Our team

Our team


Our team support the Fellowship with a range of services and expertise.

Our team

Executive Assistant Shahala Begum

Shahala supports the Chief Executive in all areas of her work, including managing diaries, projects and servicing the Board and Council. Shahala has come from a banking background and now looks forward to being part of an organisation that provides funding for so many inspiring individuals. In her spare time Shahala loves to read, bake, and visit places with beautiful scenery.

Interim Grants Manager Sara Buchanan

Sara manages our grants to support Fellows to implement their learning in the UK. Sara is an experienced grant maker, with particular expertise in supporting pre-venture and start up social impact initiatives and is passionate about connecting ideas and people to produce positive change. Sara loves paddle boarding on her local river, is training for her first half marathon and studying to be a coach.

Operations Coordinator Ana Cole

Ana is the office coordinator, assisting with operations, overseeing facilities and providing administrative support across the staff team to ensure a smooth and efficient running of the office. She previously worked in hospitality and property management. In her spare time, Ana enjoys cooking, yoga and nature walks.

Research and Engagement Manager Naomi French

Naomi leads our engagement work, promoting Fellows and their findings to key influencers and professionals across a range of sectors. She also works closely with our Advisory Council to research and develop new Fellowship programmes. Previously she worked in communications roles within the arts and publishing sectors. In her spare time, Naomi enjoys long walks in the countryside and exploring London’s vibrant cultural scene.

Finance Assistant Bryan Hamilton

Bryan Hamilton supports the Finance Director with day-to-day bookkeeping tasks such as recording financial transactions, preparing Fellowship payments and bank reconciliations. He has previously worked in the charity sector and publishing. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys listening and dancing to music, gardening and reading.

Interim Fellowship Director Sian Herschel

Sian Herschel is our Interim Fellowship Director and has overall responsibility for the operational running of the Fellowship programme. She has extensive experience of grantmaking and social investment in the UK and internationally. Sian is a specialist in making trade and business equitable and environmentally responsible. She loves trying weird and wonderful food, dancing and sports, and has two young sons who keep her busy and entertained.

Data Manager Jenni Lucas-Williams

Jenni looks after our data and IT systems and ensures the smooth running of the online application process for Fellowships. Previously she worked in the energy policy team at Citizens Advice and in the wine industry. Outside work, Jenni enjoys exploring the Essex countryside, gardening and sailing, preferably in warmer climes.

Development Director Chris Mann

Chris Mann manages our funding and knowledge partnerships, as well as wider fundraising activities that support the Fellowship. Previously he led fundraising at a large global disability charity, and prior to that worked in grant-making for Comic Relief and UK lottery distributors, amongst others. Outside of work, Chris is a trustee of an inclusive cycling charity.

Development Administrator Tracey McGowan

Tracey helps to support the Development and Fundraising function of the Churchill Fellowship. Prior to this she worked in Executive Assistant and Office Manager roles within asset management and the charitable sector. Outside of work she loves to experience live music, theatre and travelling as well as trying new cuisines. She is a self-confessed chocoholic!

Ambassador Lead Selina Mills

Selina Mills leads our Ambassador programme where she is responsible for finding the perfect Ambassadors to represent the Fellowship globally and support our fundraising. Selina has a background in journalism and broadcasting as well as working more recently with disability charities. In her spare time she writes history books, opera librettos and binge watches bad psychological TV series with her husband.

Fellowship Manager Nikesh Patel

Nikesh Patel manages the research phase of the Fellowships, both travel and online, and is responsible for overseeing our support for Fellows from their award until completion of their research. Before joining us, he achieved a Master’s in International Relations from Kings College London. In his spare time, Nikesh enjoys watching and playing an array of sports, hiking and building customised keyboards.

Deputy Data Manager Sandy Smircic

Sandy Smircic supports the Data Manager in looking after our data and IT systems. Before joining the team, she worked as a database administrator in the charity sector. In her spare time, Sandy enjoys cooking, taking care of her plants and exploring new countries.

Fellowship Officer Ellie Smith

Ellie Smith works with our Fellowship Director to help Fellows plan their research and provides support to make their Fellowships successful. She is fascinated by their diversity and the contribution they make to societal change. Ellie is also a PhD candidate at King’s College London, with an aim of guiding governments in atrocity prevention. Outside of work, Ellie loves CrossFit, baking and time with her Whippet.

Director of Finance and Resources John Tsang

John Tsang is responsible for our finance, HR, IT, data protection and risk management. He is also the Trust Secretary covering governance and compliance matters. Previously he worked in various finance-related roles, mainly in the real estate sector. Some years back, John played rugby and was a qualified rugby coach, but now he enjoys gentler forms of exercise such as walking and gardening.

Chief Executive Julia Weston

Julia Weston has been our Chief Executive since 2015 and is responsible for the overall management of the Churchill Fellowship. Prior to that she was Fellowship Director. She has worked in charities in the UK and internationally for over 20 years. In her spare time, Julia enjoys being outdoors (in all weathers), cooking (but not baking) and, during the pandemic, she taught herself to knit (though only scarves so far).

"It's a great privilege to support the Fellows who - through open-minded inquiry, perseverance and a passion for helping others - work to alleviate suffering and help so many people to realise their potential." - Bryan Hamilton, Finance Assistant