Our Trustees

Andrew Burns
After graduating from Warwick University in 1994 with a mathematics degree, Andrew became a mathematics teacher in inner city Birmingham. He has worked in a number of different schools, all in challenging circumstances, as his passion is making a difference for the children who need good teachers.

Andrew became Principal of Ormiston Forge Academy in 2012, when the predecessor school was put in a category and forced to academise. The academy is now securely good.

Andrew was the first in his family to go to university and signed up to the Access Project to give the children at his academy the same opportunities he was afforded.

Jimmy Daboo
Jimmy is a chartered accountant working with large corporate clients mainly in the energy and natural resources sector. He is a member of the UK’s Financial Reporting Review Panel and is a member of the Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Jimmy studied mathematics at Cambridge University where he also coxed the Cambridge University Women’s crew.

Neil Cosgrove
Neil Cosgrove is a managing director of the D. E. Shaw Group based in London and has worked for the firm since 1998. He holds a mathematics degree from the Cambridge University.

The son of teachers, Neil is a committed supporter of The Access Project and has recruited several of his colleagues to work as tutors alongside him. He also sits on the Teach First development board.

Donna Bennett

Donna Bennett is Head of Volunteering & Inclusion for The Scouts, the largest co-educational youth charity in the UK with 500,000 young people and 160,000 volunteers whose mission is to prepare young people with #SkillsForLife. Donna is leading an ambitious programme to transform the Scouts volunteer journey and recruit a further 10,000 frontline volunteers to meet the demand for their services.

Previously Donna was Head of Volunteering and Youth and St John Ambulance the Country’s leading First Aid Charity where she supported the organisation to transform their volunteer recruitment journey and focus on their leadership and management support for volunteer managers.

Donna has been a volunteer herself for over twenty years in different roles and has experience of volunteering in both delivery and volunteer manager roles.

John Kelly-Jones
John is a founding partner and COO of Independent Franchise Partners, LLP, a specialist investment management firm. With a background in asset management and banking in Europe, South East Asia, Australia, and the USA, John has seen the difference that access to quality education makes to everyone. He is passionate about improving the quality of education generally and ensuring that all students have access to the best possible resources and curriculum.

He holds a BSc in Finance and a BA in German, both from the University of Illinois.

Neil McIntosh CBE
Neil is a highly experienced chief executive and chair in the not-for-profit sector, having spent more than 35 years working in the fields of education, housing and social policy.

From 1991 to 2012, Neil was the CEO of the CfBT Educational Trust. He transformed CfBT from a small organisation with 12 staff in the UK into one of the leading school effectiveness agencies in the world, now employing more than 2500 people. Neil’s earlier roles included Director of Shelter (1977 – 1984) and Director of VSO (1985 – 1990), during which time it became one of the ‘two most effective overseas aid charities in Britain’.

Neil has also achieved much beyond his work. He was a local councillor for six years in Camden in the 1970s and Chair of the Housing Committee, in the 1980s he founded Homeless International, now a leading NGO on human settlement issues, and since 2006 he has been Chair of the Freedom of Information Campaign. Neil is Chair of Governors of two schools in London and he is an honorary (Norham) Fellow of the Oxford University Department of Education.

Emma Leech

Emma is Director of Marketing and Advancement at Loughborough University, overseeing communications, marketing, recruitment, web and digital, widening participation, admissions, the international office, fundraising and development. 

A Founding Chartered PR Practitioner, Chartered Marketer and Chartered Manager, she has won a string of awards over more than two decades spanning PR, marketing, innovation, fundraising, digital, and web. 

Emma is a lifelong advocate of the value of education and is an active mentor.

Emma holds an MBA and various PR, marketing and management qualifications. She is the Chartered Institute of Public Relations President 2019.


Katie Brewis

Katie works for Google in London, where she leads the EMEA Marketing Finance team. She is responsible for managing Google’s budget for Marketing, Policy and PR activity.

Katie started volunteering with the Access Project in 2012 through her previous employer, Bain & Co. She raved about tutoring so much that she recruited dozens of tutors and then applied to join the board in 2016. Katie has an Economics degree from Cambridge University and a Masters from Toulouse School of Economics.

Peter Denison-Pender

Peter Denison-Pender is a specialist small business and technology tax consultant, working with small business clients on operating and tax issues. He has more than 20 years of operating and investing experience in early stage technology companies.

Peter is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Fellow of the Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA) and read Economics and Economic History at the University of Exeter. He puts these financial skills to work as Treasurer for the Access Project.

He was a trustee of the Royal Albert Hall from 2004-2015, where he chaired the commercial trading operations, and was a secondary school governor in Brent from 2000-2007.

Fatos Nacakgedigi

Fatos works as an M&A Technology Consultant within KPMG’s Integration & Separation team. She studied Spanish at the University of Bristol and spent a year teaching English in Spain.

Having been one of the first students The Access Project worked with when the charity was first founded in 2008, Fatos has continued to work closely with The Access Project over the past 10 years. She started volunteering as a tutor in 2017 and applied to join the board in 2018. Fatos is keen to support The Access Project in achieving their goal within the social mobility/university access sphere due to how much she benefited from the charity, and highlights that she is living proof that The Access Project’s programme works!

Mary Curnock Cook CBE

From 2010 to 2017, Mary was Chief Executive of UCAS, the universities and colleges admissions service. Earlier in her career she held executive and non-executive positions in the education, hospitality, food and biotech sectors.

She is Chair of Governors at Kensington and Chelsea College and Chair of Governors at Swindon Academy. She is also a Council member at the Open University, a non-exec Director at the Student Loans Company, A Trustee of National Numeracy, and an adviser to the University of Buckingham. She is an investor and/or mentor to a number of edtech entrepreneurs.

Mary has an MSc from London Business School and she was awarded an CBE in 2000. She is an honorary Fellow of Birkbeck College, University of London and has an honorary doctorate from the University of Gloucestershire.

Tahmid Chowdhury

Tahmid is an Account Manager at M&C Saatchi World Services, a specialist communications agency tackling society’s most complex issues around the world. He is also the Co-Founder of Here for Good; a charity providing free immigration services to EU citizens and their families living in the UK.

Prior to this, Tahmid was a plaintiff alongside Gina Miller in the Supreme Court Article 50 case; as a Director of The People’s Challenge, he successfully lobbied the Government on a range of issues including the need for a meaningful Parliamentary vote on Brexit. He also sits on the Board of the King’s Head Theatre in Islington.

Tahmid read Law and English at the New College of the Humanities, where he was a scholar and valedictorian in 2016. Before university, he studied at Central Foundation Boys’ School; where he was one of the first cohorts to benefit from The Access Project. He has twice been shortlisted for Forbes 30 Under 30 in Law and Policy.