Senior staff

Chief Executive – Andrew Copson

andrew-copson-titelAndrew 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). In other humanist roles, he has served as a trustee of the Conway Hall Ethical Society, and is a former chair of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (now LGBT Humanists, and part of the BHA). 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 Conway Hall and, in a previous post in the office of Lord Macdonald of Tradeston in the House of Lords, 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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Incoming Director of Public Affairs and Policy – Richy Thompson

From 1 March 2017, Richy Thompson is the BHA’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy. Richy works on issues from across the BHA’s public policy remit. From 2015 to early 2017 Richy was the Campaigns Manager. From 2011 to 2015 he was the Faith Schools and Education Campaigns Officer, and before that he was the President of the Atheist, Humanist and Secular Students.

Richy is also the Treasurer of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales and represents the BHA on the steering groups of Voice for Choice, the Accord Coalition for inclusive education and the Fair Admissions Campaign. He was formerly a member of the advisory group of the Sex Education Forum and the humanist representative and Vice Chair of Lambeth Standing Advisory Council on RE.

During his time at the BHA, he has proven himself as a formidable campaigner, achieving widespread media coverage and policy change.

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Outgoing Director of Public Affairs and Policy – Pavan Dhaliwal

PavanUntil March 2017, Pavan has headed the BHA’s public affairs team, being 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.

Director of Operations – Catriona McLellan

Catriona McLellanCatriona 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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Director of Community Services – Teddy Prout

Teddy 218Teddy Prout is the Director of Community Services for the BHA. He was a senior leader in education, working in a large academy in West London. He has come to the BHA from Mencap where he led national projects for children and families.

He is now responsible for the strategic development of the services the BHA offers: in education, pastoral support, and ceremonies, and in other aspects of support in the community in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. He is also responsible for development of research and pilot projects to promote the value of the BHA’s services and ensure their continued success.

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Head of Ceremonies – Isabel Russo

Isabel2Isabel 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

SimonODonoghue-218X218Simon 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, Simon set up many support groups across the UK for service users and carers, and he 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

LukeDonnellan-218X218Luke 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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Communications Manager – Liam Whitton

Liam WhittonLiam 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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ICT, Database, and Web Manager – Andrew West

Andrew WestAndrew 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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