Home > Mission > People



Essie North


Essie is Big Change’s CEO (currently on maternity leave) and oversees the work across our three key strands: backing projects, working with allies to catalyse system change and building a community to work together to rethink how we set up all young people to thrive in life.

Essie’s focus has been change and transformation in different iterations throughout her career. It started with a degree in psychology as the field shifted from fixing problems to understanding human thriving, extended into strategy consulting working with a network of 500 leading global businesses around how to transform from traditional hierarchies to networked approaches, and then shifting to working with leaders and social enterprise driven by purpose around system change. 

Shamelessly idealistic, she likes nothing more than travelling, meeting people and experiencing new things and perspectives.

*Essie is now on maternity leave and will be returning in 2021. In the meantime, our Community Director Noah Devereux will be stepping in as CEO and our Operations Director Noah Bernstein will be stepping in as our COO. If you’re not sure which Noah you need, please get in touch with our team coordinator who can point you in the right direction.*

Show more

Noah Bernstein

Operations Director

Noah is a start-up specialist with over 10 years’ experience across the public and private sectors, splitting his time between the UK and sub-Saharan Africa. He’s worked with the Nike Foundation, Girl Effect, Médecins Sans Frontières, WJR and the German government setting up and then scaling programmes that fuse innovation and sustainability in support of the greater good. When not dotting i’s and crossing t’s, Noah’s implementing flexible, partner-oriented solutions. Noah’s the proud father of three rowdy boys and Chair of the fast-growing charity Goods For Good.

Show more

Noah Devereux

Community Director

Noah, a.k.a Captain Strive, joined Big Change in its infancy in 2013. After University, Noah worked with anti-poaching units in Kenya, ran a ski company in France and worked at Pagefield Communications in London. Co-founding Strive with Sam Branson, Noah is responsible for managing Big Change’s amazing community, bringing new donors to the table, ensuring current donors have a positive and impactful experience of giving, and for creating amazing event experiences (Strive being one of them). In his spare time Noah is dad to a little boy, meaning striving is part of his home life as well!

Show more

Caitlin Ross

Impact Manager

Caitlin leads on the identification, funding and support of our pioneering project partners in the UK. She also leads on Big Change’s impact strategy, making sure we gather the insights we need to keep growing and learning, both as a charity and as a funder. Caitlin has a frontline background in microfinance and in youth work, working on the ground with organizations in Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. She brings her experience delivering scalable, impact-focused interventions to Big Change’s grant giving and impact work to support pioneers who are helping young people thrive in life.

Show more

Freddie Morton-Hooper

Community Manager

Freddie is our Community Manager and works with Noah (our Community Director) to help grow an engaged, informed and actively contributing community of Big Changers. Freddie’s always worked in small teams that punch above their weight, and is a firm believer in the power of uniting diverse networks of people to create long-term, positive change in the world. He’s passionate about the arts, sport, travelling, food, food and food some more.

Show more

Sarina Hancock

Team Coordinator & Special Projects

With a background in design, Sarina helps to bring the Big Change culture and experience into all that we do. A planner by nature and nurturer at heart, she is passionate about cultivating a vibrant, supportive workplace for great work to flourish and keeps everything running smoothly. Having worked across a wide range of unique projects and events across the globe it was her role launching a pioneering pilot project to reduce the population of disease-spreading mosquitoes in the Caribbean that lured her into the non-profit sector.

Show more

Eloise Haylor

Network Activation Manager

Eloise supports Big Change on strategy and international partnerships. She is a proud Geographer, who loves connecting ideas, people and places. An advocate of the transformative potential of youth action and the power of empathy, she previously worked at Project Everyone to build the World’s Largest Lesson initiative in partnership with UNICEF, which has shared the Sustainable Development Goals with millions of children in 40+ languages. Eloise is happiest on the move, having recently returned to the UK from Colombia she is always ready to dance.

Show more

Caireen Goddard

Director of Network and Systems Change

Caireen leads Big Change’s system change strategy in the UK, which is centred on the creation of a new Co-mission on the Purpose and Future of Education in England. She also facilitates work to gather and share insight from our network of allies in order to maximise their collective impact. With a background in communications and engagement, Caireen also leads the development of key messages and the creation of storytelling opportunities around our #hopes4ed. For over 20 years Caireen has worked on learning, strategy, network and innovation projects with schools, local authorities, charities, various national bodies and central government, including the Arts Council, Health Foundation, Innovation Unit, and the Department for Education. Caireen is also mum to two teenage boys and lives by the sea in Brighton, UK.

Show more

Phil Nevin

Trustee Board Chairman

Phil’s background is in property development. He recently co-founded x+why, a flexible member’s workspace whose purpose is to change the way the world works for good. He balances this with his responsibilities as Chairman of Big Change. Having organised the world record breaking ‘Caterpillar Run’ in 2010, which Big Change originated from, his involvement is now focused on helping guide the organisation towards achieving scale and creating positive cycles of change benefiting young people in the UK.

Show more

Matt Isaacs

Matt Isaacs has made a massive contribution to Big Change through personal financial contributions, advice and connections. He also created and manages the Strive Catalyst Circle; a group of former participants from our STRIVE Challenge events who continue to support Big Change in one of the most powerful ways possible – by contributing to our core costs. This ensures that every penny we fundraise goes to creating real impact.

Show more

Holly Branson

Holly splits her time between working as an active member of the Leadership team at Virgin Management (focusing on the purpose of the group and making Virgin the best place to work) and philanthropic activities – she is Chair of Virgin Unite, a Trustee and Founder of Big Change, and Co-Chair of WE Day UK as well as a patron of Virgin Money Giving. Holly passionately believes in supporting innovative thinkers and grassroots organisations whose big ideas, when brought to scale, will make a real difference in the world.

Show more

Sam Richardson

Sam is passionate about the power of sport. The physical and mental challenges it brings that help people grow and develop. For the past 15 years Sam has worked for the Lawn Tennis Association. His current focus is to develop strategic programmes that support long term growth in participation. In particular, Sam is working on programmes that give more children the opportunity to try tennis. Married to Camilla, he has two children and is a keen runner, triathlete and tennis player. Next physical challenge: a full Ironman!

Show more

Dave Scott

After studying law at the London School of Economics, David qualified as a tax lawyer in the City. Believing that he could do more outside the City walls, David moved to Harbottle & Lewis, a law firm specialising in technology, media and entertainment. He is Head of Corporate Tax and Head of Charities & Philanthropy at Harbottle & Lewis, advising not-for-profit organisations on all charity law issues and also providing philanthropic advice to individuals.

Show more

Rich Perry

Richard has been involved in transforming and building a range of highly successful marketing and branding consultancies, and has provided strategic counsel to world leading brands for some 25 years. Most recently Richard launched Founded in 2012 through which he won the MAA’s Breakthrough Agency of the Year. Before setting up Founded, Richard was part owner and COO at Gyro, a worldwide agency that he helped grow from 6 to 900 people in 17 countries. Richard lives in Surrey with his wife, Amanda, and two daughters. He loves Elvis.

Show more

Beatrice York

Beatrice works full time doing strategy and business development and is involved with a variety of UK charities. Beatrice is dyslexic and passionate about helping young people who learn slightly differently get the best results they can. Since she was 18 she has been an ambassador for Children in Crisis who build schools and provide learning opportunities in conflict zones. Finding the confidence to believe in yourself can be so hard and through Big Change she wants to ensure young people have a chance to feel they can achieve anything.

Show more

Benjamin Hay

Benjamin’s career has spanned start-ups, strategy consulting, the legal profession and philanthropy. He was part of the family at Virgin Group for six years, where he led Strategy and Operations for Virgin Unite. Benjamin is hugely proud to be a trustee of Big Change and he also supports and advises a number of other charities and social enterprises including The Diversity Project Charity, On Purpose, The NewNow and Campaign Against Antisemitism.

Show more

Derek Gannon

In July 2018 Derek stepped into the position of Managing Director, after initially joining Virgin Unite as a Consultant. He was immediately impressed by the sheer scale and enormous scope of the projects the Unite team work to develop. Prior to Unite, he founded a consultancy to work with values-led organisations, as well as foundations and various philanthropists and entrepreneurs. He was COO at Comic Relief and COO at Guardian News and Media where he focused on major business-change programmes.

Show more

Jeremiah Emmanuel

Jeremiah is a prominent youth activist in the London area. In 2013, as Deputy Young Mayor of Lambeth, he founded an organisation called 1BC (One Big Community) which seeks to end youth violence in the streets of London. He also serves as head of the Youth Council for BBC Radio 1, actively trying to target programmes to younger audiences. Deeply motivated and inspiring, Jeremiah is passionate about closing the intergenerational gap and creating fresh, exciting opportunities for young people. He also never fails to get the entire room laughing!

Show more

Morten Albaek

Morten is the Creator and Executive Chairman of Voluntas Group. Before founding Voluntas, he spent several years in the top management of the Danske Bank group and the executive committee of Vestas Wind Systems. As the Vice Chairman of JOE & THE JUICE, one of the fastest growing retail concepts in the world, he holds numerous board positions in international companies and organisations and has also authored four books. Morten offers invaluable perspective and advice and is constantly pushing us to be bigger and better.

Show more

(Lord) Jim Knight

Jim Knight works in education, medtech and as a legislator. He is an expert in politics, leadership, digital disruption, and talent recruitment and development. Jim is the Chief Education and External Officer at TES Global Ltd and is also a founder of XRapid. As a UK government minister his portfolios included rural affairs, schools, digital and employment. He was a member of Gordon Brown’s Cabinet 2009-2011. He is also a visiting Professor at the Knowledge Lab of the UCL Institute of Education and Chair of Whole Education.

Show more

Richard Macklin

Richard is Global Vice Chair of Dentons, the world’s largest law firm. He spent half of his career outside the UK, before returning to London where he led the firm’s M&A department and working as Global Head of Client Relations. Richard speaks on strategy and innovation around the world, is an accredited coach working on a pro bono basis, a promoter of diversity and inclusion in the board room, and sits on a number of advisory and charitable boards. He is passionate about encouraging a growth mindset among all those he comes into contact with.

Show more

Joann McPike

Joann founded THINK Global School – an independent, not-for-profit traveling boarding school that allows students to study in 12 different countries during a four-year high school experience. Now on the Board of Directors for the school, she guides the continual success of students from over 20 countries. In addition Joann is a professional, published photographer whose work has been displayed in Sweden and Australia. As someone passionate about education and familiar with developing and scaling projects, she offers valuable insights to Big Change on how to grow and spread our reach.

Show more

Lord Rumi Verjee

Lord Verjee is a highly successful serial entrepreneur, having founded Domino’s Pizza UK and undertaken high-end property development in London and Rio. Formerly Chairman of Thomas Goode, he now focuses his attention on his charitable work and public life. Founding The Rumi Foundation in 2006, he supports a diverse range of humanitarian initiatives through education, innovation and knowledge building. Chairman of WE UK, member of the Advisory Board for the London 2012 Olympics and was appointed to the House of Lords by HMQ in 2013.

Show more

Jonathan Bullock (aka ‘JB’)

JB is a London based strategic adviser, start-up chairman, angel investor and executive coach. He enjoys applying his experience in building, scaling and transforming operations, working with the world’s premier companies and business people. He has worked for Google, SoftBank, Sky and various other TMT and retail companies.

Show more

Christopher Persson

Chris is a Swedish born entrepreneur and investor. As the Co-Founder of the London Interdisciplinary School (LIS), his latest venture aim to provide a new, innovative University education for that those that want to shape the world, not just fit in. Chris is also a Co-Founder of Bookatable, mentor at Seedcamp and Singularity University. He lives in London with his family.

Show more

Sam Branson

A film maker, adventurer, philanthropist and passionate musician, Sam also founded the Strive Challenge which has seen over 600 participants travel over 6000km, raising £6million pounds for Big Change. As founder of Sundog Pictures he also sits as a non-executive on the board of Virgin Group and Virgin Unite. His passion for adventure and the environment has seen him endure many challenges, including a 1,400 mile dogsled expedition in the Arctic to raise awareness for climate change. He is currently songwriting and performing his songs under his artist name, Love Mafia.

Show more

Isabella Branson

Following her training at LAMDA, Isabella has performed on Film, TV and the stage including hit shows in London’s West End and at The National Theatre. Alongside, she has made short films for charities in London, Haiti, India and Uganda to increase awareness and maximize their fundraising capabilities. Working for Kids Company in London, Isabella saw first hand the challenges faced by young people in the UK. She believes self esteem and self worth are essential to positive development and character based learning is key if young people are to succeed in life.

Show more