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AVA Trustees

Trustees are the people who ensure that a charity works in the best interests of its mission and beneficiaries. At AVA our trustees are also company directors, as we are a company limited under guarantee as well as a registered charity.

AVA currently has nine trustees.

Ade Solarin

Ade has extensive experience in the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) sector, including development and strategic work, commissioning and multi-agency partnership. He has a MA in Applied Criminology, Community Safety and Youth Justice, and experience in policy research, crime reduction and analysis. Ade is currently the Community Safety Manager at Waltham Forest Council, after almost 10 years leading on VAWG and safeguarding children policy at Lewisham Borough Council.

Alessandro Pascale

Alessandro is a senior manager in consulting at PwC. He specialises in finance and finance transformation in financial services. Alessandro is a chartered accountant (ACCA) in the U.K.

Bridget Symonds

Bridget has worked in a variety of settings over the last 12 years always with a focus on VAWG. She began as a volunteer with rape and sexual violence survivors, then moved into working with substance use survivors, women in prisons and perpetrators of domestic abuse through probation and the family courts. Most recently Bridget has managed refuges and community domestic abuse services for Solace Women’s Aid in London and worked on a national early intervention approach to working with perpetrators of domestic abuse at Respect. Bridget is currently the Head of Women’s Centres at Women in Prison and is passionate about drawing attention to the experience of women impacted by the Criminal Justice System with a particular focus on their experiences of VAWG. Bridget has a MA in Woman and Child Abuse and has given lectures, talks and been interviewed on her expertise around VAWG and perpetrators of domestic abuse. 

Ciara Bergman

Ciara has spent her entire career developing and delivering innovative support services for people with complex needs and vulnerabilities. She started her career working on a series of pioneering forensic mental health projects, and in 2009 joined DVIP – where she ran treatment groups for domestic violence perpetrators and went on to manage the Family Courts Team. Ciara later became a National Practice Lead at Pause, and is currently a Development Manager at Respect, where she is working on an innovative, community-based early response to domestic violence perpetrators, in partnership with Women’s Aid. Drawing on her experience working both as a registered expert witness and on domestic violence perpetrator programmes, Ciara regularly writes and lectures about coercive control and related programme issues.

Deborah Fulcher Cornah

Deborah has over twenty years working in the field of mental health. She works as a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southampton and runs a mental health consultancy that supports those working in the homelessness sector. Her research and evaluation focuses on understanding and preventing the root causes of homelessness and making access to mental health care easier for those who are multiply disadvantaged. She has a passion for ensuring that individuals with lived experience contribute to research and evaluation so that their voices are heard and valued in policy and practice.

Jo Gök

Jo has extensive communications and engagement experience having worked in senior positions, leading high profile issues across four Whitehall departments. Jo is currently Head of News at the British Red Cross. With lived experience of violence Jo is passionate about supporting and elevating the voices of women and girls. 

Joanna Kelly

Jo has been on the board of trustees since September 2015 and became our Chair in September 2017.  Eradicating Violence Against Women and Girls is a cause that is close to her heart as she understands from personal experience the devastating effects it can have on survivors and their families.  Jo works in senior management within the private sector and specialises in business strategy and intelligence, maximising commercial opportunities and managing large projects – including many website redesigns and digital marketing campaigns.  Jo brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from her private sector career to AVA which ensures the effective governance and running of the charity.  She is currently focused on supporting AVA’s management and staff team develop their new Strategic Framework to ensure AVA stays true to its core mission whilst evolving to meet the needs of changing times.

Marie Vickers

Marie is a Deaf BSL user with a variety of lived experiences and facing barriers all her life. Marie has been working in the Deaf community for over 20 years in both domestic abuse and mental health. Marie is passionate about making sure Deaf people are empowered and given equal opportunities same as hearing people. Marie works as a service manager for SignHealth Deaf Domestic Abuse Service and she is also a qualified IDVA.

Natasha Shotunde

Natasha is an award-winning barrister at Garden Court Chambers who advocates for the rights of women, particularly those from minoritised communities. Her family practice encompasses public and private children law, and international children cases. She is passionate about eradicating violence against women and girls and regularly represents victims of gender-based abuse. She sat on the JUSTICE Working Party on Improving Access to Justice for Separating Families. Natasha is the Co-Founder and Chair of the award-winning Black Barristers’ Network (BBN), launched in 2019 to promote the growth of Black barristers through support, visibility and community outreach. She is an elected member of the Bar Council of England and Wales, sitting on the Equality, Diversity and Social Mobility Committee and the Race Working Group. She also sits on the EDI Committee at Lincoln’s Inn. Natasha won the Rising Star award at the UK Diversity Legal Awards 2021 and Highly Commended – Future Leader: Diversity and Inclusion at the Chambers UK Bar Awards in 2020. Furthermore, BBN won Outstanding Network/Group at the Chambers Europe Awards in 2021.

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