The governing body of Samaritans is the Trustee Board, which has between 10 and 15 members, the majority of whom are Samaritans volunteers. The trustees are also Directors of the Company.
The governing body of Samaritans is the Trustee Board, which has between 10 and 15 members, at least two thirds of whom are Samaritan volunteers. The trustees are also Directors of the Company.
Trustees can serve a maximum of 6 years from 28 January 2006, or up to 8 years in the case of a Chair who has already served as a trustee prior to their appointment as Chair.
Keith Leslie – Chair
Appointed: 1 January 2021
Keith Leslie is a leadership mentor, speaker and writer, living and working in London and Bristol. Keith has devoted extensive time to the voluntary sector. He is now Chair of Mental Health At Work CIC; from 2014 to 2020 he was Chair of the board at the Mental Health Foundation, the UK’s oldest mental health charity now focused on prevention of mental ill health. He also served as Chair of the board of Build Africa 2010–14 and as a non-executive director of The Tablet Publishing Company Ltd 2006–14. He has been a fellow at Windsor Leadership since 2010.
He has been committed to the cause of good mental health over decades, was one of the first mental health champions in Deloitte and joined the Board of the Mental Health Foundation in 2011.
Keith began his career with Shell, working in New Zealand, Sweden, Cyprus and the UK in a series of front-line and general management roles. He joined McKinsey in 1993, becoming a partner in 1998, and served clients in a wide range of industrial sectors and government. He moved to Deloitte as a partner in 2006 and retired in 2017, having focused on organization and leadership challenges at senior levels in industry and government. He acts as independent reviewer of public bodies – during 2020 he led reviews of Big Society Capital and currently of the House of Lords.
Based on his experience working with senior management teams, Keith has published more than 50 articles on organisational change in European Management Journal, McKinsey Quarterly, The Times, Wall Street Journal, The Tablet and many other professional journals. He also speaks regularly at conferences and development programmes for senior leaders. His book A Question of Leadership – leading organisational change in times of crisis is being published by Bloomsbury in spring 2021.
Keith was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland and attended Kirkcaldy West and Kirkcaldy High Schools. He graduated with a first class honours degree in law from the University of Edinburgh in 1980, where he was elected President of the Students’ Association. He then took an MBA summa cum laude from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1982, where he was a Thouron Fellow.
“I am honoured and excited to become Chair at Samaritans. This is an organisation without parallel in its impact, its potential and its scale – the 20,000 listening volunteers and the Samaritans brand are unique. I look forward to contributing – and learning.”
John Tennent - Honorary Treasurer
Appointed: 28 July 2018
John started his career with Deloitte and moved into Consultancy and Training 20 years ago, setting up Corporate Edge. He has been a Charity Trustee for over 30 years, formerly with PACT, a UK adoption agency, as well as Helen and Douglas House, a Children’s Hospice. He is a prolific writer for The Economist and has become their most published author. John volunteers at Twickenham Stadium and is a former volunteer for the Wimbledon Championships.
Dr Jackie Craissati MBE
Appointed: 13 September 2014
Jackie is a consultant clinical and forensic psychologist and, until 2015, was a clinical director with the forensic mental health services in south-east London. She is now a Director of Psychological Approaches and a Non-Executive Director of Kent & Medway Mental Health Trust. She has more than 20 years’ experience working in mental health and with offenders, including developing partnerships with the voluntary sector in the community. In the 1980s, she was a Samaritans volunteer with Central London Samaritans and has had links with our Listener scheme in prisons.
Appointed: 8 November 2014
Jayne is a volunteer at Southport branch and in her 25 years with Samaritans has been involved in training, outreach, schools, talks, committee work, mentoring and more. She has held a variety of branch and regional roles, including Branch Director, Regional Committee Officer, Regional Training Officer, Visitor and most recently, North West Regional Director.
In her paid work, Jayne is a primary school teacher with responsibility for special educational needs provision across a large school of 500 children. Her role includes working closely with staff, parents and other agencies to ensure the best possible provision for children with special needs.
Appointed: 28 January 2017
Simon is a listening volunteer in our South West Herts branch, where he is also Chair and Deputy Director for Ongoing Training. He is involved in a range of other voluntary activities, including a boat club in Islington that provides canoeing, sailing and other water sports for young people, and a primary school in Borehamwood where he is a governor.
Before he retired, Simon spent his career in marketing, fundraising and communications. His last job before retirement was as Marketing & Fundraising Director for the Canal & River Trust.
Ana Laing (Trustee for Wales)
Appointed: 7 June 2017
Ana joined Samaritans of Aberystwyth in 2006. Early on, Ana helped the branch to start supporting callers through email and was Deputy for Caller Support before becoming Branch Director in 2011. Later, she acted as Deputy for Training, until being appointed to our Board of Trustees.
Ana has worked for the Welsh government for 10 years in various operational roles, and is currently responsible for implementing the internal and outward-facing IT systems to manage EU funding for rural businesses and community groups around Wales.
Monica Turner (Chair of Regional Directors)
Appointed: 1 January 2018
Monica joined Putney Samaritans in 2008 and is currently part of the branch training and leaders teams. She has in the past enjoyed roles as Branch Director, Regional Director for London and, most recently, Branch Visitor.
Speaking at the time, Monica said “I am excited about taking on the role of Trustee and Chair of the Regional Directors. It is a time of great change in society as we slowly become more aware of the importance of our emotional wellbeing. I look forward to continuing the focus on delivering the current strategy as part of my role, so that Samaritans can fully respond and make a difference to all the people who are struggling with life and reach out to us for support.”
Appointed: 1 January 2018
Giles volunteers as a listener with Huddersfield Samaritans and our Festival branch. A former history teacher, Giles spent the past 20 years working as a civil servant in the Department of Health and as a director in the NHS.
Currently, Giles works as an Associate Lead for People and Communities at the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.
Giles was appointed Vice-Chair in March 2020:
"It is a great honour for me to be asked to be Vice-chair of the Board. I am delighted that I have the chance to contribute in this new role, which will support the Chair in ensuring the views of branch volunteers continue to shape our organisation going forward."
Appointed: 28 July 2018
Gaia is Head of National Data Strategy at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, responsible for delivering a National Data Strategy that will unlock the power of data in the UK economy and government, while building public confidence in its use.
Gaia has spent the majority of her career in the charity sector - specialising in Tech for Good, communities and data strategy. As Data Strategy Lead at Parkinson's UK, she delivered a roadmap for better delivering Parkinson's UK’s key aims – a cure and better services – while improving its data maturity, skills and culture. At Centrepoint, she delivered Centrepoint Helpline, the first ever national advice service for young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and the UK's first youth homelessness open data source (yhdatabank.com).
On joining our Board of Trustees, Gaia said: "I've long followed the work of Samaritans - it's a cause close to my heart. In recent years I've noted with interest the move towards more digitally-enabled ways of working. I'm excited to join the Board at this point in our charity’s digital transformation as I feel the learning and experience I've developed, can be put to very good use."
Eleanor Farrell (Trustee for Ireland)
Appointed: 1 February 2019
Eleanor brings with her an impressive depth and breadth of strategic and operational experience to Samaritans Ireland. In addition to spending three years with Google and five years with Vodafone, she has worked internationally with McKinsey & Co. as a strategy consultant and also has a technology background. Eleanor has a track record of customer-focused transformation and innovation that will help support our continued growth and strategic efforts for Samaritans.
Eleanor also has a real commitment to strengthening mental health outcomes across Ireland. She was Chair of MyMind for five years, an organisation providing accessible, affordable, community based mental health face to face services both in physical locations and online. She was also a board member of Suicide or Survive. She has also contributed significantly to other not for profit organisations, including Thinktech, a million euro 'tech for good' partnership between The Irish Government, Social Innovation Fund Ireland and Google.
Appointed: 1 February 2019
Laura is Deputy Chief Executive at Addaction, a national public health charity that helps people overcome issues with drugs, alcohol, self-harm and other mental health challenges. Laura leads strategy and governance, business development, data, digital and service design.
Before Addaction, Laura was Chief Digital Officer at Citizens Advice. Over four years she led policy, news, communications and digital to strengthen the charity's impact and redesign and improve services. Previously, Laura led research and programmes supporting innovation in public services and civil society at Nesta, the UK's innovation foundation, and at the RSA. She started her career in research with the think tank Demos.
Appointed: 17 April 2019
Angela worked within the criminal justice and social welfare sector throughout her career, undertaking social work training and qualifying as a probation officer during the late 1970/80s. Always concerned with social injustice and inequalities she went on to have responsibility for probation officer training. She has retained her passion for gaining an understanding of what drives people to change and learn from their own experiences.
In 1992, Angela left the probation service to work within the charity sector, continuing her commitment to criminal justice and inequalities she worked as Director for Service Delivery with the Rainer Foundation, RPS and Catch 22. In 1998 Angela was appointed as Chief Executive of the Divert Trust and in 2000, she was appointed as an Independent Member of the Metropolitan Police Authority. This provided a unique opportunity to work at a senior executive level and a senior governance role, at a time of significant change for organisations and service delivery models.
Angela moved to local government in 2003. Holding Head of Service and Director roles in the London Borough of Lewisham and Kent County Council. She held responsibility for a wide range of services, both direct service delivery as in, for example, Youth Justice but also irresponsibility for the Commissioning of services. Angela became a Trustee for MCCH in 2011 (now known as Choice Support), a charity that works to improve the lives of adults with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs.
Angela retired in 2015, and during that year, she also trained as a listening volunteer with Maidstone Samaritans. Following her move back to London, she joined one of our Samaritans branches in London.
Appointed: 30 March 2019
Phil joined our Board of Trustees in 2019 with 30+ years’ experience across multiple blue chip brands in the Banking & Finance and Tech Sectors. Previous large scale roles include Retail Transformation Director NatWest, Head of UK Mortgages and Loans Santander UK and Group Customer Services Director Lloyds Banking Group, where Phil was also accountable for Telephony Transformation and Fraud Operations. In his current role as Operations Director at Westbrook International, a Salesforce Partner, Phil brings together his Commercial, Change and Operations expertise assuming accountability for the full programme portfolio that extends across the UK, Europe and the Middle East.
In the voluntary sector Phil has been a Trustee on the Board of Trustees for The Lloyds Bank Foundation, an independent charity funding smaller charities helping people overcome complex social issue and rebuild their lives. Phil is also a volunteer at the Banbury and District Samaritans Branch, joining in 2014, where his roles include listening, training, outreach and mentoring.
Appointed: 30 March 2019
Natalie is a Trustee for the Association of Chief Officers of Scottish Voluntary Organisations (ACOSVO). She has always been really interested in finding ways to use nature to support mental and physical health. Previously Natalie spent time living in a therapeutic community as a volunteer support worker.
Natalie first got into sport running the London Marathon to raise funds for Samaritans in 2009. Since then she's decided to overcome some big personal barriers and learn to swim freestyle! In 2018 she raced for the GBR age-group team at the Standard Distance European Triathlon Championships.
Appointed: 5 September 2020
Debbie offers extensive finance and governance experience from within the not-for-profit sector. Her current role is Finance, Commercial and Business Director at The Reading Agency. Previously, she was Head of Finance and Investments at Screen Skills Ltd.
In addition to being a volunteer with Havering branch, Debbie has a number of other volunteer roles, including, Trustee at Redeemed Camp, a faith-based charitable organisation that supports individuals facing life’s social challenges and Trustee with St Martins-in-the-Fields charity that supports homeless and vulnerably housed people – best known for the BBC Radio 4 Christmas Appeal. She is also a Director at Vidya Dhan, a non-profit organisation that empowers girls and communities through education with operations based in India.