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
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 volunteers and the Samaritans brand are unique. I look forward to contributing – and learning
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 currently 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, which is 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.
Keith has been committed to the cause of good mental health for decades. He 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 organisation and leadership challenges at senior levels in industry and government. He is regularly appointed to lead independent reviews of public bodies, including the House of Lords, Big Society Capital and Access – the Foundation for Social Enterprise.
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.
Rory Girvan – Co-Vice Chair
Appointed: 23 July 2021
I'm honoured to join the board of Trustees, where I hope to contribute towards the diversity of thought, support a breadth of perspective as well as uphold engagement efforts with both serving members of the military, and veterans.
Since 2017, Rory has worked across the Civil Service in a range of strategic and operational roles, while also serving as an Officer in the Royal Air Force.
Now a Reservist, having previously served in the Regulars, Rory is a Flight Lieutenant and has fulfilled postings across the country as well as representing UK Armed Forces at NATO level.
Rory is a listening volunteer based out of Central London Samaritans branch, where he is also a mentor, part of the school’s outreach team, and has been working to increase engagement with the military. He has previous experience working in the charity sector leading campaigns and communications for Fair Trials and doing agency PR work for clients including the Human Trafficking Foundation and mentoring charity ReachOut.
Hester Wain PhD – Co-Vice Chair
Appointed: 23 July 2021
A close family friend died by taking their own life and I later joined Samaritans as a listening volunteer to try to help others. I believe that Samaritans volunteers are uniquely skilled to provide emotional support to those in crisis and I am honoured to be one of the charity’s trustees.
Hester Wain PhD
Hester has been a Samaritans listening volunteer with Farnborough branch since 2018, taking on the roles of health and safety officer, trainer and leader. In her day job she is the Head of Patient Safety Policy for NHS England and NHS Improvement and has worked in the NHS since 2004. She previously had a more academic career working on the Human Genome Project.
Hester has over 20 years’ experience as a healthcare charity trustee and is passionate about equity, diversity and inclusion. She brings a background of empathy and care to Samaritans, supported by a strong focus on governance, safety and process.
Hester is married, and has two horses, five cats and an assortment of poultry. She likes to spend time in Burgundy sampling the local produce.
Eleanor Farrell – Trustee for Ireland
Appointed: 1 February 2019
I joined Samaritans as part of my commitment to inclusion and equality of opportunity in society. Working with Samaritans brings meaning and value to my life and complements my career and family life. I am proud of what we do to support our callers every day as well as our ambition for the future.
Eleanor is an experienced senior manager with a strong strategy, commercial and digital skill set. She has a strong private sector background and most recently worked for Google as the Global Head of Operations and Strategy for Customer Onboarding and also as the Head of UK and Ireland Global Customer Experience. Eleanor has a BSc in Computer Science and Statistics, an MSc in Computing and an MBA.
Eleanor also has strong experience as a not-for-profit non-executive director and 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 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.
In her role as Trustee for Ireland, Eleanor acts as a member of the Samaritans Board of Trustees andalso as the Chair of the Board of Samaritans Ireland, a separate legal entity within Samaritans, and a subcommittee of the Samaritans Board of Trustees. Eleanor is also a member of the Samaritans Nominations Committee.
Eleanor is based in Dublin, Ireland, and is married to Mike, whom she met during her MBA. They have a seven-year-old daughter and a house full of Lego and cuddly toys.
Ana Laing – Trustee for Wales
Appointed: 7 June 2017
My motivation be a Trustee on the Samaritans' Board comes from a desire to influence society to be kinder and more compassionate. Growing up my family was emotionally closed, which brought on issues still affecting us today and this taught me the value of sharing emotions with others.
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.
Annie Kent FCCA
Appointed: 25 September 2021
Annie Kent is a CFO with over 30 years’ experience in the charity and higher education sector and with a keen interest in delivering real change in strategy, culture and continuous improvement.
In addition to being a CFO, Annie has run some big projects, including major start ups and major building projects.
She was Director of Resources and oversaw the set up of The Learning Trust in Hackney and she was Finance Director for the Francis Crick Institute during its development phase. As a Senior Director at King’s, she led large scale projects such as the Bush House redevelopment (Aldwych), the development of a Joint Education Institute in China and the set-up of TEDI-London, a new University for engineering. She took up the role of King’s CFO in January 2020.
Appointed: 28 January 2017
Being on the Trustee Board at Samaritans has allowed me to contribute some of my wider experience to the organisation, especially looking ahead to its future challenges. It’s a very rewarding experience.
Simon is a listening volunteer in our South West Herts branch, where he is also Deputy Director for Fundraising. He is Chair of the Board’s Audit & Risk Committee. He has been 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 school governorships, currently at a primary school in Borehamwood where he is Safeguarding 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.
Simon is studying part-time for a PhD in History at the University of Limerick. He also has degrees in classics and psychology, and an MBA and a Masters in history. He is fond of cooking, cats, music and motorcycles.
Appointed: 28 July 2018
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.
Gaia works as Head of Engagement Modernisation and Reform at the Cabinet Office and has previously acted as Head of National Data Strategy at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, where she was responsible for delivering a national data strategy aiming to 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.
Gaia lives in London with her husband. She is a keen cyclist and cook, and is now trying her hand at triathlon.
Appointed: 30 March 2019
My passion to improve mental health and mental health support across the UK, with a keen interest and focus on men's mental health, and my role as a listening volunteer at the Banbury and District Samaritans Branch, has motivated me be a Trustee on the Samaritans' Board.
Phil joined our Board of Trustees in 2019 with 30+ years’ experience across multiple blue chip brands in the banking and finance, and tech sectors. Previous large-scale roles include Retail Transformation Director at NatWest, Head of UK Mortgages and Loans at Santander UK and Group Customer Services Director at 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 day to day operations of the company and the full programme portfolio that extends across the UK, Europe, USA 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 issues and rebuild their lives.
Phil is a keen health enthusiast enjoying running, exercise and yoga. He has raised funds for Samaritans taking part in numerous marathons. Phil lives in Oxfordshire with his wife and has two adult sons.
Appointed: 1 February 2019
Samaritans represents the best of human kindness; millions of hours given freely by volunteers who want to help others through the darkest times. I feel very fortunate to be a Trustee of a charity that I admire so much and that has helped my family in lots of different ways in the past.
Laura brings to the board her experience leading and supporting charities and public services to improve how they work for and with people. As Deputy Chief Executive at With You, a national public health charity, Laura led the development of a new strategy and more inclusive, accessible brand and service proposition to help more people overcome issues with drugs, alcohol and poor mental health. Before With You, Laura was Chief Digital Officer at Citizens Advice. Over four years she led policy, news, communication and digital to strengthen the charity's impact and influence change.
Previously, Laura led research and programmes supporting innovation in public services and civil society at Nesta and at the RSA. She started her career in research with the think tank Demos.
Laura is a support volunteer with Central London Samaritans. She lives in South East London, loves dancing outside to live music, long walks in the countryside and big meals with family and friends.
Appointed: 5 September 2020
The work that Samaritans does is so important and having the opportunity to shape and influence its activities for modern day society is what motivated me to join the Board of Trustees.
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 former 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, a charity that supports homeless and vulnerably housed people. She is also a Director at Vidya Dhan, a non-profit organisation that empowers girls and communities through education with operations based in India.
In her free time, Debbie likes to de-stress by swimming.
Dr Anushta Sivananthan
Appointed: 4 August 2021
I wanted to be part of the Samaritans family due to my long-standing interest in mental wellbeing and suicide prevention. In my job I have seen the importance and positive impact of Samaritans on people I have looked after. I have been in awe and humbled by the amazing contribution of volunteers of Samaritans.
Dr Anushta Sivananthan
Dr Anushta Sivananthan, Joint Medical Director (Compliance, Quality and Assurance), lives in Cheshire and joined CWP in 1999. Originally from Sri Lanka, Anushta was brought up in Yorkshire and completed her medical training in Liverpool before qualifying as a psychiatrist in 1996. She gained a Diploma in Geriatric Medicine in 1997 and has over 20 years’ experience as a consultant, with a speciality in old age psychiatry. Anushta took the position of medical director in 2010. She previously held the Programme Director role for Old Age Psychiatrists at Mersey Deanery and in 2013 was presented with a North West Leadership Award for Quality and Innovation. Her portfolio includes leading of Clinical Strategy, Patient Safety, Regulation and Integration of services.
Anushta’s great pleasures in life are walking her dog, travelling, reading and being with friends and family. She also enjoys Zumba, Yoga and gardening.
Appointed: 4 August 2021
Ann John is a clinical epidemiologist with a background in public health and general practice. She has led on and been involved in the development of many government and NHS reports, policy documents and community resources. Her research concentrates on suicide and self-harm prevention, and the mental health of children & young adults. Ann chairs the National Advisory Group on suicide and self-harm prevention to Welsh Government and is also a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health and Learned Society of Wales.
Appointed: 30 March 2022
I am thrilled, as Scotland Trustee, to be joining the ranks of the many Samaritans volunteers who deliver much of the organisation’s vital work. I look forward to Chairing the Scotland Committee and, through the Board of Trustees, contributing to the governance of the organisation across five nations to make a positive contribution to civil society in its work to achieve the vision that fewer people die by suicide.
Amanda, the first solicitor in Scotland accredited by the Law Society in both Mental Health Law and Incapacity & Mental Disability Law, brings a wealth of experience in leadership and influencing to Samaritans, most recently from her time as President of the Law Society of Scotland.
Amanda has experience across many of the sectors in which Samaritans works through both her professional and volunteer expertise. She is a past Chair of Mindspace Ltd and a previous member of the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations policy committee. She also has a high-profile commitment to issues of equity and diversity, which includes chairing an EDI expert Advisory Group for the Institute of Directors in Scotland.