Senior staff

Chief Executive – Andrew Copson

Andrew is Chief Executive of Humanists UK. He became Chief Executive in 2010 after five years coordinating Humanists UK’s education and public affairs work. Andrew is also current President of Humanists International.

Together with A C Grayling, Andrew edited the Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Humanism (2015) and he is the author of Secularism: Politics, Religion, and Freedom (Oxford University Press, 2017). He has written on humanist and secularist issues for The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, and New Statesman as well as for various journals.

Andrew has represented Humanists UK and the humanist movement extensively on national television including on BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Sky, as well as on programmes such as Newsnight, The Daily Politics, Sunday Morning Live, and The Big Questions. He has also appeared on BBC radio programmes such as the Today programme, You and Yours, Sunday, The World Tonight, The World at One, The Last Word, and Beyond Belief as well as on other local and national commercial radio stations.

Andrew served for many years as a director and trustee of the Religious Education Council, the Values Education Council, and the National Council for Faiths and Beliefs in Further Education.

He is a former director of the European Humanist Federation (EHF) and is currently a trustee of the International Humanist Trust. He has previously served as head of the IHEU delegation to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and has represented humanist organisations at the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

He has advised on humanism for the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Authority, the Department for Children, Schools, and Families, the BBC, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Home Office, and the Office for National Statistics. For ten years, Andrew was a member and then Chair of the Westminster Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education. He was a member of the Advisory Group for the Humanist Library at London’s Conway Hall and, in a previous post in the office of Lord Macdonald of Tradeston in the House of Lords, he provided the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (APPHG).

Andrew is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and an Associate of the Centre for Law and Religion at Cardiff University.

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Director of Public Affairs and Policy – Richy Thompson

Richy works on issues from across Humanists UK’s public policy remit. From 2015 to early 2017 Richy was the Campaigns Manager. From 2011 to 2015 he was the Faith Schools and Education Campaigns Officer, and before that he was the President of Humanist Students.

Richy is formerly the Treasurer of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, a member of the advisory group of the Sex Education Forum, a member of the steering groups of Voice for Choice. the Assisted Dying Coalition, the Accord Coalition for inclusive education, and humanist representative and Vice Chair of Lambeth Standing Advisory Council on RE.

During his time at Humanists UK, he has proven himself as a formidable campaigner, achieving widespread media coverage and policy change.

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Director of Organisational Operations – Catriona McLellan

Catriona studied at the University of Dundee and has an MA and MPhil in European politics. After almost ten years in the money advice sector she joined Humanists UK. She is responsible for making sure Humanists UK has the right policies, procedures and operational plans in place to achieve its aims. She works with senior management to improve efficiency and ensure organisational sustainability and is also responsible smooth running of the administration and finance systems. She has a post-graduate qualification in Charity Management and Finance and has been a Prince2 practitioner. She is a member of the Central London Humanists, and spends her spare time in art galleries and swimming.

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Director of Understanding Humanism – Luke Donnellan

Luke is responsible for promoting the understanding of humanism, especially in formal education settings. He manages Humanists UK’s school speakers programme; teacher training and CPD; and the production of educational resources. He is the co-author of Understanding Humanism (Routledge, 2023) and editor of two online courses (Introducing humanism and Humanist lives).

Before joining Humanists UK, Luke was a primary school teacher and maths leader, and has worked as a freelance philosophy teacher in both primary and secondary schools, having trained with SAPERE and The Philosophy Foundation. He has also been a school governor, the humanist representative on Lewisham SACRE, and a trustee of All Faiths and None. Previous to his work in education, Luke was a TV producer and director, working on science and history documentaries, and children’s and factual entertainment for the BBC, Channel Five, and CITV, as well as producing educational training materials and classroom video resources for Teachers TV, Channel 4 Learning, and BBC Learning Zone.

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Head of People – Ann-Michelle Burton

Ann-Michelle joined Humanists UK in 2022. Ann-Michelle’s role is to lead on all aspects related to our people’s experience of working or volunteering with us. She oversees our people strategy and associated activities, including staff and volunteer engagement, recruitment, leadership, learning and development, and our people brand. She works alongside our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Action Group to promote EDI across the workforce. As Head of People, she also oversees HR for the staff team.

Ann-Michelle’s journey into human resources was through learning and development, and organisational development.  She has experience across various industries and sectors including the financial sector, healthcare, sporting events, and non-profit organisations.  With a passion for effecting positive change in order for people and organisations to reach their full potential, she ensures the HR function is efficient and effective as well as a strategic partner.  Ann-Michelle studied at the University of Denver and received her Master’s of Science in Organisational Development and Training in 2002.

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Director of Ceremonies – Deborah Hooper

Deborah leads Humanist Ceremonies, and oversees the training and developing Humanists UK’s network of more than 560 accredited celebrants for funerals, weddings, and naming ceremonies She also makes sure that more and more people are aware of their choice for an inclusive, personal, and meaningful non-religious ceremony at the most significant moments of their lives.

Her background is in brand marketing and business development. Originally a retail buyer, she spent much of her career in publishing, intellectual property management, licensing, and children’s entertainment at Penguin Books, BBC Worldwide, and other international media companies, including in-house, as management, and as a consultant.

She is also herself an accredited humanist celebrant for funerals, weddings, and naming ceremonies. As a French speaker, she specialises in heartfelt and authentic bilingual ceremonies.

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Head of Humanist Care – Clare Elcombe Webber

Clare joined Humanists UK in 2021 and oversees our work supporting people through the Non-Religious Pastoral Care Network, providing institutional care in settings like hospitals and prisons, and Faith to Faithless, which provides peer support and advice to so-called ‘apostates’. Clare’s role is to advance provision of like-minded pastoral care to and by humanists and non-religious people in healthcare, prisons, defence, and beyond, as well as developing our support for individuals leaving high-control religions.

Before coming to Humanists UK, she spent nearly 20 years working in the violence against women and girls sector, including as a local authority commissioner, and with the Home Office, College of Policing, and Crown Prosecution Service. This included diverse projects such as script consultancy for EastEnders and advocacy development for the world’s first multi-agency stalking intervention programme. She has a particular interest in trauma recovery, with an MSc in applied positive psychology specialising in support for trauma professionals.

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Director of Communications and Development – Liam Whitton

Liam joined the team at Humanists UK in 2014 from a writing background in publishing after working with the organisation on a number of writing and design projects. In that time he has worked across the organisation’s communications, marketing, engagement, and fundraising functions. He has served as Director of Communications and Development since 2019.

Liam was highly involved in the organisation’s successful rebrand to become ‘Humanists UK’. His day to day role involves managing the communications team and maintaining oversight of the look, feel, and voice of the charity across its many publications and its wide array of promotional and development-related activities.

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Director of IT – Andrew West

Andrew joined in May 2011, after two years volunteering as Humanists UK’s Photographer-in-Residence. He ran his own IT company for nine years before joining Humanists UK, and is now responsible for managing and coding the Humanists UK website, its many spin-off websites, the office computers, and the contact database. Outside of the office he is a private pilot and ballroom dancer. He also represented Humanists UK on the Fourth Plinth.

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Wales Humanists Coordinator – Kathy Riddick

Kathy leads Humanists UK’s work in Wales as Coordinator of Wales Humanists, the section bringing together all of Humanists UK’s members and supporters in Wales. She came to Humanists UK after a successful career in business consulting and communications.

As well as representing Wales Humanists to senior stakeholders in the Welsh Government, Kathy works alongside a large volunteer team to ensure that the voice of humanists in Wales is fully represented in public policy discussions, Senedd debates, and in the media, and works to expand the availability of humanist ceremonies, pastoral support, and resources for teachers in Wales.

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Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator – Boyd Sleator

Boyd is the Coordinator for Northern Ireland Humanists, the section bringing together all of Humanists UK’s members and supporters in Northern Ireland. Before he came to Humanists UK, he was an organiser for events around public understanding of science, and founding chair of the group Atheist NI.

Boyd’s role is to expand the reach of Northern Ireland Humanists’ campaigns, services, events, community, and public awareness work. He is particularly motivated around issues related to education reform in Northern Ireland, and has spearheaded calls for reform of the Religious Education curriculum and for an end to state-funded religious schools. He also been highly involved in work to extend same-sex marriage and abortion rights to Northern Ireland, and was instrumental in Northern Ireland Humanists’ legal case to bring about legal humanist marriages. He is widely called upon to give talks about humanism in schools and universities, and regularly features on the radio discussing Northern Ireland Humanists’ current campaigns and priorities.

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