Our People

Interdisciplinary working is at the heart of Ember’s approach.

We are creatives, businesspeople, educators, researchers, psychologists and funders. We are spread across six countries and collectively speak 12 languages.

Most importantly, we are practitioners and implementers. We understand the challenges facing community-based mental health initiatives, because we have faced them ourselves.

Ember is a collaboration between the SHM Foundation and the Mental Health Innovation Network.

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The Project Team

Anna Kydd

Anna Kydd

Anna has extensive experience as an innovator in global mental health, having developed and implemented models of mobile phone-based social support in Latin America, Africa and the UK. She is director of the SHM Foundation and sits on the Board of Trustees for both Blue Ventures and Altro Foundation.

Ashleigh Beukes

Ashleigh Beukes

Ashleigh is a qualified social worker and therapist, with experience in play therapy, bereavement and counselling. Before joining the Ember team, Ashleigh worked as Head Therapist at Guild Cottage, a Treatment Centre for traumatised girls in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she’s originally from. Ashleigh has a degree in Social Work from the University of South Africa and is a qualified ballet teacher. She is currently based in London.

Francesca Zinetti

Francesca Zinetti

Francesca has extensive experience as a project manager for events, communication campaigns and art festivals for public and private institutions. What motivates her is to implement simple, effective and human-centred solutions to address mental health challenges every day, seeing the difference in one person's life at a time. Francesca graduated in Cultural Anthropology. She lives in Italy and is the Programme Manager for Ember.

Georgina Miguel-Esponda

Georgina Miguel-Esponda

Georgina completed an undergrad in psychology before embarking on a career in mental health research. She completed a Global Mental Health MSc and later a PhD, investigating the barriers and facilitators for the implementation of mental health programmes in low-resource settings. Georgina leads the impact work at Ember, which mainly involves supporting innovators in the process of generating or communicating data to demonstrate their impact. She is from Mexico and is based in London.

Grace Ryan

Grace Ryan

Grace Ryan is a Research Fellow and PhD Candidate at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a former lead of the Mental Health Innovation Network. Grace’s research focuses on the evaluation of “real world” mental health projects, mainly in East and West Africa. She feels we need creative new ways to sustain good work in global mental health—beyond research—and wants to help make that happen through Ember.

Iona Gaskell

Iona Gaskell

Iona has a background in political campaigning and community activism. She studied English literature and, later, international development, and has particular expertise in communications and creative strategy. She is especially interested in how imaginative approaches to storytelling can be used to talk about matters of health and drive positive social change. Hailing from Scotland and now based in London, Iona leads Ember's public engagement strategy.

Jara Lindsay

Jara Lindsay

Jara is a Spanish creative with a background in art, illustration and graphic design. She has particular expertise in branding, and has worked with a variety of corporate clients, from large national companies to local businesses. She enjoys looking for creative solutions to communication and design challenges and illustrating the world around her. Jara works within Ember’s design team and is based in Madrid.

Joshua Olins

Joshua Olins

Joshua is an experienced graphic designer who leads Ember’s design team. He’s worked with both corporate and non-profit organisations to create websites, infographics, animations and apps according to their specific needs and goals. His knowledge of user-centred design enables him to take complex ideas and turn them into simple, beautiful pieces of communication. Josh is based in the UK.

June Larrieta

June Larrieta

June has a background in psychology with an MSc in Global Mental Health, and currently combines her work with Ember with her studies to become a clinical psychologist. Passionate about community approaches to mental healthcare, June works with Ember’s innovators to find effective ways to demonstrate their impact and support their monitoring, evaluation and research activities. She has recently returned to her home country, Spain, to be based in Madrid.

Malebo Ngobeni

Malebo Ngobeni

Malebo’s background is in psychology. She has reems of experience developing and implementing mental health and social support programmes in Southern Africa, and delivering counselling services. In addition to her work on Ember, she manages the SHM Foundation’s Khuluma Project in South Africa, which supports young people living with HIV. Malebo's passion for her work comes from working directly with communities and meeting the needs of people on the ground.

Natasha Adomako

Natasha is an experienced accountant and financial strategist. She is Head of Finance for both SHM Productions, an international consultancy firm, and the SHM Foundation. Natasha is passionate about adding value and improving rigour and efficiency by looking at financial situations with a fresh perspective. She brings this approach to her work supporting Ember’s cohorts with budgeting, financial strategy and business management. She’s from Dominica and now lives in London.

Nikita Simpson

Nikita Simpson

Nikita is an anthropologist who has worked on mental health, inequality and care in Northern India, and more recently, in Covid-ravaged Britain. A founding member of Ember, she is interested in understanding the ways community-based and locally-led responses can simultaneously address issues of mental distress, patriarchal oppression and structural inequality. Nikita is from Sydney, Australia, and is now based in London, where she is completing her PhD at the London School of Economics.

Olivia Gutierrez Sarmiento

Olivia Gutierrez Sarmiento

Olivia has worked across the public and private sectors in a variety of roles, from developing and implementing public policy and citizenship projects, to providing insights to businesses as a consultant within SHM Productions. She is passionate about information technologies and social networks and how these can help to build relationships. Olivia holds a Bachelor in Communication from Universidad Iberoamericana and is based in Mexico City.

Rini Sinha

Rini Sinha

Rini has worked as a communications consultant in India across a range of media, from mobile news apps to community radio shows, to ensure that information reaches people at the grassroots in low-resource settings. With degrees in English Literature, Mass Communication and International Development, she is constantly exploring new ways to create an impact through her storytelling skills. Rini is involved in communications and research at Ember.

Sara Zolli

Sara Zolli

Sara is a graphic designer currently completing a degree in Illustration and Visual Media at London College of Communication. She works closely with the whole Ember team and the initiatives we support to create beautiful design assets, including logos, documents and illustrations, to meet a variety of needs. She is interested in visual communication and her hobbies include photography and photomontages. Sara is from Rome, but she is now based in London.

Tebogo Monese

Tebogo Monese

Tebogo studied psychology, health sciences and social services. She has a background in psychosocial support programs within correctional services and she runs a project that supports young people living with HIV in South Africa. Tebogo is most involved with Ember’s work on wellbeing, which mainly seeks to give psychosocial support to the teams behind the mental health initiatives working with us. She lives in Pretoria, South Africa.

Yasmine Uddin

Yasmine works within the SHM Foundation’s finance team as a business administration assistant, to provide administrative support on the various projects the Foundation runs. Prior to joining the Foundation, Yasmine worked as an apprentice at a law firm, providing clerical support to a small team of lawyers, which is where her interest in administration developed. She’s based in London.

Zuzana Figerova

Zuzana Figerova

Zuzana has a background in business and education, having studied English Language and Literature, and obtained her Master’s in International Relations. She brings her experience of working in the private sector and passion for the international development field, and is particularly interested in co-design of programs in global health and education. Zuzana is head of development at the SHM Foundation. Originally from Slovakia, Zuzana currently lives in London with her young family.

The Ember Working Group

This is an advisory group that provides guidance and scrutiny on Ember’s selection decisions, made up of specialists from diverse sectors and disciplines.

Desmond Chauke

Desmond is a mentor and facilitator for Khuluma, a programme that provides peer-to-peer social support to adolescents living with HIV in South Africa and elsewhere using mobile phones. His expertise lies in working with young people, implementing digital technology within interventions and in conducting participatory co-design processes.

Dr Rochelle Burgess

Rochelle is a leading community health psychologist who specialises in community-based approaches to health. She is a Lecturer in Global Health and Deputy Director of the UCL Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases. She is the founder and Director of UCL's Global Network on Mental Health and Child Marriage.

Erica Toth

Erica is Managing Director of SHM Productions, an international consultancy firm. Erica has a passion for solving complex human-centred problems and has a keen understanding of how to drive sustainable change. Much of Erica’s work is focused on helping organisations and the people within them adapt to, and succeed in, an increasingly global world.

Gavin Gordon

Gavin is a solicitor who specialises in commercial law, corporate finance and private equity. He has advised private equity funds and corporate clients on cross-border deals and strategic transactions, and is rated among the leading private equity practitioners in the UK. Gavin is a partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.

Julian Eaton

Julian is a psychiatrist and researcher whose work involves engaging local actors to strengthen mental health systems, develop policy and legislation and guide implementation. He is Co-Director of the Centre for Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Director of MHIN and Mental Health Director at CBM Global.

Laura Sheffield

Laura is the Founder and Director of Corazón, London’s leading casual Mexican restaurants, with sites in Soho and Westfield. A native Texan by way of New York, Laura brings a wealth of experience in design, marketing, and business management.

Marcela Torres

Marcela is a world class entrepreneur who specialises in combining social sciences with technology in the startup and social enterprise sector. She is the Founder and former CEO of Holacode, and an advisor and board member of multiple startups across the globe. In 2018 the Economist named her the Voice of the Future of Mexico and the IFC one of 50 businesswomen who changed Latin America.

Maurice Biriotti

Maurice is the founder and Chief Executive of SHM Productions, an international consultancy firm, and a Trustee of the SHM Foundation. He has worked extensively within business, the arts, politics and the public sector solving complex challenges. He holds a Chair of Medical Humanities at University College London and is a visiting professor in the department of psychiatry at Yale University.

Natasha Adomako

Natasha is an experienced accountant and financial strategist. She is Head of Finance for both SHM Productions, an international consultancy firm, and the SHM Foundation. Natasha is passionate about adding value and improving rigour and efficiency by looking at financial situations with a fresh perspective. She brings this approach to her work supporting Ember’s cohorts with budgeting, financial strategy and business management. She’s from Dominica and now lives in London.

Professor Linda-Gail Bekker

Linda-Gail is a physician-scientist with a keen interest in HIV, tuberculosis and related diseases. She is passionate about community development and engagement in the treatment of these diseases. She is Deputy Director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation and President of the International AIDS Society.