Senior Management 

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


Eleanor Munif, COO

Eleanor Munif has joined Best Beginnings as our new Chief Operating Officer. She says I'm thrilled to be joining the team at Best Beginnings, particularly at such an exciting time in its development. I'm really looking forward to being part of this work which makes such a crucial difference for so many children and families.”

Eleanor has worked in operational and leadership roles in the charity sector for the past 15 years. Eleanor's previous roles include Director of Operations at Girls not Brides: the Global Partnership to end Child Marriage; Chief Operating Officer at Redthread, a charity working to end youth violence in the UK; Director of an educational programme supporting disadvantaged children and as a consultant at Deloitte.

Email: [email protected]



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, 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, Head of Evaluation, Impact and Policy

*Nilu is currently on maternity leave​*

Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Nilushka joined the Best Beginnings family in 2016. With a background in Psychology and International Public Health, Nilu is passionate about research and collaboration to strengthen our understanding of reaching communities through the intersections of behavioural health, digital health and inequalities in global health. Nilu is also a Mental Health and Psychosocial Practitioner in Sri Lanka where she is involved in research and development projects to support access to holistic support in diverse communities. In her free time, Nilu enjoys singing, experiencing new places and yoga.

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]


Fundraising 

Amelia Maling, Senior Fundraising Lead

Amelia joined Best Beginnings as Senior Fundraising Lead in 2021. Originally from New Zealand, she has spent the last 20 years in London and Suffolk working with charities in arts, education, health and social care. Amelia is interested in how intersecting inequalities undermine human potential.

She strongly believes that addressing issues facing children and families – especially reducing childhood trauma in the early years - provides the best opportunity to reduce poor mental health, tackle disadvantage and inequality, stop domestic abuse/ violence against women and girls, stop the school-to-prison pipeline and create a more equal society.

A mother of two, Amelia lives in the countryside, paints, swims every day and sits on the Steering Committee for the Women’s Equality Party.

Email: [email protected]



Impact & Evaluation

Jo Brown, Impact, Policy and Evaluation Lead

Jo is from Coventry in the West Midlands and joined Best Beginnings in July 2021 as the Evaluation, Policy and Impact Lead. After a BA in Theology and three years working for the Chevening programme, Jo did her MSc in Global Mental Health at King’s College London and LSHTM. She really enjoys working with a wide range of stakeholder groups and is a strong advocate of co-creation in research. Outside work, Jo enjoys running, Nando’s and musical theatre, and she’s really looking forward to more adventures on the Eurostar!

Email: [email protected]


Mariana Jose Santos da Silva, Evaluation, Impact & Policy Officer

Mariana joined Best Beginnings at the start of 2021 after volunteering with our Evaluation and Impact Team for a few months. Born and raised in a small town in Portugal, Mariana moved to Hong Kong in 2016 to finish school, and then to London in 2018 to study Global Health at university. She has since graduated from the course with a newfound passion for women's health, reproductive justice, and making sure that children especially are given the best chance at life.

Her role involves collaborating with other members of the team as well as liaising with other organisations to put together projects which have a meaningful impact on the community. She is a big believer in taking initiative, seeing the good and trusting the process.

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, Content Writer

Jenny has written the copy for the Baby Buddy app since 2011.  Her career as a researcher, writer, advisor, trainer and campaigner has been dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged families. 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.

 

Alongside her role at Best Beginnings, Jenny is a qualitative 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 of 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 a 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]




Ben White, Senior Video Content Producer

Ben has joined Best Beginnings in October 2021 as our Senior Video Content Producer. Film-making has long been his passion and Ben loves being behind a camera, finding a captivating story. He has been working as a Film Producer, Cameraman and Editor in the NGO sector for 12 years. It is a role that has taken him around the world - to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, the jungles of Myanmar, both sides of the Sahara Desert and to rural areas of Pakistan. 

Email: [email protected]


Delivery 

Samina Yaqub, Head of Delivery

Samina joined Best Beginnings in July 2021 as the Head of Delivery and leads on all programme management ensuring that the voice of seldom heard communities remains at the core of our work to drive positive change enabling every child to have the best start in life. Samina is committed to the principles of social justice and addressing inequalities which have formed the bedrock of her career in the third sector for over 20 years.

Email: [email protected]




Jill Fyfe, Project Coordinator and Baby Buddy Facilitator

An Early Years & Education Specialist, Jill joined Best Beginnings in 2017 to work in ‘Community Outreach’ and facilitation. Jill is currently working across multiple projects. In March 2021, Jill finished work on the ‘See Hear Respond’ project as lead facilitator and a one-to-one therapeutic support worker. Alongside her role at Best Beginnings, Jill is an artist, owns a home décor business and pet supplies business. Jill is soon to publish her collection of children’s books. As a busy mum of 3, Jill is passionate about supporting parents and reaching everyone in the community. Jill is proud to be part of the Best Beginnings family.

Email: [email protected]

Jennifer Ogunyemi, Delivery Lead

Jennifer is a Delivery Lead within the Delivery team at Best Beginnings. She works across a number of key Best Beginnings projects including the East London Maternity Voices Partnership and the Tower Hamlets Women’s Health Group project. 
She is passionate about representation, religious diversity and Inclusion. Jennifer had a 10-year career within the NHS working with diverse and vulnerable communities, which spans from Maternity health, Project management & GP management before joining Best Beginnings and in 2017 she founded Sisters In Business (SIB), the largest & award-winning network of Muslim businesswomen in Europe. Jennifer has dedicated the last 4 years to amplifying the voices of Muslim businesswomen and giving Muslim women the confidence to leave a long-lasting legacy whilst being a visible woman of faith.

Email: [email protected]


Embedding Programme

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.


Evaluation and Research

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, 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, 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]



Khushida Begum, Accounts Apprentice

I initially joined Best Beginnings on the See, Hear, Respond programme and have now had an amazing opportunity to be a part of the finance team as an apprentice. I have huge passion to be working within charities, especially one aimed to give children the best start in life as I have personal experience being a looked after child. I am currently studying AAT Level 3 and hope once completed I am able to move on to Level 4 in the near future.

Email: [email protected]


Nellie Chibhanguza, Finance Assistant

Nellie joined Best Beginnings in February 2021. She is works in the Finance team as a Finance Assistant. Over the years, she has worked across different private sectors holding various roles within the finance and accounting field. Working for and with Best Beginnings has really been invaluable as she is a mother of 2 young children.

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]







Layla Da Silva-Raina, Maternity Voices Chair for Waltham Forest

My name is Layla and I am the maternity voices chair for Waltham Forest. Prior to becoming a mum of 2, I had spent the last few years working as a doula. My role as a doula gave me the honour of being present and supporting mums throughout their labour and birth. These experiences also gave me an insight into the world of maternity, and now I’m more passionate than ever to contribute to improvements that can be made within this field. So far my time at best beginnings has been amazing. All of the team are so supportive in settling me into my new role, and I’m looking forward to exciting journey ahead.

Email: [email protected]


Apshana Haque, Maternity Voices Chair for Tower Hamlets

I am the Maternity Voice Partnership Chair for Tower Hamlets. I have been with Best Beginnings since April 2021 and my role is to help empower the voices of parents in the community, their voice is then used to improve and drive change in the local maternity services.

Email: [email protected]