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.


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.


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.


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 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.


Biljana Radonjic Ker-Lindsay has extensive experience in over 30 emerging markets spanning from Central Europe and Central Asia to North Africa at the intersection between governments, businesses and civil society. As the head of civil society engagement at the EBRD’s London HQ, Biljana is in charge of the Bank’s on-going outreach, dialogue and consultations with civil society as well as enhancing the capacity of local grassroots organisations. Before joining the EBRD in 2006, Biljana co-founded and ran Civilitas Research, an independent strategic consultancy and think tank dedicated to socio-political and business research in South East Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, based out of Cyprus.


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.


Charlie Walker is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Southampton, and an Honorary Member of the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies at the University of Birmingham. He was previously a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Centre for East European Language Based Area Studies and St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. Charlie’s research has explored class, gender and spatial (rural-urban) inequalities in Russia, focusing on young people’s transitions to adulthood and, more recently, men’s wellbeing. He has recently worked for the World Bank on a project examining processes of social exclusion amongst vulnerable groups in Russia, and in 2018-19 will be working on a British Academy funded project looking at transitions to adulthood amongst care leavers in the Leningrad region. The latter project will involve working closely with Russian CSOs providing aftercare services to care leavers, and the need to better integrate academic and third sector activities is one of the reasons Charlie wanted to begin working with BEARR.

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 Officer, Sophie Vandyck, and a part-time Small Grants Officer, Anna Lukanina. Our Moscow Rep, Igor Timoshin, also manages the Russian-language website.

Sophie Vandyck is The BEARR Trust’s Information Officer. Sophie joined BEARR in April 2019. In 2018 she graduated with Merit from a master’s degree in Development Studies at SOAS University of London, focusing particularly on Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus. As part of her studies she submitted her thesis on women’s access to family planning services in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, compiling her own data on women’s personal experiences in these countries and also examining specific human rights abuses in this field. After reading French and Russian at the University of Manchester, Sophie spent two years in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, working as a primary school teacher and also facilitating volunteering projects. She currently also works as a languages tutor and volunteers as a translator and facilitator for Matchstick Piehouse, a theatre and arts space in London.


Anna Lukanina-Morgan is The BEARR Trust’s Small Grants Officer.  Anna joined BEARR in September 2014 as Information Officer. Anna has a Master’s degree in Law from Kyiv’s Taras Shevchenko University. She 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 Moscow Rep, Igor Timoshin, is a Russian rock musician, who has worked in Russia as a Manager of the HIV/AIDS prevention programmes of Médecins Sans Frontières and AIDS Foundation East-West. He joined BEARR in 2011, and maintains the Russian-language part of the BEARR website, monitors relevant news and information, and distributes our Russian-language publications.

Our Volunteers

We are grateful to all our enthusiastic and committed volunteers, who do so much to help in all our activities: Serian Carlyle, Nathan Dampier, Carolyn Davis, Neil Hailey, Eleanor Hemming, Sue Judge, Roza Kudabayeva, Charlie Lewis, Ute Lynch, Irena Maryniak, Zoryana Mishchiy and Sabrina Vashisht.

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