Duncan Baldwin – Head of Procurement and Innovation
Duncan oversees two of the teams responsible for The Challenge’s delivery of NCS. The Procurement team source the outdoor activities, accommodation, transport, food and equipment used on the programme. Innovation provide a process analysis and project management function to support the other NCS departments. Duncan is also responsible for programme impact evaluation. He joined The Challenge in 2012 after working on the NCS programme.Duncan has a background in law, fashion and professional sport. He has a degree in Modern History from the University of Oxford and a GDL from City University.
Colin Cliff – Head of Curriculum
Colin heads up the Curriculum department focusing on the development of the National Citizen Service programme and ongoing graduate support. He joined The Challenge in October 2010 following over 10 years working in a variety of roles within the youth sector ranging from church based youth work, detached community work, and youth club provision.
Colin lives in South East London, and is married with two daughters aged 6 and 3. He is a professionally qualified (JNC) Youth and Community worker and has a degree in Youth and Community Work with Practical Theology from Ridley Hall College, Cambridge.
Edward Cook – NCS Head of Sales & Marketing
Edward oversees our sales and marketing team working to ensure that young people from all backgrounds across the UK get to take part in NCS. He has been with The Challenge since working on NCS in 2011. Prior to joining The Challenge, Edward had a varied career including 9 years working in broadcasting, latterly as a journalist on New Zealand’s state broadcaster’s evening news. Following that he worked for a Maori tribe (Iwi), managing youth development programmes and supporting significant social and economic development projects. Seeking a qualification in youth development, Edward trained as a secondary teacher and travelled to the UK, where he taught in Bristol prior to joining The Challenge.
Edward recently appeared as an extra in a Bolivian beer commercial. He has been a board member of Scouts New Zealand and the Asia Pacific Scout Region and an advisor to the board of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement. Edward has a degree from the NZ Broadcasting School, and a Graduate Diploma in Teaching – Secondary from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand.
Mark Cornish – Head of Finance
As Head of Finance at The Challenge, Mark is responsible for the day-to-day management and operations of our Finance team. He joined The Challenge in September 2014 from Bowel Cancer UK, where he held the position of Director of Finance and Resources before becoming Chief Operating Officer. Earlier in his career, Mark qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG and subsequently joined the British Wool Marketing Board, where he rose to become the Finance Director of the main operating subsidiary.
Mark is married with 3 children and a border terrier called Tommy, and enjoys walking and sailing. He is a co-opted member of the Charity Finance Group’s finance sub-committee, is a Director of his children’s local senior school, and has a degree in Economics from Bradford University.
Tanya Dunne – Head of Customer Services
Tanya oversees The Challenge’s Customer Services team, which guides, advises and helps thousands of applicants to apply to our programmes every year from all walks of life across the UK. She joined The Challenge in November 2012 following thirteen years with the British Council, where she held information management, change consultancy, customer service, and Country Director roles, working across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Tanya has travelled to 70 countries, mainly across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and trained as a women’s self defence instructor in Disneyland Florida. She has a degree in Modern History and Politics from the University of Liverpool, a diploma in Information Science, and further qualifications in coaching and MBTI.
Charlotte Hobson – Step Forward Head of Sales and Marketing
Charlotte leads our work in spreading the word about Step Forward to school leavers so they can take advantage of a fantastic opportunity to get their network and careers off to a flying start. She joined The Challenge as Sales and Marketing Manager for the National Citizen Service in the Midlands in 2010, after moving back to the UK from Portugal, where she had been a teacher. Before this, she worked in Market Research for Databuild Ltd. Throughout this period, Charlotte helped to run Spanish residential programmes with young people from all over the world.
Charlotte has a degree in English from the University of Sheffield.
Emma Jenkins – Head of Development and HeadStart
Emma is responsible for the strategic development and operational management of our HeadStart programme alongside the organisation’s fundraising and development activities. She joined the Challenge in 2012 as Grants and Statutory Fundraising Manager. Prior to this, Emma managed a team of fundraising consultants at Generate Fundraising, leading on varied and inspiring fundraising campaigns, from building flagship homeless centres and children’s cancer units to raising funds to sustain local youth services. She also worked as Head of Strategy and Business Development for DHA, a legal advice and homelessness charity, where she secured funding for one of the country’s first Community Legal Advice Centres.
Emma has a degree in English Literature from the University of Leeds.
Gill Kirk-Burgess – Head of Marketing
Gill heads up our Marketing and Brand functions. She joined The Challenge in April 2015, having previously worked in marketing roles covering a broad range of sectors and topics, from telecoms to childhood obesity to investment banking. Most recently, she was Director of Marketing for The Children’s Society.
Gill is a fully qualified skydiver and is currently training for the UK National Championships. She has a degree in International Business and Languages from Sheffield Hallam University and the ESSEC Group and is about to embark on a Masters in Charity Marketing.
Alexis Meech – Head of Systems and IT
Alexis is one of the founders of The Challenge and heads up the Systems department, which is responsible for creating scalable tools to support all operational aspects of the organisation. Prior to this role, Alexis headed up our Central Operations team, a role which integrated systems creation with the management of the Central Communications team. She joined the organisation following experience in the theatre production industry and at a charity – Stage One – dedicated to supporting new theatre producers.
Alexis has a degree in Philosophy from Cambridge University.
Rick Miles – Step Forward Head of Account Management
Rick manages a team of account managers who work with third sector and private organisations and nurseries to increase takeup of professional apprentices across 5 skilled pathways including accounting, IT, business administration, working with children and social media. Rick joined The Challenge in 2011 as a temporary member of staff working on the National Citizen Service summer programme, before joining the organisation permanently as a manager in the organisation’s staffing team. Before joining The Challenge, he worked in agency recruitment for 5 years and as a teacher for a year.
Rick has a degree in Management from the University of Leicester and a PCGE from Manchester Metropolitan University.
Kirsty O’Brien – Head of Public Affairs and Communications
Kirsty joined The Challenge in June 2015 and heads up our Public Affairs, Communications and Campaigns team. She has worked in politics for 15 years, including 8 years with the Labour Party and 4 years as Political Adviser to the Chair of the Equality & Human Rights Commission. Kirsty worked in the Number 10 Policy Unit under then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.
Kirsty has lived in London for 12 years but taxi drivers still struggle with her strong Glasgow accent. She is mum to two young boys and spends a lot of time building Lego. Kirsty has a degree in Politics from the University of Strathclyde.
Ellen Rutherford – NCS Head of Sales
Ellen oversees our engagement with the thousands of young people we sign up to the National Citizen Service every year, working as part of our national Sales Team and with our local delivery partners. She joined The Challenge in 2009 as manager of the South London and Surrey Sales Team. Prior to this, she worked for The Prince’s Foundation for Children and The Arts.
Ellen has a degree in English Literature from The University of Sheffield.
Rachel Slade – Head of Programmes and Staffing
Rachel joined is responsible for leading the Programmes and Staffing departments and for the delivery of the National Citizen Service programme. She joined The Challenge in 2011 and has worked in a number of different roles within the organisation – ranging from a frontline leader working directly with young people to managing the strategic direction of the organisation’s NCS delivery.
Rachel has previously worked with two youth and community charities, Depaul UK and UnLtd, with a focus on communications, marketing and PR. Rachel has a degree from Goldsmiths College, University of London, in Anthropology and Communications.
Andy Smith – Step Forward Head of Delivery
Andy leads the operational delivery of the Step Forward programme. As such, he manages training and pastoral support as well as the certification of the national recognised qualifications. He joined The Challenge in 2011 as Systems and Innovations Manager, and later took on the role of New Programmes Manager. Previously, Andy completed Teach First, qualifying as a maths teacher while working at a school in Southwark before working in the compliance team of Barclay’s Corporate. He has been leading residential youth camps for teenagers for over 10 years.
In July 2014, Andy completed his first Ironman triathlon race. He has a degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Cambridge.
Jennie Smith – Head of Staffing
Jennie leads our staffing department, which in 2015 will recruit, assess and contract 3,500 mentors, leaders and other staff to work on the National Citizen Service with The Challenge. She joined the organisation in February 2015, having previously managed UK delivery of the International Citizens Service at Voluntary Services Overseas, placing 18-25 year olds on development programmes in Africa & Asia. Prior to this this, she was National Volunteering Manager at the homelessness charity Crisis, with responsibility for recruiting over 8,000 volunteers each year for the Crisis at Christmas project, which provides services to homeless people during the festive season. Jennie has volunteered throughout her career, and is a co-founder of Brighter Futures Zambia, a small charity which provides access to education for orphans in Zambia.
She has a degree in French from the University of Liverpool.
Chris Stansfield – Head of NCS Delivery Partnerships
Chris supports and oversees our Local Delivery Partners – a variety of organisations who are subcontracted to assist us in delivering the NCS programme across the country. Chris helped set up the first programme The Challenge ran in 2009 and then joined in 2011 to oversee our NCS delivery in West London. Chris has previously worked in International Development for charities working in Latin America and South Africa.
He enjoys playing touch rugby and has a degree in Mathematics and Sports Science from the University of Birmingham and a Postgraduate Certificate in Charity Management from LSBU.