Meet the team

Chief Executive – Fiona Duncan

I am the CEO of Corra Foundation – a philanthropic grant-giving organisation for people and communities experiencing disadvantage – and I have over 20 years experience working in the voluntary sector in Scotland as well overseas. As CEO of Corra Foundation, I have driven a new strategy for the organisation that includes supporting communities to drive lasting change in systems, practice and culture. I have contributed to Corra Foundation’s flagship Partnership Drugs Initiative, particularly in relation to its growing focus on the rights and voices of children and young people affected by substance misuse.

Prior to joining Corra Foundation, I spent seven years at THINK Consulting Solutions, a leading international consultancy dedicated to not for profits where I was responsible  for strategic planning assignments, working mainly overseas.
From late 1999 until 2006, I was at Capability Scotland, latterly as Director of External Affairs. Before Capability, I was Head of Development at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and prior to that spent six years with WaterAid establishing their office for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
I regularly speak at conferences and contribute to sector journals. In 2016 I was a judge of NESTA’s New Radicals for The Observer.

I am also the Chair of the Independent Care Review.

Deputy Chief Executive – Carolyn Sawers

I focus on delivering Corra Foundation’s strategy, supporting the team to ensure we are making a difference for people and communities in Scotland. I enjoy evolving and developing our approach, and engaging with the people and partners we work alongside.

I have worked for 20 years across political, academic and public sectors in Scotland. Most of that time has been with organisations awarding grants to community and voluntary groups, which is a real privilege and joy. Many of my roles have been about setting strategies, learning what works, and communicating well.

Corra Foundation is an inspiring place to be. It is a place where good ideas can develop, grow and take flight. I like the foundation’s pace and ambition for change, and that its full of people who share my passion for making the world a better place.

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Trevor Civval – Chair

Trevor joined the Corra Foundation as a Trustee in 2013 and became our new Chair on 3rd August 2017.

Trevor, who is based in Edinburgh, is a founding partner at Penfida, and a specialist corporate finance adviser to pension schemes. Before helping to set up Penfida in 2006, he had over 20 years of investment banking experience, principally at Lazard and at Merrill Lynch, advising a wide range of companies and boards in both the commercial and not-for-profit sectors on finance, strategy, and governance issues.

Luke McCullough – Vice Chair

Luke McCullough joined the Board of Trustees in August 2015 and sits on the Communications and Engagement Steering Group.

Luke is Parliamentary and Corporate Affairs Manager at BBC Scotland. He was a journalist and presenter on commercial radio in Scotland, Programme Director at Radio Forth in Edinburgh and Managing Director at Northsound Radio in Aberdeen. He joined the BBC to work behind-the-scenes, leading the Digital Switchover Help Scheme for Scotland and was Outreach Manager across the UK. He has also worked with the BBC’s TV Licensing management team.

On radio, Luke anchored Scottish and General election results-night programmes in 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 for commercial radio in Scotland, winning the Gold Award at the New York Radio Festival for the 2007 coverage. He produced Scotland content for BBC Radio 4’s election results programme in 2010, and led the Guest Production team for BBC One Scotland’s Referendum results programme in 2014.

Luke has held a number of previous appointments, including Trustee of Northsound Cash for Kids, Radio Forth Help a Child Appeal, Castlegate Arts (Aberdeen), Crimestoppers Grampian sub-board and as patron of the Kincardine and Mearns Special Needs Play Forum. He chairs the Royal High School Parent Council. Luke is married with school-aged children, and lives in Edinburgh.

Charles Abram

Charles has been a trustee with Corra Foundation since 2013. He is the former Chairman of the accountants Chiene and Tait and brings with him a wide range of knowledge and experience from his career of over 35 years as a commercial and private client lawyer at Tods Murray LLP, where he also held the positions of Managing Partner and Chairman. He is a non-executive Director and Company Secretary of the property fund and asset management company, Hunter Real Estate Investment Managers Ltd and non-executive Chairman of the property consultancy business, Cuthbert White.

His other current and prior non-executive activities include governor and trustee roles with national charities and schools, in addition to having been a member of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland.

Charles is a member of the Foundation’s Audit Committee and Nominations and Remuneration Committee.

Joy Barlow, MBE

Joy became a trustee in 2013 and was appointed Chair of the Partnership Drugs Initiative (PDI) Steering Group in 2016.

After graduating from the University of London, she taught Religious Education in a number of schools, before moving to Scotland in 1981. Since then Joy has spent most of her professional career in Education and Social Justice, primarily in preventative services for problem alcohol and other drug use. Her driving passion has been the impact of these problems on children and families – hence her specific interest in the PDI.

Joy initiated unique residential services in the UK for women with alcohol and drug problems and their children for the Aberlour Child Care Trust in 1989. She was responsible for the conception, planning and fundraising necessary for this initiative. She has been an adviser to both the UK and Scottish Governments on problem substance use, including membership of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs for twelve years and the Scottish Advisory Committee on the misuse of Drugs. In the 1980s and 90s, she was a trustee of the National AIDS Trust.and an adviser on HIV/Aids prevention/treatment.

In 2011, she stepped down as Head of STRADA (Scottish Training on Drugs and Alcohol – University of Glasgow), the national work-force development organisation which she founded, and held the post of its Strategic Advisor until her retirement from the university in 2015. Joy is currently advising the Health Service Executive (Social Inclusion) and Child and Family Agency (TuSLA) of the Irish Government on work-force development and the progress of the ‘Hidden Harm’ agenda, supporting children and families affected by problem alcohol and other drug use. She also undertakes a number of consultancies in the alcohol and drugs fields.

Joy holds an Honorary Senior Research Fellowship at Glasgow Caledonian University and is about a Board member of Mellow Parenting, an international organisation delivering high quality training in its family of evidence based parenting programmes. Joy was awarded an MBE in 1998.

Elizabeth Carmichael, CBE

Elizabeth joined Corra Foundation as a trustee in August 2016. Over the past 9 years she has served as a Non-Executive Director on a number of Non Departmental Public Bodies, was Deputy Chair of SACRO until 2015 and is currently a member of the State Hospital Board.

Before this, she was a civil servant in the Scottish Government/Scottish Executive where she worked on policy development in education, health, finance and voluntary sector issues before moving to head the Community Justice Division in the Justice Department in 1999. There she worked closely with CoSLA, the Association of Directors of Social Work, the Scottish Prison Service and the voluntary sector on criminal justice social work and a range of initiatives including specialist drug and youth courts, women’s offending and victims matters. She is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, and in 2006 she was awarded the CBE.

Elizabeth lives in Midlothian and has 2 grown up children.

Claire Gibson

Claire joined the Board of Trustees in December 2016.

Claire’s career was built in social work, working with and for those most excluded and disadvantaged.  She has fifteen years’ experience of delivering and leading work aimed at supporting those multiply excluded. Observing the transformational change that relationships and community can have has been a constant and recurring theme in all the sectors she has practiced, managed and led in. She was previously the Chief Executive of Streetwork, a leading Edinburgh homeless charity delivering specialist support to people facing severe and multiple deprivation.

Claire is a graduate of The Robert Gordon University, The University of Edinburgh and the Open University and has studied in the areas of social work, social studies, criminal and youth justice social work, advanced social work practice and leadership and management.

Claire lives in Edinburgh with her husband and daughter.

David Johnson

David joined the Foundation’s Board of Trustees in August 2016. He is a graduate of the University of Stirling and undertook his post-graduate social work training at the University of Edinburgh. David worked in a range of social work settings in Edinburgh and London before becoming CEO of Waverley Care, the HIV and hepatitis charity, in January 1995. He stayed in his post until December 2011, helping to develop national services aimed at those most vulnerable to HIV and hepatitis C and reshaping services to meet a changing epidemic.

In 2011 David joined the Scottish Government in the role of National Coordinator for Sexual Health and HIV. As the policy lead in this area he was able to continue influencing the way HIV is perceived in Scotland and how those living with the disease are treated. He stood down from this role in September 2015.

David is Chair of Children’s Parliament and also chairs the adoption panel of St Andrew’s Children’s Society.

Fiona Sandford

Fiona became a trustee with Corra Foundation in 2015 and sits on the Audit Committee. She is currently Chief Executive of Visionary which is a membership organisation for local sight loss charities across the UK. Fiona has held a number of senior and executive posts in the third sector for over 25 years.

She brings wide ranging and current working knowledge of the charitable sector. Fiona’s approach is to listen to people who use services and front line staff to find out what will work best for people. Fiona believes that working with people to create a local solution can often be more effective than simply following tried and tested ”professional’ methodology.

Fiona is currently a trustee of the grant giving trust Blindcraft and she has been a trustee of Scottish Council on Visual Impairment. Fiona also sat on the board of the Association of Chief Officers for Voluntary Organisations (ACOSVO) which is the national leadership forum for chief officers and directors in the Scottish third sector.

She is a graduate of the Open University with an MBA. Fiona lives in Glasgow.

David Urch

David joined Corra Foundation’s Board of Trustees in April 2014 and was appointed a member of the Finance and Investment Committee in May 2014. He is a UK equity fund manager, based in Edinburgh and London, investing money for individuals, family offices and institutions.

David was a founding partner of Oriel Asset Management in 2009, successfully migrating the funds he manages to EEA Fund Management in October 2013. Prior to that, he gained considerable experience of managing UK equity portfolios with Mercury Asset Management, Martin Currie, Scottish Widows Investment Partnership and Fidelity International. He graduated from The University of Edinburgh with a degree in Politics and Modern History MA (Hons).

David was a volunteer mentor with Youth Business Scotland for the Prince’s Trust, helping young people who have received a loan to set up their own business.

Richard Martin

Richard has enjoyed a long career in investment, managing pension funds, investment trusts and unit trusts. He was Head of Investments at Scottish Amicable before being asked to set up and manage a family  trust operation based in Nottingham. Over the next 14 years this grew into a sizeable business.

Now semi-retired and living in Edinburgh, Richard is chairman of F&C Managed Portfolio Trust plc, a director of Aurora Investment Trust plc and also advises two family groups.

Formerly he was Convenor of the Investment Committee of the National Trust for Scotland.

Currently he is a member of the Kilfinan group which provides mentors for the heads of charities and is involved with Mercy Corps, Scotland’s largest international aid charity.


Judith Turbyne joined Corra Foundation as a Trustee in October 2018. Judith has spent most of her professional life working in the charity sector, primarily in international development charities.

For much of that time she worked in Latin America and the Caribbean with Christian Aid, ultimately managing at regional level.  During her time working in international development she lived in Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica and Dublin.

She returned to Scotland to take up her current job as the Head of Engagement with the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), a job which she loves.  Judith has studied in Edinburgh and Bath, culminating in a PhD which looked at empowerment in development.

Elaine McKean 

Elaine McKean became a trustee with Corra Foundation in October 2018.

She is currently Managing Director of Indigo (PR) Ltd and a former member of the Scottish Children’s Panel System and a former member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in Scotland, championing quality standards in the industry.

Elaine has worked across Government, Healthcare and commercial PR in Scotland to enhance client profiles, while managing their reputations.

With a career spanning 30 years, Elaine has delivered successful campaigns utilising media relations, media training, stakeholder engagement, internal communications, crisis management, social media, marketing, event planning and evaluation.

Karen Brown – Head of Core Operations

My main role is to oversee the Core Operations Team within Corra Foundation. This team is focused on delivering a high level of customer service and has responsibility for developing and running the foundation’s systems, processes, policies and procedures to enable effective delivery of our strategy. As Company Secretary I work closely with the Chief Executive and Trustees, ensuring sound and effective governance.

Having such a varied role at the foundation has enabled me to develop a broad range of skills. My expertise includes: governance; management, administration, facilities and events; finance and investments; HR; IT and database development; and change management.

The variety is one of the things I love about my job, along with the fact that Corra Foundation keeps evolving as an organisation. It’s a real privilege to work in the voluntary sector, and be able to see the direct benefit that our work brings.

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Aileen Drummond – Core Operations Officer

My job is to support the core operational work of Corra Foundation and to provide the best customer service to the people we work with. I help make sure the foundation runs smoothly, that all of our systems support the team and help us in our mission of making a difference to lives in Scotland.

I have over 15 years experience working in the voluntary sector as part of the foundation and have expertise across all aspects of administration, including: communications with stakeholders; office management; and database development. I have developed a rich knowledge of the voluntary sector and of the organisations we work with and support.

I joined this organisation because I believe that people matter and they can make a difference no matter how big or small and that is at the heart of what Corra Foundation aims to achieve.

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John Yeoman – Core Operations & Finance Officer

My key responsibilities are to support the Core Operations and Finance Manager in the preparation of financial reports, ensure that accurate financial records are maintained, and the daily processing of financial transactions.

Most of my working life was spent working for a major bank, where I undertook a varied number of roles within Branches, Internal Audit and Corporate Banking.  After a year of relaxation following early retirement from the bank, I returned to working life, as a finance administrator for an Edinburgh based charity before joining the Foundation in August 2016.

I appreciate the opportunity to do a job I enjoy whilst contributing to an organisation that works towards positive outcomes for people.

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Shelley Gray – Head of External Relations

My role is to make sure that people know about our work and that Corra Foundation has a strong, positive profile. I support our communication and engagement with individuals, communities, other organisations and decision makers to help us meet our objectives and work towards our mission of making a difference to lives in Scotland.

My background is in policy and strategic development; communication and engagement, including through creative approaches; and partnership working. I have over a decade of experience in the voluntary sector, including in the fields of human rights, children and young people, disability and health and social care. I have worked closely with Scottish Government on a number of pieces of legislation and until recently chaired the Scottish National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP) Health and Social Care Action Group.

I joined Corra Foundation because I believe passionately that people are the experts in their own lives and that investing in individuals and communities is the most powerful way to bring about lasting, positive change.

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Ffyona Taylor – Policy and Events Officer

My role is to support Corra Foundation’s engagement with social policy. This involves developing a programme of events that both enhances internal understanding of the policy landscape but also allowing Corra to share insights from across our work whilst exploring ways to provide a platform to amplify the voices and experiences of others.

My background is in sociology and social research. I have a passion for understanding experiences of social inequality, and a growing interest in the interaction between social policy and third sector.

I have been fortunate to have been involved in different strands of Corra Foundation’s work. Which has provided valuable exposure to both the funding environment, emerging social issues as well as the valuable work of the third sector. When I joined Corra I worked on the Everyone Has a Story action research project which aimed to capture the stories and experiences of children and young people affected by parental substance issues and recovery. Most recently I worked on the CYPFEIF & ALEC Fund which was a fantastic opportunity to engage with both funded third sector organisations as well as Scottish Government policy officers.

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Headshot Elaine Wilson

Elaine Wilson – Head of Learning & Development

The main part of my job is to help the organisation and our partners understand the difference and impact our funding and delivery of our programmes has for people, communities and groups across Scotland.  I work closely with colleagues to collate knowledge and share this to increase evidence that can contribute towards making things happen at a local and national level.  I also oversee and support the internal training and development programme for all our staff.

Working in the PDI for a number of years before moving on to this role I have developed strong working relationships in a way that is supportive to the needs of the individual groups and people we work with. I have strong analytical skills and am able to look outside the box, developing supportive approaches to monitoring and evaluation. I have good strategic awareness, am able to help recognise and understand specific needs or gaps and think creatively about how to address these.  Learning from working in this way has helped me recognise how everyone’s story has an important part to play in how I approach my job and helps me to understand and measure what really matters.

The people I meet every day inspire me; the commitment shown by many individuals who are willing to go the extra mile to help make a difference and are willing to try new and innovative ways of working.
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Connie Williamson – Head of Grants

My job is to make sure we are the best grant-maker we can be, including ensuring that the Henry Duncan Awards programme continues to be responsive and progressive. I also have a key role in the development and delivery of Corra Foundation’s support service for other grant makers which is delivered through Fortify, our Social Enterprise.

I have been with the foundation for almost 20 years, working with charities active in Scotland and overseas. Over that time I have built skills and expertise in: grants assessment; developing and delivering new grant programmes; criteria reviews; capacity building; monitoring and evaluation support; tendering; and project management.

My job allows me to learn about the vast range of charitable work that goes on throughout Scotland (and beyond) and is an education every day. I never fail to be inspired by the dedication of the people who work in the Scottish voluntary sector.

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Sarah Littlewood – Manager (Henry Duncan Grants)

I work closely with charities to offer advice and support to complete funding applications for the Henry Duncan Grants programme. I deliver funding surgeries, represent Corra Foundation at funding events and assess applications.  My role has also allowed me to deliver a one-year pilot programme for older people and support other funders with their assessments.

My background is in the retail, further education and voluntary sectors. I am a qualified trainer and STEPS motivational facilitator which means I am able to help participants to co-create learning. I have extensive experience of supporting adults who are long-term unemployed, including more recently, those with visual impairments.

My job at Corra Foundation gives me the opportunity to keep in touch with grassroots projects and allows me the privilege of meeting dedicated and passionate people who give their time to help others.

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Debbie Kaney – Grants Advisor (Henry Duncan Grants)

My job is to support organisations applying for a grant, including helping them to explore what they want to achieve, how they plan to do it and how they can understand the impact they make.

Interpersonal skills are crucial to my role, as well as the ability to constructively challenge by asking helpful questions and supporting people to anticipate issues and opportunities. I have strong analytical skills, including the ability to deal with a high volume of complex information. I have extensive experience of the voluntary sector, including as a trustee and chair of a small organisation, and am often able to facilitate networking and links.

I love meeting people, finding out what communities are doing and helping to make new connections. I am inspired by people getting together to do something good for their own, or overseas communities, and often discovering and developing new skills along the way.

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Rowan Anderson – Manager (PDI)

I manage the Partnership Drugs Initiative (PDI) – a collaborative grant-making programme which works in partnership with voluntary and statutory agencies to support Children and Young People who are affected by alcohol or drug use.  My role involves working closely with colleagues at the Scottish Government and in Charities, Local Authorities and Health and Social Care Partnerships as we work towards implementing systems and projects which support vulnerable children, young people and their families who have been affected by alcohol or drug use.  I also represent the foundation on a number of national groups which work strategically to ensure that children and young people affected by alcohol or drugs are supported, protected and encouraged to thrive.

I have significant experience of working in the alcohol and drug field, having worked in integrated addiction treatment and care settings for the majority of my career.  My experience within addictions services has centred around strategy development, operational planning, workforce development, project management and qualitative research.  I have also been responsible for the development and management of several public health programmes.  I have significant experience in leading community based, volunteer led programmes that support Recovery from addiction.   I have had the privilege of working closely with inspiring, dedicated community representatives and volunteers throughout my career and believe strongly that lived experience and community voices should be central when shaping policy and practice.

I joined Corra Foundation because I admire its determination to contribute to the creation of a more equal society by working with communities across Scotland.  It is immensely rewarding to see how effective partnerships and innovative practice can improve the lives of people across Scotland.

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Kelly McFadden – Grants Advisor (PDI)

My role is to provide advice, guidance and ongoing support to applicants and funded projects. Partnership working is crucial so I work closely with both the charities and other partners such as the Alcohol and Drug Partnerships. I support funded groups on outcome planning, evaluation and reporting.

I have over 15 years’ experience of working with children, young people and adults in the voluntary sector; including on homelessness, disability, addictions and criminal justice.  Before joining the foundation I worked as a senior practitioner in the field of drug and alcohol addiction, working with children, young people and adults with a variety of complex needs. Prior to that I had a number roles, including as a Housing Officer and as Education, Training and Employment Co-ordinator for the resettlement teams across the Prisons in Yorkshire and Humberside. Communication has been key in all my roles, allowing me to engage and develop positive relationships as well as an understanding of what makes good practice.

I am fortunate that my job provides me with the opportunity to work alongside so many worthwhile projects and charities across Scotland. I witness first-hand the positive impact individuals and charities are having on the lives of children, young people and families affected by substance use. I admire people that have come through adversity and used the experiences to change their life for the better; I find that extremely inspiring.

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Chrissie Hirst – Project Manager (International)

I manage Corra’s international work, which is primarily focused on supporting the delivery of the Scottish Government International Development Strategy through the management of International Development funding rounds. There are five grants programmes: the three Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia country grants; the International Small Grants; and the Climate Justice Innovation Grants. Our work in the International team includes providing extensive support to organisations through the application process, review and assessment of applications as well as providing ongoing administration, monitoring and evaluation of projects as they progress.

Having started my involvement in the voluntary sector in Scotland as a teenager, I continued my career in international development, spending most of the last 20 years working overseas. My field experience has included posts with a number of different organisations, including community-based projects with NGOs, through to large international NGOs such as CARE International and inter-governmental organisations such as the United Nations. I have first-hand experience of the importance of working with national partners and institutions, as well as the challenges of field implementation, and have managed programmes with grant-making and capacity-building elements in a number of different country and regional contexts. I have an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics, an MA in Peace and Reconciliation Studies from Coventry University, and am particularly interested in impact evaluation and learning for development assistance.

Corra Foundation’s ethos of partnerships and prioritising communities, allied with its wealth of experience in supporting positive change, provide an excellent framework for the international portfolio/activities/programme – it’s exciting to work as part of such a well-placed team and be able to use my field experience to support Scottish grants and co-operation for international development.

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Lillian Owiti – Project Co-Ordinator (International)

I support the Project Manager (International) to manage our international work, which is primarily focused on supporting the delivery of the Scottish Government International Development Strategy through the management of International Development funding rounds. These include Main Grants in Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia, Small Grants and Climate Justice Innovation Grants. Our work in the International team includes providing extensive support to organisations through the application process, review and assessment of applications as well as providing ongoing administration, monitoring and evaluation of projects as they progress.

I have been working in the voluntary sector in Scotland, both professionally and through various volunteer roles, for over 10 years. I have a background in Financial Management and International Development. I previously managed the Finance Team here at Corra and before that I worked briefly in Ghana where I supported a fantastic charity working to build a brighter future for school children in the Central and Western regions.

I am very interested in Scotland’s positioning as a Global Citizen and the work that can be done in the International Development space, particularly through progressive and innovative ways of working in partnership with the priority countries.

I feel very privileged to work for Corra Foundation. Our work as an exemplary grant maker inspires me because I see it as key to supporting organisations across Scotland, and their overseas partners, to tackle global challenges in a meaningful and sustainable way that can enable people to create positive change and enjoy fulfilling lives.

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Tom Baughan – Grants Advisor (Fortify)

I work across Corra Foundation to support our core grant programmes and grant programmes being delivered on behalf of other organisations. I am also involved in marketing and delivering additional services as part of Corra Foundation’s grant-making support service (Fortify).

My background is in fundraising, philanthropy, strategy and project management. My experience spans education, arts, health, disability, employment and enterprise. I hold an MSc in Grant-making, Philanthropy and Social Investment from the Centre of Charity Excellence at Cass Business School. I also hold professional qualifications in Charity Finance (ICAEW), Fundraising Management (IoF) and Charity Management (ICSA)

I am interested in bringing about positive change through thoughtful and effective philanthropy. I joined Corra Foundation as an organisation ambitious about achieving best practice in philanthropy and that is whole-heartedly committed to empowering people to bring about positive change.

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Catriona Henderson – Project Manager (CYPFEIF & ALEC Fund)

I manage Corra Foundation’s administration of the Scottish Government’s Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention Fund and Adult Learning and Empowering Communities Fund. This involves managing a small team to deliver almost £14m a year of core funding for 118 charities from 2016-19, with an additional £1m in project funding for 2017-19.

I have held a broad range of roles and have skills in project management and external relations. I am a Professional Member of the Association for Project Management (APM) and a Professional Member of the Chartered Institute for Public Relations (CIPR). I also have strong expertise in supporting people to develop, including directing and mentoring on national transferable skills programmes for postgraduate students. I hold a qualification in executive coaching and mentoring, am a neuro linguistic programming (NLP) trainer and am qualified in step I and II in the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI).

Having worked at the foundation for over ten years it is still always inspiring to see funding being used to make a positive difference to people’s lives. There is huge variety in my job, from working directly with funded charities to ensuring we have an effective relationship with our contract manager at Scottish Government. I also find it rewarding to manage the CYPFEIF and ALEC Fund team and to look at ways to increase our impact.

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Malcolm Dunn – Grants Advisor (CYPFEIF & ALEC Fund)

My role is to support third sector organisations funded through the Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention Fund and ALEC Fund (CYPFEIF and ALEC Fund). I build relationships with funded organisations and support them to achieve their outcomes, evaluate their progress and make links to relevant Scottish Government social policy.

By working for third sector organisations of varying sizes previously, I have a broad range of experience in fundraising, marketing and project development. I have significant grant making experience from working in the public sector and with BBC Children in Need (Central Region), England. I am also committed to supporting & enabling community action, having worked as a community development officer for 6 years, with particular experience in play development, youth participation and health & well-being. This community development work gave me the confidence to lead a neighbourhood play regeneration project as a volunteer for 7 years.

Since moving into the third sector 15 years ago I have been fortunate enough to work with many inspirational individuals and organisations. I am particularly motivated to address inequality, working collaboratively with charities & communities, and my role with Corra Foundation gives me great opportunities to progress this.

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Iain Rorke – Grants Advisor (CYPFEIF & ALEC Fund)

My job is to work with charities funded through the CYPFEIF & ALEC Fund, building relationships with them and supporting them to achieve their outcomes. I also work along with my CYPFEIF & ALEC team colleagues to develop and deliver a learning and development programme that helps build the long-term capacity of the organisations we work with.

I have extensive experience of working in the third sector and have been a grant seeker, grants advisor and grant programme manager.  I’ve worked for small and medium sized voluntary organisations, managed projects and seen at first hand the great contribution that the third sector makes to our society.

I am motivated by the Corra Foundation’s positive and forward-looking ambition to be an excellent grant maker that collaborates with others to get the programme right and to make the best use of scarce resources for those who need support.

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Maren Thompson – Grants Support Co-ordinator (CYPFEIF & ALEC Fund)

I provide support to 118 community-based organisations in receipt of the Scottish Government’s Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention Fund and Adult Learning and Empowering Communities Fund (CYPFEIF & ALEC). I assist with project reporting and financial management and coordinate a programme of support and engagement designed to build the capacity of our partners.

I have over ten years of experience working in the third sector including at Oxfam, Mercy Corps and Transparency International. I have a degree in Social Anthropology with Development from the University of Edinburgh and vast experience of coordinating and delivering social development, governance and livelihoods projects, primarily in Asia Pacific. I am currently a Trustee for the Nepal Education Foundation, providing guidance on fundraising and project management.

I am inspired by Corra Foundation’s professional, progressive and supportive approach to grant-making. I am proud to be part of a philanthropic organisation working to improve the lives of communities in Scotland and overseas.

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Hellen McLellan – Manager (Listening Fund)

I Manage The Listening Fund, a new funding collaboration between; Corra Foundation, William Grant Foundation, Big Lottery, the Gannochy Trust and Comic Relief. The fund which aims to advance the ability of the youth sector to listen and respond to their core constituents: children and young people. As this is a completely new fund, my role is to support the development, delivery and evaluation of the Listening Fund.  Working closely with a range of stakeholders including children and young people and both charities and funders in England and Scotland.

Having worked within the third sector for over a decade providing business support and operational management for both national and local organisations involved with health and social care and disability rights, I have acquired strong Project Management skills. Prior to starting this new role, I worked alongside the CYPFEIF & ALEC Fund Grants Team providing administrative support which gave me a great insight into Children and Young People’s services and the Scottish Youth sector.

Having seen the transformation of Corra Foundation over the last few years, I feel extremely privileged to be a part of an organisation which is truly passionate about bringing about meaningful, lasting change.

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Allan Farmer – Head of Place

My job is to lead on the successful development and delivery of the People in Place programme.  Through People in Place we are Getting Alongside Communities that traditional grant funding has struggled to reach; working in places with an Appetite for Change; and sharing our learning to help create an enabling policy framework to enhance place-based working.

I have over 15 years  third sector experience gained through working and volunteering with a range of charities, social enterprises and intermediaries.  For the past 10 years I have been focused on supporting community-led change.  Prior to joining Corra Foundation I was the Director of WHALE Arts, the cultural anchor organisation for Wester Hailes in Edinburgh, and was involved in the development of an innovative cross-sector leadership collaborative and in establishing Wester Hailes Community Trust.  I have experience of governance, social enterprise, strategic planning, social investment, funding collaboratives, community engagement, capacity building and creative placemaking.

I am inspired by Corra Foundation’s ambition and commitment to innovation; by my amazing colleagues; and by the opportunity for People in Place to support positive change within communities and at a broader systemic level.

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Emily Watts – National Programme Manager, People in Place

I lead the Appetite for Change programme.

Before I joined the organisation, I managed independent advocacy services for people affected by the Mental Health Act in Glasgow and Lanarkshire. I’ve worked with a wide range of community groups and organisations and most recently was Country Manager in Scotland for Eden Project Communities. There I encouraged people to take part in their communities in an informal way through campaigns like The Big Lunch, and through the development of peer networks.

I’m inspired by systems change and collective impact and I think working at Corra Foundation gives me real opportunities to put these ideas to work.

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Paul Hirmis – Programme Officer, People in Place

I provide support to all members of the place team, based across communities and in Corra Foundation’s office, and deal with the day-to-day running of the overall programme. My role involves everything from: reseach into communities; developing and overseeing the place approach to capturing and analysing participation and learning; and supporting the development of ideas for long lasting community owned change.

Before moving to Corra Foundation, I worked for the Scottish Youth Parliament where I engaged with young people in communities across Scotland on topics such as: Democracy, Mental Health, and Young People’s Rights. Before moving to Scotland, I was a Science Teacher in North London, and I have previously worked as a freelance filmmaker with international NGOs to share their stories through film and photography.

It is the people that make Corra Foundation a great place to work. It is an energetic and exciting place, with new ideas, insights, and action happening every day!

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Richard Whatman – Secretariat Lead – Place-Based Approaches Project

I am Secretariat Lead for the ‘Place-Based Approaches’ project, funded by Scottish Government to investigate how to make them more effective in Scotland.

I am a systems thinker, and have been a Senior Civil Servant in New Zealand working on making policy more effective in complex environments.  In Scotland I have been a consultant, working on policy, research and evaluation, and systems change projects for Universities and Non-Departmental Public Bodies like Scottish Enterprise.

What I like about my role is the chance to both think deeply about ‘Place-Based Approaches’ and effect change in how they are undertaken, to produce better outcomes for Scotland.  The Corra Foundation’s willingness to claim the work and examine its own practice is bold and humble at the same time – the perfect combination to bring about system change!

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Zoë Rush – Research Intern, Enabling Framework

I work within the Place-based Working Project- part of the People in Place team in Corra Foundation. My role involves researching place-based working initiatives and resources in Scotland and abroad, using a mixture of desk-based research and interviews. I also provide support facilitating meetings for groups across Scotland involved in place-based working. My background is in psychology, where I focused on comparative and social psychology- particularly attitudes and behaviours- alongside research methods.

It’s inspiring to learn about the actions different groups of people take to improve the lives of their communities and places. I believe strongly that place-based working has the ability to tackle inequalities across Scotland, and that people and communities should have their voices respected and heard in any decisions that affect them.


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Shaun Lowrie – Community Co-ordinator (East Ayrshire)

My role is to support the community of Cumnock to bring about social change and improve quality of life. I work closely with local people as well as East Ayrshire Council and other stakeholders to identify assets, create opportunities, build confidence and develop plans that the community wants to achieve.

My background is in community education and community development, both in Scotland and Tanzania. For over 10 years I have been involved with various third sector organisations, including in the arts and youth work. I also have the privilege of being a trustee for a local housing association and director and secretary for an organisation who organise and promote arts, music and community events across Cumnock and Doon Valley.

I joined the foundation because I can see the positive impact that our approach has on the lives of individuals. I strongly believe that grassroots community work is the only way to address inequality; change perceptions of communities that are often labelled as culturally, economically or geographically disadvantaged; and value the huge capacity that communities themselves have to offer.

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Janice O’Connor – Community Co-ordinator (West Dumbartonshire)

My role is to work with communities that grant makers traditionally don’t reach by supporting the community of Castlehill in West Dunbartonshire. I do this by supporting the community to identify assets and build confidence that will support them to shape the community that they want.

My background is Community learning and Development Youth Services. I have worked with young people and the community for over 15 years in a variety of settings and groups such as The Princes Trust, Youth Action, Youth Forums, early intervention group work, peer education, schools and intergeneration work.

I joined the foundation as I believe in grassroots community work and to do this we need to listen to the local community and what they would like to change and achieve. The foundation and the place based programme allows me as a community worker to support the local community to achieve their dreams and aspirations.

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Cath McNally – Community Co-ordinator (South Lanarkshire)

My role is to work with communities that grant making traditionally doesn’t reach. I work with the residents within Fernhill to build capacity and support them to create and shape the community in which they live.

I have had the honour of working alongside communities in a variety of context since volunteering as a teenager. My background includes: community development; activity and event co-ordination; developing creative solutions; social action campaigning; and youth work and development.

I joined Corra Foundation because I am passionate about offering an inclusive service to the communities I work with; I believe everyone deserves opportunities to improve their quality of life and everyone has the right to succeed. The values and ethos of the place-based work, and of the wider foundation, give me the opportunity to work as part of an organisation that truly puts people at the heart of what it is trying to achieve.

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Louise McCulloch – Community Co-ordinator (North Ayrshire)

My role is to support the Blacklands community in Kilwinning, helping residents to achieve their dreams and aspirations for their own community, so that they can improve quality of life and reduce social isolation.

My background includes Community Health, Community Development using an Asset Based Approach, working specifically with Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority communities, charity fundraising and event organisation. I have worked in East, South and North Ayrshire and Glasgow for third sector organisations as well as local authorities. I have had great experiences with people from a variety of backgrounds and have learnt so much from people living in our communities; everyone has a story to tell.

I joined the foundation as I believe I share the principles of giving everyone the same opportunities to make a positive change to their lives. My role allows me to engage with groups and individuals who are easy to ignore and to contribute to them having a voice in their community.

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Angela Smith – Community Co-ordinator (Falkirk)

My role is to work with communities that grant makers traditionally don’t reach by supporting the community of Langlees in Falkirk. I do this by supporting the community to identify assets, build links to partners and create good working partnerships that can be used as resources in the future. Supporting areas where confidence is a barrier is my starting point in mapping out the community needs and aspirations.

I have a good variety of community work including volunteering with several local groups such as Tenants Association, Parents Council, Gala Committee, Youth work Leader and community development work that involved consultations and creating a development project that converted ½ acre of derelict land into a road safety theme for children. Although I love a challenge, I felt there was more to learn about communities which is why I undertook my HNC in Working with Communities, and I am now half way through my BA Honours degree in Community Learning Development.

I joined Corra foundation as I believe you must work with communities starting from the grassroots for any valuable change to happen. I am able to build solid working relationships with external links and most importantly tease out the skills, knowledge and assets that the communities have already. I enjoy working alongside communities, supporting them and helping to create a wealth of resources so they can learn what they really want and need, in order to help them overcome the health inequalities they are facing.

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Laura Mathieson – Community Co-ordinator (East Renfrewshire)

Laura is currently on maternity leave.

In my role I am privileged to work alongside members of the community in Dunterlie, Barrhead in East Renfrewshire to improve wellbeing, support participation and turn ideas into action.

My background is in community development, participatory action research and creative arts. I have worked with a range of organisations in the west of Scotland in both voluntary and paid capacities to deliver community arts and equalities projects. For the last five years, I have supported community-led initiatives exploring sectarianism, hate crime and discrimination in Inverclyde. I am an experienced facilitator of experiential learning, supporting personal and life-skills development with a focus on building capacities for resilience, emotional intelligence and living more comfortably with difference.

I am inspired by Corra Foundation’s commitment to place-based innovation, providing the time and flexibility to build relationships and engage with people in communities who may face barriers to participation. My role provides unique opportunities to listen deeply and openly, to learn from communities and contribute towards sustainable social change.


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Iyaah Warren – Community Co-ordinator (Fife)

I work in Methil, encouraging more community involvement and locally designed community activities to increase wellbeing and opportunities here. Focusing on the skills, talents and interests of people who live here, I work at grassroots level, supporting and removing barriers to bring locally grown ideas to life.

I am fortunate to have worked in the voluntary sector most of my adult life, assisting grassroots community organisations through training and development support, particularly through times of change. Most recently, I worked for two Edinburgh voluntary organisations on edible gardening programmes (a passion of mine) and focused on volunteer recruitment and support there and with tour guides at Newbattle Abbey College.

I was attracted to the Place-based programme because of Corra Foundation’s recognition of the local impact of austerity measures, its commitment to grassroots community development and to doing things differently. This is an important time for us to get better at reaching local people and an important time for communities to come together.


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Louisa Cocris – Community Co-ordinator (Fife)

My role is to support the community of Buckhaven in Fife to improve the quality of life and widen the opportunities for the people who live there.

My background is in community education and community development, working both in Scotland and Romania. I have worked with a wide range of people in a variety of contexts ranging from children’s homes to community based adult learning to youth work. I have experience of both the voluntary sector and local authority.

I joined Corra Foundation as I was inspired and motivated by the mission of the organisation and specifically the commitment to place-led community change which underpins this programme. I believe this role provides a unique opportunity to engage and work effectively with communities who may face barriers and therefore do not benefit from traditional grant making processes.  As a community connector based within the community, we can listen and learn from the community and  build and sustain trusting relationships with the community at grass roots level. I firmly believe that this is the only way to tackle inequality and bring about lasting social change.


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Shazia Riaz – Community Co-ordinator (North Lanarkshire)

My role is to work with the people of Carbrain, North Lanarkshire and to facilitate social change through removing barriers and supporting the ideas and plans of local people to deliver the improvements they wish to see in their communities.

My background is diverse encompassing university research into health inequalities and economic status; managing and delivering equalities and community development services in local authorities and working with statutory and voluntary organisations across both England and Scotland. I also have project management experience of delivering mental health services to vulnerable communities experiencing disadvantage and have worked extensively with Black and ethnic minority communities in both a paid and voluntary capacity nationally. I have also been privileged to work as a non-executive director on adoption, audit, health, police and probation boards influencing both the strategic direction of these organisations as well as the delivery of successful services at a grassroots level to local communities.

I was inspired to join the Corra Foundation because I am passionate about the importance of place based community led initiatives to address inequalities and improve the quality of life of the people in Carbrain through building confidence and resilience, creating opportunities and by networking with stakeholders to sustain and support the change that the community themselves want to achieve.

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Julie Aitken- Community Co-ordinator (East Renfrewshire)

My role is to listen to communities and support positive change at a local level. This includes all sorts of activities from supporting individuals to set up toddler groups or running coffee afternoons, supporting community groups to develop local space or apply for funding, through to practical support such as providing advice on budgeting, public liability insurance, or PVG requirements. In Dunterlie, we also work alongside key partner organisations to link up activity and maximise resources.

My background is in community-engaged arts, environmental, and regeneration work. I have worked with a range of organisations across Scotland including the University of Edinburgh, WHALE Arts Agency, and Scottish Chamber Orchestra alongside running my own business providing arts consultancy and delivery services.

At the core of Corra Foundation’s People in Place programme is a desire not simply to hear what people say, but to listen and facilitate change. This approach allows for time and flexibility to work alongside people and communities in ways that are relevant and deeply beneficial.

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