Our Trustees

Andrew Burns

After graduating from the University of Warwick in 1994, with a Mathematics degree, Andrew became a Mathematics teacher in inner city Birmingham. He 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. Since then he has led a number of academies as an Executive Principal and now works regionally for Ormiston Academies Trust leading and supporting Principals.

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 is a director at the Office for Investments, a joint unit between Number 10 and the Department for International Trade. The office facilitates and encourages high value investments into the UK that are aligned with the governments net zero and levelling up agenda.   

He started his career in the financial services industry in London and New York, spending more than 20 of those years at D.E.Shaw, a global alternative asset manager.  Neil opened and built D.E.Shaw’s London office, where he was C.E.O. and chairman of the London entity, and lead several strategy teams covering equity, debt and derivative products, managing multiple billions of dollars of investments.  

After taking steps away from finance, Neil became more involved with various charities, primarily in education and climate change.  As well as The Access Project, he is a trustee of Ark Curriculum Plus and Quadrature Climate Foundation, sits on the advisory board of UnLtd, and has spent time teaching and tutoring maths to underprivileged students.  He read mathematics at 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.

Donna Bennett

Donna has recently returned to education to pursue a teaching career following the COVID-19 pandemic. Donna wants to have a hands-on impact on the growing attainment gap for pupils from different backgrounds and is hoping to support those whose education has been most affected by the pandemic. 

Previously Donna has been the 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 skills for life. Donna led the ambitious programme to transform the Scouts volunteer journey and recruit a further 10,000 frontline volunteers to meet the demand for their services. Donna was also 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 hands-on management and trustee roles.

John Kelly-Jones

John is a retired partner and COO of Independent Franchise Partners, LLP, and a non-executive director of a number of companies.  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 2,500 people. Neil’s earlier roles included Director of Shelter (1977 to 1984) and Director of VSO (1985 to 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 Campaign for Freedom of Information. Neil is Chair of Governors of two schools in London and he is an honorary (Norham) Fellow of the University of Oxford’s 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 us 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 2020. She is an honorary Fellow of Birkbeck College, University of London and has an honorary doctorate from the University of Gloucestershire.

Tahmid Chowdhury

Tahmid Chowdhury is an Account Director at M&C Saatchi World Services, a specialist communications agency working to tackle some of society’s most complex issues around the world. His responsibilities include finance, client relations, and project management.

He is also the Co-Founder of Here for Good; a charity providing free immigration services to European citizens and their families living in the UK caught up in the aftermath of Brexit. The charity has supported tens of thousands of individuals and developed partnerships with the EU Delegation, UN Migration Agency, and Mayor of London; with Tahmid’s leadership recognised through his inclusion on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2020. 

Tahmid read Law with English on a full scholarship at New College of the Humanities in London, where he was valedictorian in 2016. As an alum of The Access Project, he knows firsthand the impact the charity can have on young people’s lives. Tahmid is also a Trustee of TASO and a Judge at the Charity Times Awards, which he balances with his one true love Arsenal FC.