the training and mentoring of new teachers. Vicky first discovered her passion for teaching whilst working in a school in Paris during her year abroad, which formed the third year of her English and French degree at the University of Leeds.  Vicky is a keen traveller but when in London can regularly be found at her local Sunday night pub quiz.

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Siobhan Haire

Operations Director

Siobhan joined The Brilliant Club in November 2019 as Operations Director, where she takes an interest in all things legal, human resources, technology, data and workplace. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, Siobhan worked at Teach First, as Senior Legal Advisor and then Head of HR Business Partnering and Learning and Development. Prior to that, she trained and worked as a solicitor for Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton LLP, and before that, spent two years teaching French as a participant on the Teach First Training Programme. Siobhan graduated from Oxford University with a degree in French and Philosophy. In her professional life, Siobhan enjoys problem solving, project planning and troubleshooting. Outside of work, Siobhan used to have hobbies, but now she has two small children.

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Angel-Ann D'Souza

Finance Director

Angel-Ann joined The Brilliant Club in February 2016 as The Finance Manager. Angel-Ann graduated from Trent university in Canada, where she studied Business and has her CPA, CMA designation in Canada. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, Angel-Ann worked at Safran Electronics Canada in the Finance department.

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Anna Aleksandrowicz

HR Manager

Anna is the HR Manager at The Brilliant Club and joined in September 2017. Her role is to support all who work for the charity with various initiatives including recruitment and ongoing professional development. Having completed a degree in European Politics and International Relations at Cardiff University, Anna moved into a career in HR in early 2010 and gained much of her experience working across various educational and non-profit organisations. In 2016 Anna completed an MA in Human Resource Management at Westminster Business School, which gained her a professionally recognised CIPD qualification.

Having completed her studies, Anna spends her free time travelling widely and frequently. Having proudly completed a whistle-stop tour of six continents in six months, Anna enjoys documenting her excursions as a keen hobbyist travel photographer.

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Chloe Hayes

HR Administrator

Chloe joined The Brilliant Club in May 2017 as the Operations Team Administrator, after completing a three-month internship with The Scholars Programme. She graduated from the University of Warwick in 2016, where she studied German and History. As part of her degree she lived in Germany for nine months, where she worked as a Foreign Languages Assistant, teaching English in a comprehensive school. Outside of work, Chloe enjoys art, travel and being a tourist in cities around the UK.

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Claire Ross

Finance Manager

Claire joined The Brilliant Club in September 2016 as The Finance Officer.  Claire graduated with a Bachelor of Business Studies (Finance) from Sligo Institute of Technology before becoming an ACCA affiliate in 2011.  Before joining The Brilliant Club Claire worked for Musica Viva Australia, a not-for-profit performing arts organisation and on her return to the northern hemisphere was keen to continue her career in the charitable sector.  When not crunching numbers, Claire enjoys theatre both as a participant and spectator.

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Inga Tatarunaite

IT Support Administrator

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Jessica Blazek

Finance and Operations Administrator

Jessica joined The Brilliant Club in August 2018. With an international background, she carries a degree in HR from the University Lutheran of Brazil and a degree in Communication Science from the New University of Lisbon in Portugal. Before joining the charity Jessica spent three years living in Ireland and learning English. She also enjoyed her time travelling across many countries around Europe. Jessica enjoys meeting new people, discovering new places and cultures. Along her life journey she met many inspiring people from which she learned that helping others to succeed is one of the most important things a person can do, which is now her main motivation.

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Mike Garthwaite

Senior Web Developer

Mike joined The Brilliant Club in September 2018 taking on the role of Senior Web Developer. Having studied at the University of Huddersfield and attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, he moved into a career as a freelance web developer, specifically using tools such as PHP and javascript. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking, music and watching football.

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Nikki Labrum

Technology and Product Director

External Affairs Department

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Dr Chris Wilson

CEO

Dr Chris Wilson is the CEO at The Brilliant Club, an education charity committed to supporting the progression of under-represented pupils to university by mobilising the research community to work with schools. During his time at The Brilliant Club, Chris has been a PhD tutor, rolled out the charity’s provision across the UK, co-founded the teacher training programme Researchers in Schools, and launched the charity’s five-year strategy, The Path to Outcomes. Chris trained as a medieval historian at the universities of Cambridge and Exeter.

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Ciara Lynch

Chief Operating Officer

Ciara joined as Operations Director in August 2016, where she oversees Finance, HR, IT, Marketing and Communications. Prior to joining the charity, she was Vice President of Operations at a financial services firm, where she worked for five years. During this time, she managed a team of analysts delivering research to credit investors and was responsible for business change and new strategic initiatives. Ciara graduated with a Master’s Degree in the History of International Relations from University College Dublin and a BA (hons) in History and Politics, also from University College Dublin, with one year spent at Sciences Po in Paris. She also has a Graduate Diploma in Law. Outside of work, she enjoys running and travelling.

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Richard Eyre

Chief Programmes Officer

Richard leads the Programmes Division, which encompasses The Brilliant Club’s two programmes for schools and our Research and Impact Department. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Richard worked as a public policy and strategy consultant, advising education system leaders in the UK and internationally. From 2014-2016 he worked in Washington DC as strategy director at the US Education Delivery Institute. A graduate of the Civil Service Fast Steam, Richard spent the first nine years of his career in the Department for Education and then the Home Office, serving in a range of high-profile policy and delivery roles spanning education, children’s policy and policing and security. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge, where he studied law. Richard is proud to have attended a state comprehensive school and is passionate about giving more young people fair access to the best that higher education, and life, has to offer.

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Hannah Lear

Personal Assistant to the COO and Operations Administrator

Hannah joined The Brilliant Club as Personal Assistant to the COO and Operations Administrator in August 2019. She is responsible for office organisation in the London office as well as diary management for two senior staff members. Hannah graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2017 with a degree in Sociology and Spanish. This led to her spending two years working in education in Colombia and Spain, working on her Spanish and learning more about the education sector abroad. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching yoga and travelling.

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Lottie Persad

Personal Assistant to Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors

Lottie joined The Brilliant Club in August 2019 as the Personal Assistant to the Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors. Lottie graduated from King’s College London in 2019 with a BSc in Psychology. During her time at university, Lottie volunteered as a mentor for Lauriston Lights – a charity that provides a summer camp for highly academic children from low socioeconomic backgrounds – and was also a student mentor for new first-year Psychology students at King’s College London. Before attending university, Lottie lived and worked in The Netherlands for 6 months. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, cooking, and reading.

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Michelle Langley

Personal Assistant to the CEO

Michelle joined The Brilliant Club as Personal Assistant to the CEO in January 2018. Prior to joining the charity, she interned and worked in publishing for a number of years, supporting a team of literary agents at an international literary agency in her role as Receptionist and Contracts Assistant. Michelle graduated with an MA (hons) in English Literature from the University of Glasgow in 2012. Outside of work, Michelle is a keen reader and runner, volunteering as a Run Leader for A Mile in Her Shoes, a charity which encourages women who are at risk of homelessness or affected by related issues to try running as a way of exercising, socialising, lifting confidence and boosting self-esteem.

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Susie Whigham

National Programme Director, The Scholars Programme

As National Programme Director Susie oversees the impact, growth and development of The Scholars Programme. Susie has been committed to tackling educational disadvantage throughout her career and ensuring that young people from underrepresented backgrounds have the opportunities and support to reach their potential. As part of the first cohort of Teach First Susie taught English in a secondary school in South-West London. During this time she set up a charity, Trust Youth, to support Year 10 pupils to develop the skills and experience to run fundraising campaigns for national charities. She subsequently worked as a Literacy Consultant for the government’s National Strategies programme in schools. As Executive Director of Services at School-Home Support, Susie has more recently had responsibility for a range of programmes tackling the underlying barriers to learning within the home, including the Troubled Families and the Parent Support Advisor initiatives.

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Leanne Adamson

National Programme Director, The Scholars Programme

Leanne studied Joint Honours in Chemistry and Physics at Durham University, where she received a First Class BSc and MSci. Upon graduating in 2011, she joined the Teach First programme where she taught Science at Churchill Community College in Newcastle for two years. Leanne has a strong interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and is passionate about helping more pupils progress into STEM related fields. She joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer in 2013 and became National Programme Director for The Scholars Programme in 2017.

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Abby Cakebread-Andrews

Programme Officer - East

Abby joined The Brilliant Club in March 2018 as Programme Officer for the East of England. She graduated from Lancaster University in 2015, where she studied French and History including spending a year living and working in Paris. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Abby worked at a high school in North Wales having completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. At the same time, she was involved in a variety of volunteering opportunities and experiences with other charities. Outside of work, Abby has interests in travel, fitness and food.

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Amy Simkin

Team Administrator - North

Amy joined The Brilliant Club in July 2018 as Programme Administrator for the North of England. She studied Mathematics at the University of York, where she received a First Class BSc. During her time at university, she spent nine months living and studying Mathematics in Bordeaux. Outside of work, Amy enjoys yoga, reading and travelling both within the UK and abroad.

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Dr Andrew Fleming

Regional Manager - South

Andy joined the Brilliant Club in March 2016 as a Programme Officer for London and the South East. Prior to joining the charity, Andy completed an AHRC-funded DPhil in History at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford, looking at sainthood and politics in medieval England. He has also worked as teacher in Indonesia and the Bahamas.

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Annabel Marcuse

Area Director - East

Annabel joined The Brilliant Club in February 2017. As Area Director, she oversees programme delivery, recruitment and partnerships for The Scholars Programme in the East of England. Upon graduating from the University of Durham in 2013, where she studied Modern Foreign Languages, Annabel completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. She taught French, Spanish and Latin, and was Head of French in two London secondary schools prior to joining The Brilliant Club.  Outside of work, Annabel is a keen supporter of Watford Football Club.

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Dr Anna-Marie Linnell

Regional Manager - West

Anna-Marie joined The Brilliant Club in October 2016 as a Programme Officer for the London region. She studied an undergraduate and masters degree at the University of Exeter, before completing a PhD as part of the AHRC Stuart Successions Project. While working on her doctorate, Anna-Marie also established and led a community history project called Staging Exeter, which was funded by RCUK. She is passionate about helping researchers create impact from their research.

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Aysha Begum

Programme Administrator - West

I am the administrator for Team West, so my responsibility is looking after all the schools in the West of England as well as Wales! I’m also recruitment administration for tutors joining the Scholars programme. I’ve previously worked in a variety of places, most recently in a comms and PR agency and before that, working on internships and events at the SOAS Careers Service. At University I studied International Relations and Economics at SOAS with a focus on East Asia and development. I’m passionate about learning languages and have spent two months working in Beijing and passionate about social mobility especially increasing access to education for women and migrant communities. Outside of work I love travelling, eating Korean food, binge watching tv shows, reading conspiracy theories and reading up on identity politics.

Claire Harrill

Dr Claire Harrill

Programme Officer - West

Claire joined The Brilliant Club in November 2017 as the first Programme Officer for Wales and the South West. In her previous life she was a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, lecturing on Chaucer and Medieval Romance, via studying Medieval Literature at LMH, Oxford as an undergraduate, then an MA in Medieval Literatures at York, and a PhD at Birmingham. She came to The Brilliant Club via being a tutor on her own course ‘Reading and Writing Medieval Women’ about the (surprisingly many) women writers of the Middle Ages. In her free time, Claire likes long walks, going to the theatre and taking selfies with her cat, Chaucer.

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David Jones

Director of Education and Development

David joined The Brilliant Club in 2015 as a Programme Officer before becoming the Teaching and Learning Manager for The Scholars Programme in March 2016. David graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2010, where he studied Modern History. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, David worked at an educational charity running supplementary schools before going to complete his PGCE at the University of Bath. David then worked as a Year 5 class teacher at Belleville Primary School in south London.

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Farzana Lodhi

Programme Administrator, Teaching and Learning

Farzana joined The Brilliant Club in September 2018 as Programme Administrator for the Teaching and Learning Team. She graduated from SOAS university in 2018, where she studied Arabic and International Relations including spending a year living and studying in Fez, Morocco. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Farzana worked as an administrator for the Widening Participation team at SOAS university, was a senior Student Ambassador, and worked with Debate Mate as a debate coach in primary schools. She has also been involved in advocating for women’s rights through volunteering opportunities abroad in Egypt and Morocco. Outside of work, Farzana has interests in travel, food, and post-colonial literature.

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Greg Scannell

National Manager - Wales

Greg joined as National Manager for Wales, in January 2017, overseeing the growth and running of The Scholars Programme following its launch in Wales in Autumn 2016. Prior to joining the charity, he was a Leadership Development Officer for Teach First Cymru supporting new teachers entering the profession with both their practice and their well-being. Greg also worked for 5 years as a Humanities teacher at a large South West Wales Comprehensive school and as an Access Assistant Coordinator at the University of Oxford. He graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Master’s Degree in Education and a BA (Hons) in Theology from the University of Oxford. Outside of work, Greg enjoys spending time with his young family and attending live music and sports events.

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Hannah Dodgson

Programme Administrator - South

Hannah joined The Brilliant Club in 2018 as Programme Administrator for the South team. Prior to joining the organisation she interned at an international development charity and worked as communications and administration assistant for The Hextol Foundation; a charity which provides working opportunities for individuals with disabilities. She graduated from The University of Liverpool with a BA Geography degree. During her time at university she held a position as course representative, was a member of the committee for the Amnesty International Society and worked on school outreach programmes. Hannah is passionate about gender empowerment, human rights and reducing inequality. She spent time volunteering in Zambia on a project reducing the stigma and prevalence of HIV and AIDS. In her spare time she likes to travel, read and listen to podcasts.

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Harriet Mok

Programme Officer - South

Harriet joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the South of England in September 2019. Harriet studied for a MSc in Infection and Immunity, and prior to joining the charity obtained a PhD in Virology from UCL. Her doctoral thesis investigated how viruses use host cells to facilitate their replication cycles. She maintains a strong interest in molecular and cellular biology and is enthusiastic about STEM outreach. Throughout her time in higher education Harriet was involved with increasing the interest of students in science subjects and worked on the equality, diversity, and inclusion committee to promote good practice in the workplace and deliver various outreach and widening participation initiatives. In addition to her love of science, Harriet enjoys yoga, climbing, and going to gigs.

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Dr Helen Carr

Regional Manager - East

Helen joined The Brilliant Club in February 2018 after completing a PhD in History at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her undergraduate degree was in Modern History at the University of St Andrews. After graduating, she trained to teach and worked for 9 years as a secondary history teacher, initially in Hull and then in Cairo. Whilst teaching, she completed a Masters in Education which investigated pupils’ responses to learning about the Holocaust. Whilst working on her PhD, she also worked at the Holocaust Educational Trust, firstly on the Trust’s outreach programme and then on the teacher training programme.

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Holly Hinks

Special Projects Officer

Holly joined The Brilliant Club in December 2017 as the Personal Assistant to the Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors. Holly graduated from the University of Nottingham with a BSc in Psychology. At university, Holly worked as a student ambassador for the Widening Participation team and was a Social Secretary for the University Trampolining Club. Before joining The Brilliant Club, she worked as a Team Leader for the National Citizen Service summer programme and then as a Product Support Assistant for a learning journal software company.

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Dr Jade Lawson

Programme Officer - North

Jade joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer in the North of England in August 2019. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Jade completed her PhD in contemporary German and World Literatures at the University of Leeds, in which she examined how female authors reflected simultaneously upon both traumatic memory and current political, societal and environmental concerns. During her PhD, Jade worked in Educational Engagement and Outreach at the University of Leeds and also worked with Leeds Development Education Centre on a number of education research projects.

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Joanna Pickets

Programme Officer - South

Joanna joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the South of England in September 2019. Prior to this, Joanna studied English Literature and Philosophy at the University of Bristol where she was involved in a range of school outreach programmes. She then completed the Teach First programme and taught English at two secondary schools in London. During her teaching summer holidays, Joanna delivered Limited Resources Teacher Training with the organisation LRTT in Tanzania and Nepal. Following this, she worked as a Programme Officer and Head of Enrichment (organising tuition and university trips for pupils from under-represented backgrounds) at the educational charity Team Up. Outside of work, Joanna enjoys travelling, swimming and running.

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Dr Kathryn van de Wiel

Programme Officer - West

Kathryn joined The Brilliant Club after completing her PhD in Classics and Ancient History at The University of Warwick. Her doctoral thesis investigated the classification of apotropaic phallic imagery found at the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, particularly in terms of the sites’ celebrated rediscovery during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Accordingly, she maintains a strong interest in the heritage and cultural sector and popular engagement with the ancient past. Throughout her time at Warwick, Kathryn was heavily involved in the design and delivery of various outreach, widening participation and public engagement initiatives, including devising and overseeing the Classics Department’s Sutton Trust Summer Schools. In her free time, she enjoys being a nerd in museums and art galleries, visiting historical sites across the UK, going to the gym, and drawing.

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Dr Katrina Roberts

Regional Manager - North

Katrina joined as Programme Officer for the North of England in August 2016. Prior to joining the charity, Katrina graduated from The University of Sheffield, where she studied a PhD in Reproductive Biology and Genetics at undergraduate. Katrina’s PhD research project involved investigating the interactions between a common herpesvirus and human sperm.

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Laura Johnstone

National Manager - Scotland

Laura joined as National Manager for Scotland, in August 2019, to continue the development of The Scholars Programme in Scotland following its launch in 2017. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Laura was Senior Programme Coordinator for FOCUS West, a widening access organisation forming part of the Scottish national Schools for Higher Education Programme. Prior to this, Laura worked for the University of the West of Scotland as part of the Student Recruitment team and has previously worked within University of Strathclyde in various schools outreach and widening access roles. Laura studied LLB Law at University of Strathclyde as well as obtaining a PGDip in Environmental Entrepreneurship at the same university. Outside of work, Laura enjoys baking, being outdoors and spending time with family.

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Dr Lauren Mottle

Programme Officer - North

Lauren joined the Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the North of England in March 2019. Before joining the Brilliant Club, Lauren worked with the charity as a PhD Tutor and completed her PhD in History at the University of Leeds. Her PhD research examined the anti-war protest of American soldiers and veterans during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. She is originally from New Jersey in the United States and loves to cook, bake and read in her spare time and ride horses any chance she gets!

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Lydia Wiles

Regional Manager - South

Lydia joined The Scholars Programme as a Programme Officer in September 2017. She gained a BA (hons) History degree from the University of Birmingham before completing the Teach First leadership development programme, where she taught History at a secondary school on the Isle of Dogs. During her time teaching, Lydia was Head of Holocaust Education and KS3 History.

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Maria Crawford

Programme Officer - West

Maria previously worked in Outreach at Aston University, University of Birmingham and with Aimhigher West Midlands, running programmes for schools from disadvantaged backgrounds. Prior to that, she studied Music at University of Southampton where she was involved in the STEM Roadshow, taking researchers work out into the wider community in accessible and interactive formats.

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Dr Natalie Day

Area Director - North

Natalie joined the Brilliant Club in April 2016 as a Programme Officer for the North of England. Prior to joining the charity, Natalie completed an ESRC-funded PhD in Sociology at Newcastle University, exploring the formal and informal sexual learning processes of young heterosexual women in Northeast Brazil.

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Nikita Vyas

Programme Officer - East

Nikita joined the Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the East of England in August 2019. Prior to this, Nikita studied French and English at the University of Leicester where she was involved in a range of school outreach programmes. She then completed Teach First programme and taught French at a secondary school in North East Lincolnshire. Nikita has also worked in higher education and has spent several years living and working in France. Unsurprisingly, she is a complete Francophile and loves cooking, cats and exploring new (preferably French-speaking) places.

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Polly Mason

Programme Administrator - East

Polly joined The Brilliant Club in September 2018 as Programme Administrator for the East of England team. Prior to this, she graduated from the University of Oxford, where she studied French and Spanish, before moving to Santiago de Chile for a year to work as an English teacher. She also has experience in journalism and has spent time living and working in France and Spain. Outside of work, Polly’s interests include vegan cooking, reading, and climate justice.

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Phoebe Rudgard

Programme Officer - South

Phoebe joined The Scholars Programme in August 2019 as a Programme Officer for the South of England. She graduated with a first-class degree in Philosophy and Politics from The University of Bristol in 2016 before completing the Teach First Leadership Development Programme, teaching for two years in a primary school in Essex. Whilst there, she helped to introduce Philosophy for Children into the curriculum, promoting critical thinking within the classroom. She is also passionate about educating students from a young age on global issues including refugee rights and women’s equality. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Phoebe spent time volunteering within limited resource contexts in both Greece and Nepal. Outside of work, she enjoys travelling, cooking and listening to podcasts.

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Rosa Smith

Area Director - West

Rosa joined The Brilliant Club in September 2017 and worked as part of the Researchers in Schools team before moving over to The Scholar’s Programme as Area Director in August 2019. She graduated from the University of Exeter, where she studied English. Prior to joining the charity she completed the Teach First Programme and taught English for five years at a secondary school in South-East London. During this time she was also KS5 lead and then Head of 6th form. She remains committed to improving access to selective universities and raising student aspirations.

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Siri Minsaas

Programme Officer - South

Siri joined The Brilliant Club in August 2018 as a Programme Officer. She graduated with a degree in international relations from Durham University in 2014, and then spent a year as Junior Common Room President at her college in Durham.  Siri then did her teacher training with Teach First, working as an English teacher at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, Hartlepool. After moving to London, Siri worked as an English and media studies teacher at Highlands School in Enfield. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, she completed her MA in Educational Leadership at the University of Warwick, focusing on the value of aspiration in schools. Outside work, Siri enjoys travelling and baking.

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Sophie Callin

Programme Officer - North

Sophie joined the Brilliant Club as Programme Officer for the North of England in August 2018. She studied Mathematics at the University of York and, upon graduating in 2015, trained to teach through Teach First. Sophie first taught at a small community school in West Yorkshire, developing an interest in the barriers facing students in rural areas, and then at Huntington School in York, one of the first Research Schools in England. Outside of work, Sophie enjoys exploring the Yorkshire countryside and going back to her beloved home, the Isle of Man.

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Steph Hamilton

Area Director - South

Steph joined The Brilliant Club in August 2015 as The East of England Regional Director. She graduated from Durham University in 2012, where she studied Anthropology. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, Steph was Head of Biology and Aspirations Coordinator at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, Hartlepool, where she taught for three years, after training with Teach First. As part of her role Steph was also the Lead teacher for The Scholars’ Programme at Dyke House, seeing many of her own pupils through the programme. Steph is passionate about extending access opportunities to rural and coastal communities, an interest which has grown out of her work in the North East and which prompted her to join and lead The Brilliant Club’s expanding of the South of England team.

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Dr Teresa Phipps

Programme Officer - Wales

Teresa joined as Programme Officer for Wales in August 2019. Before joining The Brilliant Club she worked on a research project at Swansea University, researching and publishing on women’s access to justice in medieval towns, looking at their involvement in different types of litigation as well as local policing and regulation. This was also the subject of her PhD research completed at the University of Nottingham in 2015. She also worked as an outreach officer working with primary schools in the Widening Participation team at the University of Nottingham. Away from work, she enjoys going to the gym, cooking and admiring other people’s dogs.

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Dr Victoria Symons

Programme Officer - South

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Kike Agunbiade

National Programme Director, Researchers in Schools

Kike joined The Brilliant Club as National Programme Director for Researchers in Schools in October 2017. Prior to this, Kike was a Senior Education Lead at SSAT, the Schools, Students and Teachers Network, where she led on a number of high profile projects including middle and senior leadership programmes, Teaching Schools and their school improvement framework. Kike spent five years working at Teach First, where she was North London Manager, and has also worked for a range of charities in roles to support and develop teachers. Kike completed the Teach First Programme as Science Teacher in North London. She holds an MBA (Education) from Keele University and a post graduate certificate in Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education from the University of Edinburgh. Kike graduated from Merton College, University of Oxford, with an MChem in Chemistry.

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Alice Coombes Huntley

Relationships Development Officer

Alice joined The Brilliant Club in November 2019 as Relationship Development Officer. She was previously at The Noisy Classroom, promoting the use of critical oracy and debate in schools across the UK and abroad. There she delivered CPD and pupil workshops, ran national programmes, and created resources to embed oracy within the classroom. She studied English Literature at the University of Bristol and then went on to do a Masters in Victorian Literature at the University of Oxford. In her spare time Alice likes cooking, reading, playing board games and pursuing the perfect sour beer.

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Beth Williams

Programme Administrator

Beth joined the RIS team in August 2019 as the Programme Administrator. She studied History at the University of Nottingham and graduated in 2018. At university she was a student ambassador and volunteered to deliver netball coaching at primary schools around Nottingham. During the summers of her university degree, Beth worked at children’s summer camps both in Cincinnati and Spain. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Beth completed an internship with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, engaging with children across Wales about children’s rights and developing lesson plans to help counter issues such as childhood poverty and cyberbullying. Outside of work, Beth enjoys playing netball, travelling, watching documentaries, and supporting the Welsh rugby team.

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Carys Taylor

Curriculum and Development Officer

Carys joined the RIS team as Curriculum & Development Officer in October 2018. She studied Education (BEd) at the University of Auckland. Carys taught in New Zealand for over 7 years and was also part of the leadership team at her school. As part of her leadership responsibilities she researched and implemented innovative teaching practices and focused on teacher development through coaching and mentoring programmes. Outside of work, Carys is interested in travel, food and reading.

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Elena Tucker

Recruitment Administrator

Elena joined the RIS team in November 2018 as a Recruitment Administrator. Her interest in education began during her gap year, when she worked as a teaching assistant in local primary schools. She graduated from the University of Oxford in 2016, where she read History, before spending a year working in the education sector as an unqualified teacher, teaching assistant, tutor and research assistant. Prior to joining the charity, Elena completed an MPhil in Modern British History at the University of Cambridge, researching sibling relationships in Edwardian families. Having observed first-hand the lack of diversity in highly-selective universities, Elena is passionately committed to the charity’s mission of widening access for pupils from under-represented groups. Outside of work, Elena’s interests include travelling, cooking, taking photos of her dog sleeping and binge-watching series on Netflix.

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Gil Brandt

Curriculum and Development Manager

Gil joined The Brilliant Club as a member of the Curriculum and Development team for Researchers in Schools in January 2017 and again in July 2019. During this time, Gil was attaining a master’s in education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The masters focused on evaluation of teacher education programmes and researching teacher diagnosis and decision making in uncertain situations. Prior to this, Gil taught mathematics for five years in schools in London and Leeds, where he completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. Outside of work Gil is an ineffectual but passionate rock-climber and an avid fan of the greatest football team of all time – Leicester City.

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Jenny Paterson

School Programme Director

Jenny joined The Brilliant Club as School Programme Director in March 2018, where she oversees the Researchers in Schools programme participants and their progress on the programme.  Before joining the charity, she was a teacher for over 20 years, as a Head of Department for Drama and Media, Assistant Headteacher for teaching and learning and Head of Sixth Form.  She recently graduated from the University of York with a Masters in Social Justice and Education where her studies included Higher Education access and the impact of gender on educational choices.  Outside of work, she is a keen playwright and traveller.

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Jessy Ahluwalia

Recruitment and Assessment Officer

Jessy joined The Brilliant Club as Recruitment and Assessment Officer in January 2018, where she works to advertise and market the Researchers in Schools Programme, and recruit participants for the upcoming year. Before joining the charity she worked at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, as the Schools Liaison Officer working in outreach and widening participation with target state schools. Jessy graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2016 with a BA in Education and Religious Studies. Outside of work Jessy enjoys dog walking, international travel and listening to feminist podcasts. Jessy moved to London for her current role, and is enjoying exploring all the city has to offer.

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Jessica Ryan

Programme Officer

Jess joined the RIS team in September 2019 as a Programme Officer. She studied History at UCL and graduated in 2013. During this time, she worked to champion university access and social mobility in her roles as Outreach Ambassador and Horizons Mentor. Following this, she taught English in Estonia, before returning to the UK and training to teach through the Teach First programme, teaching English at a school in Bradford. She then went on to work at a school in Southwest London, where she was the Year 7 Curriculum Lead and mentored trainee teachers, alongside completing a Masters degree in Education. Outside of work, Jess enjoys hiking, wild camping, skiing and volunteering with the Scouts Association and Duke of Edinburgh Award.

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Leo Wax

Programme Officer

Leo joined the RIS team in January 2019 as a Programme Officer. He studied Politics and Spanish at the University of Leeds and graduated in 2015. Whilst at university, he was the social secretary for the Spanish, Latin American and Portuguese Society and volunteered at Nightline, a non-advisory phone line for students. He trained as a teacher through the TeachFirst programme, teaching Spanish and French at school in Bradford. He went on to teach at a school in East London where he helped to plan and deliver school wide CPD on LGBT issues surrounding staff and students. Outside of work, Leo likes to attend life drawing classes and is learning how to play the drums. He also enjoys disco music, podcasts, documentaries and politics.

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Nicholas Cater

Recruitment Director

Nicholas is responsible for all aspects of the programme’s recruitment processes, from initial attraction and advertising, through to assessment and placement. Since graduating from Durham University with a degree in Modern Languages and a Masters in Translation, Nicholas worked initially as an Accountant, then freelance translator, before finally settling on recruitment. He worked at a boutique recruitment firm in Central London where he was responsible for the delivery of several national graduate schemes. Outside of work, Nicholas enjoys keeping his languages up to scratch and is a keen traveller, particularly around Europe and Russia.

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Rachel Lawrence

Curriculum and Development Director

Rachel started working with Researchers in Schools in 2014 when she led the Initial Teacher Education programme for the RIS pilot cohort at Lampton Academy. She joined the Brilliant Club in 2016 as Curriculum and Development Director for Researchers in Schools. Rachel is responsible for designing the Researchers in Schools curriculum and the delivery of Researchers in Schools training events. Before joining the charity, Rachel taught for 14 years at Lampton Academy, she was an Advanced Skills Teacher, Head of Religious Studies and a member of the Senior Leadership team. Rachel read Theology at Trinity College Oxford before doing a PGCE at St. Mary’s University College Twickenham. She later completed an MTeach at the Institute of Education, and is currently studying an Educational Doctorate (EdD) at Kings College London. In her free time Rachel is part of a Musical Theatre group, and she enjoys performing on stage.

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Victoria Sharkey

ITE and School Partnerships Manager

Vicky joined The Brilliant Club in October 2019 as ITE and School Partnerships Manger. She has ten years of experience in schools, having worked as an English and Media Studies teacher in both secondary and special needs settings in London. Over the course of her teaching career, she held academic and pastoral leadership roles and was responsible for the training and mentoring of new teachers. Vicky first discovered her passion for teaching whilst working in a school in Paris during her year abroad, which formed the third year of her English and French degree at the University of Leeds.  Vicky is a keen traveller but when in London can regularly be found at her local Sunday night pub quiz.

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Siobhan Haire

Operations Director

Siobhan joined The Brilliant Club in November 2019 as Operations Director, where she takes an interest in all things legal, human resources, technology, data and workplace. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, Siobhan worked at Teach First, as Senior Legal Advisor and then Head of HR Business Partnering and Learning and Development. Prior to that, she trained and worked as a solicitor for Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton LLP, and before that, spent two years teaching French as a participant on the Teach First Training Programme. Siobhan graduated from Oxford University with a degree in French and Philosophy. In her professional life, Siobhan enjoys problem solving, project planning and troubleshooting. Outside of work, Siobhan used to have hobbies, but now she has two small children.

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Angel-Ann D'Souza

Finance Director

Angel-Ann joined The Brilliant Club in February 2016 as The Finance Manager. Angel-Ann graduated from Trent university in Canada, where she studied Business and has her CPA, CMA designation in Canada. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, Angel-Ann worked at Safran Electronics Canada in the Finance department.

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Anna Aleksandrowicz

HR Manager

Anna is the HR Manager at The Brilliant Club and joined in September 2017. Her role is to support all who work for the charity with various initiatives including recruitment and ongoing professional development. Having completed a degree in European Politics and International Relations at Cardiff University, Anna moved into a career in HR in early 2010 and gained much of her experience working across various educational and non-profit organisations. In 2016 Anna completed an MA in Human Resource Management at Westminster Business School, which gained her a professionally recognised CIPD qualification.

Having completed her studies, Anna spends her free time travelling widely and frequently. Having proudly completed a whistle-stop tour of six continents in six months, Anna enjoys documenting her excursions as a keen hobbyist travel photographer.

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Chloe Hayes

HR Administrator

Chloe joined The Brilliant Club in May 2017 as the Operations Team Administrator, after completing a three-month internship with The Scholars Programme. She graduated from the University of Warwick in 2016, where she studied German and History. As part of her degree she lived in Germany for nine months, where she worked as a Foreign Languages Assistant, teaching English in a comprehensive school. Outside of work, Chloe enjoys art, travel and being a tourist in cities around the UK.

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Claire Ross

Finance Manager

Claire joined The Brilliant Club in September 2016 as The Finance Officer.  Claire graduated with a Bachelor of Business Studies (Finance) from Sligo Institute of Technology before becoming an ACCA affiliate in 2011.  Before joining The Brilliant Club Claire worked for Musica Viva Australia, a not-for-profit performing arts organisation and on her return to the northern hemisphere was keen to continue her career in the charitable sector.  When not crunching numbers, Claire enjoys theatre both as a participant and spectator.

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Inga Tatarunaite

IT Support Administrator

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Jessica Blazek

Finance and Operations Administrator

Jessica joined The Brilliant Club in August 2018. With an international background, she carries a degree in HR from the University Lutheran of Brazil and a degree in Communication Science from the New University of Lisbon in Portugal. Before joining the charity Jessica spent three years living in Ireland and learning English. She also enjoyed her time travelling across many countries around Europe. Jessica enjoys meeting new people, discovering new places and cultures. Along her life journey she met many inspiring people from which she learned that helping others to succeed is one of the most important things a person can do, which is now her main motivation.

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Mike Garthwaite

Senior Web Developer

Mike joined The Brilliant Club in September 2018 taking on the role of Senior Web Developer. Having studied at the University of Huddersfield and attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, he moved into a career as a freelance web developer, specifically using tools such as PHP and javascript. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking, music and watching football.

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Nikki Labrum

Technology and Product Director

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Sabrina Luisi

External Affairs Director

Sabrina joined The Brilliant Club in July 2018, as Director of External Affairs. Sabrina is responsible for The Brilliant Club’s fundraising, communications, public affairs and building an alumni network; in short, helping people to understand, believe in and support the great work of The Brilliant Club.

Sabrina studied French and English at Leeds University, including a year in France working as a secondary school teacher. This sparked her interest in education and people development, which has been a common theme throughout her career. Sabrina grew up in an illiterate household, and this first-hand experience of educational inequality reminds her daily of the importance of supporting young people from all backgrounds to access education.

Sabrina’s experience includes the design and delivery of international development programmes and global communications within a leading IT company, before moving into the education charity sector when she joined Teach First in 2015. During her time at Teach First, Sabrina led the Teach First Access Department, expanded and developed the Higher Education Access programme, ‘Futures’, and established the Learning and Development team within Teach First.

Outside of work, Sabrina enjoys the theatre as both a spectator and performer, learning languages and is a member of two comedy improvisation groups.

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Jordanna Knight

External Affairs Administrator

Jordanna joined The Brilliant Club in 2015 after completing her A-Levels in History, Sociology and Philosophy and Ethics. Although she loved learning, upon leaving Sixth Form, she believed it was essential to gain experience in the world of work and develop invaluable skills and confidence. She completed an apprenticeship programme in Business Administration with The Scholars Programme. Jordanna is passionate about the charity’s mission and therefore committed to increasing access to these amazing opportunities for all pupils, as she too attended a non-selective state school. Increasing her knowledge within the sector has encouraged her to want to contribute more to the charity to make a difference and has therefore carried out multiple roles during her time at the charity. She is now the External Affairs Administrator.

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Maddy Maloney

Partnerships Officer

Maddy studied English and Theatre Studies at the University of Warwick, spending a year at the Université Paris-Sorbonne. Whilst at university she acted as a writer, actor and contributor to Radio Warwick, was a member of Warwick Repertory Theatre Company and also acted as Social Secretary for the university’s Shakespeare Society. She worked for the Widening Patricipation Team and was  an English Ambassador for the Warwick Transformations Project. Before joining The Brilliant Club Midlands team as a Programme Administrator, Maddy completed work experience at BBC Radio 4 and worked at Gwyn James Solicitors. Maddy assumed a new role as Partnerships Officer in January 2018.

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Sally Holt

Policy Officer

Sally first worked as The Brilliant Club Conference and Events Intern in 2016 before joining full time October 2017 after finishing her Masters in Education Policy at UCL. Previous to this, Sally had worked for three years at Dyke House College in Hartlepool, firstly as part of the team setting up the Sixth Form and latterly, as the Aspirations Coordinator creating a whole school progression programme which works with pupils from Year 5 to Year 13. Sally is an education nerd who enjoys reading policy in her spare time, as well as running and skiing. 

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Zoë Whitford

Communications and Marketing Manager

As Communications and Marketing Manager, Zoë looks after marketing, branding and both internal and external communications. She joined The Brilliant Club in October 2018 from Perform Group, where she had spent five years working as a Business Analyst and Customer Marketing Manager. Prior to that, Zoë spent six happy seasons working in various Marketing roles at Lancashire County Cricket Club.

Having attended state schools in Norfolk and Yorkshire, Zoë studied at Clare College, Cambridge, where she attained her MA in Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic. She also achieved a master’s degree in Communications from the University of Leeds in 2007.

Outside work, Zoë watches a lot of sport and is a season ticket holder at Norwich City where she also writes for the matchday programme. She also enjoys cooking, travelling and comedy.

Research and Impact Department

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Dr Chris Wilson

CEO

Dr Chris Wilson is the CEO at The Brilliant Club, an education charity committed to supporting the progression of under-represented pupils to university by mobilising the research community to work with schools. During his time at The Brilliant Club, Chris has been a PhD tutor, rolled out the charity’s provision across the UK, co-founded the teacher training programme Researchers in Schools, and launched the charity’s five-year strategy, The Path to Outcomes. Chris trained as a medieval historian at the universities of Cambridge and Exeter.

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Ciara Lynch

Chief Operating Officer

Ciara joined as Operations Director in August 2016, where she oversees Finance, HR, IT, Marketing and Communications. Prior to joining the charity, she was Vice President of Operations at a financial services firm, where she worked for five years. During this time, she managed a team of analysts delivering research to credit investors and was responsible for business change and new strategic initiatives. Ciara graduated with a Master’s Degree in the History of International Relations from University College Dublin and a BA (hons) in History and Politics, also from University College Dublin, with one year spent at Sciences Po in Paris. She also has a Graduate Diploma in Law. Outside of work, she enjoys running and travelling.

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Richard Eyre

Chief Programmes Officer

Richard leads the Programmes Division, which encompasses The Brilliant Club’s two programmes for schools and our Research and Impact Department. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Richard worked as a public policy and strategy consultant, advising education system leaders in the UK and internationally. From 2014-2016 he worked in Washington DC as strategy director at the US Education Delivery Institute. A graduate of the Civil Service Fast Steam, Richard spent the first nine years of his career in the Department for Education and then the Home Office, serving in a range of high-profile policy and delivery roles spanning education, children’s policy and policing and security. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge, where he studied law. Richard is proud to have attended a state comprehensive school and is passionate about giving more young people fair access to the best that higher education, and life, has to offer.

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Hannah Lear

Personal Assistant to the COO and Operations Administrator

Hannah joined The Brilliant Club as Personal Assistant to the COO and Operations Administrator in August 2019. She is responsible for office organisation in the London office as well as diary management for two senior staff members. Hannah graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2017 with a degree in Sociology and Spanish. This led to her spending two years working in education in Colombia and Spain, working on her Spanish and learning more about the education sector abroad. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching yoga and travelling.

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Lottie Persad

Personal Assistant to Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors

Lottie joined The Brilliant Club in August 2019 as the Personal Assistant to the Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors. Lottie graduated from King’s College London in 2019 with a BSc in Psychology. During her time at university, Lottie volunteered as a mentor for Lauriston Lights – a charity that provides a summer camp for highly academic children from low socioeconomic backgrounds – and was also a student mentor for new first-year Psychology students at King’s College London. Before attending university, Lottie lived and worked in The Netherlands for 6 months. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, cooking, and reading.

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Michelle Langley

Personal Assistant to the CEO

Michelle joined The Brilliant Club as Personal Assistant to the CEO in January 2018. Prior to joining the charity, she interned and worked in publishing for a number of years, supporting a team of literary agents at an international literary agency in her role as Receptionist and Contracts Assistant. Michelle graduated with an MA (hons) in English Literature from the University of Glasgow in 2012. Outside of work, Michelle is a keen reader and runner, volunteering as a Run Leader for A Mile in Her Shoes, a charity which encourages women who are at risk of homelessness or affected by related issues to try running as a way of exercising, socialising, lifting confidence and boosting self-esteem.

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Susie Whigham

National Programme Director, The Scholars Programme

As National Programme Director Susie oversees the impact, growth and development of The Scholars Programme. Susie has been committed to tackling educational disadvantage throughout her career and ensuring that young people from underrepresented backgrounds have the opportunities and support to reach their potential. As part of the first cohort of Teach First Susie taught English in a secondary school in South-West London. During this time she set up a charity, Trust Youth, to support Year 10 pupils to develop the skills and experience to run fundraising campaigns for national charities. She subsequently worked as a Literacy Consultant for the government’s National Strategies programme in schools. As Executive Director of Services at School-Home Support, Susie has more recently had responsibility for a range of programmes tackling the underlying barriers to learning within the home, including the Troubled Families and the Parent Support Advisor initiatives.

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Leanne Adamson

National Programme Director, The Scholars Programme

Leanne studied Joint Honours in Chemistry and Physics at Durham University, where she received a First Class BSc and MSci. Upon graduating in 2011, she joined the Teach First programme where she taught Science at Churchill Community College in Newcastle for two years. Leanne has a strong interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and is passionate about helping more pupils progress into STEM related fields. She joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer in 2013 and became National Programme Director for The Scholars Programme in 2017.

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Abby Cakebread-Andrews

Programme Officer - East

Abby joined The Brilliant Club in March 2018 as Programme Officer for the East of England. She graduated from Lancaster University in 2015, where she studied French and History including spending a year living and working in Paris. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Abby worked at a high school in North Wales having completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. At the same time, she was involved in a variety of volunteering opportunities and experiences with other charities. Outside of work, Abby has interests in travel, fitness and food.

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Amy Simkin

Team Administrator - North

Amy joined The Brilliant Club in July 2018 as Programme Administrator for the North of England. She studied Mathematics at the University of York, where she received a First Class BSc. During her time at university, she spent nine months living and studying Mathematics in Bordeaux. Outside of work, Amy enjoys yoga, reading and travelling both within the UK and abroad.

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Dr Andrew Fleming

Regional Manager - South

Andy joined the Brilliant Club in March 2016 as a Programme Officer for London and the South East. Prior to joining the charity, Andy completed an AHRC-funded DPhil in History at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford, looking at sainthood and politics in medieval England. He has also worked as teacher in Indonesia and the Bahamas.

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Annabel Marcuse

Area Director - East

Annabel joined The Brilliant Club in February 2017. As Area Director, she oversees programme delivery, recruitment and partnerships for The Scholars Programme in the East of England. Upon graduating from the University of Durham in 2013, where she studied Modern Foreign Languages, Annabel completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. She taught French, Spanish and Latin, and was Head of French in two London secondary schools prior to joining The Brilliant Club.  Outside of work, Annabel is a keen supporter of Watford Football Club.

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Dr Anna-Marie Linnell

Regional Manager - West

Anna-Marie joined The Brilliant Club in October 2016 as a Programme Officer for the London region. She studied an undergraduate and masters degree at the University of Exeter, before completing a PhD as part of the AHRC Stuart Successions Project. While working on her doctorate, Anna-Marie also established and led a community history project called Staging Exeter, which was funded by RCUK. She is passionate about helping researchers create impact from their research.

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Aysha Begum

Programme Administrator - West

I am the administrator for Team West, so my responsibility is looking after all the schools in the West of England as well as Wales! I’m also recruitment administration for tutors joining the Scholars programme. I’ve previously worked in a variety of places, most recently in a comms and PR agency and before that, working on internships and events at the SOAS Careers Service. At University I studied International Relations and Economics at SOAS with a focus on East Asia and development. I’m passionate about learning languages and have spent two months working in Beijing and passionate about social mobility especially increasing access to education for women and migrant communities. Outside of work I love travelling, eating Korean food, binge watching tv shows, reading conspiracy theories and reading up on identity politics.

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Dr Claire Harrill

Programme Officer - West

Claire joined The Brilliant Club in November 2017 as the first Programme Officer for Wales and the South West. In her previous life she was a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, lecturing on Chaucer and Medieval Romance, via studying Medieval Literature at LMH, Oxford as an undergraduate, then an MA in Medieval Literatures at York, and a PhD at Birmingham. She came to The Brilliant Club via being a tutor on her own course ‘Reading and Writing Medieval Women’ about the (surprisingly many) women writers of the Middle Ages. In her free time, Claire likes long walks, going to the theatre and taking selfies with her cat, Chaucer.

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David Jones

Director of Education and Development

David joined The Brilliant Club in 2015 as a Programme Officer before becoming the Teaching and Learning Manager for The Scholars Programme in March 2016. David graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2010, where he studied Modern History. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, David worked at an educational charity running supplementary schools before going to complete his PGCE at the University of Bath. David then worked as a Year 5 class teacher at Belleville Primary School in south London.

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Farzana Lodhi

Programme Administrator, Teaching and Learning

Farzana joined The Brilliant Club in September 2018 as Programme Administrator for the Teaching and Learning Team. She graduated from SOAS university in 2018, where she studied Arabic and International Relations including spending a year living and studying in Fez, Morocco. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Farzana worked as an administrator for the Widening Participation team at SOAS university, was a senior Student Ambassador, and worked with Debate Mate as a debate coach in primary schools. She has also been involved in advocating for women’s rights through volunteering opportunities abroad in Egypt and Morocco. Outside of work, Farzana has interests in travel, food, and post-colonial literature.

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Greg Scannell

National Manager - Wales

Greg joined as National Manager for Wales, in January 2017, overseeing the growth and running of The Scholars Programme following its launch in Wales in Autumn 2016. Prior to joining the charity, he was a Leadership Development Officer for Teach First Cymru supporting new teachers entering the profession with both their practice and their well-being. Greg also worked for 5 years as a Humanities teacher at a large South West Wales Comprehensive school and as an Access Assistant Coordinator at the University of Oxford. He graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Master’s Degree in Education and a BA (Hons) in Theology from the University of Oxford. Outside of work, Greg enjoys spending time with his young family and attending live music and sports events.

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Hannah Dodgson

Programme Administrator - South

Hannah joined The Brilliant Club in 2018 as Programme Administrator for the South team. Prior to joining the organisation she interned at an international development charity and worked as communications and administration assistant for The Hextol Foundation; a charity which provides working opportunities for individuals with disabilities. She graduated from The University of Liverpool with a BA Geography degree. During her time at university she held a position as course representative, was a member of the committee for the Amnesty International Society and worked on school outreach programmes. Hannah is passionate about gender empowerment, human rights and reducing inequality. She spent time volunteering in Zambia on a project reducing the stigma and prevalence of HIV and AIDS. In her spare time she likes to travel, read and listen to podcasts.

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Harriet Mok

Programme Officer - South

Harriet joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the South of England in September 2019. Harriet studied for a MSc in Infection and Immunity, and prior to joining the charity obtained a PhD in Virology from UCL. Her doctoral thesis investigated how viruses use host cells to facilitate their replication cycles. She maintains a strong interest in molecular and cellular biology and is enthusiastic about STEM outreach. Throughout her time in higher education Harriet was involved with increasing the interest of students in science subjects and worked on the equality, diversity, and inclusion committee to promote good practice in the workplace and deliver various outreach and widening participation initiatives. In addition to her love of science, Harriet enjoys yoga, climbing, and going to gigs.

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Dr Helen Carr

Regional Manager - East

Helen joined The Brilliant Club in February 2018 after completing a PhD in History at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her undergraduate degree was in Modern History at the University of St Andrews. After graduating, she trained to teach and worked for 9 years as a secondary history teacher, initially in Hull and then in Cairo. Whilst teaching, she completed a Masters in Education which investigated pupils’ responses to learning about the Holocaust. Whilst working on her PhD, she also worked at the Holocaust Educational Trust, firstly on the Trust’s outreach programme and then on the teacher training programme.

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Holly Hinks

Special Projects Officer

Holly joined The Brilliant Club in December 2017 as the Personal Assistant to the Chief Programmes Officer and National Programme Directors. Holly graduated from the University of Nottingham with a BSc in Psychology. At university, Holly worked as a student ambassador for the Widening Participation team and was a Social Secretary for the University Trampolining Club. Before joining The Brilliant Club, she worked as a Team Leader for the National Citizen Service summer programme and then as a Product Support Assistant for a learning journal software company.

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Dr Jade Lawson

Programme Officer - North

Jade joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer in the North of England in August 2019. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Jade completed her PhD in contemporary German and World Literatures at the University of Leeds, in which she examined how female authors reflected simultaneously upon both traumatic memory and current political, societal and environmental concerns. During her PhD, Jade worked in Educational Engagement and Outreach at the University of Leeds and also worked with Leeds Development Education Centre on a number of education research projects.

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Joanna Pickets

Programme Officer - South

Joanna joined The Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the South of England in September 2019. Prior to this, Joanna studied English Literature and Philosophy at the University of Bristol where she was involved in a range of school outreach programmes. She then completed the Teach First programme and taught English at two secondary schools in London. During her teaching summer holidays, Joanna delivered Limited Resources Teacher Training with the organisation LRTT in Tanzania and Nepal. Following this, she worked as a Programme Officer and Head of Enrichment (organising tuition and university trips for pupils from under-represented backgrounds) at the educational charity Team Up. Outside of work, Joanna enjoys travelling, swimming and running.

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Dr Kathryn van de Wiel

Programme Officer - West

Kathryn joined The Brilliant Club after completing her PhD in Classics and Ancient History at The University of Warwick. Her doctoral thesis investigated the classification of apotropaic phallic imagery found at the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, particularly in terms of the sites’ celebrated rediscovery during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Accordingly, she maintains a strong interest in the heritage and cultural sector and popular engagement with the ancient past. Throughout her time at Warwick, Kathryn was heavily involved in the design and delivery of various outreach, widening participation and public engagement initiatives, including devising and overseeing the Classics Department’s Sutton Trust Summer Schools. In her free time, she enjoys being a nerd in museums and art galleries, visiting historical sites across the UK, going to the gym, and drawing.

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Dr Katrina Roberts

Regional Manager - North

Katrina joined as Programme Officer for the North of England in August 2016. Prior to joining the charity, Katrina graduated from The University of Sheffield, where she studied a PhD in Reproductive Biology and Genetics at undergraduate. Katrina’s PhD research project involved investigating the interactions between a common herpesvirus and human sperm.

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Laura Johnstone

National Manager - Scotland

Laura joined as National Manager for Scotland, in August 2019, to continue the development of The Scholars Programme in Scotland following its launch in 2017. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Laura was Senior Programme Coordinator for FOCUS West, a widening access organisation forming part of the Scottish national Schools for Higher Education Programme. Prior to this, Laura worked for the University of the West of Scotland as part of the Student Recruitment team and has previously worked within University of Strathclyde in various schools outreach and widening access roles. Laura studied LLB Law at University of Strathclyde as well as obtaining a PGDip in Environmental Entrepreneurship at the same university. Outside of work, Laura enjoys baking, being outdoors and spending time with family.

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Dr Lauren Mottle

Programme Officer - North

Lauren joined the Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the North of England in March 2019. Before joining the Brilliant Club, Lauren worked with the charity as a PhD Tutor and completed her PhD in History at the University of Leeds. Her PhD research examined the anti-war protest of American soldiers and veterans during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. She is originally from New Jersey in the United States and loves to cook, bake and read in her spare time and ride horses any chance she gets!

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Lydia Wiles

Regional Manager - South

Lydia joined The Scholars Programme as a Programme Officer in September 2017. She gained a BA (hons) History degree from the University of Birmingham before completing the Teach First leadership development programme, where she taught History at a secondary school on the Isle of Dogs. During her time teaching, Lydia was Head of Holocaust Education and KS3 History.

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Maria Crawford

Programme Officer - West

Maria previously worked in Outreach at Aston University, University of Birmingham and with Aimhigher West Midlands, running programmes for schools from disadvantaged backgrounds. Prior to that, she studied Music at University of Southampton where she was involved in the STEM Roadshow, taking researchers work out into the wider community in accessible and interactive formats.

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Dr Natalie Day

Area Director - North

Natalie joined the Brilliant Club in April 2016 as a Programme Officer for the North of England. Prior to joining the charity, Natalie completed an ESRC-funded PhD in Sociology at Newcastle University, exploring the formal and informal sexual learning processes of young heterosexual women in Northeast Brazil.

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Nikita Vyas

Programme Officer - East

Nikita joined the Brilliant Club as a Programme Officer for the East of England in August 2019. Prior to this, Nikita studied French and English at the University of Leicester where she was involved in a range of school outreach programmes. She then completed Teach First programme and taught French at a secondary school in North East Lincolnshire. Nikita has also worked in higher education and has spent several years living and working in France. Unsurprisingly, she is a complete Francophile and loves cooking, cats and exploring new (preferably French-speaking) places.

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Polly Mason

Programme Administrator - East

Polly joined The Brilliant Club in September 2018 as Programme Administrator for the East of England team. Prior to this, she graduated from the University of Oxford, where she studied French and Spanish, before moving to Santiago de Chile for a year to work as an English teacher. She also has experience in journalism and has spent time living and working in France and Spain. Outside of work, Polly’s interests include vegan cooking, reading, and climate justice.

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Phoebe Rudgard

Programme Officer - South

Phoebe joined The Scholars Programme in August 2019 as a Programme Officer for the South of England. She graduated with a first-class degree in Philosophy and Politics from The University of Bristol in 2016 before completing the Teach First Leadership Development Programme, teaching for two years in a primary school in Essex. Whilst there, she helped to introduce Philosophy for Children into the curriculum, promoting critical thinking within the classroom. She is also passionate about educating students from a young age on global issues including refugee rights and women’s equality. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Phoebe spent time volunteering within limited resource contexts in both Greece and Nepal. Outside of work, she enjoys travelling, cooking and listening to podcasts.

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Rosa Smith

Area Director - West

Rosa joined The Brilliant Club in September 2017 and worked as part of the Researchers in Schools team before moving over to The Scholar’s Programme as Area Director in August 2019. She graduated from the University of Exeter, where she studied English. Prior to joining the charity she completed the Teach First Programme and taught English for five years at a secondary school in South-East London. During this time she was also KS5 lead and then Head of 6th form. She remains committed to improving access to selective universities and raising student aspirations.

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Siri Minsaas

Programme Officer - South

Siri joined The Brilliant Club in August 2018 as a Programme Officer. She graduated with a degree in international relations from Durham University in 2014, and then spent a year as Junior Common Room President at her college in Durham.  Siri then did her teacher training with Teach First, working as an English teacher at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, Hartlepool. After moving to London, Siri worked as an English and media studies teacher at Highlands School in Enfield. Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, she completed her MA in Educational Leadership at the University of Warwick, focusing on the value of aspiration in schools. Outside work, Siri enjoys travelling and baking.

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Sophie Callin

Programme Officer - North

Sophie joined the Brilliant Club as Programme Officer for the North of England in August 2018. She studied Mathematics at the University of York and, upon graduating in 2015, trained to teach through Teach First. Sophie first taught at a small community school in West Yorkshire, developing an interest in the barriers facing students in rural areas, and then at Huntington School in York, one of the first Research Schools in England. Outside of work, Sophie enjoys exploring the Yorkshire countryside and going back to her beloved home, the Isle of Man.

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Steph Hamilton

Area Director - South

Steph joined The Brilliant Club in August 2015 as The East of England Regional Director. She graduated from Durham University in 2012, where she studied Anthropology. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, Steph was Head of Biology and Aspirations Coordinator at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, Hartlepool, where she taught for three years, after training with Teach First. As part of her role Steph was also the Lead teacher for The Scholars’ Programme at Dyke House, seeing many of her own pupils through the programme. Steph is passionate about extending access opportunities to rural and coastal communities, an interest which has grown out of her work in the North East and which prompted her to join and lead The Brilliant Club’s expanding of the South of England team.

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Dr Teresa Phipps

Programme Officer - Wales

Teresa joined as Programme Officer for Wales in August 2019. Before joining The Brilliant Club she worked on a research project at Swansea University, researching and publishing on women’s access to justice in medieval towns, looking at their involvement in different types of litigation as well as local policing and regulation. This was also the subject of her PhD research completed at the University of Nottingham in 2015. She also worked as an outreach officer working with primary schools in the Widening Participation team at the University of Nottingham. Away from work, she enjoys going to the gym, cooking and admiring other people’s dogs.

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Dr Victoria Symons

Programme Officer - South

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Kike Agunbiade

National Programme Director, Researchers in Schools

Kike joined The Brilliant Club as National Programme Director for Researchers in Schools in October 2017. Prior to this, Kike was a Senior Education Lead at SSAT, the Schools, Students and Teachers Network, where she led on a number of high profile projects including middle and senior leadership programmes, Teaching Schools and their school improvement framework. Kike spent five years working at Teach First, where she was North London Manager, and has also worked for a range of charities in roles to support and develop teachers. Kike completed the Teach First Programme as Science Teacher in North London. She holds an MBA (Education) from Keele University and a post graduate certificate in Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education from the University of Edinburgh. Kike graduated from Merton College, University of Oxford, with an MChem in Chemistry.

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Alice Coombes Huntley

Relationships Development Officer

Alice joined The Brilliant Club in November 2019 as Relationship Development Officer. She was previously at The Noisy Classroom, promoting the use of critical oracy and debate in schools across the UK and abroad. There she delivered CPD and pupil workshops, ran national programmes, and created resources to embed oracy within the classroom. She studied English Literature at the University of Bristol and then went on to do a Masters in Victorian Literature at the University of Oxford. In her spare time Alice likes cooking, reading, playing board games and pursuing the perfect sour beer.

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Beth Williams

Programme Administrator

Beth joined the RIS team in August 2019 as the Programme Administrator. She studied History at the University of Nottingham and graduated in 2018. At university she was a student ambassador and volunteered to deliver netball coaching at primary schools around Nottingham. During the summers of her university degree, Beth worked at children’s summer camps both in Cincinnati and Spain. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Beth completed an internship with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, engaging with children across Wales about children’s rights and developing lesson plans to help counter issues such as childhood poverty and cyberbullying. Outside of work, Beth enjoys playing netball, travelling, watching documentaries, and supporting the Welsh rugby team.

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Carys Taylor

Curriculum and Development Officer

Carys joined the RIS team as Curriculum & Development Officer in October 2018. She studied Education (BEd) at the University of Auckland. Carys taught in New Zealand for over 7 years and was also part of the leadership team at her school. As part of her leadership responsibilities she researched and implemented innovative teaching practices and focused on teacher development through coaching and mentoring programmes. Outside of work, Carys is interested in travel, food and reading.

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Elena Tucker

Recruitment Administrator

Elena joined the RIS team in November 2018 as a Recruitment Administrator. Her interest in education began during her gap year, when she worked as a teaching assistant in local primary schools. She graduated from the University of Oxford in 2016, where she read History, before spending a year working in the education sector as an unqualified teacher, teaching assistant, tutor and research assistant. Prior to joining the charity, Elena completed an MPhil in Modern British History at the University of Cambridge, researching sibling relationships in Edwardian families. Having observed first-hand the lack of diversity in highly-selective universities, Elena is passionately committed to the charity’s mission of widening access for pupils from under-represented groups. Outside of work, Elena’s interests include travelling, cooking, taking photos of her dog sleeping and binge-watching series on Netflix.

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Gil Brandt

Curriculum and Development Manager

Gil joined The Brilliant Club as a member of the Curriculum and Development team for Researchers in Schools in January 2017 and again in July 2019. During this time, Gil was attaining a master’s in education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The masters focused on evaluation of teacher education programmes and researching teacher diagnosis and decision making in uncertain situations. Prior to this, Gil taught mathematics for five years in schools in London and Leeds, where he completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. Outside of work Gil is an ineffectual but passionate rock-climber and an avid fan of the greatest football team of all time – Leicester City.

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Jenny Paterson

School Programme Director

Jenny joined The Brilliant Club as School Programme Director in March 2018, where she oversees the Researchers in Schools programme participants and their progress on the programme.  Before joining the charity, she was a teacher for over 20 years, as a Head of Department for Drama and Media, Assistant Headteacher for teaching and learning and Head of Sixth Form.  She recently graduated from the University of York with a Masters in Social Justice and Education where her studies included Higher Education access and the impact of gender on educational choices.  Outside of work, she is a keen playwright and traveller.

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Jessy Ahluwalia

Recruitment and Assessment Officer

Jessy joined The Brilliant Club as Recruitment and Assessment Officer in January 2018, where she works to advertise and market the Researchers in Schools Programme, and recruit participants for the upcoming year. Before joining the charity she worked at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, as the Schools Liaison Officer working in outreach and widening participation with target state schools. Jessy graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2016 with a BA in Education and Religious Studies. Outside of work Jessy enjoys dog walking, international travel and listening to feminist podcasts. Jessy moved to London for her current role, and is enjoying exploring all the city has to offer.

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Jessica Ryan

Programme Officer

Jess joined the RIS team in September 2019 as a Programme Officer. She studied History at UCL and graduated in 2013. During this time, she worked to champion university access and social mobility in her roles as Outreach Ambassador and Horizons Mentor. Following this, she taught English in Estonia, before returning to the UK and training to teach through the Teach First programme, teaching English at a school in Bradford. She then went on to work at a school in Southwest London, where she was the Year 7 Curriculum Lead and mentored trainee teachers, alongside completing a Masters degree in Education. Outside of work, Jess enjoys hiking, wild camping, skiing and volunteering with the Scouts Association and Duke of Edinburgh Award.

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Leo Wax

Programme Officer

Leo joined the RIS team in January 2019 as a Programme Officer. He studied Politics and Spanish at the University of Leeds and graduated in 2015. Whilst at university, he was the social secretary for the Spanish, Latin American and Portuguese Society and volunteered at Nightline, a non-advisory phone line for students. He trained as a teacher through the TeachFirst programme, teaching Spanish and French at school in Bradford. He went on to teach at a school in East London where he helped to plan and deliver school wide CPD on LGBT issues surrounding staff and students. Outside of work, Leo likes to attend life drawing classes and is learning how to play the drums. He also enjoys disco music, podcasts, documentaries and politics.

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Nicholas Cater

Recruitment Director

Nicholas is responsible for all aspects of the programme’s recruitment processes, from initial attraction and advertising, through to assessment and placement. Since graduating from Durham University with a degree in Modern Languages and a Masters in Translation, Nicholas worked initially as an Accountant, then freelance translator, before finally settling on recruitment. He worked at a boutique recruitment firm in Central London where he was responsible for the delivery of several national graduate schemes. Outside of work, Nicholas enjoys keeping his languages up to scratch and is a keen traveller, particularly around Europe and Russia.

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Rachel Lawrence

Curriculum and Development Director

Rachel started working with Researchers in Schools in 2014 when she led the Initial Teacher Education programme for the RIS pilot cohort at Lampton Academy. She joined the Brilliant Club in 2016 as Curriculum and Development Director for Researchers in Schools. Rachel is responsible for designing the Researchers in Schools curriculum and the delivery of Researchers in Schools training events. Before joining the charity, Rachel taught for 14 years at Lampton Academy, she was an Advanced Skills Teacher, Head of Religious Studies and a member of the Senior Leadership team. Rachel read Theology at Trinity College Oxford before doing a PGCE at St. Mary’s University College Twickenham. She later completed an MTeach at the Institute of Education, and is currently studying an Educational Doctorate (EdD) at Kings College London. In her free time Rachel is part of a Musical Theatre group, and she enjoys performing on stage.

Victoria Sharkey

Victoria Sharkey

ITE and School Partnerships Manager

Vicky joined The Brilliant Club in October 2019 as ITE and School Partnerships Manger. She has ten years of experience in schools, having worked as an English and Media Studies teacher in both secondary and special needs settings in London. Over the course of her teaching career, she held academic and pastoral leadership roles and was responsible for the training and mentoring of new teachers. Vicky first discovered her passion for teaching whilst working in a school in Paris during her year abroad, which formed the third year of her English and French degree at the University of Leeds.  Vicky is a keen traveller but when in London can regularly be found at her local Sunday night pub quiz.

Siobhan Haire

Siobhan Haire

Operations Director

Siobhan joined The Brilliant Club in November 2019 as Operations Director, where she takes an interest in all things legal, human resources, technology, data and workplace. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, Siobhan worked at Teach First, as Senior Legal Advisor and then Head of HR Business Partnering and Learning and Development. Prior to that, she trained and worked as a solicitor for Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton LLP, and before that, spent two years teaching French as a participant on the Teach First Training Programme. Siobhan graduated from Oxford University with a degree in French and Philosophy. In her professional life, Siobhan enjoys problem solving, project planning and troubleshooting. Outside of work, Siobhan used to have hobbies, but now she has two small children.

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Angel-Ann D'Souza

Finance Director

Angel-Ann joined The Brilliant Club in February 2016 as The Finance Manager. Angel-Ann graduated from Trent university in Canada, where she studied Business and has her CPA, CMA designation in Canada. Prior to working at The Brilliant Club, Angel-Ann worked at Safran Electronics Canada in the Finance department.

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Anna Aleksandrowicz

HR Manager

Anna is the HR Manager at The Brilliant Club and joined in September 2017. Her role is to support all who work for the charity with various initiatives including recruitment and ongoing professional development. Having completed a degree in European Politics and International Relations at Cardiff University, Anna moved into a career in HR in early 2010 and gained much of her experience working across various educational and non-profit organisations. In 2016 Anna completed an MA in Human Resource Management at Westminster Business School, which gained her a professionally recognised CIPD qualification.

Having completed her studies, Anna spends her free time travelling widely and frequently. Having proudly completed a whistle-stop tour of six continents in six months, Anna enjoys documenting her excursions as a keen hobbyist travel photographer.

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Chloe Hayes

HR Administrator

Chloe joined The Brilliant Club in May 2017 as the Operations Team Administrator, after completing a three-month internship with The Scholars Programme. She graduated from the University of Warwick in 2016, where she studied German and History. As part of her degree she lived in Germany for nine months, where she worked as a Foreign Languages Assistant, teaching English in a comprehensive school. Outside of work, Chloe enjoys art, travel and being a tourist in cities around the UK.

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Claire Ross

Finance Manager

Claire joined The Brilliant Club in September 2016 as The Finance Officer.  Claire graduated with a Bachelor of Business Studies (Finance) from Sligo Institute of Technology before becoming an ACCA affiliate in 2011.  Before joining The Brilliant Club Claire worked for Musica Viva Australia, a not-for-profit performing arts organisation and on her return to the northern hemisphere was keen to continue her career in the charitable sector.  When not crunching numbers, Claire enjoys theatre both as a participant and spectator.

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Inga Tatarunaite

IT Support Administrator

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Jessica Blazek

Finance and Operations Administrator

Jessica joined The Brilliant Club in August 2018. With an international background, she carries a degree in HR from the University Lutheran of Brazil and a degree in Communication Science from the New University of Lisbon in Portugal. Before joining the charity Jessica spent three years living in Ireland and learning English. She also enjoyed her time travelling across many countries around Europe. Jessica enjoys meeting new people, discovering new places and cultures. Along her life journey she met many inspiring people from which she learned that helping others to succeed is one of the most important things a person can do, which is now her main motivation.

Mike Garthwaite

Mike Garthwaite

Senior Web Developer

Mike joined The Brilliant Club in September 2018 taking on the role of Senior Web Developer. Having studied at the University of Huddersfield and attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, he moved into a career as a freelance web developer, specifically using tools such as PHP and javascript. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking, music and watching football.

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Nikki Labrum

Technology and Product Director

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Sabrina Luisi

External Affairs Director

Sabrina joined The Brilliant Club in July 2018, as Director of External Affairs. Sabrina is responsible for The Brilliant Club’s fundraising, communications, public affairs and building an alumni network; in short, helping people to understand, believe in and support the great work of The Brilliant Club.

Sabrina studied French and English at Leeds University, including a year in France working as a secondary school teacher. This sparked her interest in education and people development, which has been a common theme throughout her career. Sabrina grew up in an illiterate household, and this first-hand experience of educational inequality reminds her daily of the importance of supporting young people from all backgrounds to access education.

Sabrina’s experience includes the design and delivery of international development programmes and global communications within a leading IT company, before moving into the education charity sector when she joined Teach First in 2015. During her time at Teach First, Sabrina led the Teach First Access Department, expanded and developed the Higher Education Access programme, ‘Futures’, and established the Learning and Development team within Teach First.

Outside of work, Sabrina enjoys the theatre as both a spectator and performer, learning languages and is a member of two comedy improvisation groups.

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Jordanna Knight

External Affairs Administrator

Jordanna joined The Brilliant Club in 2015 after completing her A-Levels in History, Sociology and Philosophy and Ethics. Although she loved learning, upon leaving Sixth Form, she believed it was essential to gain experience in the world of work and develop invaluable skills and confidence. She completed an apprenticeship programme in Business Administration with The Scholars Programme. Jordanna is passionate about the charity’s mission and therefore committed to increasing access to these amazing opportunities for all pupils, as she too attended a non-selective state school. Increasing her knowledge within the sector has encouraged her to want to contribute more to the charity to make a difference and has therefore carried out multiple roles during her time at the charity. She is now the External Affairs Administrator.

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Maddy Maloney

Partnerships Officer

Maddy studied English and Theatre Studies at the University of Warwick, spending a year at the Université Paris-Sorbonne. Whilst at university she acted as a writer, actor and contributor to Radio Warwick, was a member of Warwick Repertory Theatre Company and also acted as Social Secretary for the university’s Shakespeare Society. She worked for the Widening Patricipation Team and was  an English Ambassador for the Warwick Transformations Project. Before joining The Brilliant Club Midlands team as a Programme Administrator, Maddy completed work experience at BBC Radio 4 and worked at Gwyn James Solicitors. Maddy assumed a new role as Partnerships Officer in January 2018.

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Sally Holt

Policy Officer

Sally first worked as The Brilliant Club Conference and Events Intern in 2016 before joining full time October 2017 after finishing her Masters in Education Policy at UCL. Previous to this, Sally had worked for three years at Dyke House College in Hartlepool, firstly as part of the team setting up the Sixth Form and latterly, as the Aspirations Coordinator creating a whole school progression programme which works with pupils from Year 5 to Year 13. Sally is an education nerd who enjoys reading policy in her spare time, as well as running and skiing. 

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Zoë Whitford

Communications and Marketing Manager

As Communications and Marketing Manager, Zoë looks after marketing, branding and both internal and external communications. She joined The Brilliant Club in October 2018 from Perform Group, where she had spent five years working as a Business Analyst and Customer Marketing Manager. Prior to that, Zoë spent six happy seasons working in various Marketing roles at Lancashire County Cricket Club.

Having attended state schools in Norfolk and Yorkshire, Zoë studied at Clare College, Cambridge, where she attained her MA in Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic. She also achieved a master’s degree in Communications from the University of Leeds in 2007.

Outside work, Zoë watches a lot of sport and is a season ticket holder at Norwich City where she also writes for the matchday programme. She also enjoys cooking, travelling and comedy.

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Dr Lauren Bellaera

Research and Impact Director

Lauren Bellaera is the Director of Research and Impact at The Brilliant Club. She is responsible for evaluating the impact of the charity’s programmes on pupil outcomes. Lauren is also a part-time Associate Lecturer at Birkbeck, University of London, and teaches on the Psychology for Education Degree programme.

Lauren completed her PhD in cognitive psychology at the University of Warwick, where she investigated the effect of fear and sadness on spatial and temporal attention. She was then awarded an Early Career Fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Study (Warwick), and as part of her fellowship she examined the role of the internet in classroom teaching and the role of open-space learning in master’s level teaching. In 2014 Lauren was appointed as a Research Associate at the University of Cambridge, where she oversaw a project evaluating the impact of a set of online educational resources on university students’ conceptual understanding and critical thinking skills.  Through her research, Lauren has worked with a number of educational organisations including IGGY and Macat.

Most recently, Lauren has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and will be taking a six-month sabbatical in 2018/19 to take up her award. She will be carrying out research on critical thinking at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell hosted Dr Yana Weinstein.

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Charlotte Norton

Data Analysis Officer

Charlotte joined The Brilliant Club as Data Analysis Officer in November 2018. Charlotte has an MSc in Social Research Methods from UCL’s Institute of Education. Her research interests are education, education policy and adolescent development. Before undertaking her Masters, Charlotte obtained a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Sussex.

Prior to joining The Brilliant Club, Charlotte volunteered for The Role Models Project, facilitating sessions on academic, personal and social issues with young people at schools across Brighton. This experience emphasised to her the importance of providing young people with good opportunities, especially those from groups that are under-represented in further and higher education. Alongside this Charlotte has gained experience working as a research assistant for academics at some of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities.

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Dr Katie Jones

Research and Evaluation Manager

Katie Jones is the Research and Evaluations Manager at The Brilliant Club. Her role is to evaluate the effectiveness of internal and external programmes that aim to increase the numbers of underrepresented students accessing highly-selective universities. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Katie completed a PhD in cognitive psychology at the University of Warwick. Her research investigated how the brain prioritises the processing of social information relating to the self and other individuals.

Paul Rünz

Paul Rünz

Impact and Reporting Manager

Paul joined The Brilliant Club in September 2016. Prior to being the Impact and Reporting Manager, he was the charity’s Data Analysis Officer. Before joining The Brilliant Club, Paul worked as a researcher in the Department for Research and Development at the Federal Statistical Office of Germany. Paul studied Political Science at the University of Mainz, Germany and holds a Masters degree in Public Policy from UCL. Outside of work Paul has been a long-time member of the Bringing Europeans Together Association (BETA), where he has helped organise educational projects for young Europeans about EU politics.