Board of Trustees

Practical Action is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity in the UK, under the direction of a Board of Trustees.

One third (or the number nearest to one third) of the trustees retire by rotation each year and are eligible for re-election. The Trustees have the power to appoint any person to be a Trustee so long as the total number of trustees do not exceed the number fixed in accordance with the Articles of Association. Such a person so appointed holds office until the next following AGM at which time he/she shall be eligible for re-election.


Ms Helena Molyneux (Chair)

Helena’s career includes extensive international senior management experience in HR in both the private and public sectors and over 10 years as an organisational consultant in people strategy, change and communications. She was HR Director for Bankers Trust Company in Europe and then Personnel Director for the British Council for seven years. Her involvement in international development started with her interest in geography in which she graduated. After starting her career with United Biscuits, she was sponsored by them to undertake a VSO assignment in the Extra Mural Studies department of the University of Sierra Leone, Fourah Bay College. This was followed by a further two years there as a Geography Lecturer. She has served as Vice Chair of Traidcraft Plc, the pioneer fair trading business, and Chair of Progressio, the skill share and advocacy NGO. She has an MBA from Cranfield and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Dr Roger Clarke (Vice Chair)

Roger has a lifetime’s interest in the relationship between people and the environment, and the search for sustainable patterns of living. He is Chair of Friends of the Earth and a Board member of the National Forest Company. Roger was CEO at the Youth Hostels Association from 2000-2008 and a Board member of the European Federation of Youth Hostel Associations. He was a Director at the Countryside Agency from 1984-2000. Roger began his career as a community worker in the west of Scotland and from 1976-1984 was a Director at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. He has served as Chair of the Civil Society Advisory Board at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, a non-executive Board member at Natural England and a Council member at English Nature, a Board member of the Peak District National Park Authority, Chair of Think Global (the Development Education Association), Chair of the Appointments Committee for the Canal and River Trust, a member of the Expert Panel at the Heritage Lottery Fund, and a Board member at the Woodland Trust, the Conservation Volunteers and Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre. Roger has a BA in geography from Oxford University and a PhD from McGill University, Montreal.

Mr Nigel Saxby-Soffe (Treasurer)

Nigel qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1974. After 20 years in the profession and in investment banking, he moved to ActionAid, the international development NGO, as its finance director in 1994. There he oversaw the transformation of the organisation from a small UK-based charity into an international federation of local NGOs, based in the South. He took a particular interest in issues of financial and operational performance and accountability and of resource allocation. He left ActionAid at the end of 2009. He is currently a trustee of two other UK NGOs. He was awarded an OBE for services to international development in 2010.

Waleed Elbashir Elobeid

Waleed Elbashir Elobeid, who is Sudanese, is currently an Advisor in the UAE Foreign Assistance Department within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. He has 25 years of experience in development and humanitarian work, including two years as country director Sudan for Practical Action between 2012 and 2014.

Ms Valerie Jolliffe

Valerie has spent over fifteen years involved in technology, mainly through managing investments in start-ups and early–stage companies. She has run two university seed funds and manages a number of EIS funds, investing across new technologies in both the physical sciences and life sciences. During this time she has become involved in encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation, and is constantly amazed by the sheer number of new business ideas and their investments. She is particularly interested in the uses of technology to improve health and wellbeing and in social impact investing. Valerie also sits on the Board of Imperial College Healthcare Charity, the Mental Health Foundation and Beat (Eating Disorders Association). She has a degree in engineering from Cambridge University, a MSc in Charity Accounting and Financial Management from Cass Business School and is a Chartered Secretary.

Ms Brenda Lipson

Brenda provides consultancy services in civil society capacity development, primarily within the international development sector. Previously a Director at INTRAC (International NGO Training & Research Centre), she has worked on consultancies with a diverse range of International NGOs, Social Movements, Official Aid Agencies and local non-governmental organisations across the world. Brenda also worked for Oxfam and for Progressio in the past, with a focus on the Latin America & Caribbean region – a part of the world which continues to fascinate and engage Brenda’s interest. Brenda has an MSc in Management Development and Social Responsibility from Bristol University.

Prof. James Smith

James holds a personal chair in African and Development Studies and is Vice Principal International at the University of Edinburgh. He is also a visiting professor at the Open University and the University of Johannesburg. Since completing his PhD in 2001 at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, he has worked with and advised a wide range of organisations concerned with development, on issues such as rural development, science and technology policy and capacity building. His current research focuses on the evolution of research, treatment and control of African trypamosomiasis (sleeping sickness) in both humans and animals across the continent.

Joanne Smith

Joanne has worked as an international fundraising consultant for the last 10 years, working on the development of investment programmes and designing solutions to specific challenges both internationally and in the UK. She coordinates the International Fundraising Leadership Forum for international fundraising directors and manages a global donor insight initiative for 10 of the largest INGOs. She has 28 years of voluntary fundraising experience.

Mr Ian Thornton

Ian is a Senior Consultant at Dalberg, a development strategy consultancy that provides advice for both public and private sector clients. Previously he was Deputy and Interim Director at the UK Collaborative on Development Sciences (UKCDS). UKCDS is a cross-Government group that leverages the UK’s scientific capabilities to deliver more effective, evidence-based international development policy and programmes. Before this, Ian was at Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, where he led a major project mapping the changing Indian research and innovation system, and charting the emergence of an Indian specialism in “frugal” innovation. He has also worked in the Science Policy Centre at the Royal Society and at the African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF). Ian has a Masters in Psychology, Physiology and Philosophy from New College, Oxford.

Ms Helena Wayth

Helena has over 18 years of strategic marketing and management experience working with global organisations such as Unilever and L’Oreal across markets (Asia, Europe, US & Africa), sectors and cultures. This experience ranges from leading large global brands, repositioning and building local businesses, to leading small entrepreneurial start-ups. Over the past five years she has worked in the NGO sector with Marie Stopes, Oxfam and SolarAid, primarily in Africa and Asia, with a focus on energy, sanitation and sexual reproductive health contributing at a strategic, programme and community level. Combining her commercial, social and sustainability experience Helena recently founded a consulting company, A Bird’s Eye View, to help provide strategic thinking and executional support for organisations seeking change. She has a Bachelor of Business and completed a Masters in Sustainability & Responsibility with a focus on action research and sustainable sanitation solutions for the urban poor. She was a member of the Unilever Toilet Board initiative, and is a trustee of the charity Helping The Burmese Delta.

Mr Graham Young

Graham is a freelance Consultant with more than 30 years of experience in International Development, particularly in Fair Trade. After working with the NGO Christian Aid, Graham was involved in the development of Traidcraft, the UK’s leading independent Fair Trade organisation. He was founder chair and then Director of Traidcraft Exchange (the development, policy and education wing of Traidcraft) for 14 years. During this period he was the founder Chair of the European and World Fair Trade organisations and of the Fairtrade Foundation which he chaired for its first 9 years. He was also a founder Board member of Fair Trade organisations Just Exchange in South Africa and Amka in Tanzania. Since leaving Traidcraft, Graham has been a freelance consultant, working with many Fair Trade and development organisations around the world, including Fairtrade Foundation, Fairtrade International, FLO-CERT, CBI, Progressio, Gatsby Foundation, Comic Relief. Graham was involved in the early days of SolarAid and was a Trustee of it and a Board Member of its social venture company SunnyMoney (Kenya), which has become the largest 'last mile' seller of Pico Solar lights in Africa. In his home valley of Teesdale, County Durham, Graham is the Chair of The Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership which is exploring, celebrating and conserving Teesdale's unique landscape and cultural heritage.

Trustees’ Sub-committees

Nomination and Remuneration Sub Committee
Helena Molyneux (Chair)
Roger Clarke
Nigel Saxby-Soffe

Finance Audit and Risk Sub Committee
Nigel Saxby-Soffe (Chair)
Graham Young
Valerie Jolliffe
Joanne Smith

Annual report and accounts 2017-18

A year of impact – Practical Action's annual report for 2017-18, including highlights of our work and full financial statement.

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AGM minutes 2015

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of Practical Action, held in London on 8 October 2015. The Board agreed that the AGM minutes were a true and accurate record of the proceedings but wished for them to be formally approved by the Members at the next AGM on 6 October 2016.

AGM minutes 2014

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of Practical Action, held in London on 9 October 2014.

Trustee conflict of interest policy

The aim of this Policy is to ensure that there is fairness in Practical Action’s decision making processes, to protect the reputation and integrity of the Charity and to ensure public trust and confidence in our activities.

Practical Action Register of Interests

Current declarations of Practical Action trustee and director interests, as of July 2016.

Practical Action was formerly known as Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG). It changed its working name to Practical Action in June 2005, and its legal name to Practical Action Ltd in November 2008 and to Practical Action in September 2009.

Company information

Practical Action is a registered UK charity, no 247257, and a company limited by guarantee and not having share capital (registration no 871954).

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Strategic leadership team - Directors

Practical Action's senior management team, which has executive responsibilities, is called the Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) and it comprises the Chief Executive and twelve Directors, including six Country and Regional Directors.

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Practical Action's organisational policies

Practical Action's key organisational policies, including policies on Open Information, Gender, Corporate Engagement and Data Protection.

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Annual report and accounts 2017-18

A year of impact – Practical Action's annual report for 2017-18, including highlights of our work and full financial statement.

Find out more
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