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About Us

Irise / About Us

Our Story

In 2011 our founder and CEO, Emily, was doing research with school children in East Africa to identify reasons why they were missing school. Periods came up again and again but at the time there was nothing to help girls overcome this challenge. Irise was founded to create a world where no girl was held back by something as simple, and fundamental as her period. We have rapidly grown from a group of young women in the UK and Uganda with no connections or funding into an international NGO with 16 staff across two continents, reaching over 100,000 girls and working with governments, academics and communities to realise our vision. In 2019 we received the Power Together Award from the Global Women Political Leaders Forum in recognition of our contribution to building a global movement to end period poverty and shame. We dedicated it to our grassroots network of advocates whose passion and perseverance are building a better world for everyone.

Our name is take from the famous Maya Angelou poem “Still I Rise”. Empowerment is at the heart of everything we do.

Our Team

UK Board


Linda Baines

Linda is Chair of our board. She an independent post-doctoral researcher, and a visiting researcher at Southampton Business School (SBS), University of Southampton. She completed her PhD at SBS in March 2016.   In a previous life, Linda worked as a senior manager in the public sector, most recently in the research councils (which fund postgraduate research in the UK and run science and technology facilities).  Linda is an experienced trustee and mentor, and loves books, reading, walking, serendipity and her family.


Catherine Sullivan

Catherine is a chartered accountant with over 10 years post qualified experience, entirely in the charity sector.  She spent 18 months working as Head of Finance for Farm Africa, who work in sub-Saharan Africa (principally in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania) and from 2001 to 2003 was a VSO volunteer in rural Uganda, working in a girls’ school.


Kirstine Szifris

Kirstine is a Research Associate at the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit, Manchester Met with a focus on developing research projects that are both academically meaningful and practitioner relevant.


Chloë Reeves

Chloë is Director at London Road Policy and Projects, an organisation providing expert research and policy analysis with a particular focus on health and social care and a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellow 2018 with over 10 years of research & project management experience. She bring expertise in policy and advocacy to the board.


Joanne Nakakawa-Hampson

Joanne grew-up in Kampala, Uganda. She now lives in Bristol, UK and has delivered projects supporting young people in the UK and Uganda. She has used her own experiences of menstruation and poverty to support Irise’s work since the organisation was founded.


Sophie Rowson

Sophie joined the board as Irise’s first young trustee. She sucessfully completed Irise’s Agent of Change program in 2018 and is currently working as an Interdisciplinary Research Support Assistant at the University of Sheffield.


Falguni Raja

Falguni is a highly experienced leader and clinician with over 20 years success of delivering positive outcomes, working in the public and private sector. She brings experience in programme management, complex operational and change management, transformation, performance improvement, business process redesign, commissioning and business intelligence. Falguni is enthusiastic about reducing inequalities and actively involved in working with diverse communities to improve services for the local population.

East Africa Board


Rose Nakame

Rose is a qualified nurse who has conducted research on how dysmenorrhoea affects the academic life of female students. Her own experiences, coming from a poor background, have inspired her to work to reduce the challenges girls’ face along the road to success. She is also the CEO of AFRIwaste solutions and Founder and Executive Director of REMI East Africa. She completed a YALI Leadership fellowship in 2016 and is currently completing a Masters in public health with the University of Manchester.


Jamila Nabafu

Jamila studied medicine at Makere University and graduated as the most outstanding student in her year. She is now a resident doctor at Aga Khan University Hopsital. Her experiences seeking medical advice as a young woman and of working in a male dominated profession have compelled her to work for a society where men and women enjoy equal opportunity.


Regina Ndagire

Regina is Deputy Head of the Health Department of the Buganda Kingdom. She has been volunteering with a local Women’s Initiative in her village since she was a teenager and her experiences have challenged her to do more to reach out to disadvantaged communities and adolescents.

Leadership Team


Emily Wilson


Emily is a Co-founder and CEO of Irise International. She is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield and expert in menstrual health. Follow her @emswsmith


Calum Smith


Calum has degrees in International Health and Medicine from the University of Bristol and has experience working in Nepal, Uganda and Kenya looking at issues related to global health inequalities.


Lillian Bagala

Regional Director Irise Institute East Africa

Lillian is a Programme design and management Specialist with over 15 years’ experience in youth and leadership development work. Previous roles include Head of Programmes at Center for Constitutional Governance Uganda and Executive Director at  Uganda Youth network-UYONET.


Izela Barlow

Uganda Country Manager

Izela previously worked as National Director of Agency for Cultural Change Management. A UK based Charitable Organisation addressing FGM, Domestic Violence and Community Health and Development Communication Programmes. She brings experience of community engagement and empowerment to the issue of menstrual health.


Professor Steven Julious

Professor of Medical Statistics at ScHARR, the School of Health and Related Research at The University of Sheffield.

Dr Lata Narayanaswamy

Lecturer in International Development at The University of Leeds.

Dr Josie Reynolds


Dr Kirsten Bowles