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Our team

The Centre’s small core team is made up of a thoughtful and skilled group of people working together to design, develop and deliver cutting-edge projects and programmes, with and for the youth sector.

Bethia McNeil

Bethia is the Centre’s Chief Executive, and has been with the Centre since its launch in September 2014.

Prior to joining the team to set up the Centre, Bethia worked at the Dartington Social Research Unit, the Young Foundation, the National Youth Agency and NIACE (now the Learning and Work Institute), in a variety of policy and research roles. She has also worked in further and higher education as a teacher and trainer.
Bethia leads the Centre’s strategy and relationships with its many partners and collaborators. She is also part of the project teams for the Centre’s main strands of work, including the Youth Investment Fund and the Youth Programme Quality Intervention (YPQI) Pilot. Bethia is particularly interested in the relationship between quality and impact in youth work and provision for young people, and in the theory and practice of measurement, especially within collaboratives. Bethia is a 2012 Clore Social Fellow and a Senior Visiting Fellow at Nottingham Trent University.
Outside of work, Bethia likes being close to water, wandering round historical buildings and re-reading the novels of Michael Connolly. She loves music and reading about new ideas. She is a Trustee at Datakind UK and a Non-Exec Director of Isledon.

Professor Kaz Stuart

Kaz is the Centre's Director of Strategy and Learning. Kaz joined the Centre in January 2022.

Kaz brings a depth of research experience from previous roles as the Director of the Centre for Research in Health and Society at the University of Cumbria and Head of Research at Brathay Trust. Kaz is well-grounded in work with young people, having been a practitioner and manager in primary, secondary and special education, as well as social care, youth work, and outdoor education. These experiences fuel her passion for high quality services enabling young people to flourish.

Kaz specialises in impact measurement methodologies that are equitable and meaningful to young people and the organisations that serve them.

Kaz will be leading on the development of the Centre’s organisational strategy, overseeing the growth of our quality and training work, and further extending our communities of practice.

Sope Otulana

Sope is the Centre's Director of Programmes and joined us in April 2022.

Sope brings expertise in research, evaluation, and programme design in the UK and abroad. She is an experienced mixed methods researcher, focusing on youth and adolescence, poverty and inequality, gender, equity, and inclusion.

Prior to joining the Centre, Sope was Head of Research and Impact at Mission 44, a charitable foundation supporting young people from underserved communities to achieve their potential. As part of the start-up team, Sope led on the development of Mission 44’s Theory of Change, and the launch of research partnerships. She has previously led research, evaluation, and policy work at Youth Futures Foundation, the International Labour Organisation, and has delivered projects for the FCDO, USAID, and UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Sope will lead the design and development of the Centre’s portfolio of programmes, working and collaborating with Project Leads in the delivery of the Centre’s work to support the youth sector.

Helen Taylor

Helen is the Centre's Director of Development, and joins us on secondment from OnSide.

Helen brings a wealth of sector experience from her role as Director of Policy, Partnerships and Impact at OnSide and her previous position as Chief Executive at Mahdlo, the OnSide Youth Zone in Oldham which she led from inception through its first 3 years of growth. Helen is currently a trustee on the Wigan Youth Zone Board. Prior to this she was Operations Director at a Groundwork Trust leading the Community, Youth and Education teams. She is a qualified youth worker and has been a practitioner in youth work and community development in Manchester and Salford.

Helen will be working with the Centre's Senior Leadership Team to create momentum for change around impact measurement across the youth sector.

Anna Hamilos

Anna is the Centre’s Head of Engagement and will be with us until February 2023.

Anna is a passionate, empathic individual with an ability to lead agile innovation programmes that result in positive social impact. Empowering young people has been at the heart of Anna's career, from her work at the GLA, London 2012, and CABE. Last summer, Anna was selected for the prestigious Clore Experienced Leadership course, and received 360 Feedback, where she received top marks as an Empowering Enabler, a Courageous Changemaker, and a Focused Strategist. Before joining the Centre for Youth Impact, Anna was a Senior Associate with Collaborate CIC and a Senior Relationship Manager (Combined Arts and Dance). Prior to that Anna was the Head of Y Lab (Nesta's public service innovation lab for Wales), where she led the design and delivery of major programmes.

As our Head of Engagement, Anna will be supporting us to engage with partners and young people in order to ensure our work is meaningful, relevant and useful to youth provision and settings.

Simon Frost

Simon is the Centre’s interim Head of Education and Training and joined the team in August 2022.

Prior to this role, Simon worked for YMCA George Williams College for 20 years developing, managing, and delivering professional training, and working with students and organisations across the youth and community sector. Simon’s background in the philosophy of education and youth work has been a strong influence in his writing and research, and continues to drive his commitment to values-centric practice. In his role as Interim Head of Education and Training, Simon will be developing training programmes, resources and support packages, designed to support quality practice, with a particular focus on socio-emotional development in young people.

Outside of work, Simon is a keen tennis player whose aspirations far outweigh his natural ability. He is also a gigging keyboard player working with several local bands and recording artists.

Vin Pachu

Vin Pachu is the Centre's Head of Operations and joined us in August 2022.

Vin joined our Senior Leadership Team as Head of Operations in August 2022, a new post created to aid the operational running of the organisation. 

Vin brings expertise in operational management and strategy, having spent many years aiding the growth of several start-up businesses and consulting in business and digital transformation. He will be leading on operational strategy and performance, as well as championing continuous improvement of the charity’s operational practices.

Vin currently sits on both the Nominations Committee and Members and Appeals Committee for Amnesty International UK, and has spent many years volunteering in roles supporting homelessness prevention, human rights activism, refugees, grant funding, and as a business mentor for the Princes Trust. 


Catherine Mitchell

Catherine is the Centre's Organisational Learning Lead, and joined the team in August 2019 following the transfer from Generation Change.

Prior to this role, Catherine has worked in youth social action at Student Hubs, most recently leading on the organisation’s people and culture, programmes, and impact work.

In her work as Programme Manager, she oversees delivery of our 12 month improvement programme for youth organisations, ensuring all organisations are well supported through their journey and working closely with the Centre to bring together learning on best practice. Catherine is particularly interested in how we learn and share across networks, and how the sector can support both individuals and teams to thrive and create impact through meaningful activities.

Outside of work, Catherine enjoys running and boxing, borrowing other people’s dogs, and helping to organise live, intimate gigs in the local community.

Hannah Borkin

Hannah Borkin is the Centre's Research and Evaluation Lead and joined us in February 2022.

Previously, Hannah was a mixed-methods researcher for Advance HE, a higher education agency that works to improve equality, diversity and inclusion for staff and students in universities and colleges in the UK. Hannah also manages the secretariat and research function of the Disabled Students’ Commission; an independent, strategic group with responsibility for advising higher education providers to improve support for disabled students. She greatly enjoyed working directly with students and similarly looks forward to improving experiences for young people here at the Centre. 

As our Research and Evaluation Project Manager, Hannah will draw on her expertise of innovative and equitable research methodologies and large-scale impact evaluations to help shape and deliver the Centre’s work to design, test and implement practice-aligned research and evaluation. 

Outside of work, Hannah enjoys running, baking and spending time as an auntie to her wonderful nieces and nephews.

Josef Fischer

Josef is the Centre’s Digital Products Lead and has worked at the Centre since June 2019.

Previously, Josef worked in the further education sector and was responsible for support provision for learners with disabilities, mental health difficulties, and learning differences as well as students with welfare and safeguarding concerns. Understanding the critical role that high quality data plays in planning, delivery and evaluation led Josef to roles in data analysis, web application development, and data modelling in the UK and Europe.
Josef’s role at the Centre is to assist the team to efficiently collect, analyse and model its data in order to draw meaningful insights that can inform research and practice development. Josef is also working on web applications that will share insights with the Centre’s partners in a collaborative manner.
Josef is a keen walker and will happily climb mountains if placed before him. Passionate about the role of science in the environment, computation and politics, Josef will read and watch anything that provides new information and insights in this landscape.

Jo Hickman Dunne

Jo is Project Manager and the lead for the Centre’s work on youth voice. She joined us in December 2019

Prior to this, Jo’s love of research led her to completing a Ph.D in youth experiences of outdoor education (the option to conduct research whilst canoeing and camping was an attraction too). Jo has developed her knowledge of the youth sector through working for the Outward Bound Trust, and also currently teaches human geography at Loughborough University.
Jo supports the Centre’s research and insight activity, working across our portfolio of projects to analyse and communicate the data we collect. Jo is particularly interested in understanding how young people experience and access youth services and how we can use research to centralise youth voices in the development and implementation of youth provision.
When not at work, Jo can usually be found running… everywhere. She doesn’t like to spend too much time sitting down

Hannah Warsame

Hannah is the Centre’s Communications Manager and joined the Centre in February 2021.

Hannah joined the Centre in February 2021 and is responsible for our day to day comms activity and leads on strategic comms planning for external projects.

With a background in PR, media relations and digital comms spanning over six years across the charity, arts and tech sectors, Hannah specialises in audience and engagement, helping nascent and mid-sized organisations create and deliver impactful campaigns, and strengthen their online and public profiles. She has also led and executed comms and media strategies for high profile events and figures, including influencers, government officials and Royal households. Outside of work, Hannah is a keen playwright and writer, previously holding a three-year residency at the Old Vic Theatre in London.

Soizic Hagege

Soizic is the Centre's Enterprise Development Manager and leads our Enterprise Development Programme. Soizic joined the Centre in March 2021.

Soizic is an entrepreneur expert and project manager with extensive experience and a passion for making a difference through transformative learning experiences, diversity and inclusion endeavours, and impactful entrepreneurship.

She has led an array of programmes, roles, and events from the capital of the United States to the jungle of Panama, and has taught enterprise development to American MBA students in South Korea, to Brazilian students in the USA, and to many more throughout Central and South America. She has also done research in Ecuador, Tunisia and the EMEA region, and helped cross-sector and corporate partnerships grow in the UK.

Zunaira Mahmood

Zunaira Mahmood is the Centre's Research and Projects Assistant, and joined us in September 2021

Zunaira joined the Centre in September 2021, with a background in social sciences research and a particular interest in social mobility through education.

Zunaira supports our Organisational Research Lead and assists on Centre-wide research projects. Prior to joining us, Zunaira was involved with grassroots charity 'IntoUniversity' as part of their mentor programme and worked alongside her university as a widening participation ambassador. 

Maneesha Sharma

Maneesha is our PA to CEO, and joined the team in January 2022.

Maneesha provides operational support to the Centre's growing team and is PA to the Centre's CEO, Bethia McNeil. Maneesha's background is in project and programme delivery across the charity sector. In her spare time, she can be found creating tapestries, oil painting and spending quality time with family and friends

Our Associate Network

The team is supported by a committed network of associates who strengthen our work with their specialist knowledge and expertise. We are currently looking to work with  freelancers who have skills, knowledge and experience in one or more of the following areas:

  • Evidence, impact, evaluation and improvement in social programmes
  • Collective impact and shared measurement approaches
  • Scoping and developing shared data solutions
  • Building communities of practice
  • Youth-focused public policy and system dynamics
  • Familiarity with both qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Training and facilitation

The full associate role description can be found here.

For more information on becoming an associate with the Centre, please contact us at

Louisa Thomson

Louisa is a freelance consultant specialising in social research and evaluation. She is working with the Centre as a Research Fellow. 

Louisa was previously Head of Consultancy at Renaisi. She oversaw the Consultancy team’s portfolio of projects working with a diverse range of clients including Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Esmee Fairbairn, the National Lottery Community Fund, Impact on Urban Health, Barnardo’s and Defra.

Louisa’s expertise is in qualitative methods, working with diverse groups of participants from service users to senior managers in organisations. She has supported organisations of all shapes and sizes to develop their evaluation capacity and embed learning in their day-to-day operations.

Earlier in her career, Louisa worked for the Office of Public Management, the Local Government Association and The Young Foundation. She has a PhD in social policy that examined contested youth work policy agendas and was part funded by the National Youth Agency.  

Outside of work, Louisa can mostly be found on her bicycle, by the coast or up a mountain.

Tom Burke

Tom is a freelance consultant working with organisations to amplify their impact, voice, and effectiveness. He is working with the Centre as a Research Fellow.

As a teenager, Tom was actively involved in child rights and youth work organisations and he has a long history of engagement in the youth sector domestically and globally. He is an experienced freelance consultant working with organisations leading research and evaluation projects; wider capacity development and training; and providing interim leadership. He focuses his work on child rights, youth participation; equity, diversity and inclusion; and safeguarding.He has previously Interim Executive Director at the Centre for Youth Impact and an associate of YMCA George Williams College. He has worked for the Children’s Rights Alliance for England and was previously Deputy CEO at Y Care International, the international development agency of the YMCA in the UK & Ireland. He holds a PgDip Educational and Social Research Methods from the Institute of Education.Outside of work, Tom spends most of his time with friends eating and drinking with a pretence of theatre, film, clubbing and the occasional country walk.