Neil Hawkins – Chair

Neil Hawkins is a committed humanist with a strong belief in the values of kindness, tolerance, and freedom. Neil has spent 32 years in education, first as a teacher then as a middle and senior manager and then served for 16 years as Principal of Concord College, Shropshire; he now works part-time with a brief to facilitate high-quality education internationally. Neil is also Chair of Befrienders Worldwide, the foremost global network of suicide prevention and emotional support centres.He has long experience of leadership, change management, marketing, financial planning, the charitable sector and of governance.

Neil McKain – Vice Chair

Neil McKain is a Head of Religious Studies with over ten years teaching experience. He graduated in Theology and RS from the University of Leeds and holds an MA in Philosophy and Religion from the University of London. His work nationally in RE has been extensive. Neil is part of an advisory group to the Rt Hon Charles Clarke and Professor Linda Woodhead in their work on a new legal settlement for RE.

Neil has served on the executive of the National Association for Teachers of RE (NATRE) for the last six years and is a member of the RE working group at OFSTED. He is a published author of student textbooks as well as articles on RE more generally.

Neil also serves as a primary school governor with responsibility for curriculum and standards. Neil is a committed humanist and a firm advocate for RE which is objective, fair, and balanced.

Ann O’Connell – Treasurer

Ann is a committed humanist, sharing the Humanists UK vision of personal fulfilment found in our connections with others, and finding meaning in science, reason, compassion, and creativity.

Ann is a qualified treasurer and accountant with a particular interest in good governance. She has many years experience in banking, working in audit, finance, treasury, and risk. She has also worked as a non-executive Director of a Credit Union and a Building Society. She is currently working as a Director of Rhino Software Ltd., a company which develops innovative mobile apps for the SME market.

Ann is a trustee and treasurer of the Leicestershire and Rutland branch of Emmaus UK, a national charity which works to end homelessness. She is also a Director of Leicester Health Insight (LHI) a not for profit company which aims to facilitate improvements in health and social care for the population of Leicester city.

Iain Deboys

Iain studied geography and town planning at Queen’s University, Belfast and has worked in strategic planning and commissioning in housing and health authorities in Northern Ireland for 36 years. He has been the Commissioning Lead for Belfast in the NI health service for the past ten years, working closely with local communities experiencing some of the deepest inequalities in the UK.

He has had various leadership roles in humanist organisations for 25 years and is a school speaker and the Northern Ireland Humanists lead for Community Development. Iain worked closely with Andrew Copson and Boyd Sleator to set up Northern Ireland Humanists in 2016 and is proud of the Northern Ireland Humanists team and the achievements it has had in a short time, in the very challenging local environment of sectarian politics and religiosity.

Ruth Kaufman

Ruth spent much of her working life doing Operational Research (OR) – using scientific approaches to help organisations become more effective – in the public sector. This led to other senior management roles including pricing, strategy and change management.

She has been President of the OR Society and chair of its ‘Pro Bono OR’ support service, and in 2016 received an OBE for Services to OR. From 2009 to 2014 she chaired Woman’s Trust, a charity helping women affected by domestic violence reclaim their lives. She has been an atheist all her life, a SACRE member since 2010, and is an accredited Humanists UK school speaker.

Sophy Robinson

Sophy has a science degree, and an early career producing science and medical programmes for BBC TV. She moved into the business world as an HR consultant, and then a leadership coach helping organisations develop and implement sound strategies.

Over the last 20 years Sophy has been involved in voluntary work: chair of two education charities in London and the New Forest, a business governor of a Further Education College, and currently on the board of New Forest Business Partnership. She is a mentor to entrepreneurs through a government-backed mentoring scheme, and is involved in various public sector panels, reviewing funding applications for business grants to develop sustainable businesses.

In her spare time she sings in a chamber choir, plays the piano, and is a keen walker and cyclist.

Charley Jarrett

Charley is policy and public affairs manager for exam board and education charity AQA. He has previously worked for a democratic reform think tank, as a parliamentary researcher, and as a campaigns intern at Humanists UK. He has a BA politics first from Sussex and an MRes in quantitative political science from the London School of Economics.

He is a governor of a local primary school, a trustee of his old youth club, a volunteer admissions assessor for his alma mater United World Colleges GB and the Humanist representative Lambeth SACRE.

A lifelong Londoner, his interests include urbanism, languages, and improv. Charley believes humanism and Humanists UK have an invaluable role to play in pursuing rational, secular policymaking – to improve society, promote freedoms, and enrich people’s lives.

Emma Shepherd

Emma has over two decades of experience in the third sector, with a specific interest in grassroots community action. She is currently the National Head of Wales for BBC Children in Need, and a non-executive director of the Pen-Y-Cymoedd Community Fund. 

Previously chair of Wales Humanists, Emma has been involved in humanist campaigns in Wales, particularly around education. Passionate about people and community, she regularly runs events to bring people of all backgrounds and beliefs together in her local area.

Andrew Russell

Andrew is a public affairs, communications consultant, and investor specialising in the education and healthcare sectors. At present he is working with clients trying to tackle the care crisis across Europe. He has previously worked in similar roles for brands such as McDonald’s, Pearson, and social impact start-ups.

Passionate about rational, respectful dialogue, and debate, between 2015 and 2022 he served as a trustee of The Philosophy Foundation, a charity that promotes the teaching and practice of Philosophy across the UK.

Andrew also has an academic background in Philosophy and holds a BA and MA from the University of Cambridge and King’s College London, respectively. In his spare time he runs two book clubs with over 5,000 members and is forever trying to finish a book of his own.

Simon Walker-Samuel

Simon is Professor of Biophysics at University College London, where he leads a research group applying physics to cancer research, including developing medical imaging and machine learning (AI) methods.

He has always held beliefs consistent with humanism, and is a school speaker and humanist SACRE representative for Croydon. In his spare time, Simon enjoys spending time with his family, running, playing music, and creating digital art.

Kate West

Kate is the Chief Operating Officer of the Electoral Reform Society. She was previously Head of Operations at political think tank Demos, and is experienced in charity governance, financial, operational and HR management. Kate has worked for local and national government, including the Charity Commission, where she provided advice and legal assistance to charities and worked alongside the Board and Directors to ensure high standards of governance.

Kate has worked with and volunteered for several charities, including the homeless charity Crisis and as a trustee for Wikimedia UK. She is a committed humanist and enjoys running, weight training and music in her spare time.

Roland Davis

Roland is a corporate finance professional with many years experience working with government on the procurement of new roads, schools and hospitals and as employee of Eurotunnel during its financing and construction. He has run his own small company, taught at the Open University and London Business School and served as a Parish Councillor and a trustee of his employer’s occupational pension scheme. He currently specialises in regulatory economics.

Roland is a passionate supporter of humanism as a movement, as a way of thinking and a way of living. His hobbies include writing, programming, gardening and weight training. He occasionally admits to playing not-very-edifying computer games.

John Adenitire

John is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Law, Queen Mary, University of London. He has written widely on freedom of conscience, with a particular focus on those categorised by courts as non-religious.

He also writes on animal rights, especially in constitutional law. At Queen Mary he is one of the co-directors of the Centre for Decentering the Human.

Alex Collis

Alex lives and works in Cambridge, the city she has called home for most of the last 45 years (apart from three years in Oxford).

She has worked as a lecturer in Social Policy, in mental health and end-of-life care, running a food justice project and, for the past five years as a celebrant with Humanists UK, leading funerals, weddings and namings. She is also a volunteer chaplain at her local hospice.

Despite a childhood ambition to become the Archbishop of Canterbury, she has, for many years, been a committed humanist with a special interest in community and social justice.

Amy Walden

Amy has worked for HM Prison and Probation Service for 20 years. During this time she has worked in a variety of settings including community probation teams, courts and prisons. She is a qualified probation officer and currently works as Head of Offender Management Delivery and Resettlement at her local prison.

She has a BA(Hons) Criminology from Southampton Solent University and a Diploma in Probation Studies from Portsmouth University.

In 2011, Amy identified the need for non-religious pastoral support for prisoners and initiated this provision. Since that time she has played an integral part in developing and expanding non-religious pastoral care. As a founding member of the Non-Religious Pastoral Support Network she held the positions of Chair and Vice Chair. She is also involved in the design and delivery of training for pastoral carers.

Samira Ahmed

Samira Ahmed is an award winning journalist and broadcaster with a special interest in the intersection of culture, politics, science and social change. She presents Front Row on Radio 4 and Newswatch on BBC One and writes a column in New Humanist magazine.

She previously presented Channel 4 News and the BBC One ethics discussion show Sunday Morning Live. Samira is a trustee of the Centre for Women’s Justice and on the advisory board of the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, Historic England’s blue plaques panel, and the editorial review board of Doctor Who Magazine.

She is an honorary fellow of St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford.