Alison Baum CEO and Founder

Alison Baum, CEO and Founder

Alison is an Oxford University science graduate with a background at the BBC where she worked on programmes including Horizon and Tomorrow’s World, communicating key scientific and medical breakthroughs. She has used her leadership and executive production experience to pioneer the development of innovative resources including DVDs, art and mobile apps to support the emotional and physical transition to parenthood.

Before launching Best Beginnings, Alison set up an internet-based social enterprise called Express Yourself Mums, providing information and products for new mothers. In 2006, she founded Best Beginnings and wasted no time: within just four weeks, the charity formed and led a coalition of more than 35 organisations, including five Royal Colleges and UNICEF, to lobby for the implementation of the Breastfeeding Manifesto. A year later, Alison won the Sheila McKechnie Foundation award for Health and Social Campaigner of the Year. In 2014, Alison was awarded CPHVA Campaigner of the Year and Woman of Democracy. In January 2017 she was awarded an OBE for services to Tackling Child Health Inequalities.

Twitter: @alisonbaum

Pamela Jones, COO

Pamela is a UK London city veteran, having worked for Investment Banks and Brokerage houses globally for the last 25 years. She is passionate about representation within the financial services sector and works  with organisations to build a robust ecosystem to support, mobilise and promote  equality and diversity. Working with senior leaders and CEO’s to ensure the equality  imperative is part of the overall business and sustainability strategy.  

She is an advocate and thought leader for the advancement, wellness and leadership  of women and girls. She is a coach and mentor to senior women in leadership roles  within the financial services sector. Pamela is passionate about the education and  representation of the younger generation, with specific focus on black girls, and  works with schools to organise mentoring, wellness, resilience, and career  aspirational events.  

Pamela is the current Chair of Women in Listed Derivatives London (WILD) this  organisation promotes networking and relationship-building among women within  the OTC (Over the Counter) and Listed Derivatives industry through social and  educational events.  

Pamela was voted Financial Times Top 5 Female HERoes Future Leaders 2018 and Brummell’s Inspirational Women City Pioneer 2018.

Twitter: @GCTransform

Agnes Agyepong, Head of Engagement

Agnes is the Head of Engagement at Best Beginnings. Alongside this she is the Guys and St Thomas Hospital's Maternity Voices Partnership Chair and a School Governor where her work is centred around early years development. 

In 2018, she founded The GLOMAMA Awards, a prestigious annual awards celebrating the achievements of mums on social media, which encourages mothers to rediscover their "Glow" after pregnancy. She sits on the NIHR ARC Maternity and Perinatal Mental Health PPI strategy committee, is a founding member of the Maternity Mental Health SEL steering group and a Healthwatch Lewisham Committee member.

Agnes has a BA (Hons) Public Relations and Communications Degree and a Master's in International Relations from Queen Mary University London. Prior to operating within the maternal health and early years development space she was a Recruitment Consultant for a leading global FTSE 250 recruitment company within the IT and then Oil and Energy sector. Agnes is passionate about developing better intercultural awareness and communication within our sector and ensuring the rights of women, mothers, and children are protected. 

Email: [email protected]

Matthew Black

Matthew Black, Head of Digital

Matt has been with Best Beginnings since May 2017. Initially working in operations and embedding project delivery, he has since moved into Digital Projects to manage agile product development and evolution of Best Beginnings' digital roadmap. Matt prioritises data and effective collaboration in his work, and strives to combine these elements into delivering accessible tech.  

Born and raised in Bermuda, Matt studied Modern Languages at Durham University. His passion for languages has taken him all over South America, where he worked for a fundraising cooperative in Buenos Aires that connects local charities with international funding bodies. After graduation Matthew dipped his toes into the world of financial audit before finding his way to Best Beginnings where he has had the opportunity to work on a diverse set of projects and effect the positive change that drives him.

Email: [email protected]

Nilushka Perera

Nilushka Perera, Head of Evaluation, Impact and Policy

Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Nilushka joined the Best Beginnings family after completing her Master’s degree in Public Health in 2016. With a strong interest in research, behavioural health and a background in Psychology, Nilushka is the Evaluation and Impact Lead for Best Beginnings where she explores the impact of all the charity’s work through a public health and wellbeing lens. Nilushka has worked with multiple communities, encompassing children, parents, health professionals and corporate organisations. She also has experience in teaching and working with rehabilitating communities dealing with conflict and disaster in Sri Lanka.

She spends her free time singing, travelling and reading.

Email: [email protected]

Stephanie Knowles, Finance Director

Stephanie is a Chartered Accountant with 15 years post qualification experience, following her training with PwC as a Charities Specialist. She has been working with Charities, SMEs and Start Ups as a Finance Director for several years, as well as being a Charity Trustee and School Governor. In recent years she has worked with a focus on women's health charities and companies. She has a passion for driving forward the aims of the Charity by maximising value and reducing risks.

Stephanie has two children who keep her busy in her free time.

Email: [email protected]

Communications, Content and Digital

Jake Elgood Field, Digital Lead

Jake became part of the Best Beginnings team in September 2019 as a Digital Product Manager. His main focus is the Baby Buddy app, ensuring it delivers on the needs of its users as well as thinking ahead to the future in terms of ways it can improve.

He grew up in London then studied History at the University of York. After graduating he worked for two years at a startup, before joining Best Beginnings. His greatest achievement is probably reaching the dizzy heights of number one in England in the official Fantasy football league.

Email: [email protected]

Stephanie Kronson, Early Years Digital Partnership Manager

Stephanie's 25 year career spans advertising, film producing, public relations, event management and communications. She joined Best Beginnings in 2016 and became head of Communications Content and Digital until May 2020, when she left to pursue other professional interests as a consultant working in the corporate, public health and charity sectors: from corporate communications through acquisition and culture change to supporting the growth of equity, diversity and inclusion in public health communications.

Stephanie is also a published author of two children's picture books and a mother of two. Alongside these professional pursuits, Stephanie has embarked on study in Behaviour Economics. Stephanie will be helping to drive the Early Years Digital Partnership forward to its next stage of development, for a fixed term, until April 2021.

Email: [email protected]

Jenny Mcleish

Jenny Mcleish, Content Writer

A qualified barrister, committed to working to improve the lives of disadvantaged families, Jenny joined Best Beginnings in 2011 as a researcher, writer, advisor, trainer and campaigner. Her areas of expertise include inequalities affecting young parents, migrant parents and parents living with mental illness, with a broader focus on maternity services, volunteer and peer support, poverty and nutrition.

She has been part of diverse projects such as the national evaluation of Sure Start, the NICE committee on nutrition for low income pregnant women and children, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s work on pregnancy- and maternity-related discrimination in the workplace.

Alongside her role at Best Beginnings, Jenny is a Health Services Researcher at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University, and is studying for a PhD on perinatal mental health and peer support at City University, London. She is also the Strategic Coordinator for the National Teenage Pregnancy Midwifery Network. She finds that having one foot in the voluntary sector and the other in the academic sector enables creative cross-fertilisation. Like the rest of the Best Beginnings team she could do with few extra hours in each day!

Nicola Cadbury, Content Lead

Nicola joined the Best Beginnings team in February 2020 as Content Lead to develop engaging, accessible and evidence-based content for the Baby Buddy parenting app. Previously she worked as Senior Policy and Communications Manager for the National Literacy Trust, focusing on influencing work related to language, communication and literacy development in the early years. Prior to that she led campaigns at ActionAid, including the Tax Justice campaign and the Send My Friend to School coalition. This campaign contributed to the UK government becoming the leading global education donor and engaged over a million young people in the UK, supporting them to develop as confident campaigners.

Nicola’s voluntary sector career includes extensive experience across communications, campaigning, fundraising and partnerships work. She is passionate about tackling inequalities and ensuring that every child is able to realise their rights to nurturing care, health and education.     

Email: [email protected]

Rupert Housden, Content Officer

Rupert is yet another international team member. He was born in Melbourne, Australia and then raised in Cork, Ireland from the age of nine. Now living in London for the last three years, he has been following his interests in creative media, while also travelling around the globe, working in sustainability management. Best Beginnings inviting him in as Content Lead has proven to be the perfect mix of these two paths: working to benefit communities whilst continuing to use and hone his creative skills.

Email: [email protected]

Rebecca Liss, Communications Officer

Rebecca is the Communications Officer at Best Beginnings, assisting the communications team and supporting the creation of content across our social channels. She completed a degree in Philosophy, Ethics and Religion at the University of Leeds. Rebecca previously worked for a human rights law firm on their marketing and fundraising projects, which fuelled her desire to work for an organisation that focuses on eliminating the social inequalities that exist in our society. Rebecca hopes to make a real impact on the lives of disadvantaged families during her time with Best Beginnings.

Email: [email protected]

Embedding Programme

Anoushka Kohli, Delivery Team Project Coordinator

Anoushka started as a volunteer during summer 2019, and is delighted to now be a permanent member of the team. As Delivery Team Project Coordinator, Anoushka is responsible for overseeing the organisation of training sessions and workshops for some of the amazing Best Beginnings projects. Anoushka hopes that her work will help the team meet their desired targets and, most importantly, reach those who can benefit the most from the work that Best Beginnings does. 

Email: [email protected]

Hazel MeyerHazel Meyer, Consultant Facilitator

Hazel is born and bred in South Africa. After an eleven-year gap from employment, spent raising her children, she decided to move away from relief and development work and requalified as a Breastfeeding Counsellor. She worked for three and a half years with the Health Visiting service in Kingston-Upon-Thames as an Infant Feeding Support Worker where she helped them achieve Stage 2 of Baby Friendly accreditation and set up a breastfeeding peer support programme. She is currently setting up another breastfeeding peer support programme in Surrey, is Chair of her local Maternity Voices Partnership group, and lectures student midwives at Kingston University on breastfeeding.

Hazel joined Best Beginnings as a consultant facilitator in April 2016, which enables her to follow her passion of getting multidisciplinary groups together to ensure that parents are getting the best support they can possibly get along their parenting journey.

Cathy Williams

Cathy Williams, Consultant Facilitator

Cathy originally trained as a primary school teacher. She then went on to manage a Sure Start children's centre for eight years. During this time, she delivered parenting courses and baby massage, provided breastfeeding support, and co-wrote a postnatal course which is delivered county-wide. Cathy has worked for many years as a volunteer supporting new parents, including as a breastfeeding peer supporter. She now works independently offering antenatal and postnatal courses and retreats.

Sandra Griffiths

Sandra Griffiths, Consultant Facilitator

Sandra, who hails from the West Midlands, has spent over 20 years creating and delivering innovative and sustainable programmes, campaigns and events to support the health and mental wellbeing of minority ethnic communities in London, particularly working with those from Africa and the Caribbean.

In 2010 Sandra founded ‘Red Earth Consultants Limited’ a public health consultancy, which facilitates social change and promotes dialogue to improve the mental wellbeing of marginalised and racialized communities in the UK. 

Since 2012, Sandra has also been working across the UK as a consultant and coordinator for ‘Time to Change’, a national campaign tackling mental health stigma. She has worked as a consultant in partnership with the NHS, associated mental health charities, a wide variety of third sector organisations and stakeholders to enhance their capacity to achieve their goals and improve health outcomes. This has been done by reviewing and developing strategies and policies, undertaking research and delivering equality training and engagement programmes.

Sandra joined the Best Beginnings team in August 2017 and has been instrumental in framing the Perinatal Mental Health module of our embedding process.

Mary Newburn, Project Manager

Mary Newburn is a consultant working in project management, service development and change, training, multi-disciplinary team work, maternity services, and patient and public involvement and engagement in research.
She has led projects for the Royal College of Midwives; NHS England; City, University of London; Midwifery Unit Network; King’s College London, London Maternity Clinical Network and works with the National Institute for Health Research as a reviewer and on the Applied Research Collaboration programme. Prior to working independently, Mary worked for NCT charity, as Head of Research and Information. She is a mentor for chairs of Maternity Voices Partnerships. She is now working with Best Beginnings, at King’s College London and is a member of the Maternity Transformation Stakeholder Council.

Email: [email protected]

 Sheba Choudhury, Project Coordinator

Sheba is a passionate community development worker, who completed her degree in Community Sector  Management with a passion to tackle health inequalities in the community. Having left the banking trade where she worked as a Senior Customer Adviser for 13 years with various management experience decided to do her degree in 2007 in order to help understand community development work. Sheba enjoys working with the community to improve health and develop new strategy to help people.

Sheba started working in the community in 2009 and worked as a Project Manager on the Maternity Voices partnership project in 2015 as she is passionate about shaping the maternity services.

In June 2019 Sheba was headhunted by Best Beginnings to coordinate a new exciting project called the Parent Leaders Project in Newham. Best Beginnings embarked on an ambitious three-year project, reaching vulnerable and at-risk communities in Newham and Birmingham.  The  Parent Leaders Project engages pregnant women and new parents from disadvantaged communities in improving their health and wellbeing, with the support of Baby Buddy Community Champions.

Email: [email protected]

Evaluation and Research

Rose Davidson, Policy and Impact Lead

Rose joined Best Beginnings as a volunteer in 2018 before moving into her role as Policy and Impact lead in February 2019. Born and raised in London, Rose moved to South Africa after school where she studied Politics, History and Transitional Justice. During this time, and whilst working at a charity addressing HIV and gender based violence, Rose developed an interest in health inequalities and their determinants. She completed a Masters in Medical Anthropology at UCL where her dissertation explored factors affecting the use of perinatal mental health services within a highly deprived community in Cape Town. 

At Best Beginnings Rose has found a fun-loving and nurturing environment in which to affect positive change for families in the UK as well as to learn and develop new skills in evaluations, policy and community development. 

Email: [email protected]

Alison Spiro, Health Visiting and Breastfeeding Lead

Alison became involved with Best Beginnings after she met Alison Baum in 2006 at the opening of a breastfeeding café in an ethnically diverse North London borough. She trained peer supporters to work in these support groups, and they represented the local community, speaking over 20 local languages. She worked as a health visitor for 20 years and a specialist in breastfeeding for 10 years, when she also seconded to a local hospital. Anne used Bump to Breastfeeding DVD and Small Wonders when training community and hospital staff, and these helped both trusts to become Unicef Baby Friendly accredited.

Anne holds a PhD in social anthropology and completed her field work in India. She was awarded the Julie Crawford Award for services to breastfeeding and the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s Award for outstanding service. Anne currently represents Best Beginnings on the Baby Feeding Law Group, the World Breastfeeding Trends initiative, the Breastfeeding Alliance and the APPG on Infant Feeding and Inequalities. She is a professional advisor for the Institute of Health Visiting, an honorary lecturer at Brunel University and volunteers in local breastfeeding support groups.

Finance and HR

Stephen Harris

Stephen Harris, Finance Manager

Stephen is originally from Sydney. He is with us as an interim finance manager, and helping to move our financial operations into the cloud. Stephen also does similar work for other charities in London. When he isn't here, Stephen tries to get himself out to North Devon and Cornwall for a paddle at any one of our famous surfing beaches. 

Katarina Kent

Katarina Kent, Finance & Office Administrator

I’ve been working for Best Beginnings since January 2017 as an administrative assistant for the office and finance department. My educational background is in economy and social work. I have a strong interest in medicine and psychology too. I am a mother of three beautiful children and understand all the challenges which parenthood can bring, so Best Beginnings is close to my heart.

Email: [email protected]

Rhiannon Jones, EA to the CEO Office

Rhiannon is a Welsh Music graduate who wrote her dissertation on Music Therapy and ASD. Rhiannon is passionate about all things music, and is very excited to be a part of the Best Beginnings team. In her spare time, Rhiannon loves visiting Wales and walking the coastlines

Email: [email protected]

Maternity Voices Partnership

Tara Martin, Maternity Voices Partnership Coordinator

As Maternity Voice Coordinator, my aim is to reduce any gaps in inequity and service for women and new mothers across the borough by keeping language simple and inclusive for all. 

Email: [email protected]