Key speakers

Practical Action can offer a range of spokespeople from around the world who specialise in different aspects of international development. From projects and policy on energy and sanitation, to climate change and food production, we can offer expert advice and opinion on development from across the world.

We work and can offer comment, articles and features on:

  • reducing vulnerability of poor people affected by natural disasters, conflict and environmental degradation
  • helping poor people to make a better living to improve production through improving access to services
  • improving access to basic services such as waterm santiation, housing and electricity
  • enabling poor people to assess the opportunities of new technologies and access effective technologies that can change lives forever.

To arrange an interview, or for any other media enquiry, please contact Andy Heath press and media officer, on +44 (0) 1926 634552, +44 (0) 7800 884267.


Simon Trace, CEO

Simon Trace took up his appointment as CEO of Practical Action in 2005. He has been associated with the organisation during a period of strong growth and rising international recognition for its work, particularly in the area of the environment and energy where Practical Action has won a number of international awards. A civil engineer by training, Simon also studied anthropology. Simon's career has principally been in community development, in the fields of soil and water conservation or water and sanitation, and he has spent time with a number of agencies, including periods of secondment to CARE and Unicef. He also spent a total of 10 years in Zambia and Nepal prior to moving to London to take up a series of positions with WaterAid, including Asia Regional Manager and Head of International Operations. Prior to joining Practical Action, Simon was Strategic Development Director for the UK NGO WaterAid.

Simon Trace on LinkedIn Simon Trace on Twitter

Paul Smith Lomas - International Director

Paul Smith Lomas joined Practical Action in 2010 as International Director with responsibility for the overall operation of our global programmes and policy work. He is also a member of the Corporate Management Team, which is responsible for organisational strategy. Immediately prior to joining Practical Action, Paul was the Regional Director for Oxfam in the Horn, East and Central Africa, where he managed a large programme covering development, campaigning, and emergency response. Prior to that he was Oxfam’s global Humanitarian Director. He has been a board member of a number of organisations and recently took over as chair of the board of the Start Network of 24 INGOs driving innovation in emergency preparedness. Paul's professional background is as a mechanical engineer. He worked originally in the water treatment industry in the UK, before going on a VSO assignment in 1985 to Eastern Sudan, where he set up water and sanitation systems for refugee populations from Eritrea & Ethiopia. He then worked with ActionAid in the Nuba Mountains, still focussing on public health engineering with rural communities. After a short spell in the commercial sector, Paul returned to the voluntary sector in 1991, as Technical Adviser for Oxfam, based in the UK. He was awarded an MBE for services to international development in recognition of his leadership of Oxfam's work responding to the Kosovo crisis. Paul has been appointed as Practical Action's next Chief Executive, effective from November 2015.

Paul Smith Lomas on LinkedIn

Margaret Gardner - Marketing & Communications Director

Margaret joined Practical Action in 2000, where she has established a successful marketing and communications area including overseeing the rebranding from ITDG to Practical Action. Her team lead on communications, campaigning, impact through knowledge sharing, education and fundraising. She also oversees the development of Practical Action Publishing. Margaret is the former Vice Chair of BOND (British NGOs for Development) and is a former Trustee of the YWCA. Margaret is interested in the potential of global movements to deliver sustainable change. She began her career in commercial marketing - working for the 80s giants Coloroll and Lonrho. In the 1990s Margaret decided to align her work more fully with her principles and moved to the UK's leading fair trade organisation Traidcraft, working extensively across Africa and Asia, to develop Traidcraft's Market information and market access services and providing capacity building to businesses and their support organisations internationally. Passionate about social justice and community, she continues to be excited by the role technology can play in poverty reduction and ambitious for Practical Action's work.

Margaret Gardner on LinkedIn Margaret Gardner on Twitter

Astrid Walker Bourne - Policy & Practice Director

Astrid leads Practical Action’s Policy & Practice team which focuses on the organisation’s goal areas of Energy, Agriculture, Urban Services (WASH), Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change and Markets. Astrid is passionate about positioning technology on the development agenda, providing evidence and learning of the role technology can play in transforming poor people’s lives.

Astrid Walker Bourne on LinkedIn

Spokespeople on specialist topics

Practical Action can also offer specialist spokespeople on a variety of specific topics:

Lucy Stevens - Senior Policy and Practice Adviser, Energy and Urban Services

Lucy is responsible for leading Practical Action’s learning and influencing work around poor people’s access to the energy services they need to help them escape poverty. This includes issues around decentralised generation of electricity and clean, smoke-free cooking. She also leads on issues of urban service provision, focusing on water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management. Practical Action has made a commitment to significantly grow the proportion of its work which tackles urban poverty, reflecting the enormous global challenge of urbanisation. Lucy has worked on these issues at Practical Action and beyond for over 15 years.

Lucy Stevens on LinkedIn

Alison Griffith - Policy Adviser, Markets

For the past eight years Alison has been responsible for leading a team specialising in pro-poor market development in Africa, South Asia and Latin America, developing innovative approaches to market system development, conducting analysis and synthesis of lessons from the program, and sharing knowledge with other agencies. Alison is on the Board of SEEP, a leading international network on enterprise development, and serves as Vice Chair. Alison has been with Practical Action since 2001 and previously worked in development consultancy, fair trade and livestock services in Kenya. She has a BSc in Agriculture and Food Marketing and a Masters by Research.

Alison Griffith on LinkedIn Alison Griffith on Twitter

Colin McQuistan - Policy Adviser, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction

Colin has over 30 years professional experience in the UK and overseas. He spent 19 years living in South East Asia working on a variety of development projects with local NGOs, governments and international agencies. This provided on the ground experience working with poor communities exploring participatory approaches to appropriate development. Areas of special interest include systems, sustainability, the challenge of climate change and building resilience.

Colin McQuistan on Twitter

Practical Action's country offices

To talk about Practical Action's work in a specific country, or if you require a particular country’s perspective on an issue, our international directors are available for interview and comment.

Veena Khaleque - Bangladesh

Veena has been Bangladesh Country Director since 1997. She has a background in economics with 23 years experience in the Bangladesh development sector. Her previous roles included CIDA, UNDP and the World Bank. It was the profound experience of working with the poorest communities with ActionAid motivated her to do the work she does today. She enjoys meeting people, finding their problems, and trying to provide solutions. She dislikes anything unfair and unjust and has a passion to explore big, new and risky challenges.

Veena Khaleque on LinkedIn

Grace Mukasa - Kenya

Grace Alice Mukasa joined Practical Action as Regional Director for East Africa in April 2011. Her career began as a secondary school teacher in Uganda, following a first degree at Makerere University, Uganda, Grace took a post graduate diploma in planning and management at the Institute of Teacher Education in Uganda. She also has an MA in Gender and Development from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex. After teaching for a number of years she moved on to work for UNDP and the World Bank in Uganda. She has worked in the programme areas of Save the Children, Plan International and for VSO as Country Director for Zambia. Immediately before moving to Practical Action, she was Chief Executive of AMREF.

Grace Mukasa on LinkedIn

Alfonso Carrasco - Peru and Bolivia

Alfonso trained as a sociologist, and has held academic posts at universities in Perú and Finland. After his return to Perú he worked as a Consultant for UNESCO, FINNIDA and the IDRC amongst others. He also worked as a regional and urban Planner for INADUR in Lima. In 1989 Alfonso joined Practical Action (then ITDG) as a social scientist, specialising in rural energy, before becoming Regional Director in 1994.

Achyut Luitel - Nepal

Achyut is trained as a Civil Engineer and has over two decades of experience in the development sector, including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and Helvetas. During this time he has gained practical knowledge in many different kinds of rural infrastructure programmes. He was part of the core team involved in the design of DFID's transport and livelihood programme (Rural Access Programme) between 2000 and 2001, leading this team until early 2006 when he joined Practical Action as the Country Director, Nepal in March 2006. He feels that having the opportunity to work at Practical Action is quite a unique and exciting experience. He likes the people centred approach, using technology to fight poverty. He also feels that Practical Action always offers a learning environment and encourages people to come up with ideas which can change people's lives in a meaningful way.

To arrange an interview, or for any other media enquiry, please contact Abbie Wells or Andy Heath press and media officers, on +44 (0) 1926 634510, +44 (0) 1926 634510, +44 (0) 7800 884267 or +44 (0) 7714 205342.

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