Senior Staff

Chief Executive – Andrew Copson

Andrew became Chief Executive in January 2010 after five years coordinating the BHA’s education and public affairs work. His writing on humanist and secularist issues has appeared in The GuardianThe IndependentThe Times and New Statesman as well as in various journals and he has represented the BHA and Humanism extensively on television news on BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, as well as on television programmes such as Newsnight, The Daily Politics, Sunday Morning Live and The Big Questions. He has also appeared on radio on programmes from Today, You and YoursSunday, The World TonightThe World at One, The Last Word and Beyond Belief on the BBC, to local and national commercial radio stations.

He is a former director of the European Humanist Federation (EHF) and is currently President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and a trustee of the International Humanist Trust. He has previously served as head of the IHEU delegation to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and has represented humanist organisations to the United Nations (UN) and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). He has advised on Humanism for the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Authority, the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the BBC, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Office of National Statistics among others, and for ten years was a member and then Chair of the Westminster Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education. He was a member of the Advisory Group for the Humanist Library at London’s Conway Hall and, in a previous post in the office of Lord Macdonald of Tradeston in the House of Lords, he provided the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group. He also served for many years as a director and trustee of the Religious Education Council, the Values Education Council, and the National Council for Faiths and Beliefs in Further Education.

Together with A C Grayling, Andrew edited the Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Humanism.

Andrew studied Classics and Ancient and Modern History at the University of Oxford and was a member of the winning team of the 2005 Young Educational Thinker of the Year Programme. He is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an Associate of the Centre for Law and Religion at Cardiff University. He came to the BHA in 2005 from the Citizenship Foundation, where he worked on political literacy projects.

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Director of Public Affairs and Policy – Pavan Dhaliwal

Pavan heads the BHA’s public affairs team, and is responsible for the BHA’s campaigns covering a wide range of issues including public services, equality law, ethical issues, religion and schools, and social cohesion.

Pavan has worked in high level advisory and Head of Policy and Public Affairs roles for the past seven years. She is an equalities and human rights expert with a special interest in youth, criminal justice and education policy.

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Director of Operations – Catriona McLellan

Catriona studied at the University of Dundee and has an MA and MPhil in European Politics. After almost ten years in the money advice sector she joined the BHA where she is responsible for the smooth running of our administration, ICT and finance systems. She has a post-graduate qualification in Charity Management and Finance from London Southbank University, and is an affiliate member of CIPFA as well as a Prince2 practitioner. She is a member of the Central London Humanists, and spends her spare time in art galleries and rock climbing.

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Catriona McLellan

Head of Ceremonies – Isabel Russo

Isabel worked as an actress in theatre, film and television for 20 years before becoming a humanist celebrant in 2009. Isabel then worked as a funeral, wedding and naming celebrant for four years, before taking on Head of Ceremonies at the BHA in May 2013. The role of ritual and storytelling in shaping and influencing community has been a central thread throughout her working life.

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Head of Pastoral Support – Simon O’Donoghue

Simon achieved a BSc in Psychology and Counselling and became a science teacher after completing a PGCE. After several years delivering A-level and GCSE curriculums in a sixth form college, he moved into the civil society sector.

Whilst working for a mental health charity he set up many support groups across the UK for service users and carers and helped campaign on a number of initiatives related to mental health equality. He then went on to be the first male employed by a domestic violence organisation in Cheshire, where he established a refuge for male victims and a voluntary CBT programme for abusive men.

After a year living and working in Berlin as a content writer for an education start-up company and teaching English to school children, he became the BHA’s first full-time Head of Pastoral Support in early 2016.

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Head of Education – Luke Donnellan

Luke is responsible for promoting the understanding of Humanism, especially in formal education settings. He manages the BHA’s school speakers programme; teacher training and CPD; and the production of educational resources. Before joining the BHA, he was a primary school teacher and maths leader. He also worked as a freelance philosophy teacher in both primary and secondary schools, having trained with SAPERE and The Philosophy Foundation. Before his work in education, he was a TV producer and director. He worked on science and history documentaries, and children’s and factual entertainment for the BBC, Channel Five, and CITV, as well as producing educational training materials and classroom video resources for Teachers TV, Channel 4 Learning, and BBC Learning Zone.

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Campaigns Manager – Richy Thompson

Richy Thompson works on issues from across the BHA’s public policy remit. From May 2011 to February 2015 he was the Faith Schools and Education Campaigns Officer, and before that he was the President of the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies. As a student at the University of Oxford he founded Oxford Atheists, Secularists and Humanists and led the organisation of the first Oxford Think Week. Richy is the Treasurer of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, a member of the advisory group of the Sex Education Forum, and on the steering groups of Voice for Choice, the Accord Coalition for inclusive education and the Fair Admissions Campaign. In a personal capacity he is the humanist representative and Vice Chair of Lambeth Standing Advisory Council on RE and on the steering group of Comprehensive Future.

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Richy Thompson

Communications Manager – Liam Whitton

Liam joined in March 2014, after working with the BHA on a number of writing and design projects in 2012 and 2013. He completed his studies at the University of Oxford in 2011 with a BA in English Language and Literature, and subsequently worked in publishing as deputy editor of a legal guide, in addition to freelancing as a copywriter and researcher working with not‑for‑profits.

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Liam Whitton

ICT, Database and Web Manager – Andrew West

Andrew joined in May 2011, after two years volunteering as the BHA’s Photographer-in-Residence. He ran his own IT company for nine years before joining the BHA, and is now responsible for managing the BHA website, its many spin-off websites, the office computers, and the contact database. In 2011 he completed a part-time photography degree, where he spent four years trying to teach his tutors the difference between ‘humanist’ and ‘humorist’. He also represented the BHA on the Fourth Plinth.

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Andrew West