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BHA announces new Head of Public Affairs

Naomi Phillips, Head of Public Affairs at the British Humanist Association (BHA), is leaving the BHA after five years to manage the External Relations of the General Pharmaceutical Council.

Pavan Dhaliwal, who has been announced as Ms Phillips’ successor, comes to the BHA having worked in high level advisory and Head of Policy and Public Affairs roles for the past seven years as an equalities and human rights expert with a special interest in youth, criminal justice and education policy, including for the Government of Bermuda, and with race equality organisations the 1990 Trust and Race on the Agenda. She was a founding member of the UK/US collaborative initiative Equanomics UK and is a trustee of CRJ UK, a charity working to tackle disproportionality in the criminal justice system, and of the gender equality organisation The Fawcett Society.

Naomi said, ‘It has been an honour and privilege to work at the BHA and in particular to have the opportunity to lead our policy, public affairs and campaigns work, and to manage the fantastic staff and volunteers of our public affairs department. In the past five years the campaigns and public affairs work of the BHA has boomed. We have only a small staff team to work for our aims of achieving a secular state, and having humanist views heard on the important ethical issues of the day, whether that’s on assisted dying, stem cell research or conscientious objection, helping to shape public debate, discourse and policy and we’ve faced big challenges. In spite of that, we have had some really significant successes of which we and our supporters can all be proud.

‘Crucially, it has not only been our independent work which has taken us forward but our close relationships with others, whether that is with the inspirational members of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group who are tireless advocates for Humanism, with the Humanist Philosophers who make invaluable contributions giving depth and legitimacy to our campaigns work, or with the many coalitions and consortiums and expert groups with whom we work close on issues from Sex and Relationships Education to ending violence against women, to tackling faith-based homophobia.

‘I am proud to have made my own contribution to the work of the BHA in the past few years and thrilled that we have made such an impact on behalf of our members and supporters. I am sure we will continue to go from strength to strength.’

Taking up her new post, Ms Dhaliwal said, ‘I am delighted to be working for the British Humanist Association and to build upon the excellent work that has been achieved here. There are significant challenges and opportunities ahead, particularly in the areas of education, House of Lords reform, and in assisted dying but I am confident that we can engage decision makers and the wider public to represent the views of humanists, and advance secularism in UK public life.’

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said,

‘Naomi has managed and led our campaigns right across the board, from campaigning for secular, inclusive public services, against Bishops in the Lords, and on equal marriage, to abortion rights, assisted dying, and on education. She has managed our media work and been a regular spokesperson for the BHA on local and national television and radio, as well as commenting in print and online. For four years Naomi has also administered the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group and has had responsibility for the BHA’s parliamentary and political engagement, working closely with MPs and Peers from across the parties on legislation, debates, and more, helping to raise the profile of Humanism and other secularist issues in the corridors of power. Her contribution will be viewed with gratitude by all our supporters.

‘Pavan was recruited from a strong field and joins us at a time when her exceptional experience in achieving public policy change, and deep knowledge of equalities policy will be invaluable. We are all looking forward to working with her and to our public affairs work going from strength to strength.’


The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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