Our Team

BEARR has a dedicated team of Trustees, who work voluntarily to oversee and lead on a number of activities, and a small team of information officers who handle the day-to-day running of the Trust. We are also grateful to our Patrons for their ongoing support to BEARR.

Our Chairman

Nicola Ramsden has been Chairman of The BEARR Trust since June 2018. She has been a BEARR Trustee since 1997. She worked for the Bank of England and NatWest Investment Bank and has an MBA from the London Business School. From 1992 to 1997 she worked on economic reform and capital markets programmes with an international consultancy in Russia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. In 1996 she was elected the first President of the charity Action for Russia’s Children. Nicola is also a Director and Trustee of Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras.

Our Trustees

Megan Bick has been working on civil society development in the region since starting as the first Moscow Director for The BEARR Trust in 1992. The main focus of her work is social inclusion of minorities and she currently works as a trainer, project manager, and programme evaluator for both local and international organisations

Clare Brooks has worked with grant-making trusts and foundations for over thirty years, in the UK, Central and Eastern Europe and Australia. Her introduction to civil society organisations (CSO’s) began in 1991 when she lived in Prague, and joined one of Czechoslovakia’s first foundations, the Civic Forum Foundation. Since then, she has led programmes and projects for national and international organisations which support civil society development, community philanthropy and education. Clare’s most recent position was Director of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Commercial Education Trust (2015-2021). She has a degree in Russian and Italian from the University of Reading and an MBA from the Open University Business School.

Jane Ebel became a Trustee in 2018. She began her career in Eastern Europe in 1986, selling mini computers and teaching printed circuit board design. With the advent of microcomputers, the market opened up and she was able to sell to educational and medical institutions. From there it was a natural sidestep into the voluntary sector and Jane spent the next 20 years, running health and social care projects in Russia and neighbouring republics. Since 2009 Jane has worked almost exclusively in Moldova. Recent and current projects include an EU-funded Early Years Inclusive Education programme, Communication through Music (a bespoke tool enabling non-musicians working with vulnerable children to use music therapeutically) and a national wheelchair project to improve the provision and condition of assistive technology for people with disabilities.

Charles Garrett left the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in 2023 after 36 years working largely on East Asian, East European and EU affairs.  Most recently he served as HM Ambassador to North Macedonia (2014-18) and to Kyrgyzstan (2019-22).  His diplomatic postings before that include Cyprus, Hong Kong (where he worked on the transfer of sovereignty to China), Switzerland and Taiwan. He was appointed in late 2023 as Director for Strategy and Commonwealth Relations at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 

Ross Gill works in local economic development and regeneration in the UK and has also worked with a number of voluntary and community organisations. Ross has had a deep interest in Russia and Eastern Europe for several years, having first studied Russian and travelled in Russia and Ukraine in the 1990s. He is currently working part-time towards a PhD at Birkbeck.

Helen Goodman spends most of her time in County Durham, where she used to be an MP. She is Professor in Practice in the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University and on the board of their Inenergy Institute. As well as taking on this role at BEARR she is a trustee of two anti-poverty charities in the UK : Z2K and Church Action on Poverty where she is Chair. As a Member of Parliament, Helen was a foreign affairs spokesman and member of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Human Rights and for Ukraine. She was the first person to speak in Parliament about the problem of oligarchs’ funding flows to the UK. She later ensured the insertion of “Magnitsky” sanctions into law.

Janet Gunn was a research analyst in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office for 36 years, specialising on the USSR, its successor states and Central and South-eastern Europe. Her overseas postings included Moscow, Kyiv and Dushanbe, and she worked later in the EU Border Assistance Mission to Ukraine and Moldova, based in Odesa, and the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo. She now undertakes consultancy work; she has participated in many OSCE election observer missions in the region, and has undertaken project work for the OSCE in Ukraine.

Ali Lantukh is a specialist in Russian and Ukrainian current affairs, human rights, and civil society developments, and is now applying her regional expertise in the tech industry. Prior to this, Ali completed a Marie Curie Research Fellowship, during which she was a Visiting Researcher at St Petersburg State University; she has also worked for US and UK governmental agencies. Since first living in Ukraine and volunteering with local civil society organisations over a decade ago, Ali has maintained a strong commitment to social justice issues in the region, and has volunteered with CSOs based in the UK, Romania, Brazil, and Uganda.

Ann Lewis is a retired member of HM Diplomatic Service. She worked mainly on Central and Eastern Europe, with postings in Moscow, Helsinki, East Berlin and the Cabinet Office, ending as Head of Cultural Relations. She is a Founder-Governor and former Chairman of Governors of The English College in Prague, and Deputy Chairman of Governors at St Clare’s Oxford. She has edited books on Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus.

Marcia Levy was head of the Moscow office of an international law firm from 1991 to 1995, working on investment projects in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. She continued to work on projects in emerging markets, from London, until 2003. From 2004 until 2016 she was a Circuit Judge, specialising in family and criminal law.

Michael Rasell is Senior Lecturer in the School of Health and Social Care, College of Social Science, Lincoln University. He is a qualitative sociologist and his research focuses on international social welfare, especially discourses of need and provision within state welfare programmes. He has particular experience of studying disability services and social work in the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia and is currently investigating the front line implementation of inclusion in line with Russia’s adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Sam Thorne has worked in higher education since 2007 and is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He was at The Open University for 15 years, where he led a number of strategic change and quality improvement programmes, as well as completing a Master’s in Online and Distance Education. He now works as a consultant, advising various universities in the UK and EU on topics such as student support, learning technologies and organisational development. Sam is working towards a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, exploring journalism and opposition activism under an authoritarian regime. 

Sabrina Vashisht joined BEARR after 6 years as a Trustee for Unfold – Empowerment through Mentoring, a London-based charity that draws on a diverse group of volunteer mentors to empower young people and women to identify and attain their personal goals. She spent 5 years as PR and Development Officer at the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre, and, after two years at Anti-Slavery International, joined Street Child, launching and leading their Ukraine Crisis Response Programme in February 2022. She joined the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change in January 2023 as Development Manager.

Special Advisers

Charlie Walker, who finished his last three-year term as a BEARR Trustee in October 2023, continues to support BEARR’s work as our Academic Adviser. Charlie leads a panel of academic experts to advise BEARR on small grants themes, conference and webinar content, and the design of CSO surveys. As Co-Director of the University of Southampton Centre for Eastern European and Eurasian Studies, he continues to publish widely on a range of themes related to welfare and wellbeing across the region covered by BEARR. Details of his work can be found here.

Biljana Radonjić Ker-Lindsay, Associate Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), who completed her last three-year term as a BEARR trustee in October 2023, is a Special Adviser to BEARR. Biljana works with trustees on shaping longer-term strategy. She has kindly given us permission to share the EBRD’s video about how she combines her work as Head, Access to Skills and Employment (in the EBRD Gender and Economic Inclusion section) with a challenging family life: https://fb.watch/pw7RlLjWnI/

Armorer Wason spent the latter years of the 20th century researching and producing documentaries in the former communist countries for British television, and running journalism initiatives in Mongolia and Central Asia for BBC World Service Trust. With an increasing interest in ensuring a voice for vulnerable and marginalised groups she came to focus on civil society, and in particular to develop and support NGO efforts in Russia, Ukraine and Mongolia to influence child and disability policy and advocate for social inclusion. In recent years she has developed and run initiatives with HealthProm, UNICEF and Oxford Policy Management. She has a degree in Russian and Polish, and a MSc in Social Work and Social Policy.

Our Patrons

  • Vladimir Ashkenazy
  • Elena Bashkirova Barenboim
  • Robert Brinkley CMG
  • Lady Ellen Dahrendorf
  • Myra Green OBE
  • Bridget Kendall MBE
  • Sir Roderic Lyne KBE CMG
  • Mike Simmonds
  • Michael McCulloch
  • Rair Simonyan
  • Dr Robert van Voren, PhD, FRCPsych (Hon)

Our Officers

The BEARR Trust employs a part-time Information and Administration Officer, Valdonė Šniukaitė, and a part-time Small Grants Officer, Anna Lukanina.

Valdonė Šniukaitė is The BEARR Trust’s Information and Administration Officer. Currently, she is pursuing her Master’s degree in International Conflict Studies at King’s College London. Having graduated from Politics, Sociology and East European Studies BA at University College London, she has worked in think tanks focusing on Central and Eastern Europe affairs. Before interning at Chatham House Europe and Russia and Eurasia Programmes, Valdonė held a Junior Fellow position at a Warsaw-based media organisation Visegrad Insight.

Anna Lukanina-Morgan is The BEARR Trust’s Small Grants Officer.  Anna joined BEARR in September 2014 as Information Officer. She has a Master’s degree in Law from Kyiv’s Taras Shevchenko University and has worked for a USAID-funded Organisational Development Support Programme covering Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus; the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour; and as Legal Assistant to the Executive Director of the Commercial Law Centre, a USAID-funded civil society organisation focusing on legal reform in Ukraine. Since moving to the UK in 2014 Anna has worked part-time with Dash Arts, including on a programme involving the arts in Eastern Europe. She also manages the “Ukrainian events in London” project which aims to popularise Ukrainian culture in the UK, and since August 2015 she has worked at the Chatham House Russia and Eurasia Programme and the Ukraine Forum.

Our Volunteers

We are grateful to all our enthusiastic and committed volunteers, who do so much to help in all our activities: Nathan Dampier, Carolyn Davis, Neil Hailey, Ute Lynch, Nick Sandars and Oscar Seecharam.

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