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Freeplay Foundation
Staff and Members

Our Boards

We are a registered charity in the UK, a 501 (c) (3) organisation in the US and a Section 21 non-profit in South Africa. Each charity is governed by its own board, while sharing mission, vision and values. The Foundation was founded in the UK in 1998.

United Kingdom

Terry Waite (CBE) Chairman
Terry Waite (CBE) is a respected writer, broadcaster and former advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Since his release from five years of captivity in Lebanon in 1991, Mr Waite continually operates at the forefront of humanitarian issues. In particular, he has provided support to hostages and their families, as well as working in the areas of mediation and conflict resolution. Mr Waite serves on numerous non-profit boards.

Eleanor Johnson
Eleanor Johnson is head of internal communications for SEGRO plc, a leading property investment and development company. She has extensive experience working in internal communications, having previously worked for Royal Bank of Scotland Group, J Sainsbury plc and Prudential plc. In 2003, Ms Johnson was awarded Internal Communicator of the Year 2003 by the British Association of Communicators in Business.

Peter Mountford
With 15 years’ experience as a financier, Peter Mountford is a director of a number of private and public companies and is a non-executive director of RWS Holdings plc. He is the co-founder of Bradmount Investments Limited, which was formed in 1995 as a private investment company. Mr Mountford is a chartered accountant and was one of the founding directors of Arthur Andersen Corporate Finance. Between 1989 and 1991, he was seconded to the Takeover Panel where he advised on many high profile takeovers and public company transactions. Through Bradmount Investments he has developed a portfolio of investments in a variety of companies and is also a member of the Securities Institute.

Brian Pohl
Brian Pohl is a founding partner in EMCP, a venture capital and advisory firm with offices in London and Dubai. Mr Pohl is originally from Canada, where he earned an MBA from McGill University and worked in telecoms and technology spin-outs. He also holds an MSc in Finance from London Business School, where he served a three year term on the Alumni Board and its Executive Committee.

Stephen Stonberg
Stephen Stonberg is Head of Business Development at Brevan Howard Asset Management. The Brevan Howard Group has offices in London, New York, Washington, Hong Kong, Dublin, and Tel Aviv and employs over 240 professionals in the management of over $11 billion in assets. Previously, Mr Stonberg was Managing Director at JP Morgan Chase in London, where he was Global Head of Strategy and Business Development for the Investment Banking Division. He holds an MBA from Harvard University.

Lieutenant General Sir Michael Willcocks KCB
Lieutenant General Sir Michael Willcocks KCB is the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod for the House of Lords and serves as the Queen’s representative in Parliament. Previously, Sir Michael was the UK military representative to NATO and the EU in Brussels. Commissioned into the Royal Artillery from RMA Sandhurst in 1964, Sir Michael has a distinguished military background.

South Africa

Alan Rubin Chairman
Alan Rubin is Director of Corporate, Legal and Operations at MortgageSA. MortgageSA is South Africa''s leading origination company and is a previous winner of South Africa''s Top Non-Listed Company award. Mr Rubin was previously a partner at the Cape Town-based law firm Bernadt Vukic Potash & Getz. Mr Rubin has been a director of the Freeplay Foundation since its inception. He is also a Trustee of the Jacques Kallis Scholarship Foundation Trust.

Gregory Groenmeyer
 Greg entered the IT arena in 1977 as an operator, progressing to developer in 1979. Greg has been in the IT Corporate Financials Services since 1989 with a broad spectrum of Employee Benefits and Life Insurance. He joined Old Mutual bank in 1999 as CIO until end 2002 where he then transferred to the Old Mutual Employee Benefits. Beginning 2005 Greg carried on as CIO at ITOI where his responsibilities included IT governance, leadership and strategy. Greg is currently Cape Town Head of IT at JPMorgan since Jan 2007.

Greg is a leader of choice due to his people management skills which grant subordinates the opportunity for growth in varying disciplines i.e. leadeship, management and self-development.

Joan Joffe
Joan Joffe has been actively involved in the IT and telecoms industry since 1960. She joined cellular network operator, Vodacom, before the company launched in 1994. At Vodacom she filled the roles of GM Marketing and Group Executive Corporate Affairs and Communications. Before retiring from Vodacom in 2003, she chaired the Vodacom Foundation. Ms Joffe is a founding member and director of broad-based women''s empowerment group, Nozala Investments. Ms Joffe also serves on the boards of several companies and is a member of the advisory board of the University of Pretoria Engineering Faculty. She is a former Businesswoman of the Year, a holder of a Wits University Lifetime Award for Entrepreneurship and is a trustee of several non-profit organisations.

United States

Edward Burns
Edmund Burns is the managing partner of the New York City law firm Burns, Kennedy, Schilling and O’Shea. He specialises in corporate and commercial law and is also a trial lawyer. Mr Burns holds a law degree from Fordham University and an undergraduate degree from UCLA.

Colleen Rini
Colleen Rini is Director of Development of Cathedral Kitchen, based in Camden New Jersey, which operates extensive feeding and other relief programmes for the disadvantaged and marginalised. In this role, she is responsible for fundraising for a $3.5 million capital campaign to find a new building to expand the programme. Previous experience includes directing a business and life skills training program for public high school students in disadvantaged areas. In this role Ms Rini has created a corporate partners giving programme that increased corporate giving significantly, and has worked to expand major individual gifts to more than double the 1998 results. 

Kristine Pearson
Kristine Pearson is the Chief Executive of the Freeplay Foundation and leads the Foundation strategically and operationally in the UK, US and South Africa.  Ms Pearson has held this position since January 1999. Previously, she was an executive with a large South African banking group.  Ms Pearson is a fellow of the Schwab Foundation for Outstanding Social Entrepreneurship, a lifetime fellow of the World Technology Network and serves on the Women’s Leadership Board of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She is the 2005 recipient of the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award.

Our Team

Abigail Connolly, Fundraising and Communications Coordinator

Abigail oversees individual giving and community fundraising globally, in addition to managing our website and online presence.  Abigail has a background in hospital and student radio.  After graduating in Political Studies, she spent two years in rural Japan promoting grassroots internationalisation.  She has worked on fundraising campaigns in Japan, Canada and the UK.

Chhavi Sharma, Project Coordinator
Chhavi coordinates implementation of Freeplay Foundation projects including logistics, field training and distribution and project evaluation. Chhavi has an MSc in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics, and brings a background in children’s education to our Lifeline radio projects in Africa. With the Cambodian Child Protection and Saving Organisation in Phnom Penh, she contributed to the development of a children’s literacy and life skills programme. She has also worked with the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in India, and is fluent in French and Hindi.

Irena Miedziolka, Head of Finance and Administration

Irena is our head of finance and administration in London. She brings experience and qualifications in charity finance and business management to our finance team. Irena has worked in the public, private and charities sectors, including six years in field of human rights and refugees.

Jean Fairbairn, General Manager
Based in London, General Manager Jean Fairbairn handles project design, monitoring, evaluation and donor reporting in addition to fundraising. Jean has over 20 years’ experience in the international development sector. Her specialist areas include communications for development, local independent and community radio, building democracy and civil society, HIV/AIDS and monitoring and evaluation.

Kristine Pearson, Chief Executive
As Chief Executive, Kristine develops and implements Foundation strategy. She fosters relationships with national ministries, international donors, multilateral agencies and corporations.  Unlike many Chief Executives, Kristine also spends a great deal of time in the field working with the people who most need our assistance.  Kristine conceived the idea of the Lifeline radio and worked with groups of orphaned children in three countries to refine the radio''s design features.  Her innovative work with the Lifeline radio led her to be honoured with Silicon Valley''s prestigious James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award and TIME magazine named her as a Hero of the Environment. She is a fellow of the Schwab Foundation for Outstanding Social Entrepreneurship. 

Michele McNabb, Kenya Country Director

Currently our Country Director based in Nairobi, Michele has worked throughout East and Southern Africa on relief and development projects for nearly 20 years. Her areas of specialisation include food security, disaster preparedness and development communications. She was previously the Director of Project Communications for Chemonics International in Washington, DC. She speaks Portuguese and Spanish. 

Michelle Riley, Director of External Affairs

Michelle joined the Foundation in 2000 and has worked in the international humanitarian sector for 16 years.  Areas of specialty include community outreach, media relations, building strategic alliances and developing comprehensive communications strategies.  Prior to joining the Foundation, Michelle served as a communications officer for former US President Jimmy Carter at The Carter Center.

Saira Khan, South Africa Country Director
Saira is our Country Director based in Johannesburg, and she oversees our projects in South Africa and bordering countries. Saira has worked in international development for five years. Her areas of speciality include fundraising (nationally & internationally including major foundations and governments), building strategic relationships, country strategic direction and the development of projects by enabling community learning and skills training. She comes to the Foundation from MaAfrika Tikkun, a highly respected South African NGO providing comprehensive care for children, where she worked as Director: Development & Strategic Relations.

Umar Jalloh, Finance and Projects Administrator
Umar brings over six years of experience in financial administration in both the business and charity sectors to our work. He has a BA (Hons) in Accounting and Accounting Systems, and is working towards a professional qualification from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.


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