Our small, expert teams deliver high impact, cost effective work.
Our small, expert teams deliver high impact, cost effective work.
I’m passionate about unlocking the leadership potential in others, harnessing the collective power of diverse teams and driving positive social change.
I’ve been working fulltime as the charity’s CEO since my early twenties, growing the charity from a crazy idea to an international team on two continents that is shaping national policy, global advocacy and reaching thousands of people every year. My highlights of the last decade include receiving the Power Together Award on behalf of Irise from the Global Women Political Leaders Forum in Reykjavik, Iceland (I got to shake hands with their president!) and convening on the UK government’s Period Poverty Taskforce.
I also lived in Uganda for three years, helping to establish our East African led sister organisation, Irise Institute East Africa, returning to the UK when I was eight months pregnant with my beautiful daughter Ena. I am passionate about learning about other cultures, particularly non-Western leadership models and approaches.
Before all of this, I worked as a junior doctor in London. Although I loved being a doctor, I found myself increasingly frustrated with a system that often failed to meet the health needs of women and girls. Irise was born out of the conviction that a female body should not be a disadvantage.
I’ve also held academic posts including Research Associate at Kampala International University in Uganda and Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Sheffield, been a foster carer and served on charity boards. The thing that ties it all together is a desire to build fairer system for everyone.
The way we structure our society and world systematically disadvantages and marginalises large swathes of our global community- limiting our potential to rise to the challenges we face. I believe we can all be part of building something better.- Follow me on twitter @emswsmith
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. Outside of Irise he’s a foster carer, community campaigner and Treasurer for a local board.
Linda is Chair of the 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). She is an experienced trustee and mentor.
Rowena is charity treasurer, and is a chartered accountant with 10 years of experience in charity and private sectors. She is currently based at BBC Media Action, BBC’s international charity working across Asia, Africa, Middle East & Europe. In her current role, as Head of Finance Business Partnering & Analysis, Rowena primarily oversees charity financial planning and forecasting. Her particular interests are in capacity building, mentoring, change management and business intelligence.
Sophie (she/they) joined the board in 2019 aged 23, after 12 months volunteering with us in fundraising and campaigning. Sophie chairs Irise’s Empower Period committee and is deeply passionate about youth-led advocacy and collaborative leadership in the menstrual equality movement. Sophie is a budding health researcher with a particular interest in qualitative participatory and creative methods; she has experience in menstrual health research via her MSc in Human Geography, and currently works at Heeley City Farm in Sheffield, where she is leading a COVID-19 community recovery project.
Gloria is an intersectional feminist with a passion for gender equality in and through education. She has worked for the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, CAMFED – Campaign for Female Education, and the World Health Organization, and has previously lived and worked in Kenya, Togo, and Morocco. Gloria holds a BA in Arabic and French from the University of St. Andrews, and an MSc in Development Management from the London School of Economics. She brings expertise in policy, advocacy, campaigning, research and strategy to the Board, and a commitment to shifting power through meaningful intergenerational partnerships and feminist leadership.
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.
Katie has worked in the youth charity sector for the past 23 years, 17 years of which have been in senior leadership. Most of her working life has been spent in the UK but she started her career working in the United States, China and the Philippines which firmly formed her passion for youth voice, youth rights, community/stakeholder engagement and co-production. She is currently Head of Programmes at The Girls’ Network, a charity that works in the UK to inspire and support girls from the least advantaged communities by connecting them with a mentor and a network of professional role models who are women.
A Kenya based award winning Mental Health professional. Board of Director & Trustee at Restless Development, Founder and Executive Director at Nivishe Foundation.Top 100 most Influential Young Africans 2021.
Director of Programmes & Network Development at Inclusion International, a network of grassroots advocacy organizations fighting for the rights of people with intellectual disabilities and their families. Kimber has a background in international development with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa and is passionate about disability rights, community-led development, and supporting organisations to walk the talk on inclusive practices. Kimber brings experience in programme management, advocacy, accessibility and inclusion, and non-profit management to Irise.
Our Empower Period Committee oversees and supports our work with young people across the UK.
Molly is Founder and Managing Director of the Love Your Period Campaign, a Welsh organisation making sense of women’s health, covering all the things we don’t but should learn in school. My journey into political activism began in 2018, and since then I have worked closely with the Welsh and UK government for period dignity legislation, have worked with organisations all over the world to make a change, run social media campaigns and Menstruation Education guiding a team of 50+ volunteers worldwide. I’m really excited to be joining the Empower Period Committee and working alongside like-minded people.
Ellie has a Masters in Sport Management and Leadership from Cardiff Metropolitan University. Before this, she graduated with her Bachelors in Sport Management and Business Administration from Graceland University, Iowa. She is a Football Development Officer at Essex County FA, Footballer for London Bees, and a UEFA B Licensed Coach. Ellie is particularly passionate about using football/sport as a vehicle for social change and creating inclusive environments For All.
Cynthia is a Sexual, Reproductive Health and Rights Advocate. She is a TuWezeshe Akina Dada Fellow at FORWARD UK and creator of the amazing “Something is Different” book, documenting Nyoka’s first period. You can buy a copy here.
Heather is a student from the University of Edinburgh who volunteers as Advocacy Co-ordinator for Days for Girls UK. She was also part of Irise’s Empower Period Forum which brought together young people from across the UK to create The Period Equality Manifesto.
Nawasha is a feminist activist and researcher from India. She has a master’s in Sociology and currently doing a second master’s in Gender, Violence and Conflict at the University of Sussex. She is associated with the Right to Food Campaign, India. Before coming to the UK, she used to hold campaigns on food security, gender, menstruation, human rights and anti-democratic issues. Her passion resides in examining different types of gender-based violence, gender inequality and forms of daily resistance.
Irise International has been working in close partnership with sister organisation, Irise Institute East Africa (IIEA) for nearly a decade to develop replicable and scalable solutions to the challenges East African girls and young women face because of their periods.
We believe that East African women and girls deserve organisations led by people like them who understand their experiences. That’s why we’ve invested heavily in supporting IIEA to become an independent and autonomous partner in the fight for period equality.
Their independent board meets regularly with Irise International’s board to agree and interpret our shared global strategy and principles. Our mutually agreed Memorandum of Understanding confirms our commitment to our shared goals because we know we’re stronger together.
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.
Irise Institute East Africa Board Chair, Deborah Asikeit is a Lawyer, a Coach, a Trainer, a Mentor, a Certified Project Management professional and a specialist in vocational/skills development – with accreditation from the Directorate of Industrial Training. She has practical knowledge of gender mainstreaming, child protection, strategic planning, project management and organisational capacity building. Over her 13 years in the sector, she has worked across diverse projects from social and environmental safeguarding, governance, human rights, youth and skills development, to higher education and social enterprise with assignments in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.
Joining the IIEA as a board member Finance Treasurer, Carol Namagembe is a Programme development specialist and policy analyst trained in public finance management, results-based management, among others. She is currently working as Programs Manager at Civil Society Budgeting Advocacy Group-CSBAG and has experience spanning over 10 years of work with civil society and government on a broad range including participatory and gender budgeting, project management fundraising and institutional development and sustainability. Highly efficient with strong analytical, networking, and collaborative skills, possesses a high level of integrity and organization, commitment to accuracy, and ability to multitask.
Joining the IIEA as a board member, Samuel is a Program Management and Development Specialist, a Youth Development practitioner by training with over ten years’ experience working with the young people. Both in elective and technical positions, as a Chairperson at the National Youth Council of Uganda for a period of 5 years, before which he worked as a Youth participation officer at Restless Development; a Youth Representative to the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group and 1st Vice President at ICGLR Youth Multifunctional Youth Forum. In regard to consultancy, he has worked on Capacity Development and Training for youth organisations for Synergy Square Consult ltd, undertook a Baseline survey on youth leadership development for International Institute for Rural Reconstruction -IIRR 2017.
Joining Irise Institute East Africa (IIEA) is George Kanyomozi as a board member with over 14 years’ experience in programme development, leadership, Finance, Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), delivering and managing a range of partnerships, projects and programmes with varying complexities. He has led teams to deliver a range of programmes, mentored, coached and empowered them to be high performing teams leading to programme management performance improvements of teams. He is a result-oriented person, able to make sound and quick decisions and with extensive experience in leadership and people management skills. He is passionate in driving quality of programme delivery and standards.
Meet some of the amazing staff behind the work of Irise Institute East Africa.
Lillian is part of the Core Group at the Global Menstrual Health Collective and on the Content Advisory Board for The Global Period Poverty Forum. 15+ years of leadership and youth development work. Previously Director of Ugandan Youth Network and Chair of Africa Youth Trust.
Previously Programme Associate at a Regional Pan African Feminist Organisation Akina Mama wa Afrika where she trained young women across East and West Africa. She has also provided consultancy services on critical youth and women’s rights issues organisations like AMREF Uganda, Oxfam Uganda, Women of Uganda Network, Advocacy Accelerator – Nairobi, Foundation for Men Engage, FEMNET Nairobi and UNICEF Global.
Joweri is a committed and passionate youth advocate and SRHR/MHM champion with 5 years of experience in implementing projects on access to contraception’s/family planning, HIV/AIDS, Sexuality Education, Period Equality, Leadership Development and Gender Equality in Uganda. Her work is rooted in community empowerment, Policy and Budget Advocacy, and capacity building.
Associate Professor in the Politics of Global Development at The University of Leeds. Areas of expertise include decolonising development, gender and development and power.