Impetus Leadership Academy Participants

Impetus Leadership Academy: 2023/24 cohort

Aisha Lysejko

Head of Service Delivery & Employer Engagement, The Brokerage

Scaling impact and empowering underserved young people has been the thread running through Aisha’s 9 years in the social impact sector. Her experiences include scaling a youth-led charity, supporting teenage parents, to scaling a social enterprise within Nesta, the social innovation foundation.

In her three years at The Brokerage, Aisha has worked with her team to develop programmes that harness the potential of working-class young people.

“On my journey to being called by the bar, I faced a lot of discrimination as a black, working-class, young parent. When I was at a crossroads in my career, I followed what felt like my calling and went to work with teenage parents to support others like me. It was one of the most empowering and fulfilling experiences I've ever had and showed me the endless possibilities for a purpose-driven career.”

Amma Anderson

CEO, The Skills Spot C.I.C.

Amma’s roles in the youth work sector over the last decade have all been centered around youth development, community engagement, and leadership, particularly working with young people stepping into early adulthood. Outside of her day job, Amma serves as a trustee for The Edge Foundation, National Youth Agency, and The Beam Foundation.

“Youth work is a relational job; one that involves the investment of yourself into the life of someone else. I believe it's a collaborative approach between you and a young person to help them develop the framework they need to develop healthy relationships in order to navigate life.”

Becky Harding

Senior Partnerships Manager, Resurgo

Becky's expertise lies in transformative coaching, a skill she’s developed working with Resurgo since 2018. She’s fulfilled several roles for the charity, working as a coach, managing a hub in Camden, and now overseeing a number of the organisation’s Spear centres across the UK.

“I love being able to train, develop, and grow my team. Seeing people grow in their leadership, confidence, and technical ability is the most incredible part of my role. Early in my career, I was trusted to handle a significant level of responsibility, and that allowed me to grow – now I want to do the same for others.”

Dami Folayan

Head of Research and Organisational Development, Niyo Group

Dami’s professional background centres around research, widening participation, and organisational development. She began working as a research assistant while studying for her master’s degree at the University of Cambridge and she aims to complete her PhD in Education this academic year. In her role at Niyo Group, she develops plans for their research projects and ensures they have a data-backed approach to all their work.

“I am passionate about shedding light on inequalities, ensuring that underrepresented groups can take up space within HE and industry, and making good organisations great. These three passions coalesce in my current role - I love the opportunities that I have to inspire the next generation of thinkers and leaders.”

Dean Walker-McKenzie

National Programme Manager, SEEN

With over 16 years of experience in education and youth work, Dean has dedicated his career to the personal development and attainment of young people. As the National Programme Manager at SEEN, he leads efforts to create systemic change across four key areas which disproportionately affect outcomes for children and young people of African, Asian, and Caribbean heritage.

“The thing I enjoy most about my role is seeing families come together and celebrate their young people’s individuality and aspirations. The joy that radiates when these families feel safe, held, and supported.”

Jason Charles

Youth Work Team Lead, HALE

Jason brings 15 years of experience in youth work, supporting young people through a wide range of challenging circumstances. At HALE, he balances his time between delivering projects, including multi-agency work delivering RSE (relationships and sex education) in schools, and efforts to grow the organisation through writing funding bid proposals and evaluation reports.

“I’m passionate about using a coaching approach in my work, supporting young people through a range of topics from adolescence, sexual health, mental health, emotional wellbeing, pressures of gang culture, and offending, or just providing a safe space for young people to talk.”

Dr Marcellus Baz

Founder & CEO, Switch Up

Dr. Marcellus Baz BEM leads a number of charity-based organisations in Nottinghamshire, supporting the most disadvantaged communities affected by crime and violence. He is the Founder and CEO of Switch Up, a charity which supports young people into employment, training, and education through their award-winning five-pillar model.

In 2016, Marcellus was named the BBC Get Inspired National Unsung Hero at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards for his support of young people in Nottinghamshire. The same year, he also received the British Empire Medal for services to youth and the community.

Mwila Mulenshi

Director of Programmes and Impact, The Childhood Trust

From the age of 18, Mwila has held numerous roles, paid and voluntary, in the youth and charity sector. Her voluntary experience ranges from executive coaching to mentoring students at risk of exclusion. In 2009, she decided to turn her passion into a career, leaving her role at Citibank to begin delivering, designing, and managing national-scale, evidence-based diversity, social mobility, and community engagement programmes.

“I want children and young people coming from similar backgrounds to my own to have the opportunities I wish I had, and to have the barriers I encountered removed. I’m passionate about the alleviation of the barriers created by poverty and racial inequality.”

Nahim Ahmed MBE

Head of Strategic Engagement, Poplar HARCA

Across the past decade, Nahim has worked in the private, public, and third sectors addressing social issues including poverty, gang culture, substance misuse, youth violence, and unemployment. He is a professionally qualified youth worker and has completed postgraduate studies in Law, Community Leadership, and Project Management. Combining academia and professional experience with his lived experiences, Nahim is perfectly placed to transform the lives of marginalised people from his community.

“I came across the Impetus Leadership Academy on LinkedIn…with a click of a button, I could see how the Impetus was aligned with everything I have and knew straight away that it could help me take my work to the next level.”

Shamaine Armstrong

Director of Programmes, LTSB

Shamaine's journey in the youth engagement sector began in the summer of 2012 when she acted as a team mentor in programmes run by the National Citizen Service (NCS). After graduating with a PGCE in Lifelong Learning, Shamaine worked for the NCS in her hometown of Huddersfield. She joined LTSB in 2018 and following two promotions is now their Director of Programmes.

“That summer in 2012, I worked across 3 programmes as a team mentor and fell in love with youth work. I grew as a person and knew it had to be the focus of my career.”

Tony Tran

Children & Young Peoples Engagement Manager, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH)

Tony has over a decade of experience working directly with young people in various capacities, including operating an open access youth club, delivering LGBTQ+ youth groups and services, facilitating city-wide youth volunteering programmes, and UK-wide wellbeing and social action programmes. He is a professionally qualified youth worker and holds a master’s degree in Applied Anthropology, Community and Youth Work.

“When I was young, I was fortunate to meet a teacher who encouraged me to pursue dance, and I am grateful that I did with her support. After school, I spent many years working with young people and young adults, from instructing dance to coordinating youth programmes and services. I wouldn’t have been able to pursue this path without the encouragement and support from my teacher, and I hope to inspire others to create positive change in the same way she inspired me.”

Tranai Todd

CEO, Support Through Sport

Tranai set up Support Through Sport in 2021 when he was just 17. Since then, the organisation has supported over 1500 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in the most deprived and underserved communities of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

“At a young age, my path began to drift towards crime, anti-social behaviour, and offending. Sport delivered with youth work principles was my way out – it gave me a sense of purpose and belonging. After that experience, I began to volunteer at community sport organisations to support my peers and other young people in need. My passion for sport for development grew and I decided to set up a local project which quickly developed into a youth organisation, Support Through Sport CIC.”

Impetus Leadership Academy: 2022/23 cohort

Busola Afolabi

Director, Success4All CIO

Busola has been working in the voluntary sector for over 10 years. During this time, she completed her Psychology MSc and balanced volunteering with Samaritans with her role at Success4All CIO, a charity that engages, equips and empowers children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds across Tyne and Wear with the tools they need for a brighter future.

Busola began working at Success4All in 2013 as a Clubs Coordinator and has since worked her way up to her current role of director. She has helped to grow the charity from a grassroots organisation working in two areas of Newcastle, to a charity that supports over 450 young people annually across Tyne and Wear.

Daniel Cox

UK Project Manager, The Co-operative College

Daniel brings a wealth of experience from being an English teacher in mainstream education, a teaching assistant in a pupil referral unit, and a residential care worker in children’s care homes, to his role in delivering and developing projects and establishing new initiatives.

He is passionate about inspiring, empowering, and uplifting people in the community:

“As a child and student I never had teachers or educational leaders of colour that looked like me, understood me or cared enough to approach. That lack of representation and connection made me realise early on that I could be that for others in the future.”

David Williams

Founder and CEO, Forward Ever Inclusive Education CIC

A youth advocate and community champion, David has spent over 30 years contributing to the youth justice, youth & community, social care, and education sectors. He has extensive experience of developing accredited learning development programmes for individuals and organisations engaging with marginalised communities.

David’s experiences include creating a borough-wide youth crime prevention strategy and delivering national contracts that incorporate youth work principles in community-based sports programmes. As a mentor he has guided emerging leaders in London's social care sector.

David is passionate about promoting equity, education reform, emotional wellbeing, and trauma-informed approaches, all while empowering others.

Jenneh Edem-Hotah

Regional Operations Manager, IntoUniversity

Jenneh has over six years of experience working with young people in the charity sector. Her professional journey with IntoUniversity began in 2016 as a Youth Engagement Intern at the centre she attended as a student, before joining the graduate scheme in 2017. In 2018, Jenneh assumed became the charity’s Centre Leader for Haringey North.

Jenneh was promoted to Head of Diversity and Inclusion in 2020, leading the oversight of the D&I strategy, and in 2023 she took on the role of Regional Operations Manager for North and West London alongside the D&I role. She is passionate about working in the third sector, enjoying seeing her work making a difference and strives to be a role model for students and staff.

Jean-Pierre Moore

Academy Director, Fight for Peace

Bio coming soon

Mona Vadher

Director, LMP Action CIC

Mona is an educational and skills policy expert who has delivered senior-level partnerships and generated long-term strategies to spur growth and maximise reach. She’s led initiatives that have raised aspirations, driven employability prospects and increased confidence for young people from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Mona has been responsible for creating complex programmes that are purpose-driven and impact-led for organisations including the City of London Corporation, Department for Education and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. She is a Governor at the John Dewey Specialist College and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Previously Mona was Vice-Chair of Trustees at Birkbeck Student’s Union.

Nikita Vyas

Programmes and Networks Manager, Challenge Partners

Nikita began her career on the Teach First programme, teaching French at a secondary school in Lincolnshire. She started working in the charity sector in 2019 when she joined The Brilliant Club, an organisation supporting less advantaged students to access the most competitive universities.

At The Brilliant Club, Nikita was a part of the team responsible for creating ‘The Brilliant Tutoring Programme’, which supports state school pupils whose learning has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. In September 2022 she joined Challenge Partners, a practitioner-led education charity that enables collaboration and challenge between schools to enhance the life chances of all children.

Saad Mohammed

Business Intelligence Manager, Sport 4 Life UK

Saad began his career with Sport 4 Life UK as a sessional worker over 12 years ago while completing his Master’s degree. He has since made a significant mark within the organisation, first in project management and then in marketing. He now leads the charity's monitoring and insights function, and has overseen the organisation’s impact being recognised at a National Level.

His professional background is deeply rooted in his love for sport and its power to unite, inspire, and create positive societal change, particularly for young people. Saad is passionate about leveraging technology and adopting innovative methods to drive through transformational change that ultimately improve the lives of young people.

Sabah Choudrey

Senior Youth Work Practitioner, Gendered Intelligence

Sabah describes themselves as “a reluctant activist.” They co-founded Trans Pride Brighton and made The Rainbow List in 2015.

Sabah has built a presence across Europe, speaking at events including TEDx Brixton, ILGA Europe, and Malmö Pride, discussing intersectionality, identity, and inclusion. A dedicated trans youth worker since 2014 and a psychotherapist in training, Sabah has won multiple awards and authored the book 'Supporting Trans People of Colour: How To Make Your Practice Inclusive.' Alongside their role at Gendered Intelligence Sabah is a trustee for Inclusive Mosque Initiative and co-founder of Colours Youth Network.

Sarah Mehrali

PR & Marketing Manager, Stemettes

Sarah Mehrali, a seasoned communications expert with 15+ years of experience, is the Head of PR & Marketing at Stemettes. Her career spans TV news journalism, content editing, and programme management at ITN, BBC News, Thomson Reuters, Al Jazeera, and TEDxLondon. Passionate about storytelling for disadvantaged communities, Sarah debunks myths about women in STEM and inspires girls to pursue tech-focused careers. With strong strategic thinking and project management skills, she leads high-profile marketing campaigns through corporate responsibility initiatives, campaign delivery, driving impactful results and growing audiences.

Dr Shivonne M. Gates

Impact and Evaluation Lead, Frontline

Shivonne is currently the Impact and Evaluation Lead for Frontline as well as the Chair of a professional network, Social Researchers of Colour, and a Trustee for Dartington Service Design Lab. Her previous work experience includes the National Centre for Social Research, Youth Futures Foundation, and Queen Mary University of London. Shivonne also holds a PhD in Linguistics.

Shivonne believes strongly in purpose-driven evaluation activities that inform impactful programme design. She has designed, delivered and commissioned a broad range of evaluations of interventions seeking to tackle social problems affecting children and young people. She also has extensive experience conducting qualitative research exploring race and ethnicity, youth identities, and linguistic practices.

Wesley Lau

Head of Fundraising, City Gateway

Wesley has over a decade of fundraising experience in the education and charity sectors, beginning in Hong Kong before moving to London. Wesley is passionate about enabling upward mobility for young people, irrespective of background and academic standing. He’s currently focused on securing and developing funding from new and existing corporate partners and high-net-worth individuals. He enjoys working in a sector where you can see the direct, positive impact an intervention brings to young people.

Wesley’s professional experience also covers business development and managing projects in the sports industry throughout China and Southeast Asia.

Impetus Leadership Academy: 2021/22 cohort

Aaron McDonald

Project Manager, Young Westminster Foundation

"Before working with young people I was an electrician working on building sites and other varied locations such as hospitals, football pitches, and children's homes. It was on a site when I saw a poster about volunteering to work with young people, and my career started there.

"Having realised my passion for working with young people, I am motivated by seeing young people and communities achieve beyond their expectations, creating spaces in which unheard voices are amplified, enabling social mobility and working to develop self-sustaining communities."

Anita Chouhan

Northern Hub Lead, EY Foundation

Anita is responsible for growing the EY Foundation’s presence across the North of England.

“My parents came from Africa in the 60’s and worked in the cotton mills. We would have been classified as a low-income family. My parents’ belief of their children ‘having a better life’ was through education so I gained a degree at university then later, my teaching qualification.

“I want to help young people to achieve their full potential with an informed choice and a belief they can do anything no matter what their background or barriers.”

Annum Mahmood

Partnerships Manager, Youth Futures Foundation

Annum has a passion for supporting young people with their education and employment prospects.

“The job market can be so difficult to navigate for young people from ethnic minority backgrounds and I too struggled to find work. I thought about my friends growing up and thought ‘why is it so difficult for us?’ I always wanted to do something meaningful, but it was only then when my experiences came together and a career helping young people opened up.”

Outside of her work at the Youth Futures Foundation, Annum volunteers as a Diana Award Mentor.

Charlene Theophile

Director of Programmes, ThinkForward

Charlene has spent over 20 years bringing social change and improving educational and employment outcomes for young people across local authorities, further and higher education and the third sector.

Her passion lies in designing and leading programmes that empower young people to fulfil their potential - ensuring that all young people have the belief, access, and skills to achieve.

Charlene’s ambition includes creating more person-centred programmes that focus on youth participation, impact and service design principles. She was promoted from Programme Design Manager to Director of Programmes during her time with the ILA.

Chi Kavindele

Director, Community Links

Chi is a charity leader with over 15 years’ experience working across a variety of causes in the UK.

The common thread running through Chi’s varied career is a desire to make a meaningful difference to the lives of people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, wherever they may be.

Chi sits on advisory boards for the Youth Endowment Fund and Newham HeadStart, a mental health service working with schools and the community to transform how young people and their families. are supported to stay emotionally healthy.

Kim Rihal

Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Equal Education

Kim is an entrepreneurial education leader with 20 years of experience improving outcomes for vulnerable children and young people. Her organisation, Equal Education, provides tutors for looked after children and those with special educational needs.

Kim was Assistant Head of the first London Virtual School to be rated ‘Outstanding’ by OFSTED, was Nominated by the Mayor of London as a future London Leader in Education on the PWC leadership coaching programme and was part of EY’s Entrepreneurial ‘Winning Women’ 2019 cohort - comprising ten ambitious female founders.

Samantha Marcus

Head of Programme Delivery, Power2

Samantha Marcus joined Power2 in 2007 as a facilitator, delivering programmes to young people. She now manages the Programme Delivery Team and Youth Engagement Teams, while overseeing the recruitment of organisations and services that refer young people to Power2 programmes.

Sam wholeheartedly believes that every young person deserves the chance to achieve their full potential. Her passion for supporting young people stems from her experience of being one of the young people that Power2 exists to support.

Sam was promoted from Head of Programme Delivery to Director of Services during her time with the ILA.

Sasha Gay Smith

Founder and Director, I AM IN ME

"I stand on the foundations of those before me, those who have laboured to birth a pathway far beyond themselves.

"I AM IN ME was set up to provide robust personal development, employability, and business start-up support to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, to build purposeful and sustainable futures.

"My ambition is to impact a generation and to be a key that open doors for those behind me, for greater impact in the lives of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds."

Sat Singh

CEO, Renaissance Foundation

In 2006 Sat founded the Renaissance Foundation, a charity supporting young carers and young patients suffering from life-long or life-limiting illnesses. He now leads the charity’s strategy, partnerships and future development work. His passion for working with young people stems from his own lived experience, which included health challenges and caring responsibilities in his youth and struggling with Dyslexia at school.

Sat was presented with The Anne Frank Award in 2007 and The Business in the Community Charity Partner Leader of the Year in 2011. In 2021 Sat was welcomed onto the board of Historic England and he joined Impetus’ board in 2022.

Tejesh Mistry

Director of External Affairs, Venture Trust

Tejesh is an experienced Third Sector leader developing community development and behaviour change programmes with some of the most vulnerable communities across the UK. He is a great believer in the healing power of the outdoors and is inspired by the stories and journeys of transformation effected by many of the young people he supports. Tejesh developed a passion for youth work through international voluntary programmes. He continues to volunteer alongside his work and is Vice Chair of the Board for charity Amaudo UK.

Troy Norbert

Head of Youth Services, Queen's Crescent Community Association

During his time with the Impetus Leadership Academy Troy secured his current role as Head of Youth Services at QCCA. He also took up two roles in Harrow, his hometown, becoming a board member of Ignite Youth, an organisation supporting young people from disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds, and a Governor at Canon's High School.

Troy has a range of expertise from programme delivery to co-design and participatory research methods. His role at QCCA involves supporting and empowering children and young people across Gospel Oak and Kentish Town.

Zipporah Kissi

Senior Corporate Development Manager, City Year UK

While on ILA, Zipporah secured a promotion from Programme Manager to Senior Corporate Development Manager.

"My journey within the youth and charity sector began with volunteering. Back then I wasn’t sure what my purpose was. Just three years prior I faced one of the most challenging emotional paths of my life, manifesting in a mental health episode taking me away from my degree.

"But this didn’t deter me from developing myself and my career. The struggles along my journey have caused me to realise that I’m not what I’ve been through, and I too deserve a seat at the table.”

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